2004 letters to the editor

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Four years ago, following President Clinton’s announcement of 104 policy initiatives in his State Of The Union address, I went through the list to determine how many were legitimate functions of the federal government. I could find only seven. Well, it’s now George Bush’s turn for the same test. I invite you to review the 31 initiatives announced by Mr. Bush in his State Of The Union address, to determine how many are legitimate functions of the federal government. To make sure we are all starting from the same base, let’s not use the contemporary politicians’ corrupt definition of legitimacy. Let’s use the general definition supplied by James Madison in Federalist Paper 45: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government are few and defined” and elsewhere, “powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated.” In particular, let’s use the detailed definition supplied by Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution. That’s where those “few and defined” powers are “specified and enumerated.” (And if you can’t lay your hands on a copy of the US Constitution, shame on you). As for me, I find Constitutional authority for only six of the 31 initiatives. That score places Mr. Bush ahead of Mr. Clinton; but it’s a moot victory, because they both flunked.


A few weeks ago, virtually on the 212th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill Of Rights, the US Supreme Court chopped away another piece of that venerable document. The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech”; nevertheless, five of the nine Supremes decided that “no law” did not really mean “no law.” I now join the ranks of those who would have a litmus test for candidates seeking appointments to the Supreme Court – my test would be to determine if the candidate can read and comprehend simple English, with emphasis on understanding the definition of the adjective “no.” The Court’s decision in McConnell v. FEC , upholding the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), sometimes referred to as “McCain-Feingold,” condones a Congressional action specifically and unequivocally prohibited by the First Amendment, i.e., making a law abridging the freedom of speech. In particular, the BCRA bans independent advocacy groups from airing issue adds on radio and TV for 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election, if it appears that reference is made to a candidate. This means that during that period, a radio or TV ad, regardless if it praises or attacks, regardless if relates to an incumbent or a challenger, is illegal (criminal penalties for BCRA violations can run to more than $50,000 in fines plus five years imprisonment). Between Labor Day and Election Day, every advocacy group from the NRA to the VPC, from pro-life groups to pro-choice groups, will be muzzled; and trying to air a radio or TV ad which refers to an incumbent or a challenger will be illegal. The prohibition applies to ads on any issue – from Alaska’s ANWR to Zimbabwea’s Zambezi. Do you see where this is going? This decision cuts to the heart of one of our rights the First Amendment is intended to protect: our right to criticize the government. If we can be restrained from criticizing the government 60 days before an election, then why not 60 weeks before an election? How about 60 months, or permanently? US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia got it right in his dissenting opinion when he labeled the decision “a sad day for freedom of speech.” Thomas Jefferson saw this coming when he wrote: “… the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary; an irresponsible body … working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped.” Jefferson called the Supremes an “irresponsible body” in 1821. Looks like déjà vu all over again.


There is no shortage of opinions about what’s wrong with America, particularly during the political season. Ask any Democrat or Republican candidate for public office (especially if the candidate is a challenger, rather than an incumbent), and chances are good that you will get an earful of what’s wrong, and what the candidate will do to fix things. Chances are also good that you heard it all four years ago, but things didn’t change much, and they won’t change much; and four years from now, you will hear it all again. Is that the kind of America you want – for yourself, your children, and their children? It’s not the kind of America I want. My America would, as the inscription on the Liberty Bell reads: “Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all inhabitants thereof” (and by the way, when the historical revisionists realize that those words are straight out of the bible – Leviticus 25:10 – they will probably seek a court order to have the inscription expunged). Mine would be an America where respect for individual rights is the essential precondition; where individuals have control over their own lives and are responsible for the consequences of their actions; where no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others; where the government does not interfere with peaceful choices made by adults, so long as those choices do not involve coercion or fraud or interfere with the equal rights of others; where the Federal Government is, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, restrained by “the chains of the Constitution”; and where the powers of the Federal Government are, in James Madison’s words, “few and defined.” The government in My America would be smaller, less intrusive, and less costly. Does that sound like your kind of America? If so, you should know that this kind of America, focusing on individual freedom, limited government, and self-responsibility, is exactly the kind of America described in the official platform of the Libertarian Party. The Libertarian Party is THE third party: during the elections in the year 2000, the Libertarian Party ran more than 1430 candidates, more than twice as many candidates as all other third parties combined; and currently, there are more Libertarians holding public office than all other third parties combined. Check it out. You might just have found a new political home.

