MANTECA, Calif. -- Michelle Figueroa is happy to learn the Spanish language at her public high school. But the East Union High School student draws the line at engaging in occult rituals for class credit.
As part of Spanish class, Figueroa and her classmates were told to build an altar to celebrate the dead as part of the traditional Mexican observance of el Dia de los Muertos ("the Day of the Dead").
Fugueroa's minister and mother objected, saying that invoking evil spirits was not an appropriate assignment for a public high school class. They took their concerns to school officials who agreed to let Fugueroa do an alternate assignment and leave the room when the teacher talks about the holiday.
The mother told the Associated Press, "It's OK to teach religions and what the beliefs are, but not to do it by force and to make an altar and present flowers and pictures of the dead. When you start monkeying around like this, you're inviting evil spirits to come into your home or into your life."
Crime involving guns is on the rise despite tougher laws - but gun control lobbyists maintain Australia is becoming safer.
The number of robberies with guns jumped 39% in 1997 to 2,183, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while assaults involving guns rose 28% to 806 and murders by 19% to 75. Almost half of firearm killings in the in the seven years to 1997 involved weapons which are now prohibited or restricted following the slaughter of 35 people at Port Arthur in 1996, according to Australian Institute of Criminology research.
But gun groups say the new controls have created a thriving black market. 'Before registration, there was no illegal market for longarms and semi- automatics', the president of the Firearm Owners Association of Australia, Mr Ron Owen, said. 'Now the black market for pistols has increased tenfold, and both criminals and non-criminals seek them. And the black market of machine guns has at least tripled.'
However, the national spokesman for the Coalition for Gun Control, Mr. Roland Brown, described the $500 million gun buy-back scheme which has taken 640,000 weapons out of circulation as an 'unqualified success'. But the 1997 statistics are 'next to useless' because the new national laws were not in force completely until July this year. 'Figures for 2000 or 2001 will be more useful', he said. 'It can take five or ten years for these laws to become fully effective and for the results to show. A good performance indicator is that there has been a change in the composition of arsenals of guns.'
'No longer are most people able to own semi-automatics or pump action shotguns. Rapid-fire weapons are just about finished in Australia - and this has reduced the prospect of mass killings significantly.'
U.S. intelligence agencies reported secretly within the U.S. government last week that the initial flight test of the DF-31 ICBM will take place in December, and some U.S. officials are concerned it could be part of a new campaign of intimidation by Beijing against Taiwan.
Parliamentary elections are scheduled for Dec. 5 on the island of Taiwan, which China regards as a breakaway province. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which seeks full independence from China, could gain seats.
The Chinese have indicated they will do something around the time of the Taiwan elections," one Pentagon official said. "We don't know what it is."
In March 1996, China conducted war games near Taiwan that included short-range missile test firings near Taiwan in what U.S. officials said was an attempt to intimidate Taiwan weeks before its first presidential elections.
The United States responded by sending two aircraft carrier battle groups to waters near Taiwan in a show of support for Taiwan. The deployment sparked a major confrontation with Beijing.
Li Zhaoxing, China's ambassador to the United States, declined to comment when asked about the upcoming missile test. However, he said "we are extremely concerned" about any developments that would alter Taiwan's status.
As for China's long-range missiles and other military developments, Mr. Li said during a luncheon meeting with reporters and editors at The Washington Times that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) buildup is "peaceful."
Satellite photographs taken within the past several weeks over a Chinese missile-testing facility revealed increased test preparation activity and appear to include plans for an "ejection test" of the new DF-31 ICBM, said officials familiar with classified intelligence reports. An ejection test boosts a missile outside its mobile launcher tube shortly before the engines ignite. The ejection is required to avoid burning the launch vehicle. It is also used to test submarine missile launches.
The defense and intelligence officials said satellite photographs taken at the Wuzhai Missile and Space Center north of Beijing showed test preparation activity. A report on the Chinese missile activity was circulated among senior U.S. government officials last week. According to the officials, the DF-31 is the first Chinese ICBM capable of being moved on roads. Only Russia operates road-mobile long-range missiles, the SS-25s, which are extremely effective strategic weapons because they can be moved easily and fired quickly. Deployment of the DF-31 is expected around 2002 depending on the outcome of the testing. The missile will have a maximum range of about 5,000 miles, enough range to hit Hawaii, Alaska and the northwestern part of the continental United States, the officials said.
