Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sixteen Candles . . . and One to Grow On!


Sixteen years ago, when I was transported to the hospital in labor with the Boychick, Albuquerque was in the middle of a decade-long drought, and there was no snow in sight.

That drought ended, and we moved up to the mountains, the combination of which has meant that we regularly have snow sometime within the week of the Boychick's birthday.

Yesterday, we had snow in morning, and then snow again overnight last night, just a day after we celebrated another trip around the sun for Boychick.

Before the snow, Boychick got his wish and we spent the afternoon of his birthday in town, frequenting a guitar store, and the bookstore. We stopped and got a German Chocolate Cake, candles and T-bone. The Engineering Geek had to shovel the way to the grill, but we had the Boychick's favorite dinner.

Although he's now taller than me, he still wanted a candle "to grow on" so here is the Boychick, ready to blow out 17 candles.

The trip to the guitar shop was fruitful. The Boychick got a small amp for his birthday. Like the RCA puppy before him, Umbrae cocks his head trying to figure out what is making that noise.

The Boychick here practices his acting ability. Frankenstein, about to attack a giant piece of cake,
complete with ice cream.

At least we know the Boychick can use those calories for growning. The Engineering Geek and I have no such excuse! But we had some anyway, just to be companionable.

No, he's not twenty-one. That will happen in another five years.
But that bubbly is sparkling apple cider.
It's sweet, and it's great for a toast.

To the Boychick! Here's to another great trip around the sun!

The evening ended with entertainment provided by the Boychick and the new amp--small, but it has good sound.

Doing the dishes went quickly as we listened.

Sixteen? Soon I am going to have to come up with another nickname for the Boychick. Manchick just doesn't do it for me, somehow.

Monday, December 28, 2009

De Nile Ain't Just A River in Egypt

I just read an excellent blog entry over at Consent of the Governed called 2010: Brace for Impact. In it, blogger Judy Aron discusses the scheme of Quantitative Easing, a way in which federal reserve notes (I refuse to call it 'money') being printed in unprecedented quantity over the coming year in order to keep up with federal spending, will be released onto the marketplace. The Fed is doing this hoping to pump enough money into the banks to get them to lend money instead of buying treasuries. The problem is that by making the prime rate 0 -0.25% (the prime discount rate is the rate at which banks lend to other banks--which they are not doing much of at the moment) the Fed has left itself nowhere to go if Quantitative Easing does not work and flooding the market with dollars cannot be turned on a dime. In this case, the dollar crashes, which means that the currency becomes worthless to those holding dollars, and then as's Senior Editor Paddy Hirsch explains, it will leave "everybody badly needing a drink."

What is interesting is that, despite the fact that anyone who can do elementary math can see that it remains physically impossible to continue consuming far more than one produces for very long, such magical thinking is still engaged in by everyone from senior Senators in the halls of the Capitol to my neighbors.

The Engineering Geek and I had the pleasure of having dinner with another East Mountain couple recently. We are not well acquainted with them, although they had come to our Passover Seder once or twice. During an excellent dessert with wonderful coffee, the wife asked me about Common Sense, Inc., my consulting business that runs Retake Congress. I began by explaining the four points to the contract that our candidates sign. But I never got to finish, because when I got to the economic point, our hosts began to argue and object to the idea that the United States economy could be badly impacted by the fact that the federal government is spending money like water and then borrowing more to spend just as profligately.

We were told that a currency crash and hyper-inflation simply cannot happen here because:
  • the United States is a superpower
  • Obama is the messiah (not said in so many words, but implied)
  • China will keep lending us money because we'll keep buying their goods
  • times have changed and human beings have never before had technology and a worldwide marketplace
  • the laws of nature do not apply to economics

Although there was a moment when the Engineering Geek's explanation of the fall of Weimar in Germany due to hyper-inflation began to dawn on the wife, the husband quickly pointed out that Germany was not operating in a world market. (Oy, the abyssimal failure of our public schools to teach history!)

Finally, I attempted to draw an analogy using the energy exchanges in ecosystem ecology. At this point, the husband simply said that he did not believe me because economics is not a natural thing, it is human made and therefore not subject to natural laws. Therefore he said, it is not impossible for people to continue indefinitely consuming more than they produce.

I was absolutely floored at first, not understanding how a smart and successful director of a major Albuquerque employer could possibly not understand this simple concept. (The EG said I was getting frustrated). Then I realized. My neighbors are in denial. They simply cannot imagine that a system that they depend upon, one that allows them to live the rather extravagant lifestyle they enjoy, could possibly fail. Like many of the passengers on the Titanic, they tell themselves the story that the good ship U.S. Economy is unsinkable.

According to researchers who study the psychology of disasters, many people freeze in the first minutes of a disaster because they simply cannot believe that their reality has altered so suddenly. These people are the least likely to take positive action in the first moments of the disaster, and are therefore less likely to survive. (See, for example, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes--and Why by Amanda Ripley). Those who survive are often those who have thought about and planned for the unthinkable.

As a child growing up, I spent a lot of time reading science fiction, and a fair number of those short stories and books placed characters in the unthinkable situations of disasters ranging from nuclear war (Alas, Babylon) to an astroid impact (Lucifer's Hammer). Such books do get one thinking about the possibilities of disaster. But the book that made me realize just how quickly a situation can deteriorate from normalcy to surreal horror was John Hersey's The Wall, a novel that portrayed the history of the Warsaw ghetto. In the beginning one of the female characters is returning from the bakery in her Warsaw neighborhood, her basket full of bread. Within the first third of the novel, that same character is hungry and scrambling for food in the ghetto. By the second half of the novel, she is making her way through the sewers filled with barbed-wire in order to escape. The time portrayed in the novel, about six years, is telescoped to the main events, but for an impressionable freshman in high school, the idea that one's world can change dramatically in a short time became real to me with this book because it was about real events.

For some time, as I have watched the country I inhabited before September 2008 change before my very eyes, I have been aware of how fast something wicked this way comes. (Yes, Ray Bradbury borrowed one of his sci-fi fantasy title's from Shakespeare). Not quite believing it could get bad, I nevertheless began thinking about what we would need in case of, say a bank failure, or even civil unrest. That thinking became planning and purchasing as I watched our purported leaders scramble all over each other to deny reality through insinuation and outright lies. The more outrageous their behavior, the more planning and purchasing I did. Now, working with others, we are planning for various contigencies.

I have been called a tin-foil hat conspiracy theorist, a person wedded to doom and gloom, and the other night, unpatriotic. That's okay. Call me all of those things. Because when I get called those names, I remember the Donner Party. They ignored all the signs, did not heed the warnings, took an untried "short cut" that led to a long delay, and ended up in the High Sierra completely unprepared for winter. And most of the members of that group from Illinois came to a horrific end. So call me all the names you want, but also call me "Scout" because my motto is still Be Prepared. In winter, for example, I carry an emergency kit in the car. (Such a kit should at least contain candles, water, high-energy snacks, a sleeping bag, a shovel and kitty litter).

