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Monday, February 11, 2013

Some interesting court cases

I have been thinking about how the courts have been ruling on the Second amendment lately. It seems that after many decades of ignoring it they have been looking at it more closely. I have been looking at the more well known cases and have a few thoughts.

One of the earliest cases involving the Second amendment was US V. Miller in 1939. In this case the defendant, Jack Miller, was stopped by Oklahoma State police and arrested for possession of an unregistered short barreled shotgun. This was a violation of the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) which required a $200 tax stamp and background check to own several types of firearms, including shotguns with a barrel shorter than 18 inches. The district court dismissed the case on the grounds that the NFA violated the Second amendment. This ruling was appealed by the government and eventually made it to the Supreme Court, which reversed the decision, stating (incorrectly) that "a shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia". Other arguments made by the government included 1) the theory that the NFA was a revenue collecting measure, 2) since the defendant transported the shotgun across state lines it was used in interstate commerce, 3) the Second amendment protects military style firearms for use in a well regulated militia and 4) the shotgun in question was never used in any military organization.

Let's start with the last argument first. Whether or not a piece of hardware was ever used in a military organization or not should have been of no consequence. The fact that it was a personally owned piece of property means that the government had no right or authority to take it away. Any firearm can be used in a militia, which according to founding father George Mason consists of "the whole people, except a few government officials".

Since we have determined that the militia is the whole of the people that eliminates the third argument as well. The whole "well regulated" part is often misunderstood by the left, usually intentionally. You need to go back to when the phrase was used to get the context and meaning. At the time (and in certain circles today) the phrase "well regulated" meant either "well trained" (pertaining to men or groups) or "well adjusted" (pertaining to equipment). It had absolutely NOTHING to do with government control, and still doesn't.

The second argument, that the firearms was transported across state lines and so was used in interstate commerce, comes from one of the most tortured misreadings of any part of the Constitution ever. First, the defendant already owned the firearm, it wasn't being bought or sold. Second, commerce doesn't apply to private transactions but to businesses. I'll try to go more into depth on the proper (and improper) application of the interstate commerce clause some other time.

On the first argument, while it may be true that the NFA was and is a revenue collecting measure, it was put into place as a punitive measure. At the time it was instituted the cost of fully automatic firearms was around $200, the amount of the tax. The stated goal was revenue collection, but even the BATFE admits that the real goal was to discourage purchase of those firearms.

The NFA also covers short barrel shot guns, "destructive devices", silencers/suppressors and what are termed "any other weapons". In most European countries, the use of suppressors is considered polite and is even mandated in some areas. Most industrial equipment anywhere near as loud as a firearm is required to have some form of noise reduction, Cars, trucks and motorcycles, even on some race tracks, are required to use mufflers. Why would the same device for firearms be so regulated as to need a $200 tax and 6-9 month wait for government permission to own? (sorry for the side rant).

Friday, February 8, 2013

Firearms laws continue to fail us.

We have over 20,000 gun control laws in this country, with more being proposed all the time. We also have had a declining rate of violent crime for the past two decades. You may think that these two are related but as I will try to prove there seems to be a negative correlation between the two, meaning that more laws do not mean less crime. The areas with the most restrictive gun laws seem to have the highest rates of overall crime crime, while the areas with the least restrictive laws enjoy a lower rate of overall crime.

Lets start with the city that seems to lead the nation in number of murders, Chicago, IL. In Chicago it is virtually impossible to get permission to own a handgun. This will be changing as they have been told by the Supreme Court, in McDonald V. Chicago, that it is unconstitutional to deny the Second amendment right that the rest of the country enjoys. It is also impossible, for the time being, to carry a handgun anywhere in the state of Illinois. This will be changing as the state has been ordered to enact some form of carry as a result of the Shepard V. Madigan court case, which overturned the total ban on carrying a firearm outside of ones home. With these two restriction still in place there were over 500 murders in Chicago last year, and they are on a pace to beat that this year with 42 in January alone (just extrapolating that number gets them to almost 500, and violence tends to increase as the weather gets warmer). This in a city where the law abiding are prohibited from defending themselves outside of their homes and discouraged, via strict regulations, from doing so inside of their homes.

