A day to honor great, Divinely-inspired wisdom

September 17, 2016 · Posted in Culture and Politics, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

It may not be as apparent to the average American as “vacation day” patriotic holidays like Memorial Day or Independence Day, but today a small band of Salisbury residents came to City Park along the Wicomico River and celebrated the 229th anniversary of the signing and delivery of our nascent Constitution to Congress for approval. Once approved, it was sent to each of the thirteen colonies for ratification (Delaware was first, on December 7, 1787) and by the middle of the next year the requisite nine states had ratified the document, which was not yet amended with the Bill of Rights. (That would come a few years later, in 1791.)

So I arrived fashionably on time and was pleased to see the turnout.

It seems like there were a few more people than last year’s gathering, and I think the morning start time (as opposed to afternoon last year) may have had something to do with that.

We were presented with a proclamation from Salisbury mayor Jake Day reiterating that the city would be celebrating Constitution Day today. Day is one of the few who could stand and say he was actively defending the Constitution as an Army officer on active duty.

The event also was the culmination of an essay contest where the top two winners were present to be honored with a certificate from the Maryland General Assembly, presented by members of the local delegation Mary Beth Carozza (who was speaking), Christopher Adams, Carl Anderton, and Johhny Mautz. The winning entry was read by Carys Hazel of Mardela High School, with runner-up Nathaniel Sansom of Salisbury Christian School also present to receive his award.

The keynote speaker was Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis.

I wasn’t really at the Constitution Day event to give blow-by-blow coverage, but I used the photos to both set the scene and cue up my own remarks, with the address Sheriff Lewis gave as a jumping-off point. Mike spoke at some length about the role of the military overseas and their fight against radical Islam. Certainly I understand the reason that they have embarked on such a mission, but to me it also begs a pair of questions for which we need an honest answer.

To a varying extent, the nation has been on a war footing since 9/11. In that time we have adopted the PATRIOT Act and sent thousands of troops overseas to fight against the proxy forces of radical Islam: the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and the Islamic State known as ISIS (or ISIL.) But the first question I have is: where does the balance tip too far toward security at the expense of the liberty afforded to us in the Constitution?

This question isn’t really new, either: during the Civil War (or War Between the States or War of Northern Aggression, if you prefer) President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus and arrested members of the Maryland General Assembly to prevent them from meeting as a means of preserving the Union. Eight decades later, President Roosevelt interned Japanese-Americans as a result of their ancestral homeland’s attack on American soil. In both instances America was in an active war within its borders or territories, but against a nation-state rather than an ideology as we are today. However, being in a state of war such that we are should not be an excuse for excess and there are many who have pondered the “War on Terror” and its response in the PATRIOT Act and whether the government is using this Long War as a flimsy excuse to consolidate power.

The idea of the government consolidating power leads to the second question: are we truly following the Constitution anymore or is this all just lip service?

Surely there are some who believe the Constitution has been eroding practically since the ink dried on the parchment. Whether they point to Marbury v. Madison being the moment where the judiciary became the most powerful of the three branches, the Civil War being the death knell for state’s rights since they no longer had the right to secede if they were dissatisfied with the nation as a whole, or the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments that gave the federal government taxation authority on individuals specifically prohibited in the original and ended the practice of state legislators electing Senators to represent their interests in Washington, there are a fair number that think we need to start over - perhaps with a Convention of States, otherwise known as an Article V Convention. (Years ago I contributed a couple ideas for new amendments, which are still sorely needed. Back then I had good discourse, too.)

I don’t want to get into the weeds of determining the merits or problems of such a convention, but the fact that there are people who believe the Constitution needs a tune-up to fix excesses on one side or the other bolsters the argument that the government we have now is not the one originally envisioned by those men who toiled during the spring and summer of 1787 to write a replacement for the Articles of Confederation that the United States was bound to for the first decade or so of its existence. Granted, the Article V method is one prescribed in the document but there’s no guarantee the amendments proposed would pass or the resulting Constitution any better for the people.

