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Government Says It Lost “Only” $9.26 Billion On Auto Bailout

By kevin Glass

cliff
A Department of the Treasury report this week released some of its final numbers on the auto industry bailout, with good news: “only” $9.26 billion was flushed down the drain bailing out America’s labor union-dominated auto industry.
As the Detroit Free press reports:

Taxpayers lost $9.26 billion on the U.S. government’s automotive industry rescue program, according to a final tally released by U.S. Treasury this week… The government said it recovered $70.42 billion of the $79.68 billion it gave to General Motors, Chrysler, Ally Financial, Chrysler Financial and automotive suppliers through the federal Auto Industry Financing Program.

The government lost money, but far less than initially expected when the program was launched in 2009.

Of course, President Obama himself was consistently telling Americans that “GM has repaid every taxpayer dollar my administration” lent to them in the auto bailout program. That is, of course, a blatant lie.

And the Treasury Department isn’t exactly the most reliable source of numbers here, considering they’re led by political apointees beholden to President Obama. The Congressional Budget Office, for example, has historically put out different numbers than Treasury, showing the bailout to be in worse shape. The nearly $10 billion loss might be understating it.

The real test will be if GM and the other companies continue to survive or continue to need bailouts. As Jim Pethokoukis wrote for AEI last year:

Bailing out a failing company is a lot easier than turning around a troubled company so it once again makes a quality product… Washington didn’t save GM, if by “GM” you mean an innovating, value-adding, self-sustaining automaker. That’s just not something government really knows how to do.

GM has proved to be in dire straits. They had a disastrous recall in 2014, and they’ve struggled to produce midsize cars that compete even close to the same level as Japan’s leading Camry and Civic products. Maybe we’ll end up having lost “only” $10 billion. In a counterfactual world, though, the U.S. automakers might already be producing beter products. And in the real world, we may have just wasted a truckload of money delaying the inevitable.

US Air Force scraps 16 cargo planes it bought for $500million for Afghan army for just $32,000

The fleet of C-27As were bought for Afghan forces and stored in Kabul
Were allegedly taken apart to save money as forces withdraw
Controversial move has prompted an investigation by John Spako
Special inspector for reconstruction will ask why money wasn’t ‘salvaged’
Pentagon considering what to do with last four planes stored in Germany
The US Air Force is facing an investigation over why it destroyed 16 cargo planes worth nearly $500million and turned them into $32,000 of scrap metal.
The fleet of 16 C-27As that were bought for the Afghan Army and stored in Kabul International Airport were taken apart to allegedly save costs as forces continue to withdraw from the country.
It has prompted an investigation by John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, who will question why there wasn’t an effort to ‘salvage’ taxpayers’ money.

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Destroyed: The fleet of 16 C-27As (one pictured) that were bought for the Afghan Army and stored in Kabul International Airport were taken apart to allegedly save costs as forces continue to withdraw from the country
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Scrapped: The US Air Force now faces a probe as to why the planes, which cost $500million were turned into $32,000 of scrap metal. They will also be asked why the money wasn’t ‘salvaged’
He asked Air Force Secretary Deborah James to document all decisions made about the destruction of the aircraft.
‘I am concerned that the officials responsible for planning and executing the scrapping of the planes may not have considered other possible alternatives in order to salvage taxpayer dollars,’ he said.
Sopko also asked if any other parts of the planes had been sold before they were destroyed by the Defense Logistics Agency.
Sopko’s office has been investigating the matter since December 2013 after numerous non-profit groups and military officials raised questions about funds wasted on the planes.
The U.S. government spent $486 million to buy and refurbish 20 older C-27A airplanes from Alenia, a unit of Italy’s Finmeccanica SpA, but later canceled the program because a lack of spare parts was severely limiting their availability for military use.Base:

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Base: The refurbished planes were stored at Kabul International Airport for years but have now been scrapped

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Questions: In an interview last year John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said it wasunclear if the move to take apart the planes was criminal fraud or mismanagement
Instead, the Pentagon decided to buy four larger C-130 planes built by Lockheed Martin Corp to do the work.
Pentagon spokesman Major Brad Avots said the U.S. military decided to destroy the planes ‘to minimize impact on drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan,’ but would provide more information after a review.
Avots said the Pentagon and Air Force would consider various options for the remaining four planes, including possible sale to other parties.
‘Working in a wartime environment such as Afghanistan brings with it many challenges, and we continually seek to improve our processes,’ he said.

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Under used: In January 2013, the Pentagon’s inspector general office said the aircraft flew only 234 of the 4,500 required hours fromJanuary through September 2012
He said the U.S. military was also working to help Afghanistan ‘improve accountability and help instill sound financial management practices in daily operations while reducing the risk of fraud, waste and abuse.’
In an interview last year with NBC News, Sopko said it was unclear if the incident was criminal fraud or mismanagement, but the waste was not an isolated incident in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon’s inspector general has also investigated the issue, which the non-profit Project on Government Oversight calls ‘a shining example of the billions wasted in Afghanistan.’
In January 2013, the Pentagon’s inspector general office said the aircraft flew only 234 of the 4,500 required hours from January through September 2012. The office also said about $200 million were needed to buy spare parts for the planes.

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Under investigation: Air Force Secretary Deborah James (middle) has been asked to document all decisions made about the destruction of the aircraft

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2787460/U-S-Air-Force-probed-scrapping-costly-planes-bought-Afghans.html#ixzz3GPaQu3K7
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Who actually “owns” America’s land? A deeper look at the Bundy Ranch crisis

by Michael Lofti

Federal-Land-per-State
Federal Land per State

Turtles and cows have absolutely no relevance to the situation in Nevada. Does the Constitution make provision for the federal government to own and control “public land”? This is the only question we need to consider. Currently, the federal government “owns” approximately 30% of the United States territory. The majority of this federally owned land is in the West. For example, the feds control more than 80% of Nevada and more than 55% of Utah. The question has been long debated. At the debate’s soul is Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution, which is know as the “Property Clause”. Proponents of federal expansion on both sides of the political aisle argue that this clause provides warrant for the federal government to control land throughout the United States.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States….