If one is unprepared for even a mild disaster, one's chances of injury and death are increased. In the face of a serious disaster, being able to accept the unthinkable and being prepared for many challenging situations makes one's chances of surviving and even thriving much greater.

The sunshine patriot and the summer soldier will not be prepared to weather hard times. Winter soldiers are prepared for more than one kind of hard time.

Denial of reality can lead to serious consequences. So now, in order to "brace for impact", the Engineering Geek is working with others who think logistically on contingencies for a group of us, so that we can provide ourselves with the mutual aid and comfort of community in the coming hard times. Because hard times are predictable. When enough people in power in a society evade reality, hard times become inevitable as that same reality comes back to bite us in the butt.

Denial. It ain't just a river in Egypt.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Being a Non-Celebrator

There have been many times when in talking to someone I allow as to how we don't celebrate Christmas, and I am met with a look of disbelief comingled with pity. A common follow up to that look is some variant of: "But then what do you do?!"

Well, there is nothing different about the calendar date of December 25. It is 24 hours long, and the daylight hours are still rather short, even at 35 degrees north latitude.

Some years, of course, Hanukkah crosses over Christmas day, so that we are "in Hanukkah" as I like to say. (There are several Jewish holidays that are more than one day long, and it feels more like one is "in" these than "on" them). But due to the the fact that the Jewish calendar is a lunar one that was intercalated with the solar year more than 2000 years b.p., sometimes we are not celebrating any holiday when Christmas rolls around.

And we don't celebrate it, although we are certainly aware that most people are celebrating, and in a very big way. And that means that the day itself is still weirdly different for non-celebrators (NC). I mean, there's no such thing as a quick trip to the store or a spin through the mall. (We make it a practice to avoid the mall and most major department stores and big-box stores anyway during the month of December. Our sensitive Aspie nervous systems just can't take the crowds).

What to do? Well Christmas seems to be a gift to non-celebrators. It is one of the only days in our 24/7 year when an NC doesn't have to make up an excuse to stay home and finish that novel, or that project or watch a movie.

And speaking of movies, that is one-half of the traditional American Jewish solution to what to do on Christmas: A Movie and Chinese, which harks back to the place and/or time when the only restaurants open were Chinese ones, and the movies seem to always be open. When we lived in town, we usually managed the 'movie' part--especially the three years running when segments of the Lord of the Rings were released--but alas, the Chinese restaurants in Albuquerque tend to close on Christmas. Then for a few years, our synagogue ran a fundraiser on December 25 where you could come and pay to watch a subtitled Israeli movie and eat catered Chinese food purchased from a Chinese place at the close of business on December 24th.

Also, in New Mexico, the evening of December 24 is the last night of Posadas, and Old Town and other neighborhoods begin to glow with the warm glow of the luminarias when the sun goes down. When we lived in town, we used to go down to Old Town or to the old Ridgecrest neighborhood to walk in the cold air, listen to the mariachi, and the carolers in the square, and enjoy the light. We'd either start or end the evening with a traditional but pork-free New Mexican dinner at one of the New Mexican food places--posole, tamales enchiladas--done "christmas" with both red and green chile, refried beans and Spanish rice, and of course, biscachitos--the enchanting New Mexican Christmas cookies made with anise.

Now that we live in the mountains, we seldom go into town on the evening of the 24th, so we skip the luminarias but we do enjoy our own homemade New Mexican dinner--pork-free, of course! And this year instead of Chinese and a movie, we watched the new Star Trek movie before having a wonderful Shabbat dinner featured a slow-roast beef, roast butternut squash, the Engineering Geek's comfort-food favorite green-bean casserole (a bit salty), and a fruit pie. A quiet day reading The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins (me), doing puzzles (the EG), and working with the new puppy (the Boychick). A NC friend over for the Boychick, and friends stopping by to have a glass of wine for us.

A nice day. Really, the importance of Christmas for those who celebrate it, makes it a quiet and relaxing day for those of us who are non-celebrators. The only day in our American 24/7 year where we don't have to make an excuse to stay home.

Friday, December 25, 2009

For All Our Christian Friends and Neighbors . . .

From Ragamuffin House to Your House . . .

Have a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

I have wonderful childhood memories of Vince Guaraldi's Linus and Lucy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

R3volution: The Articles of Freedom

On 23 December 1776 Thomas Paine published his pamphlet The Crisis in which he said:

"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God."

Two-hundred and thirty-three years later, we find ourselves once again with a government that has declared that it "has the right not only to TAX but to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER". The Tyrant marches among us again, this time usurping power from We the People through election fraud, the making of unconstitutional legislation and by excessive use of the Treasury Department printing presses in order to enslave us once again.

For two weeks in November, delegates to the Continental Congress 2009 met together in St. Charles Illinois to determine what the next step of a Free People might be, seeing that all of our petitions for redress of grievance have gone unanswered. I was a delegate to that Congress, and I am proud to have played a small part in the product of that assembly.

Yesterday evening, 23 December 2009, two hundred thirty-three years to the day of Tom Paine's The Crisis, The Articles of Freedom: The Work of the Continental Congress 2009 was released for publication. The Preface of the Articles reads:

Across many administrations and years, by each branch of government, through each major political party, the Constitution for The United States has been violated. The People have formally Petitioned the Government for Redress of the violations in the most humble of terms. The People and their Petitions have been ignored. Each un-remedied violation has taken its toll with dire impact on our economic interests, our people, our quality and way of life and our international and national reputations.

We hold this Truth to be Self- Evident:

Any action, by any branch of the Government, that is
repugnant to the Constitution, is null and void.

On November 11, 2009, and for eleven days continuing morning, noon and night, Citizens of America gathered in St. Charles, Illinois, as Delegates from each of forty-eight States, to discuss these violations, and Government‟s refusal to be held accountable, and to recommend a course of action to restore Constitutional Obedience in a Constitutional Republic now challenged to Its core. These were not professional legislators, wordsmiths or attorneys.
These were ordinary, non-aligned citizens from across America and all walks of life. They set aside their lives for this Assembly. They represent You and Me, the Free People of America.

The conclusion of their efforts is This Document called

"Articles of Freedom."

It is proposed that these Articles be distributed to All in the Land with the
intent to draw the attention and courage of a “goodly number of millions of
People” who, entitled to their Freedom and essential to Its maintenance,
Arise to Restore the Constitution for the United States of America.

Then and only then shall America's Destiny be Fulfilled.

Now it is up to the Free People of the United States. Are you a winter soldier and an all-weather patriot? Do you understand that heaven prices Liberty dearly, and are you ready to pay the price to restore the Republic? If so, gentle reader, go to the link above or here and read the whole of the Articles of Freedom. And consider if what is expressed there make you willing to engage in non-violent civic action in order to call the rogue government in Washington D.C. to account for the long chain of abuses and usurpations it has engaged in against the People and the Constitution that we ordained and established in 1787.

