Thursday, November 4, 2010

And The Beat Goes On!

Well, the hard work of the last 18 months has now shown its muscle. As citizens across the nation, who have turned out in force to show our government and its elected officials the time has come. The time has come for limited government, with less taxation, and less intrusion into the lives of Americans.

Citizens do not be fooled or lay back and expect change just because your vote has changed the bodies that sit in the seats of the legislative bodies. This is just the first chapter of many that will be written to bring our country, our states, and our localities back to with-in a common sense form of leadership. We must stay involved.

As I traveled across the nation on the Constitution Ride Across America part of the message was how we need to be involved in our local governing bodies. This is where you as a citizen will make the greatest difference and can be most effective. We need to put our time and energy into these monthly meetings. Not everyone can represent us in Congress, our State Legislative body, or even as a local representative in your local governing body. Everyone can participate in the process, attend these local meetings, and make your voice heard at the local public hearings. Every great structure requires a strong foundation, or it will surely tumble.

Will you be a part of the foundation?

Will you sacrifice to attend the meetings of your local governing bodies?

As I have done since May 2009, I will continue to sacrifice and be at these meetings. I will continue to share my opinion at the public hearings. I hope you will too. This is the best place to learn and understand the process. You can’t fix it if you do not know what it is you need to fix. So get out and begin to be a part of changing America. Everyone who lives here has a part to play. It’s time for you to start carrying your own drum as “the beat goes on”.

Daren Gardner

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Reforming the Entitled

In recent decades (yes, decades), much has been said about reforming the cumbersome entitlement programs that have ballooned since first inception. A few dabbles at reform have been relatively successful, but political posturing especially during election periods reveals a lack of honesty and will when it comes to REAL reform.

That being said, the entitlement reform that is the topic of this post is “political entitlement.” Performing a few hits on a search engine, I learned that the politicians, serial killers, and sociopaths share several similar traits. One of these shared traits is a “grand sense of entitlement.” I give you
Lisa Murkowski, Charlie Crist, and Charlie Rangel.

Not only do politicians in Washington feel they are entitled to keep the seats held by their respective states, but they also vote for themselves rather extravagant benefits at the expense of the taxpayer.

Though it’s oft told, it is not true that our elected officials are not participants in Social Security. Since the early 1980s they have been. As well, the 1980s brought reforms to the basic retirement options in which they can participate. What IS true and alarming is that after five years of service, a member of Congress will be entitled to a retirement check. Of course, rules apply based on age, years of service, and so on. In
final analysis though, “Congressional pension benefits are 2-3 times more generous than what a similarly-salaried executive could expect to receive upon retiring from the private sector.”

Many of you may remember (SHOULD remember!) the President stating that all Americans should have the healthcare insurance options that those in Washington have. Ahh, to be so fortunate.
They actually get:
• a choice of 10 healthcare plans that provide access to a national network of doctors, as well as several HMOs that serve each member's home state.
• special treatment at Washington's federal medical facilities
• access to their own pharmacy, doctors, nurses and medical technicians in an office conveniently located between the House and Senate chambers (for a few hundred dollars a month).

“In 2008, taxpayers spent about $15 billion to insure 8.5 million federal workers and their dependents. By contrast, 85% of private companies offering health coverage provide their employees one type of plan -- take it or leave it.”

Not only do we need to change the faces in DC, we need to change the employment laws on the books for these folks. We need to return the legislators to their home communities to continue to serve at the fire department, a church, or a PTA. Rather than spending a full career gathering power and perks at the expense of the American electorate, they should leave Washington to earn a salary and retirement pension that doesn't gouge the taxpayer.

Read more about Congressional Retirement Benefits

Julie Ranson is a college professor, wife, and mother who lives in Virginia.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Courting the First Amendment

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. (First Amendment of the Constitution for the United States.)

At a recent dinner celebrating Ramadan, the President made it abundantly clear to us that our nation’s religious freedoms grants any group the right to build on private land. Clarifying the next day, he didn’t mean to imply that he thought it is “right” or “wise” to build a community center containing a mosque close to Ground Zero in NYC. (If “walking back comments” becomes an Olympic event, Mr. Obama may be eligible for the American team!)

Most Americans are well aware of the religious freedom provisions in the First Amendment. Though, admittedly, some get confused about freedom of religious vs. freedom from religion. This is a religious nation, a pluralistic society in which we all try to live in religious harmony. It’s disappointing that there are people and groups that single out certain religious faiths (Christians and Jews come to mind) as less deserving of “tolerance." And of course, there’s the famous July 2010 story of the students banished from praying on the Supreme Court steps. We truly are living in strange times. But I digress.

The NY Mosque case highlights the current administration’s mixed messaging over the past 20 months about the freedoms protected by the First Amendment. The rights are not granted BY the government, they are protected FROM government infringement because they are natural rights, inalienable rights accorded to all of God’s creatures.

Consider Nancy Pelosi’s recent challenge that individuals opposing the NY Mosque should be investigated to learn how they are funded. What is wrong with individuals lawfully offering opinions and personal feelings regarding this proposed building? To have the government investigate you is an intimidating process, yet Speaker Pelosi feels comfortable to offer such a threat on camera! Strange times in an America that has always lauded the First Amendment, indeed. By the way, Pelosi may also make that Olympic “walking back” team as her spokesperson later said we should also investigate the funding of the Mosque.