Those who say this clause delegates the feds control over whatever land they arbitrarily decide to lay claim to are grossly misinterpreting even the most basic structure of the Constitution.

It is said the Constitution is “written in plain English”. This is true. However, plain English does not allow one to remove context. Article IV does not grant Congress the power to exercise sovereignty over land. Article IV deals exclusively with state-to-state relations such as protection from invasion, slavery, full faith and credit, creation of new states and so on.

Historically, the Property Clause delegated federal control over territorial lands up until the point when that land would be formed as a state. This was necessary during the time of the ratification of the Constitution due to the lack of westward development. The clause was drafted to constitutionalize the Northwest Ordinance, which the Articles of Confederation did not have the power to support. This ordinance gave the newly formed Congress the power to create new states instead of allowing the states themselves to expand their own land claims.

The Property Clause and Northwest Ordinance are both limited in power and scope. Once a state is formed and accepted in the union, the federal government no longer has control over land within the state’s borders. From this moment, such land is considered property of the sovereign state. The continental United States is now formed of fifty independent, sovereign states. No “unclaimed” lands are technically in existence. Therefore, the Property Clause no longer applies within the realm of federal control over these states.

The powers of Congress are found only in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. With the exception of the less than two dozen powers delegated to Congress found within Article I, Section 8, Congress may make no laws, cannot form political agencies and cannot take any actions that seek to regulate outside of these few, enumerated powers.

Article I, Section 8 does lay forth the possibility of federal control over some land. What land? Clause 17 defines these few exceptions.

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– (Emphasis added).

Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 is known as the Enclave Clause. The clause gives federal control over the “Seat of Government” (Washington D.C.) and land that has been purchased by the federal government with consent of the state legislature to build military posts and other needful buildings (post offices and other structures pursuant to Article I, Section 8). Nothing more.

Being a requirement, state permission was explicitly emphasized while drafting this clause. The founders and respective states insisted (with loud cries) that the states must consent before the federal government could purchase lands from the states. Nowhere in this clause will you find the power for Congress to exercise legislative authority through regulation over 80% of Nevada, 55% of Utah, 45% of California, 70% of Alaska, etc. unless the state has given the federal government the formal authority to do so, which they have not.

If a state legislature decides sell land to the federal government then at that point the Enclave Clause becomes applicable and the federal government may seize legislative and regulatory control in pursuance to the powers delegated by Article 1, Section 8.

In America’s infancy, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Founding Fathers’ understanding of federal control over land. Justice Stephen J. Field wrote for the majority opinion in Fort Leavenworth Railroad Co. v. Lowe (1855) that federal authority over territorial land was “necessarily paramount.” However, once the territory was organized as a state and admitted to the union on equal ground, the state government assumes sovereignty over federal lands, and the federal government retains only the rights of an “individual proprietor.” This means that the federal government could only exercise general sovereignty over state property if the state legislature formally granted the federal government the power to do so under the Enclave Clause with the exception of federal buildings (post offices) and military installations. This understanding was reaffirmed in Lessee of Pollard v. Hagan (1845), Permoli v. Municipality No. 1 of the city of New Orleans (1845) and Strader v. Graham (1850).

However, it did not take long for the Supreme Court to begin redefining the Constitution and legislating from the bench under the guise of interpretation. Case by case, the Court slowly redefined the Property Clause, which had always been understood to regard exclusively the transferring of federal to state sovereignty through statehood, to the conservation of unconstitutional federal supremacy.

Federal supremacists sitting on the Supreme Court understood that by insidiously redefining this clause then federal power would be expanded and conserved.

With Camfield v. United States (1897), Light v. United States (1911), Kleppe v. New Mexico (1976) and multiple other cases regarding commerce, federal supremacists have effectively erased the constitutional guarantee of state control over property.

Through the centuries, by the hand of corrupt federal judges, we arrive and the Bundy Ranch in Nevada. The Founding Fathers never imagined the citizens of a state would be subject to such treatment at the hands of the federal government. Furthermore, they certainly never imagined the state legislatures themselves would allow such treatment to go unchecked. The latest updates appear to show that Bundy has won his battle against the feds– for now. However, it remains a damn shame that the state of Nevada would allow for such a situation to arise in the first place.

What does Nevada’s Constitution say about property? Section 1, titled “Inalienable Rights,” reads: All men are by Nature free and equal and have certain inalienable rights among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; Acquiring, Possessing and Protecting property and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness (Emphasis added).

In Section 22 of the Nevada Constitution, eminent domain is clarified. The state Constitution requires that the state prove public need, provide compensation and documentation before acquiring private property. In order to grant land to the federal government, the state must first control this land.

Bundy’s family has controlled the land for more than 140 years.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is an agency created by Congress, claimed that Bundy was “violating the law of the land.” Perhaps the agency has forgotten that the law of the land is the Constitution, and the only constitutional violation here is the very modern existence of the agency’s presence in Nevada.

