18. And Now, The End Is Near?

07/30/2013

As I mentioned once a long time ago (and quite possibly in a galaxy far, far away), I described this blog as an exercise in OCD.  When I create an entry, I am posting it to four blogging sites simultaneously — Xanga, LiveJournal, Blogger, and WordPress.  Part of the reasoning behind this decision was a desire to make it available to as wide an audience as possible.  Another part was using this as a way to understand the intricacies of each blogging platform.

It seems that I may have been more foresighted than I realized.  Those of you reading this on Xanga already know of what I speak, so this is for those reading one of the other sites.  Several weeks ago, it was announced that Xanga would be changing at the end of this month.  Indeed, there is the distinct possibility that it may disappear completely.  In any event, it seems that my next entry may be posted to only three sites instead of four.

If something does happen to Xanga, I shall be . . . disappointed, to say the least.  I think I mentioned this previoiusly, but I have found the Xanga interface the easiest to use of all four sites.  On the other hand, I do have an advantage over most of my fellow Xangans.  I have been reading various notifications of where people are relocating their blogs.  Most of the migration seems to be to WordPress.  Well, I am already there.  Or here, as the case may be.

I have no idea what will happen in a few days.  I shall hope for the best; at least I have already planned for the worst.

***jn***


17. Happy Bill Of Rights Day!

09/25/2012

Last week, I wrote that it was the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.  Today is another anniversary relating to the Constitution.  It was on this date in 1789 that the First Congress passed the first amendments to the Constitution.

Now, I have a question for you.  True or false:  The first amendment to the Constitution has never been ratified.

Believe it or not, the answer is true.

Congress passed 12 amendments on this date, and sent them to the states for ratification.  The third through 12th of these amendments were ratified by at least nine states on December 15, 1791, and are now known to us as the Bill Of Rights.  The second took a little longer to ratify — 203 years, as a matter of fact.  It was finally ratified by 3/4 of the states (now 38) in 1992, and is now known as the 27th Amendment.

But the first of those 12 amendments (referred to as either “Article The First” or “Congressional Apportionment Amendment”) was never ratified by the necessary three fourths of the states.  It was ratified by only 11 states — the last being Kentucky, in 1792.  At the time, there were only 15 states, and 11/15 represented 73.3% of the states.

Technically, Article The First is still pending before the legislatures of the several states, as was the 27th Amendment until it was ratified in 1992.  And there is another little twist.  It was widely believed that Connecticut never voted to ratify any of the first proposed amendments at the time, but records of votes in the Connecticut Archives clearly show that Connecticut’s state legislature voted to ratify Article The First in 1789 and 1790.  If the Archivist Of The USA were to accept that ratification vote as valid, it would mean that it was ratified by 3/4 of the states as of 1792, and would become part of the Constitution.  (I would guess that it would be added to the end of the list, and become the 28th Amendment.)

And what is Article The First?  Well, here is the text of the amendment, as taken from Wikipedia:

“Article The First . . . After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.”

Simply put, this amendment deals with the size of the House Of Representatives, and expands upon Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the original Constitution.  Currently, the size of the House is set by federal statute, using what is called the method of equal proportions.  In other words, each of the 425 House districts is as equal in size as feasible, given that each state has at least one Representative.  If my understanding of the applicable laws is correct, ratification of Article The First would not have any affect on the current makeup of the House.  Any changes in the apportionment process would probably not take affect until after the 2020 Census.  (Again, this is just my opinion, based on my reading.  As the saying goes, Your Mileage May Vary.)

[NOTE:  After a little additional research, I have discovered that my title is not entirely accurate.  There is a Bill Of Rights Day, but it is December, to commemorate the ratification of the Bill Of Rights.  As I do not have a more accurate title that I find satisfactory, it will remain until and unless I can think of a better title.]

***jn***


16. Happy Constitution Day!

09/17/2012

It was 225 years ago today — which also happened to be a Monday, as a matter of fact — that the Constitutional Convention finished their work, and the US Constitution was signed.  Of course, that was not the end of the matter.  It still needed to be presented to the states, and ratified by nine of them before it would go into effect.  (That happened on June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution.)

I have done some reading on how the Constitution came into being, and the more I read about it, the more I am convinced of one thing.  I am more and more truly amazed that the Constitutional Convention produced a finished product, let alone that it was ratified and became the supreme law of the United States.

As best as I can tell, most of America’s leaders at the time agreed that the Articles Of Confederation were proving to be an inadequate foundation for the national government.  The major point of contention seemed to be how to deal with those inadequacies.  Some felt that a mere revision of the Articles was all that was necessary, while others thought that the Articles had to be replaced with an entirely new document.  (And I suspect that there was probably a broad spectrum of viewpoints between those two.)  (Make that a very broad spectrum.)

