Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The truth is inconvenient

Last week, the United Nations concluded a major conference on the environment, in which virtually every member other than the United States was frustrated with the American refusal to include specific goals for further negotiations.

The response from this corner was silence. Not because I do not care about global warming, polar bears, keeping the buckeye tree in Ohio, or the diversity of life in Little Darby Creek.

The reason is that I do not know who to trust for accurate science. The issue of global warming is so highly politicized, even within the scientific community, that I don’t know for a fact that the trend is irreversible, or to what extent human activity is involved. During the UN conference, 100 British and Canadian scientists protested the assumptions used in the UN report. We all want to do the right thing, and that should include continued support for renewable energy and practical measures that will help clean the air and water and protect animal habitat. Beyond that, however, how much is within our control? The answers to these questions have major policy implications for every nation.

I really don’t know what they are, but I do know that we need answers from scientists who are looking for the truth, and journalists who are able to report their findings objectively.

The truth may be inconvenient, but the lack of it is dangerous; either because we neglect to prepare for a catastrophe, or because we waste valuable resources following Chicken Little prophecies of the sky falling.

I’d like to have truth on my side – if I can find it.

There is no movement -- yet

Some of our friends who have linked to the Ohio Republic may have misled some readers into thinking that we have an independence movement in Ohio, especially since there are secessionist organizations in other States with similar names.

The Ohio Republic is nothing more than a blog, for now -- but I am interested in working with other Ohioans to get a movement started.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas in the Heart

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The snow lies deep upon the ground,
And winter’s brightness all around
Decks bravely out the forest sere,
With jewels of the brave old year.
The coasting crowd upon the hill
With some new spirit seems to thrill;
And all the temple bells achime
Ring out the glee of Christmas time.

In happy homes the brown oak-bough
Vies with the red-gemmed holly now;
And here and there, like pearls, there show
The berries of the mistletoe.
A sprig upon the chandelier
Says to the maidens, “Come not here!”
Even the pauper of the earth
Some kindly gift has cheered to mirth!

Within his chamber, dim and cold,
There sits a grasping miser old.
He has no thought save one of gain,--
To grind and gather and grasp and drain.
A peal of bells, a merry shout
Assail his ear: he gazes out
Upon a world to him all gray,
And snarls, “Why, this is Christmas Day!”

No, man of ice, -- for shame, for shame!
For “Christmas Day” is no mere name.
No, not for you this ringing cheer,
This festal season of the year.
And not for you the chime of bells
From holy temple rolls and swells.
In day and deed he has no part—
Who holds not Christmas in his heart!

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) was an African-Ohioan poet and editor who lived in Dayton. He wrote both in standard English and in dialect. This poem was reproduced, courtesy of the Paul Laurence Dunbar Digital Collection at the Wright State University Library.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Interview on the Alvarez-Galloso News Hour

I have been interviewed by Roberto Alvarez-Galloso, an independent journalist located in Miami, who is a native of Akron and former resident in the Cleveland area. It has been published in his blog, and will be published shortly in MeriNews of India.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Feds force Ohio to tighten eligibility for children’s health insurance

In another routine intrusion of the Feds on the rights of our sovereign States reported by the Columbus Dispatch, the Bush Administration has informed Gov. Ted Strickland that it will not allow Ohio to expand the children’s SCHIP buy-in health insurance benefit to 300% of the poverty level ($51,510 per year for a family of three). The proposed expansion of the benefit was approved by the Ohio General Assembly in June and championed by Gov. Strickland. The Federal regulators suggested that he resubmit the request at 250% of poverty level. While Gov. Strickland has agreed to do so, he also has publicly pledged to sue the Feds if Ohio’s request is denied.

It is good to see an Ohio Governor stand up to the Feds! Unfortunately, this is not likely to be the last time he will be called on to do so.

Lakota renounce treaties with U.S.

In a move unreported by any mainstream press in the United States* (but reported by Agence France-Presse** and Radio Netherlands), the Lakota (we used to call them Sioux) have formally renounced all treaties with the United States, thereby declaring their independence in a five-state area that includes most of South Dakota and parts of neighboring states. The list of grievances impelling them to the separation, documented on their website, details a history of treatment at the hands of the Federal Government that is nothing short of despicable.

The Ohio Republic stands with the Lakota in their struggle – and they know it will be a struggle – for self-determination. At the same time, we recognize the implications for other tribes and other States, including our own. We will all need to use reason, to find a fair balance between the rights of the native, and those that have built up for the rest of us.

The cause of the Lakota is the cause of us all.

* Note: Since this was initially posted, the story has appeared in mainstream U.S. media, including USA Today. Here is a link to news sources that have carried the story.

** As reported in Vermont Commons: I was unable to find the original source.

Election reform

Since the 2004 election, charges have swirled about that Ohio election officials somehow rigged the process to re-elect President Bush. These charges have been heavily promoted by liberal activist and author Bob Fitrakis, writing for the Free Press in Columbus. This only makes sense if you buy into the media hype that any one state really determines the outcome of a national election. Ohio has 20 electoral votes out of 538. That Ohio “decided” the outcome of the election is only indicative of the deep division that the United States as a whole experienced in that election.

This is not to say that we did not have some flaws in 2004, but to charge, as J. Arthur Loose did in Vermont Commons, that Ohio’s election procedures resembled those of a “banana republic” are also off-base. First, let me grant that we had our problems. We had an unusually partisan Secretary of State in J. Kenneth Blackwell. While he appears to have served the position well in his first term (1999-2003), he had pent-up ambition for the Governor’s office going back to 1990; which motivated him to seek political alliances through his support for the President’s re-election in 2004. Mr. Fitrakis also notes several anomalies (which I cannot explain away) between the usually accurate Ohio Poll and the voting results for statewide issues in the 2005 election.

I will not defend Mr. Blackwell’s conduct as Secretary of State in either election, but will note that, prior to 2004, there were few complaints about Ohio’s election process. In fact, in 2000, Ohio was generally compared favorably to Florida, even though most counties in both states were using punch-card ballots at the time. Our procedures, while not perfect, were usually effective in protecting the vote from fraud. For example, there was no stage in the elections process, from signing the poll book, to loading the computers at the Board of Elections and the Secretary of State’s office, that was not attended to and approved by at least one Republican and one Democrat, each with a veto power over the other.

What changed was the introduction of advanced electronic voting devices, which were approved in haste to meet Federal deadlines under the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The deadlines did not permit States to adequately test the accuracy and ballot security of the devices being promoted. The combination of short deadlines, Federal funding, and new technology created a perfect breeding ground for corruption.

Our current Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, has proposed a series of reforms for consideration by the General Assembly, some of which appear to follow a list of 50 reforms proposed by Mr. Fitrakis. While I question the value of some of the proposals relative to their cost, I generally support both sets of reforms. However, neither mentioned one that, in light of Mr. Blackwell’s tenure, should be raised to the top of the list. Ohio law needs to be amended to extend to the Secretary of State and her employees the “Little Hatch Act” (Section 124.57 of the Ohio Revised Code), which prohibits partisan political activity by the classified (civil service) State employees. An exception should, of course, be made for her own re-election campaign, since it will (and should) be a referendum on her handling of the elections process.

In support of Erica Vieyra

The Columbus Dispatch has been reporting on a class project assigned by Erica Vieyra, a teacher of advanced Spanish in the Olentangy Local School District (Delaware County). As a class assignment, she had her students assume an identity and Latin-American nationality, and attempt as illegal aliens, to apply for jobs in the area. The original report in the Dispatch caused a firestorm on the Internet, suggesting that Ms. Vieyra was attempting to indoctrinate her students in liberal values.