Step in the way-back machine to 2009 and let me remind you of an Oval Office conversation with Republicans during which the President “called out” Rush Limbaugh, a private citizen. "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." The problems continued in a CBS interview, Obama called both Limbaugh and Beck “troublesome” and the interviewer Harry Smith replied, “It’s beyond that.” (Good news here is that Smith didn't jump into Obama's lap during the interview) Yay, free press!! (It’s only “free” if you agree with this bunch as evidenced by the engineered attack against Fox News.) What is truly “troublesome” is the practice of the President and the likes of Nancy Pelosi concerning themselves publicly with the words of private citizens.

Julie Ranson is the mother of three who lives and teaches at a community college in Virginia.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Devilish Details

Much of original American law was derived from English common law. Today, it’s unlikely that the American body of law resembles English law. Two hundred–plus years of legislating (mischief-making, most of it) have changed the legal landscape of the United States.

Where do we find most of our American Law?
U.S. Constitution – I can carry a copy of the Constitution in my purse! The Constitution is available here in a single HTML page.
Legislation (or "statutory law") is law which has been enacted by a legislature or other governing body. (See above commentary about the size of the Constitution)
Administrative Law --administrative authority entails the power to issue rules and regulations based on statutes, grant licenses and permits to facilitate the conduct of government business. Code upon code regulates nearly every activity of American Life, dwarfing the size of the bill that started the ball rolling, including those 2000-page bills. (See above commentary about the size of the Constitution)

It is in Administrative Law that we get lost. In this body of law, agencies like the Department of Education (created in 1979) or the Department of Energy (created in 1977) make the rules and regulations that enact and enforce the statutes passed by Congress. Unelected bureaucrats ultimately implement legislation. Consider the enormous power these agencies have. As Presidents and their cabinet appointees come and go, agency bureaucrats work their “magic” day in and day out… so little accountability and so great a compensation package.

Did you know that when the Dept of Education was created, the U.S. graduate rate was under 75 percent? After 30 years existence, the E. D. succeeded in ensuring that the U.S. graduation rate remains under 75 percent. (Great job, guys and gals!) How much are we spending to get such paltry results? In the table here, you will see that the Obama’s 2011 Budget request for the E.D. increases from 2010 by $18.6 billion, a 31.4% increase!! Goodness gracious! WHY? (I’m doing a great job at work which is actually quantifiable, but I haven’t had a pay increase in 3 years! What gives?)

Look, it is in the administrative buildings where your tax money is spent with little oversight and no accountability. It’s time we start doing something about this…. Pay attention to the budgets of these mammoth agencies and elect representatives who will work to eliminate many of these behemoths. We don’t need them if they aren’t fulfilling their mission. The Devil is indeed in the details (and in these agencies).

Julie Ranson, wife and mother of three, lives and teaches in Virginia.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Where's the Trust?

It isn’t news that a majority of Americans distrust Washington. A Pew survey found this year that only 22% trusted Washington most of the time. "Only twice since the 1950s has public skepticism dipped this deeply — from 1992 to 1995 during which time it hit 17 percent, and 1978 to 1980, bottoming out at 25 percent. The nation was going through economic struggles during both of those periods." (Name those presidents, anyone?)

Recently, I was surprised to learn that my rather conservative English relatives were happy that Obama was elected President. I don’t know when they stopped liking Bush, or if they ever did. How is it that someone who speaks well gets a leg-up on the trust factor? Doesn’t anyone ever learn that clever, glib, clean and articulate (umm, sorry, channeling Biden there) absolutely do not convey anything related to trustworthiness? So, back to the English relatives and their opinion… it doesn’t matter at all what the general population of another country thinks of our president. It DOES matter whether foreign leaders believe they can trust our American “leadership” such that it is.

How can you tell someone is lying? (Insert “lips are moving” joke here). I checked it out through a handy-dandy web search and I suggest you try it! Anyway, I did find these two useful items:

Something Sounds Fishy2,400 page bills, protecting the New Black Panthers, singling out AZ’s immigration enforcement

Overly Defensive (usually shifts blame) - Blame GOP for lack of immigration progress,
blame stupid public for not understanding the healthcare bill, and a myriad of inherited crises.

Perhaps there are some folks in Washington who care about deficits, be they budget deficits or trust deficits. Here are a few recommendations for working on the latter: do what you say; never lie; tell the truth; be competent; operate with a strong moral ethic; be fair and don’t apply double standards.

Looks like some folks have some serious work to do……. just saying.

Julie Ranson, wife and mother of three, lives and teaches in Virginia.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Was Scrooge A Progressive At Heart? by Freddy Boisseau

I do not believe that it is easy to answer that question, as things are different now than what they were then. The meanings of beliefs, acts, and words have changed over time and trying to place them into today’s context may not draw valid conclusions. But recently a passage of Dickens' A Christmas Carol came to my mind and after thinking about it, it seemed that a lot of it could be attributed to those that support the progressive agenda.
This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two other people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge's office. They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.
"Scrooge and Marley's, I believe," said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list. "Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?"
"Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years," Scrooge replied. "He died seven years ago, this very night."
"We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner," said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.
It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits. At the ominous word "liberality," Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials back.
"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."
"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.
"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
"And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"
"They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."
"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge.
"Both very busy, sir."
"Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it."
"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?"
"Nothing!" Scrooge replied.
"You wish to be anonymous?"
"I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. "Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there."
"Many can't go there; and many would rather die."
"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides -- excuse me -- I don't know that."
"But you might know it," observed the gentleman.

