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Bill of Rights Day Yields Results

Among the best tools for regaining control of our government are laws that imprison bad legislators, empower the public to act, and pit the states against federal power. These ideas came out of our Bill of Rights Day celebration town hall meeting. There's some real red meat here, some of it already underway, other parts ready to go.

(The entertainment and speeches were superb, the Wrigley Mansion's cheese platter was outstanding, everyone had a grand old time.). Thank you keynoter Gary Johnson, keynoter Bob Levy, Lance "Patrick Henry" Hurley, emcee Andre Campos, Equinox quartet, The Cartridge Family band, all the Amendment readers, so many others, you made it great.

Full report with pictures and video coming soon.

Enact the Repeal Amendment to the Constitution

Suggested by scholar Randy Barnett and others this would allow 2/3 of the states to act together to repeal federal laws. Not only seemingly unconstitutional ones, but any ones the states decide they simply don't like. It has a lot of momentum, and is a real restoration of state power and the 10th Amendment.

Term Limits For Bureaucrats

The permanent government -- worker bees in federal and state offices -- do enormous harm and are unaccountable to the people. These people, for example, are training our newly elected officials, and the freshman-class program does not even include a review of the Constitution! If they were periodically cleaned out the ingrained, endemic, insipid, statist influence of this shadow government would end.

Pass the Enumerated Powers Act

This simple measure proposed by congressman John Shadegg simply requires every bill to identify where in the Constitution it draws its legitimate powers. He has introduced it for 16 years, every year he has served, and Congress has never bothered to pass it. It's time. They must stop deliberately thumbing their collective noses at our Constitution, which they swear to uphold.

Require Single-Issue Legislation

Congress tacks every imaginable unrelated piece of hogwash it can to every bill in sight, especially to “must pass” bills for the military or the budget. This practice has to end, to stop passage of hogwash. Some states have “single-issue requirements” to end this sort of abuse, and it works swell. A bill can only contain material relevant to the purpose of the bill. Other issues have to be introduced separately, get proper scrutiny, and pass on their own merits.


Sunset Clauses

Bills are enacted and affect us forever. Bills should end, “sunset” after a while, and if they are still needed, be re-enacted after re-evaluation.

Put “Teeth” Clauses In All Bills

Government seems to be immune to laws that control we the people, so they are willing to pass all sorts of draconian tyranny. “Teeth” clauses make the functionaries in government liable.

The highly successful Posse Comitatus federal law (18 USC §1385) is a fine example. Instead of saying, as so many federal laws do (paraphrasing here), "It's illegal to use the military to enforce civilian law," which would be toothless against an offender, the statute says, "Anyone who uses the military to enforce civilian law shall go to prison for a long time and pay a very stiff fine." That difference, and people's unwillingness to suffer those enumerated consequences, is why America is not a banana republic. It's explained well here:
http://www.gunlaws.com/911-Limited-Immunity.htm#teeth

Elect The Right People

Some of us have low confidence in this approach, since any people elected are subject to the corrupting influence of the beltway, the permanent bureaucrats, party leadership, lobbyists, the buckets of cash and “the system.” But we showed in Nov. 2010 that the worst tyrants can be removed at the ballot box, and the tea parties in particular are adamant about using the primary process to put good people in and get the bad ones out. And if good ones go bad, out they go on a rail. Becoming a precinct committeeperson, a low profile, easy-to-do function puts you in the driver's seat on selecting candidates. Learn more.

Require Elected Officials To Stay Home

Our Congresspeople spend so much time in Washington they are manipulated, and forget about the needs of the people they represent. By requiring electeds to spend large amounts of time among those they represent, they would have less time for congressional mischief, would have to focus on important matters only, and would do their jobs better.

Impeach Any Elected Official Who Votes For A Bill Without Reading It

Right, they would never be able to get anything done if that was a  rule. Fine. Voting for a bill without reading it and understanding what it does, and being unable to explain the vote, in detail, to the electorate -- is malfeasance, violation of oath of office and grounds for removal. Everyone knows you do not sign anything you haven't read. That goes double for Congress. Yes it would slow things down. Good. Maybe the biggest part of the problem is that our electeds don't write these things -- and don't even know who does the writing!