It is telling that in today’s report, “none of her students thought that [the immigrants] were going about it in the right way.” They learned the right lesson. The real problem is that American politics is polarized between those who would have law without compassion, and those who would have compassion without law. We have to have both. Without law, we have no order; but without compassion, we have no soul.

My opinion on immigration reform

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Why we should welcome the decline of empire

Those of us who have been involved in secessionism have become accustomed to the United States being referred to as an empire; possibly beginning with Kirkpatrick Sale’s article in counterpunch in February 2005.

However, when an Ohioan other than myself writes a published letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch under the title “Empires are always dying from within” –well, that made me sit up and take notice.

What aroused Elizabeth Richter’s ire was Jonah Goldberg’s assertion that “empire” is a necessity if we are to achieve "globalism, military success, capitalism and liberty." She cited John Quincy Adams in an 1821 speech as expressing his opposition to what we now call “nation-building” in these terms: "We do not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy." Instead, Ms. Richter noted, we are to create such a free and prosperous nation that the rest of the world will try to imitate us.

President Adams also told Congress that if we did try to destroy the monsters of our world that we would become a "dictatress" of the world, and this would damage our liberty.
Ms. Richter then observes with considerable irony the resemblance between the neoconservative philosophy and those of Leon Trotsky and Machiavelli, especially the beliefs that lying is necessary for the state to survive and that the ends justify the means if those in power are virtuous.

She then concludes, “All tyranny is based upon an insistence of those in power to create utopia on Earth. This position is directly opposed to the non-utopian Christian worldview of our Founders, who believed in a messy and widely shared division of power inherent in our Republic.”


Friday, December 14, 2007

Close the door gently

To date, I have been leery of joining the debate on immigration. It is an emotional issue that has the tendency to bring out the worst in everyone. On the one hand, we rightfully demand respect for our laws and our borders. On the other hand, many of us have compassion for the people who have come over illegally. In particular, we remember that many of the Mexicans are victims of unscrupulous operators who carried them over the border making false promises. And to forcibly remove people who have lived here for over a decade on the basis of legal technicalities, seems a bit harsh.

The real problem with immigration lies with the Americans who do not respect their own laws, by insisting on putting illegal immigrants on the same footing as others for purposes of acquiring benefits from the state.

We have to face the fact that we have made serious mistakes; but we have to correct the problem. Therefore, from now on, we must build effective border security that deports illegal aliens within hours of their entry into this country. I don’t know how to do this, but I suspect that it isn’t rocket science. Build physical barriers, increase air surveillance, establish strict enforcement protocols. Those who have been here less than two years should be summarily deported. For the others, we should grant temporary visas – but only once – to let them stay here and enable us to keep track of them. At the end of the visa, they can do one of three things: go on the citizenship track, justify an extension of their visa according to law, or go home. Employers who value these people should have no problem with assisting their employees in pursuing one of the first two options.

We should permit their children to be educated, and to receive a minimum standard of health care. It is not the children’s fault they came here illegally. To help illegal immigrants much more would move us from compassion to stupidity.

Please note that I am referring only to illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants were cleared to come here, are working or living with their families, and are taxpayers. They should be entitled to the same human and civil (but not political) rights as anyone else.

Ohio has a history of diversity in immigration, which obviously is not going to change. This diversity has enriched us culturally and strengthened us in our native capacity to innovate. We remain bound together by respect for our laws and by the English language. Now, let’s clean up the mess the Feds have made, and move forward.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Is the energy movement gaining steam?

Julie Carr Smyth, Statehouse correspondent for the Associated Press*, reports today that Gov. Strickland is pressing for an energy bill that includes mandatory thresholds for the use of alternative energies, including clean coal.

"'It’s the spirit of our time,' said Strickland, a Democrat who led his party’s resurgence last year in a political swing state controlled for more than a decade by Republicans. 'We cannot, and I just pray to God that we don’t, let these opportunities pass us by... The status quo does not result in things staying the way they are,' he said. 'The status quo results in things getting increasingly worse in comparison to the rest of the world."

The Ohio Republic and Gov. Strickland on the same page? At least on this issue we are. Like the Governor, I just pray to God that we don't let these opportunities pass us by, either; like too many others we have passed up in the last 25 years.

* As posted by the Canton Repository.

Yankee ingenuity

Continuing an unplanned “Vermont Week” in the Ohio Republic, I encountered a brilliant article in Vermont Commons on creating sustainable energy sources, which follows up nicely on my recent posts on transportation and simplifying the holidays.

Written by Gaelan Brown, it suggests seven options, six of which will work in Ohio (we’re too flat to make hydroelectric power work). The six are: building community and residential-scale electric generation, biomass (burning renewable fuels such as timber* and, for us, corn), biogas (converting municipal sewage and agricultural, uh, waste into a methane-generating electrical power system, wind power (which is beginning to take hold in Ohio), development and promotion of electric vehicles, and solar power for water heating (a long-established technology). Read the details – Mr. Brown explains his points not only reasonably, but also with wit.

With our tradition of invention (and noting that Northeastern Ohio is heavily populated with descendants of New Englanders), we should be able to build on these ideas to achieve energy independence.

* Recent developments in genetic engineering suggest that trees can be genetically engineered to burn more efficiently as fuel; but at the moment there are still a few kinks to be worked out.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Think locally, act locally

In today’s Vermont Commons, Jane Dwinell and Dana Dwinell-Yardley wrote an interesting Christmas piece entitled “Independence from the Holiday Machine.” It contains several interesting suggestions on how to celebrate the holiday, both more simply and more memorably. I’ll just give you the subheadings as a teaser: Buy less, buy local, eat local, spend the holiday doing something fun instead of opening gifts, and create new and meaningful rituals. While many of their suggestions are specific to the Green Mountain State, most of them can be used or adapted right here in Ohio.

Since one of the purposes of this blog is to promote Ohio culture, let me throw out this question for the Christmas season: What dishes come to your mind as being distinctively Ohio cuisine? Let us know in your comments to this post.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

U.S. transportation system isn't going anywhere

Doug Ervin, chairman of 1,000 Friends of Central Ohio, wrote a letter to the editor that was published in today's Columbus Dispatch. He observes that that the United States government spends only 0.93 percent of its gross domestic product on transportation infrastructure (about one-tenth that of China). The funds that are being spent are heavily weighted toward highways, bridges, and air service.

Well, hello... we have $100 per barrel oil, past peak. Automobiles, trucks, and buses are the largest single source of greenhouse gases, and right now, within the state, there are no other options.

One of the principles that I would like to see in the Ohio Republic is that of natural sustainability. I'm not talking about tree-hugging "environmentalism" -- I am talking about working our way toward renewable resources, clean air, and responsible land use. Rail and public transit systems can run on electricity, which can be generated from many clean and renewable sources (and on the short term, by coal, which we still have in abundance -- but will need to develop technologies to burn more cleanly).

As Mr. Ervin writes:

"As we look for options to ease pain at the pump, we find few or no choices.

"Federal passenger-rail legislation that would remedy this is long in coming but again faces delay from a threatened presidential veto and glacial movement by Congress. We need action, and we need it now. Otherwise, how can we possibly begin to address issues such as energy conservation, air quality and land use?"

Ohio is compact and has eight metro areas. We are ideally situated to build a public transportation infrastructure that can be a model for North America -- but only when we have freed ourselves and our tax dollars of the Feds' misplaced priorities.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Senator Brown replies to "Appeal on HR 1955"

On Tuesday, I published an open letter to Ohio's U.S. Senators expressing my concerns about H.R. 1955 (The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act).

