“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ending Lifetime Federal Court Apppointments

Last week, in this post, I highlighted 10 major flaws I believe have developed today in the US Constitution.

The second flaw I mentioned is the Constitution's lifetime appointment for federal judges, especially to the Supreme Court.

A little historical perspective and arithmetic illuminates this subject. Back in the 1780s, average male life expectancy was somewhere around 35. You can probably add 10-15 years when controlling for education, wealth and profession. That is, the better-educated, wealthier, less agrarian men probably lived longer due to better hygiene, knowledge of healthier habits, easier work environments, etc.

Plus, the average had to be depressed from the effect of so many uneducated farmers and frontiersmen who met with early or untimely deaths in a very rugged and dangerous environment.

Figure a lawyer or respected community figure would probably not be appointed to a federal court until in his 30s. Perhaps his 40s for the Supreme Court.

As an example, consider the nation's fourth Chief Justice, John Marshall. After a legislative and cabinet career, he ascended to the Supreme Court at the age of 46, serving until his death in 1835, at the age of 80.

Our Founding Father's probably didn't think a lot about lifetime careers in federal office. After all, they had lives to live, businesses to attend to, fortunes to make. Nobody probably gave serious consideration to the idea that anybody would want to serve in government for life.

They probably didn't think a lot about life spans, technology, diet, education, etc. I doubt they considered that better-educated, wealthier men who would be on federal benches would have corresponding longer lifespans. To the Framers, living 20 years longer than average probably gave them the notion that a Supreme Court appointment was good for about two decades, more or less.

Now, we know differently. A 50 year-old person ascending to the Supreme Court is quite likely to have a good 30 years in the position.

Far too long for anybody's benefit.

We need a Constitutional limit on service on federal benches of either: a retirement age of 65, or; 2 successive terms of 7 years, or; a total 10-15 year term of office on any single federal bench, including the Supreme Court.

As I found while researching this prior post on the topic, the increasing lifespans of lifetime-appointed Supreme Court jurists has resulted in increasingly-rancorous fighting over the rarer vacancies.

The 22nd amendment set presidential term limits. But, of course, being a self-dealing body, Congress has conveniently neglected to finish the job for its own branch and the judicial branch, as well.

Let's begin with term limits on federal judicial appointments.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An Example of Racism In America

I happened to see a few minutes of Bill O'Reilly's Fox News program earlier this week. In the segment was some video footage and outtakes or after-event interviews from the Black Entertainment awards. A black actor and, I guess, comedian named Jamie Foxx looked like a clown, dressed in what what was supposed to be Michael Jackson clothing. If I heard correctly, Foxx credited the recently-deceased Jackson with Wonderboy's election to president.

Words almost fail me with how ridiculous that is. What was more sickening was the roar of approval from the largely black audience.

Later, I've read where Al Sharpton is now magically at the elbow of the Jackson family, ostensibly advising them.

Who knows with what else the unfortunate, freakish deceased singer will be credited?

Personally, I've never been able to stand any of Jackson's music or performances. Sure, long ago he sold a lot of records and, I am sure, made much money in concert.

Like a lot of other musicians/singers, he eventually succumbed to fame, money, drugs and/or alcohol. He wasn't the first. His talent ebbed away, and he became known for an increasingly-bizarre string of events.

But if any black entertainers deserve credit for breaking the race barrier in America, it surely would be those of an earlier generation. Singers like Nat "King" Cole, Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick. And many of the early '60s black rock 'n roll artists.

But Michael Jackson? Please!

He's a beneficiary of the dissolution of color barriers, not one of the pioneers.

To see Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton suddenly swarming all over this poor guy's death is truly sad. And demonstrates just how racist they are. It is as if any once-famous black person's trials or death demand the black quasi-faith squad.

If this doesn't send a signal of a racist America, what does? But you can bet Wonderboy won't touch this one, nor the racist overtones emanating from the entire sordid melodrama now unfolding.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ending The Rule of The Czars

Yesterday, in this post, I suggested 10 serious problems with our present Constitution, as interpreted and ignored in the current era.

