SUPPRESSING OUR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS TO FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY

English: The state seal of Virginia. Српски / ...
English: The state seal of Virginia. Српски / Srpski: Застава америчке савезне државе Вирџиније. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I am just over sixty, I do not really know how these times compare with previous periods of history. I just know that I see less and less reason to trust the people who lead us. Sadly, we are just getting what we voted for.

What is the latest escapade of the people we elected? Here is an article that sort of explains the issue.

Bills could ban conventions for party nominations

by Julian Walker at PilotOnline.com

Focus on a Virginia Republican autopsy over the causes of party defeats in November has given way to a new controversy roiling the GOP: rancorous divisions over bills that could ban political conventions for both parties.

The bills stipulate that no political party can choose candidates for statewide office or the General Assembly by a method that excludes active-duty military, reservists and other defense personnel unable to attend because of service-related injuries.

The bills’ seeming practical effect would be to prohibit conventions where a select group of party activists choose nominees.

Supporters of the proposals from two Virginia Beach Republicans – Sen. Frank Wagner and Del. Scott Taylor, both Navy veterans – bill them as pro-military pieces of legislation enabling service members to better participate in candidate selection.

But conservative critics suspect something more duplicitous.

They see the bills as a flag-draped way to prevent conventions like the one held in May when grassroots activists nominated Ken Cuccinelli for governor and E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor.

This anti-convention push comes after conservatives took over the GOP governing body from an old guard that is “less confident that their hand-picked candidates will prevail in a convention,” said Stafford County’s Susan Stimpson, a lieutenant governor candidate last year. (continued here)

Apparently, folks in the General Assembly considered two unusual bills today. Senator Frank Wagner (R-VA Beach) introduce SB 507, and Delegate Scott Taylor (R-VA beach) introduced a companion House Bill, HB 194. Why bring this sort of thing up with so little advance notice? I am afraid the answer is that the bills will not stand up to close scrutiny.

We have had this problem with military participation in conventions since the founding of the country. Even where attending a convention is practical, the military establishment discourages soldiers from participating in political activities. When someone joins the military, that one of the rights they give up. Thus, military participation is just a diversion.

So what is the point of this bill? What would it do? Essentially, the bill would strengthen the grip incumbent politicians have on power. As a practical matter, the two major political parties have already eliminated their competitors. With the passage of one of these bills, incumbents would no longer face prospect of being answerable to party regulars, the people who show up at conventions.

Are these bills what The Establishment want? Why would The Establishment object to conventions? If you are a party insider with access to special interest money, then conventions are an abysmal nuisance. Conventions allow “radicals,” that’s highly motivated folks other than yourself, to gain influence. All the “radicals” have to do is show up in sufficient numbers, and they choose the party’s nominee.

Instead of getting rid of conventions, perhaps we ought to consider the significance of party insiders not wanting to compete in conventions. If The Establishment cannot get enough motivated individuals to show up at a convention, what makes these party insiders think they have any business running a local, a state, or national government?

Other Views

Conclusion

Whether we classify the Republican supporters of SB 507 and HB 194 as RINOs, Establishment Republicans, or Conservatives, the bills represent a direct assault on our First Amendment rights to freely assemble and petition the government. Is it the job of the General Assembly to tell any political party how to nominate its candidates? Isn’t the conflict of interest blatantly obvious?

24 thoughts on “SUPPRESSING OUR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS TO FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY

    1. I don’t disagree; I am just not familiar with the legislation the bills patrons have introduced before. Whatever their intent the effect is the same, career pols working to control the only power the Party has – to nominate candidates – in the Code of Virginia. The bill are wrapped in the bloody flag as a ruse for the rubes.

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    1. Term limits are an excellent idea, but they don’t solve the problem. The hearts of our people are becoming hardened and decadent. We pursue our desires, the latest fancy of the moment, but we don’t take the time to care for each other.

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  1. Citizen Tom,

    There are reasons why many people no longer take the time to care for one another.

    1.Too many people are working two jobs and do not have the time or energy. There used to be manufacturing jobs that provided them with livable wages for forty hours work until Congress allowed them to be outsourced. Now they have to work two jobs in the service industry.

    2. Government leaders no longer provide hope for the future of our children, and instead provide means to easily abort.

    3. It is almost impossible for an average Joe to get elected because most elected officials make a career in government and as a result control jobs for their supporters. At primary time, disinterested voters have not many choices in many instances because a potential candidate knows that he or she will have a disadvantage of votes because all the supporters of an incumbent will already have a big vote advantage when his or her supporters influence their family and friends to vote so as not to lose their jobs or be affected by income they derive from being a supporter of the incumbent.

