On Living Up To Your Words, Or, Tornado? That’s Not In The Constitution.

There are lots of big tough words coming out of our friends in the Tea Party these days, especially when it comes to the permissible functions of the Federal Government.

“If it’s not specifically enumerated in the Constitution,” they say, “It must be a function of the States-and the 10th Amendment says so!”

None are tougher in their language than those living in the States located below the old Mason-Dixon line-and by an amazing coincidence, just this weekend pretty much all of those States got a bit of a “gut check” in the form of dozens of tornados that slammed into the area.

So we’re going to put the Tea Party philosophy to the test today, and see just what exactly the Federal Government should-and should not-be doing to fulfill the Tea Party vision and to help those folks who were hit by this particular natural disaster.

“…For that was not true; his attitude was not to be explained by greed, or at any rate by greed alone, but rather by the touchiness which his great labors and their complete unsuccess had bred in him.”

–From the story The Village School Master [The Giant Mole], by Franz Kafka

Stories often begin by setting the terms of the discussion; that will be true today, and the framework for where we’ll start is Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution, which is the “unless it’s enumerated…” part of the Tea Party argument:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be 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.

OK…so, let’s talk about “who’s who” in this little drama (for the record, this won’t be a complete list of events or people; it’s just a sample for the purposes of discussion):

Arkansas had tornados Friday night; seven people died (five of those from winds not attributable to a tornado), and according to “The Post and Courier” of Charleston, SC, there had been three days of warnings from the National Weather Service before this particular weather event.

The paper also reports that Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi were hit.

North Carolina was hit with as many as 62 tornados over the weekend, with at least 22 dead.

In Virginia, Saturday, a 12-mile swath of Gloucester County was severely damaged, with a total of 5 dead in the Commonwealth.

North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi have declared a State of Emergency, so has Virginia. Oklahoma has been under one State of Emergency due to wildfires since March, a second Emergency was declared over the weekend, and Federal assistance was again requested by Governor Mary Fallin to help make things better.

To keep this to a reasonable length, we’re going to drill in on three States, and three Governors; those States are Virginia, Alabama, and Oklahoma.

Alabama’s new Governor, Robert Benchley, is one of those “enumerated powers” kind of guys, in fact, he signed The 10th Amendment Pledge; the parts which concern us here read as follows:

The phrase, “General Welfare,” in Article I, Section 8 does not authorize Congress to enact any laws it claims are in the “General Welfare” of the United States.  The phrase sets forth the requirement that all laws passed by Congress in Pursuance of the enumerated powers of the Constitution shall also be in the General Welfare of the United States…

… I do, and will continue to, oppose any and all efforts by the federal government to act beyond its Constitutional authority.

Let’s move on: the Tenth Amendment Center is proud of Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin for turning down the Federal grant to set up the State’s “Obamacare” insurance exchange (officially part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [PPACA]) on 10th Amendment grounds-and she would also want you to know that:

“…I believe, as I know many of our legislators and the majority of our citizens do, that the PPACA is unconstitutional, fatally flawed and ultimately harmful to our economy and the health of our citizens…”

And then there’s Virginia:

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday drew cheers from the tea party crowd as he announced support for a “Repeal Amendment” to the Constitution.

“There has been a bi-partisan trampling of that federal compact of the 10th Amendment,” said McDonnell as he spoke at the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Convention in Richmond.

A “Repeal Amendment” was proposed last month by House Speaker Del. Bill Howell, R- Fredericksburg. The amendment to the U.S. Constitution would allow a federal act to be over-turned if two-thirds of state legislatures voted against it. Such an act would sway power to state legislatures, and is a popular concept in tea party circles.

When the panel moderator asked McDonnell is he would support such an amendment, he replied “yes.”

And now it’s disaster time, and these Governors are looking for disaster help…but they have a very particular view of how the Federal Government and the States ought to relate to each other…so… at this moment of urgency, just what precisely are the specifically enumerated powers that the Federal Government has at our disposal for disaster relief?

