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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another Round of Immigration Reform

“One of the critical issues that we have to confront is illegal immigration, because this is a multi-headed Hydra that affects our economy, our health care, our health care, our education systems, our national security, and also our local criminality.” — Allen West, Florida Congressman.

This nation was built on immigration. As James Madison stated: “America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.” We had immigrants from England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, and Spain fighting in the revolutionary war. These immigrants came to the 13 colonies to build new lives and to escape the feudal system and tyrannical rulers of Europe. They did not come to the colonies in search of handouts. Many of them suffered great hardships to get to America and after their arrival worked hard to build a new nation dedicated to unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Over the centuries there have been waves of immigrations to the United States. In 1848 there were the Irish and German immigrations. The Irish came to escape the potato famine that was causing people to stave and the Germans came to escape the oppressive policies of the land-owning barons. At the turn of the 20th Century we had waves of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. They came from Italy, Poland, and Italy. In fact my maternal grandparents emigrated from Hungary in 1911. These were controlled immigrations where the immigrants passed though Ellis Island in New York Harbor and were screened for physical and mental diseases. These immigrants dispersed throughout the nation, mainly into the cities where they worked in the factories, opened restaurants and shops, and worked on farms. Most of these immigrants learned English and became citizens loyal to the United States. It was their sons and daughters who fought in World War II and built our post-war economy. They spoke English, graduated high school and college. They became doctors, engineers, teachers, and business owners. They were contributors not takers even though the majority voted Democrat.

The last great wave of immigrants from Europe came after World War II when thousands of displaced persons from war ravaged Europe came. The quota system was waived for these DPs. The came mainly from Eastern Europe and the Ukraine and were escaping the territories overrun by the Soviet Union. They came to the United States to find freedom and opportunity. They worked hard to assimilate into the culture of the United States while retaining their traditions. They did not bring gangs of criminals and they became loyal American citizens. I can speak to this issue because I grew up surrounded by these folks in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. They worked hard, built houses and churches. They insisted their children speak English and graduate from high school. Once again these were contributors, not takers.

This changed in 1965 with the passage of the passage of Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (Hart-Celler Act) as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. The 1965 act marked a radical break from the immigration policies of the past. The law as it stood then excluded Asians and Africans and preferred northern and western Europeans over southern and eastern ones.] At the height of the civil rights movement of the 1960s the law was seen as an embarrassment by, among others, President John F. Kennedy, who called the then-quota-system "nearly intolerable". After Kennedy's assassination, President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill at the foot of the Statue of Liberty as a symbolic gesture.

In order to convince the American populace — the majority of who were opposed to the act — of the legislation's merits, its liberal proponents assured that passage would not influence America's culture significantly. President Johnson called the bill "not revolutionary", Secretary of State Dean Rusk estimated only a few thousand Indian immigrants over the next five years, and other politicians, including Senator Ted Kennedy, hastened to reassure the populace that the demographic mix would not be affected; these assertions would later prove wildly inaccurate. In line with earlier immigration law, the bill also prohibited the entry into the country of "sexual deviants", including homosexuals. By doing so it crystallized the policy of the INS that had previously been rejecting homosexual immigrants on the grounds that they were "mentally defective" or had a "constitutional psychopathic inferiority"

During the debate over the bill on the floor of the Senate, Senator Ted Kennedy claimed:

“First our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same. Secondly, the ethnic mix of will not be upset. Contrary to the charges in some quarters, the bill will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and economically deprived nations of Asia or Africa.”

Johnson, Kennedy and the other Statists were dead wrong, and it’s hard to believe they were not intentionally deceiving the public. In 1964, Republican vice presidential candidate Representative William Miller well understood the overall increase in immigration that would result from the 1965 Act. Miller stated:

“We estimate that if the President gets his way, and the current immigration laws are repealed the number of immigrants next year will increase threefold and in subsequent years will increase even more.”

The bill abolished the decades-old policy of national quotas, which was said to be discriminatory because it favored immigrants from Europe (especially the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Germany) over the Third World. Thus it increased immigration levels from each hemisphere setting in motion a substantial increase in immigration from Latin America, Asia, and Africa — to the detriment of previously favored aliens from Europe. The bill also introduced, for the first time, a system of “chain migration”, which as the Center for Immigration Studies notes, “gave higher preference to the relatives of American citizens and permanent resident aliens than those applicants with special job skills.

Consequently, the historical basis for making immigration decisions was radically altered. The emphasis would no longer be on the preservation of American society and the consent of the governed; now it aliens themselves would decide who comes to the United States through family reunification. With the elimination of national quotas and the imposition of chain migration, aliens immigrating to the United States were poorer, less educated, and less skilled than those who had preceded them — a pattern that continues to this day.

Moreover, as a result of the 1965 law legal immigration soared from 2.5 million in the 1950s to 4.5 million in the 1970 to 7.3 million in the 1980s to about 10 million in the 1990s.

Furthermore, as political and economic circumstances in the Third World deteriorated, particularly in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, Asia, and Africa the egalitarian nature of the 1965 law and the growing American welfare state also encouraged the unprecedented and illegal migration of millions of additional destitute and uneducated aliens to the United States.

The late author Theodore White, who was no conservative, wrote:

The immigration Act of 1965 changed all previous patterns, and in so doing, probably changed the future of America. It was a noble revolutionary — and probably revolutionary — and probably the most thoughtless of the many acts of the Great Society.”

As the numbers of illegal immigrants began to grow and create a drain on the social safety net and medical care of the states Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), enacted November 6, 1986 (also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act).Passed by the 99th Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan the IRCA was supposed to:

  • Require employers to attest to their employees' immigration status.
  • Make it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit unauthorized immigrants.
  • Legalized certain seasonal agricultural illegal immigrants.
  • Legalized illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided there continuously with the penalty of a fine, back taxes due, and admission of guilt. About three million illegal immigrants were granted legal status.

For President Reagan to sign this Act Congress made a promise to secure the southern border and make it more difficult for Mexicans and Latin Americans to cross over illegally. This did not happen and the influx of illegal aliens continued to flow north overtaxing or social welfare system. Reagan was tricked by a Democrat controlled Congress. iT was like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football. As the numbers of illegal aliens began to grow and organization like the ACLU and LARAZA began to gain power and turned to the courts. Today these illegal aliens are eligible for most of our social welfare programs and our public education system. No other nation in the world takes this approach, including Mexico.

Steven Malanga, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute; Senior Editor, City Journal states during a panel discussion at the Center for Immigration Studies:

“Much of the bulk of our immigration today is low-skill, low-education immigration. In fact, a study by Harvard economists and economists with the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated that about 63 percent of Mexican adult immigrants here in the United States, male immigrants, do not have a high school education. In essence, the educational levels and the skill levels of today's immigrants are not much different than immigrants of the first great generation, but America is a hundred years advanced; the American economy is a hundred years advanced. The American workforce is not the American workforce of a hundred years ago.

That creates enormous differences. One of the things that's done is that's slowed down economic mobility among immigrants. A study done of Mexican immigrants who came here in the 1970s, using 2000 Census data at those same immigrants, found that when those immigrants came here, first of all they had a greater wage differential with the American worker at the time than the immigrants of the first great immigration had with American workers then; it was about a 30 percent wage differential.”