    These are just a few reasons,there are many more reasons for or against. But the fact remains, it is more difficult to get elected if you are a new candidate unless the incumbent really screws up or retires with a great pension and benefits.

    Regards and good will blogging

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    1. Those are excellent observations, but consider.
      1. Why do people work two jobs? “They” want things. We insist upon having things, many we do not need. Moreover, the biggest expense for most of us is government. Government exists just to protect our rights, but what does our government do? Most of us attempt to use government to buy things with other people’s money. We forget that what goes around comes around. Even low wage workers pay a large portion of their income in payroll taxes, and that portion is larger than what most realize. What an employer pays in payroll taxes on behalf a worker is part of the cost of employing that worker.
      2. Why do we allow government leaders to educate our children? Supposedly, that education is “free,” but private schools do a better job and cost less.
      3. We still choose our leaders. When we don’t do any research and allow the corporate news media to tell us what to think, the average Joe cannot compete.

      My point is that we have our priorities wrong. Instead of looking to the Almighty for wisdom, we expect human wisdom to suffice, but just like the rest of us, when tempted by power and wealth, our leaders too often succumb.

      Far more often than we do, the people who founded this nation used the wisdom contained in the Bible to guide them. Most of us have never read the Bible. Thus, we have a heart problem.

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      1. I agree with your perceptions except for the reason why people work two jobs. Calculate what a person makes earning minimum wage and has a family to support. They qualify for food stamps, rent subsidies, and earned income tax breaks which means they do not pay Federal Taxes, only local sales taxes. So now they buy most products at Wal Mart which mainly buys imported products. So the end effect is they lost their livable wage job which they used to pay Federal taxes, to buy products that they used to make.

        Economists will tell you the US benefits more from cheaper imports when in fact what has transpired because of bad trade agreements is US workers earnings have been lowered while those who sell and profit most from imports have prospered. A good indicator of job losses is the US trade deficit. As US trade deficits increase, unemployment increases while livable wages decrease.

        Congress is responsible for trade agreements and has done nothing to resolve trade deficits even though in the last elections, they all stated jobs were going to be their number one priority.

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        1. The number of people who make minimum wage is small; it is less than 4% of workers and closer to 1% once you eliminate young persons in entry-level jobs. This is not the driver of great social change, nor is it the explanation for the many-times-more households that actually get on food stamps.

          Your suggestions all seem to focus on government — as if the US government were responsible for global trade. I don’t think this is a fair assessment, nor is it the right place to look for a solution.

          First of all, Congress doesn’t “allow” outsourcing; Americans have been buying products from overseas since before we organized as Colonies. The East India company was an early example of global trade, and “outsourcing” if you will. Later, especially during the 20th century, the US made products that the rest of the world clamored to get. Now, we have largely priced ourselves (and dumbed ourselves) out of the market, and have real competition. But as that competition has matured, and become more expensive, others have jumped in to compete, and the earnings of people in those Asian labor sources has risen. This is a natural benefit of the global trade process, but it cannot be simply legislated. And the US Congress cannot stop the world.

          Americans benefit from cheaper products, but if we want to stay competitive we have to be competitive. Trade agreements are supposed to open up the flow. To declare “no, you’re not allowed to buy from China because we said so” will simply put the US at a further disadvantage — until we throw the bums out.

          What the US government has done has failed us at every level, especially this administration. They took over education, and blew it. They’ve taken over business, and screwed that up. They’ve wrecked healthcare, energy, and they’re in the process of crashing the US’s ability to defend itself, and they are making it appear to the world that we are not worth defending.

          But they have no business in trade. And they can’t just fix other countries. What they CAN do is make it attractive for business to happen in the US, and right now they are doing just the opposite with prohibitive tax policies. In the meantime, they want us to be distracted, to be mad at other people, the “rich,” the “1%ers,” the evil oil companies, the whatever is the moment’s two minutes of hate.

          You complain about Walmart, but ignore the fact that the percentage of products purchased overseas by many others is the same or higher. You are being trained to hate Walmart on command; I’d resist such training, because the real problem lies elsewhere. Look carefully at the people telling you who you should hate.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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        2. If there were just one thing I could get the American People to understand, it would be this:
          Rights don’t come from the Constitution. They come from the Creator God (Decl. of Indep., 2nd para).
          It is impossible to understand our Constitution until we purge ourselves of the Lie that rights come from the Constitution. The purpose of civil governments is to secure the rights God gave us. In the Constitution, we created the federal government and delegated certain powers to it. We retained all others for ourselves.
          All the first amendment does is list 5 things Congress can’t make laws about. Read that again. Read the first amendment. What does it actually say? It lists 5 things Congress can’t make laws about. It is NOT the source of our rights!