Well, according to my quick re-reading of Article 1, Section 8, that would be exactly…no power at all, except to act in case of insurrection, to try any Federal criminal offenses that might occur, and to repair any Federal docks or other needful Buildings.

(You’ll note I did not say “try and punish” any Federal criminal offenses. That’s because there’s nothing I can see in Article 1, Section 8 about Federal prisons.)

I don’t see anything in there about the National Weather Service, either, so from now on, if a State wants to know if a tornado’s coming, I guess they better pony up the cash and start themselves a State Weather Service, or buy the forecasting and warning services from a private contractor.

(This could be good for the economy, by the way: forecasting the weather requires satellites, and if every State that believes in self-reliance each launches their own satellite constellations…that’s some jobs, right there.)

FEMA? In the view of those who truly understand, it’s unconstitutional on its face, and, therefore, the Governors shouldn’t be looking to them for help.

The loans that businesses and citizens rely on to get back on their feet? Show me the “enumerated” language that permits those activities, because I can’t find it.

Grants to States to cover their extraordinary expenses? I don’t see anything authorizing such activities, and with that in mind…I don’t think so.

According to the “purist” view, the 10th Amendment requires all of this to be handled by the States, not the Federal Government; that’s why, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why these Governors weren’t thinking about disaster planning from the start of their terms.

Why weren’t these supposedly self-reliant States ready when this happened?

I mean, each of these States already has an emergency management department, and I’m sure they can manage much better locally than the Feds (or at least they claim they can), so why are they even asking for Federal help in the first place?

How is it possible that these Governors never considered that protecting the citizens of their States would be “Job 1”, to steal a phrase, and, to make a moral point, why should the rest of us be bailing them out now?

I mean, hey: you told us these were State problems, and now you have problems, and you still have States, so you know what?

Live up to your words: get all “10th Amendment-y”, and suck it up, and deal with it yourselves.

That’s what you told us you wanted, when you were Full Of Big Campaign Talk, so now do it, Governors, and stop all that crying and whimpering to us for outside help, and go make that 10th Amendment work for you.

Show us how much better local control is than when the Giant Hand Of The Federal Government Tells You What To Do.

Be the self-reliant Brawny Men that you were in your campaign ads.

And I’d pose the same challenge to anyone who voted for these Governors:

Remember how you all cheered when your candidates told you Government wasn’t the solution; that it was, instead, the problem?

If you really believed that, then what in the world are you doing asking for the Federal Government’s help now?

After all, you said you wanted Government “off your back”, and “the Government that governs best governs least”, right, so why would you want Government in your faces at a time when you’re trying your hardest just to get back on your feet?

Why aren’t you (and I’m thinking specifically of you, Tri-Corner Hat Patriot Guys) demanding that the Federal Government stay out of this and leave the States alone?

And it’s only fair: there was no tornado in California this weekend, so why should Californians pay taxes for your disaster?

And remember how adamant you were, just a couple of weeks ago, that the budget cuts associated with those Continuing Budget Resolutions weren’t deep enough?

Well, how are we supposed to make the kind of budget cuts y’all wanted on the Federal side when you’re coming around here demanding more money?

We have a deficit, remember, and we can’t be spending money we don’t have-and even if we had the money, we couldn’t spend it on helping you, because, as you all recall, there’s nothing specifically in the Constitution to allow it.

This is your problem, Constitutional purists, and, according to your own logic, it’s not ours…so if you want your roads and schools fixed, ask your citizens to volunteer to do the work or something.

Since we can no longer help you, maybe the Red Cross or some other private charity could fund the rebuilding of your communities.

Since so many conservatives believe corporate and religious philanthropy will fill in the gaps in the shrinking “social safety net”, you could try asking churches and private industry to do the work for you as a community service; I’m sure they’ll jump right in and pick up all the slack.

Hey: you were the ones full of tough talk last November, my Tea Party friends, and now it’s 10th Amendment “gut check” time, and I want to see you live up to your own words, if you have the “man pants” to do it…or I want you to see you acknowledge that this was all a giant load of hooey.