Today the Republicans are ready to embark on another immigration reform program. They believe that they need to cow tow to the Hispanic voters with the hope of winning elections. This is a fallacy. According to a report from the Pew Research Center in the 2012 presidential election Obama captured 71% of the Latino votes while Romney garnered a mere 27%. Even with after Ronald Reagan’s 1986 amnesty program Michael Dukakis got 69% of the Latino vote while George H.W. Bush got 30%. Here are the numbers for presidential elections since 1980:

  • 1980 Jimmy Carter, 56% Ronald Reagan, 35%
  • 1984 Walter Mondale, 61% Ronald Reagan, 37%
  • 1988 Michael Dukakis, 69% George H.W. Bush, 30%
  • 1992 Bill Clinton, 61% George H.W. Bush, 25%
  • 1996 Bill Clinton, 72% Bob Dole, 21%
  • 2000 Al Gore, 62% George W. Bush, 35%
  • 2004 John Kerry, 58% George W. Bush, 40%
  • 2008 Barack Obama, 67% John McCain, 31%
  • 2012 Barack Obama, 71% Mitt Romney, 27%

I don’t believe the issue is immigration reform as much as the desire for more from government. Obama was promising the Latino community more in government handouts than Romney. He was promising in-state tuition for illegals to attend college as a part of his executive orders “dream act.” This was no different than the Democrats have been doing for years with the African American voters and why the vote over 90% for Democrats.

According to the Pew Research Center report the top issues for Latino voters in 2012 were:

“For Hispanic voters, according to the national exit poll, 60% identified the economy as the most important issue (of four listed) facing the country today, virtually the same as the share (59%) of the general electorate that identified the economy as the nation’s most important issue. On the other three issues asked about, for Hispanic voters, the economy was followed by health care (18%), the federal budget deficit (11%) and foreign policy (6%).

Throughout this election cycle, the issue of immigration has been an important issue for Hispanics. In the national exit poll, voters were asked about what should happen to unauthorized immigrants working in the U.S. According to the national exit poll, 77% of Hispanic voters said these immigrants should be offered a chance to apply for legal status while 18% said these immigrants should be deported. Among all voters, fewer than two-thirds (65%) said these immigrants should be offered a chance to apply for legal status while 28% say they should be deported.”

According to Pew in the 2012 Battleground States:

“Hispanics made up a growing share of voters in three of the key battleground states in yesterday’s election—Florida, Nevada and Colorado.

Obama carried Florida’s Hispanic vote 60% to 39%, an improvement over his 57% to 42% showing in 2008. Also, Hispanics made up 17% of the Florida electorate this year, up from 14% in 2008.

The state’s growing non-Cuban population—especially growth in the Puerto Rican population in central Florida—contributed to the president’s improved showing among Hispanic voters. This year, according to the Florida exit poll, 34% of Hispanic voters were Cuban while 57% were non-Cuban. Among Cuban voters, the vote was split—49% supported Obama while 47% supported Romney. Among the state’s non-Cuban voters, Obama won 66% versus 34% for Romney.

In Colorado, Obama carried the Latino vote by a wide margin—75% to 23%. The president’s performance among Latino voters in Colorado was better than in 2008, when Obama won the Latino vote 61% to 38%. Hispanics made up 14% of Colorado voters this year, up from 13% in 2008.

In Nevada, Obama won the Hispanic vote 70% to 25%. However, the president’s Hispanic vote was down from the 76% share he won in 2008. Among voters in Nevada, the Hispanic share was 18%, up from 15% in 2008.

In other states, the president also carried large shares of the Hispanic vote. Among other battlegrounds, Obama won 68% of the Hispanic vote in North Carolina, 65% in Wisconsin, 64% in Virginia and 53% in Ohio.”

As you can see from the above exit polls the top four issues for Hispanic voters were; the economy (jobs), health care, the deficit, and foreign policy. The Democrats did a better job of convincing these voters that he would give them more than Romney. Keep in mind that Obama’s victory in those battleground states was less than his overall plurality of 52% (3.4 million votes). According to Politico in Florida it was 0.8% and Ohio 1.9%. Of course 95% of African Americans voted for Obama. Immigration was not an issue with them; it was the traditional Democrat offerings of more from government.

The subject of immigration (and evidently, illegal immigration) has proven to be a divisive issue for conservatives. There are divergent opinions as to which policies should be pursued vis-à-vis the 12 million illegal immigrants who reside in the country. However there are certain fundamental goals and red lines that conservatives and Republicans should all unite behind as we commence debate on this issue. Any so-called comprehensive immigration reform proposal that is worth more than a bucket of spit must ensure the following:

  • We are not saddled with 12 million new consumers of the welfare state;
  • We don’t have 12 million new Democrat voters;
  • Those receiving the amnesty will not have the ability to spawn chain migration;
  • Before any amnesty is implemented, there is a complete establishment of visa tracking, border control, and mandatory E-verify to ensure that this won’t create another ‘Charlie Brown with the football’ scenario of more waves of illegal immigration;
  • Our legal immigration system move towards a merit-based process that favors high-skill immigrants instead of the current “Kennedy” system that is random and tendentious towards low-skilled immigrants.

Undoubtedly, Republican negotiators of reform proposals, like Marco Rubio, are well-intentioned in their desire to solve a serious problem with thoughtful solutions. However, if they are really committed to advancing conservative solutions and addressing conservative concerns about the immigration system, they must understand the adversity we all face with our Democrat opponents on this issue. Their proposals must be crafted to work not just in a world full of Marco Rubios and Paul Ryans, but in a political system full of Luis Gutierrezs and a judicial sphere full of ACLU and MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) types. Hence, when proposing immigration bills, to know thy enemy is key. We know that whatever plan is turned into law the ACLU and MALDEF will make every effort to take each issue to a sympathetic court to revise the law in their favor. They, like all progressives will not quit. If they can’t get their way in Congress they will turn to the courts.

Democrats like Luis Gutierrezs and Chuck Schumer believe that all 7 billion people in the world are born with a God-given right to immigrate to the United States. When they speak of “our broken immigration system,” they are not bemoaning our policies that are biased towards low-skilled immigration; they are complaining that our generous acceptance of over 1 million new immigrants every year, predominantly from the third world, is not enough. As such, they believe that illegal immigration is a natural and justified result of our refusal to let in even more low-skilled immigrants than we have already admitted over the past two decades. They believe that our unwillingness to immediately grant them amnesty is a violation of their natural rights, and is a reflection of our sinister bigotry towards others.

Inevitably, when they speak of “comprehensive immigration reform” they are referring to the following: complete amnesty of all illegals so they can immediately sign up for welfare programs and commence the path towards becoming a permanent Democrat voting bloc; an even larger increase in legal immigration from the third world and from countries that represent a security risk; more welfare recipients now — enforcement later (or never).

This is the brutally honest reality of the liberal immigration policy yearning. Any Republican who plunges into this debate while disregarding this reality is willfully ignoring the statements and actions of Democrats over the past several decades.

