Politics

Today’s Civics reminders

Since they don’t appear to include civics in today’s educational curriculum I feel the need to pass on these, let’s call them “Helpful Hints”, so that people don’t say, or do, things that make them seem at best, ill-informed, and at worst just plain dumb, about how the country in which they claim citizenship is supposed to actually operate.

First, the Constitution of these United States (yes, you should read it, it’s yours!).

Second, the Bill of Rights (again, yes, read it!).

And, for a quick reminder of how it all got started, the Declaration of Independence.

Seriously, if you feel you are informed enough to cast a ballot you should have read, and when needed re-read, these documents before making up your mind about any issue or candidate, imo of course.

Key items you may want to note during your reading or at least know where these probably important phrases come from.:

“We the People…..”

“….hold these truths to be self-evident…”

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…” Huh, not Federal (National) Government?  Don’t you wonder why the Founding Fathers, in the face of a massive British Monarchy (National) army, were so particular about maintaining the security of the states?

The Original Thirteen States and their initial Congressional House Representatives:

New Hampshire three, Massachusetts eight, Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

Republic or Democracy?  This article by Walter E. Williams states it pretty well (emphasis mine):

How often do we hear the claim that our nation is a democracy? Was a democratic form of government the vision of the Founders? As it turns out, the word democracy appears nowhere in the two most fundamental founding documents of our nation—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 4, declares “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Our pledge of allegiance to the flag says not to “the democracy for which it stands,” but to “the republic for which it stands.” Is the song that emerged during the War of 1861 “The Battle Hymn of the Democracy” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”?

So what is the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence of the difference when he said, “You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.” Nothing in our Constitution suggests that government is a grantor of rights. Instead, government is envisioned as a protector of rights.

In recognition that it is government that poses the gravest threat to our liberties, the framers used negative phrases in reference to Congress throughout the first ten amendments to the Constitution, such as shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied. In a republican form of government, there is rule of law. All citizens, including government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government power is limited and decentralized through a system of checks and balances. Government intervenes in civil society to protect its citizens against force and fraud, but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange.

Contrast the framers’ vision of a republic with that of a democracy. According to Webster’s dictionary, a democracy is defined as “government by the people; especially: rule of the majority.” In a democracy the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike the rights envisioned under a republican form of government, rights in a democracy are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

I won’t copy the entire article but it makes more points with which I agree and would encourage you to read it while keeping in mind your previous reading of the above documents.

If you do that work, instead of relying on some 15 minute TV news loop for how you should think and feel, and still believe you should vote for candidates and issues that want to take away your rights or, maybe more importantly, those of your neighbors, that is your right and I will fight to protect it in spite of my respectful disagreement that any Government or Legislative Body at any level can do a better job of running my life than I can. Just sayin…..

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T.S. Eliot, “The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility, and humility is endless.”

Is the U.S. Government Really Broken?

By David W. Brady – February 2, 2014


My approach is to try to assess how the U. S. is doing, relative to the other developed democratic countries. The premise for the analysis is that the great transformation of the world economy over the last 30 years (documented by Nobel laureate economist A. Michael Spence) has generated a difficult set of problems that no individual or country has solved. There is in this new transformed economy increased global competition as labor in Asia and the developing world displaces the middle class and high-paying manufacturing jobs in Europe and the U.S., leading to high unemployment levels and the concomitant spending increases.


The present crisis generates a similar set of problems, though even more consequential for the U.S., because the world is more connected now, with China and India leading the transformation. The problem for the U.S. is further complicated by the world economy counting on U.S. military might to keep oil flowing around the globe and to bring stability to the Middle East, among other duties. Given this daunting set of problems, how is the U.S. doing economically, relative to the rest of the developed world?

Even with the possible exception of Germany, one cannot credibly claim that the U.S. economic response to the recession compares unfavorably to other advanced democracies. All of which raises a logical question: How could a broken, gridlocked, dysfunctional government come out so well when compared to other countries?

Yet this is not the narrative one hears discussed—on either side of the Atlantic.

It may not be perfect, but who’s doing better? Just sayin…

Read more: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/02/02/is_the_us_government_really_broken_121395.html#ixzz3QEwHnqCM

Ever wonder why so many Americans are disgusted with Washington? Look no further than the demoralizing display of Kabuki democracy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline.

Why the showdown over the Keystone XL pipeline is totally pointless

Damon Linker The Week January 14, 2015

After more than six long years of argument, debate, protest, lobbying, and court rulings, a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is wending its way through the Senate. Once the bill has passed, it will be sent to the president’s desk, where Barack Obama has pledged to veto it, marking only the third time he has chosen to use that constitutional power, and the first time he has done so since 2010.

It’s exciting.

And also utterly pointless.

The strongest argument against the pipeline is that it will contribute in a significant way to increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The only problem is that everyone knows that the contribution will be negligible — with estimates ranging from 27 million to 110 million additional tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year out of a global total of roughly 40 billion tons. That’s an annual increase of somewhere between .0675 and .275 percent.

That’s right: the high-end estimate predicts that the pipeline will increase global greenhouse emissions by slightly more than one quarter of 1 percent.

But of course, stopping the pipeline would do no such thing. As everyone on both sides of the debate concedes, the Canadians will get their tar sands oil to market one way or the other, whether or not the pipeline is approved and built as proposed. (Rail transport is the most likely alternative.) And that means that rejecting the project will have essentially no impact on global carbon emissions.

And trains don’t contribute to Global Emissions, right? Or risk huge natural disasters and deaths as they pass through our cities and towns, right?

Yet the number of jobs at stake is as negligible as the projected increase in pollutants. Estimates place the number at around 2,000 annual temporary jobs over two years of pipeline construction, followed by 35 permanent positions once it’s up and running.

You heard that right: 35. Two digits; no zeros.

All of this is common knowledge. Pretty much no one on either side of the argument attempts to deny or refute any of it.

And yet here we are at the O.K. Corral, the Senate and president poised for a showdown.

Are you getting excited yet?  Feel the drama building and your blood boiling with passion?

Of course, for everyone in the country who isn’t an environmental activist, the hoopla defies comprehension. But hey, that’s the way our politics work now: enormous amounts of time, energy, and resources — and the president’s limited political capital — expended on a ploy to get a special-interest group trained and tested for…some as-yet-undetermined future fight.

Pssssssss – that’s the air going out of the drama balloon.  A whole bunch of time, money and energy wasted.  Oh wait, we are talking about politicians aren’t we.  Just sayin’…