The Michigan Militia Corps'

Weekly Update
Internet Edition

Volume 5, Issue 10

Week of March 23, 1998

Michigan Militia Corps' Manual 1-1

The MMC's Manual 1-1, the manual creating and explaining the mission, goals, structure, and membership requirements for the Michigan Militia Corps, has been completely revised and re-written. If you would like to check it out, it is available at

It has yet to be officially approved by Division commanders. If you are in a member brigade of the Michigan Militia Corps and would like to make a suggestion for a change before it is finalized, please submit the idea to your Brigade Commander, who will in turn submit it to his/her Division Commander.

Calif. Court Backs Boy Scouts' Ban

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Boy Scouts are not covered by California civil rights laws and can exclude gays, agnostics and atheists, the state Supreme Court ruled today.

In a pair of unanimous decisions, the court said the Scouts are not a business and therefore are free, like any private club, to set their own membership policies.

One ruling upheld a decision by a Contra Costa County Scout organization in 1981 to reject Timothy Curran, an 18-year-old former Eagle Scout, as an assistant scoutmaster after he disclosed in an interview that he was gay.

The other ruling involved 9-year-old twin brothers, Michael and William Randall, who were barred by an Orange County Cub Scout den in 1990 after they refused to declare a belief in God.

The twins were allowed into the Scouts by lower-court rulings and recently qualified to become Eagle Scouts, Scouting's highest honor, subject to approval by the national organization. They and their father, James G. Randall, who is also their lawyer, say the boys are agnostics who haven't yet worked out their religious beliefs.

Both suits were brought under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination by business establishments on various grounds, including sexual orientation and religion.

The justices said today that the Boy Scouts are a private, selective organization, not a business.

"Scouts meet regularly in small groups (often in private homes) that are intended to foster close friendship, trust and loyalty," said the lead opinion by Chief Justice Ronald George.

"The Boy Scouts is an expressive social organization whose primary function is the inculcation of values in its youth members."

Although the Scouts sell goods to members of the public, George said, "nonmembers cannot purchase entry to pack or troop meetings, overnight hikes, the national jamboree or any portion of the Boy Scouts' extended training and educational process."

Greg Shields, spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, said the organization was pleased the court recognized it as a "voluntary association," not a business.

"For 88 years, we've taught the moral values of the Scout oath and law to American boys," he said. "Those who meet the standards of this membership organization are welcome to belong."

The ruling contrasts with a decision March 2 by an appellate court in New Jersey that said the Boy Scouts and their local councils were "places of accommodation" with open membership and were covered by the state's civil rights law. That ruling, in favor of a gay scoutmaster, was the first by any appellate court in the nation against the Scouts' anti-gay policy.

The Boy Scouts say homosexuality violates their concept of traditional moral values, embodied in a provision of the Scout oath in which members pledge to be "morally straight."

Citizens say they deserve gun permits

State House hears their pleas; bills' foes fear for safety March 24, 1998

LANSING -- Donald McClure has thought of himself as a responsible man for some time.

The Traverse City retiree flew planes in combat during World War II. He flew corporate jets after retiring from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel.

Which is why he was upset last week when the Grand Traverse County Gun Board turned down his request to carry a concealed weapon -- despite a letter of recommendation from a state senator.

"It blows my mind that I can prove I'm a good citizen, but I'm not good enough to exercise my constitutional right to self-defense," McClure told the state House Committee on Oversight and Ethics on Monday.

He was one of several people to speak in favor of a set of nine bills that would give more people permits to carry concealed guns. Supporters of the bills say they would create a strict, statewide standard for getting such permits.

But opponents, including some law enforcement officials, contend that allowing more guns in public will lead to more gunfire.

Although the state association of prosecutors opposes the bills, police chiefs as a group have taken a neutral stance, and the bills have 69 cosponsors.

Rep. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, said the bills would fix an arbitrary and unsafe system that changes from county to county.

"The gun boards can basically deny anyone for any reason or anyone for no reason," he told the committee. "In many counties, no one for any reason can get a permit."

The boards, made up of a county's sheriff and prosecutor and a Michigan State Police trooper, don't have to say why they turn down a request to carry a concealed weapon, even though applicants have to show why the permit is needed.

