Government Shutdown: Day 7

One week.

Take a look around you. The world has not ended. Life as it is goes on mostly as it usually has been despite the furlough of 13% of the federal government.  For most of the business world, a 13% staff reduction is something that happens every now and then – it’s called trimming the fat.

Today I want to take a look at the National Park Service as part of my ongoing public service to help you, Mr. Joe Citizen, survive this nasty government shutdown.  National parks from Atlantic to Pacific have been closed off by order of the executive branch (read: President Obama) in order to “make life as difficult for people as we can.”

I’ve had the inclination since the beginning of this that there are those in government that are fearful that this shutdown will be enlightening to the majority of Americans.

How will it be enlightening?

Let me serve you an example to demonstrate.

You pull up to your local national park to go for a hike and find the parking lot barricaded with a sign saying it is closed due to the shutdown.  You decide to park on the side of the road, take your hike anyway, and then leave.

Aside from bolting the parking lot gate, what role in that hike did the National Park Service play?

Well, they cut the trail.

Sure and so could a troop of boy scouts.

They clean up the park.

So can volunteers, again – boy scouts, prisoners on work release, people on community service, etc.

They protect me while I’m in the park through the park rangers.

Do they now?  When a coyote pack attacks your pet dachshund is there a park ranger walking next to you?  When the wolf pack was stalking you during your three mile jog, was there a ranger running beside you the entire circuit?

Well, they investigate crimes.

So, they’re basically just police that wear tan and olive green instead of black or blue?  You realize that police don’t have a legal obligation to protect you from anything and that ultimately you and you alone are responsible for your self-preservation.

What I’m trying to get at is that the government, and by the government, I mean the bureaucratic chiefs that are trying to protect their power and authority, and the executive branch all the way up to the President himself are deathly afraid that through the dramatics, or lack thereof except when artificially constructed (especially concerning the parks since they’re the most visible of the examples in the media), Mr. Joe Citizen will finally realize how little the federal government does for him in his daily life and how bloated it has become and ensconced in extra-constitutional “duties” it has deemed for itself.

It’s time to wake up America.  Look around you and realize the truth that this shutdown is the best thing for this country in the long term.




Abuse of Powers

When the US Constitution was adopted, it was with the understanding that a number of amendments would immediately be proposed, passed, and given to the states to approve in order to further enshrine a number of commonly understood rights and privileges of the individual citizens and of the states themselves. Very important point to remember in this is that the amendments themselves did not bestow any of these rights as written or understood today or even then.  The amendments handcuffed the government in light of them and should serve as a constant reminder where the true power lies in this country – with you and I, as individual actors and citizens, empowered by an Almighty God, not by the whims of a beneficent government.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

These rights were not passed to protect the citizen of that day from governmental encroachment, but to clarify for future generations what rights were held sacrosanct by the founders of this great nation.  They collectively requested a number of enumerated rights by codified to prevent any confusion in the future.  What is most interesting to this former political science student is how horribly they have been eroded.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  1. Social media is monitored and data-mined in order to gather intelligence.  This is done without a warrant, nor aimed specifically at a single terrorist/criminal, but rather society as an whole.
  2. Statements made freely and openly can lead to your arrest for political speech.
  3. The concept of separation of church and state is not found in this text, but it is enforced by legislative and judicial fiat as the law of the land.
  4. Peaceful assembly and collective freedom of speech/protest has been banned.
  5. The government has taken steps to censor the media through regulatory means, through threat of arrest, imprisonment, and fine, and through veto power over story publication.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

  1. I have written a great deal about this particular amendment because of how important I hold it (above the rest as it is the guarantor of liberty and freedom).  Any attempts by the government to limit our rights in this regard (assault weapons bans, carry bans, ammunition bans, excessive fees/taxes, etc) I see as violations of the ending clause.  Thankfully, the courts are finally seeing cases that expose many of the more excessive laws for what they are… unconstitutional and in gross violation of the letter of the law as well as the intent of it.

Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

  1. I’ll admit I had to dig for this one all the way back to World War Two.  On this amendment, the government’s track record is significantly better than the rest.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

  1. Strip searches for minor infractions are permitted.
  2. Sense-enhancing search methods are permitted without more than an anonymous tip.
  3. Wireless communications are monitored by law enforcement and archived indefinitely.
  4. Government unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly called drones) are permitted to gather intelligence domestically and to monitor everyone in their general area in the interests of public safety.
  5. In order to use commercial transportation, you must consent to a search of your person (either through electronic means or physical search). More so, these sorts of intrusions are not limited to air travel, but have appeared and used in train stations, bus stations, and interstate highways.  And don’t bother trying to opt out or protest how thing are being handled or you could end up with a criminal record or being threatened by an entire agency of the government.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

  1. The 2012 NDAA gave the President the authority to detain American citizens without due process. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield,” (ACLU).
  2. Held without charge and temporarily committed in a psychiatric facility.  He was released with no charges filed upon a judge’s order.
  3. People can now be compelled to provide passwords/passkeys to access your personal computer(s) in order to aide the prosecution of a crime in gathering evidence against you.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

  1. This is one of the amendments where I had a great deal of difficulty finding a concrete violation.  The track record on this one appears to be okay at least over the last few years.  The indefinite detentions in the NDAA fall under a violation of the 5th and 6th in my mind.

Amendment VII
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

  1. Again, concrete examples are hard to find.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

  1. The first 8th amendment case to reach the Supreme Court was decided in 1998.  There is little definition of excessive bails and fines so your definition of each may differ from mine.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

  1. Vague and numerous examples abound.  I take this as more of a “don’t read into the language too much because it means what it says in plain language.”

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

  1. Rainwater collection mandates by the EPA.
  2. Arizona’s immigration controls halted by the court.
  3. Obamacare, and all other nonenumerated departments, bureaus, and offices of the federal government.

The simple fact is that these collections of violations and observations are just a small fraction of the number of probable violations in existence or practice today.  My point in writing this is to point out the variety of violations that are happening all around us as we live our lives.  Some of them are for issues I care about, some aren’t, but for me to stand on my principles and demand Constitutional government, it must be an all or nothing stance.

Reason and Force

To my friends who believe that further curtailing my rights as a citizen of this nation and a free man under God, be careful.  What you wish for may be the complete undoing of your personal world view.  History is replete with examples of gun registration, weapons confiscation, bans, etc, etc, ad nauseum.  Each and every time, those public policies instituted under the guise of public safety, modernization, or to ensure a more secure society have backfired terribly.  I can march out example of example of the atrocities committed by governments, both dictatorial and democratically elected, after these policies are enacted.  So, as a student of history, you’ll have to excuse me from buying into the concept of increased restrictions on my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the defense of those rights via modern firearms as being foolish and outdated.  You see, I pay attention, as do many others like me.  History is our guide and we will not allow this country go down that well-worn path.  The survival of civilization as we know it depends on it.

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we’d be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger’s potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat–it has no validity when most of a mugger’s potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that’s the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there’s the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don’t constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level. The gun is the only weapon that’s as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weightlifter. It simply wouldn’t work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn’t both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don’t carry it because I’m afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation…and that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

For another viewpoint on this topic, go read George Yesthal’s article dealing with this situation.  I love these quotes of his.

Assault rifles are the weapons most likely to be successfully deployed in a militaristic engagement and there are many owned by private citizens in the U.S. today. Is it any wonder the government wants them Gone? But why? There are many of you that will quasi-patriotically defend the stance of your government and say, “Well, if people will use them against the government they must be traitors and criminals, so they must be taken away.” Anyone expressing such an attitude is completely missing the big picture and they are not asking the right question, which is, “What has our government got planned that they should be concerned about the prospect that we might use semi-auto rifles in defense against our government?” People not asking that question are being irresponsibly short-sighted.

When you advocate gun control, it is tantamount to advocating gun violence.

The crux of the pro-gun/anti-gun fervor that is being lost is this.  History teaches us that tyrants cannot rule if the people are equally armed to the government forces.  History also teaches us that when the people are forced or willingly surrender those arms, they no longer are citizens, but become subjects that must beg to keep their rights (which no longer are rights but rather bestowed privileges that can be taken away because, really, the subjects can no longer assert themselves other than shouting really loudly).  So, President Obama, Vice President Biden, Congressmen, Senators, Judge, Justice, Governors, Legislators, do you really think it wise to move against the very arms that ensure that the ardent patriots in this nation remain assured that they are the real political power still?  That they are citizens, not subjects?

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated

Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.

You say that I need to give up my arms to live in a more civilized society.  I say that I know how well that worked out in the past and I flatly refuse for my safety and security and the safety and security of my children and yours.

Citizen, not a subject.

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