Archive for February, 2014

Captain Rick: Thomas C. Patterson, a former Arizona State Senator, sees the Compact for America as a test to see if Americans are still able to take their future in their hands or if they are content to see America continue its decline. States have constitutional authority to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget. This is a ‘long shot’ but it offers a ray of hope to save America from pending fiscal decline.

The U.S. Congress recently raised the U.S. National Debt Ceiling to an astronomical $17.2 Trillion, exceeding U.S. Gross National Product … a wake-up call for any nation. The U.S. Congress raised the debt ceiling to accommodate current spending levels and thus kicked ‘America’s debt can’ down the road again for the Nth time to deal with after the fall election.  The sad fact is that with the cost of entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and pure welfare programs like Medicaid, greatly expanded by Obamacare… U.S. spending is mushrooming at an alarming pace, while revenue is increasing at a snail’s pace that can not keep up. I see this resulting in America sailing over the real ‘fiscal cliff’ in the not too distant future… an event that has the potential to reduce America to a third world country.

I invited Thomas, whom I have long admired for his excellence in thinking, to present guest commentary. With his acceptance, I asked him to tell us why his commentary is important to Americans. His reply:

Thomas C. Patterson: “I see the Compact–a constitutional convention of the states–as a test for Americans.  Are we still able to take our future into our hands, like our founders did, to forge the nation we want or are we content to see America continue its decline?  Do we care enough about our posterity, as our founders did, to undertake the most difficult, improbable shared national initiative in our time or will history judge us as standing by while a nation founded in liberty slides into oblivion?”

ABOUT: Thomas C. Patterson is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Nebraska. He was elected to the Arizona State Senate in 1989, serving as minority leader from 1991 to 1992 and majority leader from 1993 to 1996. Patterson was the author of legislation creating Arizona’s charter school system and welfare reform program. Until 1998, he was a practicing physician and president of Emergency Physicians, Inc.. Patterson also served as president of the Arizona chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. In 2000 he became chairman of the Goldwater Institute. Thomas is a retired physician and resident of Paradise Valley, Arizona.

ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL

Guest Commentary

by

Thomas C. Patterson

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More Americans than ever feel our federal government has been permanently taken over by special interests and collectivists.

Dependency on government is reaching ominous levels. Spending that exceeds income has become part of our political culture. We feel like shouting that our debt is dangerously high and that it’s immoral to pass on to future generations the consequences for our self-indulgence.

Yet realistically, there doesn’t seem to be much we can do about it. Until maybe, just maybe, now.

The answer to our despair may well lie in the Compact for America, an agreement among the states to come together to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution. This idea is so promising and dynamic that is gathering momentum across the states, including ours, where it is known as HB 2305.

Here’s the skinny. The U.S. Constitution gives the states the power to call a constitutional convention, as a protection against central government overreach. The framers’ expectation was that once every generation or so, states would need to convene and tweak the Constitution to respond to evolving conditions and to protect the rights of people from the inevitable tendency of power to centralize.

The framers were prescient in understanding that the states would need this privilege, but for one reason or another the states have never called a convention. Every amendment proposed to the Constitution has come through Congress, the other authorized pathway.

It is said that the founders didn’t include a balanced budget provision in the founding documents because they thought it unnecessary. Now that incomprehensible levels of fiscal recklessness have become the norm, the potential need for the states to intervene is clear.

The problem is that, since the states have no experience with a convention, several concerns have arisen over its execution. How would the convention delegates be selected, how would votes be apportioned, how would leadership be chosen? More importantly, what about a runaway convention? What would stop interest groups from taking over the convention and bending the Constitution for their own hot-button issues?

It’s worth remembering that any proposed amendment would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the state Legislatures. But these are serious questions asked by serious people and they deserve answers.

Here’s the genius of the Compact for America. It allows states to know the answers to all the pertinent questions, including exactly which amendments may be considered, before they sign on. When state Legislatures pass a resolution agreeing to the contact, they become part of a constitutionally recognized organization of states created for the express purpose of proposing constitutional amendments. The selection process for delegates, convention logistics and even the text of the amendment would be in the compact document itself.

Would this be difficult? Would there be opposition from all sides? Are there still questions to be answered? Yes, yes and yes. Vast private and government interests are heavily invested in business as usual. Moreover, compacts require the blessing of Congress, although this has been previously granted.

But the Compact for America isn’t constitutional craziness, like annulment or secession. This isn’t some sort of redneck revolt. It’s an opportunity for states to use the clear intent and language of the Constitution to rein in the federal government and put the republic on a more sustainable course.

Unquestionably, the Compact for America would represent change and innovation on a scale many may find unsettling. But this is our challenge. Are we, the political descendants of founders who risked everything to create the most free and prosperous government in the history of the planet, now so timid that we are afraid to use the tools they gave us to defend ourselves from tyranny and decay?

The risk larger than the Compact is the continuation of politics as usual. If we continue doing the same thing, it’s highly probable we’ll get the same results.

Our present predicament was anticipated by the founders. It is precisely the reason they gave the states the power to amend the Constitution. They would very much urge us to use it.