About the author

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Michael Lotfi

Michael Lotfi is a Persian, American political analyst and adviser living in Nashville, Tennessee where he works as the executive director for the Tenth Amendment Center (TN). Lotfi founded TheLibertyPaper.org, which is an online news source that is visited daily by readers in over 135 countries. Lotfi also writes a column at The Washington Times called “American Millennial”. Lotfi graduated in the top 5% of his class with top honors from Belmont University, an award winning, private university located in Nashville, Tennessee.
– See more at: http://www.thedailysheeple.com/who-actually-owns-americas-land-a-deeper-look-at-the-bundy-ranch-crisis_042014#sthash.9rgcoubh.dpuf

Federal Agencies Caught Mailing Millions of Dollars in Subsidies to Dead Farmers

by Daniel DohertyIstockphoto image of a farm, barn
In fairness, “caught” might be the wrong word in this particular instance. Surely federal workers didn’t mean for this to happen, naturally. But still, if you ever needed more evidence that the federal government is dysfunctional, inept, and not working properly, here it is (via the Washington Times):

The federal government is still paying out millions of dollars a year in subsidies to dead farmers, according to a new government audit released Monday that said the Agriculture Department doesn’t do routine checks required to make sure it is paying benefits to the right people.

The Government Accountability Office said that from 2008 to 2012 one agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, made $10.6 million payments on behalf of more than 1,100 people who’d been dead at least a year. Another branch, the Risk Management Agency, paid out $22 million to more than 3,400 policyholders who’d been dead at least two years.

Some of the payments may have been legal because they were for work done before the farmers died, but GAO said the problem is the two agencies don’t perform the routine checks — such as looking at the Social Security lists — to see.

“Until and unless NRCS and RMA develop and implement procedures to have their payment or subsidy data records matched against SSA’s complete death master file, either through coordination with FSA or on their own, these agencies cannot know if they are providing payments to, or subsidies on behalf of, deceased individuals; how often they are providing such payments or subsidies; or in what amounts,” the investigators wrote.

And the excuse the government gave? Well, we have safeguards against making these kinds of errors, but they’re not really working correctly, or something:

In its official response to the audit, the Agriculture Department said it does have some procedures in place to check to see if it is paying live beneficiaries.

But the department acknowledged their procedures “were not effectively and consistently implemented to identify deceased individuals.”

How hard is it to do a basic fact check to make sure that the recipients of government checks are in fact breathing? Apparently very difficult, it would seem. Meanwhile, this type of abuse and incompetence raises an important question. With regard to the debate over immigration reform, for example, do politicians in Washington really expect Americans to believe that the federal government is fully capable of “securing the border” someday when in reality they can’t even complete a rudimentary fact check? Seriously. Given the federal government’s appalling track record when it comes to being (ahem) “efficient” — especially when audited — even if the “Gang of Eight” bill puts securing the border first (which it clearly doesn’t) do the feds even have the manpower, resources and/or desire to make this happen? I’m not entirely convinced.

I would like to think so, of course, but the truth is that government audits rarely, if ever, inspire confidence in federal agencies. And today’s findings are no exception.

Is America a Republic or an Empire?

Over the years in this column I have written about the American Empire.  I have advocated jettisoning the Empire to save the Republic.  This topic has sparked debate and controversy even among the most dedicated readers.  Usually the argument runs like this, “America is not an Empire, never has been and never will be,” or “America’s far-flung military deployments are not the garrisoning of an empire it is instead a forward defense of the homeland.”

In my most recent column along these lines, aptly entitled, “Republic or Empire?” in several publications there was spirited debate about whether or not America could be called an empire.  Some people seemed to take offense at the very idea.  Others who usually agree with my political stands find this and my other foreign policy positions such as bringing our troops home, concentrating on defending America, and equitable trade with all unacceptable.  I present and promote these foreign policy positions as requirements for restoring limited government. It is my belief that as long as we are involved in endless war there is no real possibility to re-gain control of our government, our budget, or our future.

What I propose to do in this column is examine the hallmarks of empire and ask my readers to honestly ask themselves, “Is America a republic or an empire?”

First, it makes no difference whether it is the President, the Paramount Chief, an Augustus, the First Citizen, the Dear Leader, the Great Helmsman or der Fuehrer.  It doesn’t matter if it is an executive branch, a Politburo, a Central Committee, the Cabinet, or the collective leadership.  Whatever form it takes, an empire is always dominated by a highly centralized executive power.

America was designed not to be an empire but instead to be a federal republic made up of a central government and state governments which were the precursors and creators of the central government.   This central government founded upon and constrained by a written constitution originally presented the world with something new, a national government made up of divided co-equal powers.  The Congress to make the laws, the executive to enforce the laws, and the judicial to judge if the laws conformed to the Constitution: the guiding light and touch-stone of American limited government.  This worked well to establish and maintain a republic but it would not foster nor perpetuate an empire.

Thus the Constitution established the framework of what became known as the system of checks and balances.  Only congress could make laws, but the President could veto them.  Congress could over-ride a president’s veto, but the Supreme Court could declare laws unconstitutional making them null and void.  The president is in charge of foreign policy and is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, but the Congress controlled the purse and could cut off funding.  Upon petition the Supreme Court could declare the actions of the president unconstitutional yet the president could appoint justices to the Supreme Court.

Did this work perfect?  No, there were always swings one way or another.  There have been powerful Supreme Courts such as under Chief Justices Marshall or Warren that changed the complexion of the country.  There have been powerful Congresses such as the one from 1865 to the mid 1870’s that virtually ignored presidents and set policy.  There were powerful presidents such as Jackson or Lincoln.  However the pendulum always swung back and forth.  If you examined all three institutions there was one thing missing.  Where was the sovereignty?  Who was the nation?