Or perhaps you would prefer to look at the most violent city in the US, Detroit, MI. They are at or near the top in every category of crime per the FBI statistics. 2137 violent crimes per 100,000 people, 48 murders, 60 rapes, 695 robberies, 1333 aggravated assaults. This city had, until 2001, strict licensing of handgun ownership, a habit that takes time for the people to break.

We can now move on to some place with much less restrictive gun laws, like Manchester, NH. In Manchester, indeed in all of New Hampshire, one can carry a firearm openly without getting permission from the government to do so. If you would like to carry a concealed weapon it will be issued as long as you are no prohibited from owning a firearm (basically, the chief of police in your town needs to prove you shouldn't have it), and costs a whopping $10 - for FOUR years- for a resident. The latest stats from the Manchester Police Department, for 2010, lists 2 murders, 63 rapes, 154 robberies and 290 aggravated assaults. Since the population is about 100,000 those can be taken as the rates per 100,000. These numbers are all down from the 2009 numbers as well.

In every city or state where the have loosened restriction, crime rates plummet. When Florida went to a shall issue permit law, the left predicted blood in the streets, shootouts over fender benders and general mayhem from gun owners. What happened there, and in every other place that has followed suit, is that crime dropped in every category, and in every segment of the population save one. At the time Florida issued distinctive plates for rental cars, making them easy to identify. The only segment of the population that didn't enjoy the same drop in crime was, you guessed it, tourists, as the criminals could be reasonably sure their targets would be unarmed if they were driving a rental car. A few years later Florida started issuing the same series plate to rentals as to the general population and the crime rate against tourists dropped to almost the same level as the rest of the population (some criminals work near the airports and attractions).

Law abiding citizens who get government permission to carry a firearm (which shouldn't be necessary but we'll get to that later) are not the problem with crime in this country. The biggest problem is criminals that aren't punished severely early in their career, with the police and courts playing catch and release while the criminals get taught that there are no repercussions for their actions. Another problem is the (lack of a) mental health system in this country, which allows those like the maniacs who have been committing the recent shootings to fall through the cracks. Most of them exhibited signs on mental instability in school, but as soon as they were removed from the school no one cared enough to keep track of them or report them to authorities who might of been able to enter them into the NICS database, allowing most of them to buy firearms legally. Leave the law abiding alone to be able to protect themselves and punish those who break the laws.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Long time, no blog

I really need to pay more attention to this blog. There is so much going on in the world that needs to be discussed in a logical manner, rather than relying on feelings. I think I'll concentrate on what the left calls "gun control" but what in reality is just "control".

Since the last time I posted here there have been several tragedies in this country, most notable being the slaughter of 26 innocent souls in Newtown, CT. Predictably, the left has jumped on this tragedy to promote "gun control", knowing that it will be easier to get passed while emotions are high. Senator Feinstein (D, CA) is trying to push a new "assault weapons" ban, even more stringent than the one that thankfully expired in 2004. This time she has carefully crafted it in such a way, using subtle language, that it could conceivably used to ban ALL semi-automatic firearms. The relevant passage is from page 13 and reads

     3 ‘‘(46) The term ‘pistol grip’ means a grip, a thumb
     4 hole stock, or any other characteristic that can function
     5 as a grip."

Since every firearm needs a way to hold (or grip) it, this simple looking phrase can, and likely will, be read to mean any semi-auto firearm. Since she is on record as wanting to ban all privately held firearms (60 Minutes Feb 5, 1995) this is not likely to be an accidental phrasing of her desires.