Marco Rubio is in the process of formulating and negotiating a proposal which he tells conservatives would deal with the aforementioned concerns. He claims that his proposal to grant work visas to a selected group of illegal immigrants based on paying a fine and learning English (much like the 2006/07 McCain-Kennedy amnesty bills) would not result in them receiving welfare benefits, and would force them to go to the back of the line to embark on the process of obtaining a green card and eventual citizenship (although they would not have to return to their country of origin — the place of the real line). He also says that he would like to reform our legal immigration system to one that pursues higher-skilled workers.

Again, the brutal reality is that if his proposal would indeed contain those guiding principles and red lines, his Democrat counterparts would never support it. Never. They will seek to adulterate it with poison pills that reflect their goals and aspirations. All too often, we’ve witnessed Republicans who become so emotionally invested in their proposals that they continue to promote them, even after they are completely co-opted by the left. Will Marco Rubio promise conservatives that he will stand by his demands and will not let the Democrats cross our red lines? Or will we stay the course and face the inevitability of a reform bill that guarantees amnesty/chain migration now with the vacuous promise of enforcement/conservative reforms later (think tax hikes now/spending cuts later)?

Will we really hold off on any amnesty until there is adequate visa tracking in place and operational control of the border? Why would all of the promises of enforcement actually work this time? Also, given Obama’s penchant for selective enforcement of our immigration laws, does anyone really believe he would enforce new laws? His record of ignoring laws is clear. These are all questions that must be answered with confidence.

Furthermore, even if by some miracle Democrats agree to this grand bargain, they will view this as the first step, not the final piece of legislation. Once a significant portion of illegal immigrants become permanent legal residents, Democrats will demand that the rest of them obtain that status, even the ones who are not ‘churchgoing grandmothers’ who were here for 20 years. They see this this as a perpetual lock for Democrats on our government.

Also, the next civil right will be welfare benefits and voting rights. It will never end. You simply can’t win a bidding war with Democrats over pandering to this constituency. Once Republicans agree to legalize them, it will be virtually impossible to stop the runaway train of subsequent congresses from granting them full privileges. As long as Republicans compromise, but leave a few issues on the table, Democrats will continue to use them as political footballs. A permanent legal underclass is a much more potent force than an illegal constituency. We can never get to the left of the Democrats on the issue. Ultimately, we will never make inroads with the Latino vote by out-flanking Democrat on amnesty; we will only win their vote, as Jim DeMint has said, by communicating to them how liberal policies have utterly failed them.

Moreover, proponents of Rubio-style proposals need to explain how we can legally firewall welfare benefits from those granted amnesty. There is a well-oiled, truculent legal defense community that will relentlessly sue for full privileges and an end to this status of “second-class citizen.” At present, these people lack many legal protections. Once they become legal, it will be very difficult to ensure they do not join the dependency utopia of blue America.

Remember, just the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit for illegal immigrants — a tiny portion of the welfare state — costs $24 billion over 10 years. That figure accounts for just 2.18 million illegals who are able to use a loophole to obtain the refundable credit. When you factor in the entire smorgasbord of programs for millions more, we’re talking about trillions in new welfare spending. This is a far cry from the immigrants who came here in the 1950s.

These are all legitimate questions that need to be debated and analyzed before conservatives sign off on such a deal that the “secret bipartisan working group” plans to foist upon us. Let’s remember that full amnesty for those who are here illegally is a lot to ask for. Many conservatives would be willing to entertain such an idea so long as we are ensured that it will not play into the hands of the left. However, we cannot panic and impetuously pursue amnesty under the false pretense that we will gain Hispanic support without first addressing some basic concerns.

If we’ve learned anything from the 1986 amnesty, it is that trust but verify is not going to cut it when it comes to illegal immigration policy. We need inviolable enforcement mechanisms on the enforcement side before we are prepared to make painful concessions. Otherwise, comprehensive immigration reform will look a lot like comprehensive healthcare reform. And we will be having this same debate in 20 years from now, albeit with a permanent Democrat majority.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Bright Light in Public Education

“Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.” — Edmund Burke

This past weekend I had a surprising and pleasant experience attending the awards presentation for the Riverside Unified School District’s History Day. RSUD’s History Day is where students in the district’s K-12 schools submit a history project in one of several formats. It could be a presentation board, a documentary film, a web site, or a reenactment. Each project, however, must be accompanied by a paper written by the student.

National History Day provides an exciting way for students to study and learn about historical issues, ideas, peoples, and events. Started as a single day's contest at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, History Day soon became more than just a day. The first national contest took place in 1980, and the program now operates in forty-eight states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the Department of Defense schools. Each year an estimated 500,000 students nation-wide take part in History Day contest events. During its history, millions of students have participated and have gone on to careers in business, law, medicine, teaching, and countless other disciplines where they put into practice the skills and knowledge gained during their History Day experience.

During the 2012-2013 school year, History Day invited students to research topics related to the theme, Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, and Events. As is the case each year, the theme is broad enough to encourage investigations of topics ranging from local to world history, and from ancient times to the recent past. To understand the historical importance of their topic, students have asked questions about time, place, and context; cause and effect; change over time, and; impact and significance. They have considered not only when and where events happened but also why they occurred, what factors contributed to their development, and what impact they had on broader history. In other words, History Day entries go far beyond mere description to include an analysis of information and conclusions about how the topic influenced and was influenced by other people, ideas, and events.

The projects are judged by a panel of judges comprised of teachers from the district, professors from the local college, or qualified volunteers. The judges are not allows to judge projects from the schools they represent. The projects are evaluated with 20% going towards the quality of the presentation and 80% towards the content and research effort of the student. Each student submitting a project is required to appear before a panel to give an oral presentation on their project and then answer questions from the panel of judges.

The judges are looking for the students understanding of the project and what the project corresponds to the theme for the year. They want to know how and why they choose their project, how the project fit the theme, how they did their research, and what the influence the project had on the world or the United States. They are also looking for projects where the parents might have had too much input. The projects are supposed to represent the work effort of the student, not the parent or a teacher.

The students are permitted to pick any event in history as long as it fits the theme. There are no restrictions or influence from the schools or districts. It’s totally up to the student to choose a project, research it, write a paper, and prepare their presentation.

There are three levels of history project submissions: Elementary school level — students in grades 4 and 5. These students are required to submit projects on presentation boards only. The next level is for middle school students in grades 6-8. This group is permitted to present their projects on presentation boards, documentary films, or web sites. The third group is for high school students, grades 9-12 who may use any format including reenactments.

The three winners from each level and category advance to the county level where they compete against other school districts in the county and those winners then move on to the state level. The winners of the state level the advance to the national level in Washington, D.C. There are monetary awards for the winners at each level ranging from $100 dollars at the county level to $10,000 dollars at the national level.

