The Issue # 10-70 – June 28, 2010 Alabama Minuteman Reports Newsletter is owned and operated exclusively by Alabama citizens It is widespread public apathy that is the single for Alabama citizens, is intended to provide highlights of biggest threat to individual liberty. By remaining current news and events to inform Alabama citizens and silent, people condone what government does accepts input from all sources, however, we do not and as such are part of the problem. accept responsibility for the accuracy of any material presented. It is up to the readers to verify the material’s www.wtp-alabama.com accuracy and judge it for themselves. email@example.com History Holds the Key to Our Future Janine Turner I was driving my mother’s car the other day and I commented on how small her rearview mirrors were. My rear view mirrors are rather big because, as a Texan, I drive a large SUV I use to work my ranch. As I was looking out of her rearview mirrors, I pondered, as a Constitutionalist, my new self-definition, about whether Americans have something in common with rear view mirrors. Is the traditional American view – the basis of our country, our thesis, our founding principles, our United States Constitution – diminishing in our rearview mirrors? Are we, as a country, driving away from these founding principles? In order to be a more perfect union in today’s environment we need to be more aware. Without awareness there can be no subsequent resulting action as citizens. Trying to evaluate legislation and governmental action without knowledge of the Constitution is rather similar to being in the passenger seat as the driver drives ahead in the dark – without headlights. An enlightened people were the hope and the engine of our new Republic in the 18th century. It is no different today. Or maybe it is better represented as driving forward toward the results of a horrendous earthquake – an earthquake that has left a deep, uneven division. Thrust upon the divide are the clumps of dry parched land left to bake and parch in the sun – the American Republic, the America loved and cherished by many patriots of yesterday and today. As we look into the future with an angst and a thirst for righteousness we realize we must look back in our rearview mirrors. The proper nourishment is available to cultivate the soil, to fertilize the great land of America and her people. In the rear view lays the vitamins and minerals. They are in the United States Constitution and its companion piece, The Federalist, or the Federalist Papers. In these documents are all the answers – but solving the riddle requires reading it! We must join together in a unifying mission to become aware of what is in these great documents and to understand them. We should no longer let Washington, D.C., our representatives, the bureaucracy, or administrative officials do our thinking for us. Ignorance enables them to get away with all of the things we do not understand. If we are to protest or approve, we must do so with a foundation of knowledge. We must educate ourselves and we must educate our children. It is like preparing for the great debate. We are either, as a nation, moving away from our Constitution, watching it minimalize in the rear view mirror, or we are turning around and driving toward it. If we do not take action and Constitute America then we will watch as it is slowly, inch by inch, as has been done since the 20th century, diminish in view. Like a thief in the night our Constitutional ideals are being usurped from us, politically and culturally. But if we do a 180 and turn around, shining the headlights of our car on the Constitution, then we may set off a momentum that will shift our country back to its founding principles. A government envisioned by our forefathers – a small government with checks and balances and accountability to its people. The darkness will call out to us, “But wait, the Constitution isn’t relevant today!” Is the Constitution relevant today? Well, how about Federalist paper #62 dealing with the rules of the Senate, written by James Madison, “It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes, that no man who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known or less fixed.” How about words in Federalist Paper #1 written by Alexander Hamilton, “An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government, will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of power, and hostile to the principles of liberty.” Timely are the warnings in Federalist Paper #10 by Alexander Hamilton, “Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests of the people.” Relevant today? Yes! Like a candle lighted in the window, our founding fathers words in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers are illuminating the way. They call out from their arduously designed documents and copious papers to guide us toward the safe keeping of our republic. They echo forth the call of wisdom, the ways to confining tyranny and the despotism that precedes the loss of liberty. We the People in order to preserve our union must unite in not only standing up but standing firm in our principles and our resolve to be educated patriots. Let us not let the genius of our forefathers who mutually pledged to each other, “our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor” or our Revolutionary soldiers who crossed the Delaware walking barefoot on the ice, leaving a bloodstained path, turn over in their graves. We the People – Alabama Minuteman Reports Newsletter Issue #70 10-06-28 Page 2 Degeneration of Democracy Jury Nullification Thomas Sowell When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, We the People – Alabama recently conducted an internal leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to survey among some of our members and were surprised to learn activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics. Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were that 71.4% of those surveyed did not know that when a citizen particularly susceptible to Hitler's rhetoric and had far less basis for sits on a jury he has the power to overturn the law that the questioning his assumptions or his conclusions. "Useful idiots" was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to prosecutors are trying to enforce. describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet It is called jury nullification and simply means that regardless Union. of when a judge wrongly tells a jury about just returning a verdict Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive. In our times, American democracy is being of guilty or innocent based on the facts presented at trial, citizens dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current have the power to render the law being prosecuted in that case administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned null and void by simply returning a not guilty verdict. about it. The president's poll numbers are going down because increasing An amendment to the Constitution repealing prohibition was numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage passed just a few years after the amendment enacting prohibition being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies. was passed because the law itself became null and void when Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a juries refused to convict defendants on charges relating to the president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private manufacture and sale of alcohol. enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere. Just imagine what would happen to the federal income tax if And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to enough citizens of today knew about jury nullification. be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the This is why a trial by jury of one’s peers has been referred to as Gulf of Mexico. Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is the 4th branch of government under our Constitutional Republic. simply whether BP's oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be It is also why government, judges, lawyers and the media don’t compensated. But our government is supposed to be "a government of laws and not of men." If our laws and our institutions determine that BP tell the People about their rights as jurors. The People are the ought to pay $20 billion-- or $50 billion or $100 billion-- then so be it. ultimate authority. But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by We the People – Alabama will be presenting more the government without "due process of law." Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a information about jury nullification in this newsletter and on our difference. website in the future. With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can Beware the Socialist be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution. If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don't believe in For they will accuse others of doing what they do in order to divert Constitutional government. And, without Constitutional government, attention from what they are doing. freedom cannot endure. There will always be a "crisis"-- which, as the president's chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to "go to waste" as an opportunity to expand the government's power. Government Aggravated Tragedy That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular Walter E. Williams period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the When Thomas Paine said, "Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary particular issues. evil; in its worst state an intolerable one." He added that when it's self-inflicted, When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the "Our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to suffer." prevent trading with the country's wartime enemies. But there was no war The Gulf of Mexico disaster has been made worse because of Washington acts similar when FDR ended the gold standard's restrictions on the printing of to Great Britain's tyrannical acts that caused our founders to rise up in rebellion in 1776. money. Let's look at it. At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the The Navigation Act was that name given to laws that regulated trade and commerce German Reichstag passed a law "for the relief of the German people." between Great Britain and its colonies. First enacted in 1651, and often amended, the law That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going stipulated that no merchandise was to be carried to Britain or its colonies except by British far beyond the relief of the German people-- indeed, powers that ships built and manned by British subjects. The act stifled American manufacturing, ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and increased the cost of goods and gave rise to smuggling and increased resentment against on others. the mother country. The purpose of the mercantilist Navigation Act was to protect and If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might enrich British interests. hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about You say, "Williams, the history lesson is nice but what does it have to do with the Gulf it.</P< span> oil disaster?" Foreign companies, with extensive successful experience in oil spill The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP's money as the cleanups, have offered their services but have been refused by Washington. Why? A Coast administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long Guard spokesman said that Belgian, Dutch and Norwegian vessels are being barred from line of presidentially appointed "czars" controlling different parts of the the Gulf region because they "do not meet the operational requirements of the Unified economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet Area Command." That's another way to say that the 1920 Jones Act, a protectionist law members are. not unlike Britain's Navigation Act, requires vessels working in U.S. waters be built in the Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of U.S. and be crewed by U.S. workers. arbitrary power-- versus the rule of law and the preservation of freedom-- James Carafano, researcher at the Heritage Foundation, said, "The unions see it as ... are the "useful idiots" of our time. protecting jobs. They hate when the Jones Act gets waived, and they pound on politicians But useful to whom? when they do that." Carafano asks, "So are we giving in to unions and not doing everything we can, or is there some kind of impediment that we don't know about?" President Obama has the power to waive the Jones Act to allow foreign vessels and crews to bring their expertise to the Gulf cleanup, but he fears angering American labor unions. This is not the first time that Washington's catering to shipping interests produced disaster for our country. Congress enacted the Navigation Act of 1817 providing, "that no goods, wares, or merchandise shall be imported under penalty of forfeiture thereof, from one port in the United States to another port in the United States, in a vessel belonging wholly or in part to a subject of any foreign power." Since the South was the nation's major exporter, Northern protectionist measures went a long way toward setting up the grievances that ultimately led to secession and the War of 1861. Have you wondered why a foreign cruise ship can take you from Anchorage, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia but not to a more convenient U.S. port such as Seattle? You can blame it on a law very similar to the Jones Act. That's the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) of 1886 (46 U.S.C. 289) states that "no foreign vessel shall transport passengers between ports or places in the United States, under penalty of $200 for each passenger so transported or landed." PVSA is simply a protectionist law to spare American ships from international competition. PVSA permits American shipping companies to financially rip off their shipping and passenger customers by charging prices that would be otherwise unsustainable without the law. The bottom line lesson is nothing good can come from trade restrictions except windfall gains by a small group of beneficiaries, shipping companies and their unions that come at the expense of a much larger number of people -- customers who ship and passengers who travel. The only good news is that the Gulf disaster is making the victims of such restrictions visible.