What I see above are several themes that can be attributed to those leading the progressive movement in the past and today. First, let’s look at what Mr. Scrooge replies when asked for money by the two gentlemen. He asks them if there are not government services to take care of or deal with the poor. Upon being told there are such services, he responds that he supports them enough as it is. We assume that he is talking about doing so by paying his taxes. Right there, we see a common trait of those that promote government as the solution to these problems. They tend not to give to charities and they support the idea of government taking care of or dealing with the poor. I would also imagine that Mr. Scrooge took every legal means he could to reduce the taxes he paid. Sort of like certain progressive celebrities that count the number of days they stay in California, so they are not subject to that state’s high taxes.

I would also like to point to the last part of the exchange, where he says that the poor better die and decrease the surplus population. There have been progressives throughout the last century that have advocated those that are not productive to “society” should be killed. For example, take this quote from George Bernard Shaw “We should all be obliged to appear before a board every five years and justify our existence... on pain of liquidation.” I think there would be a lot of things that Mr. Shaw and Mr. Scrooge could agree on when it comes to how to handle the poor of society. We could also look at the “complete lives system” that Dr. Zeke Emmanuel has promoted.

The one difference I see between Mr. Scrooge and most progressives like Mr. Shaw, Mr Scrooge had the error of his ways shown to him and thus changed those ways in the end. The sentiments he expresses at the end of the book are true conservative values. Selflessly giving to help others, instead of relying on the government to take care of the poor. Also he learned the value of family and became close to his nephew. I would imagine that he improved his relationship with God.
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset….His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!
Mr. Scrooge was a happier man, and studies have shown that those of us who do not hold to progressive beliefs, experience more joy in our life. The helping of others in need give us joy, while complaining about the government not doing enough leads only to heartache.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Alternate Reality Files by Julie Ranson

I don’t know about you, but the list of political events in recent weeks completely amazes me by its scope and its absurdity. I have commented to others that it feels like we’re living in a parallel universe. It appears that part of the mystery of all that is Washington DC is starting to clear up: those folks in D.C. live in an alternate reality, no doubt about it now. And the liberal media? Yes, they too reside in that specially scented air of the alternate reality. With all the troubles this country is facing right now, our Congress takes time to celebrate this.

In mid-February, Joe Sestak (D-PA) dropped a bombshell when he revealed that he’d be offered a job by the White House in return for him dropping out of a primary challenge against Arlen Specter (D-PA, formerly R-PA). For the past three months, the WH has dodged explaining this story. We were assured by a variety of WH folks, President Obama included, that “nothing improper happened” as if we’d all just blindly accept any White House’s internal investigation of itself! (See first paragraph about alternate reality.)

This past Friday,
it was reported that Rep. Joe Sestak would not have been eligible for a place on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, the job he was supposedly offered by WH emissary, the former President Bill Clinton. So, they take three months to come up with a “good story” that isn’t very good at all.

Immigration continues to boil on the front burner in the news and in the hearts and minds of the American people. I saw a sign over the weekend at the anti-AZ immigration law rally – “Stop ripping apart families.” Isn’t that what we do when we send fathers or mothers to jail for their crimes? You know that old saw, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” Proposed by George Will (and this writer), one solution to this sticky problem for those illegal immigrants creating families here in the USA is to
end the birthright citizenship of children born to illegals.

This past week we glimpsed the alternate reality called the House of Representatives with a visit from the president of Mexico. Calderon took several opportunities to condemn the new immigration law in Arizona at the White House and in the House. In fact, the Democrats in the House gave him a
standing ovation! I ask....Where am I?

For those of us interested in retiring at a decent age, the
tanking of the DOW to its worst levels in 70 years caused much consternation. “U.S. stocks slid, capping the worst May for the Dow Jones Industrial Average since 1940, while the euro slumped and Treasuries rose as a downgrade of Spain’s debt rating and escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula triggered a flight from riskier assets. The Dow tumbled 122.36 points, or 1.2 percent, to 10,136.63 at 4 p.m. in New York and lost 7.9 percent this month.” For the last two years, investments have taken one step forward and two steps back far too often. What we need is some evidence of a growing economy, not just promises.

I started this blog post intending discussion of six news topics for which I have some passion. So overwhelming is this political theatre I daily observed, I can illuminate only three for you this weekend. While I would never disparage the World Wide Web, it goes without saying that the availability of information from myriad of sources and perspectives is a significant distraction to us mere mortals. Wait a minute, that’s not me talking; that’s what Obama said at a
recent commencement address. I don’t agree with Obama about much and, as an academic, I could not vilify “information” anyway.

One problem with information is what we do with it. With the advent of the Web and the 24/7 cable news cycle, overload is inevitable for those of us who devour it. Here at Citizen’s Roundtable, our purpose is to educate. So, here’s a tip, fellow citizen: Find the area where you have the most interest and become an expert on that topic. Use a variety of sources; and for heaven’s sake, don’t quote a story told by a television or radio personality unless you’ve checked out the information sources for yourself first.

Julie Ranson is a community college business professor in Virginia.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What Type of Conservative Are You and Why it Matters

by Freddie Boisseau

The first step in fixing a problem is to identify the problem. To do that you have to be honest to yourself about what the problem is. The conservatives in this country suffer from the problem of ignoring the different types of conservatism and how those parts can work with and against each other. To resolve this problem we first need to be honest about who we are and resolve the conflicts between our different factions. Split asunder we are used against each other, and thus, made weak.