In the highly centralized state, which is an empire whether personal or national, the leader or leadership operates according to the sentiments of the Sun King, Louis XIV of France who said, “I am the State.”  During the birth of the American system, our Founders had spent more time debating this than any other aspect of the government, who would be the sovereign power.  They had just fought and defeated one tyrant and they did not want to exchange one for another.  They didn’t trust the sovereignty of the nation in the hands of an executive because of the long and bloody history of Europeans with absolutism and divine right.  They didn’t trust an assembly after their recent history with the tyranny of the British Parliament and their Stamp Act, Quartering Act and other attempts to bring the colonies to their knees.  They couldn’t place it in the hands of the Supreme Court for that body would be merely judicial.

Instead they came up with a new idea in the world.  They placed the sovereignty of the nation in the hands of We the People.

The Constitution is designed to empower the people not the government.  Though today it is stretched and interpreted to give the government the power to do whatever it wants whenever it wants originally it was constructed to limit government.

We the People could vote the Congress in or out, we could choose our own president, and if the Supreme Court said something was unconstitutional that we wanted we could change the Constitution using a mechanism embedded within the document itself.  For the first time no leader or oligarchy owned the state, instead the state belonged to the citizens.

What do we see in America today?  We have a president who says, “We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.”  When Congress after deliberation decides not to pass the Dream Act giving amnesty to millions, the President uses an executive order to make it law by decree.  When the Congress refuses to pass a cap-and-trade law that many believe will hamstring our industry and hobble us in the race with other nations, the president orders his EPA department to enforce it anyway.  Without consulting Congress the President takes us to war against Libya and deposes a government.

These are the actions of an executive out of control.  Under the original American system if anyone would have asked, “Who speaks for the people?” the answer would have been the House of Representatives because they were elected every two years and were thus closest to the people.  It wouldn’t have been the Congress as a whole because under the original system the senate was chosen by the various state legislatures and was designed to represent the states.  It was the House which spoke for the people.  Today it is the President who uses the bully pulpit magnified by a subservient press and a thousand government media pressure points and outlets saying in effect, I have a mandate from the people.  I am the embodiment of their will.  I am the state.

The next hallmark of an empire we will look at is that domestic policy becomes subordinate to foreign policy.  The American President is constitutionally in charge of foreign policy so there is no better place for the holder of that office to act without any restraint.  Treaties must be ratified, so our presidents began in the 1940’s to forge personal agreements with the leaders of other countries that had all the force of treaties with none of the messy Senate confirmation required.  Using their power as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces modern presidents have also used their authority to start wars as in Kosovo and Libya, to sign cease fires as in Korea, and to commit America to the support of dictators and tyrants through deployments and equipment transfers, all without any Congressional oversight.

If we ask ourselves, has domestic policy really become subordinate to foreign policy think about whose infrastructure are we being taxed to rebuild?  In Afghanistan and Iraq our money and our companies are building new schools while ours fall apart, we are building new roads in Afghanistan while we watch our own bridges crumbling.  We give billions to countries and governments that despise us.  We borrow money to give it away and then sometimes borrow it back all in a bizarre dance balancing foreign interests at the expense of We the People.

Another hallmark of an empire is that the military mindset becomes ascendant to the point that civilians are intimidated.  Think about the Defense budget.   In 2012 it was over 600 billion dollars.  Does anyone believe Congress or anyone else really knows where all that money is going?  The size, scope, and unbelievable waste in the defense budget stagger the imagination.  However, to even question the defense budget will immediately get someone labeled as an isolationist who wants to gut our defense and surrender to the enemy.

Many people will argue that we are in a war and that during war of course the defense budget will be bloated.  Can you remember any time since 1942 that we haven’t been in a war?  Yes, there were the brief days of the “Peace Dividend” under Clinton after the Soviet Union dissolved which actually became the rational for increased defense spending.  And during those brief days of peace back in the 1990’s we fought a war and enforced a decade long no-fly zone in Iraq, attacked Serbia, sent troops, planes or other assets to Zaire, Sierra Leone, Bosnia (numerous times), Herzegovina, Somalia, Macedonia, Haiti, Liberia, Central African Republic, Albania, Congo and Gabon, Cambodia, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Afghanistan, and East Timor.  And this was our only decade of peace since the 1940’s, and to question any of this is considered tantamount to treason.  We must ask ourselves, “Has the military mindset become ascendant to the point that civilians are intimidated?”

Perpetual war for peace has led the peaceful American people to be ensnared in the clutches of the military-industrial complex as president Eisenhower warned it would in 1961.

All empires develop and maintain a system of satellite nations.  When we hear of this we immediately think of the old USSR and their slave states in Eastern Europe.  Advance the idea that America has satellite nations and people become irate.  “How could you say such a thing about America?”  Look at our so-called allies.  Do they fit the description as satellite nations?  A satellite nation is one that the empire deems is necessary for its own defense.  It is also one that feels it cannot stand alone and wants the empire’s protection.

That is the deal.  The empire commits to protect the satellite and the satellite agrees to stand with its back against the empire facing a common foe.  Add to that the fact that we supply money and material to build the national defenses of our satellite/allies as well as economic aid and a preferential trade system.  Think about these ideas and decide for yourself whether or not America has satellite nations ringing the heartland of the empire.

Another hallmark of empire is that a psychology or psychosis of pride, presumption, and arrogance overtakes the national consciousness.   We are all familiar with the twenty-first century incantation of “Too big to fail.”  That was applied by our bailout happy leaders to their pet banks and companies during the opening days of the Great Recession.  It is also an apt description for the way in which most Americans view our position as the most powerful nation on earth or as the silver tongued talking heads like to say, the world’s sole superpower.  Since the end of World War One the United States has been the unchallenged mega power among the western block of nations.  Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union we have towered like a colossus over the rest of the world.  In the memory of most people now alive it has always been this way.

