... I sent a note to my contact list, answering the question 'how to get a letter printed in the WSJ': Pick 80 words of James Madison, bracket them with 20 each of your own, send it in. It worked for me.
Chicago AM Tuesday 28 December 2010
Editors, The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal of Monday 27 December has Randy Barnett and David G Oedel writing a fine explanation of the Constitution's Article I Section 8 General Welfare clause. There is no statement of United States governance more in need of explanation than that clause, and no two people better able to do it.
The wonder is that this key statement could need any help, considering that 221 years ago James Madison clearly identified some common misunderstandings of the clause, and explained what the founders meant by them, clearly, thoroly, and I'm sure he felt finally, when in Federalist Number 41 he wrote :
“Some [Constitution doubters]... have grounded a very fierce attack against the Constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power "… to provide for the general welfare of the United States," amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the... general welfare....
“Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it.... but what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon? “
And following that semicolon is a list of 17 Congressional powers, from 'borrow money on the credit of the United States' thru 'make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers' ..... but not a sign of health care, environmental protection, education, housing etc.
Too bad the Father of the Constitution did not anticipate future misunderstanding of the Commerce clause.
The Chicago Tribune article “Campaign litter: Truth or fiction?” of Friday 29 October includes the statement: “Millions of Israeli and American Jews — not to mention the last several presidents of the United States — support greater restraint in Israel's settlement policies.”
Israel and the US have populations of 5.314 million and 5.275 million respectivly, so millions of either group is certainly a good guess. But in a Chicago Tribune article the reader might appreciate a little more research, like maybe half or ¾ of Israeli and American Jews?
And “'several' presidents of the United States”? President Truman recognized Israel 11 minutes after its declaration at the stroke of midnight Friday 14 May 1948. So how much research would it take to determine exactly how many of the last 12 presidents have supported “greater restraint in Israel's settlement policies”?
This is especially surprising in an article closing by complaining of “...the trash talk of a political campaign....”
The Chicago Tribune Editorial “Endorsing reform” of Thursday 28 October responds to claims that it “reflexively has endorsed Republicans for Tuesday's election” by pointing out that “hordes of Republican activists” are still steaming that in 2008 the Tribune “endorsed Barack Obama for president ….”
Yes, that proud Tribune editorial of Sunday 19 October 2008, opening with the startling statement “Now we have an election in which we will [may] choose the first African-American president....” A non-black person with Obama's resume would have needed to buy his own bus ticket to Iowa in January 2008, and been lucky to have been met by even his grandmother.
After all, exactly what credentials did Obama have for assuming any position requiring more executive experience than needed to hire babysitters for his own children?
The editorial refers to Obama as an “effective state senator.” Tribune leaders have been following the Illinois State Senate for 163 years, so are well aware that a state senator's only duties are to 1) get elected, and 2) sit at a little desk and wait for their party leader to come around and tell them how to vote on the next bill. Should the senator vote otherwise, he wll not get a chance to do item #1 above again.
More Obama Resume: International experience: 5 crucial pre-teen years slogging through the mud of Indonesia. Military experience: watching an occasional parade. Work history: Twelve years as a non-tenure-tracked instructor in Constitutional law. Then of course, a long career as a Community Organizer. For those unfamiliar with the term, it's a Chicago euphemism for 'Democrat vote hustler' (like State Senator, it has its rules: you get a list of voters every two years. If any of them miss voting in the following biennial election, goodbye Community Organizer career.)
The editorial continued: “The Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in 2006 because... they gave the nation rampant spending....” US Treasury Department figures show the first 6 Bush administation years with an average $20 billion monthly deficit. With the able assistance of the the 2007 incoming Democrat congress, they were able to boost that monthly average to $35 billion. The Democrat congress led by Barack Obama in just 20 months has raised that average monthly deficit fo $135 billion.
You wrote further that Obama “...would celebrate our common values instead of exaggerate our differences. Examples: referring to “Stupid Cambridge Police,” to his grandmother as “... a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know there's a reaction in her that doesn't go away...," referring to working-class voters; "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them....”
The editorial's top demonstation of over-the-top conclusion-jumping may be saying John McCain “failed in his most important executive decision....” naming Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, claiming that “it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president.”
The four top 2008 candidates were unique in having only 22 month's executive experience between them. As previosuly noted, none of this was Obama's, nor Biden's, nor even McCain's. And you said Palin was unprepaired to be President? Also, Palin was the chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission for 2 years. If Delaware, Arizona, and Illinois can scrape up an 'Oil and Gas' commission between then, neither Obama, McCain, nor Biden came close to being its chair.