New York state was the first to actually pass new legislation after the tragedy, passing the misnamed SAFE act without even following state law requiring 3 days for reading and debate. They were so intent on passing something that they even forgot to carve out an exemption for law enforcement, meaning that even the police are now limited to 7 round magazines (while the criminals, since they will ignore the law as they always do, will continue to carry full capacity magazines). The stated goal was to remove firearms from the streets, but in reality it will only affect the law abiding. As usual, the politicians ignore the fact that criminals, by the very definition of the word, will ignore this law as they do all laws meant to control their actions.

The only reason for any laws like this (or any laws for that matter) is to control the actions of the law abiding. The best way I have heard it said concerning laws is "Bad men won't heed them and good men don't need them". The goal seems to be to just slowly tighten the noose on our rights, a little at a time, until we have voluntarily given up everything. This we cannot allow to happen. We need to push back, hard and fast, until we get our country back. And don't think it is just the Democrats that work this way. Both major political parties in this country have similar goals, just using different tactics and timetables.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I'm back

Still trying to figure out how more than half of those inclined to vote this year thought that another 4 years of the same exact policies would be a good idea, including the House, Senate and White House. Has anything positive been accomplished during the past 4 years, other than the elimination of Osama Bin Laden? Let's go down the list of problems and how they have changed.

Unemployment was 7.8% when Obama took office in January 2009. We were promised that if he was granted the stimulus package(s) he sought, that number would never exceed 8.0% and would by this time be down to 5.4%. From the date of his inauguration until October of this year we have had unemployment of over 8% (magically, it fell in the last report before the election). These numbers are only the U3 number, which doesn't include those who have given up or taken part-time when they need full time (that would be U6 data) and are lower than they would be if it was still measured as it was during the Great Depression. Using that method we would be over 20% unemployment. The only employment segment that has done better than this has been government employees, meaning the payroll that we all contribute to has grown while those contributing to that payroll have diminished in number. More layoffs are being announced every week, some due to business closings, some due to the impending "fiscal cliff" which will impact the defense industry hardest, some due to unions thinking the companies are bluffing (Hostess comes to mind, 18,000 jobs lost rather than take pay cuts).

Personal net worth has declined by almost 40% during this period while personal income has dropped by about $5,000. This means that each person is doing worse than they were 4 years ago by any legitimate financial measure. Of course there are exceptions to this, including our dear leader. Somehow, he has managed to increase his net worth from about $1.4M in 2008 to about $11M this year. He couldn't possibly be benefiting from some of his policies could he, like investing in green energy companies on the verge of failure?

Healthcare, as some predicted, is starting to suffer. Doctors are refusing new patients, both standard and medicare, and some are retiring early to avoid the additional regulations that are being imposed. Medical equipment manufacturers are starting to announce layoffs because of increased costs from taxes and regulations in Obamacare. Related to both this category and employment, many companies are starting to cut hours for employees to less than 30 to avoid the expense of healthcare and the fines for not providing it.

Taxes are on the way up for everyone, contrary to what was promised. Even if they implemented a 100% tax on the wealthiest 5% there would not be enough revenue to put even a small dent in the deficit. The left still hasn't figured out that raising taxes will reduce revenue. The reverse is also true, and this has been proven by both JFK and Reagan. I'm not sure what the magic number is that gives people the ability to keep most of their paycheck and still allows the government to perform the tasks required of it, but it isn't higher than the current rate and is likely much lower. Personally, I don't think the government should ask for more than our Heavenly Father asks of us, 10%, and should adapt to that level of revenue.

Government regulations are increasing in every sector that I can think of. This is having negative effects on such important things as energy and education. Remember when Obama said that energy costs "would necessarily skyrocket" if he was able to implement his policies? He got his wish. He is trying to make it impossible to generate electricity using coal, which will deprive this country of about 44% of the power we use, so people will be forced to support green technologies (wind, solar, tidal) none of which are ready for prime time and all of which require backup systems (and which come with their own environmental problems, another post will cover these).