I believe one of the major flaws in Article 2 is that it does not limit officers of the executive branch to those who must be confirmed by the Senate. Somehow, presidents of both parties have fallen into the habit of naming unconfirmed, non-cabinet "czars" for areas such as: combating illicit drugs; energy; cyber security, and; health, to name just a few.

To read the Constitution, it would not appear that these officials can be named, serve and be paid without Congressional approval. But they are, do and are, none the less.

It's time that the Constitution's Article 2 was sharpened to limit such appointments to those positions approved by Congressional legislation, along with compensation and budgetary amounts explicitly enumerated in the chief executive's budget.

What we have now is a substantial cabinet for nearly every president consisting of entirely unapproved, unnominated personnel doing significant government business without any check on them whatsoever by Congress and, thus, in effect, the people.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fixing the Constitution's Flaws

On Friday, in this post, I proposed the idea that a Republican governor could run a very radical, attractive presidential campaign for 2012 by promising to convene a Constitutional Convention of the states and facilitating a substantial modification of the agreement uniting the 50 states.

Some of the ideas I advanced for such a modification were,

"I contend that a candidate who ran on the express theme of facilitating a Constitutional Convention to revise the pact to explicitly strip the federal government of ad hoc powers, limit its future power, and insert needed modifications for the modern era, e.g., term limits, staff size limits, campaign finance remedies, prohibition of non-cabinet administration officials with significant budgets or power, and new eligibility rules for Congress, would offer voters a truly fresh, positive and meaningful alternative to the tired old, similar platforms of the two current parties."

I've begun to enumerate a list of flaws in our current Constitution. Weaknesses which have, over time and with increasingly federal-power-enhancing court decisions, advancing technology and generally changed times, been exploited to radically alter American life substantially from the character it had even just 50 years ago.

Rather than settle for a string of unrelated amendments to the Constitution, I believe the time has come for a more thorough reconsideration and, where necessary, rewrite of the articles themselves, as well as adding some less integral amendments.

Friday's passage of the comprehensive, ill-considered and not-fully-costed energy 'cap and trade' bill in the House by just 7 votes is a prime example of the sort of law-making which is almost certainly not what voters really desire.

Because one party happens to hold majorities in the House and Senate, and holds the White House, they are ramming through bills of epic proportions, in terms of both spending levels and social re-engineering, often times with not one Republican vote joining those on the side passing the legislation.

Here's a list of what I consider to be problems resulting from the current federal governmental situation, both because of Congressional and Executive expansion of power, and court interpretations allowing expansions of federal power.

1. Existence of so-called 'czars' in the executive branch who are not confirmed by the Senate
2. Lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court and other federal benches
3. Passage of legislation over significant minority opposition with no attempt at compromise
4. Professional, lifetime political careers for Senators nor Representatives
5. Special treatment of federal employees/Congress with respect to pensions, healthcare and other benefits

6. Omnibus spending bills accounting for large percentages of the federal budget, so large that they are literally unread in their entirety prior to passage

7. No line item veto

8. Excessively complex legislation written by large Congressional staffs

9. Novice politicians gaining entry to the Senate due to the amendment requiring direct election of this body intended to be more deliberative and experienced than the House

10. Escalating cost of Congressional campaigns and the mess made by a series of campaign finance 'reform' laws and their collision with First amendment free speech rights

In subsequent posts, I'll offer my solution and reasoning for it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

John Kerry's Senate Stand-Up Comedy Gig

Evidently, Massachusetts liberal Democratic Senator John Kerry thinks he's a stand-up comic.

He recently got into the act, belatedly, of Sarah Palin-bashing. The occasion was South Carolina Mark Sanford's disappearance last week, while visiting his mistress in Argentina.

Kerry asked why the missing Republican governor couldn't have been Palin?

As usual, Kerry's leaden, out-of-touch sense played poorly in the media, once again bringing embarrassment and disgrace on himself and his state.

What is it about Sarah Palin that so scares liberals? Is it that few Democratic women are as physically attractive as Palin? Or have risen to high elective office without a degree from Harvard? Or a law degree?

Why doesn't Kerry stick to local topics for his humor? Like his fellow Massachusetts Senator's responsibility for the death of his campaign worker so long ago? For which he was never tried, much less even indicted?