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Front Page

In This Issue: 

Þ Constitutional Democracy or a Socialist Coup?

Þ The Precedent of the NEW DEAL?

Þ Mass Media’s Impact on Public Policy

Þ Our Most Corrupt Branch-The House

Þ What is Happening in America?

Þ The Marriage Institution





What are you?

By Ivan W. Parkins


The basic idea of democracy is that people should have shares in how they are governed.  The basic idea of constitutionalism is that government should adhere to a pattern that defines who exercises particular powers, and within what limits.


Both concepts appeared in some form in Athens more than two millennia ago.  But Athens was a very small state, only a minority of its residents were voting “citizens,” and governments there often suffered chaotic changes.


For many centuries empires of religion and conquest followed by national states based upon hereditary monarchy were predominant.  In 1688, after a century of turmoil, the English Parliament claimed authority and invited William and Mary to the throne.  There, the roots of our own government were beginning to appear.  But their Bill of Rights, 1689, deals mainly with rights of Parliament.


Following the successful revolt of thirteen North American colonies from England we, Americans, suffered several years of increasing financial and trading problems plus quarrels between states.  The Continental Congress was plainly insufficient.  A few dozen of the most educated and influential Americans, building on the most advanced thought of that time drafted, and “We the People. . .” ratified THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.


The single constitutional document, defining the principal offices of government, how they shall be filled, what powers belong to each, and rights that are not to be infringed is essentially an American invention.  Our Constitution also provides for its own amendment.  Changes of constitutional proportions can be made, but must follow processes that involve extraordinary majorities of several different bodies that represent the people acting in concert, but in a prescribed, i.e. a time consuming, sequence.  Britain’s less formal practice is that a majority in Parliament, wanting to make a change of constitutional proportions, should announce its intent and than call for a new election.


In our present situation, the Obama Democrat Administration is attempting to enact legislation that is so broad, complex, and burdening upon the choices that would remain feasible to future administrations that they are necessarily constitutional issues.  It’s efforts should be subjected to scrupulous constitutional examination, and delay, by both the public and our Federal Judicial Branch.  Without such examination and the implied delay it should be regarded as a socialistic coup, a major new limitation upon the future of American policies.


By Ivan W. Parkins


Gay marriage has recently been banned by a substantial majority of California voters, but that was overturned by a federal district court judge citing broad/thin “equality” grounds.

Historically, marriage between a man and a woman is an institution of most cultures, older and more deeply rooted than institutions such as democracy and constitutionalism.  Its primary function is to encourage and foster the preservation of the society itself, by means that will produce and nourish children.  It is not something to be altered lightly by any society/nation that expects to survive. 

Once, a century and a half ago, we dealt with the legality of equal rights for Americans of different races, our most bloody war.  And it took another century of civil and legal efforts to make that outcome reasonably effective. 


Just extending voting rights to women and eighteen year olds, during the past century required Constitutional Amendments XXIV and XXVI.  To treat a major alteration of  the marriage institution more lightly would be, at best, ridiculous.


Cases against Rangel and Waters must go forward







By Ivan W. Parkins

It is the House of Representatives!  Yes, the cases against Representatives Rangel and Waters should go forward, even though many of their colleagues have committed similar offenses.  It will help to inform the voters.


Our political system is failing in many respects.  The most obvious center of most failure is the House of Representatives.  Some causes of the failure are impersonal social trends.  Even there, however, individual Representatives and the major political parties share some blame for the ease with which they have adapted to social trends that served them well, but did not serve representation or the nation.

Rapid population growth was expected even by the Framers of our Constitution.  They, the First Congress, attempted to provide for it with their first (never ratified) proposal of amendment.  Congresses attempted after each census to provide, but could not keep up without creating a body too numerous to work together and legislate effectively.  About a century ago they fixed total membership at 435.  The population of the United States has tripled since then.




By Ivan W. Parkins



     America is facing a revolution, by mostly legal and peaceful means.  By revolution I mean a replacement of the old elite by a new one.  To accomplish that, the old elite must be discredited and driven from power.