From my perspective, the three factions of conservatism are political, fiscal and social. They each have their good points and their own unique weaknesses. These weaknesses can and must be tempered by the strengths of the other forms of conservatism. This can only happen if we understand those strengths and weaknesses, and that is what I hope to develop with this article.

I would like to start with Political Conservatism, or what can also be called originalism. This group tends to believe in the principle of limited government that our Founders setup for us. They tend to support personal freedom and liberty, negative rights, and the free market system. They are the defenders of the Constitution and the Republic. They truly understand the ideas of John Locke and the republic that Madison designed, but they also understand the concerns the Founders like Patrick Henry expressed about that republic. Unfortunately, they do not have the whole answer to our problems, they have their own weaknesses.

The Political Conservatism policies are not necessarily bound by fiscal or social boundaries, and this is where they make their mistakes. For example a Political Conservative could be lead astray to supporting major military expenses, because they are authorized by the Constitution. Without the restraint of Fiscal Conservative principles, there is nothing to restraint their belief that the expense is legitimate. They need the beliefs of the other two to keep them from falling into traps like this one.

Fiscal Conservatives are the members of our society that watch the pocketbook. They tend to support limiting government spending and thus they prefer lower taxes paid to the government. They also seem to support other sound fiscal policies dealing with money, such as borrowing and rules dealing with banking. They also are the primary supporters of the free market and the principles set forth by Adam Smith. They understand the differences in views of Jefferson and Hamilton regarding the central bank.

But their primary weakness mirrors that of the Political Conservatives, they are not as beholden to the Constitution as their Political Conservative brothers. They can and have been led astray in supporting programs that are unconstitutional, because they sound good and the expense is zero or very low. For example, a Fiscal Conservative would have no problems with implementing regulations eliminating home schooling, as long as the additional cost to the government and citizens are low or non-existence. Since they are less bound by the Constitution, they have no problem violating the rights of parents to educate their children as they see fit. They need the Political Conservatives’ ideals to help them recognize when they go astray.

I left the Social Conservatives for the last, because, to me, they are the most important, though they are also the most likely to be led astray. They are the heart and soul of the conservative movement. They hold and promote the rules that we use to define how we treat each other and it is from these rules that we formed our Constitution and our republic. They are the ones that promote our morals and helping of those in our society that are less fortunate. They are the heirs of all great religious leaders that have shaped our world for the better. This is where we draw our greatest strength, and it is also our greatest weakness.

It is our greatest weakness, because while their beliefs were used to create our Constitution that the Political Conservatives hold dear, they are not bound by it. They are not also bound by the beliefs of the Fiscal Conservatives; they have a higher purpose to uphold. It is this purpose helping those less fortunate than them that can be very destructive. If they lose focus because while we should be a moral people and help each other, those charges are individual in nature. We cannot force people to live up to those standards, nor can we protect people from their own destructive behavior. We must realize that while some of the beliefs and values expressed by Social Conservatives are good for both the individual and society as a whole, each of us must come to those beliefs and values willingly.

Finally, I have been speaking as if these three type of conservatism need to be brought in balance in the group as a whole, but actually these three types of conservatism need to be in balance in all of us. If they are in balance in all of us, then they are in balance in whole. For example how many of you have not helped someone who asked for and needed help when you could? Have you lied to a police officer if you broke a law, even speeding? Is doing that holding to the principle of a Social Conservative, helping other people and upholding social norms?

How many you have promoted not allowing someone to express their opinion because you disagreed? How many of you have discounted or persecuted another religion because it was one you disagreed with? Is that holding to the principles of a Political Conservative, protecting the rights of others given to them by the Creator?

How many of you spend money that you do not have? How many of you live from paycheck to paycheck? Is that holding to the principles of a Fiscal Conservative, not building up debt and controlling spending?

I know that I cannot answer no to all of the above. I know that I have failings, but acknowledging that fact is the first step to recovery. I know that I have a lot of work to do to bring myself in balance, but I also know that I can count on you to help me do that, just like you can count on me to help you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our Nation and The Tea Party

By Daren Gardner

In one year our nation has come a long way. April of 2009 brought the beginning of what is proving to be a movement of American citizens definitely ready for the right change. Tea Party activists all across this land have come out to pound the pavement for a solid year now. Week after week, month after month, and rally after rally. It mattered not where, local, state, or at our Nation’s Capitol, our country is ready for a new beginning, but not the way our elected officials see it.

This new way is really the old way, the way our founding fathers envisioned our country. The sacrifices made by the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, while putting to pen our unalienable rights. The vision of men like John Hancock of Massachusetts, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, and Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania. As stated;

“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 to 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.”
(source: The Declaration of Independence)

It is with merit that these words so precisely written by these patriots of our country, that they understood the tyranny that could take place in the future of this nation. These protections given to us as citizens to remain free from such tyrants.

This way really is the old way. As thirty-nine delegates signed the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. The likes of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, along with convention's secretary William Jackson who also signed the document, not as a delegate, but in attestation of the document's signing, again to protect the citizens of this nation from future destruction and tyranny, had a reason for the first three words to say, “ We The People”.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”. (source; US Constitution)

As citizens, it is our obligation to educate ourselves, understand the facts, understand what’s at stake, and understand the consequences of our actions if these rights are ignored. To many times, far more citizens than should, refuse to pay attention to what is happening, which leaves our nation in a peril of which we live in today.