Foreign relations are doing so well, don't you think? The first US ambassador in 30 years was killed while the military was repeatedly told to stand down. The "Arab spring" is bearing fruit that no one (other than Al' Queda and the Muslim Brotherhood) wanted. Egypt now has a dictator who has declared himself above the courts and laws, and who wants to implement Shari'a law instead of secular law. Our only ally in the middle east is under constant rocket attack and the media in this country (who reside firmly in Obamas back pocket) complain when they defend themselves. And we keep sending billions, which we can't afford, to countries that don't like us much in exchange for ... what exactly?

I think the underlying theme here is the law of unintended consequences, the things you don't expect to happen because of your decisions. Running a country requires a bit more foresight than has been shown by this administration, planning for outcomes other than those desired or hoped for. It also requires learning from history, because the truth, no matter how trite it sounds, is that those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Financially this country is headed for something like the Weimar Republic, socially and legally we will resemble the former Soviet Union.

We now have about 2 years to try to get the Senate back from the left and 4 years to find a candidate who will actually lead this country, rather than use the office as a personal entertainment/vacation agancy. Let's get on it and do it right this time (assuming the country survives that long).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Now I'm officially afraid of the government...

Not really, but with the latest Executive Order from the White House we all have more reason to start worrying. The latest incarnation of The National Defense Resources Preparedness EO makes some minor changes, mostly in responsibilities assigned to each cabinet position, and one, very worrying one. Previous versions of this order, going back to 1939, give the President the authority to take over some or all of our industrial capacity in order to allow for control of production during war time. Not exactly in accordance with the Constitution as written or intended by the men that wrote it, but I don't find Executive orders in that document either. This particular series of orders is (almost) understandable, during an emergency. The problem with the newest version is twofold. First, we have been in an official state of emergency since September 14, 2001. And second, the new version allows for the control to be taken during peacetime.

That's right, by executive fiat, the government can take over any business or private property, even if there is no war or other emergency. There is even a section that allows the head of the mentioned agencies to " to employ persons of outstanding experience and ability without compensation and to employ experts, consultants, or organizations". Being forced to work for the government without compensation looks like it may violate the 13th amendment, you know, the one that outlawed slavery.

I don't know if the current administration has any intention of using this order, but given the general contempt shown for the Constitution, and the people of this nation in general, I wouldn't be surprised if they do. I am afraid that if they do try to implement this it will mean the start of the second American Revolution. I do not want this to happen, I sincerely hope it doesn't, but I also know which side of the battle I would be on.

This is, unfortunately, exactly the situation the Second amendment was written for, as a reset switch for a government gone bad. A reset switch the founders hoped we wouldn't ever need but put in place as a precaution. We, as law abiding citizens will not be the ones to start any battle, but I would hope there are enough patriots left to restart this country the way it was intended to be. Think on this, long and hard, and decide where your loyalties lie.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Is gun control even feasible?

Gun control advocates would have us think that by outlawing firearms we will be safer as citizens. there are several problems with this line of thinking, not the least of which is human nature itself. There will always be those who would prefer to take from others that which they have not earned. There will also always be those who are psychopathic or otherwise unfit to interact with society. These people cannot be eliminated by legislating that law-abiding people be unable to defend against the predators. All that will do is give the predators easier prey to harm.

Has there ever been a successful implementation of gun control? By this, I mean a situation where the citizens benefited by being disarmed rather than the government benefiting by having a disarmed population. Every time it has been tried the government involved has eventually killed some segment of its population. What follows is a list of government sponsored genocides from the twentieth century (courtesy of

Turkey                    1915-1917       1.5 million      (mostly Armenians)
Soviet Union           1929-1945       20  million      (farmers, political opponents)
Nazi Germany         1933-1945       20  million      (Jews, Gypsies, political opponents)
Nationalist China     1929-1949       10  million      (political opponents, military conscripts)
Communist China    1949-1976       20-35 million  (political opponents, rural, enemies of the state)
Guatemala               1960-1981       1-200,000     (Mayans, Indians, political enemies)
Uganda                   1971-1979       300,000         (Christians, political enemies)
Cambodia               1974-1979       2 million          (Educated people, political enemies)
Rwanda                  1994                 800,000         (Tutsi)

The similarity between all of these is that some form of gun control was implemented before the murders took place. The gun control ranged from permits to own (Illinois, Massachusetts) to registration (California, New York) to outright bans (Washington DC, since overturned). In every case the government started with small, so-called reasonable, laws and progressed to bans and them to punishing those who defied them. In every case in this country where there is strict gun control, there is also elevated violent crime rates when compared to areas with more liberal laws.