Under the proposed changes, the boards would have to award a permit unless they could show that the applicant didn't meet the criteria for getting one.

Those criteria include being at least 21, completing a training course, having no convictions for felonies or violent misdemeanors and having no history of mental illness. The application would cost $100, and would not include the price of the training. Boards could revoke licenses for violations.

Applicants who are denied a permit could challenge the decision in court. That concerns Joe Sheeran, the Bay County prosecutor, who said the boards need more discretion.

"Certainly people who are judged mentally ill shouldn't carry concealed weapons," he said. "But you and I and everyone knows someone with emotional problems who should not carry concealed weapons. But they are not near what we would call mentally ill."

Sheeran also said more guns on the street would pose more problems for police officers.

"The more arms we have out there, the more violence we will have," he said. "Police officers are going to feel less safe. They aren't going to know if someone is armed."

Supporters said the restrictions in the bills would ensure that only law-abiding applicants got hidden-gun permits.

A police officer "ought to be reassured, because that person has been fingerprinted and certified as safe," McClure said. "It's the ones not carrying a gun that he should be worried about."

Several other supporters said that although the bills were improvements, there were still too many restrictions.

"It's not the duty of the Legislature or gun board to determine whether we should carry a gun," said Carol Vichinsky of Chelsea. "That was done a long time ago when they wrote the Constitution."

Committee chairman Pat Gagliardi, D-Drummond Island, said the committee will vote on the bills shortly after the Legislature's Easter break.

To express your view or get more information about a bill to relax laws on obtaining a concealed weapons permit, contact your representative. Try calling between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The area code is 517.

Office numbers are in Lansing phone listings by legislators' names and under "Michigan, State of," for the House of Representatives and Senate.

If you're not sure who your legislator is, check with your city, township or county clerk. Write to your state representative at P.O. Box 30014, Lansing 48909. Write to your state senator at P.O. Box 30036, Lansing 48909.

To write to Gov. John Engler: P.O. Box 30013, Lansing 48909, or call 1-517-335-7858, 8:30-5, Mon.-Fri. There is a recording for after hours or when the line is busy.

Concealed and Carry Hearings to begin Monday

Crusade for polite, armed state revived

For the record, expect gun nuts and their foes, the gun grabbers, to be out in force in Lansing on Monday for a full-dress hearing on legislation designed to make Michigan more polite.

Uh, more polite?

Correct. That's a reference to the slogan "an armed society is a polite society," often used by the gun crowd to justify its long-running crusade to relax Michigan's strict, though admittedly inconsistent, restrictions on issuing carrying concealed weapon (CCW) permits.

The grabbers, of course, disagree, saying it's just nuts to suggest that society will be more polite or civil if nearly everyone's packing ...or entitled to.

And, despite claims to the contrary, the statistical evidence linking the availability of CCW permits to crime rates in other states is extremely limited and, so far, contradictory.

Anyway, the hearing is the first of its kind since hotly controversial CCW legislation died in the House in 1995. It is set for 2 p.m. Monday in the Capitol before the House Oversight and Ethics Committee.

And, because this year's package, whose lead sponsor is Rep. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, has a huge number of cosponsors (59 out of 110 House members for the principal bill) and because some safeguards have been added (e.g., mandatory gun-safety training, no permits for those with history of mental illness, violent crime, etc.), odds have improved for House passage with quick concurrence predicted in the rabidly pro-gun state Senate.

That's despite continued, strong opposition from a number of law enforcement groups, including prosecutors, chiefs of police, state troopers, etc., and poll results suggesting that a clear majority of Michigan citizens continue to be wary (see next item).

Anyway, the chair of House Oversight, Rep. Pat Gagliardi, D-Drummond Island, says Monday's hearing is the, ah, "opening salvo" in this year's CCW debate. He promises additional hearings after Easter and, in due course, favorable action on a "compromise" (his word) CCW package.

So, stay tuned. Meantime ...

BALLENGER'S POLL: The latest poll results show "a strong nucleus of the state's residents, principally women, who oppose any and every approach to change in the present system of issuing CCW permits," writes Bill Ballenger in the new issue of his Inside Michigan Politics newsletter dated March 23.