And as you read, consider that we, the citizen-delegates, and our administrative team, are not by any stretch of the imagination, near to the greatness of our Founders. The writing is ours and not theirs, the editing is imperfect, and there are uncaught errors; and yet I believe that the Spirit of '76, their Spirit, shines through it, despite our lack of eloquence and our errors.

Thomas Paine concluded The Crisis by saying:

Mutual fear is the principal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to [the one] that breaks the compact . . . I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.

I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. . ."

Are you a Patriot? Prove it. Act to protect and defend our Great Charter of Liberty, the Constitution of the United States.In the Articles of Freedom, you will see our present situation described well. And reason will be brought to your ears. And there is a way out of it. When we hang together as mutual defenders and protectors of the Constitution of the United States, we shall see no cause for fear.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Walk Between Storms


Last night, we were anticipating snow, but when we went sleep it was clear outside.

But this morning the sun rose over a meadow covered in three inches of new fallen snow.

This is as close to a solstice picture as could be gotten from our location this year, as the past two mornings were cloudy.

There's nothing more beautifully incongruous than a snow covered Cholla cactus. The Pinyon trees behind it hold up the heavy, wet snow.

We welcome snow in our desert mountains, not only for it's beauty but for the moisture that can mean the difference between feast and famine, and freedom from fire next spring and summer.

Home on Winter Break, the Boychick begins our morning walk with the grand-dog Ruby, and the new puppy, Umbrae.

The Engineering Geek waves goodbye in the doorway. By the time we return, he'll have scraped the truck and have left for work.

Ruby seems to be lunging for the camera.

The "big girls", Lily and Shayna, alert to a rabbit in the meadow. Shayna seems to have a special love for snow, and is more excited and alert this morning than usual. Off leash, she cavorts and plays, making me play with her, so that I never get any pictures of the fun.

After a walk in the meadow and the woods, we head back. Looking down the long hill west we see the clouds building and beginning to spill over the Sandia Mountain Front. The next wave of the storm is on the way.

Sure enough, by lunchtime, the cleared car is covered, and the snow is falling heavily and steadily, on our ridge behind.
The clouds darkened and lowered, and we had periods of intense snow, and clouds that played hide-n-seek with the sun all afternoon.

As I write, after dark, it is once again clear. But the next wave is on the way according to the forcast.

Those who celebrate Christmas up her on South Sedillo Ridge will have a white one!

Even those of us who don't so celebrate enjoy the beauty of the snow.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Generic Holiday Greeting with Disclaimer

Ah, yes. It is the time of the year when neighbors and townspeople everywhere put up little twinkling lights and play holiday songs of questionable taste loudly in the public square. And although at Ragamuffin House, the winter celebration ended last Saturday evening at sundown, all of us here are well aware that other such celebrations are just beginning.
And thus, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, we present you with our annual generic holiday greeting, complete with the required legal disclaimer, the print size of which we have helpfully magnified:

Happy Holidays!

Fine Print, magnified for Reader Convenience:
This statement of good wishes (”Greeting”) from me (”Sender”) is intended to be generic in nature. “Holiday” is intentionally left an undefined term. This holiday may include, but not be limited to, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Day, Saturnalia, or even Elvis’ Birthday (”Elvis” is a registered trademark of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Memphis, TN). Further, the recipient of this greeting (”Receiver”), may insert his or her own holiday into this Greeting, either explicitly or implicitly, or no holiday at all, if he or she chooses. If Receiver celebrates no holidays during the intended period of Greeting, assumed to be roughly mid-December 2009 through the first week in January, 2010 (”Greeting Period”), he or she may consider Greeting to be merely general, and a simple wish of good feelings and joy, suitable for any time of year, or no time at all.

Greeting should in no way be construed to guarantee or warrant happiness or other good feelings during Greeting Period, or warrant or guarantee an acceptable holiday. By accepting Greeting, Receiver expressly agrees that he or she assumes the risk for his or her own holiday. Receiver will hold Sender harmless should Receiver’s expectations for Greeting Period and wishes contained herein not coincide.

Greeting is at all times subject to withdrawal by Sender, and it may be canceled or modified at any time, without notice to Receiver. In the event of cancellation, Receiver shall receive no credit or proration for any time left in Greeting Period. Greeting is not intended to be transferable, and has no cash value. Under no circumstances may Receiver in any way alter Greeting, or publish Greeting directly or indirectly without express written permission of Sender. Permission may be withheld for any reason within the sole discretion of Sender, with no rule of reasonableness.

Should Receiver not accept the terms of Greeting listed above, no rights or benefits related to Greeting will accrue.

Should a dispute arise from Greeting, Receiver agrees that jurisdiction and venue will be in the courts of Ragamuffin House. Sender and Receiver agree that personal jurisdiction will lie in those courts, regardless of the location of either party. Greeting will be construed under the laws of Ragamuffin House*, without regard to Choice of Law or Renvoy.

*Said laws state that the Ba'ala Beytah (Mistress of the House) shall wish you Joy and Happiness, Peace and Holiness in this season of Light. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

R3volution: Constructive Notice of Instruction

I have recently learned that the Senate will be voting on their version of the Healthcare Bill at 1 AM, Monday, December 21. Talk about voting on a bill in the middle of the night! Why are they so afraid to let it see the light of day. This is likely a different bill than the one that has been debated

The Albuquerque Journal Washington Bureau Reporter, Michael Coleman, wrote in this morning's Sunday Journal that the New Mexico Delegation has been downplaying recent votes on spending, saying:

"At a time when many Americans are tightening their belts . . . it seems a bit unseemly for Congress to put another $446 Billion on the federal credit card, isn't it? And there's more to come--much more." (Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009. p. B2).

Much of that "much more" in spending will come with this takeover of health insurance by the federal government. And much more than spending is the problem. This bill contains the structure to "nudge" (as Marxist Cass Sunstein puts it) every person in the United States to conform to government approved behavior spanning lifestyle choices from food to use of firearms, from exercise to choice of medical treatments. To put it bluntly, this bill, more than any other put forth by this out-of-control government, is about control. Big Brother will be dictating your health insurance . . . or else!

Today, the New Mexico Delegation to the Continental Congress 2009, led by Michael Lunnon--First Delegate, sent this Constructive Notice of Instruction to both New Mexico Senators--"Censorship" Bingaman, and Udall. It was written by Mr. Lunnon, of Gallup, and modeled after one by Rose Lear. It should be sent to every Senator and Congress Critter in the country.

Here it is:


Section 1. [Supreme law of the land.]
The state of New Mexico is an inseparable part of the federal union, and the constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.

Sec. 2. [Popular sovereignty.]
All political power is vested in and derived from the people: all government of right originates with the people, is founded upon their will and is instituted solely for their good.