I believe as a nation, and as Tea Party activists, we first must make sure we focus on the end result. To save our freedom and our liberty. I also believe in doing this we cannot allow egos or selfish agenda’s by a few deter this movement from its end goals. To bring America back to the times you could trust your brothers and sisters to do what’s right. You believed what our elected officials would tell us. If Tea Party leadership does not apply the value of common sense to the equation, then we will have exactly what we are fighting against today.

American voter, this is your country , and it is time you believed in something. I would hope your freedom and liberty truly mean something to you, and that your time is worth investing in saving our country. Yes, America belongs to all of us, not a select few. Follow your heart, educate your mind, and support the candidates with your vote that has the right agenda for your locality, your state, and our nation. Do not get caught up in the negativity and bashing of individuals, or groups that have their own agenda, but do what the integrity of your heart tells you to do. You may just have LUCK (Laboring Under the Correct Knowledge) on your side.

America, stand for the truth, it will always set you free!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Entitlements, Recipients, & Contributors by Julie Ranson

In my last post on entitlements, I focused on the growing bloat of the welfare state in the U.S. This time, let’s talk about the recipient class and the provider class in this entitlement nation.

One of my favorite radio talk show hosts, Andrew Wilkow, speaks often about the recipient class and its members’ status as “zero-liability voters.” A zero-liability voter is a member of the recipient class who receives more money back from the government than he/she put in. We can also call the recipient a “non-contributor” or a “net consumer.” (Among other things….)

FDR's New Deal and the Earned Income Credit (EIC) are significant factors in the growth of the citizen class. The EI credit has been expanded for years 2009 and 2010. Those who earn this credit file taxes and often receive a refund over and above anything paid in. Roughly 40% of Americans pay zero or less in federal taxes. What happens if or when this recipient class exceeds 50%? Imagine the power this group will have to consistently elect those who will continue to pay them. What courageous politicians will be willing to cut entitlement programs and, essentially, commit political suicide?

On the other hand, what motivation does a recipient have to get off of welfare? Consider this scenario that repeats itself across the country and around the globe:
A lady in business for herself needed help to meet the demands of her customers. She has hired five different helpers during the past year; each has, after varying lengths of time, simply not shown up for work. The latest hire, who showed the most promise, was given a Christmas bonus and a Christmas gift, after which she never returned. Each of these employees was, in general, poorly educated and receiving, in one form or another, monthly handouts from the state or federal government. There was, therefore, little need for them to hold down a job.

This recipient class has no feeling for the provider class. Rich people can “afford” to pay more, can’t they? Isn’t this what liberals say too often? Listening to a liberal radio talk show host right after healthcare passage, I heard the host opine that “finally the rich will pay their Fair Share.” Another viewpoint decries tax cuts as welfare for the rich. “The key Republican tax proposals during the Bush administration have amounted to massive amounts of welfare for a class of Americans who don't need the help.” It’s THEIR money the government lets them keep. Hardly welfare, but such is the viewpoint of the left.

With a burgeoning federal deficit and no spending cuts in sight, the government will need to seek out more taxpayers or increase the taxes of those who are Taxed Enough Already.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Entitlement Nation: Death of a Republic

My oldest daughter is taking a college political science class. Recently, she emailed me asking for guidance on selecting a period of party dominance in America’s history. She was to write an essay about the era and why it was important. I couldn’t identify them off the top of my head, so I hit the search engine and found three major periods of party dominance. Not surprisingly, the most recent period running from the years 1932 to1968 was dominated by the Democrats. I suggested she look into that period, reminding her briefly the warped history of the “great” Depression, the FDR years, and Johnson’s Great Society. The events of those thirty-six years have paved the way to the current “Entitlement Period” which may very well lead to our destruction. (There are many with whom I won’t disagree that assert this all began with Woodrow Wilson, but I’ll just stick with the most recent 40 years of data, if our readers don’t mind.)

My daughter’s question prompted me to think about the evolution of our country into the “Entitlement Nation” that we are today. I’ve thought about it so much it’s led to this post, which is the result of much research. It’s absolutely depressing and positively frightening to think about the grave danger this extremely large part of government spending poses to our country’s social and economic health. Think about it, what does it say about our society and its future when so many are looking for a handout? There are far too many people who are asking what can their country do for them, and too few who understand and appreciate the intrinsic value of hard work and achieving success by one’s own hand while living as a contributing member of American society. The “Handout Attitude” is going to cost, and cost us dearly.

Consider this: In 1992, the combined Federal, State and Local Welfare Budget was comprised of 34 entitlement programs. According to the House Ways and Means Committee report in 2003, the list of income-tested benefit programs detailed 85 programs! As well, the same report states that expenditures for only income-tested benefits have risen from $16,116,000 in 1968 to $522,156,000 (in current dollars) in 2002. A whopping 3140% increase.

Without significant reform, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will rise from 18 percent of GDP to 28 percent by 2050. That means that just these three federal government programs will be consuming between a quarter and a third of everything this country produces. Paying for those programs would necessitate raising the corporate and top income tax rates to 88 percent, the current 25 percent tax rate would rise to 63 percent for middle-income workers, and low-income workers would pay not the current 10 percent but 25 percent instead. The catastrophic impact this would have on our economy and American workers cannot be dismissed.