That maybe there’s a place for a United States of America, that maybe there is such a thing as “general Welfare”…or maybe even that being a 10th Amendment purist might be great down at the ol’ Heritage Foundation when you’re hustling for campaign money, but that once the big winds start blowing, ideology ain’t worth spit compared to a system of weather radars and satellites and a FEMA that will come and bail your butt out if it all goes wrong.

And if you voted for one of these clowns…either you need to get smart, right now…or maybe we need to cut the cord.

Maybe you need to see what your own vision of “10th Amendment reality” is really all about.

Maybe, just as so many of you have demanded, we should mind our own Federal business and let local government govern best.

And if it doesn’t work out, then, maybe, you’ll wake up and realize that Ronald Reagan was wrong: sometimes Government is the only game in town, and when it’s not around, providing helpful solutions…that’s when you got real problems.

Does God send natural disasters as punishment?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Oklahoma Shari’a Law Controversy: The Secret Plot Is Finally Uncovered

OKLAHOMA CITY (FNS)-After an exhaustive 18-month investigation, FNS is able to exclusively report that, contrary to popular opinion, Oklahoma’s controversial State Question 755, which is intended to prevent State courts from considering Shari’a law when making legal decisions, was intended to counter an effort already underway to impose such a legal code on the citizens of the State, perhaps as soon as this fall.

Amazingly, the effort to impose Islamic law involves some of Oklahoma’s most prominent business leaders, the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art.

Here’s the story, as it can now be reported:

Clay Bennett, the Chair of the ownership group which owns the Oklahoma City (OKC) Thunder, was a student at Cairo University during the early 1980s. At that time he was introduced into the community by his father’s business associate (real estate has been at the core of the family business), Tendei El-Furlough, who had been helping to steer Mideast money to the Oklahoma real estate investment group.

Even though membership was illegal at the time, El-Furlough was a senior representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, and over the family dinner table Bennett and another Oklahoma exchange student, Brook “Boots” Hall, Jr., who would later serve as an executive in his family business, the Fred Jones Companies, Inc., would hear tales of the Caliphate and how such a political arrangement would help the plight of those in the country where Bennett was living, and across the Arab world.

(Hall’s presence in the country was related to the family’s, and El-Furlough’s, multi-decade association with Braniff Airways)

In the dark days of the late 1990s and the early 2000s, it was very difficult to be a part of the Brotherhood, and as Mubarak’s Government clamped down on any potential political opposition, Bennett’s friend El-Furlough, along with other Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Hari Al-Paratestes, began to reach out to see if a safe place could be found where the Muslim Brotherhood leadership could escape, lay low for some length of time, and then either return to Egypt when things were more hospitable, or begin the creation of the Caliphate from a new, safer, location.

Bennett and Hall were interested, but he knew it would take several years before his plan could come to fruition.

They knew if they were going to create such a haven in Oklahoma that there would have to be some presence in the State that would serve as a focal point for creating cultural change, and they later determined that a sports team could be such a vehicle.

This was most likely going to be a professional basketball team, and as it happens the NBA has been looking to expand their international presence. Conversations were held with Commissioner David Stern, and he was induced to consider making a deal that might lead to the Muslim Brotherhood moving to Oklahoma-and the NBA expanding to several cities in the oil-rich Middle East.

The OKC ownership group first attempted contacts with the Charlotte Hornets, with whom a relationship was established. After two seasons, it was determined that the team was unwilling to be controlled by the OKC ownership group, and the relationship was terminated. (There are rumors that the Charlotte ownership group and numerous players threatened to “spill the beans” regarding the “cultural change” element of the deal, and that payments were made to keep them quiet; this has not been fully confirmed.)

Stern next suggested a team from a “liberal” city: Seattle.

Contacts were made, a deal was struck, and certain Seattle players were “brought in” on the deal with certain cash payments and ownership rights. The new team is known as the “OKC Thunder”.