Some of the projects representing this year’s theme were:

  • The D-Day Invasion
  • Gettysburg
  • The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings
  • Mosquitos versus the Panama Canal
  • Brown vs. Board of Education
  • Women’s Suffrage
  • The Discovery of DNA
  • The 1848 Irish Potato Famine and the Effect on Immigration
  • The Battle of Stalingrad
  • The Tet Offensive
  • Henry Ford, a Turning Point in the Industrial Revolution
  • The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
  • The Attack on Pearl Harbor
  • The Bolshevik Revolution
  • The Battle of Tsushima
  • The Transcontinental Railroad
  • The Treaty of Versailles
  • The Internet Revolution

Yes, there were quite a few repetitive projects devoted to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. This was expected by me as our K-12 public school curriculum, as formed by the NEA, focus on this as the beginning of American History. But, surprising, there were many other diverse topics where the student moved away from the NEA progressive curriculum. To my disappointment, however, there was only one student project that addressed the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, or the Constitution as a turning point. Perhaps there will be a few at the County level.

Both of my granddaughters were participants and winners. My youngest granddaughter’s project was entitled The California Gold Rush and The Remaking of America. She is a 4th grader and this was her first attempt at entering a History Day project following her older sister, a two-time winner. Her thesis was that “the California Gold Rush caused rapid population growth and led to California becoming a state very quickly. This led to the fulfillment of Manifest Destiny, and also resulted in further division between slave and non-slave states, which led to the Civil War and the remaking of America.” Not bad for a 4th grader. No, her father did not pick the topic, but I am sure he assisted her with the text and graphics. The judges gave her high marks on the placement of the text and graphics on the board and the ease of reading.


My youngest granddaughter Helin with her history project presentation board

My eldest granddaughter, an 8th grader and experienced History Day participant and winner took another path. She prepared a video documentary on the passage of the 16th Amendment — the Income Tax — and the progressive views of Woodrow Wilson. She did do the research on her own, although her father gave her a book by Ron Paul on the morality of the corrosive income tax. In talking with my granddaughter she told me it was difficult to fine positive views on the progressive income tax. This is a very difficult subject for an 8th grader to tackle. She did a great job in preparing her documentary video, and the judges were impressed to the point of awarding her first place in her category and grade level. Perhaps I have a granddaughter in training to be a Libertarian.


Aylin and Helin posing with their blue ribbons

My prejudice not withstanding I thought the National History Day program was a proper exercise in our public education system. Today there are too many young people and adults who have graduated from our K-12 public school system and even our universities that have no basic knowledge of our national history. Too many believe history began yesterday or even those that do some knowledge of our history are ignorant of the cause and effects of those events. This is due to the way history is taught in many of our schools. We have teachers that are either incompetent to teach history or teach according to their agenda — usually progressive leftwing. They prefer to indoctrinate students in history rather than allow the student to research and learn from primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. This takes time and effort on the part of the teacher something many of them are unwilling to give.

The RSUD History Day Program is a bit on sunshine on a dreary K-12 public education system. Those students who participated will remember their experience for the rest of their lives and hopefully will have learned how to separate the wheat from the shaft when it comes to learning history in their future scholastic endeavors.

Next year’s theme will Rights and Responsibilities. I can barely wait to see what the students will focus on.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Coronation

"All see, and most admire, the glare which hovers round the external trappings of elevated office. To me there is nothing in it, beyond the lustre which may be reflected from its connection with a power of promoting human felicity." — George Washington

Today’s second inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama in Washington, D.C.800px-Jacques-Louis_David,_The_Coronation_of_Napoleon_edit as President of the United States seemed more a coronation to me than an inauguration. My first thought was a 20 x 32 foot painting by the French political hack artist Jacques-Louis David that hangs prominently in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The painting, first exhibited in 1808, shown Napoleon Bonaparte taking the crown from the seated Pope to place on his head as he proclaims himself Emperor of France. His paramour Jos√©phine de Beauharnais is shown devoutly kneeling in a submissive position before him. The painting also shows many of Europe’s dignitaries and nobles standing around him to pay homage to the Napoleon. Who of those in attendance could foresee that Napoleon would be dead 17 years later in exile on the island of Saint Helena?

Napoleon like many of histories dictators and demagogues, like Benito Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, and Fidel Castro were immensely popular when they came to power. They were idolized and adulated in the media of the day, as was Napoleon by David. If you doubt me just go back and look at the newsreels and films of the day — especially those of Leni Riefenstahl. But, in a few short years after they had brought their nations to ruin they were hated and cast off to the dust bin of history.

Newsweek magazine recently published a cover depicting Obama in aBA5fuj6CQAAvSE9 Mussolini-like profile pose with the caption “The Second Coming.” When I first saw this cover I first thought of Benito Mussolini, but then my thoughts turned to the painting by Jacques Louis David. While the term “second coming” could be interpreted as Obama’s second term it is much more associated with the second coming of Jesus Christ. Like David and Riefenstahl the mainstream media has declared Obama a Christ-like figure.

“Conservatives have long joked that the national press corps see Barack Obama as the second coming of Jesus Christ,” writes Brent Baker of NewsBusters. “Today, Newsweek — made it official.”

While writer Evan Thomas insinuates later within the body of the article that the comparison was rather to Abraham Lincoln, others have found the cover to be a messianic statement that makes a play of Scripture.

“Obama may not be the second coming of Lincoln, and our times are hardly as desperate as the civil war,” Thomas wrote. “But it’s a good bet that Obama is more ambivalent than he lets on about the proper roads fostering prosperity while at the same time, cutting red ink, a challenge that divides the best of economists.”

Baker noted that Thomas has declared Obama as being a God-like figure before.

“In a way, Obama’s standing above the country — above the world,” Thomas said during a 2009 interview on MSNBC. “He’s sort of God. He’s going to bring all different sides together.”

Many have been describing Obama as a type of messiah even before his first four years in office. Writer Dave Jolly notes that during the last election, Maggie Mertens, associate editor for the Smith College newspaper, penned an article entitled “I Will Follow Him: Obama as My Personal Jesus.” Hollywood actor Jamie Fox recently expressed the same sentiment.

Jolly also pointed to an editorial in the Danish newspaper Politiken, which stated, “Obama is, of course, greater than Jesus.”

Additionally, to mark Obama’s 100th day of presidency, artist Michael D’Antuono unveiled a painting that he had crafted, which depicted Obama in the oval office wearing a crown of thorns and raising his arms as if on the cross.

During the Democratic National Convention last September, a number of vendors offered products that depicted Obama as a messiah. One poster that was sold at the DNC displayed the head of Obama, which faded into a graphic of an open Bible with the word “Barak” highlighted. Above Obama was the headline “Prophesy Fulfilled.” To the left of the image, the poster read, “Barak is of Hebrew origin and its meaning is ‘flash of lightning.’ Barak is a valiant fighting man who cooperated with the prophetess Deborah to win victory in a battle against overwhelming odds. Hussein [means] good and handsome. So, you see, Barak was destined to be a good and handsome man that would rise like a flash of lightning to win victory in a battle against overwhelming odds.”

T-shirts were also sold by vendors that cite Psalm 110:1, which says, “The Lord said unto my Lord, “Sit Thou at My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” The graphic on the tees depicted Barack Obama sitting in a chair, placing his feet upon the back of Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who is kneeling on his hands and feet.

