Monday, June 30, 2008

Abolish the State income tax?

Today's Columbus Dispatch editorialized against State Rep. John Adams's proposal to gradually abolish the Ohio income tax.

There is a lot to like about the idea -- lowering taxes usually has a stimulating effect on the economy, and it would eliminate an intrusive tax that requires a large bureaucracy to collect. But the Dispatch's arguments are also sound. The State can barely balance its budget now, and running a deficit is not an option, and Rep. Adams's argument that the economic stimulus from lowering the income tax would offset the loss of the tax sounds a bit too pie in the sky in the face of our economic realities.

There is one more reason why it won't work. The State has cut spending almost as much as it is possible to do so. The reason our taxes are where they are, is that we have to pay for the State share of unfunded Federal mandates. Removing these is not within the General Assembly's power, unless they (1) want to live with reduced Federal funding (not necessarily a bad idea, but one that will take an unusual degree of political courage), or (2) want to recommend to the voters an Ordinance of Secession. Even I don't think we're ready for that ... yet.

"We don't have a republic anymore"

Here is a YouTube video of Gore Vidal speaking out about the sad state of the Federal Government. There is a lot not to like about it: that he chose to give this interview on Iranian television, while not illegal, smacks a bit of Jane Fonda in Hanoi; and his fulsome praise of Dennis Kucinich doesn't sit well with Ohioans who have long memories (even though Rep. Kucinich does deserve credit for being the only congressman with the courage to propose impeachment against a Vice President and President who would certainly be convicted -- if we only had a Congress that respected the Constitution).

Still, it is hard to argue with the truth of what he is saying. "We don't have a republic anymore ... we are a framework for crooks to go in and steal money, and know they will never get caught."

A virtual buckeye to Rob Williams at Vermont Commons.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Neoconservatives and the abuse of American power

In the last two days, I have had an interesting dialogue with Rich Casebolt in the American Power blog. The original piece is entitled "Neoconservatism: America's Tradition" Filled with neocon rhetoric and misinformation about the Iraq war, the article concludes that neoconservatism is about America's stress on "moralism and power." It attracted some 23 comments (four of them mine), which get to the heart of neoconservative philosophy (though to suggest that it is in any way "conservative" requires an Orwellian use of the English language).

Here, I shall share with you part of the exchange I had with Mr. Casebolt (My words are in roman, his are in italic):

... It is difficult to know where to start.

"...neoconservatism usually has a recognizable meaning. It connotes a potent moralism and idealism in world affairs, a belief in America's exceptional role as a promoter of the principles of liberty and democracy, a belief in the preservation of American primacy and in the exercise of power, including military power, as a tool for defending and advancing moralistic and idealistic causes"

There is nothing "conservative" about using military power as a "tool for defending and advancing moralistic and idealistic causes." George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both warned about entering into entangling alliances with other nations.

"In the hands of more hostile critics, the neocons are not merely idealistic but absurdly and dangerously hubristic about the unlimited capacity of American power to effect positive change; not merely expansive but imperialistic, seeking not only American pre-eminence but ruthless global dominance;...

Isn't it "dangerously hubristic" to add trillions to the national debt so we can engage in "nation-building" in Iraq, a country that doesn't really appreciate our efforts? How can we be sure that we are "effecting positive change" as opposed to spawning terrorist movements that will haunt us for years, if not decades? How about respect for the sovereignty of other nations -- so our own may be respected by them? From a Constitutional perspective, I would say the "more hostile critics" are on target.

"[Neoconservatives are] ... not merely willing to use force, but preferring it to peaceful methods;"

Okay, how much diplomatic effort in the Middle East did the neoconservatives engage in before deciding to invade Iraq? No, we heard for months before the invasion how the White House was practically rubbing its hands in anticipation of using "shock and awe" in Iraq.

Try TWELVE YEARS and a whole bunch of violated-by-Iraq UN resolutions ... including two years after 9/11 showed us just what kind of threat a nation like Iraq could pose, were the thugs running it to choose to become Afghanistan 2.0.