Sec. 3. [Right of self-government.]
The people of the state have the sole and exclusive right to govern themselves as a free, sovereign and independent state.

Sec. 4. [Inherent rights.]
All persons are born equally free, and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which are the rights of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and of seeking and obtaining safety and happiness.


[Amendment I][Freedom of Religion, of Speech, and of the Press]
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Sec. 3. [Admission of New States, Territory and Other Property]
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State. (emphasis added)

To: Senator Jeff Bingaman, (202) 224-5521,
T0: Senator Tom Udall, (202) 224-6621

Dear Senators Bingaman and Udall,
It is my understanding from the news reports that you are scheduled to vote in this Illegal and Unconstitutional Health Care Reform Act on Monday at 1 am. I am putting you on CONSTRUCTIVE NOTICE OF INSTRUCTION that you do not have any LEGAL CONSTITUTIONAL authority to vote yes on this issue. Therefore, you must vote no or you will be in VIOLATION of your OATH OF OFFICE and subject to removal.
Congress lacks the constitutional authority to regulate and control the practice of medicine in the jurisdiction of the States.
See Linder v. United States, 268 U.S. 5, 18, 45 S.Ct. 446 (1925) ("Obviously, direct control of medical practice in the states is beyond the power of the federal government");
Lambert v. Yellowly, 272 U.S. 581, 589, 47 S.Ct. 210 (1926) ("It is important also to bear in mind that 'direct control of medical practice in the States is beyond the power of the Federal Government.' Linder v. United States 268 U.S. 5, 18. Congress, therefore, cannot directly restrict the professional judgment of the physician or interfere with its free exercise in the treatment of disease. Whatever power exists in that respect belongs to the states exclusively.")
Oregon v. Ashcroff, 368 F.3d 1118, 1124 (9th Cir. 2004) ("The principle that state governments bear the primary responsibility for evaluating physician assisted suicide follows from our concept of federalism, which requires that state lawmakers, not the federal government, are 'the primary regulators of professional [medical] conduct.'
Conant v. Walters, 309 F.3d 629, 639 (9th Cir. 2002);
Barsky v. Bd. of Regents, 347 U.S. 442, 449, 74 S.Ct 650, 98 L.ED. 829 (1954) ('It is elemental that a state has broad power to establish and enforce standards of conduct within its borders relative to the health of everyone there. It is a vital part of a state's police power.') The Attorney General 'may not...regulate [the doctor-patient] relationship to advance federal policy.' Conant, 309 F3d at 647 (Kozinski, J., concurring).")
And certain features of this proposed law will certainly be unconstitutional; see:
United States v. Constantine, 296, U.S. 287, 56 S.Ct. 223 (1935) "We think the suggestion has never been made -- certainly never entertained by this Court -- that the United States may impose cumulative penalties above and beyond those specified by state law for infractions of the state's criminal code by its own citizens. The affirmative of such a proposition would obliterate the distinction between the delegated powers of the federal government and those reserved to the states and to their citizens. The implications from a decision sustaining such an imposition would be startling. The concession of such a power would open the door to unlimited regulation of matters of state concern by federal authority. The regulation of the conduct of its own citizens belongs to the state, not to the United States. The right to impose sanctions for violations of the state's laws inheres in the body of its citizens speaking through their representatives. So far as the reservations of the Tenth Amendment were qualified by the adoption of the Eighteenth, the qualification has been abolished.

United States v. Jin Fuey Moy, 241 U.S. 394, 402 , 36 S. Ct. 658, Ann. Cas. 1917D, 854. Congress cannot, under the pretext of executing delegated power, pass laws for the accomplishment of objects not intrusted to the federal government. And we accept as established doctrine that any provision of an act of Congress ostensibly enacted under power granted by the Constitution, not naturally and reasonably adapted to the effective exercise of such power, but solely to the achievement of something plainly within power reserved to the states, is invalid and cannot be enforced. (Emphases added)
Feel free to use this as a model for you own Notice. If you hurry, your senators may get it before they vote!
Long Live the Constitution of the United States!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

R3volution: Is It Time? Anniversaries and Uprisings

This week we have been celebrating the successful Maccabean Revolt in which Judah the Maccabee and his rag-tag army used guerilla tactics to defeat the army of Seleucid Empire in order to assert the right of Jews to be Jews.

But this week also marks the commemoration of the Boston Tea Party in which the Sons of Liberty on December 16, 1773 protested unjust and ruinous taxation by dumping tea into the harbor rather than pay King George's taxes on it. That the Tea Party was about principles is evident in the fact that the American Colonists paid more for tax-free Dutch East India Company Tea than for the English East India Tea imported by Englishmen.

And now, this very week, we face several new threats to the Constitution of the United States, a constitution of liberty, that is the Charter for the government of the United States, formed to protect onthe rights to Life, Liberty and Property set forth in the Declaration of Independence. These threats to our sovereignty are being formed here and abroad, in the health-care bill that would impose upon us ruinous debt and taxation, and in the Copenhagen Treaty that would pave the way for a world government that would supercede our Constitution. Now is the time for us to become modern-day Sons and Daughters of Liberty and engage in civil disobedience and other peaceful but forceful action to bring our servant government to heel.

In his speech at Revolution March in the summer of 2008, Adam Kokesh asked: "Is it time?"
This week, Ed Cline in his entry entitled Obama's War on America at the Rule of Reason Blog answered:
"It is time for Americans to oppose his intentions with massive civil disobedience if, for example, the health-care and cap-and-trade bills are sent from Congress to his desk for his signature -- before they are obliged to become rioting inmates."

Patriots and lovers of freedom, it is time to become the Winter Soldiers that Thomas Paine spoke about when he wrote The Crisis, the anniversary of the publication of which comes next week:

" THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated."
It IS time to place the proper value upon our Liberty and act accordingly.

The Articles of Freedom: the Work of the Continental Congress 2009 will be out shortly. And when they are I urge that those who wish to join their cause with ours, and with the cause of liberty, read them and consider taking action. Sign the Articles of Freedom and become Winter Soldiers willing to take principled but peaceful action to bring our government to account.

In honor of this week of anniversaries of uprisings, and in warning of what is coming, I post Uprising Redux. Music by Muse. Note President of the Continental Congress 2009 Michael Badnarik (in front of the Lone Star Flag), and New Mexico Congressional Candidate Adam Kokesh asking "Is it time?"

The Uprising! from PuppetGov on Vimeo.

Sons and Daughters of Liberty: It IS Time!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hannukah: Tyrants Disappearing

Hanukkah began last Friday night with the lighting of the first candle and the singing of Maoz Tzur--Rock of Ages. And busy though we were, trying to get out of the house for the Boychick's guitar class concert, we paused to remember Judah the Maccabee, who led Jewish guerilla warriors against the army of the the Tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes--who called himself god--and won. (The Maccabees called him Antiochus Epimanes--the fool, because only a fool would claim to be a god).