THANK YOU, ZELL (3/17/2004)

Finally, the US Senate and House have taken the first steps to bring the federal courts back into line with what the Founding Fathers had in mind. By now, everyone in America and quite a few people outside America know that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended for refusing to obey the order of US District Judge Myron Thompson to remove what has become known as “Roy’s Rock” - the 5,300 pound granite monument, bearing the Ten Commandments, which Moore had put on display in the rotunda of the state Judicial Building three years ago. What ensued was an imbroglio which generated dozens of law suits across the country asking federal judges to prohibit children in public schools from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance (because it includes the words “under God”), or requesting that the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places be held unconstitutional. Activist judges are now busy banning the acknowledgement of God from parks, documents, buildings, monuments, songs, etc., and We The People have been letting them get away with this insolent and unconstitutional arrogation of judicial supremacy. But it’s about to stop. Finally, a few bold members of the Senate and the House have introduced legislation to force the federal courts to confine their operations to their Constitutional limits. The legislation clarifies that federal courts do not have authority to restrain government entities or officials from publicly acknowledging God. The Senate version of the legislation is titled the “Constitution Restoration Act” and Zell Miller was one of the original sponsors. I sent a “Thank You” note to Zell. You might want to do the same.


By now, everyone has heard of the PATRIOT Act, although few people realize this is an acronym and fewer yet can articulate the full clumsy title: “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001.” (I wonder how much midnight oil and how many of our tax dollars were burned by congressional staffers to come up with that tortuous title to fit the acronym?). Whatever it is called, there is plenty wrong with this overly broad, intrusive, onerous law: currently, there is anti-PATRIOT Act legislation pending in both houses of Congress; last week Alexander Bolton reported that a group of Libertarian-minded Republicans in Congress is blocking President Bush’s effort to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act; and, last month the ACLU appeared before the US Commission on Civil Rights at a hearing on “Security and Liberty,” during which they detailed serious civil liberties abuses which have occurred as a result of both the PATRIOT Act, and other post-9/11 “anti-terrorism” powers; Here are some examples provided by the ACLU: It allows the government to get a court order to come into your home without your knowledge and even take property without notifying you until weeks or months later [might this be the final blow to the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches & seizures?]. It allows the government to obtain many detailed, personal records, including library and bookstore records, financial and medical records, and Internet communications, without probable cause and without meaningful judicial review. For those records that may be obtained using “national security letters,” there is no judicial review at all [and if the librarian or bookstore clerk advises you that they have provided the feds with info on you, THEY can be fined and jailed!]. It, along with changes to immigration regulations since 9/11 and the President’s claimed authority to detain “enemy combatants” – all sanction indefinite detention without criminal charge and without meaningful judicial review. Clearly, the government’s new surveillance and detention powers have infringed on our basic rights, undermined important checks and balances, diminished personal privacy, increased government secrecy, and exacerbated inequality. But there is hope: given that there are significant numbers of Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians, all objecting to the same piece of legislation, there may yet be a chance to preserve what little is left of our Bill of Rights. I have my fingers crossed.

