On the True Source of Political Power

“All power exercised over a Nation must have some beginning. It must either be delegated or assumed. There are no other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.”
-Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

The United States is built upon a framework of ideals defined by law. The foundation of that law is the Constitution of the United States. All political power therefore must derive at its core from the Constitution.

To claim power not clearly defined in the Constitution or not previously declared as a constitutional power by the judiciary branch – in other words to assume power, even if claiming that it is constitutional when not clearly delegated as such – compromises the checks and balances of our democracy and degrades the Constitution, and is therefore anti-American by its very definition.

There can be no excuse for willful and flagrant disregard for the rule of law or an ongoing and persistent grasp for political power when it is not delegated or defined by the Constitution.

Not even – and especially – if you’re the president (or vice-president) of the United States.





On the Forthright and the Deceiver

“How nearly is human cunning allied to folly! The animals to whom nature has given the faculty we call cunning, know always when to use it, and use it wisely; but when man descends to cunning, he blunders and betrays.”
-Thomas Paine

It is the cunning that will, without a second thought, betray a human trust, a common decency, the truth. A forthright man might at times be considered a knave or a fool, falling prey to the deceitful and cunning.

But as each one draws their last breath, the forthright will have nothing to hide from his God, and go to his rest knowing that if there is to be a heaven, he will find it.

The cunning will struggle for one more breath, one more chance to deceive what, to his horror, he knows finally, in his heart, cannot be deceived.

As the darkness descends, he will wish for the life of the forthright. But it is too late. The predator at last becomes the prey as eternal death overtakes the deceiver.

On Meaningless Titles and Knowing That the Emperor Has No Clothes

“When I reflect on the pompous titles bestowed on unworthy men, I feel an indignity that instructs me to despise the absurdity.”
-Thomas Paine

Every age has their class of men that presume wisdom and authority for which they do not possess and for which they are not worthy.

Even, unfortunately, those in the highest reaches of human society.


On Beauty, Being Without Words, and Chills Going Up the Spine

“We sometimes experience sensations to which language is not equal. The conception is too bulky to be born alive, and in the torture of thinking, we stand dumb. Our feelings, imprisoned by their magnitude, find no way out — and, in the struggle of expression, every finger tries to be a tongue. The machinery of the body seems too little for the mind, and we look about for helps to show our thoughts by.”
-Thomas Paine

It is a Beethoven symphony or a Van Gogh painting; a rain-soaked forest or the star-choked heavens hurtling toward forever on a clear summer night. 

People will write tomes on the symphonies of Beethoven and the tortured artistry of Van Gogh; they will wax poetic of the wonders of nature and the connectedness it engenders.

But words are not the music, the painting, nor the poetry of nature. There is beauty in words, but it is not beauty itself; nor is music, painting, or even nature. It is the window through which we might find a glimpse.  

The true expression of beauty is always just a little beyond our firm grasp, but in our speechless awe we feel the chill up the spine, the hair standing on end, feeling the power of it; expressed simply by being.


On Learning to Sit Quietly and Listen

“There are cases in which silence is a loud language.”
-Thomas Paine

It is a world of constant chatter, most of it signifying nothing.

The trick then, is to turn off all the devices and contrivances of the modern world and listen to the sound of silence. The spaces in our existence that are buried beneath the ruble of email, text messages, cell phones, and television. The real part.

It may be difficult at first, for we’re so used to noise being pushed at us from all directions. But silence leads to things we’d never know and places we’d never discover in the cacophony of mindless babble.

Turn off your computer and go sit for a spell…

On Defining Victory in Iraq

There is something in a war carried on by invasion which makes it differ in circumstances from any other mode of war, because he who conducts it cannot tell whether the ground he gains, be for him, or against him, when he first makes it.”
-Thomas Paine, The Crisis

News Item: “US Forces Face Bloody Start to June in Iraq”

Whatever idea there was of what victory would look like when the United States military rolled across the desert toward Baghdad in the spring of 2003, it bears little resemblance to what it could ever look like today – if any sort of “victory” is even a possibility.

The question becomes what ground we have gained as a nation in seizing Iraq. We now hold onto a tragedy that continues to unfold with each passing day.

On Doing What is Right vs. Doing What is Popular

“I have never made it a consideration whether the subject was popular or unpopular, but whether it was right or wrong; for that which is right will become popular, and that which is wrong, though by mistake it may obtain the cry or fashion of the day, will soon lose the power of delusion, and sink into disesteem.”
Thomas Paine

Popularity thus becomes important only after the crave of fashion and expediance has faded. Only then will the true worth of an idea reveal itself.

Otherwise, there can be no progress.