Tyranny is a system of government that not only wants to control your resources but also wants to assimilate you, to enslave not only your body, but your mind and soul as well. Thus Antiochus Epimanes wanted not only to steal the resources of the Jews, but he wanted to control their thoughts and beliefs; he wanted to control their every activity from what they said before they ate, what they ate, and how they bore and raised their children. Antiochus wanted not only to enslave a generation but to create generations that would think like slaves. Thus the Syrian-Greek Empire outlawed the study of Torah and the ritual of Brit Milah--the circumcision of Jewish sons. They forbade marriage, and defiled the mikdash katan--the little altar of the family table--by interfering in the education of the children and forcing Jews to sacrifice to pagan gods and to eat pork.
This was done in the name of perfect unity of the Seleucid Greek Empire.

Tyranny was not a new thing then, nor is it old and forgotten now.
All tyrants, ancient and modern, want the same thing: absolute power and control over the lives of the people. They want to create a matrix in which people will serve the interests of the empire without realizing the extent of their slavery. For this reason, tyrants across space and time have an interest in destroying the uniqueness of culture, the diversity of thought and belief, in order to impose one order upon their empires. Thus the attack on ritual and family and education. Thus the elevation of the state and its ritual over the hopes and dreams and desires of the individual. We see this in history with Antiochus, with Ceasar and the Roman emperors; we have seen it more recently with the fascist-collectivist states of Italy and Germany under Mussolini and Hitler, and with the socialist-collectivist states within the Soviet Union.

Historically, Jews, with our fierce requirement of identity and independence, have been enemies of them all, and the more recent of such states have known it and desired to destroy not only our culture and religion, but our very lives.

Currently, we see the same tyrannous desires arising in the name of world government by use of calls for perfect unity and comformity in order to save the planet from climate change, in order to impose equity and the redistribution of wealth. These are new excuses for the same envious quest for power and control of free minds. And despite protests to the contrary, the advocates of this new world order, are already moving to wipe out the diversity of identity and belief through control of ritual and the family and education. And they are moving to destroy the foundation of individual liberty upon which all independent thought and action rests. They are doing so , as they always have, by appealing to people to sacrifice their individual rights to the collective in the name of an undefined "greater good."

This call for world government is no secret conspiracy. It has been openly discussed for over 100 years, and most recently is being openly called for as part of the Copenhagen Climate Treaty. Ridiculing it as a "conspiracy theory" is designed to shut down opposition, but does nothing to change the reality that ever since Alexander the Great, there have been people who want to rule the world.

And speaking of Alexander the Great, the Seleucids were heirs to one of the three generals who inherited his empire. And each of the three set about setting up their own tyrannies in order to redistribute the wealth of the nations they conquered to themselves. They did it in the name of unity and glory and sacrifice. That works.

What the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epimanes did not count on was the fiercely independent spirit of Mattiyahu the Priest, of the small town of Modi'in, and his sons Eliezer, Shimon, Yochannan and Yonatan, and Judah Maccabee.

As was true of many such a person, Mattiyahu tried to go along to get along, subverting the Seleucid new world order quietly for as long as he could. But as happens with such men, there came the day of the last straw when Mattiyahu said the Hebrew eqivalent of: "No. Thus far and no further will I go." And he began the rebellion that became a war against an empire. And after three long years and the deaths of Mattiyahu and many of his sons, the war was won. A band of rag-tag but determined rebels against a mighty king and his empire.

That empire has gone the way of all empires now. As have many after it, from the glory and oppression of Rome to the "thousand-year Reich."

But the spiritual children of the Maccabees remain.

Children of the Maccabbees, whether free or fettered.
Wake the echoes of the song, where you may be scattered.
Yours the message cheering, that the time is nearing,
That will see all men free,
Tyrants disappearing.
That will see all men free,
Tyrants disappearing.
(From Maoz Tzur--Rock of Ages)

The Children of the Maccabees understand that there is point past which a tyrant cannot push a free individual. The Children of the Maccabbees know that, when push comes to shove, a free people will rise up and throw off the yoke of tyranny. And they know that in every generation, there are those who will rise against us to enslave us and that such people must be fought. Now we fight to subvert of their intent to enslave us with our own free action. Now we fight their propaganda through the written word. And we pray that these will be sufficient.

But we know as Mattiyahu did that the free individual can only take so much before she arises to throw off the yoke of the tyrant.
And we know, as Judah the Maccabee knew, that free people at some point decide to die on their feet rather than live on their knees.

We remember Judah Maccabee.

And like Judah, our R3volution comes from love, not fear.
Love of who we are and love of the freedom to be.
And we will never surrender our liberty.

We remember Judah Maccabee.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Little Learning is a Dangerous Thing

Recently I had the experience of hearing a Catholic deacon give a talk regarding the issue of forgiveness. His overall message was a good one--one that I hope the principal audience will hear--but his discussion was marred by a mistaken statement of Jewish understanding of forgiveness that led in turn to an implied sense of superiority of Christianity over Judaism. I know from my years in Jewish-Catholic dialogue how often and uncounsciously such statements and the ensuing triumphalist implications occur as well-intentioned Christians say things about Judaism that make Jews wince.

For example, I have had more than one well-meaning Christian tell me that "Jews worship a god of laws and judgment" but that Christians "worship a god of love." In response, my gut wants me to respond by saying something like: "Huh? It was Christianity that invented the concept of hell and a god that condemns people to eternal torment and punishment. Doesn't sound particularly loving to me." But I don't say it. I wince and remind myself that the self-proclaimed Christian expert on Judaism has probably never been to a Jewish worship service and thus has never heard Jews pray "Ahavah rabba ahavtanu . . .With great love have You loved us, Eternal our G-d . . ."

When such statements are made as part of a sermon, I wince particularly hard because I am unable to respond to or correct the speaker. This is the experience that I had with respect to the deacon and his mistaken understanding that led in turn to a mistaken interpretation that led ultimately to the "wince factor."

In this case, the deacon was discussing the question of how many times one must forgive another, and he related it back to a story in the Christian scriptures. The relevant bit is this:
"Now the Jewish requirement is to forgive up to three times, isn't it? So the man decided to take the three and add four more to make seven. But Jesus said, 'Seventy times seven.'"
At the point where he said "isn't it?", he looked directly at the Engineering Geek and me, seated at the center aisle side of pew 3. We both shook our heads. But the good deacon ignored us, going on instead to a smug conclusion about the superiority of Christian forgiveness over the apparently antiquated practices of the Jews.

His mistake? There is no numerical limit to how often a Jew should forgive someone. That is entirely up to the judgment of the individual who can consider the offense and the circumstances that are unique to the situation. The deacon transposed the limit of three from the offender to the offended against. The actual question that this number is in answer to is this: "How many times must a person ask forgiveness of another and be refused?" The answer is three times.