So the occasion of Constitution Day is bittersweet. Yesterday I wrote on the subject for the Patriot Post, noting that:

Contention over – and advocacy of – limitations to government based on constitutional principles has become a theoretical exercise at best, perhaps in part because few understand the ideas and arguments that were made during the drafting of our government’s founding document.

Those who have sworn an oath to enlist in the military or (in my case) to take public office know that we swear to support and defend the Constitution as opposed to an oath to the United States. This is a clear distinction because the interests of the United States may vary by whoever occupies the offices of government at the time, but the Constitution is the set of ground rules which are supposed to define our nation. The key reason I resigned from the Central Committee was because I could not trust the Republican presidential nominee to support or defend the Constitution – rather, I believed he would tear the GOP from what few limited, Constitutional government roots it had remaining. Thus, I felt as a public official that supporting him was a violation of the oath I swore to the Constitution.

Many of those same men who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the American nation and survived the war that brought us independence were those who argued and debated the contents of the pieces of parchment that we consider our supreme law of the land. I pray that a group that is just as divinely inspired can lead us back to a nation that more closely reflects the intentions of these earliest Americans with respect to restoring a government that seeks the consent of the governed, and that those who are governed understand their responsibility in the equation as well. The fact that so few seem to have this inspiration or the desire to take this responsibility as citizens seriously may be what was most troubling about this day in the park.

The consolidation of responsibility

It started out so innocently, somewhat like a warm late-summer day did almost a decade-and-a-half ago. But somehow things became so much bigger and darker.

There’s no doubt a Facebook disagreement pales ever-so-greatly in comparison to 9/11, but the reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act became yet another excuse for partisan bickering, with many of these comments criticizing the heartless Republicans. It’s certainly not hard to garner sympathy for the families of those who were affected by the fall of the Twin Towers.

Yet being the adult in the room isn’t always the most popular thing.

I have no problem with state and local funding of first responders provided they can justify the need for it. Salisbury and Wicomico County are in the process of ironing out a long-standing disagreement over the city providing fire and EMS services for outlying areas close by the city. (Due to haphazard annexation, there are significant pockets of county population completely or nearly fully surrounded by the city limits. I used to live next door to a county resident while I lived within the city limits – the city limit split our shared driveway. The house I lived in literally was the single piece of property that made that relatively large neighborhood area a county island.)

But I would like to know how it became the federal government’s responsibility to take care of these first responders to begin with. It seems to me that this act of terror was equated with an act of war and first responders were elevated to a status not unlike our veterans. And while the families of these firemen and police officers have suffered greatly as these first responders have, there should already have been a state-based workman’s compensation program in place. In short, they are deserving but it’s not the federal government’s place to pay these bills because they had no contract with Uncle Sam like veterans have. Saying so, though, makes one out to be a bad guy.

Beyond this, there is the question of what role the federal government should take.

It seems to me anymore that we assume the federal government will always be our backstop, there to cover us in the event of disaster. Because of this, we aren’t preparing ourselves for a world where the government can’t or won’t be able to help us. How many people have based their retirement dreams on the fact that Social Security and Medicare will always be there, despite the math that equates both to Ponzi schemes? I haven’t checked in several years because I had a lengthy unintentional hiatus from full-time work, but I don’t think it would take too many years for me to go through the amount I had taken out of my checks over the years for Social Security.

At some point, we need to have the cord cut. The question is whether we will have the willpower to do it ourselves or simply have the rug pulled out from under our feet without warning or a chance to prepare. Those who seem to think we can stay on the same course when it comes to the direction of our federal government are sadly deluded. Donald Trump may be the GOP frontrunner, but he has the wrong approach to entitlements. (By the way, I think I’m really doing a disservice by referring to them as “entitlements” because I would like to know exactly where in the Constitution these programs are. Would you consider yourself entitled to Donald Trump’s wealth if you did nothing to earn a portion of it? That’s what the government seems to think.)