It took the entire summer of 1787 to create the Constitution, but on September 17 of that year, the Constitutional Convention agreed to the following resolution:

“In Convention Monday, September 17, 1787.

“Present The States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Mr. Hamilton from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

“Resolved, That the preceding Constitution be laid before the United States in Congress assembled, and that it is the Opinion of this Convention, that it should be afterwards be submitted to a Convention of Delegates, chosen in each State by the People thereof, under the Recommendation of its Legislature, for their Assent and Ratification; and that each Convention assenting to, and ratifying the Same, should give Notice thereof to the United States in Congress assembled.

“Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Convention, that as soon as the Conventions of nine States shall have ratified this Constitution, the United States in Congress assembled should fix a Day on which Electors should be appointed by the States which have ratified the same, and a Day on which the Electors should assemble to vote for the President, and the Time and Place for commencing Proceedings under this Constitution.

“That after such Publication the Electors should be appointed, and the Senators and Representatives elected:

“That the Electors should meet on the Day fixed for the Election of the President, and should transmit their Votes certified, signed, sealed, and directed, as the Constitution requires, to the Secretary of the United States in Congress assembled, that the Senators and Representatives should convene at the Time and Place assigned; that the Senators should appoint a President of the Senate, for the sole purpose of receiving, opening, and counting the votes for President; and, that after he shall be chosen, the Congress, together with the President, should, without Delay, proceed to execute this Constitution.

“By the unanimous Order of the Convention

“George Washington — President
“William Jackson — Secretary.”

As with the previous entry on the Declaration Of Independence, I am quoting from a collection published by Fall River Press in 2002.

***jn***


15. The Declaration

07/04/2012

To whomever may be reading this, Happy Independence Day!

I knew that I wanted to post an entry today, and after giving the matter some thought, I decided that there could be nothing more appropriate than to post the reason we celebrate July 4 as a national holiday.

That reason, of course, is the Declaration Of Independence.  As R.B. Bernstein put it, “the last American word in the argument between Great Britain and its American colonists.”  Or as I described it in a previous entry, an indictment of charges of tyranny against King George III of England.

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted three resolutions that had been introduced by Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee.  The first of these resolutions was a declaration that the 13 colonies “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”  Two days later, the Continental Congress approved a declaration primarily written by Thomas Jefferson.

And now, I have gone on for far too long.  I give you Mr. Jefferson’s words.

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

ACTION OF SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America

When in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness —- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.  Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed.  But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.  Such as been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.  The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.  To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent shall be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.

He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

He has refused for a long time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither; and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.

He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the Consent of our Legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

For imposing Taxes upon us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offenses:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes, and Conditions.

In every Stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury.  A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every Act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren.  We have warned them from Time to Time of attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us.  We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here.  We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence.  They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity.  We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in war, in Peace, Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do.  And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

One final note: My source for this is a book published in 2002 by Fall River Press that combines the Declaration, the Articles Of Confederation, and the Constitution and all of its amendments in a single volume, with an introduction by the aforementioned Mr. Bernstein.  I am following all capitalization, spelling, and punctuation as it appeared in that volume.

***jn***


14. Remember

09/11/2011

Without a doubt, there will be untold numbers of entries posted to the blogosphere about this 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.  While I have known that I wanted to write something to mark the day, I am still uncertain of what that would be.

I think Bill Cunningham has said it best on his Sunday night talk show recently — several times, as a matter of fact.  We need to remember that this was the day that Islamic extremists murdered over 3000 people.  And while he has used the phrase “3000 Americans,” I believe that is not completely accurate.  If I remember correctly, there were people of many nations that died because of the actions of this wretched hive of scum and villainy.

We need to remember the heroism of the passengers of United Flight 93, who prevented the day from being an even greater tragedy.

We need to remember that irrespective of those who will always claim that Islam is a “religion of peace,” there have been very few (if any) of these peace-loving Muslims who will repudiate the actions of the extremists.

I have been trying to think of what else I should say, but the right words are not coming to mind.  Only one other thing comes to mind.

We not only need to remember, we need to be ever-vigilant, so that an atrocity of this magnitude never happens again.

***jn***


13. Goodbye To Borders

08/30/2011

No, this is not an entry on immigration, illegal aliens, or anything along those lines.  I am talking about a different kind of Borders this time.

When it was announced a few weeks ago that the Borders chain of bookstores would be liquidating and going out of business, I was more than a little dismayed, to say the least.  Well, I suspect that is a sentiment shared by many of you.  For me, what makes the closure particularly disappointing is that the two Borders stores in Louisville are probably the bookstores that are the most easily accessible to me.