Suppose that one person has wronged another person. Jewish tradition has it that one cannot request forgiveness from G-d* for a wrong against another person. Rather we are required to make good with the person we have wronged. To do so, a person must acknowledge the wrong, resolve not to do it again, and then go to person and ask pardon by stating those acknowlegments. But how should a person carry guilt if the wronged party refuses to forgive? The answer is that a person must ask forgiveness three times spread out over a period of time. If after the third attempt, no forgiveness is forthcoming, then provided that repentence is sincere, a person can go on with her life knowing that the problem now belongs to the other person. In this way, one person cannot forever withhold forgiveness from another out of spite and thus perpetuate the hurt and the harm.

*For this reason, murder essentially becomes unforgivable. The victim is dead and cannot forgive or withold forgiveness, and therefore a murderer must carry his crime to the grave with him.

So the deacon got the basic fact wrong, and from there completely misunderstood what the man in the story's answer meant. The man said that one should forgive seven times. In Jewish numerology the number seven symbolizes completeness. One must forgive completely. (This might sound difficult but if you think about it, forgiving a little bit is like being a little bit pregnant. Forgiveness, if it is forgiveness, is all or nothing. Either you forgive or you don't).

In any case, it does not appear that Christianity is superior to Judaism on the question of how often one must forgive another. In any case, the proof--as they say--is in the pudding. And it appears to me that forgiveness is a difficulty that people of all faiths and none at all have with each other.

"A little learning is a dangerous thing," wrote Alexander Pope in his Essay on Criticism. It can certainly create the wince factor in someone who has drunk more deeply of the Pirean Spring with regard to a particular subject or tradition.

Of course, this is not a danger limited to givers of sermons. Indeed, it applies to all humanity--including bloggers.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lightning and Thunder Blizzard

And another snow day. But this time, a blizzard.
On Monday morning the weather alert went out. Blizzard warning for the East Mountains.
I went to an NMPA strategy session with Dave and Ray at Ray's house just west of Moriarity. When Dave and I drove back toward Edgewood at 3 PM, it began to rain. By the time we were climbing the east side of Sedillo hill it was snow. By the time I got the truck and went to get the Boychick, Highway 14 and Frost Rd. were snowpacked.
A walk with the dogs at 8:00 PM and there were three inches and still snowing. Then it stopped.
But the blizzard had yet to arrive. At 5:30 Tuesday morning we were awakened by two very bright lighting flashes, one after another, followed by thunder. Suddenly, with two dogs now on the bed with us, the wind picked up and the snow began to lash the house. The blizzard had arrived. By 5:55 AM, we got the SchoolReach call: two hour delay. After walking the dogs a very short distance, we got the second call. Full snow day. The roads kept drifting as fast as the crews could clear them.

A strong west wind, gusts up to 60 MPH, blows snow across the meadow. On Monday evening, the trees had been beautifully flocked with snow. The wind removed it.

Almost white-out conditions prevailed a good part of the day. The clouds were as dark as rain clouds, but they were producing snow. It was hard to tell sometimes whether it was snowing or just blowing snow.

More falling and blowing snow as the coulds raced from west to east; moments of sunshine peeking through were followed by more clouds piling over the mountain front. And more falling snow.

Afternoon, and the snow stopped. The sun was still playing coy among the clouds--now out, now hidden.

And I finally got an answer to my question. Were the tracks in the yard other dogs or coyotes? Definitely coyote.

Here is a young one, down by the scrub oak behind the house. Beautiful!

Tomorrow. Two hour delay because the roads are icy. But we should be able to get out of here.

Tell El Nino. Tell Winter: Let up until after the wedding.

Please? With a dusting of snow on top?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

CC2009: Finding Common Spiritual Ground

As we, the citizen-delegates, have returned home from St. Charles, IL and the Continental Congress, the road ahead has begun to be laid out before us. And we have been in constant communication with one another via secure communication channels, in order to lay out the maps of that road, and plan the work. For the Congress, and the soon to be released Articles of Freedom are not the culmination of our work; rather, they are the foundation and guidebook for the restoration of Constitutional governance for the Republic of the United States.

Part of the work we are engaged in now is making sense of the profound experience we all had at CC2009 and to integrate into our lives where we are now. The intensity of it is hard to describe, but many delegates called it an "emotional roller coaster", and many of us bonded as people do when they confront such an experience together.

For me, that bonding continues as I reach out to the "other Christians" who were present at CC2009. These are the ones, probably the majority, who are not 'dominionists" in any sense, and who are sure enough of their own faith that they do not have to impose their particular theology on others. Therefore I was delighted when a thread appeared at the delegates' secure site that addressed the issue of the loud but few Christians whose agenda at the Congress seemed to be less about defending the Constitution and more about calling those of other faiths "blasphemers" and "infidels."

Part of the discussion at this threat has been an exchange of letters between the loudest dominionist (whom I have discussed but who shall remain nameless here) and two or three other Christian delegates, who have taken great exception to his presumption in speaking for G-d and for them. They wrote with great passion about the depth of free religious expression they witnessed at CC2009, and they also wrote that they saw all of the delegates (with the exception of a very few) place their personal agendas to side in order to focus on "the higher purpose" for which we gathered. I was so taken with the vision of these "other Christians" that I responded on the same thread. Here is my response about the blessings that we had all observed at CC2009. (When I refer to the the chief dominionist, I shall call him Mr. I. For someone who thinks he has cornered the market on G-d, is certainly an idolater).

Response at "Good Grief Department" Thread, CC2009

Thank you for your vision of CC2009. Although my religious expression is completely different from either of yours, I, too, saw a good deal of free religious expression at CC2009. Some of it was too much for me, or too narrowly focused, and so I left the room several times. However, my expression of my religious liberty neither stifled nor ended the religious expression of others.

With my own contributions to CC2009 of well over a month's salary, I helped support the use of a room for a Christian Chapel, a place in which my prayers would not have been welcome by the likes of Mr. I; I did not complain and neither did I withdraw my support. I simply prayed in my own room, as was appropriate for me.

"These are the obligations without measure, whose reward,too is without measure, and the fruits of which may be eaten either in this world or the world to come . . ." There is no need for one’s piety to be seen for it to be rewarded. The fruit that ripens with time is the sweetest to taste.

Mr. I appears to have had a fit of pique because he was unable to impose his religious expression on those of us who disagree with his theology. But his viewpoint was amply aired by him, and by others. If Mr. I's religious expression was found wanting by some of us, surely that is his own problem, and does not reflect badly on the Congress itself.

In my experience, there was plenty of blessing to be had at CC2009, and those who were unable to see it because that blessing did not appear in the form they demanded are to be pitied; they have eyes, but are unable to see the Eternal Presence in those human beings who are not like themselves.

Our Rabbis taught: "Great is the Eternal Master of the Universe. For an earthly king puts the stamp of his likeness on every coin of the realm, and all those coins are alike. The Eternal Creator, however, has placed within each human being the Divine Image and Likeness, and yet no two human beings are the same."