For the families of these first responders things will turn out all right because it’s likely the provision will be placed in a must-pass appropriations bill and we will be paying for these luckless police officers and firemen until they pass away. It’s not really our federal government’s proper place, but giving out money to people we deem deserving always feels good. Things will feel great until the day the golden goose lays dead from exhaustion.

This little experiment we embarked upon almost 250 years ago was supposed to be one where government was limited, with authorization to only do a small number of tasks. Somehow we have come to a point where government is unlimited and unchecked. This 9/11 example, to me, buttresses the old adage, “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.” The same seems to go for what we thought was a constitutional republic.

Will Maryland join a Convention of States or an Article V Convention?

By Cathy Keim

The push for an Article V Convention is growing nationwide, and it is coming from both sides of the political spectrum. The citizens are aware that they are not being heard and they are looking for ways to correct this.

An Article V Convention or Convention of the States is one of two ways to amend the Constitution of the United States. In case you’ve forgotten, here is Article V:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, (emphasis added) or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate

All previous amendments have been through Congress. However, the Convention of States method has been utilized to put pressure on Congress to act. For example, the states wanted to have direct election of their senators but Congress would not oblige – so the states began the process of calling for a convention of states. Once they got within one state of achieving the two thirds needed, Congress acted rather than losing its prerogative. (This led to the Seventeenth Amendment.)

Maryland has legislation under consideration now which states:

Applying to the U.S. Congress for an amendments convention called under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states, to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that affirms every citizen’s freedom to vote and restores free and fair elections in America.

This bill is filed as HJ2 by Delegate Sheila Hixson and is cross-filed with SJ2 by Senator Paul Pinsky. It was introduced last session also, but did not come to the floor for a vote. (Editor’s note: The Senate version from 2014, however, passed committee 9-2 with all three Republicans on the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee voting yes.)

Reading the bill summary left me perplexed. Who thinks we need an amendment to restore free and fair elections? My mind thought of voter fraud, but who would want to amend the Constitution to fix that issue? After some phone calls to Delegate Hixson and Senator Pinsky’s offices, though, the confusion was cleared up.

This bill is the result of the work of Get Money Out of Maryland (GMOM) and its allies. They claim to be bipartisan, but the groups in the allies list lean distinctly progressive.

The bills have a total of sixty-nine sponsors of which two are Republicans, so I suppose that makes it bipartisan.

GMOM states:

The Citizens United v FEC decision by the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for unlimited campaign expenditures in elections, which corporations and the extremely wealthy have used with devastating impact in the last few elections. This misguided decision reversed decades of campaign finance regulation at the state and federal level, turning our public elections into private auctions. With regard to voting rights, Supreme Court justices in the Bush v Gore decision declared that there is no individual right to vote in the Constitution and in its aftermath, there has been a concerted attack upon the right to vote across the country. These legal travesties require remedy if we are going to preserve representative democracy and create a more perfect union. (Emphasis in original.)

According to Senator Pinsky’s spokesman, the principal point of this amendment is that there is too much money in politics since the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case opened the floodgates. GMOM wants the Citizens United ruling reversed so the only option is to exert pressure on Congress via an Article V Convention to amend the Constitution. Their expectation is that Congress will act if the states approach the two-thirds approval level as happened with the direct election of senators.

GMOM states that Vermont, California, Illinois, and New Jersey have already passed the “Democracy” amendment and several other states, such as Maryland, are considering the bill now.

Working from the opposite side of the political spectrum is the group Citizens for Self-Governance which states:

Citizens concerned for the future of their country, under a federal government that’s increasingly bloated, corrupt, reckless and invasive, have a constitutional option. We can call a Convention of States to return the country to its original vision of a limited federal government that is of, by and for the people.