Bennett began using the team as a “vehicle for change” from the very beginning. For example, before each game, a member of he clergy comes to the floor and leads a prayer; plans are afoot to have more Islamic Imams leading those prayers as this year ends and next year begins.

The changes in the team rosters also reflect the new cultural focus: gone are players like Wally Szczerbiak, Eddie Gill, and Ronald Dupree. Now the Thunder sports players such as Thabo El-Sefolosha, Nenad Al-Krstic, and there are persistent rumors that they’re trying to acquire Lewis Al-Rashad (his birth name) from the Washington Wizards. Serge Ibaka, of course, is the only Chechen in the NBA, and he was brought on board fairly easily.

The Fred Jones Museum (where “Boots” Hall is a Board member) is assisting in the process of “acculturating” Oklahoma residents with their “Mediterranea” exhibit, which will run on the Sooner campus from March to May of 2011, just as the Thunder begins rolling out their Islamic pre-game prayers.

The exhibit will highlight how American artists such as Max Kuehne, William Stanley Haseltine, and Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow were influenced by “the legacy of the Greco-Roman past and the influence of Christianity and Islam”, to quote the exhibit’s website.

More than four dozen similar events have been organized during the next few months throughout the State in an effort to prepare the way for a bill to be introduced in the Oklahoma Legislature in early 2012 that would allow the use of Shari’a law for disputes between Islamic persons; this is one of the preconditions for Muslim Brotherhood leaders to be able to move to the State.

Efforts have been made to “smooth the way” with Oklahoma’s new Governor, Mary Fallin; one example was the group’s substantial donation to the Governor-elect’s transition/inauguration committee, augmented by other donations from groups with energy interests, including The Williams Companies and Devon Energy. Avalon Staffing, the private prison operator who would like to operate in Egypt one day, is also associated with the group and donated $26,000 to the committee.

All of this-the purchase of the team, arranging the change in prayers, the NBA expansion to the Middle East, the Headquarters-in-exile of the Caliphate itself-was put at risk when Rex Duncan came to the table with his State Question (SQ) 755, which will, to quote Duncan directly “constitute a pre-emptive strike against Shari’a law coming to Oklahoma.”

The Question (officially known as the “Oklahoma International Law Amendment”), which would, if passed, become an Amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution, passed in November of 2010, with a 70%-30% “yes” vote.

Despite the efforts of Duncan and others across the State, the Bennett/Hall “Muslim Brotherhood Alliance” group was able to quickly obtain a court order barring enforcement of the law; that order remains in effect today.

As a result, the effort to bring Shari’a law to Oklahoma is again moving forward, unless Duncan and his allies can again stop the process and save the Sooner State from this previously undisclosed international plot.

Sources in Egypt indicate that the Brotherhood is anxious for the new legal code to be adopted as quickly as possible, just in case President Mubarak begins a sudden crackdown and plans and people associated with the Caliphate have to be brought out of the country.

FNS was unable to obtain a comment by press time from any of the involved parties; we are continuing to seek any available statement from press sources.

Does God send natural disasters as punishment?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Random Thoughts on Another Trek

Four days on the road gives you many observations as one travels across two thirds of America.  Beginning my journey on a Saturday morning meant I had very little traffic with which to deal.  I sailed through our Keystone State and noted some closed rest areas.  This is happening everywhere as states cut budgets.  I’m not sure how many rest areas I passed were shut down but it was many.  This creates a real hazard for motorists.  I hit Columbus, Ohio, as planned, after the Ohio State game began and hit my hotel in Dayton much earlier than last time.  As you might recall a jacknifed truck cost me several hours in June.  I’m not sure why I can’t find a decent place to stay in western Ohio, it may be there aren’t many.  Each place had a pet fee but aside from that traveling with dogs was no problem.

