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Articles

Talking Points

by John F. McManus, President

1. Senator Rand Paul just distinguished himself as the new “Dr. No” of the Senate. (A medical doctor, the tag fits him very nicely.) His lonely “No” vote on a measure seeking to make a federal crime out of aiming a laser pointer at an airplane set him at odds with 96 of his colleagues who supported it. The Yes voters claimed that a pilot could be temporarily blinded by a laser beam. They’re correct. But should the matter be the subject of another federal law? Time magazine’s Michael Grunwald, who noted that there are already 4,000 federal crimes, agreed with the freshman Senator. Dr. Paul said the matter should be the concern of state and local officials. James Madison said: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite.... The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and prosperity of the state.” So, even though it seemed he was alone in stating that the matter was none of the federal government’s business, Senator Paul wasn’t alone after all. He had the Father of the Constitution on his side.

2. The new Congress is heavily Republican. Its GOP members say they are committed to cutting federal spending while they aim toward balancing the federal budget. But they are proposing cuts in the current fiscal year of less than $100 billion while the Obama administration has issued a budget calling for $3,500 billion (or $3.5 trillion). Far from hard-nosed budget cutting, the proposal won’t come close to impacting the federal budget.

3. There’s an important vote coming for both Houses of Congress. The current federal debt ceiling, the amount of borrowing the federal government cannot legally exceed, is $14.294 trillion. That plateau of borrowing will be reached some time in May. So Congress has two options it must soon consider. It can 1) raise the debt ceiling, or 2) it can allow the federal government to become a deadbeat spender unable to meet its obligations. Many members of Congress, of course, will support an increase. But few want to be known for approving such a measure. Posturing and lame excuses will be delivered daily. Does anyone think the debt ceiling will not be raised? And, once it receives a boost, does anyone believe it won’t be reached in a matter of months?

4. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She has announced plans to have Congress cut the funding our government sends to the United Nations. However, reducing these payments isn’t what’s needed. Withdrawing completely from the world body is the only sane route to follow. As he has in the past, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) intends to introduce H. R. 1146 entitled the “American Sovereignty Restoration Act.” It calls for termination of U.S. involvement in the United Nations. It deserves support. Where does your congressman stand on this issue?

Talking Points

by John F. McManus, President

Congress is back in session. A multiplicity of promises about cutting government spending and reducing government’s size fill the air. Promises are one thing, of course. Delivery on promises is something else.

A few months ago, as he answered a constituent’s question about where the federal government got the authority to enact a particular law, Congressman Pete Stark (D-Calif.) stated: “In this country, the federal government can do pretty much whatever it wants to.” He wasn’t specific about where he found such vast power in the Constitution, but he and many others obviously believe they are so empowered. For far too long, there have been five main rationales used by Members of Congress to build government and attack freedom. We list them and explain briefly how wrong each always has been.

  1. Article I, Section 8, Clause 1: “provide for the … general welfare.” By this, the Founders were referring to the general welfare of the nation as a whole, not that of individuals and groups. The general welfare of the nation is best served, they knew, through less government and less taxation. This clause has nothing to do with welfare as the term is employed today.
  2. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3: “regulate commerce … among the several states.” The main purpose of this clause was to prevent one state from taxing another’s good as they crossed the state border. It was never intended that Congress should have a say in anything related to commercial activity.
  3. Article I, Section 8, Clause 18: the “necessary and proper clause” (frequently labeled “the elastic clause”). After listing powers delegated to Congress in 17 previous clauses of Article I, Section 8, the Constitution states that Congress shall have power “To make all laws which are necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.” Members of Congress regularly cite only “To make all laws which are necessary and proper…” and stop right there. If Congress can make laws about anything its members believe “necessary and proper,” then why did the Founders go to the trouble of listing legitimate powers in the previous 17 clauses of Article I, Section 8?
  4. Article VI, Clause 2: the “supremacy clause.” The Constitution names itself as “the supreme law of the land.” This clause in no way states that the federal government shall be empowered over all local and state governments.
  5. Article VI, Clause 2: treaty law. The Constitution states that all treaties made “under the authority of the United States” shall be the law of the land. But it also states that all laws must be “made in pursuance thereof” of the Constitution. Treaty law cannot supersede the Constitution. If it could, as Hamilton, Madison and Jefferson stated, then we have no Constitution.