They also add:

Rather than calling a convention for a specific amendment, Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG) has launched the Convention of the States Project to urge state legislatures to properly use Article V to call a convention for a particular subject—reducing the power of Washington, D.C. It is important to note that a convention for an individual amendment (e.g. a Balanced Budget Amendment) would be limited to that single idea. Requiring a balanced budget is a great idea that CSG fully supports. Congress, however, could comply with a Balanced Budget Amendment by simply raising taxes. We need spending restraints as well. We need restraints on taxation. We need prohibitions against improper federal regulation. We need to stop unfunded mandates.

Both sides of the debate assure their followers that the Article V Convention cannot spiral out of control and rewrite the entire Constitution once they convene. Their main defense against this is that any amendment that comes out of the convention still has to be approved by three quarters of the states, thus giving ample room for rogue amendments to be stopped.

You may want to keep an eye on how Maryland’s effort plays out this legislative session – although from the progressive side, it still illustrates the discontent that is growing as citizens realize that their overlords in DC are not listening to them. It is striking (and terrifying) that the progressives feel that President Obama is not doing enough to reach their goals, while the conservatives feel attacked and denigrated by their weak and ineffective leadership under Speaker Boehner and Senate Leader McConnell.

Perhaps the only people happy with the current system are the politicians that are in power and the wealthy elites and crony capitalists that consort with and fund their campaigns. Outside that narrow group, there is a battle brewing.

The steep learning curve

March 13, 2015 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

Over the last few months I’ve given a little bit of attention to the campaign Ben Carson is running for President. He was one of the earliest informal entrants, in part because of a grassroots campaign that began after he spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013.

But his cause has been sidetracked by something he said on CNN the day after he announced his exploratory committee. It was in regard to same-sex marriage, which Carson opposes, but what came out of his mouth had to make all but the most ardent Carson supporters cringe. I wrote about the original comments in the Patriot Post last week. In that article I predicted that Ben’s vow to drop the issue wouldn’t last long; sure enough, he took to social media to again revise and extend his remarks.

Being a political neophyte, he doesn’t know that this will now be his defining issue, and that’s a shame. Odds are, though, that not only will this question dog Carson through the remainder of his campaign – however far it goes – but it will become a hot topic at any and all GOP presidential primary debates. As I point out at the Patriot Post, you won’t catch them asking Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton about the poorly-performing inner-city schools or any of a number of other failures of the present administration, but any time they can set up a social issue “gotcha” question they will take the opportunity. Consider how Maryland Democrats tried to trap Larry Hogan on social issues in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign – Hogan eluded their efforts and won.

What’s funny about all this is that, for the most part, I agree with Carson’s stance on the gay marriage issue. Civil unions are just fine with me, but when you co-opt the term “marriage” that becomes a problem. I still define marriage as between a man and woman, but insofar as the legalities of being “married” I think civil unions can easily be made equal. Yes, it should be a state issue, but the problem is that most states have been browbeaten into accepting gay marriage by the courts and not necessarily a groundswell of support – look how close the General Assembly vote in Maryland was and ask yourself if there was broad, overwhelming support for the issue. It took a politically motivated change of heart from Barack Obama and presidential election turnout to push the issue over the top – had the referendum been on the 2014 ballot it may well have repealed the law.

Yet we went through all that to pass a law which has affected fewer than 30,000 people based on this assumption:

The 23% increase in the number of marriages between 2012 and 2013 (to 40,456) is thought to be largely attributed to the legalization of same-sex marriages that went into effect on January 1, 2013 in Maryland.

Using my public school math, that’s about 8,000 same-sex marriages performed in 2013, with likely a somewhat smaller figure in 2014 as the most dedicated couples probably tied the knot right away. How many would have gone the civil union route if it were available?

Here’s the problem as I see it, with Maryland a significant microcosm of the nation as a whole. It’s been said by John Adams that:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

While it is the Creator’s job to judge and not mine, I think I have a pretty keen sense of the obvious that we are in a society full of “human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” More recently, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined a term for this decline: “defining deviancy down.” In either case, the question about whether we are indeed “a moral and religious people” is getting more and more open by the day when you consider that, at the time Moynihan wrote his piece, the question of gay marriage wouldn’t have come up because it was such a fringe concept. (That was barely two decades ago, by the way.)

