ZeraLand, USA

On the Nature of "Nation"

Constitution of the United States – Preamble

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Preamble: an introductory statement; especially : the introductory part of a constitution or statute that usually states the reasons for and intent of the law.

And what are the reasons and intents? In Order to:

> form a more perfect Union

More perfect, not completely perfect:


  1. : an imaginary and indefinitely remote place
  2. often capitalized : a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions
  3. : an impractical scheme for social improvement

> establish Justice


  • the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.

> insure domestic Tranquility


  • a : free from agitation of mind or spirit
  • b : free from disturbance or turmoil

> provide for the common defence


    • a : the act or action of defending
    • b : a defendant’s denial, answer, or plea
    • a : capability of resisting attack
    • b : defensive play or ability
    • a : means or method of defending or protecting oneself, one’s team, or another; also : a defensive structure
    • b : an argument in support or justification
    • c : the collected facts and method adopted by a defendant to protect and defend against a plaintiff’s action
    • d : a sequence of moves available in chess to the second player in the opening
    • a : a defending party or group (as in a court of law)
    • b : a defensive team
  1. : the military and industrial aggregate that authorizes and supervises arms production

> promote the general Welfare


  • the state of doing well especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity.

> secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity


  1. the quality or state of being free:
    • a : the power to do as one pleases
    • b : freedom from physical restraint
    • c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
    • d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
    • e : the power of choice
  2. a : a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant : privilege

While the body of the Constitution defines the structure, authorities, and parameters of government, the preamble defines the purpose and responsibilities of that government.

<= A Forward
more perfect Union =>


August 15, 2011 Posted by | Const. First Reading, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading | , , , | 1 Comment

Constitution of the United States – A Forward

English: Detail of Preamble to Constitution of...

Eleven years after the Declaration of Independence announced the birth of the United States, the survival of the young country seemed in doubt. The War for Independence had been won, but economic depression, social unrest, interstate rivalries, and foreign intrigue appeared to be unraveling the fragile confederation. In early 1787, Congress called for a special convention of all the states to revise the Articles of Confederation. On September 17, 1787, after four months of secret meetings, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention emerged from their Philadelphia meetingroom with an entirely new plan of government–the U.S. Constitution–that they hoped would ensure the survival of the experiment they had launched in 1776.

They proposed a strong central government made up of three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial; each would be perpetually restrained by a sophisticated set of checks and balances. They reached compromises on the issue of slavery that left its final resolution to future generations. As for ratification, they devised a procedure that maximized the odds: the Constitution would be enacted when it was ratified by nine, not thirteen, states. The Framers knew they had not created a perfect plan, but it could be revised. The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times and stands today as the longest-lasting written constitution in the world.

On September 17, 1787, two days after the final vote, the delegates signed the engrossed parchment shown in the Rotunda’s centerpiece case.

The National Archives

The Constitution of the United States, and it’s Amendments, are the foundation of our laws and what defines us as a nation – but what does it say, and what does it mean?

Let’s take a look, section by section…

Preamble =>


August 15, 2011 Posted by | Const. Review, Const. Second Reading, Constitution | , , | 1 Comment

Securing Our Sovereignty

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”
Declaration of Independence

“Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.
– John Jay, Federalist 2

The individual cannot hope to defend, by personal effort alone, his/her rights from the multitude of social and economic forces seeking to impose their will as an expression of their rights and interests. The defense of individual rights becomes ever more difficult as population density increases and more complex interaction between people increases interdependency and conflicting interests.

We form a government as our chosen instrument to protect our natural rights, liberties, and property. The ability of that government to effect that protection depends on our entrusting in it a portion of our liberty. The question becomes: how much of our liberty do we cede, and how much of our liberty does that protect? It is both the right and the responsibility of the people who vest the government with power to choose the proper balance, to restrain the overreach of government, and to push it to better protect our rights. This is the very foundation of sovereignty.

But this balance is not a simple or obvious thing. It requires the consideration of a great many factors. It requires factual information, sound theory, and an honest understanding of the world around us. It requires eternal vigilance.

The money power preys on the nation in times of peace, and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes.

“It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government.”

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
– Abraham Lincoln

While these words strike a chord with the average citizen, it is equally important to note the implication that “money powers” are not the nation, but a culture that operates with a self-interest divorced from the general welfare of the country.

“Our military organization today bears little relation to that known of any of my

Dwight D. Eisenhower, official portrait as Pre...

Image via Wikipedia

predecessors in peace time, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United State corporations.