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Tom’s previous ANJ Commentary: “Look behind the Obamacare Curtain”

Captain Rick: The leaders of our world seem to lack common sense in dealing with the many serious problems that face our world … so I think the best remedy is some political humor.

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Thanks Ken of California for contributing these comic works of art.

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Captain Rick: The U.S. Senate gave its approval to raise the nation’s debt ceiling to $17.2 Trillion, allowing the government to continue spending like ‘drunkards’ by borrowing more money to pay its bills through March 2015.

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The politically charged issue cleared the chamber 55-43 after winning House approval Tuesday. The measure now goes to ‘debt loving’ President Barack Obama for his guaranteed signature. Approval removes the prospect of another protracted political fight over fiscal policy as Democrats and Republicans gear up for November’s midterm elections. How politically convenient is this?
It was a ‘clean’ bill…meaning there were no strings attached that would mandate new spending cuts. It gives approval to continue spending like ‘there is no tomorrow’. Our representatives in DC have kicked America’s ‘debt can’ down the road again for the N’th time. How much farther can it be kicked? I suspect…not much.

I wonder with dismay as to how Americans can stand for this total disregard of fiscal common sense? How can Americans continue to elect such fiscally reckless representatives to the U.S. Legislature. I see this tragic event bringing America one step closer to the edge of the real ‘fiscal cliff’. At the bottom…I envision America as a ‘third world country.’

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Captain Rick: With a heavy heart, I convey sad news that Bill, my good friend of many years, has lost his battle with cancer.

Bill’s courageous ‘C-Word’ Journey has come to an end…but his legacy lives on.

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Bill Whitney of Tucson Arizona

I first met Bill on Flickr in 2007. His stunning photo captures of the scenic southwest mesmerized me. His Flickr screen name ScenicSW was very appropriate.

I invited Bill to my Flickr photo group A Virtual Journey in 2008. Since then he earned the invitation of 140 of his photos to the group’s pool. Over the course of several years, Bill climbed his way in the group to achieve top honors: 116 Participation Awards with many in the queue…for his unequalled ability to place ‘words of kindness’ along with his group award in a comment on fellow photographer’s photos. It earned him 17 ‘A Virtual Journey’ Feature presentations on the groups homepage. Bill would have been honored to know that he is first in line to receive Captain Rick’s upcoming ‘A Virtual Journey’ Photographer and Photo Award that will be featured in a future blog post.

A couple years ago, Bill shared with me his diagnosis of Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a rare, highly aggressive skin cancer. His doctors suggested he had 6 months to live without treatment. He chose treatment which included surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and more. Realizing he faced an astronomical journey…I asked him if he would be willing to share his experience on a blog I would create for him. He declined at first. After much conversation about the information and hope that his testimony could bring to future Merkel Cell patients, as well as the therapeutic benefits it could bring him, Bill agreed. And so began Bill’s C-Word Journey. He has faithfully told his story for nearly two years, complete with vivid photos, in what is perhaps the worlds premier documentation of this dreaded disorder. I am honored to have partnered with my friend Bill…as his blogmeister, in his historic ‘C-Word’ Journey.

My friend Bill’s legacy will live on via Bill Whitney’s C-Word Journey on WordPress.

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Captain Rick: Facebook Chairman & CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his Team sent me a ‘thank you’.

I share it with you…

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I joined Facebook in January 2010. I confess…at first I was not a ‘happy camper’. I did not really see its benefit. It looked to me like a bunch of people ‘yacking’ about much of nothing. Later, when I was beginning to take a ‘deeper look’, Facebook pulled the rug out from under me with the new look of the ‘Wall’. I did not like it. I was one of millions to complain. I came very close to quitting Facebook. Somehow, I managed to hang on. I began to see that the changes were actually not so bad after all.

During the later half of 2012, I began to investigate ways to use Facebook to promote my WordPress blog…’Atridim News Journal’. I discovered several local private Facebook Groups and became a member. The conversation taking place in the groups amazed me. There were real people talking about real subjects of interest, conveying information that was of real value. I joined in the discussions and began to have real fun. It completely changed my outlook of Facebook. In the process, I have connected with many new friends, some of which it trust will be friends for the rest of time. 

I discovered how Facebook Pages work by joining many. I got brave and created my own: Atridim News Journal in which I have been sharing all of my WordPress blog posts to. It is a way for Facebook members to connect to my WordPress blog.

I developed a burning desire to create my own Facebook group. Thus the birth of the World Think Tank. Created about a year ago, it was a struggle to get it energized with members willing to discuss important issues that face our world in a truly ‘open’ Facebook group. I have gained a valuable education from the members around the world that post and discuss the issues facing our world. I am pleased to share that several discussions, including ‘Immigration’ are ‘on fire’ in the tank. I utilize thoughts from our ‘World Thinkers’ to fuel new posts on this WordPress blog.

Our world is getting smaller. People are connecting like never before…including me. And so, I thank Mark and his team for creating a new means for me to connect with my friends around the world. Go Mark and team!

Captain Rick on Facebook welcomes you to be a new friend.

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