If that’s not enough to really bother you, consider the rest of our country’s financial mess. According to the AP in February 2010,

“The government already has made so many promises to so many expanding 'mandatory' programs. Just keeping these commitments, without major changes in taxing and spending, will lead to deficits that cannot be sustained. Take Social Security, Medicare and other benefits. Add in interest payments on a national debt that now exceeds $12.3 trillion. It all will gobble up 80 percent of all federal revenues by 2020, government economists project.
That doesn't leave room for much else. What's left is the entire rest of the government, including military and homeland security spending, which has been protected and nurtured by the White House and Congress, regardless of the party in power.
The U.S. debt crisis also raises the question of how long the world's leading power can remain its largest borrower.”

An editorial in a Florida newspaper wrote during last summer’s Obama Healthcare push, “Once upon a time if you wanted something you paid for it. Once upon a time it was embarrassing to ask the government for anything. That was once upon a time. I heard a new version of the reference to "Give a man a fish, he eats for the day; teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime." Now it is, "Give a man a fish, he eats for the day; teach him to fish and he'll vote for the one who gave him the fish."

After reading these dire statistics , I was prompted to look up the phrase, “banana republic” and after wading past the entries for the trendy retailer, I found this definition: Banana republic is a pejorative term originally used to refer to a country that is politically unstable, dependent on limited agriculture (e.g. bananas), and ruled by a small, self-elected, wealthy, and corrupt clique. I am so glad that I’d already started planning my vegetable garden for the summer.... we can get a jump on the banana republic ethic about to slap us silly! Reflecting back to the start of this post, I am absolutely resolute that I, a patriotic American, am self-reliant and won’t be seeking a handout should the stuff really hit the fan. I’d also like to think that one day I can make the independent choice NOT to sign up for Medicare, but then again, maybe it will have gone the way of our liberty and national sovereignty.

Julie Ranson is a wife and mother of three. She teaches business courses at a community college in Virginia.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Drifting down the Julie Ranson

In late February, at the CPAC meeting in Washington DC, American conservatives met to experience and engage in conservative thought. The annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) meeting is sponsored by the American Conservative Union. The ACU brands itself as “America’s Oldest and Largest Grassroots Conservative Organization.”

In the straw poll conducted annually at CPAC, this year’s winner was Ron Paul (R-TX). According to CPAC’s poll data, 2,395 of the 10,000 attendees voted; 64% were male and 54% were aged 18-25. In addition to voting for favorite 2012 presidential candidates, poll respondents also indicated other priorities: a) 58% believe that Congressional Republicans should focus on cutting federal spending; b) 52% want to see a reduction in the size of government; and c) 80% identified their most important goal as “promoting individual freedom by reducing the size and scope of government and its intrusion into the lives of its citizens.”

The selection of Ron Paul in the straw poll has drawn a few disdainful observations. On Chris Wallace’s Fox News Sunday program, both Mara Liasson and Juan Williams stated that Paul is out of the mainstream and doesn’t represent most conservatives. (View their remarks around the 38 minute mark)

While I’ll refrain from tossing my support behind Paul at this time, I beg to differ that Paul’s chances of winning the presidency are nil because of these criticisms. Remember, the 2009 Gallop poll identified Conservatives as the largest ideological group with 40% of Americans self-identifying as conservative. On the other hand, only 21% of Americans describe themselves as liberal. Yet, Barack Obama won the White House even though he was ranked at the far left during his brief tenure in the Senate. Clearly, he represented even fewer mainstream Americans when he campaigned nor does he now that he is President.

What is clear today is that conservative voters will seek a candidate that truly embraces conservative ideals (whether the Republican Party machine delivers one for us is another story). It’s also clear that citizens are serious and highly motivated today in their involvement in day-to-day governance, both locally and nationally. More importantly, young people are engaged and vocal, and this may be the most noteworthy data from CPAC. They are our future, after all. Draw whatever conclusions you will from the CPAC straw poll or the other attendance data… It’s still an exciting time to be an American voter!

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Missing Black History by Freddy Boisseau

I was in a book store and noticed that they had pulled books out front for “Black History Month”. That got me thinking, did any book in the book store deal with a very impressive African-American that I have come to admire. So I asked a store employee to see if he could find any books in the store about this individual. After searching several different ways, he was not able to find any books that mention this person in the store's inventory system. This was not surprising given this person’s history.

The story I was looking for was about Samuel B. Fuller, a very successful African-American businessman. He was born in 1905 to a sharecropper family in Monroe, Louisiana. His family was so poor that he was working at age nine selling door to door and dropped out of school in the sixth grade. This good training would serve him well later in life. When he was fifteen his family moved to Memphis, and two years latter his mother passed away leaving him and his six siblings to fend for themselves.

In 1928 he moved to Chicago, and worked as a coal hiker and then became an insurance salesman. Doing well, he shortly moved up to a managerial position. It was during this time he took $25 and bought some soap, which he then sold door to door. This was so successful that he later invested $1,000 dollars in the business and incorporated Fuller Products Corporation in 1929.

By 1939 he was one of Chicago's most prominent black businessmen, with 30 products in his line, a small factory and a team of salesman working for him. In 1947 he wanted to expand his business and purchased the Boyer International Laboratories, a cosmetics manufacturer. Since this company’s products were geared to the white market. Because it was felt that making this public would hurt sales, this sale was kept quite.