363 VERSUS 567 (7/23/2004)

By now everyone has heard that the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States – also known as the “9/11 Commission” - just issued its final 567 page report, and that #1 on the list of proposals to address the problems of a bumbling bureaucracy, is the recommendation to add another layer of bureaucracy. Last year a House-Senate joint inquiry investigated 9/11, last month the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence produced a 511 page report on prewar intelligence on Iraq, and now the 9/11 Commission gives us their report. All in all, more than $12 million of our tax dollars have been spent, almost 2,000 pages have been produced, and as far as I can tell, not one high level bureaucrat has been fired because he/she did not do enough to try to prevent 9/11. Indeed, the best the Commission could come up with is that “The most important failure was one of imagination.” Gimme a break!

The Commission was not charged with determining why Usama Bin Laden ordered the 9/11 attack, but they stepped right in the answer, got it on their shoe, and never even recognized it. Perhaps that’s because the Commission succumbed to the false but popular notion promoted by President Bush that the perpetrators did what they did because “they hate our freedoms.” Nonsense. Bin Laden spelled it out for us, and we ignored him. In February of 1998, Bin Laden called for the murder of Americans (military and civilians), anywhere on earth, and he accused the US of instigating the “fatwa,” citing the presence of US troops in the Middle East as one of his main grievances. In other words, Bin Laden called for the attack because our last few Presidents ignored the foreign policy advocated by Thomas Jefferson: “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations--entangling alliances with none “. It had everything to do with our having US troops on their soil, and nothing to do with their hating our freedoms.

Rather than waste your time reading the 567 pages produced by the Commission, I recommend you read James Bovard’s 363 page book, TERRORISM AND TYRANNY: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil. Bovard doesn’t embrace fluffy excuses like “lack of imagination”; rather, he provides hard evidence, like the fact that the FBI headquarters agent who stonewalled the Zacarias Moussaoui probe being pursued by FBI agents in Minneapolis, was promoted and received a presidential commendation after 9/11. Predictably, neither the Minneapolis agents, nor the Phoenix agent who blew the whistle earlier, were recognized by the Bush administration for their efforts. In a later Pyrrhic victory, Minneapolis FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley who caused such a firestorm with her memo to FBI chief Robert Mueller, in which she accused the agency of obstructing information that may have prevented 9/11, was named a Time magazine “Person of the Year.” My quick scan (by computer) of the 9/11 Commission’s 567 page report did not turn up one occurrence of the name of Coleen Rowley. Surprise, surprise.

YOU OWE UNCLE SAM $116,346 (8/12/2004)

The last time I looked, the US National Debt clock indicated that every family in America owes the government $116,346. The total debt increases at the rate of about four million dollars a minute, so no tellin’ what your share will be by the time you read this. The GOP traditionally points a finger at the Democrats as the big spenders, but with Republicans controlling the White House and the Congress, that blame game doesn’t work any more. During the last couple of years, Federal spending growth averaged 7.6 percent per year, more than double the 3.4 percent average annual growth under the Clinton administration. And the “War on Terror” excuse doesn’t explain it because since 9/11, less than half of all new spending has been related to national defense. Here’s a prediction for you: If Mr. Kerry wins in November, your bill will go up; and if Mr. Bush wins in November, your bill will go up. Is there no escape from a frighteningly escalating debt? Well, yes, there is: vote Libertarian in November. Libertarians are dedicated to eliminating, or at least reducing, all government expenses which are not authorized by the US Constitution. This includes, for example, the elimination of corporate welfare ($87 Billion annually), foreign aid (e.g., about $5 billion per year to Israel), and pet pork projects (e.g., $98 million for an agriculture research station in Ames, Iowa included in the War Supplemental Appropriations bill) . Constitutional scholar Michael Badnarick is the Libertarian Presidential Candidate, and if this is the first time you’ve seen his name, you can blame the popular media for the blackout. Mr. Badnarick, who understands how today’s government programs have slipped out of what Thomas Jefferson called the “chains of the Constitution,” will be on the ballot in all 50 states, and if elected, he will work to return the federal government to its constitutionally limited role, which is, basically, to protect our lives, rights, and property.