Additionally, Obama calendars were up for sale, which used Scripture for each month of the year to point to Obama as a messiah. For example, in the month of August, Obama’s birth month, accompanying a photo of Obama were the words “Heaven Sent” with the Scripture John 3:16, which speaks of God sending His Son. The month of November featured a graphic of citizens laying hands on Obama while quoting Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Prior to the election, Florida A&M professor Barbara A. Thompson also penned a book entitled The Gospel According to Apostle Barack in which she claimed that she was given a series of dreams by God where she was able to realize Obama’s purpose as the leader of the free world. She says that after God answered her prayers to heal her son Gibran, who was badly injured in an accident, God told her to “go on a journey with Apostle Barack.”

“His followers needed to re-elect him to a second term so that he could continue to accomplish the promises he made, thus, realizing his vision of America as a more perfect political union or ‘heaven here on earth,’” she writes in her book description on Amazon. “[A]s I began to contemplate ways to assist Barack in his 2012 re-election bid, something miraculous happened. I felt God’s Spirit beckoning me in my dreams at night.” Fortunately the book received a mere one star.

William Henry Harrison stated in his two hour inaugural address:

Limited as are the powers which have been granted, still enough have been granted to constitute a despotism if concentrated in the Executive branch. The tendency of power to increase itself, particularly when exercised by a single individual would terminate in virtual monarchy. The tendencies of governments in their decline is to monarchy. The spirit of faction in times of great excitement imposes itself upon the people as the genuine spirit of freedom, and, like the false christs whose coming was foretold by the Savior impose upon the true and most faithful disciples of liberty. It is in periods like this that it behooves the people to be most watchful of those to whom they have entrusted power."

As an aside Harrison, the 9th President of the United States, took the oath of office on March 4, 1841, a cold and wet day. He wore neither an overcoat nor hat, rode on horseback to the ceremony rather than in the closed carriage that had been offered him, and delivered the longest inaugural address in American history. It took him nearly two hours to read, although his friend and fellow Whig Daniel Webster had edited it for length. Harrison then rode through the streets in the inaugural parade, and that evening attended three inaugural balls, including one at Carusi's Saloon entitled the "Tippecanoe" ball, which at a price of $10 per person attracted 1000 guests. On March 26, Harrison became ill with a cold. According to the prevailing medical misconception of that time, it was believed that his illness was directly caused by the bad weather at his inauguration. The cold worsened, rapidly turning to pneumonia and pleurisy and he died on April 4, 1841, 30 days, 12 hours, and 30 minutes after taking the oath of office.

It was Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) who stated:

"Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and given him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the new wonderful good society which shall now be Rome's, interpreted to mean more money, more ease, more security, and more living fatly at the expense of the industrious."

We, the people of the United States are living in a time when celebrity and fluff means more than character and substance when selecting our leaders. We are accustomed to seeing the “beautiful people” on the red carpet at award shows and late night celebrity shows. We have a mainstream news media that is devoted to Barack Obama. In fact Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s closest advisors, thanked MSNBC for all of their support for the past four years. In another instance of bold media bias ABC, CBS and NBC all refused to identify the indicted ex-mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, as Democrat. It’s almost impossible to have a civil debate on the issues facing this nation when so many in the media are blind to Obama’s shortcomings and narcissistic personality.

The American left, and its mouthpiece the mainstream media, is now resorting to its usual mindless name calling, as they cannot intimidate the NRA and the bulk of the American citizens into meekly acquiescing to their so-called "gun violence" initiative. The majority of the citizenry see this ploy for what it is: an attempt at further incrementalism with the ultimate goal of eviscerating the Second Amendment. Therefore, the references to the NRA and gun advocates as racists as well as comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis (known as “Reductio ad Hitlerum”) are coming fast and furious. It is as predictable as the sun rising in the east.

This past week, Bob Sheiffer of CBS compared defeating the NRA to defeating the Nazis in World War II. Not to be outdone Martin Bashir of NBC said the NRA "deserved to be compared to Hitler." Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) claimed: "they [NRA] cannot get over the fact that Obama is black." And the ever reasonable Charlie Rangel (D-NY) in discussing gun control said: the Southern states have cultures that we have to overcome." These are but a few of the many references to either Hitler, the Nazis, racism or backwoods gun-toting hicks in fly-over country since the debate spawned by Obama's determination to impose more stringent gun control measures began.

The well-worn and dog-eared tactic — used by the Progressive cabal to malign and intimidate their political opponents by the obligatory reference to anyone who opposes their agenda as Nazis, references to World War II and the mindless charge of racism as synonyms for political disagreements — is beneath contempt and is indicative of the inability to present a coherent argument in support of their position.

Since Barack Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, the use of the race card has reached epidemic proportions. Anyone who disagrees with his policies is branded a racist — a term filled with negative and ominous connotations. Its use is solely intended to demonize and intimidate the political opposition and is succeeding only in creating the most polarized society since the 1960's.

The lifeblood of a Democracy is civil discourse. It is painfully obvious that the left, the mainstream media, and the Democratic Party have no interest in any other point of view or even the future of the country. They have instead descended into the depths of disgusting name-calling and outright lies and obfuscation. They should be ashamed of themselves, assuming they are capable of shame or getting beyond childish playground taunts.

Mark Levin, the Conservative radio talker, author, and constitutional scholar told Ben Shapiro in an interview on

“I don’t think Obama knows exactly what he’s going to go for in his second term as he will look for opportunities to exploit as events unfold. I am sure they've drawn up a partial a list, and we already know that it includes, but is not limited to, gun control; attacks on the First Amendment such as religious liberty; amnesty for illegal aliens; union expansion; institutionalizing ObamaCare; institutionalizing voter corruption; de-industrialization via the EPA; destroying the capitalist-based economy via tax increases, smothering regulations, massive deficit spending, and endless borrowing; and hollowing out our military; etc. This will effect all of us. It will do extreme damage to the nation in many respects. I think Obama sees himself as correcting historic wrongs in this country, as delivering the fruits of the labor of other people to people who he believes have historically been put upon. I think there’s a lot of perverse thinking that goes on in his mind, radical left-wing thinking. He was indoctrinated with Marx and Alinksy propaganda. You not only see it in his agenda but in his words -- class warfare; degrading successful people unless, of course, they help finance his elections, causes, and organizations; pretending to speak for the so-called middle class when, in fact, he is destroying their jobs, savings, and future. Obama's war on our society is intended to be an onslaught in which the system is overwhelmed.

“I think the Republican Party, its apparatus, its so-called leadership, the parasitic consultants, represent an institution that is tired, old, almost decrepit, full of cowardice and vision-less. It has abandoned the Declaration of Independence and any serious defense of constitutional republicanism. The Democrat Party is now a radical 1960s party; it’s the anti-Constitution, anti-capitalism, anti-individual party. It largely controls the federal government, including the massive bureaucracy and much of the judiciary -- what I call the permanent branches of the federal government. The Democrat Party represents the federal government, and the federal government expands the power of the Democrat Party. They're appendages of each other. On the other hand, the GOP today stands for capitulation, timidity, delusion -- so mostly nothing. Republicans may speak of the Constitution, limited government, low taxes, etc., but what have they done about them? Next to nothing if not nothing. Even when Bush 43 was president and the Republicans controlled Congress. What did they do? They went on a spending binge. They expanded Medicare, the federal role in local education, drove up the debt, etc. Meanwhile, we are lectured by putative Republicans like Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Tom Ridge, and a conga line of others trashing often viciously NOT Obama and what the Democrats are doing to our nation, but conservatives, constitutionalists, and tea party activists who are the only people left standing for liberty against tyranny in this country."