It is upon us to rejoice forevermore at the myriad facets of divine understanding and wisdom we learn from each individual, each as unique as the snowflakes that fall upon the mountains in winter, and yet all of which together cannot express the infinity that is the Eternal Creator of the Universe.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Somewhat Wordless Snow Day!

Yesterday I did not post a nearly wordless Wednesday.

I had words and only words to post, and completely forgot it was Wednesday.

This morning, however Mother Nature--with the help of El Nino--did just that.

It began snowing right when I took Umbre out for his early morning constitutional.

It was 14 degrees (F) and the snow began.
Our 1 - 3 inches turned into 6 - 8 inches and it snowed steadily until nearly 4 PM.
I didn't know it could snow much at such low temperatures.

The view from the dining room window.

Apparently, it is time to put away the autumn decorations and take out the winter things.

The Menorah can stay. Hannukah begins next Friday, the day before the Chem Geek Princess's Wedding.

Umbre loves snow!
He tunnels in it, he digs it, he snuffs his nose into it, and even eats it.

The little guy is just full of himself!

Umbre was the only one going anywhere today.
Henry, the Big Red Truck, did not get so much as a warm up or a good scraping today.

Although his school was in session, I wasn't going to take the Boychick until I saw a snowplow.

We did not see one until well after East Mountain threw in the towel and closed early.

Nearly sunset, and the sky cleared.

But the temperature also began to drop precipitously from our daytime high of 14 degrees. By sunset we experienced single digits.

Now the temp is heading across the zero point and into negative numbers.

And the sky is clouding up again as the wind shifts. Could it really snow when its that cold?

They say it might. I'll believe it when I see it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CC 2009: Articles of Freedom Preamble

The Preamble of the Articles of Freedom along with an interview with CC2009 President, Michael Badnarik, now available at the CC2009 Website.

Here is the Preamble. This was an entirely different draft than that which was first proposed. This one was approved because it stated the same information, but in a much shorted and stirring style. Enjoy!

Articles of Freedom of Continental Congress 2009 November 21, 2009.

In defense of a free people, the time has come to reassert our God-given natural rights and cast off tyranny.

Let the facts reveal - the Federal Government of the United States of America, which was instituted to protect the rights of individual citizens, instead - threatens our life, liberty and property through usurpations of the Constitution; and emboldened by our own lack of responsibility and due diligence in these matters, has exceeded its mandate, and abandoned those founding principles which have made our nation exceptional;

Our servant government has undertaken these unconstitutional actions in direct violation of their enumerated duties, to the detriment of the People's liberty and the sovereignty of our Republic;

Over many years and spanning multiple political administrations, the People who have, in good conscience, attempted to deliberate our grievances and voice our dissent against these offensive actions through both petition and assembly, have been maligned and ignored with contempt;

The people of the several States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, justly alarmed at these arbitrary and unconstitutional actions, have elected, constituted and appointed delegates to meet, and sit in general Congress in the city of St. Charles, Illinois. Whereupon these delegates, as duly elected representatives of the several States, have gathered in defense of divine justice, liberty and the principles of limited government, and we stand in clear recognition of the supreme law of the land - the Constitution of the United States of America.

Therefore, We demand that Government immediately re-establish Constitutional rule of law, lest the People be forced to do so themselves; and we hereby serve notice that in the defense of Freedom and Liberty there shall be NO COMPROMISE to which we shall ever yield.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

CC2009: Here There Be Dragons

Note: A week ago today we completed our last deliberations concerning the Articles of Freedom, a title only agreed upon late Saturday afternoon, November 22, 2009, and held our closing ceremonies, including a signing ceremony for the Preamble, the Civic Action Statement, and the Pledge of Commitment. A week is not enough time to fully digest what we did there and what was accomplished, so this is only a beginning. The documents refered to below are yet to be published.

  • Participating in the Continental Congress 2009 as a delegate was in equal measure intense and frustrating, powerful and ultimately affirming. The intensity was so great that during the Congress the outside world receded, and the everyday news took a backseat to our deliberations concerning more fundamental Constitutional issues. And since New Mexico first delegate Michael Lunnon and I drove there and back again, that bubble of intensity continued to a lesser extent until I arrived home on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Thus I have spent the past five days not only preparing and celebrating Thanksgiving, but also in an uneven and still incomplete struggle to re-engage with my previous everyday life. It has only just begun to dawn on me that the maps of my previous everyday life will have to be redrawn; that the terms of the re-engagement must expand to become a new normal. On the map of my life as I understand it, I have pushed the boundaries out into an unknown labeled "Here there be Dragons."

    Going into the Continental Congress I understood my role as delegate differently, perhaps, than some of the other delegates. I went knowing that the elections we held drew very few voters, and those chiefly from the New Mexico patriot community, those already awakened to the de facto demise of the Constitution of the United States over the past hundred years. Therefore, I understood that as a delegate I was not going to CC2009 to represent my state in a legislative sense, but rather to represent those who had voted for and/or financially supported our delegation, as well as to try to the best of my ability to bring to the Congress an understanding of Constitutional violations as they affect New Mexico, which like any state, has unique interests and concerns vis-a-vis the federal government. Therefore, I understood that at this juncture, my importance and the importance of the Congress was (and is) modest.

    This sense was of great benefit to me when the fear factor of taking on the system became real to the body of the Continental Congress. I understood that unless and until we build a mass movement, we will not be considered a real threat to anyone. Therefore, as the rumor mills got going among some of the more volatile delegates and their coalitions, I held firmly to the meaning of R3volution: we do this out of our love for liberty, not out of fear or anger.

    Secondly, I did not go to the Congress with any personal agenda that I intended to push. Rather, I went with the rationale and purpose for which this Continental Congress was called: to document to a candid world that petitions for redress of grievances had been made and gone unanswered; to document the ongoing violation of the Constitution in the instances that the petitions addressed; and to develop peaceful but firm civic responses to be taken upon the gathering of a mass movement in order to bring a rebellious servant government to heel. As I understood it, the first two items were the primary work of the Congress convened, whereas gathering a mass movement would be our job and the job of the various patriot alliances once the Articles of Freedom were written and signed.

    Even before the 2009 Continental Congress convened, however, it became apparent that there were individuals and factions who did not intend to come to achieve the agenda laid out by the
    We the People Foundation and We the People Congress, but that had their own agenda. Some were coming with the view that the Constitution was already null and void, and thus that the Petitions for Redress were futile and that the Congress should take an entirely different approach. Others were coming with the intention of getting the Congress to agree that the United States does in fact have an established religion, a certain form of Fundamentalist Christianity, and thus were pushing a Dominionist agenda. However, as a pre-Congress survey made clear, the vast majority of the delegates agreed with the agenda of the organizing body, We the People Foundation.