If you own a fairly new car, chances are that it is equipped with an Event Data Recorder, or EDR, a device similar to the “black box” found on commercial airplanes. The EDR can measure and record data such as: vehicle speed, direction, engine speed, steering input, gear selection, turn signal status (left/right), brake light status (on/off), headlight status (on/off), if you are accelerating or braking, if your seat belt is fastened, etc. Most auto makers maintain that the device, and the data, are the property of the vehicle owner, but this will not stop a court from issuing an order for you to produce it, especially in the case of an accident. In fact, there have been several court cases, both here and in Canada, where evidence from EDRs was used, sometimes to the owner’s advantage, and sometimes to the owner’s disadvantage. For example, last year in the case of Florida v. John Walker, in which the defendant was charged with two counts of Vehicular Homicide, the EDR provided evidence that the defendant was not speeding at the time of the crash, and the jury found the defendant not guilty. On the other hand, in the case of Pennsylvania v. Walter Thomas Rhoads, an EDR in the defendant’s vehicle, a 2001 Corvette, reported a speed of 106 mph, confirming that the defendant was indeed speeding. At this time, there is no requirement for auto makers to inform customers that their vehicles are so equipped. Essentially, you may or may not have the electronic equivalent of a law enforcement officer riding with you, and you may or may not know it, and it may or may not be good news for you. I thought you might like to know.

ET TU, BUSH43? (9/13/2004)

As most gun owners know, the “Clinton Gun Ban,” which was enacted ten years ago, died its well-deserved death on September 13, 2004. For those unfamiliar with the legislation, it outlawed certain ammunition magazines and about 200 types of semi-automatic firearms (based primarily on cosmetic and ergonomic features, which have no effect on lethality), and it also banned certain metal springs and other assorted bits and pieces of hardware, all under the guise of reducing crime. Predictably, criminals paid no attention to the legislation, and the agencies responsible for tracking crime agree that the ban did not reduce crime. Nevertheless, as we approached the “sunset” date for the law, Senator Dianne Feinstein and various victim disarmament groups became more active in supporting efforts to reinstate and expand the ban. Nobody was surprised that Democrats in general, and John Kerry in particular, supported renewing the ban (the NRA has labeled Mr. Kerry as “the most anti-gun presidential nominee in U.S. history!”); however, many a Republican jaw dropped when it became known that President Bush was in favor of reauthorizing and even expanding the ban. Fortunately for us, Congress blocked the reauthorization efforts, and Mr. Bush was deprived of the opportunity to betray the law-abiding gun owners who helped put him in the White House. Clearly, neither Mr. Bush, nor Mr. Kerry deserves the vote of the law-abiding gun owners of America. But there is hope. Michael Badnarick, the Libertarian presidential candidate, believes that “Gun control means being able to hit your target,” and he is on record with, “Repealing unconstitutional gun control laws will be one of my first priorities.” Come November, you will have an opportunity to endorse the position taken by Mr. Badnarick, or the one taken by Mr. Bush, or the one taken by Mr. Kerry. Choose carefully - you may get what you vote for.

COLUMBUS DAY (9/23/2004)

As we approach Columbus Day we should be prepared for the annual ululations from the usual suspects who will be lining up to impugn the achievements of Columbus and to accuse him of being an evil man, undeserving of a Federal Holiday. The disapprobation is frequently followed by a proposal to set things straight by repealing Columbus Day and establishing a Native American Day. As you consider that proposal, ponder this politically incorrect question about the skin color of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence: were they red men, or white men? And what about the men who drafted and ratified the Constitution and the Bill of Rights - red men or white men? The freedoms that all Americans (red, white, black, yellow, brown) enjoy and take for granted today, are protected by those documents, which were created by white men, not red men. Red men in this country certainly have a right to make their case for a Native American Federal Holiday, and to exercise their rights under the First Amendment of the US Constitution to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances”; but comity requires that in the process, they not denigrate the white men whose efforts guaranteed them those rights. And lest we forget, those white men were here because of the legacy of an Italian pathfinder named Christophoro Columbo. We changed his name to Christopher Columbus, but there’s no changing the fact that his 15th century explorations led directly to the opening of the western hemisphere to European adventurers - to Roanoke Island in the 16th century, Jamestown in the 17th century, and the birth of this nation in the 18th century. For this, he deserves a Federal Holiday.