The new missile will use solid fuel, which makes it capable of being launched within minutes. It also will be equipped with a "second-generation" thermonuclear warhead with a yield of about 500 kilotons, or 500,000 tons of TNT, the officials said.
During the interview, Mr. Li took issue with critics who say the Chinese military is too secretive about its weapons and military programs. He said Beijing is as open with the United Nations about its arms programs as "any other world power." China rarely, if ever, makes public information about its strategic nuclear weapons programs, which have been undergoing a steady modernization from older, liquid-fuel missiles to highly accurate mobile ICBMs. Besides the DF-31, China is building a missile with a range of up to 8,000 miles that is known as the DF-41. It also is working on conventional and nuclear cruise missiles.
Concern over the timing of the upcoming DF-31 flight test was prompted by China's past use of strategic missile developments and flight tests to send political signals. In July, China test-fired the DF-31's rocket motor while President Clinton was in China on an official visit. Intelligence reports about that test were sent to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, who was traveling with the president. The timing of the test was viewed by U.S. intelligence as a political signal toward the United States.
A CIA report from earlier this year said 13 of China's 18 long-range nuclear missiles were targeted on the United States. The report contradicted Mr. Clinton's often-used phrase there are no nuclear missiles aimed at the United States. During the July summit, China announced it would no longer point its missiles at the United States, although U.S. intelligence agencies have yet to verify this.
A 1996 report by the Air Force's National Air Intelligence Center in Ohio said the DF-31 will "narrow the gap between current Chinese, U.S. and Russian ballistic missile designs." The center said in a report labeled "secret" that the DF-31 "will give China a major strike capability that will be difficult to counterattack at any stage of its operation, from pre-flight mobile operations through terminal flight phases." Road-mobility will greatly improve Chinese nuclear ballistic missile survivability and will complicate the task of defeating the Chinese threat," the Air Force report said.
What's in a name? A lot, sometimes. And right now, it is important to get the name correct. Our first mistake was that we have allowed the far left to define our movement. That was Hillary. She tagged us all, in general, as the "vast right-wing." The problem is, that is not even close to being accurate for most of us. Yet, we accept it without comment.
A person on the far right would be one who advocates an oligarchical type rule, a type of reactionary government that assumes strict control of all political and economic policies in the country and restricts the power and liberty of the people. This is the type of person who strongly believes that they know better than "the great unwashed" masses, and so considers themselves qualified to control the lives of the people. That could include things from strict government control of the country's medical delivery system to directing all children to be raised by "the village" rather than supervised by parents.
The far right want complete control by any means. They wish to control a citizen's right to self-defense, education, association, speech, liberty, and even many aspects of people's working and living arrangements.
Who, currently admitting to be part of today's vast right wing conspiracy, wants a government like that? On sure, we have a few control freaks on our side, too. But that's certainly not the political ideal most of us champion.
Nor are we the radical right, simply because we ask for change in government. A radical is one who advocates fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions. Most radicals wish to overthrow the established social order.
Admittedly, there is also some of that in our movement. But the term fits the administration and the Democratic Party much better than any of us on our side. Because, in truth, we are not true radicals. We call for that Constitutional form of government designed by the Founding Fathers. That is not "radical." Rather, that is our well established birthright as American citizens.
That said, the term "conservative" somewhat fits -- or did once, anyway. But even the tag of conservative does not work well for two reasons: First, we most certainly do not wish to "conserve" the status quo -- the type of government we now have. And second, the term no longer works well for us because we have allowed the socialists to make conservatism synonymous with "right-wing."
We have allowed the far left to debase the terms we most frequently use to define ourselves. So, too, have we allowed them to soften their own true colors. Today, many socialists call themselves "progressives." The word "progressive" may sound nicer, but they are still big government loving socialists.
Like its kissing cousin, communism, the socialist way of today's Democratic Party is nearly the direct opposite of our American Constitutional form of government. Nor is socialism compatible with our American rule of law. It oppresses our unalienable personal rights to life, liberty and property. Therefore, we should not allow socialism to exist, in any form, in the United States.
So what can we be properly called? If we believe in the individual rights of life, liberty and property; if we believe in a Constitutionally limited federal government; if we believe in freedom and liberty for all who do not use their freedom and liberty to bother others; we are Constitutionalists.
And, if we really are Constitutionalists, there is no need to worry about tags like "right," "left," "conservative" or "liberal." We are none of those. We need only point to our copy of the Constitution, and relate how its interpretation is expanded in the Federalist Papers. An appendix to that would be James Madison's address to the House when he presented the Bill of Rights.