To most people the way it has been is the way it shall be.  We speak of embracing change and of realizing that change is the only constant but few can really think that way.  The familiar seduces us into thinking that the momentary circumstances of today are the unshakable foundations of tomorrow.  To the children and grandchildren of the greatest generation the world will always gaze in awe at the great American eagle soaring above the world.  Our navies rule the waves, our masses of fighters, bombers, and drones can reach out and touch any corner of the globe, our troops are the best trained, best equipped, and best led armies the world has ever seen, so such a mega power could never fall.

So it seemed to the inhabitants of Rome the eternal empire.  So it seemed to the British when the sun never set upon the union jack.  And so it seems to us.  Even though a rag-tag group like Al Qaeda defies our attempts to destroy them and continues to grow and multiply around the world.  Even though the Taliban not only have withstood more than a decade of war they stand poised to reclaim their country as soon as we leave.  Even though our deficit spending and the national debt it creates is leading us to a financial collapse that our own military leaders have identified as the greatest threat to our security, and our leaders only answer is more spending.  This pride, presumption, and arrogance blinds us to the enduring truth of what comes before a fall.

Finally an empire is the prisoner of history.  A republic is not required to act upon the world stage.  It can pick and choose its own way seeking its own destiny as a commonwealth of citizens.  An empire must project its power for fear that if it doesn’t another leviathan will arise to take its place.  A free republic that has maintained its independence is able to decide where and when it will become involved.  An empire is always the leader of a center heavy coalition comprised of the imperial core and the associated or satellite nations.  As such it is the collective security against the barbarian, the other that drives the actions of the empire.

In the parlance of our day it is our turn.  It is our turn to be the policeman of the world, our turn to keep the peace, to guard civilization from the unwashed hordes who seek to turn back the clock and bring darkness into the world.  We are a vanguard of stability in a world beset by chaos, and so were the British and the Romans before them.

Other writers may say something has been left off these hallmarks while others may say some of these don’t apply.  To all I would recommend a study of former empires to see if they agree these properties are found in all of them.  Then ask ourselves, “Are these properties present in America today?”  Once we have completed this process we will be able to answer the question for ourselves, “Is America an Empire?”  If we decide, yes it is, we have to realize that there is a trajectory all empires follow: they rise and they fall.

We might decide that,we as the first empire that is not set-up to plunder wealth but instead to distribute wealth, are different, and therefore we will break the mold.  We will stand while others have fallen.  One look at our debt should persuade anyone that what we have built is as unsustainable as the British, the Roman, or any other empire we wish to use as a standard.

Do you say, “We can’t be an empire because our president is elected.”  So were the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, so were the kings of Poland. It is the empire that empowers our executive.  Do you say, “We can’t be an empire because we have a Congress.”  So did Athens, Rome, and Britain.  Do you say, “We can’t be an empire because we have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, why we even have the freedom to own weapons.”  So did Athens, so did Rome, and so did Britain.

While we are yet on the glory side of the fall let us abandon the empire to save our republic.  Let us resign from the great game of thrones, rebuild America, secure our own borders instead of those of Korea, or Afghanistan, and reaffirm our dedication to be the last best hope of mankind: a federal republic operating on democratic principles, securing our God given liberties, providing personal freedom, individual liberty, and economic opportunity to all its citizens.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

A Slow Motion Revolution Gathers Speed

The Progressives in both parties may be the establishment now but they have always been and continue to be revolutionaries seeking to turn the American dream into a socialist nightmare.

Since the 1890s the Progressives have worked to change our American Experiment from a federal republic operating on democratic principles that recognized our God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness into a democracy where the government grants rights and pursues its own happiness.

Inch by inch, step by step they have worked to change one aspect and then another until today the cacophony of minute changes has become a centrally-planned federally orchestrated symphony playing Hail to the Chief.

We have transitioned from federal republic into an imperial bureaucracy controlled by a Chicago raised Alinsky style outfit determined to reduce us to abject obedience.  This is the direct result of an education system captured by the Progressives delivering generations of uninformed voters and of the entitlement society delivering a near majority of citizens who get more than they give from the federal trough.

This should be no surprise to anyone.  A country once famous for the political engagement of its citizens has raised generations on the dictum that neither religion nor politics were the subject of polite debate.  The culture of media-hyped sports addiction and hedonistic indulgence has produced millions who know more about their favorite team or about the latest fashion than about their own government.

I don’t know about you but I’m so tired of being lectured by people who get their news from Leno, Colbert, or the Daily Show that I have all but stopped speaking of anything of substance with most people.  We have all developed ways to identify fellow patriots.  We listen for anyone to say anything that will give us an indication that here is another American who realizes where we are and from where we have fallen.  Then we have great conversations, comparing observations and trying to encourage each other that the United States as we have known it will survive four more years of America’s Chavez.

Often I wonder, are we just singing to the choir, lighting a candle in the dark, or sticking our thumb in the dyke?  Will our clandestine discussions on the fringes of a complacent society make any difference?  Or are we merely whistling in the wind as our beloved country changes forever into the dead letters of a living constitution?

We have to admit that the Progressives have out maneuvered and out organized those dedicated to limited government.  They have turned the world upside down.  They captured the Corporations Once Known as the Main Stream Media turning them into a propaganda arm dedicated to suppressing the truth and giving the government party all the cover they need to do anything they want.  They radically empowered the federal bureaucracy ceding it powers granted to Congress to set policy and make law.  This red-tape machine has grown to become the largest organization in the world.  It is ever-expanding and filled with career people dedicated to enlarging their private kingdoms and increasing the power of the nomenclature at the expense of the people.

The courts have been packed, the banks have been bought off, and the unions use legally mandated dues to support candidates and policies their unwilling members don’t want.  Check and check-mate.  The situation has become so dire and the hour so late that it appears the only line of defense we have left between the USA and the USSA is a House of Representatives controlled by Progressive Republicans.