By 1959 his company had expanded considerably. His company sales had peaked at 10 million dollars, he had over 300 items in his inventory and sales force of 5000. He had built a home worth a quarter of a million dollars. He was had an interest in several other cosmetic companies and was the major shareholder of the Pittsburgh Courier Publishing Company. This company was the owner of oldest black newspaper, the New York Age, and the largest circulated black newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier. He also invested in real estate, owning the Chicago's Regal Theater, the Chicago's counterpart to Harlem's Apollo Theater, along with properties in several major cities including New York. He also owned the Fuller Guaranty Corporation and the Fuller-Philco Home Appliance Center.

Samuel Fuller was known as a master salesman and a great motivational speaker. The November 1957 Ebony magazine stated the following about him, “he cajoles, questions, lectures, coddles and spanks his dealers with words that have come to be gospel to Fullerites.”. He was also quoted as saying in the same article “The door-to-door salesman is the backbone of today's economy.... At Fuller Products Company, there's only one race--the human race.... A man doesn't have to have a lot of degrees behind his name to earn $10,000 a year.” Mr Fuller would also tell his black employees that they could do anything, telling them “anything the white man can do, so can you. Don't ever feel the way is closed to you because you are a Negro. All you need is faith in God and faith in yourself.”

When the White Citizen's Council learned that Boyer had been sold to him, they boycotted his products throughout the South. The fact that he would not go along with the view of the black leaders of his time led to problems with groups like the NAACP. He was very critical of them, because he felt they spent too much time trying to change the views of whites and not helping blacks. He said “Negroes are not discriminated against because of the color of their skin. They are discriminated against because they have not anything to offer that people want to buy.” These views caused the African-Americans leaders of that time to call for a boycott by their organizations.

These boycotts were the start of his downfall. In 1964 the SEC charged him selling unregistered promissory notes and he was placed on a five-year probation. A social service agent campaigned against him giving credit to people on welfare, and convinced them to not honor their debts. This created a loss of more then a million dollars, and forced Fuller to sell off his interest in the publishing companies and his retail stores. In spite of taking these actions to save his company, he had to file for bankruptcy in 1969. He was able to reorganize his business under bankruptcy laws and in 1972 had over $300,000 in profits. In 1975 his company was producing 60 products including cosmetics and other beauty products.

Mr. Fuller was a person that divided his time between business and civic duties, including being the head of the South Side chapter of the NAACP. He was also known for supporting other African-American businessmen, including those competing against him. When Johnson Products, a competing cosmetic company, lost their facilities due to fire he allowed them to use the Fuller facilities while they rebuilt.

Samuel Fuller passed away on October 24, 1988 most likely from kidney failure at St. Francis Hospital in Blue Island. At that time, his survivors included his wife, five daughters, 13 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. He should be best remembered as a great entrepreneur and a mentor, who never judged a person by the color of their skin, but by their character. Instead you almost never hear a thing about him today.

This is why I admire this individual. Here is a man with a sixth grade education that during the time of Great Depression and a time of blatant racism, who built up a multimillion dollar and diverse company. Just doing that, without the handicap of racism thrown in, is reason enough to admire what he did. I believe Samuel Fuller is someone that should be promoted to our children, instead of hidden in the shadows of history.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Healthcare & the General Welfare Clause - A Troubling Pairing, by Freddy Boisseau

I just came across this blog post today: “Donald McEachin Eviscerates Anti-Individual-Mandate Legistation” As one that believes in the Constitution and the principles it espouses, I thought it needed a response. Let us look at the two sections that come into play here. First, we have Article 1 Section 8, which spells out the power given to Congress by the states.
Section 8. 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 Offences 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.
There are two points to be made here. First nowhere in that section do you see anything that relates to healthcare or an individual’s health. Now, when you bring that up to people like the poster of this blog, they then point to this part, “ general Welfare of the United States”. The problem here is twofold, first the meaning of “general welfare”, has changed over time. Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father with the loosest view of the General Welfare clause wrote the following in the Federalist Papers.

"This specification of particulars [the 18 enumerated powers of Article I, Section 8] evidently excludes all pretension to a general legislative authority, because an affirmative grant of special powers would be absurd as well as useless if a general authority was intended." - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 83

"No legislative act … contrary to the Constitution can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid." - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 78

From both of these quotes, I fail to see how even he could justify the Federal Government getting involved in Healthcare. The second problem with using the “general welfare” clause can be shown with the following example. Suppose a gated community hired me and signed the following agreement with me:

Frederic L. Boisseau shall have Power To lay and collect fees, to provide for the safety and well being of the community; but all fees should be uniform for each homeowner;
To patrol the streets and apprehend those that commit crimesTo secure the entries to the community
To provide emergency services to fight fire and give medical aid.

If I then started saying that you could not have a pool (kids could drown in it), a real Christmas tree (fire hazard), swing sets (a child could get hurt), or blinds on your windows (might prevent me from seeing a crime being committed). You would say that I was crazy, you did not give me that authority, and you would not accept any argument that I had that authority from the “safety and well being” clause. And you are right, my authority is clearly limited to the 3 items listed above.
When you take the above in context with the 10th amendment “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” is very clear. Restated, it says to Congress -- If the power is not listed in Article 1 Section 8, CONGRESS YOU CANNOT DO IT. End of discussion.
For those of you who would like more information or insight on what this writer calls the “10 Troubling Clauses of the US Constitution”, see this link

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Grassroots; Making A Difference.

