Sunday, September 25, 2011

Political Causes and Effects I


Listening to the GOP debates and the straw polls that normally follow has made it apparent that most people do not have any idea what the issues facing America are. Not only do they not know the issues, they have no idea of what needs to be done to get us back on track. In the political arena it seems that most people will pick one issue and choose the candidate that sounds the best to them on that issue. They don’t look at how their candidate stands on other issues or how those other issues will affect them in the long run or the country as a whole. Most people have single issue concerns that will have indirect adverse effects on the direction of the country; and in turn adverse effects on the Nation and the American people as a whole. Over the next few essays I write I’m going to take a closer look at some of the issues that keep coming up and then take them to the point of where they will affect the entire population either positively or negatively.

We are fighting a war on terror and have been for the past 10 years. This war has not only cost untold billions of dollars, contributing significantly to the National debt and deficit; it has also cost thousands of American lives, not to mention the thousands of lives to citizens of other Nations. What is has also done is brought to light that we have Military bases and personnel spread out all across the globe. The argument that the pro war, not pro Military, use to justify the war and the support of the bases on foreign soil is that it is for our National defense. Is it really? First off our Military is spread so thin that we are constantly calling up the National Guard. We aren’t calling them up to fill the gaps left in the defense here at home; we are calling them up to deploy overseas to fill gaps in the Military. We are leaving our own borders open with little to no Military available to defend them. While there are a few of the candidates that are saying it is time to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and it is, there is only one that is consistent on the fact that we need to get out of all the foreign countries. This attitude is incorrectly called being an isolationist. Being an isolationist means you want nothing to do with other Countries, no political ties, no trade ties, no allies, nothing. Wanting our Military out of other Countries is not being an isolationist; it is following the doctrine George Washington laid out in his farewell speech following his Presidency, a doctrine of non-intervention. Non-intervention means not getting involved with other Nations political issues while maintaining trade with all Nations. Once we become entangled in political agendas of foreign Nations we take the risk of becoming involved with wars on foreign lands.

When we take the side of one Nation over another we take the risk of alienating Nations which in the end could result in another Pearl Harbor or 9-11. In most cases any time we have become involved in foreign wars we have also become involved with Nation rebuilding and in some cases trying to spread democracy to Nations that either do not understand democracy or do not want it. Nation rebuilding not only costs the American taxpayer, it also gives our Politicians the false belief that the recipient Nation is now beholden to us. Forcing democracy on a Nation that has no desire to be a democratic Nation, much less a Republic like we are supposed to have is an invitation to starting more civil unrest that we will ultimately be entangled; this in turn will cost more money and lives. This argument for non-intervention is true with Israel as well as all other Nations. Israel, while they are the one Nation in the Middle East that shares common beliefs with America, they are their own Nation and they will survive or not on their own. Nothing we do will change that fact, it may prolong it, but it won’t change it.

All the above is also true with foreign aide. Foreign aide is American taxpayer money that usually does not get spent the way our Politicians want it to be spent, or at least not in the way they are telling us it will spent. The war in Afghanistan back in the early 80’s between Afghan rebels against Russia and the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan is a perfect example. Congressman Charlie Wilson from TX coaxed billions of dollars to be funneled to the Afghan rebels without it being directly attributed to the rebels. America also provided training to the rebels by our CIA. We trained Osama Bin Laden on how to use our weapons and then provided him with those weapons. Once the rebels pushed back the Russian troops we packed up and left. For once we did not get involved in Nation rebuilding since we were not officially involved in the conflict and this left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Afghan people which ultimately resulted in the Taliban getting the foothold in the country and to stir up the discontent towards the American way of life. We are now in Afghanistan fighting the same people that we originally supported.

Political entanglements, Military occupation resulting in the colonization of foreign countries and the export of American dollars are not the way to the common defense of our Nation. Our Military should be protecting this Nation and its territories. Our Naval and Air Forces should be patrolling the waters and the skies surrounding our Nation while our ground forces are protecting our borders. Some will argue that our Military can not operate on our soil, Posse Comitatus Act, not true; our Military can not be used to enforce local laws. With a fraction of the money that has been and is being spent to support Military bases across the globe we could have developed the greatest defense system possible to prevent our Nation from being attacked and all the while maintaining a heightened state of training for our Military. By stopping foreign aide and political allegiances no Nation would be beholding to America and America would be beholden to none. Our goal should be to protect our trade routes, our borders and our skies while opening up trade with all.

