We the People
With all due respect for your ideology on the Constitution and some well-taken points on how the Constitution has evolved into its present stage of relevancy into our modern world (Editor's Notebook, December), I will stand behind Steve Pearce.
Steve Pearce is the only, and I repeat only, congressman who has ever truly helped the rural citizens of western New Mexico with the onerous government-sponsored terrorist programs, i.e. the Mexican Gray Wolf, the Mexican Spotted Owl, the Spike Dace and Loach Minnows, the Willow Fly Catcher, the Leopard Spotted Frog and the newest, the New Mexico Jumping Meadow Mouse. These programs are being used by the radicals to remove all consumptive users from the public lands. Number-one on their list is the public-lands rancher.
Our custom, culture and economic well-being , especially here in Catron County, are being strained to the limit by these so-called endangered species that are not endangered at all. Steve stands alone in trying to defend our conservative hard-working citizens who believe that the progressive liberal movement and the radical environmental movement are taking this nation into the ditch. Conservatives believe the Constitution is the document all lawmakers and judges should abide by and liberals believe it should be changed for their progressive ideology.
I agree that the Patriot Act should never have been passed, but then again all your liberal Democratic friends voted straight line for Obama Care, excepting of course Rep. Harry Teague. Steve Pearce came to our area here time after time to help us and I never saw Harry Teague here fighting for the folks of Catron County, ever. Steve Pearce is very well liked by us conservatives and he has always done a good job for us.
I for one would rather turn the clock back to 1789 than have the mess that our current Administration in both Washington and New Mexico have perpetrated on our citizens here.
While I found much to disagree with in your editorial, "Taking a Constitutional," in the December Desert Exposure, at least the issue of "old-fashioned Constitutional principles" has caught your attention, as well it should, because "the currently fashionable veneration of the Constitution," as you put it, is not going away.
You wrote: "It's puzzling why the Constitution is suddenly so in vogue — or so apparently in need of defending." For one thing, many of us will tell you that our concerns over Constitutional violations are anything but new. Furthermore, the Constitution doesn't need defending, it needs enforcing — or changing.
The issue is not whether the Constitution should be "tweaked" or whether various amendments should be rolled back; the issue is whether we are to be a nation ruled by a code of laws or a nation ruled by the whims of people, be they judges, lawmakers or bureaucrats.
Cutting through all the verbiage, the core purpose of the Constitution was to provide a framework of laws that protected the people from the government, that spelled out in some detail — perhaps not enough — just what the government could do and could not do. Revolutionary stuff. That was the Founding Fathers' original intent.
For the last 80 years or so, we have drifted away from that intent, starting with FDR, then most notably with Lyndon Johnson, the Bushes, and now Obama, who has given us dozens of un-vetted "czars," trillions in new spending, and thousands of pages of new laws and regulations — passed by a Congress that did not read those pages.
Only the "Government is God" crowd looks upon the current situation as anything but insane. The rest of us feel like we are being run by a ship of fools, dangerous fools who believe in their own moral and intellectual superiority, all evidence to the contrary.
How can we rein in the monster? The Constitution is the place to start, specifically with what are referred to as the Commerce Clause and the General Welfare clause, both found in Article I, Section 8.
The Commerce Clause was intended to regulate interstate commerce, and the viability of ObamaCare may well rest on it if the Supreme Court finds that mandating that individuals purchase health insurance is in violation of the Commerce Clause.
You cite James Madison's rejection of using the word "expressly" before "delegated" in the 10th Amendment, yet Madison also said: "With respect to the two words 'General Welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."
If both the Commerce Clause and the General Welfare Clause are interpreted to mean that there are virtually no limits on the laws Congress may pass or the authority it may delegate, then we will have become a nation of the government, by the government and for the government.
Editor's note — Thanks for a thoughtful letter that in a way makes one of the points we were trying to make perhaps better than we did: Many of those (unlike reader Burrows) spouting off about the Constitution would nonetheless be uncomfortable with actually rolling back many of those "un-Constitutional" advances of the past 80 years, such as Social Security, Medicare, environmental protection and Civil Rights laws. It's an attitude epitomized by the protester who demanded, "Tell the government to keep its hands off my Medicare!" A true debate about limited government, as eloquently espoused by reader Burrows, would be enlightening. Instead (see this month's Editor's Notebook), we have politicians waving the Constitution as cover for inviting corporate lobbyists to gorge at the public trough.
It is always interesting to read Marjorie Lilly's Borderlines. Her last article in December issue of Desert Exposure about "Hands Across the Border" mentioned briefly Border Partners (www.borderpartners.org), a non-profit organization, which is starting micro-businesses in Palomas and promoting the use of low-cost energy technologies. One of the first projects begun by Border Partners involves seven women sewing creative tote bags, aprons, table cloths, backpacks, computer bags and other items, all from very colorful Mexican-designed oilcloth. These women are earning a fair-trade wage and learning the business of taking orders and shipping to shops. They sew on donated machines in their own homes. Besides being very creative with their designs, they are learning business skills and adding to a family income.
Luis Garcia, who is mentioned in Marjorie's article, has been instrumental, with guidance from Peter Edmunds, in establishing a lunch food program for needy students at the Secundaria (middle) School and two primary schools in Palomas. This fall he and Peter have involved students from the Palomas High School in designing and building a low-cost wind generator for a wind-generating program. They have already built solar cookers with a group that are used in schools and homes in Palomas. During December they organize a group of students who make wooden toy trucks to give to children in need.
Since fresh vegetables are at a minimum in Palomas, it was decided to start home gardens. In this area of high desert it is possible to grow many vegetables year round. With raised beds covered by hoops and plastic, the vegetables are protected from cold and wind at the same time conserving water. The soil in Palomas needs lots of compost, so gardeners are in the process of making their own to correct the soil condition. There is no seed supplier in Palomas, so gardeners are depending on gifts from other gardeners. Basically families in Palomas have an agricultural background, so with a little encouragement and experimenting with winter gardening they should be eating delicious vegetables soon.
In a village that is continuing to suffer great traumas, these are some of the positive programs in Palomas created by Peter and Polly Edmunds who started Border Partners two years ago. As always, such an enterprise needs support of a larger community.
Helena D. Myers