Is the Chicago Tribune editorial board capable of admitting it's first Democrat Presidential endorsment has turned out to be it's worst ever?
Washington Post writer Michael Gerson asks in his Friday, October 22 column “Christine O'Donnell's misconceptions of the Constitution” if the Delaware Republican Senate candidate denied “the existence of the establishment clause” in the United States Constitution. No, she asked her debate oponent Chris Coons where in the Constitution he finds the phrase “separation of church and state.”Mr. Coons could only answer by equating the phrase with the term 'establishment clause'.
Mr. Gerson's explanation of this seems to require using the word 'christian' ten times in a 700 word column, but leaving the connection to Ms. O'Donnell' conception of the Constitution entirely up to the reader.
Gerson eventually gets around to admitting that "separation of church and state" is no more than [Thomas] Jefferson's “gloss” of the first amendment , since its first use was by the founder in a January 1, 1802 letter addressing constituents' worries, not about the potential of the federal government forcing someone else's religion on them, but that they would interfere with the religion they already had.
Mr. Gerson seems to equate the recognition of the existance of God with a religion, which would be a big surprise to our first President, who made seven synonymical references to God (from 'Almighty Being who rules over the universe' to 'The benign Parent of the Human Race') in his first inaugural address.
The Wall Street Journal article “GOP House Leaders Seek to Avoid Past Mistakes” of Tuesday 19 October quotes leaders saying “... they recognize they may have to compromise with Democrats in tackling broader problems.” The article further describes potential new Repiblican members of congress, with special emphasis on some who “boast of their record of working with Democrats. The article closes referring to a candidate openly bragging of having “worked with legislators of both parties to solve problems."
The US Congress just recessed a session where Democrats passed a 2400 page piece of legislation they claim will make everyone healthier, but even the briefest reading shows it will worsen everyone's health while bankrunpting us on top of that. Even worse, it is absolutely unconstitutional (anyone who thinks it is justified by the 'general welfare' clause, should read James Madison's Federalist number 41.) This legislation was passed completely by Democrats, with no Republican assistance at all.
But it is no more unconsttutional than Medicare, passed 45 years ago, nor Social Security, in 1935, both also passed buy Democrats. How many times can you ignore the Constitution before you wake up some morning and find you're ignoring it all the time?
The only thing the Republicans should do in the 112th Congress is avoid anything remotely resembling cooperating with Democrats. If this causes a government shut down, it can't happen too soon. We can survive for a long time just by firing the entire staffs of various government bureaucracies, such as The Departments of Health, Education, and Welfare, Environmental protection, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, etc.
The article has four references to GOP leaders' recognition of voters' concerns over federal spending. This problem could be fixed by changing paragraph 3402 of USC Title 26 — 'Internal Revenue Code' Subtitle C 'Employment taxes' Chapter 24 'Collection Of Income Tax At Source On Wages'... from "every employer making payment of wages shall deduct and withhold upon such wages a tax..." to "every employer making payment of wages shall pay all of those wages to the employee...." The employer would still calculate the tax, replacing the reassuring (but thoroly misleading) note "you earned and your employer paid" with "here is how much the feds are expecting you personally to send in within 30 days"
Would this be inefficient? Certainly for an insatiable federal bureaucracy. But after a few months writing checks to the Federal Government for 20% of their take-home pay, American voter/tax payers would quickly see to it that the people they elect to Congress would realize, and react to, their deep concern over federal spending.
I've lived in Detroit, St Louis, Kansas City, Pittsburgh PA, Marblehead MA. Worked as tech rep in Southern CA, Bay area, NYC, I've been to Europe a dozen times (Ireland, UK, Scotland, Sweden, Finland, Belgium.
Favorite restaurants are Gene & Georgetti's in Chicago, Roma Cafe in Detroit, Frankie and Johnie's in NYC, Rigazzi's on the hill in St. Louis (Also Charlie Gitto's, was Angelo's when I went there.)
For about a year I had small offices in Clayton MO, in the Country Club Plaza in KC. I rode a ten-speed bike around Lake Michigan (The bottom half in one week in June 1978, another week for the top half in 1980, used the Badger both times.
Don't get to travel much anymore, but still try to rent a car and go around the Lake in March every year. Sure, there's still snow, and it's not warm, OTOH there are no bugs and no toursts. Greatest little tavern in the world is Sherry's Port Bar in Garden UP MI