Being a Constitutionalist, our platform, and the arguments in defense of our platform, are easier. Everything is all spelled out for us and ready to go. We need not argue the differences between conservative and liberal, right and left. What is not tasked to the federal government by the Constitution is not allowed. That's it! The Constitution limits government, not citizens. And, as set down in the Bill of Rights, all rights belong to the people.
At one time in our history, there was another term for a Constitutionalist. The term was coined in honor of the Father of our Constitution: James Madison. The philosophy was called Madisonism. The practitioners, then, were Madisonists. Our Constitution was known, for a time, as the "Madisonian system."
So, what's in a name? A lot! The correct name can immediately separate us from the riffraff who do not honor our Constitution and the American way of life it was intended to protect.
We must not allow socialists to define us with a false tag. Because, in truth, most of us are Constitutionalists. Therefore, we should fly our correct colors.
Among those hearing the message Wednesday were incoming House Speaker Bob Livingston and outgoing speaker Newt Gingrich.
"One of the reasons for the meeting was to get back to the connection we had the first two years of Newt's speakership, unity with the Republican leadership of Congress," Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson said after a closed-door meeting.
Thompson and Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore told a reporter they urged Livingston to let the governors take a major role in delivering a coordinated Republican message on tax cuts, education and other issues.
They were joined at the meeting by defeated South Carolina Gov. David Beasley. Gov. Edward Schafer of North Dakota joined the discussion by telephone.
Of the 36 governors' seats contested Nov. 3, Republicans won 23, Democrats 11, and independents 2. The GOP suffered a net loss of one while the Democrats stayed the same.
"We agreed the Republican governors are in a good position to deliver the message in our respective 31 states that we represent," Gilmore said. "That's our strong point. We're tuned in ... and we're actually governing."
Asked whether the close ties between House Republicans and the governors had broken down, Thompson said, "Yes, very much so the last two years. We need to get back to those basic things, the united message.... We want to work with the new leadership."
"We are one stop closer to shutting them down," Clinton declared in his weekly radio address. He ordered the Treasury and Justice departments to recommend executive actions within 60 days that will close a loophole in the Brady gun-control law.
The government estimates that 5 million people a year attend gun shows, typically held in convention centers, school gymnasiums or fairgrounds. The Brady law requirement for five-day waiting periods and background checks does not currently apply to gun-show purchases.
Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative last week to let counties require background checks or impose five-day waiting periods for the purchase of firearms at gun shows. The federal government should now follow suit and require a so-called "Insta-Check" of the buyer's criminal history, Clinton said.
"I believe this should be the law of the land: no background check, no gun, no exceptions."
In concert with the president's announcement, Sarah Brady of Handgun Control Inc. issued a statement applauding his action but also pushing for waiting periods to apply to gun-show sales. Brady is the wife of former White House press secretary James Brady, wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt of former President Reagan.
"The past five years have demonstrated the importance of observing waiting periods and doing background checks at gun stores," Mrs. Brady said. "But we now need to extend the Brady law to include all gun sales occurring at gun shows and flea markets."
Clinton noted that gun shows are popular in his home state of Arkansas, where he traveled Friday after taping his radio address at the White House. "I have visited and enjoyed them over the years," he said. "They're often the first place parents teach their children how to handle firearms safely."
"But at too many gun shows, a different, dangerous trend is emerging," the president said. "Some of these gun shows have become illegal arms bazaars for criminals and gun traffickers to buy and sell guns on a cash-and-carry, no-questions-asked basis."
Mrs. Brady said several Florida counties are expected to pass local ordinances regulating gun show sales. Mayor Alex Penelas of Miami-Dade County already has unveiled a draft ordinance, Mrs. Brady said.
On Nov. 30 the Justice Department is to implement the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This system will give law enforcement officials access to a wider array of records than is now available.
Also as of Nov. 30, the background checks will apply not only to handguns but also to rifles and shotguns and firearm transfers at pawn shops. With that system in place, the number of background checks for gun purchases will increase from an estimated 4 million a year to 12 million, Clinton said.
In fact, the framers intended impeachment to be a countervailing power against an entire branch of government, to be threatened constantly and used to prevent and punish all usurpations of power. Applying the original understanding, not just Clinton, but his entire army of appointed officials, as well as the permanent bureaucracy, is subject to being tossed out.