I have published Sen. Sherrod Brown's disappointing boilerplate response as a comment, and will also publish Sen. George Voinovich's when it is received.

Two invitations to my fellow Ohioans

As I review the entries in this blog to date, I realize just how much this has been a one-man show. Response to this blog has been slow, but very encouraging, so I remain highly enthusiastic! -- but one man can never be a movement. So, I would like to invite others to join me.

First, if you would like to write for this blog, I invite you to e-mail submissions to me. After we have gone over several contributions and established a level of trust, I shall permit you to contribute directly. In the near future, I shall issue a draft statement of principles that will give you a clearer idea of what I have in mind.

Second, if you would like to get in on the ground floor of a movement for Ohio secession, please e-mail me to indicate your interest. Include in that e-mail your postal address, county, preferred phone number. This information will remain confidential, and will not be used for any other purpose without your express written consent.

In accordance with Robert's Rules, when I have received e-mail notifications from at least 20 people from at least 5 different counties, I shall draft by-laws and a platform to be voted on at a convention (probably all day on a Saturday) at the most convenient possible location.

If you are an Ohio resident, I hope you will seriously consider and respond to these invitations.
If you are not an Ohio resident, let me thank you for reading this blog -- you are always welcome to read and comment. I hope that some of the ideas presented here will be helpful to you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

An appeal to Ohio's Senators against HR 1955

Following is the text of an e-mail message I sent to Ohio's Senators in opposition to the proposed Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act:

I am writing to you today to express my opposition to H.R. 1955 (The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act) in its present form, particularly in its provisions relating to “violent radicalizaton,” and the creation of the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Ideologically Based Violence.

The Act defines violent radicalization as “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.”

I note that two provisions of the Act are intended to protect the Constitutional rights of American citizens in their exercise of free speech (Sections 899B(8) and 899F(c)). However, history has shown that such rights can be trampled upon when the Congress or the nation is fearful of a terrorist attack – a fear that can easily be whipped up by less scrupulous politicians and media in support of a political end. I have no doubt that the sponsors of H.R. 1955 intend for the Commission to act in an ethical fashion – but I feel it is unwise to write an Act that assumes that they will do so. Given the opportunity, and especially if the auditing mechanism envisioned in 899F(c) is slow, unpublicized, or otherwise ineffective, it is safer to expect that the Commission will abuse its power.

The First Amendment can be effectively invalidated without passing any legislation directly attacking its provisions, as was proven during the investigations of the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Senate Internal Security Committee under the chairmanship of Senator Joseph McCarthy, between 1950 and 1954.

Let me remind you of the impact of those investigations, in a few words quoted from (the site also gives original sources for its statements):

“The number imprisoned is in the hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs. In many cases, simply being subpoenaed by HUAC [the House Un-American Activities Committee] or one of the other committees was sufficient cause to be fired. Many of those who were imprisoned, lost their jobs or were questioned by committees did in fact have a past or present connection of some kind with the Communist Party. But for the vast majority, both the potential for them to do harm to the nation and the nature of their communist affiliation were tenuous.

By defining violent radicalization as the “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change,” the Act is criminalizing an opinion, rather than a behavior.
I hold a political opinion that many people find distasteful, and I have repeatedly stated my opposition to the use of any violence whatsoever. But if someone takes my philosophy and forms a violent movement in its support, where does that leave me? In all likelihood, according to the language of this act, I have committed “violent radicalization.” If this Act were in effect in the early 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King could have been held responsible for the actions of the Black Panthers.

I am totally in favor of erecting defenses against violence for any reason. I agree that we need to understand the potential for terrorist actions within the United States. Anyone who commits a violent act should be vigorously prosecuted and severely punished according to law; but we must confine the legal process to dealing with the action, not the philosophy that is allegedly behind it. As President Harry Truman wrote in his unsuccessful veto of the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950, “In a free country, we punish men for the crimes they commit, but never for the opinions they have.”

Finally, I appeal to you to consider these words from Edward R. Murrow, in a final comment on McCarthyism:

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.”

If you cannot oppose H.R. 1955, I urge you to at least support amendments that will better protect the Constitutional rights of dissent.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Activity behind the scenes

Pressing personal business will probably keep me out of the blog for another week; but be assured that the Ohio Republic remains active and committed. Readership continues to slowly increase, and behind the scenes, we are working on a major position paper on the Republic's monetary policy.

Of course, the best advice is to put us on an RSS or Atom feed (see link at the bottom of this page), so you get updates as soon as they are posted.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Be thankful for our freedoms – we may not have them much longer…

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, and it is appropriate to give thanks for our material blessings (most of us do have enough – or too much – to eat, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads); and for the remaining freedoms of speech, press, and assembly.

However, Ralph E. Shaffer and R. William Robinson of the Baltimore Sun reported November 19, that a bill in the U.S. Senate seriously threatens those freedoms. Known as the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act,” the bill currently rests in the Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Sen. Joseph Lieberman. The Sun says that “swift Senate passage appears certain.”

Rep. Jane Harman (D-California) introduced the act to avert an anticipated “native brand of terrorism in the immediate future,” and “offers a plan to deal with ideologically based violence.” She wants to create a commission with investigative power and a mandate to propose laws prohibiting “homegrown terrorism.” However, in its power to hold hearings (which may be called by individual members), the commission is very likely to operate in the same manner as Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee in the early 1950s. Clearly, such a commission would pose a dire threat to even the most non-violent secessionists.

The Act is both unnecessary and dangerous. Crime is crime. If violence is committed, arrest the perpetrators and mete out justice for the crime. But don’t use the “hate crime” logic of attempting to judge what is in the heads of dissidents. A strict-constructionist Supreme Court would immediately strike such an act down as violating the First and Fourth Amendments – but we can’t count on such a Court right now.

Please contact your Senators and urge them to oppose the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act,” at least in its investigatory provisions.

Ohio’s Senators may be reached by e-mail at:
George Voinovich:

Sherrod Brown:

Monday, November 19, 2007

President Bush and the Constitution

Last Friday, I made a request for evidence from mainstream media, confirming that a statement derogatory to the Constitution was made by the President in the fall of 2005. The request remains open; however, I have to admit that, for an Internet source, Capitol Hill Blue was thorough in its documentation. Here is the link, for what it’s worth to you.

If it has any validity at all, it should be grounds for impeachment. The President of the United States has sworn (twice!) to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution of the United States. To show contempt for the Constitution clearly violates that oath, and in the President, should be considered a “high crime” or “misdemeanor”. I am surprised that Congressional Democrats, who are looking for any excuse to hang the President, have not latched onto this.

My thanks to Carol Moore for clarifying this issue with me.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Why is our economy failing?

The Columbus Dispatch Daily Briefing for yesterday reported that 58% of Ohioans interviewed in a recent Ohio Poll, expect our State economy to get worse in the months ahead. Only 20% thought that economic conditions are "good" or "excellent." Statistics by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services note that Ohio has had a net loss of 11,500 jobs in the last year, including over 16,400 manufacturing jobs (Yeah, there was a net increase elsewhere, but guess what "elsewhere" is ... ) We are still facing a major outmigration of our best and brightest young adults, and inflation is hitting us like everyone else.

To be fair, Ohio has made its own mistakes -- we have allowed ourselves to get into a feeding frenzy for large employers that promise to build plants in Ohio; when we should have been creating a favorable tax and regulatory climate for entrepreneurial startup businesses. We also need to stress innovation, as I stated yesterday.