Now, I can't be certain that the cause of the higher crime rates is the disarmed population, but I do know that, in the animal kingdom, predators will avoid prey that can fight back, when at all possible. As most humans are smarter than most animals, I would assume the same holds true for them, the predators (criminals) will avoid the prey that can fight back (armed citizens). What holds the higher predators, those corrupted by power, at bay in society is the realization that, if pushed too far the citizens can (and will) fight back. By disarming the citizens those in power make it easier for for them to remain in power. Gun control is not at all about guns or making people safer nut entirely about controlling the masses to enable the ruling class (which we shouldn't have) to keep ruling.

Think about it. Keep this in mind when you vote this fall. Also, remember that most of those in Washington think that the Constitution is an outdated document which should be ignored when convenient. Those need to be fired by the people they work for, namely US.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

They call this ethical..

Two people calling themselves bioethicists are proposing what they euphemistically call "after-birth abortion". What they mean by this is that if a child is born with a defect that would have caused the parents to abort the child before birth, they should have they right to kill the child after birth. I may be mistaken, but I thought this was called murder. I have a big enough problem with a normal abortion (if there is such a thing) but killing a child that has already drawn breath is just plain wrong.

Every child that comes into this world is special and all deserve the love and nurturing that we give the healthy one, no matter what problems they are born with. Some of the sweetest children I have ever met have been handicapped in one way or another, and would no more cause harm to anyone around them than I would. To deny them the chance to become everything they were sent here to be just because the don't fit the current definition of "perfect" is an abomination.

While I refuse to name the monsters who propose this, at least one of them is a doctor. I am not sure if the designation is for a medical degree or a Phd. but in either case the person has absolutely no human compassion.

If this is a good idea, where do we draw the line. Does a young child who gets disable due to injury or illness qualify for this procedure? How about a teenager that gets cancer and needs to have a limb amputated? Do we then extend it to adults who don't fit in? Where does it end?

Who gets to decide if a child is to be murdered after birth? Do the parents have all the responsibility or can the doctors override a decision to kill? With the current government interference in healthcare, would a bureaucrat tell the parents that there beautiful child wasn't worthy of spending money on? Or would the parents be able to override the bureaucrats decision? If there was a couple who were unable to have children would they be able to save a child sentenced to death for a defect?

These are the true ethical questions which need to be answered, not whether or not an intellectual in some ivory tower thinks we need to be able to murder children who don't fit their ideals. If we, as a society, allow something like this to proceed, then we have lost any last bit of humanity that we might have left, and deserve what ever befalls us. This can't be allowed to stand, and these monsters can't be allowed to influence any policy, anywhere, at any time, for anything which can affect decent people.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This is part of the problem with this country...

The news from Michigan boggles the mind. A woman, who owns two houses, one worth a million dollars, a new car and a winning lottery ticket worth another million, is receiving two hundred dollars a month in food assistance. This is not (yet) against the law, but why would a person with those assets even qualify for assistance in the first place. I know if that was me, before I even considered applying for assistance, the more expensive house would be sold (at a loss if necessary) and the new car would be traded for something used and economical. This woman, by comparison, feels she has a "right" to other peoples money so she can live in luxury.