Look at the issue of non-intervention in another way. For the most part Americans are non-interventionists, they just don’t know it. Last year there were riots and civil unrest over the Wisconsin budget. During that whole time I didn’t see a single member of the Iowa National Guard, or the Minnesota National Guard coming to the rescue of either the Wisconsin Governor or the Teachers unions. If they had, America would have had a fit over one State interfering with another States affairs. The same is true with most of the periods of unrest in this Nation, the Watts riots, the Rodney King riots or the riots at Kent State. It is also true that in none of these cases were there any troops from Germany, Iraq, Japan or any other foreign Nation on our shores in support of the rebellious masses. Again Americans would have been calling for a declaration of war against whatever Nation had dared to send troops onto American soil. What gives us the arrogance to believe that since it is us sending troops onto foreign soil it is OK?

We can not go around the world overthrowing or supporting the overthrowing of every Dictator we do like, all that will do is create a Dictator of our own since that is the power that will be needed. Dictators will come and go, the People of those Nations that are under the rule of a Dictator are the only ones that can decide whether or not they want to live under that type of rule or not, we decided we did not, we put it in writing in 1776 in a little read document called the Declaration of Independence.

Steve Avery

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

GOP Candidates

With the GOP Presidential debates starting to really roll I thought this would be a good time to point out the obvious. The questions being presented to the candidates are not the questions that need to be asked. They are also questions that are geared to create infighting between the candidates. All we have learned so far is that at least a couple of the candidates have perjured themselves at some point or another. I don’t know the facts so I can’t say whether they perjured themselves during the debates or in books they have written. In either case at least 2 of them that my failing memory can recall have backtracked on things they wrote, I have a sneaking suspicion it is the former in order to make themselves look more appealing. We have also learned that, unfortunately, some questions and answers that are supposedly geared to the Tea Party movement are still aimed at maintaining a large central Government. Before I say more I’m going to take a line from some of my favorite talk show hosts and give full disclosure, I am a supporter of Ron Paul, even though most believe him to be unelectable, he’s just that crazy old man that keeps talking about the Constitution, besides he doesn’t have a nice tan and movie star hair. In this and other debates I have noticed that the number of questions given to the candidates is not balanced. In the CNN debate for example there was the question of the Federal Reserve. Ron Paul has been talking about the Federal Reserve for years but they would not direct the question or any rebuttals to Congressman Paul. The same was true when it came to the questions about Governor Rick Perry’s mandated vaccination program for 6th grade girls, he’s a Dr. by trade, and he probably would have had some input on that subject. So with the rant out of the way let’s talk about what we should be asking the candidates and define some of the more misunderstood viewpoints of Congressman Paul.

The first question that should be asked of any Presidential candidate should be, “What powers does the President have?” This would be a very telling and very interesting question to ask. Very telling in the sense that it would tell us which of the candidates know what the Constitution states are the powers of the Executive Branch. Very interesting in that it would tell us, the voters, exactly how many of our rights and the States rights the candidate will violate to meet their own personal agenda. Article 2 of the Constitution is explicit in what the powers the President has. Today the country expects the President to heal all hurts, cure all diseases and fix all woes. Well first off the President is just a person, he is not some all powerful being that can correct all these supposed wrongs with a wave of his hand. It is because the Nation as a whole has come to believe the President can do all these things that we are in the situation we are currently in. It is not the President that owes over 14 Trillion dollars to other countries and private investors, it is not the President that is out of work, it is not the President that is trying to figure out how to make ends meet; it is the American People and we let the President put us in this position. Not only that but even if he is not re-elected we will pay him a pension for putting us in debt for the rest of his life, not to mention provide him with a personal security detail care of the American citizen for the next 10 years. Bet you didn’t know that. In 1965 Congress authorized the Secret Service to provide protection for former Presidents for lifetime after they left office, in 1997 Congress enacted legislation that provided for protection for former Presidents for only 10 years after they left office. This means that President Clinton is the last President that will receive Secret Service protection for life. Did you also know that they may elect not to receive protection from the Secret Service, it’s true, but to my knowledge none of them have. Lest I digress any further I’ll get back to the issues at hand.