In his 18 minute inaugural address Obama declared war on liberty and while sounding the same themes of class warfare that propelled his re-election campaign, President Barack Obama devoted his second inaugural address to laying out his second term agenda: a struggle to undo the seeming injustices of America's past, and to overcome the army of straw men that stand in opposition to progress.

In the process, President Obama attempted nothing less than an assault on the timeless notion of liberty itself:

“Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society's ills can be cured through government alone.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”

After praising the "collective" and mocking the notion that America is a "nation of takers," President Obama targeted the political opposition. He targeted those who "deny" climate change, attacked those who allegedly refused to reward the elderly for their contributions, and defied critics whom he said wanted "perpetual war." He attacked the rich — as he has done so often over the past four years — and painted a caricature of an unjust nation: "our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few."

President Obama's address failed to deliver on promises earlier in the day by senior political adviser David Axelrod that the speech would sound themes of national unity on a day of national "consecration." Instead, the president sounded combative themes familiar from his divisive first term, albeit wrapped occasionally in the lofty rhetoric of "hope" and "tolerance," and punctuated by the repeated refrain: "We, the People."

He acknowledged Americans have diverse concepts of liberty, but insisted that these could all fit together under the “collective mission” of the government to achieve its redistributive aims. Days after describing Republicans as determined to hurt the poor and elderly, he accused his opposition of intolerance: "We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate."

President Obama also spoke out in favor of gay rights and immigration reform, acknowledging groups of voters that were central to his re-election effort — yet for whom he did not fulfill many of his first-term pledges. He touched on three historic locations — "Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall" — critical to the history of the women's rights movement, the civil rights movement, and the gay rights movement, respectively.

Throughout his address, the President maintained his voice in a near-shout. This was not an historic address, a reflection on a moment in history; it was an exhortation to political action, in contrast to the political reality of a divided Washington, in defiance of the profound economic challenges still facing the American people.

It was a declaration of political war on individual liberty. It was a wasted opportunity — and a warning.

Cindy Simpson writes in American Thinker:

“The Old Testament describes the time when the Israelites demanded a king to replace the judges that God appointed, even though Samuel warned the people that a king would only enslave them. Senator Rand Paul recently said, "I'm against having a king. I think having a monarch is what we fought the American Revolution over, and someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress, that's someone who wants to act like a king or monarch."

At one time, most Americans agreed with Paul, and many of us are still "against having a king." But the trillion-dollar question is whether Obama truly does seek the crown. When he circumvents the Constitution by arguing, "we can't wait" -- does the "we" refer to the people he serves, or the majestic plural? If the majority of the people want a king, will Congress and the courts allow Obama to continue forward in an evolving coronation of himself?

Presidents are sworn in and kings are crowned, but both ceremonies utilize religious symbolism. Author George Neumayr observed that "most revolutionaries" find the "appropriation" useful. "Even Napoleon invited the clergy to his coronation, though he made sure to give them poor seating, as they passively watched the leader crown himself."

“History books are replete with accounts of tyrannies led by men who first played the crafty fox, roared as the lion, and then crowned themselves king. America may soon find itself the subject of a similar chapter. Glendon again: "the United States will not be the first republic to slip by small degrees into the form of government that, alas, has been more common than any other in human history: tyranny by a minority."

But there are still citizens who resist the change -- types apparently the subject of a new West Point think tank study warning of "past-oriented," "far-right" groups such as the "anti-federalist" movement. The study describes anti-federalists as those who "espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals' civil and constitutional rights," and who support "civil activism, individual freedoms, and self-government."

Those terms once favorably portrayed America's heroic founders in their opposition to a monarchy. Now they describe citizens who oppose today's government -- "dangerous" because they simply dare to recognize that Big Government has grown into Big Brother. Tyrants and their cohorts consider such citizens a threat -- because these "bitter clingers" know how to track a fox, are brave enough to confront a lion, and refuse to bow to an earthly king.”

This was not a visionary inaugural address — it was, as always, a campaign speech and a clarion call for more government control of our lives. There was no “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” There was no “the most dangerous nine words in the English Language — "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." There was no “It is in periods like this that it behooves the people to be most watchful of those to whom they have entrusted power."

This was a speech one could expect from a demagogue on his coronation to the pinnacle of his power. It was more in tune with Lenin than Washington. We need to remember the words of William Henry Harrison stated some 172 years ago when he said: “It is in periods like this that it behooves the people to be most watchful of those to whom they have entrusted power” not long live the king. And I remind you of the words of Benjamin Franklin. Outside Independence Hall when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got a republic or a monarchy?" With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it."

I close with two other quotes from Benjamin Franklin, the sage of the Constitutional Convention:

“As all history informs us, there has been in every State & Kingdom a constant kind of warfare between the governing & governed: the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less. And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the Princes, or enslaving of the people. Generally indeed the ruling power carries its point, the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more. The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes; the greater need the prince has of money to distribute among his partisans and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance, and enable him to plunder at pleasure. There is scarce a king in a hundred who would not, if he could, follow the example of Pharaoh, get first all the people’s money, then all their lands, and then make them and their children servants forever.”

“When the people find they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

Infringement vs. Rights

Infringe: transitive verb, “to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another” — Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

As a land surveyor I learned many years ago that the term “encroach” meant to take away the use of another’s property by denying him or her access to it. As an example if you build a fence or wall six inches over your property line you are encroaching on your neighbor’s property and denying him access to it. If you or your neighbor sell property and the new mortgage holder requires an extended title report including a proper survey the encroachment will show up in the title report and be excluded from your title insurance. Also, if as a property owner you are aware of the encroachment and do nothing about it you a acquiescing to your neighbor’s demand for your property and in any potential future legal action to require him to remove the encroaching structure you might lose a portion of your property to a claim of adverse procession. In essence, if you do not protect your rights to property you may lose that property — the same applies to your rights. As James Madison stated in his 1792 Essay on Property:

“Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his.”

This brings me to my comments on the Second Amendment to the Constitution, one of the “Bill of Rights.” The Second Amendment states:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

When our Constitution was first adopted it did not contain the first ten amendments. Founders like Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson did not believe that these amendments were necessary as the words of the Constitution would suffice to protect our unalienable rights of life, liberty and happiness. Others such as George Mason believed and fought for these amendments to make clear to future generations the full meaning of the Constitution and the unambiguous meaning as to the limitations on the power of the federal government. Mason won the debate and the first act of the new Congress was to adopt these ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, and have them ratified by the states. In fact Mason authored some of these amendments, including the Second. It was Mason who said in a 1788 speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention:

“[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, — who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.”

When asked what his definition of militia was Mason responded; “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.”

To further expand on the definition of a state militia I refer to the Second Militia Act of 1792 passed by Congress and signed into law by President George Washington, a firm supporter of an armed citizenry. The act states:

“That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutered and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.”