But we also have a Federal Government that has aggressively pursued economic policies that are against our national interest. Tax laws favor the very rich, and reward spending instead of saving. Federal and State laws have permitted lenders to extend too-easy credit at confiscatory rates. We have built huge trade deficits with China and many other nations, and the Feds don't have a clue how to reverse them.

An Ohio Republic might still make some mistakes, but I can assure you of this: it will conduct foreign trade policy in our national interest -- one that promotes domestic manufacturing, innovation, and the wise use of resources.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ohio and innovation

The Kauffman Foundation, a think tank associated with the Duke University School of Engineering, has issued an interesting report on intellectual property creation in the United States. It compares patent generation by State, by company, and by university. For the most part, Ohio is high-average on the lists by State.

In 2006, Ohio generated 26.7 patent applications per 100,000 workers, slightly higher than the national average of 25.1, which resulted in a ranking of 18th among the 50 states. In 1998, the comparable figures were 20.5 and 13th. For total patent applications from industry, Ohio ranks 9th, with approximately 1,200 applications in 2006, compared with approximately 1,000 applications in 1998.

For patent application originating from universities, Ohio ranks 10th, with approximately 1,200 applications in 2006, compared with about 500 in 1998. (Figures are approximate, because they were read from bar graphs).

From this report, we can see that Ohio’s recent emphasis on university research is beginning to pay off; but we are starting to fall behind the curve in corporate research.

Independent or not, Ohio’s economic future depends on innovation in many areas, including automotive technology, information technology, polymers, clean fuels, and alternative energy sources. But I suggest that independence will give us the focus we need to aggressively press for the research and technology we need to thrive in the 21st century.

Who cares about “rule of law”?

Columnist Robert Novak reports that a delegation of Iraqi attorneys, frustrated with the American priorities for the Iraqi legal system, came to Washington to meet with Fred Fielding, the White House legal counsel, to seek more aid (still a modest amount) for building the Iraqi legal and judicial system. What they got was a meeting with a low-level White House staffer (and, interestingly, a 45-minute audience with Chief Justice John Roberts). In other words, a cold shoulder from the White House.

But then, why should that surprise us? A President who has shown contempt for the Fourth Amendment in this country should not be expected to champion the rule of law in another one.

On a related note, the blogosphere has reported that the President has referred to the U.S. Constitution as “just another g-damned scrap of paper,” but I have not seen reliable evidence that he actually said it. If you have evidence, other than from a purely Internet source, that he actually said it, please contact me. I refuse to add my name to urban legends.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"A State of Mine"

Here is a YouTube link to an upcoming movie, featuring secession movements in California and neighboring states:

Why secession makes sense

Kirkpatrick Sale, of the Middlebury Institute, has just published one of the most persuasive papers in support of secessionism that I have read to date. "The Logic of Secession: Three Tines to a Trident" makes, as the title suggests, three major points:

1. There is really no workable alternative that will replace a corrupt system with one accountable to the people. We could look for a better candidate for President or Congress, but the best people have proven incapable of raising the money. Why? Because they were good enough not to be corrupted by the money machine. We could try a reformist lobby, but again, many environmentalist and liberal groups (and conservatives, for that matter) have tried to influence Congress in this fashion, and, again, it hasn't worked. Finally, we could have tried a third party, but -- as effective as Ross Perot and Ralph Nader seemed at the time -- it is obvious that the system is stacked against them. This, by the way, is why Ron Paul's candidacy will fail. Revolution might be an answer, but who could stand up to the full array of military might that Washington now commands? So, finally, there is secession, a peaceful alternative that matches our American ethos and can be supported morally and diplomatically.

2. Secondly, the secession movement is rapidly growing. Mr. Sale's article will give you the statistics, and they are impressive!

3. Finally, it should be clear by now that peak oil, climate change, and a collapsing dollar will culminate in events that will force us to buy our products and live our lives locally -- conditions that favor separation into multiple nations.

I encourage you to read the entire piece, and to record your comments on it here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thought for Veterans’ Day

I am sure that there are many Americans who feel that the secessionist movement is a slap in the face to those who have fought and died in the American armed forces. To those people, I ask this question:

What did they fight and die for?

Their struggle abroad is our struggle at home. We are on the same side in support of our Constitution and our freedom, against those within our own borders who use government and promote warfare for their own selfish gain.

I appreciate the personal sacrifice of time, treasure, and, too often, life, of every one who served in the armed forces; including those where their Commanders-in-Chief were ill-prepared for the outcome, or where the initial purpose was unclear; because their sacrifice was for the right reasons, even if the wars they fought were conceived for the wrong ones.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Positive signs in Ohio

Secessionism can be a gloomy business, stressing as we all do, the reasons that the Feds are no longer fit to live with. However, the Columbus Dispatch reports two very positive developments that are well worth reporting here.

The first story (actually a pair of stories) by Alayna DeMartini and Dean Narciso in the Metro and State section, reports the growth of environmental activism in the Clintonville neighborhood, and in the suburbs of Dublin, Upper Arlington, Westerville, and Worthington. The groups, known as Sustainable [area name], exist to educate their members and the general public on how we can minimize the waste of natural resources. Their approaches are all common-sense, and often take advantage of new technologies (such as porous driveways, to minimize runoff during rains). They also engage in activism to advocate the use of recycled materials where available.

The second, on the Business page, reports of a visit to Columbus by John Ratzenberger, best known as an actor in the television series “Cheers”; but who has recently become a vocal advocate for American manufacturing. He stresses that American manufacturing is essential, not only to our economic health as a nation, but to maintain quality and integrity in the global markets. He is looking forward to the day when we will be proud to tell others that our son will be a machinist, or our daughter a welder; because that will be a sign that our middle class is healthy and strong. The alternative, he fears, is that America will become a “slave nation” to China and India.

Mr. Ratzenberger will give a presentation at the Columbus Athenæum, 32 N. 4th St., Columbus, Thursday, November 8, at 6:30 pm. Admission is free and open to the public.

On the cultural front, I had some free time this afternoon and paid a visit to the Ohioana Library. The Ohioana is a unique cultural treasure, consisting of 45,000 books and pieces of sheet music, all written and composed by Ohioans or persons with Ohio connections. The institution is thriving, despite years of operating on a shoestring from limited state government funding. They hold two major events each year, the Ohioana awards ceremony recognizing Ohioans who have excelled in art, literature, and music; and a spring book fair, providing a collective opportunity for Ohio authors to promote current works. One of the roads to independence will be taken when we begin to appreciate and participate in the culture of our own state.

The Ohioana is a little hard to find -- it is at 274 First Avenue, Suite 300, behind the State Library in Columbus -- but then, treasures often are hard to find.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Freedom Agenda, or "stand by your man" ?

Dana Milbank, in a column for today's Washington Post, observed that President Bush had proclaimed a "Freedom Agenda," to spread democracy across the world. He said, "We are standing with those who yearn for liberty."

But now that Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf has suspended his country's constitution, his aides are saying "we think what we ought to be doing is using our various forms of influence ... to help a friend, who we think has done something ill-advised." Mr. Milbank suggests that even a "diplomatic slap on the wrist" is unlikely at this time.

So which is it? Freedom or alliance-at-all-costs? My mother used to say, "Actions speak louder than words," and right now, President Bush's actions in contempt of human rights are deafening.
A small nation such as the Ohio Republic would have too few resources and even less desire, to engage in such hypocritical nonsense -- since its foreign policy would be focused principally on trade.

Interesting William McKinley quote

One of the economic goals of the Ohio Republic should be to encourage local manufacture of goods that are durable and desirable. With this in mind, along with recent news of even more (and worse) sweatshop conditions in Chinese and Indian factories supplying American retailers, this quote from Ohio's President William McKinley is particularly telling:

“I do not prize the word 'cheap.' It is not a badge of honor. It is a symbol of despair. Cheap prices make for cheap goods; cheap goods make for cheap men; and cheap men make for a cheap country.”

Friday, November 2, 2007

We need vision – and it won’t come from Washington

Cal Thomas hit the nail on the head in his column yesterday:

“What is lacking in all of these candidates [for President] - Democrat and Republican - is a clear vision that empowers individuals. This is supposed to be a country of opportunity for its citizens. It has become (even with Republicans in charge) a government that dispenses goodies to the group that can produce the most votes. This cynical and selfish approach to government is what has turned so many people off to politics and politicians.”

In over thirty years as both an observer and a participant in the political process, I have seen this cynicism grow. Today, it is a cancer that is slowly killing the American political system. (Some of my fellow secessionists argue that it is dead already, and they may have a point).

We need leadership with vision and a moral compass, one that can imagine what the broader public interest is, and how to act upon it. But our Federal elected officials have forgotten that one-size-fits-all solutions do not work in such a large and diverse nation.

As an independent Republic, Ohio will be diverse enough, as I indicated earlier; and will need to decentralize still more. Here’s why: Would-be lobbyists and moneyed interests would find funding and following up on so many smaller governments to be an expensive and downright impractical exercise; especially with the increased accountability those officials would have to the voters.

In other words, elected officials would then be free to develop and pursue their visions, giving us the opportunity to select the ones we feel would most benefit Ohio.

Gen. Abizaid confirms what I wrote

ABC News reported that retired Gen. John Abizaid, said yesterday:

“We shouldn't assume for even a minute that in the next 25 to 50 years the American military might be able to come home, relax and take it easy, because the strategic situation in the region doesn't seem to show that as being possible,”

thus confirming what I wrote last Friday, that “a war with Iran will be a catastrophe from which the United States of America, as we now know it, will never recover.” The American people, despite the 52% approval rating, will soon realize that a war with Iran has nothing to do with our national defense. When they do, the message of this blog might begin to make more sense to them.

Gen. Abizaid is former commander of the Central Command, which is over the forces in the Middle East. He was speaking to the Joint Improvised Explosive Devices Defeat Organization Technology Outreach Conference, where he was the keynote speaker.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Barbara Jordan said it in 1974...

"My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total, and I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution."
Representative Barbara Jordan (1936 - 1996) ,
speaking at the House Judiciary Watergate Impeachment Hearings

Friday, October 26, 2007

Keep us out of Iran!

The preamble to the U.S. Constitution states that its purpose is to “provide for the national defense” and to “secure the blessings of liberty on ourselves and our posterity.”

A war with Iran would be a breach of that contract that, in my opinion, by itself justifies secession. Such a war against a nation that is no direct threat to our national security, will be financed with borrowed money, fought by troops we cannot spare, attracting enemies (Russia, China, and who knows how many al-Qaeda sleeper cells) we cannot afford to alienate, to secure a product we should be replacing, to which victory again remains undefined.

To suggest that the justification for such a war is “national defense” is Orwellian newspeak (you know, “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.”).

I am not anti-Semitic. Israel can defend itself, and if Europe feels threatened, then let it take responsibility for its own defense. They need Middle Eastern oil more than we do. I think Americans who can view the issue objectively, will understand that my position is simply common sense.

A war with Iran will be a catastrophe from which the United States of America, as we now know it, will never recover. Not financially. Not politically. Not militarily. Not economically. Not ever.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Making secessionism respectable

(Disclaimer to fellow secessionists: I shall be mildly critical of some of my fellow travelers; however, I do subscribe to the Middlebury Institute's Statement of Collegiality)

While I am a new to public participation in the secessionist movement, I have been thinking about this subject for many years. I have discussed it privately with my friends and acquaintances; and frankly, Ohio secessionists have some baggage to carry that those in other states may not.

First, to recite the obvious, Abraham Lincoln and the Radical Republicans of his day did an excellent job of brainwashing the American public into thinking that secession was illegal. This sense of illegality is strengthened by three court decisions: Texas v. White (U.S. Supreme Court, 1869), Chancely v. Bailey and Cleveland (Georgia Supreme Court, 37 Georgia Reports 532, 1868), and Kohlhaas v. State (Alaska Supreme Court, 2006).

Secondly, also obviously, the same people planted it into the heads of generations of Americans that the purpose of the Civil War was to abolish slavery; therefore, secessionism in any form is inherently racist.

Thirdly, Ohioans share with other Midwesterners a strong sense of the practical. This has served us well in history, since we are noted for our inventiveness; but it also means that we don’t deal very well with philosophical abstractions. To put it in plain English: if we can’t see the practicality of an idea up front, we reject the idea before even considering its other merits. When the subject of secession comes up, the usual first response is: it won’t work!

Finally, Ohio has a special problem. Ours is, and always has been, a diverse state. In the Nineteenth Century, being located along many of the major transportation routes across the continent, we faced waves of immigration from the English, French, Germans, Irish, and Swiss; followed by Italians, Greeks, and various Eastern European nationalities. Our industrial base in the mid-Twentieth Century attracted Afro-Americans; and today, we experience immigration from Hispanics, Asian Indians, Chinese, Japanese, and various nationalities from the Islamic world. However, Ohioans historically have also had a very strong commitment to the English language as the medium of political and commercial communication, and (at least until the early 1980s) a strong commitment to limited state and local government.

This diversity is what makes Ohio so interesting to the national political pundits. We are neither a red state nor a blue state. We are a rich purple – or to carry the analogy to its breaking point, we are a gradient: solid blue in Cleveland and Youngstown gradually turning into solid red in Cincinnati.

This also means that, unlike New England and the Deep South, we do not have a provincial tradition. In fact, at least since the Civil War, Ohioans have been very self-conscious about being self-conscious. We seem to want to blend into America as a whole. Except for a special ceremony in Chillicothe on Statehood Day (which relatively few of us know is March 1), we passed our Bicentennial in 2003 very quietly, being mostly remembered for our painted barns and Bicentennial bells in each county.

We must be prepared with more facts than theories, and show our people a great return on the investment of time, effort, and emotion that such an enterprise will require.

I do not think Ohio is alone in these challenges. I imagine the same can be said for the secessionists in the upper Midwest, California, and the Pacific Northwest, among others. If secessionism is to become a pan-American movement, then, we need cooperation from our fellow travelers:

1. Let’s show some decorum in our communications, and show some respect for the Presidency of the United States, even if the incumbent doesn’t deserve it. Thomas Jefferson stated in the Declaration of Independence that “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes” President Bush’s term of office ends January 20, 2009. The republics we seek to create we want to outlive us.

2. In the same vein, I appreciate humor as much as anyone; but secession involves changing established ways of thinking, and a radical change to our way of life. Of course we believe it to be for the better, but it would help if we held back on flippant remarks in our blogs.

3. Most of us need to make a special effort to ensure that our movements are open to people of all races and creeds. Without sacrificing the essential principles of decentralism, we need to remember that the secessionist tent has to be the biggest one of all, because it involves everyone in our area. We need to have the active involvement of, and access to governance by, a cross-section of our populations: men, women, Caucasians, Afro-Americans, Asian-Americans, Democrats, Republicans, and the huge mass of the people who are fed up with both.

4. I have always believed in political campaigns, it is best to balance the negative with the positive. Each time we send a negative message about the economic disaster to come, or the follies of the “Empire,” we need to balance it with the positive advantages of independence. Contrary to conventional political wisdom, I believe that Americans are now open, more than in many years, to people with positive visions – including ours.

What this means for the Ohio secessionist is that we have the challenge of making our independence even imaginable for our people. If we act like adults with a serious message, open our movements to all who support our objectives, and balance our negative and positive messages, we will ultimately succeed. And ultimately is what counts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Another voice against empire

Veteran journalist Charley Reese has reminded us that the Pentagon now has 702 overseas bases in 130 countries, on which are stationed more than 250,000 uniformed troops. The question is, why do we need all those bases? How do they contribute to our national defense? The only powers that can really wage war against us are Russia and China – and against them, land-based forces in distant parts of the world will be useless, because they will fight with missiles.

The only reason for such an extended military is to maintain an empire. Or as Mr. Reese writes,

“Americans need to realize that we are not the police force of the world. It is not our responsibility to overthrow dictators or effect regime change in other people's countries. It is not our responsibility to stop slaughters such as seem to be a permanent feature of Africa.”

He concludes: “You can't have a free republic and an empire. It is time to choose.” A free republic needs a strong defense. It also needs to mind its own business.

Your vote may be a public record

As though we weren’t having enough problems already, Dan Williamson of The Other Paper (Columbus, October 18) reports that voters in ten Ohio counties who use iVotronic machines no longer have a secret ballot. It appears than an individual’s vote can be identified simply by making a request under Ohio’s public records law and comparing the paper trail from the voting machine with the poll books, which show the order in which individuals voted.

State Senator Jeff Jacobson (R-Dayton), a leading elections expert in the General Assembly, said, “It is a problem with paper trails. I remain frustrated by the fact that we were goaded into electronic voting in the first place.” Sen. Jacobson prefers the optical-scan method, which also leaves a paper trail, but can be shuffled to prevent identification of voters with their votes. The optical-scan method is used in many Ohio counties.

At first this may appear to be a strictly internal matter that would affect us whether or not we were independent. But guess who did the goading?

This issue has since been corrected.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Halloween in DC: Part I

(Part I, because I anticipate many sequels…)

Now this is scary stuff:

1. Ellen Nakashima at the Washington Post has found that Verizon and AT&T admit to voluntarily turning over telephone records in response to FBI requests for information “thousands of times” since 2005. The carriers insisted that it was not their responsibility to determine the legality of the requests, in the interest of “saving lives in criminal investigations.” The disclosures were made in a letter from Verizon to three Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee investigating the carriers' participation in government surveillance programs. So now we don’t have to worry about the Feds ignoring the Fourth Amendment. We have to worry about the Feds and the phone companies ignoring the Fourth Amendment.

2. Suzanne Goldenberg, writing for the Guardian, a British newspaper, reports that Hillary Clinton is staking a claim to be the most hawkish Democrat in the race for President. In an article for Foreign Affairs, Sen. Clinton argues that Iran poses a long-term strategic challenge to America and its allies, and that it must not be permitted to build or acquire nuclear weapons. So now we have to worry about more American troops sacrificed for purposes unrelated to national defense.

3. According to Web Wire (affiliated with WorldNet Daily), former Mexican President Vicente Fox admitted that he and President Bush have “agreed” to create a common currency, the “Amero”, and contended that a union between the United States, Canada, and Mexico is “inevitable.”
(My thanks to the League of the South’s Rebellion for bringing these items to my attention).

4. David Brooks, of the New York Times, reports that one reason Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-Columbus) decided not to seek re-election, is that she grew tired of the dirty politics used by partisan “handlers” to secure her re-election last year. “I was appalled by what I had to do,” she was quoted as saying. Mr. Brooks continues by noting that campaigning, at least at the Congressional level, is a soul-destroying exercise.

“They spend their days talking endlessly about Me. When they meet donors, they want to know if they are giving to Me or against Me. When they meet advisors and fellow pols, they want to know, do they support Me or Not Me. When they think about strategy, it’s about better ways to present Me. When they craft positions, they want to know, what does this say about Me? No normal person can withstand the onslaught of egotism and come out unscathed.”

Mr. Brooks then noted that while the homo politicus may be successful, the species becomes sad and lonely, frequently the victims of political scandals, like the recent one that beset Idaho Sen. Larry Craig. Congresswoman Pryce is to be commended for her unwillingness to sell her soul to the political game, but Ohio will be poorer for losing her.

All of these reports display symptoms of the arrogance of power which has smitten Washington for many years, and is the direct result of ignoring the Constitutional principles of government. As State Rep. Corry warned us in 1863:

“It is probable that our neglect of Constitutional learning in Ohio and the North-West alone made this war of sections possible; and the revival of that learning is the only way out of it … There are many of the most energetic, ambitious, selfish, and unscrupulous men both in civil and military life, who are bent on erecting a simple but plausible despotism upon the ruins of our … institutions.

“When States’ Rights now threatened are clean absorbed by centralization, and when the States themselves are blotted out, and [the States] descend to the corporate condition of counties only, and their people be no longer the defiant, independent sovereigns whose fathers conquered a realm from … wilderness; [they will become] the patient … workers for a master class, or the contemptible parasites of courts and camps.”

More on the Secessionist Convention

Here is a YouTube object giving Chattanooga's WDEF-TV news report of the Second North American Secessionist Convention, held in that city October 4-5. It appears to be well-balanced, but naturally has a bit of a Southern slant:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Still horrified at the idea of secession?

Here is a Vermonter's view from an environmentalist site. Note the emphasis on "green" living and the practicality of his ideas for clean energy!

Friday, October 12, 2007

An Ohioan’s warning from the past

I plan to include statements from prominent Ohioans, past and present, in support of the rights of the States generally, and of secession in particular.

One of these is a dire prophecy by State Representative William McMillan Corry, who delivered a lengthy address to a meeting of the Peace Democrats (commonly known as “Copperheads”) in Canton on July 4, 1863. This is what he said:

"The moment she [the State of Ohio] abandons her sacred duty, under her own social compact, of defending her citizens and herself from encroachment upon undelegated rights, or from interference with the sovereignty of the States, she consents to sink to the condition of a dependent corporation."

("Against the Degradation of the States," published in Cincinnati in 1863)

Which is, of course, what many inside the Washington beltway would like to see happen.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Has America gone fascist?

You be the judge. Here is Merriam-Webster’s definition of Fascism:

Main Entry: fas·cism
Function: noun

Etymology: Italian fascismo, from fascio bundle, fasces, group, from Latin fascis bundle & fasces fasces.

1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition 2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.

Now, compare that with this post (with an admitted leftist bias) by Christopher Rowthorn in the Dandelion Salad blog, and some rather disturbing analysis by William M. Arkin, national security writer for the Washington Post, which envisions a Department of Homeland Security turning into J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, complete with witch hunts. The comments to this post are also interesting.

I am no leftist; but I do fervently believe that a free people defending those freedoms is the best protection against tyranny – both foreign and domestic. I would also like to believe that the people of Ohio, when made aware of those dangers in a way that exhibits careful reasoning, will stand up for their rights and for Constitutional government; even as a separate Republic.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

This just in: Secessionism is “politically incorrect”

The Middlebury Institute held its second annual Secessionist Convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee last week, which attracted delegates from 14 organizations in North America and two in Europe. They also invited the mainstream media. Anyone who still believes that the “mainstream” media report objectively should take a look at these links.

