Monday, June 13, 2011

Happy Flag Day

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new nation. The resolution ordered that "the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation." On August 3, 1949, President Harry S Truman commemorated the occasion by officially declaring June 14 as Flag Day.
Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state.
Today the flag consists of 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies; the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. Yes, there are 50 states in the United States! The colors of the flag are symbolic as well, red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Amateur poet Francis Scott Key was so inspired by the sight of the American flag still flying over Baltimore's Fort McHenry after a British bombardment that he wrote the "Star-Spangled Banner" on September 14, 1814. It officially became our national anthem in 1931.
In 1892, the flag inspired James B. Upham and Francis Bellamy to write the "Pledge of Allegiance." It was first published in a magazine called The Youth's Companion.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Loss of Liberty – the 17th Amendment

In a little less than a month we will celebrate the founders of these united States independence from tyranny and oppression. This independence lasted until 1913 removal of the power of the states, the 17th amendment was passed.  
The 17th amendment modified Article 1 Section 3 of the Constitution. Originally the senate was chosen by the state legislatures rather than a vote. This allowed the states the ability to immediately recall senators who were not acting in the best interest of the people and the states.  As the Constitution read- “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.”  These two bodies were designed to provide checks and balances between the legislative branch and the executive branch while also providing checks and balances between the federal government and the states.
The 17th amendment changed to be “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures. 
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct. 
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.” 
Notice that the states originally had the power to choose and select the federal senators thus giving the states a great deal of power in the legislative branch of government just as the constitution is clearly written to do.  By removing a great deal of the power of the states that power was then centralized in the federal legislative branch.  Today the power lies much more with the executive branch with the judicial as a watchdog for them usually, with a fairly impotent legislative branch at the bottom.  This is far from the original republic for which our forefathers and their families sacrificed and died. The independent republic of several states and a federal government made and powered by the states which are powered by the people that the founders envisioned and created has fallen to a national government that takes all from the states and the people and allows the states to act in accordance with the wills of the national body or the states will lose funding which is and was their rightfully.   
Why should the people not choose their own Senators? For starters, this amendment strips power from the states, which ultimately strengthens the federal government.  This Amendment removes an important check and balance between the federal government and the states. This Amendment completely removes the states from participation in the approval of federal legislation, approval of executive appointments for cabinet positions and federal judges, ratification of international treaties, and judgment in all matters of impeachment.
James Madison wrote in The Federalist #45 that “the powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negociation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
Read the first two sentence a few times. The powers of the States Governments are numerous and indefinite and the powers of the Federal Government few and defined. We have come a long way from the framers’ ideas on a Federal Government role. Additionally Madison wrote “The Senate will be elected absolutely and exclusively by the State legislatures.”
As Henry Lamb put it “The founders who fought tooth-and-nail for four months in Philadelphia did so because they loved freedom and hated despotism. They knew the only way to prevent a government from becoming despotic was to create multiple power sources and force them to compete, and to require eventual agreement before any new law could be imposed upon the people.
The purpose for having a bicameral legislature was to have two separate constituencies examine proposed legislation. The House of Representatives represented the people; the Senate – chosen by state legislatures – represented the states. These two sources of power had to agree on all legislation before it could go to the president. The president, another power source, had to agree before any proposal could become law.
The 17th Amendment obliterated this carefully designed system by removing the states from participation. What remained was a bicameral legislature representing a single constituency, divided only by party affiliation. Thus began the tug-of-war between two political persuasions for control of the power government possesses. Before the 17th Amendment, the purpose of government was to protect the inherent rights of its citizens and to defend them from all enemies foreign and domestic. After the 17th Amendment, the purpose of government evolved into the enforcement of political theories the ruling party believed to be most suitable for the people.”
It is too late to be concerned that a loss of liberty is imminent, rather it is time to lament that the republic has been subverted.  We see daily the fourth amendment being thrown aside with the aid of many federal judiciaries and even states judges as well. We have long seen the assault of first amendment rights with the right to exercise your religious faith compromised by rulings rather than laws as to avoid making a law that will prohibit the free exercise of religion.  This happens with speech and the freedom to peaceably assembly as well when we are forced to pay for a permit to exercise our rights or be fined and jailed with local rules rather than laws.
The positive outcome of the intrusions is that America is waking up and yearning for our God-given rights. We are reaching the point of demanding the liberties that has made this union of states in a federal government so great. As Alex Jones says (referring to the George Orwell novel and current state of affairs) “the answer to 1984 is 1776!”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt Sues EPA over Regional Haze Rule