But the genie is out of the bottle now, and standing for a Biblical-based morality on many subjects is considered out of step to opinion leaders in the press. Those who appeal to values voters should expect the same sort of trap questions as they continue on with their campaigns.

The life of one (soon to be) former Delegate

August 9, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

While we have to wait and see what November brings, the chances are pretty good that there will be an additional few dozen Marylanders walking around with the unofficial title of “former member of the General Assembly.” Some, like outgoing Senator Nancy Jacobs or Delegate Donna Stifler, decided well in advance, while our local Delegate Rudy Cane cynically waited until after the filing deadline to insure no one would oppose his apparent choice for successor, Sheree Sample-Hughes.

And then we have the handful who lost in their primary – among them was Delegate Don Dwyer, whose well-documented personal struggles and legal issues, along with redistricting, made his an uphill battle. But as he wrote a few days back:

I simply couldn’t walk away without committing to continue my efforts in regaining liberty and true freedom. I believe as many do, that the one best solution to federal tyranny is the doctrine of NULLIFICATION under the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution. I would like to introduce the States Rights Foundation and new blog The Rightful Remedy.

Washington will not fix itself. Our intent is to partner with other groups and people who are dedicated to advancing the 10th Amendment movement. It is the solution to the out of control Federal Government. If enough States say NO, the Federal Government will be unable to enforce its unconstitutional laws, lacking the resources to do so without aid by the States.

Whether intentional or not, The Rightful Remedy was officially launched on Bastille Day, July 14.

As has been his modus operandi in the past Dwyer is holding a gun raffle to raise funds for his project, which he explains further:

As a Maryland State Delegate, I introduced several bills considered Nullification Legislation, by which the State of Maryland would refuse to comply with Federal “laws” for which the Federal Government has no Constitutional authority to impose. The legislation essentially prohibits the State to use any resources to assist the Federal Government in taking action against Maryland Citizens who are not complying with any Unconstitutional Federal Act. The result, should such legislation pass, profoundly affects the ability of the Federal Government, which rely (sic) heavily on resources from the state, such as police, to effectively enforce their “laws.” (Emphasis in original.)

Nullification is an intriguing practice, although it’s not often tried (here’s one example.) It brings arguments about whether it should be up to the states or left to the judiciary to decide what is in accordance with the Constitution.

But states are generally reined in under the federal judiciary’s interpretation of the Supremacy Clause (such as the case with Arizona’s SB1070 in 2010) as well as the prospect of losing needed federal funding if they don’t perform a particular action – examples I’ve often used are the .08 blood alcohol level standard and legal drinking age of 21, for which the lack of acceptable state law resulted in a deduction of federal highway funding. It would take a state willing to endure the penalties of perhaps defying the Supreme Court (as in a fictional example I recently reviewed) and losing a significant part of its federal funding to openly adopt nullification, and I can tell you Maryland politicians are way too gutless to try either. (Given his go-it-alone attitude, I daresay Rick Perry and Texas might come the closest to using the approach.)

Yet there is a logical argument to non-enforcement as well. We’ve often heard about the prospect of gun confiscation, but there’s an open question as to whether law enforcement – particularly in rural areas like the Eastern Shore – would be willing to go on what’s been described as a “suicide mission.” At the time, Dwyer was calling for the formation of a “voluntary militia” in each county. On the other hand, we have constant complaints about the federal government not enforcing certain other laws, such as the ones dealing with illegal immigration – a backhanded form of nullification unto itself.

I guess the problem is who decides which laws to not enforce, and if they’re not enforced, are we still a nation of laws? A stricter adherence to the Tenth Amendment and Constitution in general would help, but for that we need to clean out our judiciary swamp. I think an equally productive avenue for Dwyer to pursue with his States Rights Foundation would be to work for repealing the Seventeenth Amendment, which has been argued in some circles for several years and is something I’ve advocated for on both a federal and state level as well. That would help to assure the interests of the several states are represented in Congress, so nullification may not be as necessary.