I got through Indianapolis Sunday morning well before the Colts game and driving through southern Indiana and Illinois is tedious.  There is NOTHING to see but flat expanses of farm country speckled with an oil rig here and there.  Then you cross the Mississippi at St. Louis and see that giant Arch over the river welcoming you to the west.  Again, I arrived during the Rams game so there was very little traffic.  As long as one plans their fall trip around football driving is easy.  The freeways around St. Louis were as empty as they were in Indy.  From there it was still a long haul to Springfield, that night’s destination.  It rained intermittently that entire day and I was very relieved to get to La Quinta Inn.  I’ve never stayed at one and this was very nice.  I relaxed in the spa across the hall from my room and had a nice breakfast in the morning.  At that point I had 1100 miles under my belt.

The dogs were extremely nice, loving and experienced travelers.  I think it helped that we were in their owner’s car but I speculated if they wondered “who is this man and where is he taking us?”  Walking them gave me a nice chance to stretch my legs every day.  We bonded nicely but I was no substitute for their Mommy when we got to Santa Fe and they jumped at the sight of her.  I’m just chopped liver now, lol.

Oklahoma was greener than I remembered in June but offered very little in cuisine.  The rest area option was McDonald’s and…nothing.  Those who know me know I hate fast food.  I found a chicken club on the menu and was glad I packed a bunch of energy bars.  Monday was clear and bright as we sailed along at the posted 75 mph speed limit.  Even at that speed it takes eight hours to cross Oklahoma.  I ran into some traffic through Tulsa and Ok City then hit the broad expanse of prairie towards Texas.  We spent that night in Elk City where the chef at the Clarion has no idea what medium rare means.  Those $20 baked potato and green beans really burned me.  I had breakfast in Amarillo, a city you definitely want to miss if at all possible.

Since I’d hit the tourist spots along Route 66 on the June trip I continued on and spent all day going west towards Albuquerque.  The towns are few and far between, nothing but prairie and then desert.  Most of the time there were no other vehicles in sight.  Many of the rest areas were closed and I saw quite a few people pulled over on the shoulder relieving themselves.  I pulled off at one exit for gas and found a lone building, old and rustic, with old fashioned pumps.  A German Shepherd lounged outside the door until a black and white cat came along and took the spot.  I pumped 420 and continued to New Mexico Route 285.  This was the first time in four days I was going north.  The two lane road was posted 65 mph and it was forty miles until I encountered an intersection or building.  This is very soothing and relaxed driving, I could feel myself unwinding as the Rocky Mountains came into sight before me.  We coasted in The City Different and I handed Zombie and Lou Lou to their excited Mom.  The 14 year old Lab took one look at Linda and jumped over the Element’s tailgate in joy.   It only took me an hour to miss those two dogs.

I crossed many rivers on my trip and aside from the Ohio and Mississippi they looked like dry beds.  I’ve never seen such massive drought before, especially considering I went 1900 miles.  In Oklahoma they were nothing more than mud holes.  Climate change is having a severe effect on the Southwest and it is very obvious.  I’m not sure where the water will come from after weeing what is left of the Canadian River which flows (not any more though) through the Texas panhandle and Oklahoma.  It is the main source of water for that region.  This must be a wake up for action.

Trip Travelogue

I shot some videos along my recent trip to Santa Fe and now have them uploaded.  I’m currently doing the video from Oklahoma City and the Murrah Federal Building Memorial and should have it finished shortly.  These I did from the car once I got into Oklahoma.  Traffic got a lot lighter outside of the cities (Tulsa and OK City) allowing some time to shoot the scenery.  Terrain changed significantly on the four day journey from flat, boring greenery in southern Indiana and Illinois to rolling hills in the northern Ozarks driving though southwest Missouri.  As soon as I crossed into Oklahoma there was a change as the prairie began.  New Mexico marked the onset of mesas, sculpted hills and mountains and the desert.  Santa Fe is 7,000 feet above sea level and my trip began at 200 feet above so I did a lot of climbing.  The gradual rises throughout Oklahoma and Texas were almost barely noticeable unless you were expecting them.  Once in New Mexico it was obvious you were going into mountains.  Enjoy the clips and the scenery.