The split, 51 percent opposed to CCW relaxation vs. 45 percent in favor (with 4 percent neutral or don't know), is based on a sample of 600 registered voters statewide. They were contacted earlier this month by Lansing's Marketing Resource Group, which conducted the poll for Ballenger (margin of error, plus or minus 4.1 percent).

Results were somewhat less lopsided than earlier polls, including one conducted in February by EPIC/MRA (showing 61 percent opposed to relaxing CCW restrictions and 30 percent in favor). But, unlike the earlier polls, the Ballenger/MRG poll outlined a list of supposed safeguards in the CCW package before asking the key "favor/don't favor" question.

Ballenger noted a significant gender gap. Men supported CCW changes, 52-43 percent; women were opposed, 59-38 percent.

Commerce Said To Have Sold Trips

WASHINGTON - A former business partner of the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown said Monday that Brown told her presidential aides instructed him to withhold documents proving the White House was selling U.S. trade mission slots for campaign donations.

Appearing in federal court, Nolanda Hill said Brown raised the possibility of destroying a 1-inch-thick packet of Commerce Department letters she said linked donations and trade mission slots. She said she advised him not to destroy the documents, but never saw them again after their discussion. She said the discussion occurred shortly before Brown died in a plane crash in Croatia in April 1996.

No such documents have been turned over to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which is suing the Commerce Department in an effort to determine if U.S. trade slots are being sold for political donations.

Hill and Brown were in business together and she is under indictment for allegedly conspiring to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies she controlled to her partner. Though not named in the indictment, Hill's partner in the company was Brown.

In a three-page affidavit released at the start of a federal court hearing in which she testified, Hill said: "I became aware, through my discussions with Ron, that the trade missions were being used as a fund-raising tool for the upcoming Clinton-Gore presidential campaign and the Democratic Party.

"Ron told me that domestic companies were being solicited to donate large sums of money in exchange for their selection to participate on trade missions of the Commerce Department," Hill's affidavit stated.

"Ron expressed to me his displeasure that the purpose of the Commerce trade missions had been and were being perverted at the direction of the White House," she added.

"I further learned through discussions with Ron that the White House, through Leon Panetta and John Podesta, had instructed him to delay the case by withholding the production of documents prior to the 1996 elections, and to devise a way not to comply with the court's orders," Hill added.

The White House denied the allegations.

"Ms. Hill's allegations regarding Leon Panetta and John Podesta and the White House are false in every respect," White House spokesman James Kennedy said.

Podesta commented, "The only thing accurate in Ms. Hill's affidavit with respect to me and my conduct is the spelling of my name."

Hill said the five or six documents which she reviewed in the 1-inch-thick packet of papers were written by Commerce Department employee Melissa Moss of the Office of Business Liason.

She said Brown used profanity in describing how Moss had written such letters, apparently without his knowledge.

Under questioning by Judicial Watch attorneys before U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, Hill said that she was asked by Brown whether he could get rid of the documents and whether that would constitute obstruction of justice.

"I said it looked to me like it would be" obstruction, Hill said she replied.

"I pointed out to him that it was taking an awful big risk" in destroying the documents because copies of them existed elsewhere, Hill said on the witness stand in the lawsuit by Judicial Watch.

Hill's affidavit outlining the alleged scheme was signed Jan. 17 and was publicly released Monday in open court. In it, Hill says that Moss "based on my knowledge, ... has not told the truth in response" to "a number of questions concerning Commerce Department trade missions, as well as other representations she has made under oath.

Attempts Monday to locate Moss for comment were unsuccessful.

Hill said that she is concerned that "the Clinton administration, and more particularly its Justice Department, will try to retaliate against me" and she asked that the affidavit be kept under seal.

She said she had "a fear for my personal and my family's well-being and safety."

Security of the people' liberty at risk

Monday, March 23, 1998
Recent vote suggests elected official more interested in politics than morality

It's not often that Members of Congress have the opportunity to take a vote which clearly states the intent of the Congress to either follow or not follow the Constitution. A vote which is not tethered to pork-barrel spending, special-interest giveaways or political land mines. Such a vote came up last week.

Of course, when one sees the results of such a vote - when it finally comes around - it is enough to make a decent American blush, and then get very angry at the immorality of our elected officials.

