Friday, March 26, 2010

You Go, Gohmert!


Whenever the Colonel is having a little trouble falling asleep (this old infantryman is a master at rapid snoozing, so "trouble" is anything more than 30 seconds), he turns on CSPAN and watches our Congress at work.

Parliamentary procedure is the guaranteed antidote for caffeine overdose.

Last night, before the 111th Congress adjourned for its Passover/Easter break, and before it could, as he remarked, "do any more damage," Louie Gohmert, Representative from the 1st Congressional District of the former Republic of Texas, gave a fascinating, if rambling, speech that should be staple for every study of the Constitution of these re-United States.

No sunshine patriot, Congressman Gohmert is a conservative who puts his money where his mouth is. The Colonel is sad to opine that he finds that a rare trait among conservatives. Even more rare among liberals--they lag far behind conservatives in charitable giving all the while calling them "heartless." But the Colonel digresses. Congressman Gohmert served his nation as an officer in the Regular Army of the United States. That gets him automatic respect from the Colonel.

Every Congressman needs a crusade, and like his Texas compatriot Charlie Wilson (whose personal campaign was chasing women and killing Russians in Afghanistan), Congressman Gohmert has a worthy cause into which to pour his passion. He believes, as does the Colonel, that the 17th Amendment to the Constitution is the key flaw in our law that has allowed the federal government to unconstitutionally usurp rights and powers reserved to the States in the original ten "Bill of Rights" amendments to the Constitution. The Tenth Amendment specifically and succinctly says,

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."


The framers of our Constitution, while desirous of central, federal government stronger than the feeble, ineffective confederation under which the States operated during the war with Great Britain and for six years thereafter, were also rightfully wary of a federal government grown too strong and thereby easily injurious of the rights and freedoms of the people. They viewed the separate States as one of the greatest checks against the accumulation of too much such injurious power in the hands of the federal government. They created the House of Representatives to directly represent the will of the people to the federal government, but realized that the will of the people could easily be manipulated by demagoguing populists. As a check against the fickle, firebrand House, the framers intentionally created the more exclusive and deliberative Senate. AND, most importantly, Senators WERE NOT popularly elected. They were appointed by the States to guard against the excess passion of mob democracy and to act as a CHECK on the inevitable and quite natural attempts by the federal government to accumulate power to the detriment of the people and the States.


Until ratification of the heinous (the Colonel does not use that word lightly) 17th amendment, United States Senators, appointed either by State legislatures or State Governors, as each State's constitution allowed, were subject to immediate recall by the States if found to be acting contrary to the rights of the States and the freedoms of the people, AS ENSHRINED IN THE BILL OF RIGHTS. The heinous and injurious 17th Amendment unconstitutionally usurped the power of the States, by stripping them of their ONLY check on the power of the federal government. Since ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, Senators have been popularly elected and not subject to recall by the States.


To be sure, the pre-17th Amendment process of selecting Senators was flawed as well. Impasse in some State legislatures often had the effect of no Senator elected to represent the State in Congress. And, State legislatures all too often sent men to Washington whose qualifications to be Senators were dubious at best. But, the 17th Amendment went TOO FAR in its attempt to correct senatorial selection. Indeed, it can be argued that the States themselves brought this upon themselves as the amendment in question was called for by two-thirds of the states and was ratified by four-fifths of the States. But, the Colonel argues that the States must be forgiven that transgression because they knew not what the long term injurious (the Colonel is liking that word this morning) consequences would be.


Enter Congressman Gohmert and his call for, as Article V of the Constitution allows, a Constitutional Amendment Convention. Gohmert is quick to point out that this would not be a sweeping CONSTITUTIONAL convention, in which the entire Constitution would be rewritten. This Constitutional Amendment Convention would allow for the best and brightest constitutional minds to craft Amendments to restore the correct constitutional balance between the rights of the States & freedoms of the People, and the Federal Government. This is necessary to help prevent such things as the hugely expensive unfunded mandates imposed by the recently passed heinous and injurious Health Care Reform Bill (which is neither healthy nor reform). If two-thirds of the legislatures of the States adopt resolutions demanding a Constitutional Amendment Convention, the Congress is bound, by Article V to call such a convention. Arguably the Congress could constitutionally limit the purpose(s) of such a convention to prevent it running amok. Any proposed Amendment would require, as provided for in Article V of the Constitution, ratification by three-fourths of the States in order to become law.


Last night, Congressman Gohmert, prior to submitting his motion for adjournment, read Reagan's 1983 Passover/Easter Holiday address to the Nation and Benjamin Franklin's "Prayer Address" to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Both stirred the Colonel near to tears.


Just so you know, the Colonel hasn't cried since he found out his mother was a civilian.
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