Unfortunately, that will not be the case for long.  I stopped by one today, and I was told that they had just been given their 10-day notice.  So it appears that, at least in Louisville, the two remaining Borders stores (and probably the two remaining Waldenbooks stores) will close for good just before Patriot Day (September 11).

While I have not been looking forward to the chain’s closing, I have been taking opportunity of the discounts at the liquidation sales.  I have managed to score a number of good deals, but here are three in particular that I thought might be of interest:

Glenn Beck’s Common Sense — Inspired by Thomas Paine’s 1776 pamphlet that laid out the case for revolution against England.  Beck takes a new look at Paine’s pamphlet, and applies the same arguments that Paine made in 1776 to contemporary government.  The book also reprints Paine’s Common Sense, most likely for comparison.

The Original Argument by Glenn Beck and Joshua Charles — This book updates a number of The Federalist Papers into modern language.  In the book’s introduction, Beck draws a parallel between the US Constitution and the latest technology, saying (and this is a rough paraphrase) that if the Constitution was the latest high-tech gadget, The Federalist Papers would be its user manual.  The essays presented are grouped according to topic, instead of being presented in strict chronological order, as they usually are.

365 Ways To Drive a Liberal Crazy by James Delingpole — Delingpole has two primary means of driving liberals crazy.  One is with the truth, because, to borrow from my second-favorite Jack Nicholson line, liberals cannot handle the truth.  The other is with humor, because most liberals do not seem to have much in the way of a sense of humor.  One suggestion that I particularly like is apparently intended for July 4.  It specifically mentions that it is the birthday of President Calvin Coolidge before giving this quote from him:  “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.”

There are far more books that I wish I could buy while Borders is still open.  What I really wish is that Borders could have found a way to remain open.  And part of me is hoping that Barnes & Noble will take a look at one of the locations here in Louisville and decide that it would be a great location for a third store.

***jn***


12. The Root Of The Problem

07/20/2011

I have been watching, as I suspect most of you have been doing, the various bits of wrangling over the impending debt crisis.  And as I have been thinking about it, I have been formulating a modest proposal to prevent any future recurrence of the posturing that we have been witnessing over the past few weeks.

First, I think I should state my basic premise for this proposal.  I believe that the problem is not that the United States is taking in far too little in taxes.  The problem is that there is far too much spending taking place.  And I think that the root of the problem is that the bureaucracy has become far too bloated, and needs to be brought under control.

I think part of this problem is that it is far too easy for any governmental agency, bureau, or department to expand its area of authority and/or responsibility.  There seems to be nothing in place to put limits on their authority.  And their ability to issue regulations is an usurping and an arrogation of the legislative power of Congress.

The solution, as I see it, is that there needs to be put into place some form of controlling and limiting the bureaucracy.  And these controls and limits need to be enacted in such a way that they cannot be easily overridden.  To enact these controls, then, would most likely require an amendment to the US Constitution.

My proposed amendment would have three sections.  The first section would deal with the creation of any future governmental agency, bureau, or department.  The second section would deal with controlling any agency after its creation, including any agency that currently exists.  The third section

SECTION 1 — The creation of any new governmental agency, bureau, or department would be treated like any amendment to the Constitution.  It would first have to pass each house of Congress by a two-thirds majority, then approved by three-fifths of the states.  Such approval by the states would also have to be done within one year of the proposal’s passing in Congress.  I might also give the states the option of giving the approval either by the state legislatures, or by a ballot referendum by the voters of each state.

My reasoning here is that as the Constitution was originally written, the several states had a much larger role in governing the country.  Giving the states a say in the creation of any new agency would return some of that role.  More importantly, it would (I hope) serve as a check on Congress creating an agency that the country as a whole would not want.

SECTION 2 — Dissolving or abolishing any governmental agency, bureau, or department, including those already in place, would require only a simple majority of Congress.  And if a simple majority of the states so direct, Congress would have to consider the matter of abolishing an agency.

Here, I want to make getting rid of an agency, especially one that has outlived its usefulness, much easier than creating one.  Again, I want to give the states more of a check on the power of Congress.  I might even consider the idea that it would take only a simple majority of the states to abolish an agency.  Give any agency notice that it not only has to worry about Congress, but also the several states.

SECTION 3 — This would mandate that any regulations created by any agency that have the force of law would have to be approved by Congress before taking effect.  The Senators and Representatives were elected to pass legislation; these bureaucrats were not.

I must admit, the last section needs a little more thought.  But I decided that I wanted to post this before the August 2 deadline.

As for why I feel this needs to be an amendment to the Constitution, I want it to be difficult for any agency to find ways around any restrictions placed upon them.  I also want it difficult for anyone to try removing those restrictions once they are in place.

Does this sound like it might be at least a step in the right direction?

***jn***


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