I, like most of you, would rather be going along with life as usual, but have found that to be extremely difficult for the last twelve months. I have had to make a commitment, to either fight for our freedom, or keep going and ignore the truth about what is happening in our country today, wondering can I make a difference.

January, one year ago I did decide to commit to step up, and dedicate my free time to make a difference. Well, as it has turned out, it has taken way more than my free time. I will also say, I would have it no other way.

My journey began, trying to get educated on the task that would lie ahead. As someone, who really did not desire to read a lot, I found myself reading a lot. My first commitment to join others with a like minded spirit, that I felt I would fall in line with, were the patriots I met at the first 9.12 We Surround Them event at the Village Grill in Chester, VA. This is where I first met men like Ralph Carter, and his wife, Millette, and family. They have been an inspiration to us all. I also met Mike, Freddie, Marion, and Celeste, all of whom now are a huge part of the Chester Patriots, organized by Ralph. Carter. I began to immediately become involved in planning and activities this group had to offer. I was beginning to feel like I had made the right choice to "stand up for Freedom."

As time would go by, I attended rallies, like the April 15th Tax Day Tea Party in Richmond, VA, with an estimated 6000 citizens in attendance. On May 8th, had the privilege to lead a group of 30 citizens, concerned about their country, in delivering a "Petition for Redress of Grievances", to our local U.S. House of Representatives, and U.S. Senators offices. Time went by, no response from any of our elected officials.

I've attended rallies on Health Care, Cap & Trade, Audit the Fed, and rally after rally. Even held my own one man rally one day at Sen. Mark Warner's office about the health care issues, and my friend Larry and I, on another occasion. Wondering all along, am I making a difference. I also got involved in the local GOP in Chesterfield, VA, wanting and searching for more education on all of this that I was giving so much of my time for. Got so involved that on Election Day 2009, I served as a Precinct Captain, and got to see and feel first hand the enthusiasm that seemed to be growing all through the year.

Back to the petition that my new friends and I delivered. Finally, after more than a month and a half had passed, I began to really feel that as a citizen, I was being ignored, and became increasingly aggravated at this fact. I wrote a letter to our U.S. House of Representative, J. Randy Forbes. This letter was professional, but not real nice, and I will leave it at that. Within thirty minutes, I received a phone call from his chief of staff, quite taken back at my response. As we talked, and began to iron out the frustration of the moment, we began the process to have the congressman come to Chesterfield for a Public Forum, in which it was an honor to moderate.
Again, another moment of education of the process that I had started out looking for back in January. Still wondering am I making a difference.

This past year I have been to Washington, DC on no less than five occasions for rallies. On July 4th, the March for Liberty Rally, September 12th at the 9.12 National Tea Party Rally, and on December 15th the Code Red Rally. On two occasions myself and others, delivered petitions, or tried to at least to our U. S. Senate offices, and were denied. Yes, temperature went up a bit. I had not been to Washington D. C. five times in the last thirty years. Still wondering am I making a difference.

As a common sense conservative, I consider myself a huge grassroots activist if you want to call me that. I used every chance I could, to be involved and be educated about the issues at hand. I had an idea to help educate citizens about these same issues. I wanted to hear from the citizens from our great nation. With this idea, I created the "Citizens Roundtable." I ventured out to ask others in the area to be a part of this commitment to hearing from the people, and educating them to have confidence to come out and rally for what they believe. This endeavor would not be today, if not for the dedication and extremely hard work of my friend, Julie Ranson, and others who have participated along the way. Julie is truly the glue that holds this together. All this, and still wondering am I making a difference.

From TV stations, to parking lots, to downtown streets, interviews on the radio, WRVA, TV-6, CNN, and local newspapers. How much more will it take. I even jumped on board and created my Facebook page, and from then on I have really felt like I was in a war, with many battles at hand. Winning them one by one, knowing another one was ahead to fight, all along making friends all across this great land.

Through all the elections, which I certainly was proud that I had the opportunity to volunteer and be a part of. All the activities I participated in, speaking at a coffee house in Cullman, AL, while on a trip set up by my new patriot friend Nan Austin. Moderating the Lobbying 101 Seminar with a coalition of local patriot groups and all the work put in by another new patriot friend Carol Stopps. To be followed up by an awesome Lobby Day at our State Capitol, here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in which an estimated crowd of 2400 came from all over our great state. Still wondering have I made a difference.

Well, let me tell you, "WE THE PEOPLE" have made the difference. This war is not won on the backs of one American, but on the backs of many. Everything I have done this past year has been because of "WE THE PEOPLE." A man told me many years ago, that if you are not willing to change, it will change you. I have felt a change this past twelve months that I took upon myself to do. Just ask those who know me, my family, and my friends. Why? Because I love America, and the Freedom it stands for, and I will not sit back and watch our country be mandated, and force onto the citizens changes that are in direct conflict with the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and The Declarartion of Independence, our forefathers founded this country on.

Grassroots; Yes, you are making a difference, and I am proud to stand beside you in this war as we take on every battle that comes our way. After seeing what just happened in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, I know I am making a difference. Remember, a mighty river is made up of tiny little raindrops, your raindrop counts, and never let anyone convince you otherwise!

Daren Gardner