All should be on guard against the use of any of these rationales to justify the past or present tortured interpretations of the Constitution that result in more government, more taxation, more indebtedness, and more cancellation of God-given rights and freedoms.

Talking Points

by John F. McManus, President

1. Televised reports presented the good news that all U.S. combat forces had vacated Iraq on August 19. (50,000 troops do remain in the beleaguered nation.) Then, on August 31, President Obama delivered a prime time televised message to the nation containing the announcement that those combat forces had exited Iraq. Didn’t it seem strange that the President would wait almost two weeks to provide some good news, even to hope that the American people would credit him for achieving it?

We were told later that the date of the speech had been planned for a good while. That seems quite improbable. What does seem improbable is that his 18-minute, rambling, multi-topic speech came across as a fairly desperate attempt to combat seriously sinking poll numbers. Mr. Obama wanted to be looked upon as a sort of military victor even though few consider him one. But he also wanted to address the nation’s worsening economic condition, even convey the notion that things are getting better. But they surely are not.

Barack Obama’s oratorical skills are well known. But on August 31, he came across as a man needing a lifeboat. He was indecisive and unconvincing, and he conveyed the impression that something else was on his mind. Was he worrying about what seems likely to happen to his fellow Democrats in November? He knows that many elected officials who so joyously applauded him less than two years ago are carefully distancing themselves from him as Election Day looms. Rather than have him campaign for them, these Democrats have come to consider him a millstone around their necks. All of this is good news for America. If only there were some assurance that Republicans won’t fritter away whatever victory seems in their grasp, as did the GOP led by Newt Gingrich in 1994.

2. In Arizona, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu reports: “Mexican drug cartels do control parts of Arizona. They literally have scouts on the high points in the mountains and in the hills and they literally control movement. They have radios, optics, and night-vision goggles as good as anything law enforcement has. This is 70-80 miles from the border, and 30 miles from the fifth-largest city in the United States.” Babeu claims to have requested the Obama administration for 3,000 National Guard soldiers and all he got were 15 signs posted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) telling Americans to avoid entering this area because dangerous criminals control it.

Commenting on this situation, Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas) stated: “These signs say to American citizens, the federal government has ceded this area to the drug cartels. Don’t come here; we can’t protect you.” Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) added: “American citizens should not have to be fearful for their lives on U.S. soil.”
Retired Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) veteran Michael Cutler stated: “At the rate we’re going, the Red, White and Blue of the American flag will be replaced with a flag that is simply white — the flag of surrender.”  After spending 31 years with INS, he is angered because BLM directs travelers to call 911 if they see anything suspicious in this area. But the calls go to state and local police, he pointed out. At the same time, the federal government is suing Arizona claiming that enforcement of immigration laws is solely a federal task.

3. A supposedly competent constitutional scholar recently complained to The John Birch Society that our organization constantly calls for limitations on the federal government but is willing to have that same government mandate prayer and Bible reading in the government schools. Contradiction? Not at all. The JBS position is that there shouldn’t be federal meddling in the nation’s schools in the first place. Banning federal involvement would see creation of privately run academies that would make their own policies regarding religious exercises — or have none — in such schools.
 

Talking Points, September 2010
by John F. McManus,
President

1. The leaks about the Afghanistan War ought to supply more than enough reason to cancel this nearly nine-year-old conflict. But there are behind-the-scenes purposes for it that few will discuss. These include simply being at war with the result that the people support the administration because troops are in jeopardy. The Obama administration’s poll numbers might be even lower if there were no war. But conflicts like the Afghan struggle also lead to increasing government power, supplying more legitimacy to on-going disregard for the U.S. Constitution, inviting future attacks on the U.S. by jihadists, and more. Regarding the possibility of additional terrorist attacks on our nation, no one should forget Rahm Emanuel’s assertion that no crisis should ever be wasted.

The war began in 2001 as an effort to capture Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders. In fairly rapid succession, it became a war against terrorism in general, a campaign to eradicate opium production, a mission to impose democracy on a people who haven’t the faintest idea of what that means, and an effort to create a central government (known to be corrupt) in a nation where tribal leaders have maintained domination over private fiefdoms for centuries. Had the war been properly declared by Congress, there would have been an identifiable and unchanging goal.

It’s long past the time to bring our troops home. Evidence supplied by the revealing leaks could stimulate an end to this ill-begotten adventure. If so, thanks should be expressed to those who published them.