The powers of the President according to Article II Section 2 of the Constitution are pretty limited. The first power is one that everyone likes to talk about and believes that it gives the President complete power to make war.

“The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States”

In other words the Air Force and the Coast are not under the direct authority of the President, at least not according to the Constitution. Since the Constitution does not address the Air Force and the Coast Guard, plus it specifically states that we will not have standing Armies and that the budgets for such will only be granted for a period not to exceed 2 years, I’m thinking we need to amend the Constitution in accordance with Article V to either include the Air Force (which obviously was not thought of back in 1787), the Coast Guard and possibly provide for continuous funding of the Army or do away with them altogether. Personally I believe we need them, only we need to use them as they were intended. Notice also that it states he shall have this power only when they are called into actual service of the United States, care to guess who has the power to actually call them into service? If you guessed Congress you would be correct. In Article I Section 8 there are 7 separate powers granted to Congress that have to do with the Military; that is out of 18 total powers. It is true that the War Powers Act of 1973 granted the President the authority to commit our Military if we are attacked or threatened with imminent attack; that is defensive actions, not offensive.

Article II Section 2 goes on to state:

“He may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices,”

In other words he/she can request the opinions of his cabinet members in writing at any time he/she wishes. It does not mean he/she must take listen to the opinions or act on them, he/she can just request them. In that same section it goes on to state:

“and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”

If I remember correctly President Clinton used this on in a most unfavorable way prior to leaving office, but it was one of the powers granted by the Constitution.

The last powers granted to the President in Article II Section 2 are:

"He shall have the power, by and with the advice and the consent of the Senate, to make Treaties; provided two thirds of the Senators present concur. The President also has the power to nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.”

“The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.”

The last is one that I seem to remember President Obama using to his advantage in recent days; once again, it is in the Constitution.

Article II Section 3 of the Constitution states:

“He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.”

This tells us that the President is to, for lack of a better term, keep his thumb on the pulse of the Nation and report such pulse to Congress. Ask yourself why the President would report to Congress. It goes on to state that he can recommend measures he believes should be taken, only for their consideration. It does not state that the President will legislate from the Oval Office, or that the President will tell Congress what they must do. There is another interesting duty listed here, the President may adjourn Congress to such a time as he shall think proper. To my thinking this means that the President can not use the excuse that Congress is in recess or vacation when he tells the Nation why something is not being done.

That is the extent of the powers granted to the President in the Constitution of the United States. There is one power that is more or less an inferred power established by Article II Section 1 of the Constitution, it is the oath the President must take upon entering office. It states:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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."

The President must agree to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States to the best of his ability. This does not mean that he may interpret, twist and abuse the Constitution as he sees fit. This is the oath that makes all the other words in the Constitution mean something; this is the oath that makes our flag mean something. Without this oath and the trust that the man we elected to the office of President will uphold this oath, we do not have a republic or a country, we have a monarchy.

I believe the People of the United States need to be reminded that Congress has the power to legislate. Congress is made up of two houses to maintain a system of checks and balances on what is best for the State and what is best for the People, hopefully the two are not that far apart. Senators are to be selected by the States legislatures to represent the interests of the State. The House of Representatives are to be elected by the citizens of their States to represent the interests of the People in their respective districts. The power to generate revenue for the United States was given to the House of Representatives since the People of the United States are the ones that provide that revenue. As for the monetary condition of the United States the only concerns the President should have are to submit a budget that will cover the operation of his Cabinet and the areas he has power over such as the Military and the paychecks for those appointments he may make. The budgets that the President offers up would come from the heads of the Departments that are under his control, again, such as the Department of Defense. I only use the DOD as an example; I have personal thoughts that the DOD is too big for its own good and ours. The other is to report to the Congress how our trade is holding up with other Nations.

What this all boils down to is the fact that the President does not have any power over our budget, that is all given to Congress, the House of Representatives to be exact. The President does not have the power to create or save jobs. The President does not have the power to determine what type of health care is best for each of us. The job of the President is to preside over the Federal Government and to deal with the heads of foreign Governments. The job of the President is to ensure that our Constitution is adhered to, even if it means going against his own personal beliefs. The question we should be asking the potential GOP candidates is what they believe the powers of the President are, that way we can find out which ones will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, which ones will be a President, not a Monarch or Dictator.

Steve Avery