The most widely distributed article was by Bill Poovey of the Associated Press (reproduced in the Columbus Dispatch) . Nothing was written about the actions of the convention. Instead, it focused on the Convention’s co-sponsor, the League of the South, whose avowed purpose is to restore the Confederacy. The article devoted considerable space to the alleged racism of that organization, citing documents from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups in America. It also quotes that organization and a professor in North Carolina as expressing “surprise” that the “far left” New Englanders in the Middlebury Institute would cooperate with the Southern “racists.”

This supposedly objective news story packs a great deal of misinformation into a small space. It is true that the Southern Poverty Law Center has characterized the League of the South as “the center of the racist ne0-Confederate movement,” (article) but bases its argument on the opinions of its founder Michael Hill and white supremacists who are not necessarily involved with the organization. It also ignores the League of the South’s own statement on racism, which explicitly states the following:

“The LS disavows a spirit of malice and extends an offer of good will and cooperation to Southern blacks in areas where we can work together as Christians to make life better for all people in the South. We affirm that, while historically the interests of Southern blacks and whites have been in part antagonistic, true Constitutional government would provide protection to all law-abiding citizens — not just to government-sponsored victim groups.”

(Formal statement, dated June 21, 2005 is in the appendix at the bottom of the linked page).

Unfortunately, the very next paragraph of the FAQ also promotes “Anglo-Celtic” culture, which undoubtedly makes the organization unattractive to African-Americans; but to call the organization racist is an assertion more deeply rooted in the desire to discredit the League of the South and the entire secessionist movement, than on fact. It is an application of the “politically correct” effort to discredit secessionists using guilt by association.

The Middlebury Institute addressed this issue in its Statement on Collegiality, which notes that the nature of the secessionist movement causes it to diverse organizations with aims (other than secession) that may strongly disagree with the aims of others. As the Middlebury Institute’s director, Kirkpatrick Sale, wrote:

“People turn to secession because they want their own form of government, on their own terms, and hope to create a state that will live out their beliefs, principles, ideals. It is no more justifiable for one organization to question or criticize or castigate those goals if they work toward a Christian-directed government that outlaws abortion and adultery than if they work for a secular democracy favoring gun-control and same-sex marriages. The beauty of secession is that it looks toward having a world where those and many other kinds of states can exist, free and independent, and not impose its ideas on others or have others’ ideas imposed on it.”

I have already stated that an Ohio secessionist movement must be non-racial.

Mayur Pahilajani’s article in All-Headline News was essentially a shorter version of Bill Poovey’s; but in reducing its length, gave it a much more objective presentation.

The Independent, a British newspaper, repeated the assertions about the League of the South, but also threw in some other biases, including a characterization of the Middlebury Institute as a “left-wing” organization (it is not -- it is just a secessionist think tank), a close association with Vermont politics (not just its independence movement), and citing the 1868 Supreme Court decision Texas v. White (“The Constitution in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States.”) as the final word on the subject, as though the Supreme Court never revisited its own opinions. This is, of course, the “politically correct” orthodoxy preached by Abraham Lincoln, which appears to be the only tenet of American government that is too sacred to be revisited.

Finally, we have CNN talk-show host Glenn Beck, weighing in October 4, with this biased opener: “Tonight, here`s what you need to know. United we stand, and divided we fall.” Throughout the interview, he expressed disbelief that views as divergent as the Second Vermont Republic’s and the League of the South’s could come together in a single movement. When he did get it, he was so scared that he abruptly ended the interview.

I noted at the beginning of this long post that none of the “mainstream media” reported on what they did at the convention. Their final document, adopted October 4, is known as the Chattanooga Declaration, which is reproduced below:

“We, the delegates of the Secession movements represented at the Second North American Secessionist Convention, acknowledging our differences, yet agree on the following truths:
1. The deepest questions of human liberty and government facing our time go beyond right and left, and in fact have made the old right-left split meaningless and dead.
2. The privileges, monopolies, and powers that private corporations have won from government threaten everyone's health, prosperity, and liberty, and have already killed American self-government by the people.
3. The power of corporations endangers liberty as much as government power, especially when they are combined as in the American Empire. Liberty can only survive if political power is returned from faraway and self-interested centers to local communities and States.
4. The American Empire is no longer a nation or a republic, but has become a tyrant aggressive abroad and despotic at home.
5. The States of the American union are and of right ought to be, free and self-governing.
6. Without secession, liberty and self-government can never be sustained, and diversity among human societies can never survive. ”

It saddens me to acknowledge that they are correct – correct about the corporations, and correct about describing the United States of America as an “empire” that has become a tyrant abroad and despotic at home. Thomas Jefferson would have been proud.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Decline and Fall of the American Empire

One of the leading decentralist critics is Thomas H. Naylor, who writes for the Vermont independence website (The Second Vermont Republic). In an essay, entitled "What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire," he shows how America's lust for "empire" has exacerbated the four greatest environmental challenges of our time: peak oil, climate change, mass extinction (of plant and animal species), and overpopulation.

With Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the United Nations today, another one of Professor Naylor's essays is especially timely: "Iran: The Final, Fatally Flawed Shoe to Fall." Is it prophetic? We'll see. You be the judge. Just consider it as a possibility...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Quotes without comment

From George Orwell:

"Speaking the Truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act."

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people
what they do not want to hear."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Big Brother

This story, by Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post* , is so horrifying and unbelievable that I have to quote the beginning of it verbatim:

“The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.

“The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as long as 15 years, as part of the Department of Homeland Security's effort to assess the security threat posed by all travelers entering the country.”

Civil liberties advocates have rightly noted that this collection of data is a violation of the Privacy Act (5 USC 522a(e)(7), which forbids the Feds from collecting data related to First Amendment rights, such as choice of books or friends. The data collected were from John Gilmore, a privacy advocate in San Francisco, whose file was released by Homeland Security at his request.

Fact of human nature: If a government has the means to play Big Brother, it probably will. An individual (usually) lacks the resources to do what is necessary to reverse a trend like this.

It would be much harder to do this in the Republic of Ohio. Why? Because individuals like us will have 26 times as much influence over the national government as we do now.† It is unlikely that Ohio voters and legislators would provide funding for such an effort.

* Two caveats: (1) Please read the article carefully before commenting on the “liberal Bush-hating mainstream media,” and (2) Login is required to the Washington Post site.

Do the math: Divide the U.S. population (300 million) by Ohio’s (11.5 million).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Whatever happened to sound money?

For the first time since 1976, the Canadian dollar has risen in value to one U.S. dollar. At the same time, according to the Associated Press, the U.S. dollar hit a new all-time low against the euro, and long-time lows against the British pound and the Indian rupee.

It’s not hard to figure out why this is happening. Overextended personal credit, a national debt exceeding $9 trillion, and years of trade deficits with the rest of the world are eroding confidence in what was once the world’s reserve currency.

An Ohioan President, William McKinley, led the United States to prosperity during his Presidency (1897-1901) by insisting on a sound dollar backed by gold. It appears that the idea that banks can create money whenever they wish is proving not to be such a good idea…

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why secession now?

The tiny State of Vermont has the most advanced secessionist movement in America today, formulated along the principles I described in my Welcome post. The September issue of their publication, the Vermont Commons, describes very clearly why secession should be an important issue for all of us.

The United States is living out a tragedy. The sooner it ends, the sooner we can resume our unique lives, true liberty, and the pursuit of real happiness.