On the gun grabbers

Facebook comments so good I couldn’t let them go to waste there. They were in response to this post by Martin O’Malley:

Progress is a choice. So long as gun violence continues to take the lives of our fellow Marylanders, there are choices we must make together to protect our children, our families and law enforcement personnel who put themselves in harm’s way every day. Today, we’re putting forward a comprehensive set of public safety initiatives that will improve the safety at our schools, make meaningful mental health reforms, and enact common-sense gun safety measures like banning military-style assault weapons and limiting high-capacity magazines. We’re also proposing the largest investment in Maryland’s police forces in 20 years and calling for a renewal of our DNA law that has taken 510 murders, rapists, & other violent criminals off MD’s streets.

Naturally I had to reply:

“Progress is a choice.” Yes, we can progress towards liberty or regress back to tyranny. Our governor rarely makes the right choice in that regard.

As for the comment above about 50 to 60 rounds: frankly it’s none of your damn concern how many rounds a magazine has. No one has ever complained they had too much ammunition to do the job and if my home were ever invaded by a multiple-person group I sure don’t want to be limited to 10 rounds at a time.

Safety in schools isn’t something which can be provided by the waving of a magic wand or more laws rendered meaningless by the fact criminals, by definition, ignore them. It requires a sea change in attitude and a respect towards life missing from a society which promotes abortion as a matter of convenience and a culture which doesn’t teach the lesson that violence depicted on film isn’t the same as in the real world, where actions have consequences.

And if that wasn’t good enough, someone dared to question my understanding of the Constitution:

Among those of us who “spout off the Constitution” there are many who understand the situation we had lately endured when it was written: we had spent close to a decade and the lives of many fine men and women to throw off the yoke of tyranny expressed by the British Crown. Needless to say, the men who wrote the document wanted to insure that no such fate awaited their progeny, so they wrote the Second Amendment to protect the remainder of the Bill of Rights.

For example, when taken at its word, the Third Amendment (“No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law”) doesn’t seem to have application in the modern day. But in the context of the time and the overall purpose of the document, which was to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” it makes more sense because soldiers of the Crown were known for this practice.

The Second Amendment, at its core, is certainly not about hunting and wasn’t superseded by the creation of the National Guard. It’s about the people who wish to protect themselves from a tyrannical government and expressed an inalienable right.

Perhaps you should learn more about the Constitution before you tell those of us who understand the intent about spouting it.

And to the original point: all that would be done by banning so-called “assault weapons” would be to make otherwise law-abiding citizens either criminals or sitting ducks for those who don’t care about following laws – or, for that matter, the value of human life.

But I wasn’t through yet.

And I’m glad to see Americans get my point. A Rasmussen Poll out today states the answer to the question:

“The Second Amendment to the Constitution provides Americans with the right to own a gun. Is the purpose of the Second Amendment to ensure that people are able to protect themselves from tyranny?”

“The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 65% of American Adults think the purpose of the Second Amendment is to make sure that people are able to protect themselves from tyranny. Only 17% disagree, while another 18% are not sure.”

I guess the 17% are all on this thread. Glad most Americans still get it.

Of course, I can say all I want but at the present time too many in the Maryland General Assembly have the mistaken notion that the Second Amendment is antiquated and was only meant for a time when muskets were the rule. Or gun grabbers consider it a “public health issue,” which couldn’t be farther from the truth. (On the opposite hand, most of them believe murdering an unborn child is a matter of “choice.”) They even bill themselves as supporting “smart” gun laws:

The Governor’s anti-gun violence package will reduce gun violence, make our communities safer, and become the standard for smart gun legislation in this country. Smart Gun Laws Maryland will be working to see that the legislation is not watered down by the General Assembly and is enacted into law. We will be mobilizing thousands of Maryland citizens to engage in the political process, contact their legislators, and send an unequivocal message of support for the Governor’s proposal. Now is the time for strong gun legislation nationally and in the state of Maryland.