There may be no precedent for impeachment due to lying about sex, as gleeful historians have already told the House hearings. But what this overlooks is that Clinton and his administration are impeachable on dozens, if not hundreds, of violations of the public trust. It is enough that he and his regime have wielded power not granted to them in the Constitution. In the debates on the Constitution, the skeptics feared that the president would act as a monarch, and usurp power. The Federalists shot back that this could never be the case. Why? First, the president must be elected every four years. Second, his appointments and war powers are subject to Congressional oversight. Third, and most important (said Hamilton), he is "at all times liable to impeachment, trial, dismissal from office, incapacity to serve in any other, and to the forfeiture of life and estate by subsequent prosecution in the common course of law."
This power of impeachment was a necessary condition for winning the support of the moderate Anti-Federalists, who preferred a decentralized confederation of states, but were willing to consider the idea of a nearly powerless federal government. If Congress had not been given the power to oust a would-be tyrant from office, the checks and balances of the Constitution would have been a self-evident fiction. What was impeachable? Not usually private crimes, which would be handled in a normal court of law, but political actions injurious to the country at large. William Rawle's 1825 book, "A View of the Constitution," a widely circulated text, provides examples.
Power is always "liable to abuse," Rawle writes, which is why the impeachment threat prevents "the fondness frequently felt for the inordinate extension of power, the influence of party and of prejudice, the seduction of foreign states, or the baser appetite for illegitimate emolument." If that sounds like modern government as we know it, it's because there haven't been nearly enough impeachments.
The impeachment threat was supposed to hang over the presidency like the sword over Damocles. There were to be constant rumblings about impeachment in the House and demands for the president's head in the Senate.
And to what end was the power of impeachment to be used? Only one, which is the same end as the Constitution itself: to protect the rights and liberties of the people against their infringement by a despotic government. If a president assumed powers that were not his, and injured the freedom of the citizens, he was to be impeached, period. To even discuss impeachment apart from the purpose of the enterprise, as the Republicans are doing, is perfectly pointless.
Further, according to Rawle, Congress's impeachment power is not just to be used against the president and vice president. It extends to the entire executive branch, and to anyone under the president whose conduct "might be productive of the most serious disaster." This follows logically from the purpose of the impeachment power itself, which, to be effective, must necessarily apply to the president's henchmen.
How can this be applied today? Leave aside Monica and forget the independent counsel. Clinton should have been impeached at the very start of his term in 1993, with the FBI-BATF assault on the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas. And everyone in the Justice Department who had anything to do with planning it should also have been impeached. Is perjury in a sexual-harassment case really worse than mass murder?
The list of Clinton's high crimes and misdemeanors only begins there. It extends to imperious executive orders, bombings of innocent foreigners, gun grabbing in violation of the Bill of Rights, the raiding of the Exchange Stabilization Fund to bail out Mexico, the financial shenanigans used to keep government agencies running after Congress shut them down, his giving and taking of bribes, and much, much more.
A Congress serious about its history would impeach the heads and managers of nearly every federal agency on grounds that they have exercised arbitrary power. If the Supreme Court disagreed and tried to intervene, Congress would impeach the judicial branch too. If this fast track to freedom sounds unthinkable to Republicans, all the more proof that their talk of the framers and the Constitution is just the usual partisan posturing.
Moscow is refusing to turn over a secret KGB document suggesting captured Americans were taken to the Soviet Union in the late 1960s for "intelligence-gathering purposes," The Washington Times has learned.
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright earlier this year appealed to Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, a former KGB chairman, to release the document that the Pentagon discovered in January and has been trying to obtain since then, said Clinton administration and congressional officials familiar with the matter.
The Russian government has told U.S. officials the plan was never carried out, and Moscow recently turned down U.S. government requests to study the intelligence document, saying it is classified and will not be released, the officials said.
Discovery of the KGB document has raised hopes among Pentagon POW investigators that information is in the KGB archives about the fate of some 8,000 Americans still missing from the Korean War, Vietnam War and other Cold War conflicts. Because of the date, "it could be about Vietnam," said one person involved in the issue who declined to be identified.
The document was first mentioned in the recently published memoir of Russian historian Gen. Dmitri Volkogonov, who died of cancer in December 1995. It also was disclosed in the general's personal papers that were donated to the Library of Congress last year.
"I can confirm that senior U.S. government officials, including Secretary Albright, have raised this important matter with Russian counterparts and continue to seek further clarification from them," State Department spokesman James Foley told The Times.
Gen. Volkogonov described the document in his book as "sensational" and said he uncovered it while working as co-chairman of the joint U.S.-Russian commission set up in 1992 to resolve prisoner of war and missing in action (POW-MIA) issues from Korea and Vietnam, and the Cold War, when scores of Americans were lost on spying missions.
Norman Kass, a Pentagon official who is executive director of the U.S. side of the joint POW commission, said investigating the KGB document is "the highest interest" of the commission. The commission will meet in Moscow tomorrow when the KGB document will be discussed, he said.
"We consider it significant," Mr. Kass said. "After all, the people whose names appear in the papers were at the apex of the Soviet leadership."
According to Gen. Volkogonov's book, the KGB document outlining the program to exploit Americans was signed by Vladimir Semichastny, head of the KGB secret political police from 1961 to 1967.
Gen. Volkogonov wrote that immediately after discovering the report he asked the KGB chairman at the time, Mr. Primakov, to investigate. The document was located, but Mr. Primakov said there was no information about the program.
There is no mention in the book or papers of what the KGB planned to do with the captured Americans. According to Russian defectors, the KGB used Americans to train Russian undercover agents how to speak and act like Americans, as portrayed in Nelson DeMille's 1989 novel, "The Charm School," about American POWs from Vietnam who were forced to teach at a secret KGB training school.
Americans also could have been forced to supply information on U.S. military weapons systems, doctrine and tactics for Russians who might have to fight against them.
According to Gen. Volkogonov, the POW commission resolved many cases since 1992. But many were not because "quite a few documents were destroyed," he wrote.
"However, one document, probably sensational, is still in storage. I have a copy of it," he stated in his book. "Its content is as follows: at the end of the 1960s the KGB (external foreign intelligence) was given the task of 'delivering informed Americans to the USSR for intelligence gathering purposes.'
"When I found this sensational paper in a 'special pouch,' I immediately went to Y.M. Primakov (Director of Foreign Intelligence). He called in his people. They brought in a copy of this project signed; it seems to me, by Semichastny...."
Gen. Volkogonov said the KGB searched for "traces" of the intelligence operation. "These, the traces, as I had expected 'were not found,'" he wrote.
"This remained a secret which I could not penetrate," he stated. "I also did not report this to my much-esteemed Ambassador [Malcolm] Toon. I am speaking about this now in the hope that these notes will make it into my book Reflections." His Russian-language memoir published in September is titled "Study of Time." Mr. Toon is the commission's co-chairman.
"History, especially Soviet history, is full of secrets, and very often evil," Gen. Volkogonov wrote. "With the exception of this incident, I can say that I have done something in order to raise the mysterious curtain from them."
A recent CIA report on Vietnamese government cooperation on American POWs stated that "a few reports of transfers of U.S. POWs to Russia and other countries are unexplained and the books remain open."
Former Czech intelligence officer Jan Senja told Congress in 1996 that he supervised the transfer of some 200 American POWs from Vietnam to the Soviet Union between 1961 and 1968. He also claimed Soviet bloc intelligence services performed medical experiments on American POWs.
Asked if President Clinton would mention the KGB document when he meets Mr. Primakov later this month at the Asian economic summit in Malaysia, White House National Security Council spokesmen David Leavy said the agenda for the talks has not been set.
A congressional aide said the administration stopped pressuring Moscow for the document after the economic crisis in August led to leadership changes.
Unless they can pass the same test that immigrants must pass to become citizens, people shouldn't be allowed to vote.
The idea that there is some public benefit in ignoramuses and morons pulling levers next to names on a ballot is one of the evil myths of post-modern America.
The purpose of voting, in our country, is to select men and women with the competence and integrity to operate the mechanics of government fixed by our Constitution. For this process to have any public benefit requires that the choices be made on an intelligent, knowledgeable and reasoned basis.
I'm not sure most Americans have faced up to just how corrupt our electoral process has become. I don't mean the obvious buying of votes, having dead people vote or rigging voting machines.
It has become standard operating procedure for candidates to lie not only about themselves but about their opponents. If they have the money, candidates even hire people who are professional experts in lies and deceptions. Candidates base campaign positions not on beliefs or convictions but on polling data. This blatant deception has become so accepted as part of the process that television networks think nothing of hiring professional campaign deceivers as campaign commentators.