          Now look at this: Art. III, Sec. 2, cl. 1 delegates to the federal courts judicial power over all cases “arising under this Constitution”. The first amendment is part of the Constitution. Once the American People got manipulated into believing that their rights come from the “Bill of Rights”, it was an easy matter for the federal courts to start adjudicating the “scope and extent” of our “first amendment rights”. And so THAT is how Christian prayer got banned in the public schools.
          THIS is the first and essential step in learning our Constitution.

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    1. That’s great news! Thanks!

      I read your post.
      http://thebullelephant.com/grassroots-victory-against-state-intrusion-into-party-affairs/

      Here are links to the bills.

      The Senate bill appears dead in committee.
      http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?141+sum+SB507

      The record shows the House bill is technically still on the docket of the Committee on Privileges and Elections, but given the committee vote in the Senate committee, I can see why Taylor withdrew his bill.
      http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?141+sum+HB194

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  2. Kieth Dehavelleo

    You have to be wary of the use of percentages.

    Check out this website. You do not have to believe the message only consider the aspects of the content in regards to percentages. Also keep in mind that if a person is working part time but really wants full time, they are still considered working and add to that the number of people on unemployment, a form of minimum wage and the numbers become skewed.

    Also I only use Wal Mart as a typical example of all major retailers in the US.

    heeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/40-percent-of-u-s-workers-make-less-than-what-a-full-time-minimum-wage-worker-made-in-1968

    Regards and good will blogging

    Like

    1. Minimum wage and use of workers are completely different issues. The US government is doing everything that it can to reduce the US’s ability to do business in the world. Regulatory approaches are greatly increasing the cost of employees, whether this benefits employees or not (it doesn’t), and is incentivizing businesses to use people for fewer hours. Your link is talking about totals per person, not hour, and this is the effect — apparently the desired effect — of government action against business, making the US less competitive in the world. Increasing the minimum wage — in other words, Congress throwing more laws at the economy to “fix” it — will of course make things worse.

      Incidentally, when talking about the 1960s, you have to keep in mind how much people were spending on the basics back then: computers, cell phones, Internet service, computer gaming systems, and cable TV.

      Back then, I worked more than 100 hours per week so that, with overtime, I actually cleared $100 net take home after tax — it was a big deal. But, in 1968, my income was primarily tips. It was still possible to break $100.

      But you keep focusing on “trade agreements” by “Congress” as the source of problems. It is Congress, indeed, but domestic attacks on business rather than some international agreement that takes the US out of the running for world trade. And that’s what clobbers US workers and the US economy.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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      1. Kieth,

        Trade agreements that result in unfavorable to trade balances are detrimental to the economy of the deficit nation according to the WTO of which the US is a member. When Congress allows China to export to the US 1/2 trillion dollars a year in their favor, the trade agreement favors Chinese workers instead of US workers. China should buy US products and services to balance trade instead of insisting that US companies must build plants and use Chinese workers to manufacture products in the China markets.

        There are no same mandates for Chines products must be made in the US in order to be sold in the US. The result is that instead of US dollars being returned to the US in the form of purchases of products and services, China borrows to the US with the surplus dollars they accumulate by favorable trade balances and collects interest tax free.

        While at the same time if a US citizen buys a Treasury bill or bond, the must pay tax on the interest.

        Congress should make trade agreements that stipulate when trade balances are excessive, that the US will add tariffs to balance trade. In other words, For example, China should buy US made tractors instead of insisting that any US company that sells a tractor in China must build the tractor in China.

        Congress has done a better job representing foreign workers interest than US workers in my opinion

        Regards and good will blogging.

        Like

        1. You say, “Trade agreements that result in unfavorable to trade balances are detrimental to the economy of the deficit nation according to the WTO of which the US is a member.”

          Let’s say that an agreement is simple: “Trade between our nations shall be free and open and without tariffs.”

          Now what?

          Do you suggest instead that Congress require that China impose upon its people the requirement to purchase some US good, picked at random, if the balance ever tips in their favor? And that the US government do the same to us? Let’s say you are mandated to purchase $34 in Chinese goods this month. Doesn’t matter what it is. That doesn’t sound like much, but it is $34 net to China. Or is it to a Chinese company? Or to a US company in China?