Iraq violated many UN resolutions, but even the President has acknowledged that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, the removal of which was the stated purpose of the war! There is also no evidence that any terrorist groups used Iraq as what you call Afghanistan 2.0, and in fact would have had little reason to do so, given the fact that Al-Qaeda and their ilk were promoting Islamic fundamentalism, which Saddam Hussein himself viewed as a threat.

"I think that's key, at the end: the combination of moralism and power."

"Moralism" doesn't make sense unless you are referring to "morality." What is "moral" about starting a war? How is this in the national interest of the American people?

We didn't start this war. Hussein had been committing acts of war upon our civilization ... including aiding those who perpetrated the 1993 WTC bombing ... for years.

Please cite one objective source (mainstream media or academic) to support this contention.

We just didn't treat it as a war, until the attack of another group of like minds killed 2996 people and brought us to our senses.

You do not suppose that if the United States had begun pursuing a sensible energy policy, and (prior to 1996-2001) avoided a military involvement in the Middle East; that Al-Qaeda might have lacked the motivation to attack us?

I think the writer has so wrapped himself up in Manifest Destiny that he forgets that the purpose of the United States government is to serve its people. As HarrisonBergeron2 wrote in Conservative Heritage Times, "By replacing the Articles with the Constitution, the Federalists did indeed pave the way for a more centralized, more powerful government. As Patrick Henry deduced, the rats were indeed busy. Lincoln landed the body blow in 1865, and others, notably Wilson, FDR, and now W the Great, have built upon the centralist counter-revolution by expanding government power at the expense of our liberties." Have you actually read the Patriot Act?

This is not about Manifest Destiny ... it is about doing what it takes to protect the American people in this day where a few thugs can leverage our technology and freedom of movement to inflict more damage, in the same time frame, as six aircraft carriers and hundreds of aircraft did at Pearl Harbor ... and with even more surprise than on that bloody Sunday morning.There is only one way that has been proven reliable -- thoroughly proven so by history -- to do this: transform the nations that allow these threats to exist and expand, into rights-respecting nations that will never again provide safe haven and support to the thugs. When they have nowhere to run, their threat diminishes ... eventually, to that of garden-variety criminals as more and more are killed off and/or rendered unable to coordinate and support their efforts. Your views, Harold, started sliding into obsolescence with the advent of the Boeing 707 and container ship. When the world is as tightly interconnected as it is today, the rules have changed from those our founding citizens considered wise for their time.

Well, you know, my log cabin out here in the Northwest Territory still gets a daily newspaper and obviously has Internet access. The Constitution is not a dated document. While amendments are sometimes necessary, its essential principles are timeless. The genius of the Constitution is that it considered human nature with all its faults and developed effective institutions for dealing with them. When we change the rules, we open the door for tyranny. “Eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty.”

Prior to 1980, we had a very successful policy, called deterrence. Effective border controls (which we do not have) and defensive weaponry will deter Al-Qaeda and their ilk that it is too costly to invade us. The most effective way to control terrorism is to persuade the Arabs and Iranians that it is in their own interest to get rid of the terrorists. Our military involvement in Iraq has had the reverse effect. A better way is to create propaganda targeted to Arab and Iranian sensibilities.

Limiting the defense of a Fortress America to only at her shores and borders, is as obsolete as the Maginot Line.Welcome to the 21st Century.

And its opposite, which appears to be what you are advocating, will lead to tyranny by a government that thinks it is wiser than the people they rule. It will also lead to hyperinflation (think $9.3 trillion national debt), economic ruin, and possibly civil war.

What you call "neoconservatism" has nothing to do with the Constitutional purposes of government: to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, and to secure the blessings of liberty on ourselves and our posterity. In fact, I suggest that the movement has done the reverse. Secessionism in America is a very small movement now, but is gaining personal interest and media attention as Americans seek a return to their core principles. The neocons have perverted justice beyond all recognition (ever hear of the 4th Amendment?), and they certainly don't seem to care much about the blessings of liberty.
It is frightening to read intelligent people buying so much into the arrogance of power, so much so that they forget the reasons the United States was founded and what made it unique, even
rejecting the Constitution. I am no liberal, but if neoconservatism is as Mr. Casebolt has defined it -- I certainly want no part of it!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The economic news just gets worse...