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

– President Dwight D. Eisenhower, farewell address, Jan. 17, 1961

As Ike warned us half a century ago (mp3, wav, ogg), the titans of industry have indeed acquired unwarranted influence over the government established for the benefit and protection of the people. As predicted, the effects of abuse of this misplaced power have been disastrous.

We have lost much of our ability to control the government we empowered. The lobbyists who offer campaign money and future employment encourage compliance with special interests over representation of the constituency. This seriously weakens our representational form of government and usurps our sovereignty.

With rare exception, money has become the determining factor in elections, and campaign money the controlling factor in the performance of elected offices. Money has become the primary lever of power.

Money controls the political messages that dominate and influence public perception and public opinion. Money is speech.

People talk about taking back the country, but they only pursue a course of political tug-of-war.

In order to truly “take back the country”, to restore control of government and our very sovereignty to the citizens who entrust their liberties to its protective authority, the levers of power must remain exclusively under the control of the people.

In the context of election to public office, the distinctio­n between corporate and human speakers is significan­t. Although they make enormous contributi­ons to our society, corporatio­ns are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresiden­ts, their interests may conflict in fundamenta­l respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrument­al orientatio­n of corporatio­ns raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constituti­onal basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentiall­y deleteriou­s effects of corporate spending in local and national races.
Citizens United

  • Whereas the election of government Officials is an exercise of sovereignty over a representational form of Government;
  • Whereas the authority of our Government derives from the consent of its Citizens;
  • Whereas petitioning elected Officials is an exercise of sovereign power;
  • Whereas the success of a democracy – and a representational form of government – depend on a well-informed electorate, and thus influencing their judgment;
  • Whereas money is a decisive factor in controlling the information presented to the electorate;
  • It is a natural conclusion that money from sources other than Citizens, when applied to the political process, interferes with our natural Sovereignty.


Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States protecting the political sovereignty of the Citizens of the United States of America.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:


Section 1

The Right of Free Speech, as applied to Campaigns for the election of persons to positions of Public Office or Public Trust; or matters of Legislation, Law, or Public Policy, Regulation, Referendum, or Constitutional Amendment; shall be reserved exclusively to the Citizens of the United States. The Right of political Free Speech shall not extend to willful deception.

Section 2

The First Amendment rights of the Free Press, other than participating in or deceptively reporting on a political campaign, are reaffirmed.

Section 3

All contributions used for Campaigns of a political nature must originate with the Citizens of this country.

Section 4

The majority of funds for a Campaign must originate within the jurisdiction of the Object of the Campaign.

Section 5

Campaigns involving the amendment of a state constitution must be funded entirely by the Citizens of that State.

Section 6

For purposes of this Amendment:

‘Citizen’ shall mean a citizen or national of the United States, either Natural Born or duly Naturalized.

A ‘Campaign’ shall mean a campaign for the election of a person to a position of Public Office or Public Trust, a campaign for or against a Law, Legislation, Public Policy, Regulation, Referendum, or Constitutional Amendment.

‘Contributions’ shall mean monetary funds and non-monetary contributions.

Section 7

Nothing in this amendment shall be interpreted to prevent public campaign financing.

Section 8

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


This is a preliminary draft.

  • It does not yet address the need for t Truth in campaigning. This can be a very subjective matter, difficult to legislate or regulate.
  • It does not yet address the disparity of voice that results from the disparity of wealth.
    1. I am thinking along the lines of a limit based on median income level. It would increase with a general rise in income.
    2. A limit based on the poverty income level would advantage the rich as poverty increased – very bad.
    3. A limit based on the average income would disproportionately favor the rich – also counter to the purpose of the restriction.
  • Section 6, cl 3 may be incomplete.
  • The corporate control of the major news outlets poses a particular problem.
    1. Having a key roll in the check on governmental power, the Free Press must not be censored.
    2. As the vast majority of major news outlets are owned and controlled by corporations, the possibility (likelihood)  of a corporate political voice would exist if no restraints were in place.
    3. Opinion shows are important sources of variety in viewpoints, but the liberty is sometimes greatly abused – to the point of undermining the proper functioning of democracy.
    4. This is the sort of conundrum that can invalidate an otherwise good idea.

These are problems that do not lend themselves to easy resolution by legislation, and I leave them wide open to debate. A constitution “should not be changed for light and transient causes”, and commands the most rigorous public debate and consideration.

[UPDATE] 8/21/11 – added quote from SCOTUS Citizens United decision.


