by Gunnery Sergeant John McClain, USMC, Retired
As I was listening to the radio today, discussion was on several bills in the house and senate, and the host and guest Senator were discussing the bills, and the likely future of them. What struck me the most in this was not the bills, but the fact the issue of discussion was the insertion in a bill of a totally extraneous amendment.
The insertion of amendments and other small changes into bills which are important such as funding bills for specifics, has become common practice, as it allows something which can’t stand on its own merits and pass, be passed against the judgment of the majority because of procedural rules, and no other reason..
When the first congress sat in session, they had far more work to do than any other congress in history. They had to take the plan for government, The Constitution, and they had to consider the actual needs of an operating government in an established nation, and determine what they believed was truly necessary, and what was exactly what the war of independence was trying get us away from – a government which operated without response to public oversight.
Every congress which has come together in the last century, every administration which has been assembled, has had well established law, well established planning and principles, and in truth, if we wished to continue to be the established republic, only those congress’ and administrations confronting war have ever had real issues of great importance which had to be dealt with, absent lengthy consideration. Every other congress has had the opportunity to make a few changes, as might be beneficial, but in truth, none needed to do any major changes except because of foolish moves previously made.
When congress was establishing the form of our nation, every bill brought up in either house was expected to be defended by the proponent, stating the article and paragraph the bill naturally would fit under and the source of authority for that bill. All which did not withstand full scrutiny were discarded out of hand. The very idea of attaching something extraneous to a bill was considered obvious disingenuous design, and punished if ever repeated.
The outbreak of the War Between the States brought on numerous suspensions of some of the most important aspects of our Constitution, including the suspension of Habeas Corpus, whole sale detentions, among others. The prosecution of the war kept such things occuring throughout, and at its end, much of what was done had become accepted by The People, and in this vein, many of the protections we had from government stayed away. This was the point at which most of our reflecting to the Constitution for law was lost, and our government began to choose to rule its self.
As a boy, I often heard the statement “ignorance of the law is no excuse”, and was taught up to my majority, this was under the rule of law and valid. It is a logical stand, or could be, were our laws rationally debated, and logically passed, or thrown out, however with the means of law-making as it currently stands, that statement is utterly ridiculous, and completely contrary to what the Speakers of Congress have told us.
When Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House, she stated specifically: “we have to pass this health care act in order to find out what is in it”. In so stating, she told the whole of the Nation, Congress did not know what it was proposing to pass, and she stated it as the head of the House of Representatives, as a matter of plain fact.
While I have no love lost for that woman, I have to absolutely believe her in this statement she made, because it is so damning for the actual practice for making law which our Congress has reduced its self to. Her statement completely comports with what we see of congress in every way, and at the same time, it is a true statement which says: “we don’t know what we are arguing for or against, and you people really don’t having any idea what we do, or how we do it”.
If our elected Senators and Representatives can’t make laws one at a time, if they can’t cleanly pass a law with all its necessities in order, it is long overdue for us to confront Congress and the central government, and tell them: “We don’t accept the old premise, ignorance of the law is no excuse”, “we can’t know the law when you don’t even know it, and you are lying, cheating, stealing when you resort to tricks to pass bills.
We currently have no control over our own laws, and those who do have control, have neither the knowledge of what is in them, nor the honesty to exclude extraneous issues, and force such to be considered in their own right.
We are electing a president this year, but we should also focus on the fact we have far more control over freshmen Senators and Representatives than we do over the executive. If we wish our laws to be rational, applicable to common purpose we can support, we must choose to control Congress, by ensuring it is citizens being elected, and not politicians being re-elected. The current president has shown the whole world just how much control The People have over the executive administration, if we are to control our government, it must be through Congress.
Copyright April 26, 2012 by Gulf1