The first problem with this is that the government is in the business of charity, rather than private or religious organizations. This was not the case before the first Great Depression, when the federal government started offering various assistance programs, such as food stamps, unemployment and help for single mothers. Now, I understand that almost everyone needs help at some time or another (I have myself), but the first choice should not be the federal government. Actually, the only way the government can get money for these programs is to take it, under threat of imprisonment, from others. We know this as taxation. Private and religious charities, on the other hand, are funded by voluntary contributions. They will not allow someone to live in luxury from the assistance given, but will allow them to get back on their feet. This is how it should be.

The second problem that I see is that it is legal for this type of abuse to occur at all. Many states use a needs based system for deciding if some is to get the assistance applied for. This is evidently not the case in Michigan, although that may change. If someone has these type of assets, those should be sold before assistance is given. I am not saying that she shouldn't own a house, but to own two, with a total value of over $1,000,000, should disqualify her. She should downsize to one house which is more within her means to maintain. If she then still needs help let her apply at that time. Similar tests should be applied to any valuable assets, such as investments or real property. Again, I am not saying that a person needs to be destitute to receive help, but there need to be limits to what can be kept.

The third problem in this case is that there is no requirement for the lottery commission to communicate with the welfare department. Indeed there is no way for them to do it without breaking privacy laws. But, since the names of lottery winners are public information, the welfare department can check the weekly (or semi-weekly) winners against their list of clients. It can be simply automated using a computer and once the search is set up will literally take no labor to get a preliminary list, which then could be quickly verified by hand.

I think the worst part of this case is the sense of entitlement the woman feels. This indicates a problem with the character of this country. Keep in mind that, depending on which data source you use, anywhere from 48% to 51% of the population of this country receive more from the government than they put in. What this means is that one half of the population is, in effect, supporting the other half, again under threat of imprisonment. I have witnessed multi-generational families where 3 or 4 generations live together on welfare, with no intention of working if it can be avoided. In some cases you may have a woman in her 50s being a great-grandmother, because her offspring have been taught (intentionally or not) that having kids means a check from the government. It is this mind-set that must be changed if we are to survive as a prosperous nation.

In the future I may get started on illegal immigrants collecting benefits, but not tonight. I think I have vented enough on you for now.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Riddle me this...

Why would anyone think that any criminal, who already is breaking laws, would be deterred by making one of his tools (more) illegal? This is the premise of gun control. If I am not mistaken, it is against the law for a person to carry a weapon, any weapon, with the intent of using it to commit a crime. Thus, the gunman who opened fire in Tuscon was breaking the law by carrying the (legally purchased) firearm he used to shoot Gabrielle Giffords and others in Arizona last year. Why, then, was the response from the left to try to make the tool he used harder for law-abiding citizens to purchase? Had he driven a car or truck into the crowd. likely injuring and killing more people, would they be calling for car control? Had he tossed several molotov cocktails into the crowd would there have been calls for gasoline waiting periods or limits on how much you could buy at one time?

In this case, the perpetrator was mentally ill, had been reported to both police and school officials as dangerous, but never entered into a police or mental health database. Even the letter he wrote to Rep. Giffords was never properly dealt with. Any of these actions would have likely prevented him from passing the NICS check that was required for him to take possession of the tool he used. Had he not gotten a gun, either no one would have been injured by him that day or he would have found a different tool, possibly causing more injuries and deaths. This doesn't mean that I support more government reporting in our lives, quite the contrary. But if we have these systems and don't use them, then, first why have them and second if we don't use them why do we need more. If we can't stop people like this from getting firearms, and we can't stop hardened criminals from getting firearms, then why do we need to make it harder for law abiding citizens to get firearms to defend themselves?

While I don't like the idea of criminals being able to get firearms easily, I think it is worse for those who aren't criminals to have to get permission from the government to own them. In the courts it is said that it is better for 100 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to go to jail. Why does this principle not also apply to the rest of our lives? If there are legitimate reasons for the government to be involved in the firearms trade I can't think of them. If you can think of them please let me know.