It was the intent of Congress to have an armed citizenry, responsible to the states that could be called upon in the time rebellion or insurrection. This militia, consisting of free men should bear their own arms as specified by federal regulations. This militia under the control of the states could also be used to thwart an overbearing federal government that at this time had no standing army.

Over the years the Second Amendment has been surrounded by controversy. Those who have a fear of gun ownership claim the Amendment pertains only to legitimate and well-organized state militias, not to private citizens. Others (the majority of Americans) believe that the Amendment means that private citizens have the right to own firearms of their choice.

In spite of extensive recent discussion and much legislative action with respect to regulation of the purchase, possession, and transportation of firearms, as well as proposals to substantially curtail ownership of firearms, there is no definitive resolution by the courts of just what right the Second Amendment protects. The opposing theories, perhaps oversimplified, are an “individual rights” thesis whereby individuals are protected in ownership, possession, and transportation, and a “states’ rights” thesis whereby it is said the purpose of the clause is to protect the States in their authority to maintain formal, organized militia units. Whatever the Amendment may mean, it is a bar only to federal action, not extending to state or private restraints. The Supreme Court has given effect to the dependent clause of the Amendment in the only case in which it has tested a congressional enactment against the constitutional prohibition, seeming to affirm individual protection but only in the context of the maintenance of a militia or other such public force.

In United States v. Miller, the Court sustained a statute requiring registration under the National Firearms Act of sawed–off-shotguns. After reciting the original provisions of the Constitution dealing with the militia, the Court observed that “with obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted with that end in view.” The significance of the militia, the Court continued, was that it was composed of “civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.” It was upon this force that the States could rely for defense and securing of the laws, on a force that “comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense,” who, “when called for service . were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.” Therefore, “in the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel of less than 18 inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well–regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.”

Since this decision, Congress has placed greater limitations on the receipt, possession, and transportation of firearms, and proposals for national registration or prohibition of firearms altogether have been made. At what point regulation or prohibition of what classes of firearms would conflict with the Amendment, if at all, the Miller case does little more than cast a faint degree of illumination toward an answer.

Pointing out that interest in the “character of the Second Amendment right has recently burgeoned. Justice Thomas, concurring in the Court’s invalidation (on other grounds) of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, questioned whether the Second Amendment bars federal regulation of gun sales, and suggested that the Court might determine “at some future date whether Justice Story was correct when he stated that the right to bear arms “‘has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic.”

It was not until 2008 that the Supreme Court definitively came down on the side of an “individual rights” theory. Relying on new scholarship regarding the origins of the Amendment, the Court in District of Columbia v. Heller confirmed what had been a growing consensus of legal scholars — that the rights of the Second Amendment adhered to individuals. The Court reached this conclusion after a textual analysis of the Amendment, an examination of the historical use of prefatory phrases in statutes, and a detailed exploration of the 18th century meaning of phrases found in the Amendment along with the various writings of the Founders. Although accepting that the historical and contemporaneous use of the phrase “keep and bear Arms” often arose in connection with military activities, the Court noted that its use was not limited to those contexts. Further, the Court found that the phrase “well regulated Militia” referred not to formally organized state or federal militias, but to the pool of “able-bodied men” who were available for conscription. Finally, the Court reviewed contemporaneous state constitutions, post-enactment commentary, and subsequent case law to conclude that the purpose of the right to keep and bear arms extended beyond the context of militia service to include self-defense.

Using this “individual rights theory,” the Court struck down a District of Columbia law that banned virtually all handguns, and required that any other type of firearm in a home be dissembled or bound by a trigger lock at all times. The Court rejected the argument that handguns could be banned as long as other guns (such as long-guns) were available, noting that, for a variety of reasons, handguns are the “most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home.” Similarly, the requirement that all firearms be rendered inoperable at all times was found to limit the “core lawful purpose of self-defense.” However, the Court specifically stated (albeit in dicta) that the Second Amendment did not limit prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, penalties for carrying firearms in schools and government buildings, or laws regulating the sales of guns. The Court also noted that there was a historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons” that would not be affected by its decision. The Court, however, declined to establish the standard by which future gun regulations would be evaluated. And, more importantly, because the District of Columbia is a federal enclave, the Court did not have occasion to address whether it would reconsider its prior decisions that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states.

The latter issue was addressed in McDonald v. Chicago, where a plurality of the Court, overturning prior precedent, found that the Second Amendment is incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment and is thus enforceable against the states. Relevant to this question, the Court examined whether the right to keep and bear arms is “fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty” or “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” The Court, relying on historical analysis set forth previously in Heller, noted the English common law roots of the right to keep arms for self-defense and the importance of the right to the American colonies, the drafters of the Constitution. and the states as a bulwark against over-reaching federal authority. Noting that by the 1850s the perceived threat that the National Government would disarm the citizens had largely faded, the Court suggested that the right to keep and bear arms became valued principally for purposes of self-defense, so that the passage of Fourteenth Amendment, in part, was intended to protect the right of ex-slaves to keep and bear arms. While it was argued by the dissent that this protection would most logically be provided by the Equal Protection Clause, not by the Due Process Clause, the plurality also found enough evidence of then-existent concerns regarding the treatment of blacks by the state militia to conclude that the right to bear arms was also intended to protect against generally-applicable state regulation.

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants." — Cesare Beccaria.

Twice last week, Barack Obama graced us with his pontification on both his fealty to the Second Amendment and his desire for "common sense" gun control measures. With the Left, however, those two things are mutually exclusive. He's merely repeating the siren song of every other socialist tyrant during the last one hundred years.

On Monday, Obama goaded Republicans to go along with his schemes. "If in fact everybody across party lines was as deeply moved and saddened as I was by what happened in Newtown," further gun control measures are the only reasonable solution, he concluded. Furthermore, "As far as people lining up and purchasing more guns," he said, "I think that we've seen for some time now that those who oppose any common sense gun control or gun safety measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government's about to take all your guns away. And, you know, there's probably an economic element to that. It obviously is good for business." He should know — he's the Gun Salesman Emeritus, presiding over the sale of 67 million guns in four years.

So to recap, if you don't support gun control, you hate kids, and if you're buying or selling guns, you're a greedy loon. Now who's ready for a rational discussion?

Then on Wednesday, Obama laid down the gauntlet. Of course, there was nothing new in what he proposed — he had it all on the shelf just waiting for the first post-election crisis to exploit. Using four children as human shields, he bravely strode to the lectern to outline 23 executive actions, adding a call for congressional action. There is nothing like basing policy on the opinions of eight-year olds who've been brainwashed in government schools. I wonder had he gotten several thousand letters from eight-year olds decrying abortion if he would have had them at the White House reading their letters. I think not.