Stop Being Delusional

The idea that government can solve our problems is nuts. Government doesn't make jobs, it interferes with making jobs. Government doesn't create wealth, it takes wealth from people who make it and spends it. All too often it just gives it away -- redistribution of wealth also known as socialism -- the arch enemy of The American Way. We the people have to realize that government is the problem, and stop running so fast to elected officials and seeking solutions from them. If we turn our backs on government, its influence over us will decrease. Ostracism and public shunning. Thank you Marc Victor for the insight.

Nullification

This is the legal theory that individual states have the power to nullify and reject any federal law a state deems unconstitutional. It is an outgrowth of state sovereignty, and the understanding that the states form the union, and are the ultimate arbiters of the actions of the central government. This conflicts with the court system, which the central government runs and relies upon as the final word. Nullification has been attempted (slavery, desegregation of schools, more) but has never been upheld or victorious. That leads to the next category of resistance to overreach by the federal government:

Secession

An increasing ferment appears to be bubbling under the surface, based on the idea that when a government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was formed, it is the responsibility and duty of the people to throw off those chains and establish a new form of governance. The governor of Texas has publicly raised the issue of state secession, Texans at meetings have chanted the word, and thinkers have begun to seriously consider the possibility as the federal leviathan has become increasing voracious.

How a seceded state would operate is anyone's guess, and would likely signal the demise of the nation as we know it. The nation of Arizonia? What would you use for money? Would federal forces just stand by and let it happen? How would you handle all the empty federal buildings, and land -- "nationalize" them? What about social security and medicare? There's more to it than no more federal income tax or subsidies. Which leads to the most severe suggestion:

Revolution

Blurted out at the very beginning of our discussion by a well known anarcho-capitalist libertarian, and arguably the most severe course of action raised at the congress, it triggered a few cries of support, some chuckles, some groans of discontent, and got little additional discussion. Which leads us to the plethora of other ideas thrown out during the course of the evening, some of which should certainly be thrown out:

Hold a constitutional convention
(this met with deep concerns about the ability to control or limit one)

Repeal Amendments 16
(the income tax or “capitation” previously banned by the Constitution)

Repeal Amendment 17
(direct election of senators, which removed state legislative control as original intended)

Develop a form of review of Supreme Court decisions

Regulate judges more effectively

Recall legislators

State filings for bankruptcy to divert federal requirements

Revamp the school system

Teach children the truth about the Constitution

Be better parents

Be more like Patrick Henry
(who gave a thrilling speech and assessment of the nation)
http://hurleypatriot.org/Patrick_Henry.shtml

Repeal of corporate personhood
(so people actually running the firms are not insulated form lawsuit and control)

Remove voting privileges for federal employees
(so they cannot influence their jobs to the detriment of the public)

Remove voting privileges for anyone on welfare
(so they cannot vote public funds to themselves)

Defund the courts, large and small

End fractional banking

End the federal reserve system

Ban Congress from delegating authority only Congress should retain

Allow impeachment of federal judges
(the Jail For Judges program drew applause)

Hand count ballots, with no mailed ballots allowed

Ban federal employee unionizing

Drug testing for welfare recipients

Remember Waco

End militarization of police by federal grants with strings attached

Make lobbying transparent

Admittedly, not all the suggestions were as viable or rational as others, but they all show a deep concern for the current state of affairs for the country, and a pretty well-informed body politic at the meeting. Few were willing to rate the health of the Bill of Rights above a five, with many putting it on life support. Some of the points received extensive comments, others were simply mentioned and the group pressed forward. This idea of examining our current situation at an assembly of the people seems to me to be an activity we could benefit from on a more than annual basis.

This report drafted and submitted by your humble servant, Alan Korwin, 12/28/10.

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About the Author

  • Freelance writer Alan Korwin is a founder and past president of the Arizona Book Publishing Association. With his wife Cheryl he operates Bloomfield Press, the largest producer and distributor of gun-law books in the country. Here writing as "The Uninvited Ombudsman," Alan covers the day's stories as they ought to read. Read more.

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