YOUR TAX $$ AT WORK (10/8/2004)

Osama bin Laden is still on the loose but Martha Stewart is in jail so we should all feel safer. Is this a great country, or what!

A REASON TO VOTE (10/10/2004)

If you are one of those Democrats, Republicans, or Independents who has decided not to vote this year, this message is for you. I know a number of Democrats who cannot bring themselves to vote for Mr. Kerry, and they certainly aren’t going to vote for Mr. Bush, so they are planning to stay home this year. Likewise, I know a number of Republicans who, although they voted for Mr. Bush four years ago, cannot bring themselves to vote for him this time, and they certainly aren’t going to vote for Mr. Kerry. And, I know some Independents who are planning to stay home because they can’t bring themselves to vote for either Mr. Bush or Mr. Kerry. This year Ronald Reagan was invited to speak at the Democratic Convention and Zell Miller was invited to speak at the Republican Convention – what’s going on here? Well, I believe that both the Republicans and the Democrats have forsaken some of their basic principals, which has driven away many of their supporters. And with respect to apostates like Messrs. Reagan and Miller, the answer is not to jump from the elephant to the donkey, or vice versa. The answer is to reject both the Democrats and Republicans, and to embrace the party that will reduce the size, expense, and intrusiveness of the federal government; that will protect our environment, our civil liberties, and our freedom; the party that recognizes, in the words of Congressman Ron Paul, that “American kids are dying in another unconstitutional war, the deficit is zooming, the Fed is printing [fiat money], the government is growing, the economy is stuttering, and our freedoms are shrinking.” That party is the Libertarian Party, whose presidential candidate is Michael Badnarik. Like Messrs. Bush and Kerry, Mr. Badnarik will be on the ballot in Georgia, and every other state (n.b., 472 Libertarians are running for local and state level positions all across the country, and there are currently more than 600 Libertarians in public office). And if you have seen TV ads for Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry, but none for Mr. Badnarik, it might just be because the Democrat and Republican candidates each accepted $76 million taxpayer dollars to fund their fall campaigns, while Mr. Badnarik did not accept any taxpayer dollars to fund his campaign.

If you are interested in respecting the intent of our Founding Fathers to restrict the power of the federal government to its Constitutionally authorized role, you now have a good reason to get out and vote. And remember: a vote not cast is always a wasted vote, but a vote for freedom is never a wasted vote.


On the Fourth of July, more than 100 adults and a multitude of children attended the 20th annual Independence Day party hosted by my wife, Brenda, and me, at our home in Suches. Unlike some private 4th of July parties which focus merely on revelry, our parties have always included an emphasis on the true meaning of the occasion. We reflect not only on the Declaration of Independence, but also on the Constitution, and the ideal of liberty, the bedrock on which this republic was founded. “You have a republic,” Benjamin Franklin said, at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, “if you can keep it.”

We remain the beneficiaries of the republic based on those remarkable documents, but we do so with special attention to Franklin’s admonition, since it is only through engaged and thoughtful civic participation that we “can keep it.” Knowledge of our republic’s origins, and of the principles and documents on which free government stands, are central to informed participation in civic life. We are not just the beneficiaries, we are the custodians of our great experiment in self-government and the vigorous civil society it engenders.

At this year’s Independence Day celebration, our guests added their signatures to a letter which I had written to Governor Perdue. The letter provided references to studies (and to a US Congress Concurrent Resolution, and to an initiative by the White House) demonstrating that many American college and university graduates suffer from a profound historical illiteracy that bodes ill for the future of our nation, and it concluded with a request to the Governor to issue a Proclamation expressing his concern for this serious problem, and recommending corrective steps to be taken by the higher education community, as well as parents. A draft Proclamation, patterned after the Congressional Resolution, was included.