License to steal

One of my favorite columnists is Froma Harrop, of the Providence Journal. Today, her column points out the hidden costs of purchasing cheap goods from China. Among other costs, she cites:

  • High environmental costs, including air pollution that the Pacific sometimes takes as far as California;
  • Use of toxic chemicals in products;
  • Sweatshop conditions that even price the Mexicans out of business; and
  • Wal-Mart's pressure on all suppliers to lower costs, regardless of the consequences.

Her conclusion:

"The solution, ultimately, is for Americans to vote with their credit cards against a production system that trolls the earth for the most downtrodden labor force and lowest environmental standards. Rather than zero in on one country or company, let’s zero in on ourselves. American consumers must understand that low prices come with a price."

Resources are abundant, but are not infinite; or as Mohandas Gandhi once said:

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed."

A related issue in Ohio is the environmentalist concern over conditions suffered by chickens at egg farms. Now, I am not a vegan by any means; but, it stands to reason that the quality of our meat and poultry will be better if animals are treated with a small measure of respect, including a clean home, sufficient and appropriate feed; and with mammals such as cattle and horses, a measure of love.

The common denominator in both comments is respect for life. Not only life before birth, but after it. Respect for the lives and health of working people, respect for the lives and health of consumers, and respect for the lives and health of animals.

These goals can best be achieved in decentralized societies, based on local economies. They also require promoting an ethic that observes the truth that real prosperity lies, not in how much junk you own (or eat); but in the personal satisfaction and wise use of resources that comes from purchasing products for their quality and durability -- at a higher monetary price, to be sure; but at a much lower human one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

License to steel

According to the Columbus Dispatch, a Russian steelmaker wants to build a $1 billion plant either in Ohio or Québec.

I am all for building a plant, for the jobs and supplier business it would provide, but the profits would still go to Russia. My question for Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (who is also Director of the Department of Development) and Ohio’s remaining steelmakers is: What opportunity did the Russians see that we are missing?

I am even more for one of our steelmakers building a plant -- keeping the profits, as well as the jobs, here in Ohio.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why I do not recite the Pledge of Allegiance

Following is the text of a speech I delivered to my Toastmasters club today. Small portions have been edited out for brevity.

I am standing before you today to confess that I do not recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, and have not done so in the last 17 years. My refusal to do so should not be construed as contempt, either for the flag or for the Republic for which it stands. When it is recited, I usually stand in silence, out of respect for the flag and for the others in the room.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy as part of a public school program in celebration of Columbus Day 1892. His original pledge read,
“'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
In later years, “my Flag” was changed to “the flag of the United States of America” and the words “under God” were added.

I have no problem with the phrase under God. I understand why atheists find it offensive, but since an overwhelming majority of the American people profess belief in a Supreme Being, the majority’s beliefs should be respected.

Anyone, anywhere, can swear loyalty to their nation. From 1933 to 1945, millions of Germans showed their enthusiastic loyalty by raising their arms and shouting “Heil Hitler!” So what is the moral difference between America today and Germany then? The difference lies in our loyalty, not to a flag or a territory, but to the ideas on which our nation was founded.

My throat sticks on the word indivisible. That is, I believe in the right of a State to secede from the Union. …

So, in Septemer 2007, why should anyone care?

The writers of our Constitution understood human nature. People want power; and given the opportunity, they would let their lust for power override their ideals and sense of fairness. Powerful people would want to strip away our liberties when those liberties became inconvenient for them. The Founding Fathers asserted that the States were sovereign, because, if the ultimate power were left to the States and to the people, that of the Federal Government would be limited. They held that the States, because they were closer to the people, would reflect their needs and beliefs, and would be more responsive to their will.

In spite of this, the Constitution faced heavy resistance from those who believed that an effective Federal Government was a threat to the rights of the States and the people – so much so that five states (New York, Virginia, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Texas) explicitly reserved to themselves the right to secede in their ratifications of the Constitution.

As a Georgia Supreme Court judge wrote in 1868 [dissent in Chancely v. Bailey and Cleveland, 37 Georgia Reports 532],
“If any prominent advocate of the Federal Constitution had … intimated an opinion, that by ratification of the Federal Constitution, the states surrendered their separate individuality and sovereignty as States, such was the extreme jealousy for the maintenance of State sovereignty, [that] such an opinion… would have led to the prompt and overwhelming rejection of that instrument.”
The idea that this nation is indivisible did not occur to anyone prior to the Civil War.

I will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance, because it violates the spirit of the Constitution that protects our freedom. Our own Ohio Constitution, in Article I, Section 2, states one of our most essential rights in this fashion:
“All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter, reform, or abolish the same, whenever they may deem it necessary…”
Thus, by implication, the framers of our State Constitution agreed that our Republic is not “indivisible.” Secession is an essential right, to be used only as a last resort; to protect our people from a Federal Government when it becomes so powerful that it is no longer accountable to the people. To state that the Union is indivisible is to suggest that preservation of the Union is worth sacrificing our freedom. I do not believe this, and I hope you don’t either.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Welcome to the Ohio Republic!

The purpose of this blog is to advocate the peaceful, legal independence of Ohio from the United States of America. This will be done by discussing the philosophy that will underlie the new political system; the emotional, legal, and practical issues involved in achieving independence; and highlighting news of differences between the State of Ohio and the United States Government. I shall also take a look, where appropriate, at existing secessionist movements in the United States for the lessons they may teach us. In the near future, I plan to add sections for interesting documents and links of related interest.

At this early stage, I envision a Republic, consisting of Ohio alone, that will have limited powers; delegating and reserving most of the domestic functions of government to the counties, the municipalities and townships, and to the people themselves. The general philosophy is known as decentralism, as promoted by the Middlebury Institute (a secessionist think tank) and the E. F. Schumacher Society. However, “pure” decentralism is designed for very small populations. We shall need to modify it to meet the needs of Ohio’s size, diversity, and culture.

Following a period of discussion, given sufficient interest, a movement will be organized to carry the struggle to the people of Ohio. I invite your comments as we move forward.

Here are some of my thoughts on what our independence movement should look like:

It will advocate independence by peaceful, legal means. Initially, I see it as a movement that eventually will put on the Ohio ballot an issue to call a convention to dissolve the Union between Ohio and the other states; but it is possible that legal issues could develop which would necessitate the formation of a political party for that purpose.

Such a movement is not seditious. The Government in Washington will remain in power – may they rule in peace – only not over us. Speech advocating peaceful secession is protected by the First Amendment.

This movement is non-racial. Everyone of every color and faith shares the same basic needs. While some previous movements for secession and states’ rights were intended to promote the supremacy of one race, the movement for the Ohio Republic is intended to end our relationship with a Federal Government that, despite claims to the contrary, actually oppresses minorities as much as (maybe more than) the rest of us. In future posts, I shall explain why this is so.

While the principal effort will be focused on political change, a successful independence movement will also have cultural and economic components. A distinct culture will turn a seceded State into a nation in its own right; encouraging the development of local economies will reduce our dependence on foreign sources of goods and services and minimize the need to “compete” in the global economy of cheap goods created by underpaid labor.

The ultimate purpose of independence is to restore a sense of community, which experience has shown to be a spiritual necessity for all people. This community will come from preserving, for ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of Liberty granted by God and articulated by the framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutions of the United States and of Ohio; and by restoring the influence each of us as citizens once had on the government of our community and nation.

This is not a sudden whim. I have been thinking about this subject since 1989, but many necessary ideas remain undeveloped or underdeveloped. I invite you to join me to turn these ideas into the building blocks of a new nation that is small in population, but great in heart.

Harold D. Thomas