Thom Hartmann: SCOTUS says corporations are people but women are not


July 30, 2011 Posted by | Amendments, Constitution, Government, Proposed | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concerning the Composition of the Judiciary

“Hamilton had written that through the practice of judicial review the Court ensured that the will of the whole people, as expressed in their Constitution, would be supreme over the will of a legislature, whose statutes might express only the temporary will of part of the people. And Madison had written that constitutional interpretation must be left to the reasoned judgment of independent judges, rather than to the tumult and conflict of the political process. If every constitutional question were to be decided by public political bargaining, Madison argued, the Constitution would be reduced to a battleground of competing factions, political passion and partisan spirit.


“The standard of good behavior for the continuance in office of the judicial magistracy, is certainly one of the most valuable of the modern improvements in the practice of government. In a monarchy it is an excellent barrier to the despotism of the prince; in a republic it is a no less excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body. And it is the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws.”

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 78

“The members of the legislature will rarely be chosen with a view to those qualifications which fit men for the stations of judges; and as, on this account, there will be great reason to apprehend all the ill consequences of defective information, so, on account of the natural propensity of such bodies to party divisions, there will be no less reason to fear that the pestilential breath of faction may poison the fountains of justice. The habit of being continually marshalled on opposite sides will be too apt to stifle the voice both of law and of equity.”

“These considerations teach us to applaud the wisdom of those States who have committed the judicial power, in the last resort, not to a part of the legislature, but to distinct and independent bodies of men.”

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 81

The judiciary is intended to remain above the politics of the moment. Their purpose is to interpret the written law, not enforce a particular ideology. unfortunately, conservatives believe otherwise. The direct election empowers and encourages partisanship in the judiciary. In the 2010 election in Minnesota, three radical conservative activists ran for the state supreme court.

“The separation of church and state, Tingelstad argues, is a myth. Justices should rule from the “Word of God” first, and from sources such as the constitution, statute and case law second.”

They were defeated in a landslide.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional – it was not a partisan split. I can easily see such a ruling – our own gay marriage ban violates no less than four sections of our state constitution. Section 2 of DOMA is a direct contradiction of the federal Constitution.

Instead of accepting rule of law, conservatives retaliated by waging a massive anti-retention campaign fueled with out-of-state money. This had the dual effect of successfully rejecting Iowa state sovereignty and corrupting the judicial system with political ideology.

The process of non-partisan nomination and bi-partisan confirmation, preferably of candidates approved by the American Bar Association, is the best system for an honest and reliable court system.

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

James Madison, Federalist 47

June 23, 2011 Posted by | Government, Judiciary | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The GOP and the Banks: Cutting the Garlic Budget as the Vampires Attack

Fiscal conservati­ves seem to think that Corporate America is the true country, and the people are just an endless source of wealth to be captured by any means possible.

If We the People really want to take back our country, we have to start by getting corporate money out of politics.

I think that has to start with a Constituti­onal Amendment that reserves the right of political free speech exclusivel­y to the citizens, both natural born and naturalize­d. It is a simple matter of sovereignt­y. If we are to retain a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, then only the people should be involved in the process of electing their political representa­tives.

Without the ability to buy influence or control with campaign contributi­ons, it becomes harder for “artificia­l persons” and foreign interests to reciprocat­e for legislativ­e favors. The lobbyists would still be there – but without the bags of money, they would have to rely more on legitimate arguments.

Nor would they have an inherent right to political advertisin­g. Overriding “Citizens United” is critical.

This country was founded for the benefit of it’s citizens, on the premise that people could govern themselves without king, clergy, or the likes of the East India Company – who’s predatory behavior helped provoke the Boston Tea Party. Yet non-citize­ns hold enormous power in our government­. We must return that power to the living, breathing citizens who ARE this country, as the Founding Fathers intended.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

December 24, 2010 Posted by | For What It's Worth | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hello World!

I would like to welcome you to ZeraLand.

The View of life I communicate in my pictures excludes the sordid and the ugly. I paint life as I would like it to be.

I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed. My fundamental purpose is to interpret the typical American. I am a story teller.

– Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell painted pictures of America that were both familiar and inspirational. Charles Kuralt traveled the roads of America showing us some of the nooks and crannies of our culture.

I am neither of these people, but they are the inspiration for what I plan with ZeraLand. I wish to built an image of America that is a combination of the America I see and the America I hope for.

This is to be a constructive endeavor, not a political battleground. Honest debate is welcome, but leave the mantras at home.

Zera Lee

July 20, 2010 Posted by | Personal Notes | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: