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“Stand with Rand,” the Patrick Henry of our Day.

By Dr. Harold Pease

The approval rating presently for Congress, according to the Washington Post, is 14 percent and few Americans believe them capable of providing the leadership that is so desperately needed in our time. Few, if any, command universal respect and there are no Patrick Henry’s, serious advocates of freedom even if they do not get reelected. The last time the parties worked together was during the Bill Clinton tenure and the last time a majority of Americans had any real hope for the future was during the Ronald Reagan Administration when he ended the “Cold War.”

That may have changed for many on March 6, 2013, when one man stood, initially mostly alone with but a few Tea Party friends, on the Senate floor arguing for 13 hours far into the evening, even against his own party, for what he believed to be right. Most of my students have no idea what a Senate Filibuster is, as it has never occurred in their lifetime, but it allows a Senator to speak on a topic for as long as he can stand and speak. He may entertain questions from colleagues but he must never yield the floor. He may not leave the Senate Chambers, even for a restroom break, or sit down.

Such passion for liberty has never, in my lifetime, brought both ends of the political spectrum together and reminded us of our shared core values. Civil libertarians and Tea Party supporters buzzed their approval on social media. The American Civil Liberties Union referred to the event as historic and courageous. As the night wore on more people watched C-SPAN at one time then reportedly ever before.

America had a new hero and the phrase “Stand With Rand” gained popularity in a single evening. Not from the establishment press which largely ignored the new “Patrick Henry” of our day, and the significance of this moment, but decidedly without it.

Rand Paul, son of presidential contender Ron Paul, intentionally held up the confirmation of John Brennan as the new CIA Director because he had been elusive on the subject of drone use to kill Americans on U.S. soil, merely thought to have terrorist connection. This had happened in Yemen to a 16-year-old American boy Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and Paul wanted assurance that it would not happen here. Failing to get it from the nominee he next asked for it from the Obama Administration. Certainly they would agree that such would be unconstitutional and a violation of the 5th Amendment’s due process provision to do so. Brennan’s stalling on the question amplified the need for such a statement which was even more amplified when the President seemed to be stalling also. The filibuster should have ended within the first hour. The world waited for an answer. That clarification finally arrived from Eric Holder the next day, but why was it not easily forthcoming.

Fear of the U.S. government is stronger today than at any time since the American Revolution and it does not help hearing that the Department of Homeland Security is buying up enormous quantities of ammunition to use somewhere and on someone: presumably on Americans because DHS has no function outside the country. As kind as they have been to illegal immigrants, even letting 2,000 incarcerated inmates go in early March, because of impending cuts due to the hardship anticipated from the Sequester, it is unlikely that they plan the ammo for them. Nobody seems to know. Since the word “terrorism” is not adequately defined or limited, (the best the government has given us is “Al-Qaeda-like” organizations) both ends fear a revolving definition. Vice President Joe Biden has already called the Tea Party terrorists, and Occupy Wall Street folks have already had clashes with law enforcement. If the federal government is anticipating a clash with her own citizens, it would be a short step in logic to assume drone strikes could be used on U.S. citizens on U.S. soil as well.

The assurance sought for by Paul should have been supported by everyone giving an oath to support the Constitution as such a course, by the federal government, would effectively end the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. What makes Rand Paul especially credible is that everyone who knows him attests that he would have done the same thing, and made the same case, in a George W. Bush Administration.

What was just as revealing with respect to the Rand Paul filibuster was who was not there defending our right not to be shot down by a drone in our own country. Only 15 Senators participated with Paul leaving 84 others to explain to their constituent’s why they had not defended the Constitution as their oath demanded. They were: Senators Ted Cruz (Texas), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Pat Toomey (Penn.), John Thune (S.D.), John Barrasso (Wy.), Tim Scott (S.C.), John Cornyn (Texas), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.) Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.). Sadly, the following morning both Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Senator John McCain of Arizona took to the same Senate floor and castigated Paul for his stand.

For me this was a moment of truth separating those who are real patriots from those who once were. Senator McCain was a co-author of the infamous National Defense Authorization Act signed into law by President Barack Obama New Years Eve 2011, which authorized the President, through his military, to kidnap any U.S. citizen thought to be associated with a terrorist organization and ship them to Guantanamo Bay for indefinite detention. Such action would strip Americans involved of their 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments to the Bill of Rights. Rand Paul voted against that law too.

No wonder he stood for 13 hours in defense of our liberty and the Constitution. If there is any hope in our saving our Republic it will come from those who stood for our core values this day. Will you “Stand With Rand” too?

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

The Real Reason Mitt Romney Lost the Election. He looked too much like Obama.

By Dr. Harold Pease

In driving to and from Utah late July and spending a couple of weeks in what are known as “Mormon” communities, I expected to find Nevada and Utah littered with pro-Romney signs and didn’t. In fact, I was hard pressed to find any bumper stickers or yard signs favoring either major presidential candidate. There were Ron Paul signs, however. As a political scientist I have studied elections for many years so this omission was glaring. Why the lack of enthusiasm?

America, a right of center country, had no candidate right of center—hence no “real” choice. Except for the “handout” vote, that increased substantially during the Barack Obama Administration and of course went to him, the people were not that excited about either major candidate. They looked too much alike. The third and final debate, focused on foreign policy, clearly showed Mitt Romney as a white Barack Obama. For Romney the whole evening was, “I would have done the same thing, only better.” Both supported tougher sanctions against Iran. Both supported drone warfare in foreign lands without the permission of the invaded country and without even a hint of a trial to prove the quilt of the accused, even if American. Both believe that the President can start a war without a declaration of war by Congress as required in the Constitution and both believe that they can charge the expense of such to our children without approval of the House as is also constitutionally required. Finally, both drew their advisors from the same Wall Street special interest group, the Council on Foreign Relations.

On Civil Rights both supported the Patriot Reauthorization Act, Obama arguing that civil right violations were far more serious under President George W. Bush, because of his executive orders and Obama mentioned violations with respect to Guantanamo Bay, warrantless wire taping, and the suspension of habeas corpus. These candidate Obama promised to reverse “by a stroke of a pen,” when elected. Four years later he still has not done so.

But how much solace can we have from a President Romney on civil rights when he was asked if he was in favor of wiretapping mosques? His answer frightened civil libertarians and constitutionalists. He suggested not only wiretapping the mosques but also Islamic schools and play grounds if needed as well. “We (the government) need to know what is going on… Track them, follow them, and make sure that in every way we can we know what they are doing and where they are doing it. And if it means that we have to go into a mosque to wiretap, or a church, that’s exactly where we are going to go. And I hear from time to time people who say, now wait a second. We have civil liberties that we have to worry about.” Obviously, the violation of civil liberties was not a problem for the last two presidents, nor would it be for a President Romney. Romney, of course, would have no problem if his church or temple were wiretapped by the government.

On this same subject President Barack Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act just last New Years Eve. A Bill that the left and right both believed gutted major sections of the Bill of Rights. A U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist, without witnesses, testimony, or defense, could now find himself kidnapped by his own government and shipped out of the country to Guantanamo Bay and held indefinitely without any protection from the Bill of Rights; all this on the say so of the military and president alone. When asked, in one of the Presidential debates, whether he would have signed the Act, candidate Romney answered, “Yes, I would have. And I do believe that it is appropriate,” this to the loud accompaniment of boo’s from the audience which understood that in this country that is never to happen.

A close examination of virtually every issue reveals the Obama / Romney likeness in statements made by each the last five years. Both extolled the virtues of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury; and both favored retaining Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Both favored extending the payroll tax cut, the line item veto, and each planned to create new government funded jobs rebuilding Americas roads and bridges, a power never delegated by the Constitution to the federal government. Energy independence was a major goal of both, each extolling the virtues of wind, solar, and coal at one time or another. Both listed Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup as major funders. Both favored TARP and stimulus programs. Even on national health care there were far more similarities than differences. The biggest common denominator was their love of big government.

The Tea Party Patriots did what they could to make Americas’ core values: fiscal responsibility, limited constitutional government, and the free market fit for a Mitt Romney, but it was like putting a square peg in a round hole and Barack Obama, who has demonstrated over and over again that these values are not shared by him, remains in office. They chose a Tory, bypassing their own Patriots Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, or even Ron Paul, and have undermined the movement by doing so.

Most pundits of the election argue that the Republican Party, to survive, needs to get on board and look more like the Democratic Party. I disagree. The Republican Party already looks too much like the opposing party and instead needs to distinguish itself more from it. It cost them the election by having done too much of that already.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

Freedoms Cost

The following is the contribution of a young student of mine. It leaves me hope when our youth have such wisdom so early. Kenneth Tack has given me permission to share his piece with my readers. He has captured the essence of freedom through our history from them to himself and you. Will you fight for liberty as did your forbearer’s or are you waiting for someone else to save it, or worse, are you happy to watch it go for promised security? The choice is not to be made by you sometime in the future but is before you now. Today. The Republic is almost gone. Let me be blunt. Are you an active member of the Tea Party Patriots? No other organization is more founding father’s based and so motivated. As Kenneth so ably states, “Now it is your turn.” What will your posterity say of you if you drop the ball on them leaving them to never have what you now have? As George Washington inferred in his famous Farewell Address; you do not have to recreate the parameters of the Constitution. They already did this. Your charge is simply to preserve it. Dr. Harold Pease

Freedom’s Cost

By Kenneth C. Tack

I want to be remembered. I want to know that my life, my ultimate sacrifice, was not given without making a difference in this world. These are the wishes of a dying man.

I lie here in this green field in silence while a war rages around me. My thoughts turn to my three year-old daughter and my wife at home. My wife will be making dinner around this time. I always loved coming home from my work in the fields to the savory smell of a salty slice of beef cooking on the wooden stove, and seeing the melting butter dribble down the side of the mountain of mashed potatoes that she had set on the table. Then my blond-haired little girl would always rush her sturdy little legs over to give me a warm greeting. All these things remind me of why I fight for this Union.

My thoughts snap back to reality in Yorktown. General Washington has finally managed to pin down the British General, Lord Cornwallis, after many years of defeat. This was to be our final great push for freedom. I silently laugh to myself when I think about all the chaos that was caused by 56 people signing one piece of paper. Off in the distance I see the white sails of the French Armada, and I know we will win this war. We shall win this beautiful land known as America.

I lay my head back on the soft grass. The air is chilly due to the ocean breeze, but that discomfort is small in comparison to seeing my bloody neighbors lying unnaturally still in the green grass beside me. The stale smell of drying blood is overpowering, and it’s already hard to breathe. I glance at the gaping wound in my chest, caused by a well placed British round. I know I will not survive to enjoy the freedom that was not free. I will never again embrace my sweet little girl, nor feel the warm embrace of my loving wife. No, I will be embraced by the arms of my Creator tonight.

As I lie here on my deathbed, all I can think about is the cause for which my friends and I died. I don’t want my cohorts’ sacrifice, nor mine, to go unremembered, or have it be bathed in apathy. After all, who are we if we are forgotten? Freedom is a gift, but it can be lost if its consumers forget that it was bought with a high price. It is something that must be carried in our hearts, because freedom cannot spread on its own. It is because of these things I wish to be remembered, not for my personal fame or glory. I wish to be remembered so that the freedom I paid for with my life will endure for all eternity.

My final thoughts travel back to my home, for they are the reason I am even here. My eyelids now feel like a thousand pounds, and my breathing is becoming scarcer by the moment. Now for the final time I look up into the sky with a single tear sneaking steadily down my cheek, for my one regret is that I will not be there for my family when this war is over. They too shall know freedom’s cost, and they will value freedom more because of that.
With these final thoughts in my head I take a deep breath and close my heavy eyes. I have fulfilled my duty to ensure liberty.

Now it’s your turn.

. . . .

It is no secret that freedom is being lost in today’s world. Everywhere we go we see regulations put on our lives for seemingly no reason at all. Freedom in its very core is the ability to do whatever you want, as long as it doesn’t interfere with another’s ability to do the same thing. That is what the revolutionaries fought for with their lives, and that is made clear in their war cry, the Declaration of Independence: “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.” But even after all of their sacrifices, the young America knew that one day, even America might start to lose their freedom; this is their cry to this America today:
“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
–Declaration of Independence

Saving Medicare?

By Dr. Harold Pease

Both parties have succumbed to the temptation of getting elected by promising ever more goodies from the public coffers, irrespective of constitutional limits, and to the point that they have irresponsibly enslaved our children with 15.25 trillion dollar indebtedness.
Everything is talked about in the presidential debates except this. We will just pretend it away. Why? Because both parties know that the cuts that have to be made to save the terminal cancer patient have to be drastic and advocating such to a population drunk with the idea that they are entitled to such is political suicide. Congress appears to be, or is, inept in solving this and other debt related problems.

Predicting a Super Committee failure, Freedom Works, a Tea Party affiliate, selected 12 of their own members and through the Internet invited 150,000 members to make suggestions on what should be done. Boldly they opened the unfunded liabilities door, Pandora’s box, the door neither party dares to open as potentially it could destroy career politicians and political parties.

What follows are their recommendations with respect to Medicare and Medicaid. Almost everyone knows that Medicare, 13% of the federal budget, growing at about 7% each year, is unsustainable. Formerly the favored method of controlling expenditures in this area was to limit reimbursement rates to healthcare providers rather than focus on fraud and the use of the free market to limit costs.

The Tea Party Debt Commission saw the Medicare program as outdated, inefficient, and corrupt and recommended six major changes that if followed would save, they predicted, $676,000,000 the first year and $2,030,843,000,000 in 10 years. These changes are first “let individuals opt out of Medicare under Senator Jim DeMint’s ‘Retirement Freedom Act.”’ Second, let all new Medicare beneficiaries after 2013 enroll in the Federal Employees’ Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) introduced by Senator Rand Paul as the “Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act.” Third, reduce Medicare subsidies to actual cost of hospitals’ graduate medical education. Fourth, maintain Medicare’s physician payment rates at the 2011 level. Fifth, convert the open-ended Medicaid program into a capped block grant to the states. And six, call on all states to reform their medical malpractice and product liability systems—tort reform.

Opting into the same Medicare program the members of Congress use, the second Tea Party change recommended, is much better for participants because it “relies on competing private insurers to provide benefits, and as a result has very little of the fraud and waste problems that plague today’s outdated and poorly designed Medicare system.” One wonders why Congress can make for themselves such a good system and leave us one with “somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of Medicare’s $450 billion annual budget being attributable to waste, fraud, and abuse….”

Converting Medicaid to block grants to states, Tea Party Debt Commission recommendation number five, is critical in stopping Medicare’s open ended liability. They argue that the program “has exploded into a semi-middle class entitlement that is bankrupting the states while providing low-quality care to poor families.” The conversion to grants “would give states the incentives and flexibility to focus scarce resources on those who truly need help.” It would also incentivize removing fraud.

Their answer to excessive medical malpractice awards that drive up medical costs for everyone was recommendation number six, state tort reform. They especially endorsed the “loser pays rule” so successful in the states that have it. Here those unsuccessful in winning frivolous lawsuits are punished thus discouraging such by others, especially lawyers, looking to benefit off the taxpayer. I once knew a woman who busied herself with multiple simultaneous frivolous lawsuits as a source of income because those sued would prefer to pay her, because it was less expensive, than to defend themselves.

Bottom line we can keep Medicare, even making it more efficient and sustainable, with six changes. It is not too late, but we need to realize our danger and move quickly to do so. Will Congress explore these changes with intent to make them? Not unless you ask them to do so.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org

Social Security Can Be Saved, With Far Better Benefits

Dr. Harold W. Pease

With our national debt growing by $4 billion a day and Congress giving up offering any real solutions, we are a speeding train heading for a cliff. Most pretend the problem is not real or will just go away. No presidential candidate but Ron Paul even talks about it. Almost no one is ready for the hyperinflation and street crime that could follow if we do not act quickly and responsibly.

The Tea Party Debt Commission was formed to provide the federal government a solution. Its final report summarized the problem, “Our government is doing too many things it can’t do well, or shouldn’t do at all, with money it doesn’t have. We are borrowing 43 cents of every dollar we spend….” They note that the “Government Accountability Office counted no fewer than 47 job training programs, 56 financial literacy programs, 80 economic development programs, 18 food assistance programs, 20 programs for the homeless, 82 teacher-quality programs spread across 10 agencies, and more than 2,100 data centers. All told, we have nearly 2,200 federal programs.” Government is bloated, inefficient, and wasteful.

A federal diet is long overdue, but what should we keep? The Commission’s assessment criteria hinged on four basic values: fiscal common sense, Constitutional limits, economic freedom, and personal self-reliance. For a program to remain, they reasoned, it needed to pass two questions: is it constitutionally authorized, and is it best carried out by the federal government, as opposed to states or private entities? Much of what the federal government does, the Commission found, unfortunately, does neither.

Boldly they opened the unfunded liabilities door, the door neither party dares to open as potentially it could destroy career politicians and political parties. They concluded that they could make Social Security “sustainable and actually improve benefits by harnessing the power of compound interest.” They noted, “Three decades ago, Chile embarked on a bold transformation of its retirement security system. Today, that system [SMART Accounts] is the envy of the world, giving seniors far better benefits than the old, government-run system ever did.”

Shortly thereafter three counties in Texas adopted the SMART Accounts program in favor of personal accounts and thus those retiring today do so “with much more money and have significantly more generous death and disability supplemental benefits than do Social Security participants.” Moreover, they “face no long term unfunded pension liabilities.” The Commission recommends that, “all state and local governments should have the option of opting into the ‘Galveston model.’ ” Learn more about this aspect of the Tea Party Debt Commission’s recommendations by visiting FreedomWorks.org/the-tea-party-budget.

The Tea Party Debt Commission suggests that “new workers born after 1981… invest one-half of their payroll taxes (7.65%) in a SMART Account, which they can use to fund their retirement and health care costs in retirement. If they prefer, they can give up their account and opt back into traditional Social Security at retirement.” The result of this modern approach to funding retirement embraced by the Commission, is that, among other things, it: “improves benefits, doesn’t increase the retirement age, doesn’t cut benefits for people in or nearing retirement, and doesn’t touch the existing Social Security Disability insurance program.” It also “reduces federal payroll tax receipts by about $500 billion over the ten-year period.”

The Commission also opened Medicare, the second major Pandora’s box of unfunded liabilities, but Tea Party recommendations giving Medicare seniors the right to opt into the privileged Congressional health care plan will require space not permitted here. It is, however, great stuff for a subsequent column.

The speeding train does not have to go over the cliff. There are great thinkers and solutions that can save us because they are not forced to do so within the parameters of self-interest and political parties. Fortunately the Tea Party works successfully outside these restrictions. Please tell your Congressman to seriously explore these recommendations especially in light of the fact that their plans have not worked. This train must get off the track that it is now on while there is yet time.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org