After jousting with the Governor’s office for several months, I have finally accepted their rejection of my proposal. In my last conversation with them they informed me that it is their “usual practice” to reject petitions (regardless of merit) which are submitted by private citizens, unless they are submitted on behalf of an organization. If I had submitted a petition on behalf of an organization of Emu lovers, or of Tall Cedar aficionados, I would probably have been successful. (And before you laugh, be advised that the Governor has signed Proclamations for “Emu Week” and “Tall Cedar Week” as well as “Ukrane Independence Day”). And, while I am sure there is broad support for the Governor to acknowledge the importance of Ukrane Independence Day; I fail to see how that is more important than for the Governor to acknowledge that it is a problem when only a minority of college seniors can identify James Madison as the Father of the Constitution or George Washington as the victorious general at Yorktown. Indeed, it is precisely because educators and public officials put more importance on topics such as “Emu Week” and “Tall Cedar Week,” and less importance on topics to qualify students for informed participation in civic life, that many of America’s most distinguished historians have expressed alarm about the growing historical illiteracy of college and university graduates and the consequences for the Nation. When the Governor refuses to sign a meritorious proclamation merely because it was submitted by an individual concerned citizen (and co-signed by an additional 100 individual concerned citizens), rather than by an organized group (such as Emu farmers), those of us concerned about our Nation’s future have even more reason to fear our ability to keep the republic which was created and entrusted to us by Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, George Washington, et al. God bless America, and God help us preserve it, despite the insouciance of some of our elected officials.


The continuing harangue on the “separation of church and state” usually picks up tempo this time of year as various groups and individuals try to take the “Christ” out of Christmas. They go about bashing Christians, they try to turn freedom “OF” religion into freedom “FROM” religion, and they deny the Christians roots of the American Founding. Even grade school principals are getting into the act, barring teachers from giving students historical American documents that contain references to God or Christianity. For example, Reuters reported last week that Steven Williams, a fifth-grade teacher in Cupertino, California, was suing for discrimination, claiming he had been singled out for censorship because he is a Christian. And there seems to be some validity to his claim. Williams has been required to submit all of his lesson plans and supplemental handouts to his principal for approval, and the principal will not permit him to use any materials that contain references to God or Christianity. Among the materials the principal has rejected are George Washington's journal, John Adams' diary, writings by Samuel Adams and William Penn, and the Declaration of Independence (which contains five references to God). How can anyone, especially a school principal, be so daffy as to embrace the idea that the founders intended that we ban the Declaration of Independence from our nation’s classrooms?

For the record, there were a few notable patriots who rejected Christianity (Ethan Allen and Thomas Paine come to mind), but to keep that in perspective, we should remember that 52 of the 55 men who worked on the US Constitution were Christians. There is much evidence which confutes the notion that this Republic was not built on a Christian foundation. John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, said: “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

Evidence existed at the State level as well as at the Federal level. At least seven of the State constitutions established some sort of religious test as a qualification for office. Maryland and Massachusetts required “belief in the Christian religion”; South Carolina and Georgia, in “the Protestant New Testament”; Pennsylvania acknowledged “the scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration”; and Delaware required a profession of “faith in God the Father, Jesus Christ his only Son, and the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore.”

Certainly , the place of Christianity in our State and Federal government has changed over the years, but let us not be deceived into thinking that a complete disassociation between Christianity and the government was the plan of the Founding Fathers. It was not. But, don’t take my word for it, take it from someone who was there at the time – Patrick Henry – who said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!”

In more modern times, our fortieth president, the late Ronald Reagan said: “To those who cite the First Amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions everyday; I say: The First Amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny."

Amen, and God bless America.

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