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the agency’s denial of Oklahoma’s proposed implementation of a plan to reduce regional haze in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. A copy of the court filing can be found here.
“According to The Clean Air Act, it is the responsibility of the state to create a plan to improve visibility and reduce regional haze in wildlife areas, and we are intent on preserving that right,” Pruitt said. “By ignoring Oklahoma’s plan, the EPA not only usurped the right of Oklahoma to set its own energy policy, but violated the process required by the Regional Haze Rule.”
The Regional Haze Rule requires agencies to work together to improve visibility at national parks and wilderness areas by 2064. Oklahoma’s industry leaders, elected officials, utility companies, consumer protection advocates and energy producers spent months creating a State Implementation Plan to address the requirements of the rule in multiple parts of the state, submitting it to the EPA more than a year ago. The plan accomplished the regional haze requirements by 2026.
In March, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson informed the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality that the federal government planned to implement their own regional haze plan. Based on the latest estimates, the federal plan may increase Oklahoma utility rates 13 percent to 20 percent over three years.
“The EPA’s decision to disregard Oklahoma’s regional haze plan and implement their own is just the latest example of federal overreach,” Governor Mary Fallin said. “The Obama Administration has exhibited a pattern of support for policies that will hurt our families and businesses, destroy jobs and hamstring our state as it tries to emerge from the recession. I applaud Attorney General Pruitt for drawing this line in the sand and telling Washington that ‘enough is enough.’”
The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, outlines claims that the EPA did not meet the deadline to file a Federal Implementation Plan, nor follow the required approval process.
“I fully support the lawsuit filed today by Attorney General Pruitt, which seeks to stop the EPA from rejecting Oklahoma’s affordable state implementation plan to reduce regional haze and improve visibility in national parks in favor of a much more expensive federal plan,” U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said.
“The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality did the right thing: State officials worked with state utilities to construct a plan for regional haze that allows for fuel flexibility and balances environmental protection with the need for affordable energy. EPA’s decision, on the other hand, could cost state utilities $2 billion while providing less environmental benefits than the state plan — and Oklahoma families, farmers and manufacturers would undoubtedly foot the bill. I hope the outcome of the lawsuit will ensure that Oklahoma can provide affordable energy while continuing its progress on reducing emissions. We can certainly do it without the EPA.”

Governor Signs Law for Tax Hearings Outsourcing Tax Refund Payments

On May 26th 2011, Governor Fallin signed SB 123 into law. This bill includes provisions related to the Tax Commission for increased compliance for sales, use and income taxes. Included are initiatives for additional hearings related to issues regarding remittance of sales and use taxes, additional auditing personnel for sales and use tax enforcement and additional audits of corporate and partnership income tax returns. Additionally, the measure provides for the use of direct deposit and card-based disbursement systems in lieu of checks or warrants for the issuance of income tax refunds.
The Oklahoma Tax Commission may use a direct deposit system and card-based disbursement system in lieu of checks or warrants for the purposes of issuing refunds for overpayment of individual income taxes.  Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 205 of this title, the Tax Commission may enter into a contract with, and release taxpayer information to, entities deemed to be qualified by the Tax Commission to implement the card-based disbursement system.  The Tax Commission shall not release to any entity contracted with pursuant to this section the full social security number of taxpayers opting to receive a refund through the card-based disbursement system.
Estimates by the Tax Commission indicate the implementation of the initiative to increase tax compliance will result in an increase in collections. Specifically, the addition of sales and use tax auditors will increase collections by $3.5 million, the income tax audit effort will yield $4.0 million and the additional hearings for sales tax permit holders will result in collections of $11.8 million.
Implementation of the direct deposit and card-based refund system will result in estimated administrative and processing savings of $500,000.
There is concern that sending the information may cause unintended problems with our personal information as reported earlier.