At the same time, politicians, knowing that an ignorant voter is the best defense against accountability, have encouraged universal registration without regard for patriotism, interest or knowledge on the part of voters. These apathetic and ignorant voters, moved only by their self-interest, so outnumber the interested and informed voters that the demagogues always win. As a matter of fact, campaigns are directed at these apathetic and ignorant voters.
Thus, the American people are effectively deprived of their right to self-government. Big-money contributors buy the ears of the politicians, and the ignorant army of uninformed voters overwhelms those Americans, either liberal or conservative, who have gone to the trouble of educating themselves about the candidates and the issues.
These ignorant voters are the "barbarians" that Thomas Macaulay, the British historian, predicted would plunder the United States in the 20th century. "American democracy must be a failure," Macaulay said, "because it places the supreme authority in the hands of the poorest and most ignorant part of the society."
Macaulay would have earned an A as a prophet if he could have foreseen that his own country would fall the same way, drowned in the same flood of egalitarianism unleashed by the French Revolution.
Today, most politicians sound like social workers. If they are incumbents and feel called upon to defend their records, they talk about what they've done for the people. In the case of federal legislators, what they've done is almost always a list of things that the Constitution forbids them to legislate on. Of course, they neglect to say that all they do -- if anything, because they are great exaggerators -- is done at the expense of the people.
But people who demand cash benefits and services from government are content with social-worker politicians. They have the mentality of beggars instead of the once-customary attitude of self-reliance. They are easy to buy off with pittances and promises.
I'm not suggesting that some people be barred permanently from voting. I'm merely suggesting that all of us demonstrate some knowledge and some interest in public affairs before we get our voter-registration card. We should think of voting as a privilege of citizenship that is earned. I expect, however, that I will climb Mount Everest before there is any serious political reform in this country.
It's post-election time, and I'm not one to defend politicians, even though only few exhibit honesty, statesmanship and respect for our Constitution. On the other hand, we all have complaints about what congress does. In my more cynical moments, I feel Americans deserve what we're getting, including the diminution of our liberties. Let's look at it.
What kind of things make us feel good about our particular congressman? Just listen to political advertisements. Among the criteria we use to judge whether our congressman is doing a good job are: does he support federal expenditures for more teachers? Has he supported punitive taxes on cigarette smokers? For Midwesterners, has he supported agricultural subsidies? For the elderly, has he supported Social Security and Medicare payment increases?
Nowhere in the U.S. Consitutution is there a speck of authority for Congress to make expenditures for those activities. Moreover, making those expenditures comes at the expense of personal liberty. In other words, congress has no resources of its very own. The only way it can give a farmer or a senior citizen one dollar is to first, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate it from some other American. The very last criteria we use to judge whether our congressman is doint a good job is whether he's respectful of the U.S. Constitution and seeks to protect our liberties.
The supreme tragedy is that a congressman who lived up to his oath of office by respecting the Constitution would be viewed with contempt by most Americans. Imagine Williams was your senator. During my re-election campaign, I tell my constituents I voted against congressional measures that would take their money to give to someone else. I voted against measures that encroached on state sovereignty. I voted against the education bill because not even the word education appears in the Constitution.
Needless to say, I'd go down in blazing defeat, possibly tarred and feathered, as well. Most constituents would view my respect for the Constitution with contempt. Even those who had a modicum of constitutional respect would confront me with a practical issue, saying,"Williams, if you don't fight for our share of aid to higher educaiton, agricultural handouts and federally financed teachers, it doesn't mean we'll pay lower federal taxes. All it means is that some other state will get the money, instead. You're expecting us to commit hari-kari." What could I say in response? They'd be absolutely right.
The reason is due to a phenomenon known as "the tragedy of the commons." Once legalized theft or constitutional disrespect begins, it's in everybody's private interest, at least economic interests, to participate. The person or politician who abstains becomes a loser. Even more ominous about the process is the tendency for legalized theft to beget more legalized theft and more constituional disrespect to beget more constitutional disrespect.
"Williams," you say, "what can we do?" The first step is that we must stop the charade of blaming politicans. Politicians do precisely what we elect them to office to do: promote programs that allow one American to live at the expense of his fellow American. We must demand constitutional accountability from our politicians by demanding they give us specific constitutional authority for what they do, and don't let them get away with that "welfare" and "commerce" clause nonsense.
I'm not optimistic Americans will do that. Therefore, the most likely scenario is for us to see our liberties diminish and Washington despotism grow. If we truly cared about our children and future generations, instead of demagoging about them, we'd worry more about saving liberty than saving Social Security.
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