          It all gets confusing, doesn’t it? How about open trade, period, and let’s attempt to be competitive. Then the market will make the right decisions, as it always does with free-market incentives.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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  3. Keith,

    If trade is free and open, how can the US ever compete against markets that pay their workers $200 a month when in the US a worker has to pay $1000 a month rent? As with every agreement regarding trade, there needs to be free and fair agreements that take into consideration that every US dollar that is used to purchase an import is returned to the US in the form of a return purchase of goods or services.

    If we do as you suggest, the US worker standard of living wil have to decrease to meet the lowest paid workers in the world.

    Trade is good if it is balanced. Milton Friedman sold Congress on the presumption that the US dollar would return as I have just stated. It has not and the result is detrimental to US workers.

    Obama promised to renegotiate all trade agreements when he campaigned for his first run as President. As of today he has done squat on this promise and employment is basically stagnent.

    Regards and good will blogging.

    Like

    1. What is your plan? Outlaw trade?

      I don’t know if you’re tracking on this, but trade takes place between people, and between companies. Not between nations. We gather up the transactions by country for reporting purposes, but you seem to want to propose laws that would regulate how much people were allowed to purchase.

      How, exactly, would that work? Tell me what you think such a law would say to you, or me, or anyone else who wants to engage in a private transaction.

      Incidentally, people’s salaries don’t raise or lower to match each other. Value levels out. The value of a good in the US includes the cost to get it to that spot, which means that people locally have an advantage.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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  4. Publius Huldah – It is funny. The Bill of Rights does not list our rights; it says what government cannot do. Yet some people have become so ignorant they think government gives them their rights. ;-(

    Like

  5. Scatter Wisdom and Keith — I think you are both right to some extent.

    Government is a huge expense. It increases the cost of doing business. That added cost can easily price our workers out of the market, particularly when those workers depend upon our government to educate them.

    Because nations seek to protect their businesses from competition and politicians can be bought — even by foreign governments — trade agreements can be just as lengthy as some of the bills that have been coming out of Congress lately.

    As Keith has suggested, I think trade is best conducted with minimal government interference. We don’t need to stick our nose into how other nations regulate their business, but we do need to make certain that foreign governments do not subsidize their own businesses in order to destroy our own. That kind of cutthroat competition we can do without.

    Unfortunately, economics is extremely complex. When we try to pin down a specific cause as to why a company or an industry failed, in addition to confusing political wrangling, we have to sort out numerous variables. Thus, politicians can play favorites and with a little sophistry make it sound like a like good thing. Yet when the market is allowed to operate unhindered, we usually approach the most optimal results.

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  6. Keith’s 1022 comment of yesterday (and subsequent contributions) is very accurate and important. Government can’t dictate economic results in international trade. The most intelligent policy is one that lets the largest possible number of people partake of the advantages of efficiency in a low to nil barrier international market of goods, services and labor. Efforts to dictate results through government, as scatterwisdom wistfully, understandably, but ultimately futilely desires, lead to ruin.

    The comments have strayed a long way from the post, but once the trade window was opened, I am grateful that Keith leapt in with some hard-neaded common sense.

    Like

    1. Because all things are related, I don’t necessarily mind comments straying. I just look for a logical reason for digression, and Scattered Wisdom (appropriate name that) provided one.

      May I suggest a few minor, but crucial edits?

      Government can dictate economic results in international trade. However, the most intelligent policy is one that lets the largest possible number of people partake of the advantages of efficiency in a low to nil barrier international market of goods, services and labor.

      Because we lack the wisdom to restrain ourselves, I suspect we will always insist that politicians that meddle in our economy. The free market never quite produces the results we want, and just a little bit of tinkering seems to produce the modifications we want. Then we get carried away. Until the tinkering becomes substantial, we don’t appreciate the extent of the harm.

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  7. Short-term government interventions can have effects, Tom (some, even many, unintended). Long-term, however, arbitrary government constraints on trade tend to be undermined by the price mechanism, which has ways of asserting itself as ineluctably as the tendency of water to move downhill.

    Like

    1. I don’t understand. Could you explain further?

      What do you mean by the price mechanism? How does the price mechanism undermine arbitrary government constraints? If in the long term, the price mechanism undermines arbitrary government constraints on trade, does that mean that in the long term arbitrary government constraints on trade don’t do any good or harm?

      Like

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