These Progressive Republicans want the same things as their Democrat counterparts: bigger government and more power even if they may want to drive us to the poor house a little slower.

There are a few younger ones who have been elected by the Tea Party such as Rand, Lee, and Cruz who are trying to make a difference.  At every step the Progressive establishment in their own party tries to ridicule them into toeing the party line of compromise and surrender.  The old bulls talk conservative to get elected then join hands across the aisles in a marriage of despotism with deceit.

The further we get from the puzzle factory in Washington one would think the closer we would get to our American heritage of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  However, the same uninformed disengaged voters form the majority all the way down to the precinct level.  The community organizers have done their jobs very well.  Try to name a state that isn’t in debt.  Try to name a county that isn’t working to install Agenda 21, promote sustainability or cram its Master Plan down the throat of an unsuspecting public.  Try to name a city, town, or village that doesn’t have its good old boy network that manages to stay in power year after year.

Several years ago after an unsuccessful attempt to unseat an entrenched state senator from a gerrymandered district my wife and I decided to become involved on the local level to try and make a difference.  We spent several years battling Agenda 21 while watching the good old boys win by hook or by crook either ignoring or fooling the voters.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in Chicago and was raised on the milk of “You can’t fight City Hall?”  Maybe it’s because I have seen bribes work and honest petitions fall on deaf ears?  Maybe I’m just a cynic at heart?  Maybe it’s true that a pessimist is what an optimist calls a realist?

Although we shall not go gently into that good night it appears we are in the twilight of our Republic and about to enter the sunset of liberty and the dawn of an America with a living constitution, a herd mentality, and a cradle-to-grave welfare state.  If the bell has not tolled yet it is about to.  Even if the Obama Zombies don’t flock to the polls as directed and return Nancy Polosi as Speaker of the House so that a one party state can drive the final nail in Columbia’s coffin, the swelling debt will eventually bring collapse.  This is of course the end result of the Progressive’s long march towards the realization of the Cloward-Piven Strategy for forcing political change through orchestrated crisis.  After the collapse these social planners believe they can impose any type of system they want on a public clamoring for relief.

Ready or not here it comes………………………..

So what can we do now that it has been done?

First of all we have to educate ourselves about American History and the principles of limited government.  Principles which formed the cornerstone for our two century experiment with personal liberty, individual freedom, and economic opportunity so that we can educate future generations about who we were and what we hope someday to be once again.  We can’t teach what we don’t know.

Then we have to build a library of books and DVD’s that tell the story of America.  For books look for reading lists at Tea Party sites, also check out conservative media people such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck for suggested readings.  For DVD’s the History Channel has produced many great series on such things as the Revolution, the Constitution, the Founders, etc.  Individually or in local groups create an asset that our people can use to immerse themselves in the heritage of freedom.

Finally we need to stay engaged in the political process.  Become involved with likeminded people and figure out what, where, and when is the best place for you to spend our political capital.  None of us is as smart as all of us so if we all look for the way back to limited government eventually a spark will be ignited that will burn with the intensity of a thousand suns and a new chapter in freedom will begin.

Until that time do what you can do.  It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

Keep the faith.  Keep the peace.  We shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Nothing But Down-side to Top-Two Primaries

There was a strong push in the last Arizona election cycle to disenfranchise political parties by turning the Arizona Primary election into a “round one general election” in which there would be a single ballot with all candidates listed on it without regard to party affiliation, but only the top two vote-getters from the Primary would be on the General Election ballot.  Some very good political thinkers were involved at least in conceptualizing this ballot proposition.  The proposition failed by a two to one margin

military voting

The main thing the proposition was designed to do was to give independents (voters not affiliated with any party) a greater say in the primary.  There are certain good things about today’s party system; it allows people with common political views to identify their positions on issues (platform) and to select candidates who will run for office in the general election.  The founding fathers were not fond of political parties; but parties in their times were specific special interest factions such as merchants, or lawyers, or veterans, or bankers, or planters.  The political parties spoken of by Washington and his contemporaries were what we would now call lobbyists or political action committees (PACs).

Today’s parties are made up of voters with diverse professions, economic stations, races, educational levels, and lifestyle, and serve primarily as a vetting process for candidate selection. party) more say in Primary elections.  To me that alone doesn’t make any sense because primary elections are elections in which political parties nominate their candidates.  Independents are independents because they don’t support party politics.  Arizona already does something that I think is very bad in that they allow independents to vote in one primary of any party they wish. To me nobody except party members should have a say in who the party nominates..  I’m glad it did because I think it was a very bad idea.

Even minor parties have played a significant role in shaping our politics.  By presenting their views to the public they have caused the two major parties to adjust to attract those voters.  Two examples are the Socialist Party who originated the idea of vast social programs and redistribution of wealth, and the Libertarian Party who has pushed for a more stringent compliance with the constitution and lest government involvement in the lives of citizens.  Both of these minor parties have never reached the number of supporters needed to enact their policies, but the Democrats have adapted many of the aims of the Socialist Party, and the Republicans have adjusted to the right in response to the ideas of the Libertarian Party.

One problem with a top two primary is that it does not give the voter more choices but limits them to only two in the general election.  A second problem is that in a district in which one party dominates, no other party has a chance to make it on the ballot, both general candidates could be from the same party.  It would virtually illuminate all minor party candidates from ever getting on a general ballot.

Many independents say there is no difference between the two parties; however, even the most cursory review of their stand on issues reveals that as false. The main causes of independent discontent with the two major parties can be categorized as: 1) They are all professional politicians who are mostly concerned with feathering their own nest and being reelected, and 2) They can’t work together to get anything done.

I think Item one is partly true; I do believe that many people in congress have a genuine desire to do what’s right, but their view may differ from that of many of their voters.  They have elevated themselves to a special class that is paid much more than the average voter, has amazing perks and benefits, and gives them special exceptions to things the rest of us live with every day.  When congress was first given an annual salary in 1855 it was $3000; comparing the consumer price index of 1855 to 2012, that equates to under $12,000 per year in today’s dollar.  Then, being in Congress was a part time job, they spent a couple of months a year mostly approving a budget.

This brings us to item two.  As the founders intended, the federal government dealt with relatively few departments and programs, they didn’t enact many new laws every year, they took care of business and got back their farm, store, law officer, parsonage, etc.  For the last 80 years congress has gotten along too well, they have passed way to many laws, creating way too much government, and spending way too much public revenue.  Any congress that refuses to raise expenditures or increase taxes is a good congress.  Democrats want to keep using the public revenue to buy votes, and Republics want to reverse that process.  In a nutshell that is the difference between the two parties.  I will vote for the senator or representative who refuses to go along with government programs, trillion dollar deficits, and forever increasing taxes.  A “do-nothing” congress is better than a “do-something” congress unless the something being done is cutting spending, cutting government, and cutting taxes.

So since the main accusation is that Democrats and Republicans are the same, you better look again.  And if you want to save the country you better hope the “do-nothings” outnumber the “do-everythings”.

Part 2 Protecting Against Mass Murder: A Workable Armed Security Plan

SchoolsThere are things that make schools particularly attractive targets for evil men or crazies who want to inflict harm on others or who want to hurt society: Schools contain large numbers of helpless children and a few adults who can pose no threat to an attacker; Being gun-free zones, schools guarantee that the will be no armed person in a school, with the possible exception of a school resource officer; and, once the slaughter starts, the attacker knows that it will take several minutes for the police to be called and to respond. The attacker also knows that if there is a single policeman assigned to the school, he could get rid of that threat to him by simply removing the officer or distracting him in some way; and even if the officer is not disabled the attacker would simply have to begin his attack in one of the more remote classrooms. For these reasons our children are like lambs in a slaughterhouse
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The only real protection against a terrorist (and no matter their motive, the people who stage these attacks are terrorists) is to have numerous people in all parts of the school who can be first responders to an attack. The outcome at Sandy Hook Elementary School would have been very different had the first teacher who confronted the attacker, and the Principle who confronted him had done so with a gun.
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Schools should be Attack Free Zones; meaning that if an unauthorized person enters a school they are considered a deadly threat and if they do not immediately surrender, they will be shot. This means that schools would have to have the ability to control all access to the school and to identify and control visitors or those on authorized business.
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The two most rational objections to arming school personnel are 1) that they would create a confusing battlefield for police who respond- it would become difficult for the officers to identify the perpetrators as opposed to the armed school personnel; and, 2) School personnel are not trained in the needed skills and procedures. I think there is some valid concern on both points. However, if the arming of school personnel is done properly both these points become moot.
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First the personnel would have to pass the normal gun ownership background checks, second, they would have to pass the concealed carry class, and third they would be required to be trained and sanctioned by the local police department, and would operate under direction of the police department as a reserve unit of the police. This takes away the concern about qualification.
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There are probably several employees at most schools who are already competent marksmen and trained in gun safety. There are likely military veterans or reservists, concealed carry permit holders, reserve officers, or shooting hobbyist on the school staff. These people would be the obvious first class of trainees. The goal would be to have most employees, including administrators, teachers, classified staff, custodians, and bus drivers qualified and armed. Since the reasons schools are such enticing targets for evil or crazy people is because they know they will easily be able to do great harm, having this type of reserve protection would take away that primary attraction as a target.
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The second valid concern is identification of school police reservists. First, since they are under the direction of the police, trained by them, and mingle face to face with officers they would be known by sight to the police. Second they would be provided with a recognizable police vest which they would don in the event of an attack anywhere on the school. The teachers in classrooms would lock down their classroom, direct the children to take cover, and then take a defensive position to stop the attacker from entering.
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Teachers involved in other activities with students would move them to designated safe areas and take up a defensive position to protect the children. Administrators and other non-teaching personnel would don their vests and move quickly to the trouble area, firing on an attacker at the moment they are encountered.
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The reserve officer school personnel would be organized into rank leadership based on competency and training and the senior officer (who might be a teacher or a janitor rather than an administrator) would assume command of the crises until a ranking police officer is on the scene.
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Chances are, that in most cases based on this scenario by the time police arrived all school reservists would be “in uniform”’ the threat would be neutralized, and all arms would be holstered, avoiding the chaos envisioned by detractors.
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Chances are good that this would prevent injury or loss of student life; or at the worst would limit the number of such casualties.
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I will cover reestablishing a healthy American gun culture in Part 3.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New America

In December of 1914 in the first bitter winter of a long bitter war the solders of the German Empire and the soldiers of the British Empire defied the orders of their officers.  They abandoned their hastily dug entrenchments that would soon grow into an elaborate maze of trenches stretching from Switzerland to the English Channel to meet each other in no man’s land. They sang hymns and exchanged gifts in a spontaneous outpouring of the feelings of peace, fellowship, and forgiveness which were then the staples of a Christ centered Christmas season.

If you drench yourself in the torrent of Christmas movies that bombard us from Thanksgiving till December 25th you see that the spirit of Christmas in emotional America isn’t about the Christ child who came into a lost world to die as a payment for sin and to rise again to bring new life in harmony with God.  It is instead about the sentimental ideal of love and the boy gets the girl or is it the girl gets the boy?  Who knows sometimes they throw in a curve that really builds the suspense.  There are movies about Santa Clause, his sons, his daughters; his elves and wingless angels all of whom help people learn the true meaning of Christmas which is never about Christ and always about family and friends and being nice people.