     Actually, America’s old industrial/financial elite, powerful in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, has been yielding ground for a century.  The New Deal weakened it substantially at first, but WWII and the successes of our huge armament production won it a reprieve.  That was followed by the rebuilding of most of our former allies and enemies.  Several decades of success in competition with the Soviet Union, plus our own growing prosperity, further inoculated the old elite against change.


     Meanwhile however, an old element of American society was benefiting from huge investments of both public and private money.  Communication, once a hireling and servant of larger social organs, was gaining vast influence in its own right.  Tens of thousands of prosperous writers, broadcasters, professors, and actors, plus even greater numbers of college students and new grads were increasingly able to communicate with one another. Added to unionized public school teachers and government bureaucrats, they were becoming a political phalanx to which industry and finance related more as client or tenant than as master.


     Only the American Presidency retained enough of its traditional popular following and vigor to defy the new elite, an elite with more legal immunities than the old one ever had.  And, the Presidents who have recently won by the largest popular margins have had to face particularly bitter and damaging mass media assaults upon their persons and their powers.


     If the intellectual elite can now capture this nation’s chief executive office with a candidate little encumbered by past public commitments, America’s future may indeed take a new turn—to what?


The New Deal was a reaction to the problems of that time

By Ivan W. Parkins


President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, beginning in 1933, will no doubt be thought of by some Americans as a precedent for President Obama’s Administration.  There are several very weighty reasons why it should not be.


First, FDR entered office in a time of greater need, substantial portions of Americans were facing imminent threats to their most basic livelihood.  Many were being driven from farms into cities that were already struggling with unemployment and inadequate welfare systems.  There was very little federal system for dealing with such matters.


Second, FDR had won the office of President by larger electoral and popular margins than President Obama has now done.


Third, whereas the Obama Administration has just been handed an unusually severe loss in its first mid-term election, the Administration of Franklin Roosevelt won the next three elections by margins that greatly enhanced his claim to be serving the American people.  (FDR also won several more, a feat since banned by amendment of the Constitution.) 


It should be further noted that the Judicial Branch of our Federal Government delayed and invalidated numerous parts of the New Deal.  The Supreme Court eventually, relented, but only after President Roosevelt had refilled some vacancies in the Supreme Court and Justices, as well as other Americans, had observed the extent of  The President’s election support by “We the People…” .


Letter to the Editor;

 U.S. NEWS and World Report

Unpublished 7/29/97

By Ivan W. Parkins


     The late Justice William Brennan’s attitudes (obituary, August 4) regarding fairness were similar to those which I expressed in my major piece of campaign literature, 1954, while seeking (unsuccessfully) a Democratic nomination to Congress. . . .


      Among the greatest of his innovations was establishing welfare as entitlement, a constitutional right.  In his GOLDBERG V. KELLY opinion, 1970, the key case, he acknowledged a debt to Professor Charles Reich of Yale Law.  Reich had argued, in review articles, for such a right to welfare benefits.  Reich is better known, however, for his GREENING OF AMERICA, also in 1970, a text of the youth rebellion, and one in which he acknowledges his debts, not to our founders and political history, but to Karl Marx, Professor Marcuse, and some writers of contemporary fiction.  Justice Brennan was a man of his time; it is less clear that he saw the value of continuity with the past, a basic principal of constitutionalism.


      What may be least understood by most Americans about Brennan’s judicial activism is its unique record of survival.  As Professor Robert Dahl of Yale (political science) discovered, nearly all major judicial conflicts with the legislative and executive branches prior to Brennan’s time were soon resolved in favor of the elective branches.  Only more recently has the U.S. Supreme Court made numerous broad and lasting decisions which became the policies of our government. Why; why now?


       The answer, I believe, lies in the development and influence of the mass media, especially television.  Alexander Hamilton’s famous prediction that the judiciary would always remain the weakest branch of our government, because it controlled neither the purse nor the sword, is invalid.  The media have become a major, if not the greatest, instrument of raw power.  During most of his long tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Brennan was in step with the media.