Many of the members of their steering committee are veteran gun-grabbers and liberal advocates: Lisa Miller Delity, a board member of CeaseFire Maryland; Vincent DeMarco, who is taking time out from trying to ram Obamacare and an increased tobacco tax down our throats to assist in this effort; Matt Fenton. the former president of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, which evolved into CeaseFire Maryland; Eric Gally, a gun-grabbing lobbyist; Gary Gillespie, who heads the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council; Rachel Howard of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University; Michael Pretl, a local environmental advocate and attorney who must be tired of trying to usurp our property rights; and the Rev. Donald A. Sterling, a Baltimore pastor.

I don’t know what their problem is, since Maryland already gets a “B” grade on restrictive gun laws, as did Connecticut – but they ranked 4th out of 50. Yet still Sandy Hook occurred.

But as a response to this group and O’Malley’s efforts, we who believe in the Second Amendment obviously need to mobilize thousands of Maryland citizens ourselves; people who understand the clear intent of the Founding Fathers and won’t be cowed by media shills and others who would accuse of being butchers – while they callously exploit the murder of 20 children and six adults by a criminal for political gain at the expense of law-abiding citizens like 99.9% or more of gun owners are.

A good start in fighting back will be a rally in Annapolis tomorrow that my blogging friend Jackie Wellfonder is planning to attend – surely she’ll have a rundown, as will others. There will also be a need to testify against any and all bills in the O’Malley legislative package, which can be followed on the General Assembly’s newly revamped website. Those of us who are activists should become closely familiar with that site.

Some say they have enough votes to pass this bill, and it’s indeed possible they could. But don’t forget there could also be the opportunity to petition them to referendum should they pass, and as last resorts we have the courts and the fact all 188 state legislators are up for election next year.

We can win this fight. Don’t let the siren song of a small minority of public opinion fool you into giving up your liberty.

A plea for return

September 17, 2012 · Posted in Education, National politics, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

On this day, the 225th anniversary of the Constitution, this might be a good time to pass along this commentary by an old and good friend of mine, Bob Densic. He’s the founder of a group called Back to Basics.

In our past seminars on “The Enumerated Powers”, I have asked the audience what is the main cause of our nation’s problems.  Often I hear concerns of a federal government spending problem that gives drunken sailors a bad name.  Occasionally someone will offer up a concern of federal revenue (not that often Thank God!).  While these answers focus on the frightening economic conditions we find ourselves in, they often miss a larger issue: that of God-given freedom and liberty, or state control.

The Forefathers who came to this continent did so with a clearly established goal.  “in the name of God, Amen.  We whose names are underwritten… by the grace of God… defender of Faith; having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and the advancement of the Christian faith… a voyage to plant the first colony…do by these present, and in the presence of God, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic..”  Apparently the Forefathers had not attended public education where they would be taught of “separation of church and state”.

Our nation’s Founding Fathers carried this vision forward throughout or Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

(snip)

Like so much of our nation’s history, we have forgotten from where we have come. We have ignored the lessons of the past and we have stood by as the principles that were fought and paid for with blood have been twisted or ignored. The Forefathers that came to this continent did so to maximize the freedoms they recognized as coming from God. Our Founding father fought a war with the most advanced, the most feared army and navy the world had ever seen. They won and secured that freedom not only for themselves, but for future generations.

It is our duty, it is our solemn obligation to carry on these principles. The book of Revelations warns us “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Rev 2:5). As Joshua was taking the nation of Israel to the Promised Land, representative from the twelve tribes carried stones from the riverbed of the Jordan River to create a memorial – so that future generations would learn and return to the ways of God-given freedom.

On Monday, September 17, 2012, we will celebrate the 225th anniversary of our Constitution. If we are to restore our nation, we must take up the burden of remembering the past, relearning the principles and returning to them. Please join me in these 10 simple steps and together, we will become the tireless, irate minority keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men!