In commercial America Christmas is about Black Friday and discounts so deep they remind me of the street vendor in Mexico who follows you shouting “I’ll give you 110% off if you buy two!”  The Chia Pets come out along with snuggies, pet rocks, and every other doodad imaginable to buy for people who already have too much.

The mountains of presents which obscenely bury Christmas trees in so many American homes are ripped apart by sugar-high children. Children who get into a frenzy of getting so intense they never have time to appreciate what they get. All they want is to get something else.  The beautiful wrapping paper, the miles of ribbon, and the forests of bows are stuffed unceremoniously into big green garbage bags on their way to landfills.

So this is Christmas, and what have we done?  Another year over, and a new one just begun.

In the still sweet morning of December 26 people start preparing for the next blast of holiday cheer, Happy New Year!!!

What will 2013 bring?

Whether we plunge over the so-called fiscal cliff or not it will bring us a New America.  An America cast in the image of our newly re-elected Community-Organizer-in-Chief.  This representative of the Saul Alinsky wing of the Progressive movement, this made man from the Chicago political Outfit has won a second term.  Whether it was through the voter fraud no one seems willing to mention or through the actual votes of those who bought into the Uncle Sugar myth and vote for Santa Clause, the man from Hawaii who says he’s from Chicago and who won’t tell us much of anything else, is poised to create the Age of Obama, or America in his own image.

In the New America more people qualify for disability than get jobs, more people get food stamps than start businesses, and more people forget that America was founded to provide individual liberty, personal freedom and economic opportunity and embrace America as a cradle-to-grave welfare state.  People forget that when you limit failure you also limit success.  They don’t understand that when you create a safety net so complete it becomes a hammock many people figure why work when you can play.

Incentive is stifled by entitlements, and innovation is strangled by regulation.

In our New America:

  • Taxes will go up and up as spending goes up even faster.
  • Regulations will pour out of the bureaucracy to fill in all the blanks in thousand page laws no one ever reads.
  • Our President will continue to bow before despots and our foreign policy will continue to support radical Islam in the Mideast.
  • No one will ever be held accountable for Fast and Furious, Benghazi, or any of the other scandals which will erupt from the pustule of corruption that is Inside the Beltway.
  • The burgeoning energy industry that has the potential to lift America out of its economic tailspin will be throttled as the coal industry, the fracking boom, and oil shale are all regulated to death.
  • We will pour billions down the green energy rat hole building industries that cannot produce enough energy to exist without government support.
  • Obamacare will destroy the insurance industry and eventually a single payer system will consign the rest of us to standing in lines in converted gymnasiums for impersonal care while our leaders take limousines and private jets to the Mayo Clinic all on our dime.
  • Industry will continue to flow out as foreign made goods flow in as more imbalanced trade agreements are called free.
  • We will be monitored by drones, wire taps, and computers as Big Brother extends his grasp till freedom becomes just another name for nothing left to lose.

This may be the New America that awaits us in 2013.  Our families, friends, and neighbors have voted for it, and we all get to live in it: oh happy days are here again.  The second coming of FDR has put food stamps in every pot and a Volt in every garage.

In our New America Christ has been purged from Christmas and sappy sentimentality has replaced the joy of being born again in a relationship with God our loving Father.  So as you prepare to celebrate the New Year be sure and thank any of the millions of Obamazombies who get their opinions from the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media, and who actually believe the economy is recovering and glory in America being knocked off its high horse for the New America we are all unwrapping under the Xmas Tree this year.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

 

DEMORATS TRY SLIPPING GUN-CONTROL MEASURE INTO ‘CYBERSECURITY’ BILL…

(The Hill) – Democratic senators have offered an amendment to the cybersecurity bill that would limit the purchase of high capacity gun magazines for some consumers.

Shortly after the Cybersecurity Act gained Senate approval to proceed to filing proposed amendments and a vote next week, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a sponsor of the gun control amendment, came to the floor to defend the idea of implementing some “reasonable” gun control measures.

The amendment was sponsored by Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Schumer and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.). S.A. 2575 would make it illegal to transfer or possess large capacity feeding devices such as gun magazines, belts, feed stripes and drums of more than 10 rounds of ammunition with the exception of .22 caliber rim fire ammunition.

The amendment is identical to a separate bill sponsored by Lautenberg. Feinstein was the sponsor of the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

The proposed amendment would only affect sales and transfers after the law took effect.

Schumer defended the Brady law and assault weapons ban on the floor Thursday evening, perhaps in preparation for the coming fight with Republicans and gun rights activists.

Schumer suggested that both the left and right find common ground.

“Maybe we could come together on guns if each side gave some,” Schumer said.

He suggested that Democrats make it clear that their goal is not to repeal the Second Amendment.

“The basic complaint is that the Chuck Schumers of the world want to take away your guns,” Schumer said of the argument made by gun lobbies. “I think it would be smart for those of us who want rational gun control to make it know that that’s not true at all.”

Schumer also pointed out that it would be reasonable for the right to recognize that background checks on those buying guns is necessary — as called for in the Brady law. He also said average Americans don’t need an assault weapon to go hunting or protect themselves.

“We can debate where to draw the line of reasonableness, but we might be able to come to an agreement in the middle,” Schumer said. “Maybe, maybe, maybe we can pass some laws that might, might, might stop some of the unnecessary casualties … maybe there’s a way we can some together and try to break through the log jam and make sure the country is a better place.”

Next week the Senate is expected to debate and vote on proposed amendments to the cybersecurity bill.

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/240657-cybersecurity-bill-includes-gun-control-measure