    As it became clear when the Congress actually convened, even though the majority of the delegates agreed on the purposes of the Congress, and upon the agenda adopted without change on the first day, there was plenty of difference about the outcomes and the civic actions that ought to be undertaken. Although many of us agreed with the groundwork already completed by We the People Foundation regarding the
    Petitions for Redress, there was a general sense apparent in the first deliberations on Thursday November 12 that the timeline and actions laid out by We the People were too conservative given the rapidity with which our constitutional republican form of government is now being dismantled.

    During the first week of the Congress, from Nov. 12 - Nov. 18, the body settled into an exacting routine in which we would hear expert testimony on one Petition for Redress first thing in the morning and another first thing in the afternoon. After each presentation, we would retire to the New Orleans Ballroom in order to deliberate upon the testimony and--at least according to the agenda--determine the answers to the following general questions:

  • was the particular petition addressing a real violation of the Constitution?
  • if so, what are particular Articles and/or amendments violated?
  • was the petition unanswered?
  • if so, what instructions should the people send to the federal government (Congress and Executive) to make them accountable? What instructions to the states for them to assert their sovereignty in the matter? What civic actions should be suggested to the the people for them to assert their power and sovereignty?

The first few days of deliberations were more difficult than I expected at the time. It became quickly apparent that the majority of delegates had very little experience with parliamentary process. It was also clear that a sizable minority of delegates had not received a thorough education in matters constitutional, and that many were hearing some of these petitions and their background for the first time. Even with these impediments, I thought that the body of the Congress would "gel" in a few days, and that we would see actual documents emerging, as everyone gained experience and understanding. And to a limited extent this did begin to happen, especially after sub-committees were established to write reports based upon the above general questions, which were made more specific to each Petition in the actual CC2009 Agenda .

But even with rules changes and an increased ability to use Robert's Rules of Order on the part of the delegations, I noticed that certain people tended to "camp out" at the microphone, and that there seemed to be determined core group(s) that used procedure to actually subvert the will of the body. Some of them seemed to be pushing specific agendas that were not that of the group, some seemed to be loose coalitions, but by far the most worrisome were a few individuals who seemed to foment division by espousing different sides of issues at different times, inconsistent to any personal or group agenda. This was different from what I observed of other groups and factions, which were consistent over time.

I believe that this one small group of infiltrators had the intention of discrediting CC2009 and used the passions of some of the other factions to try and make it happen. Additionally, and more unforgivably, this small faction appeared to use some delegates who had unstable personalities to achieve this purpose. In my opinion, this was the cause of much of the drama that occurred during the Congress.

That drama, along with the intensity of our days, and the immensity of what we were learning about the destruction of our liberty, created an edge to our deliberations. It heightened our passion to have the perfect solutions mapped out with respect to instructions to our servant government and to the States, and later when we began to write the Articles themselves, our recommendations for civic action for the people. The problem was that among 113 strong-minded individuals, there was nearly the same number of "perfect" solutions.

In order to deal with this, most of us tended toward finding like-minded individuals for discussion and support. I found Libertarians and libertarian-minded people whose understanding of the problem and whose principled solutions resonated with me, and from whom I could learn when my own analysis failed me. Thus my mind was engaged by the ideas of our President, Michael Badnarik, the anarcho-capitalist John Bush, and the scholar Jon Roland. I also had invigorating conversations with some of the young people who were just discovering libertarian ideas and the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

I did speak up at the Congress, but not being one to camp out on the microphone queue, I spent far more time listening, thinking and in private discussion. I also worked on several committees, and as the secretary for the General Welfare Clause committee, I made my proudest contribution word-smithing both the primary and the ancillary reports. I also got to the microphone a few times during open discussion, and once I helped stop a change of language amendment that would have made us look foolish by changing the name of the Department of Homeland Security. I was also among those of an impromptu coalition that got the Non-Initiation of Force Principle (NIP) into the final document.

I saw that among my fellow delegates there were many moments in which personal prejudices and individual agendas led to public or private statements inconsistent with their own avowed principles. Some of these were religious in nature, as were certain efforts to impose the dogmas of specific religions upon the Congress and the people of the United States in what I call the "Christian nation" claim. Others involved prejudices against certain groups of American citizens, such as the denial of private property rights to Native Americans on the reservation, in what I call the paternalistic "white man's burden" claim. There were others, and for my part, I know I did not think deeply enough about the Mann Amendment that was passed without debate at the end of the Congress when many delegates were out of the room. I concurred with Ron Mann that the language was suitably non-sectarian, but I did not enter into a dialogue about the vote with my delegation.

Despite the drama, the inconsistencies in principle, and the personal and factional agendas--that is, despite the very human nature of those of us assembled--the Congress did accomplish the intended goals: to develop a series of instructions to Congress, to the States, and recommendations to the people, with respect to Petitions for Redress of Grievances. They included those dealing with the First Amendment right to petition, the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, the War Powers clause, the misuse of the "General Welfare" clause and the right to private property. Even those reports and recommendations that seemed "obvious" to some of us met with strongly passionate debate that served to increase the understanding of many of us, and also heightened our commitment to liberty.

And at the last our trust and reliance upon the honor and the integrity of those who will be charged with the style and formatting of all of the documents made it possible for many of us to sign the Preamble and Pledge sections of the document. And since those who signed were present as each tiny pearl of agreement was wrested from contention, we all understand both the frailty and magnitude of what we accomplished.

I stood in the line to sign after the closing ceremony, laughing from the relief of finishing the document together, even though it was imperfect. I felt light, and thought: "This is what freedom feels like." And then, as I stood with the pen in my hand in front of the Zia Flag, I felt the gravity of the moment. Putting my hand to that Preamble and that Pledge, I suddenly knew, meant that my personal maps of reality would change. Here there be Dragons!

In the end, the magnitude of our accomplishment will depend upon our ability to persuade our fellow patriots--those who already passionately uphold the principles of liberty and who espouse the idea of unalienable rights derived from the Eternal Source of Liberty (however we conceive that Source. It will depend upon our engendering a mass movement of liberty among those who are ready to sign on to holding our servant government accountable to the founding principles of the United States as declared in our Declaration of Independence and as prescribed for government in the Constitution.

In the end, the frailty of what we have accomplished can only be obviated on the uncertain road ahead, the journey upon which will require us to expand our own personal maps across the parted seas where there be dragons, and which will lead us from the security of the fleshpots of Mitzrayim—the Hebrew word for Egypt that means the Narrow Places--and into the vast unknown lands that can, if we let them, develop in us principles that will lead us to trust a mixed multitude of ways for all of us to live liberty.

At this moment, as I stand on the edge of my known world, straining to see beyond the Dragons, I believe that those who endured the labors of the Continental Congress to the end have developed a strong and enduring bond. And this bond has the strength to be shared with all who love liberty and which will withstand the storms and squalls of the voyage yet to come.

Edited Once for Grammar and Content. EHL