Here is Obama’s list derived from the meeting of the masterminds of his committee headed by Joe Biden. I have added a few comments to Obama’s list:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (ObamaCare) that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks. Remember Fast and Furious? And recall the DHS warning about right-wing extremists? For that matter, check out this week's report on "America's Violent Far-Right." Now raise your hand if you trust Eric Holder to determine who "dangerous people" are.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director. This should have been done two years ago when the news of Fast and Furious broke. Then Obama also promised to nominate a permanent ATF director. We suggest one who won't supply "assault weapons" to murderous Mexican drug cartels.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence. This one is very troubling. It should be noted that such research isn't new, however. Timothy Wheeler, MD, director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, writes in The National Review Online:

"Memories are short. It was only 15 years ago that Congress cut off federal funding for the Centers for Disease Control’s gun research. Top CDC officials such as Patrick O’Carroll, M.D., had said things like “We’re going to systematically build a case that owning firearms causes deaths. We’re doing the most we can do, given the political realities.”

Nor was Congress pleased that the CDC had funded in the spring of 1995 a newsletter from the San Francisco gun-control group the Trauma Foundation. This newsletter advised “advocates” to “organize a picket at gun manufacturing sites” and to “work for campaign finance reform to weaken the gun lobby’s clout.” There’s no reason to believe the CDC will not again use taxpayer millions to pay for more anti-gun-rights pamphleteering.”

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Next, Obama called on Congress to pass universal background checks and to ban so-called "military-style assault weapons" and standard-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. This defensive weapons ban faces a steep climb, however. Not withstanding Joe Biden's claims of "overwhelming consensus" on gun control, the GOP controls the House, and I don't believe even the spaghetti-spine Republicans in that chamber will consent to a ban. Then there's the Senate, where Democrats such as Max Baucus (MT), Mark Begich (AK) and even Al Franken (MN) are balking at, if not outright opposing, a ban. Mark Pryor (AR), Tim Johnson (SD), Kay Hagan (NC) and Mary Landrieu (LA) likewise face re-election in red states in 2014 and are probable "no" votes. Even Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) doesn't seem to be a fan of Dianne Feinstein's gun ban. As reported in The Hill :

“Reid, a long-time opponent of a ban on assault weapons, suggested recently that he wouldn’t consider such a proposal in the Senate despite indications that the Obama administration might urge that prohibition after receiving the recommendations of Vice President Biden's gun-violence task force.”

Then the courts. Under the Supreme Court's Heller and McDonald rulings, the Second Amendment does, in fact, mean what it says -- it preserves the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The Court added that this meant arms in common use, which would include semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15.

The big lie is that Obama’s 23 measures are common sense measures. “They have the support of the majority of the American people. And yet that doesn't mean any of this is going to be easy to enact or implement. If it were, we'd already have universal background checks. The ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines never would've been allowed to expire. More of our fellow Americans might still be alive celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and graduations. This will be difficult. There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of the tyrannical all-out assault on liberty. Not because that's true. But because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves. And behind the scenes they'll do everything they can to block any common sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever." — Barack Obama, demonizing those who would oppose his tyranny.

Nothing the president is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook. President Obama is targeting the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said. "Rolling back responsible citizens' rights is not the proper response to tragedies committed by criminals and the mentally ill."

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the proposals would merely invite "drawn-out court battles."

"Instead of a thoughtful, open and deliberate conversation, President Obama is attempting to institute new restrictions on a fundamental constitutional right," he said.

On the other side of this issue are pundits like Juan Williams of Fox News who in a recent op-ed stated that the President had the authority under Article II of the Constitution to enact executive orders infringing on the rights of citizens to own firearms of their choice. To support his position he cites President Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation as his prime example. In his column Williams states:

“To be crystal clear: President Obama has the legal authority to enact gun safety measures through executive order. That is not a matter of opinion. It is a statement of fact. And there is historical precedent. Presidents have historically used this tool to implement a wide range of public policies that they believe to be in the best interest of the nation. The Emancipation Proclamation, for instance, was President Abraham Lincoln’s exercise of his executive order power to free slaves.”

I would remind Mr. Williams of his ignorance of American and Constitutional history that Lincoln’s executive order only referred to states in rebellion against the Union and did not have effect on the states remaining loyal to the Union. Under his authority as commander-in-chief during a time of war or rebellion Lincoln did have such authority under Article II.

The Emancipation Proclamation was an order issued to all segments of the Executive branch (including the Army and Navy) of the United States by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War. It was based on the president's constitutional authority as commander in chief of the armed forces; it was not a law passed by Congress. It proclaimed all those enslaved in Confederate territory to be forever free, and ordered the Army (and all segments of the Executive branch) to treat as free all those enslaved in ten states that were still in rebellion, thus applying to 3.1 million of the 4 million slaves in the U.S. The Proclamation could not be enforced in areas still under rebellion, but as the army took control of Confederate regions, the slaves in those regions were emancipated rather than returned to their masters. From 20,000 to 50,000 former slaves in regions where rebellion had already been subdued were immediately emancipated and over 3 million more were emancipated as the Union army advanced. The Proclamation did not apply to the five slave states that were not in rebellion, nor to most regions already controlled by the Union army; emancipation there would come after separate state actions and/or the December 1865 ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which made slavery illegal everywhere in the U.S. The Proclamation did not compensate the owners, did not itself outlaw slavery, and did not make the ex-slaves (called freedmen) citizens. It made the eradication of slavery an explicit war goal, in addition to the goal of reuniting the Union.


States and Territories affected by the Emancipation Proclamation

Lincoln’s Proclamation clearly states this:

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. Johns, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New-Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South-Carolina, North-Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth-City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk & Portsmouth); and which excepted parts are, for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.” (Emphasis added)

Lincoln issued the Proclamation under his authority as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.[4] As such, he claimed to have the martial power to suspend civil law in those states which were in rebellion. He did not have Commander-in-Chief authority over the four slave-holding states that were not in rebellion: Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware, and so those states were not named in the Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation was never challenged in court.

Article II, Section 2 states:

“The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session”

To ensure the abolition of slavery in all of the U.S., Lincoln pushed for passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Congress passed it by the necessary two-thirds vote in February 1865 and it was ratified by the states by December 1865.

I would remind Mr. Williams that his ignorance of the Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation is glaring. Williams writes with a progressive left-wing agenda based on the teachings of John Dewey — an agenda that believes the Constitution can be interpreted or changed by democratic means or consensus. According to Dewey If 50.1% of the citizenry believe government should do something that is reason for the executive to act. This is contrary to the Constitution and thinking of our Founders. Progressives such as Williams believe in the “administrative state” and are opposed to liberty and property — they are true statists who believe the Executive Branch has the authority to infringe, encroach, and modify the Constitution and Bill of Rights any time the polls or mood of the public moves them. I would also remind Mr. Williams that it was one of his progressive heroes, Franklin Roosevelt, who interned some 100,000 Japanese-Americans in “relocation camps” during World War II with his executive order 9066.

While a few of Obama’s 23 planned executive orders may seem reasonable and sensible it is not within his authority to use these powers if they infringe on the rights of the citizens.

As an aside it should be noted that since the Obama Administration began its attack on the Second Amendment in month the membership in the NRA increased by 250,000. It also should be noted that by this past weekend gun stores across the country have been sold out of all of their stock of firearms including hand guns, shotguns and AR-15 type rifles. These citizens are voting with their pocketbook to insure their rights.