2. Debate continues about cutting or not cutting taxes. But slicing the enormous size and cost of government would be a far better choice. To give an inkling of how poorly our nation is being led, consider that while the federal deficit for the current fiscal year will reach $1.5 trillion, there is still a foreign aid program. Also, there are huge expenditures for failing federal programs in education, energy, and housing. The cost to taxpayers for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — both of which should never have been created and which should be abolished — will be $1 trillion. 

3. President Obama has made a completely wrong decision to ban drilling for oil in both deepwater areas and closer offshore areas. Our nation needs the energy resources available in our own territory. It is highly significant that Senators Murkowski of Alaska and Landrieu of Louisiana, representatives of the two states most heavily impacted by oil spills, oppose Mr. Obama’s newest interference with production of needed oil and gas.

4. As recently as 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the discovery of enormous deposits of needed energy resources within the land area of the United States. They are in North Dakota, Montana, Texas, and Louisiana. If these are tapped, along with other known resources in Alaska and along our nation’s shores, the U.S. would not have to import a drop of oil or a cubic foot of natural gas. What stands in the way? The U.S. government and its partners, an assortment of the environmental extremists.

5. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) envisions providing citizenship for many young people here illegally who are attending educational institutions at taxpayer expense. As a once-popular humorist from Russia would point to such a situation and say, “What a country!” A sensible American would wonder, “Have we gone completely daft?” This measure deserves no support whatsoever.








 

An Excellent Project For All

by John F. McManus,
President

In 2004, Congress enacted legislation requiring all publicly funded educational institutions to provide students with instruction about the U.S. Constitution. The law (Public Law 108-447) specified that it should be given on September 17, the date of the completion of the Constitution in 1787. The Department of Education then directed that all schools receiving federal funding must comply.

In 2008, we recommended sending copies of the Overview of America DVD to high school and junior high school social studies teachers, reminding them of the requirement and suggesting the use of our DVD. We know that many members acted on our suggestion — both in 2008 and in 2009.

A good member in Montana told us that the teacher to whom he presented the DVD in 2008 ended up showing it to all his colleagues at the school. Many not only raved about its contents; they asked for their own copy. The program was then shown to the students where it was received enthusiastically.

A chapter in Illinois sent a letter and the DVD to 20 high school and junior high school principals and social-studies department chairmen. They then followed with telephone calls to the appropriate individuals. While they didn’t get a positive reaction from all, they know that the DVD was shown in some of the schools. They reported that teachers whom they reached were “very positive” about the DVD and some asked for an additional copy because it somehow “got lost.”

The Illinois members suggested the following plan of action:

  1. During the third week in August, send the DVD and a letter (similar to the sample given below) to the principal and social studies teacher of each school in your area.
  2. During the last week in August, call the recipients to inquire whether they have previewed the program. Remind them of the legal requirement (Public Law 108-447) that they provide instruction about the Constitution on September 17.
  3. Keep calling until you are connected with the appropriate school official.

If you wish, create an ad hoc committee such as “Green County Committee for the Constitution.” Or, any member living in the area can sign the letter. Provide your name, address and telephone number for recipients to contact you if they desire to do so. Sample letter:

 

Dear Sir or Madam:

 

As you are undoubtedly aware, the federal government requires that instruction about the Constitution be given in all publicly funded schools on Constitution Day, September 17.

I (We) enclose an excellent half-hour DVD dealing with this very topic. It has already been shown in numerous schools where it has stimulated excellent discussion among the students.

Overview of America has reached the 100,000 level in sales; it has also been shown in part or in its entirety via numerous internet sites; copies have been made by many; and it is estimated that at least five million Americans have enjoyed seeing all or part of the presentation.

Please preview it yourself and, when you see its contents, I (we) expect that you will want to show it to your students.

 

Thank you very much.

Sincerely, Joe Doakes or “Joe Doakes for the Committee”

 

Get started now so you can mail or deliver copies of the DVD to school personnel as they begin preparation for the coming school year. Also, contact the editor of your local newspaper to supply him or her with the DVD and information about your effort to get it shown to the students. (25 copies/$20.00; 50 copies/$37.50 plus shipping and handling.)

Any member acting alone, or any chapter acting as a unit, can undertake this project. Go for it!

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