Casting votes on the basis of constitutionality is not about a political ideology, it is about basic morality. The moral choice is between following the rule of law or the whims of man. The rule of law gives us liberty, freedom and civilized society, while the whims of man gives us holocausts, confiscatory economic policies and pointless wars.

Sadly, though, our representatives and senators, and our presidents, seem intent on following something other than the rule of law. They hide behind pragmatism, behind political expediency, behind the claim to be doing the "will of the people." But the rule of law is about doing what is right and moral, not about what the mob - even if it is a mob of one with the government guns behind it - might desire at the moment.

Of course, the law - the Constitution - is inconvenient for those who want to use taxpayer dollars to expand their pet causes or political ambitions. The politics of unconstitutionality knows no partisan boundaries in Washington, which accounts for the continuing upward trend of taxes, regulations, spending and, of course, pork.

And so last week there came before Congress legislation stating that Congress and Congress alone has the power to declare war and commit troops into situations of hostility - as defined and clearly stated in the Constitution. It further stated that if troops are to remain in Bosnia, then Congress should take a vote declaring a state of war. Absent a declaration of war, according to this legislation if it had passed, the troops should be home in 60 days.

This was a vote on whether or not this Congress, was going to vote in support of what the Constitution specifically mandates on the issue of military action and commit of American troops to hostile environments. No policies would change, just a statement of principle upholding the Constitution.

The Constitution is very clear on this and every other subject. The Constitution, the highest law of the land, defines what the federal government, and the three branches of the federal government, can and cannot do. Everything else, according to the law, the Constitution, is "reserved" to the states and the people.

At the core, every vote is a constitutional vote. US Representative and, later, Texas Alamo hero David Crockett, once quoted a constituent, saying, "The Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions... The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else.

Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution... It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people."

Sadly, 225 Members of Congress chose to ignore the Constitution and forfeit their constitutional-required role in foreign affairs. They had the opportunity to vote in accordance with the most basic, most clearly defined section of the Constitution to which they pledged an oath to uphold, and yet 225 of the 435 representatives chose to not follow the rule of law, but to allow the whims of man to prevail.

When Congress so clearly votes against the Constitution a dangerous precedent is indeed set, and as Mr. Crockett warned, nothing is safe from the grasp of the politicians.

Satellite offers spy pictures by credit card

EarlyBird launched successfully - EarthWatch

THE first civilian spy satellite will soon allow anyone with a credit card to peek into a neighbour's garden or a highly secret military base for as little as $200.

EarlyBird 1, the first commercial spacecraft to use recently declassified spy technology, was successfully launched from a military base in eastern Russia last week, ending the 40-year monopoly of the world's most advanced military and intelligence services on gathering high-resolution pictures from space.

EarthWatch Inc, the satellite's owner, confirmed yesterday that, subject to a last calibration and alignment test, it was ready to start broadcasting clandestine pictures from its orbit 295 miles above Earth.

With the exception of the governments of Cuba, North Korea, Libya, Iraq and Iran, anybody can order highly-detailed images from anywhere in the world, for as little as $1.80 per square foot, subject to a $200 minimum order.

The sharpest commercial satellite images available now capture features no smaller than 33ft across, good enough for media pictures of the Tiananmen Square massacre but not detailed enough for covert examinations of neighbours' activities.

However, once EarlyBird 1 starts taking pictures, customers will be able to control it via the Internet and place orders for black-and-white pictures that will show features as small as 10ft across.

EarthWatch promises that pictures will be taken and sent to customers within two days of receiving the target co-ordinates. "It's detailed enough to distinguish a car from a truck, or to measure the size of a neighbour's extension," said Bob Wientzen, an EarthWatch spokesman. Colour pictures will also be offered, but with a resolution of only within 45ft.

Most of the time, the satellite is expected to focus on targets related to town planning, map-making, disaster relief or mining. It will also allow the media and the public to scrutinise environmental and military crises.

Some industry experts expect the biggest customers to be foreign governments and intelligence agencies who do not have access to spy satellite networks of their own.

Companies in India, Israel, Russia, China and America plan to launch a further generation of spy satellites capable of distinguishing objects with a diameter of about three feet.

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