The “10 simple steps” Bob cited come in an article on the anniversary written Friday by Julia Shaw of the Heritage Foundation, which I’ve found useful to link as well.

But it’s interesting to note a juxtaposition in the space of less than a week, and a change seemingly to suit those who don’t believe America is the “shining city on a hill” but rather just a space on the map, a nation no more exceptional than, say, Estonia, Peru, or Namibia.

We just went through a 9/11 which reminded us once again there is a group out there actively striving for “death to America!” Yet the prevailing mood conveyed by the current administration is one of devoting the day to service.

On the other hand, few take the time to celebrate or even think about the blessings of liberty bestowed upon us by our Creator and enshrined in perhaps the finest document to come from the hands and minds of men. Just think: these learned men could have been the tyrants, dukes, and lords of this fledgling nation, protected by an ocean from the mighty Crown that they just beat back. They couldn’t be blamed if they were feeling their oats, boastfully giving themselves a place in the hierarchy they’d earned through hard-won independence.

Instead, they yielded all that prospective power to a mostly uneducated motley group of people, many of whom were barely scratching out their existence in this new nation as common farmers and laborers. It would have been so tempting for these leaders to take the paternal attitude that they needed to take this nation by the hand and lead it where they believed it needed to go, but they resisted and trusted the people to have common sense. All they needed to do was live by the precepts spelled out in this wonderful document and they, too, could secure and maintain their God-given rights ceded to them by those who wrote the Constitution and could have been in a position to take full advantage.

But while we celebrate our independence with everything from fireworks to parades to crass commercialism, the annual passing of Constitution Day goes almost unnoticed. Perhaps that’s fitting since, as a regulator of the federal government, all the Constitution did was replace the weak and ineffective Articles of Confederation which had formed the skeletal governmental structure for the decade which had passed since independence was declared.

Yet the question has to be asked: why is it so unnoticed? What would be so wrong about a reminder, or even a government holiday? Sure, they would make it one of those generic Monday holidays just to give themselves a late-summer three-day weekend but it would still be a topic of conversation. (And yes, I can see the crass commercialism out there: three guys dressed up as our Founding Fathers debating whether the right to save 50% off a TV should be in the Bill of Rights. That right didn’t make it into the Constitution, but we’ll give you the freedom to save big at XYZ Warehouse this Constitution Day weekend!)

Perhaps there is a group out there, though, who would like the Constitution and its “negative liberties” to be forgotten by the public, the better to do their dirty work.

Unfortunately, most of us will be working today and not have the opportunity to give the Constitution the commemoration it deserves on this 225th anniversary of its unveiling. But the better way to celebrate would be a true day of service: making an active effort to bring about the return of those liberties granted to “We the People” and not a overbearing, Crown-like tyrannical government.

A call to restore the oath

September 18, 2011 · Posted in Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

Every day more and more Americans are convinced the government doesn’t have the nation’s best interests at heart. Despite the chance to elect new leaders every other year, it seems to us that nothing really ever changes and the nation sinks deeper and deeper into the morass created when the rule of man supersedes the rule of law.

But all is not lost. My friends at the Patriot Post are trying a new tactic to reverse the decline, and it’s called the Breach of Oath Project. As they state:

To enforce our Constitution’s limits on the central government, we believe a formal legal action is necessary. This action, if successful, would require that all members of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, first and foremost, abide by their oaths “to support and defend” our Constitution, under penalty of law, and thus, comport with its enumerated “few and defined powers” (Madison) of the federal government. The current scope of federal activities provides abundant evidence that many members of those three co-equal branches have long since abandoned their oaths, and, at present, there is no recourse for prosecution to enforce compliance.

So far, over 68,000 citizens (who may or may not run afoul of the Attackwatch.com website) have signed on in an effort to establish legal standing – failing that, the Breach of Oath goal is 500,000 signatures in order to codify this into law.

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