I also think that if we can't trust someone with a gun (or a ballot during voting season) that this person should not be walking the streets. If the person is still a threat to society, then he hasn't finished paying his debt to society and needs to be removed from society for a longer period. If they are no longer a threat then restore all God-given rights as guaranteed in the Constitution. Any other way of doing this is just plain wrong.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

For some reason, Federal abuses of the Constitution are on my mind this morning.

Strange guy that I am, I woke up thinking about the many ways the feds abuse or ignore the Constitution, which is really meant to severely limit the power and authority they have. The most abused section of the Constitution is Article 1, Section 8, 3rd paragraph, the so-called Interstate Commerce Clause, which reads "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;". What was intended by this was for the federal government to be able set international trading policy, so each state didn't set different tariffs and rules for import/export (thereby causing some states to become too powerful in international trade), to prevent trade wars between the states by one state regulating prices and taxes on incoming goods, and to allow for common trade practices with the various Indian tribes, which were not considered citizens at the time (I'll deal with those abuses at a later time).

The feds have, until fairly recently, done a passable job on the whole international trade issue. There have been some problematic times and issues, but on the whole it has worked out fairly well for the whole country. Some of the mistakes that come to mind are things like the tariff on imported motorcycles over 700cc displacement (put in place in 1983 to protect Harley-Davidson, which at the time could not or would not produce a quality product), which expired after 5 years, and a ban on sales of certain game consoles to some foreign countries because of the computing power they contained. There were two problems with the last example, the first being those consoles weren't even produced in this country, how did our government have the authority to regulate them (don't sell to our enemies or you won't be able to sell to us, the largest consumer market in the world, is how it worked) and two, it was a game machine. Yes, at the time it had better graphics capability than a PC or Mac, but it was very specialized hardware and not readily usable for anything else.

The Interstate commerce thing, now that's a whole other problem. They have, starting in the 1930s, used this "power" to try to regulate virtually everything that is sold in this country, even if it doesn't cross state lines. In the case of Wickard v. Filburn, the feds had put quotas for the maximum amount of wheat a farmer could produce in order to boost prices during the great depression (what was so great about it anyway, most people think it sucked). Roscoe Filburn was growing wheat for use on his own farm, not for sale, and exceeded his quota. He was sued by the feds because, by growing his own wheat, he would negatively affect the interstate market. If he wasn't selling his wheat there was no interstate commerce for them to regulate, but the Supreme Court decided that the feds were right, driving a rather large nail into the coffin of free trade.

They have also used the same clause to control firearms sales (NFA '38, GCA '68, FOPA '86, etc) to the point that several states have passed or are considering laws stating that firearms and ammunition produced in the sate for sale in the state are not subject to federal regulation. These laws have yet to be tested in court but I have high hopes, although the feds will probably use the Wickard argument when it get to the US Supreme Court.

They even used this clause to prosecute pot growers in states where the state has declared it legal. Now I don't use drugs but I also don't think they should be illegal. Treat them like alcohol and tobacco, with similar age restrictions and taxes, and stop wasting money trying to stop the import and sale of something you can't stop, and hold the users responsible for their actions under the influence. In Gonzales v. Raich the feds destroy a medical marijuana users plants (grown for his own use) and arrested her. The argument for the government was two-fold. First, they claimed the feds had the authority to regulate the use of marijuana (not covered in the Constitution, so I kind of doubt it would fly with the framers of that document). Second, they fell back on the flawed Wickard argument, that by growing for home use they impacted an interstate market. If their first argument is true, that they can ban the use of a product, then their second argument must be false, because if a product is banned then there is no market for that product, legally.

Let's do the right thing in this country and start doing away with the alphabet soup of agencies which are unconstitutional. The DEA and BATFE (especially) have no constitutional basis for existing, nor do most of  the other large agencies. Really the only agencies that are mentioned that the feds can legitimately have are the Department of Defense (not offense), the State Department and, unbelievably, the Post Office (and to create Post Roads, but not a federal highway system). Oh, and maybe the IRS,but I guarantee the framers would not have approved the 16th amendment, nor would they allow a tax code that even those who administer it can't understand.