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services announced a jump in the unemployment rate from 5.6% in April to 6.3% in May, representing an increase of 45,000 job seekers in one month. This compares with an Ohio unemployment rate of 5.6% a year ago, and with a current US average of 5.5%. The Department attributes the increase to a sharp increase in the number of people beginning or resuming job searches.

Oh, and in other business news, worries about oil prices and credit markets caused the Dow Jones industrial average to fall 150 points, the dollar fell against most major currencies, and gold rose.

The economy as we know it clearly is not sustainable. I hope you are prepared for a crash.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Oklahoma legislature asserts State sovereignty

On May 30, I reported a resolution that was signed by 39 elected officials in Montana threatening secession if Heller v. D.C., a gun-rights case then pending in the Supreme Court, were to be determined against the rights of gun owners. It was reported by The Washington Times February 25.

Now, the Oklahoma House has passed by a vote of 92-3 a joint resolution* asserting its sovereignty as a State under the Tenth Amendment. The entire text is worth quoting:

"WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows: 'The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.'; and

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that specifically granted by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and

WHEREAS, the scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states; and

WHEREAS, today, in 2008, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government; and

WHEREAS, many federal mandates are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v. United States, 112 S. Ct. 2408 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states; and

WHEREAS, a number of proposals from previous administrations and some
now pending from the present administration and from Congress may further violate the Constitution of the United States.


THAT the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.

THAT this serve as Notice and Demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.

THAT a copy of this resolution be distributed to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate of each state's legislature of the United States of America, and each member of the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation."

The District of Coercion will probably ignore this resolution; which only guarantees that more like it will be adopted in the months and years to come.

Virtual buckeye to Rob Williams at Vermont Commons for the heads-up.

* The Oklahoma Senate defeated the resolution by a tie vote, 24-24.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Big Brother is watching you! (Really)

Here's an appropriate news story for Friday the 13th ...

The District of Coercion has now decided that the national security requires databases with biometric information on all American citizens. According to Canadian researcher Michel Chossudovsky:

"The latest Big Brother police state measure emanating from the Bush administration, with virtually no press coverage, is NSPD 59 (HSPD 24)* entitled 'Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security'. It is adopted without public debate or Congressional approval. Its relevant procedures have far-reaching implications.

"NSPD 59 goes far beyond the issue of biometric identification, it recommends the collection and storage of "associated biographic"information, meaning information on the private lives of US citizens, in minute detail, all of which will be "accomplished within the law".

Much of the information is already collected by government, but not already brought together into one place; such as date and place of birth, citizenship, current address, employment, phone numbers, use of government services, and tax filings. However, the Feds now want to also collect address, employment, and phone number history, bank account and credit card histories, and criminal database records on a local, state and federal level.

Mr. Chossudovsky also finds that the directive suggests the database could include "legal judgments or other public records documenting involvement in legal disputes, child custody records and marriage or divorce records."

Many civil libertarians today will celebrate yesterday's Supreme Court ruling upholding habeas corpus for the detainees at Guantánamo. But the more relevant question is, what good is it when we have all this surveillance? It would be interesting to know from the Bush Administration at what point they consider searches and seizures to be "unreasonable" (4th Amendment).

A virtual buckeye to Rob Williams at Vermont Commons.

* A complete text of NSPD59 is included with Mr. Chossudovsky's article.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Isn’t secessionism a betrayal of our war dead?

Today, I received an e-mail from a reader which asks this question: “Although I see the need for a 'new paradigm' when it comes to governing our nation, how can I overcome the feeling that I am somehow 'betraying' those closest to me who gave their very lives for this nation?”

This is not a concern to be taken lightly. We have family and friends very dear to us who have fought, and too often, died in defense of the United States of America. The very idea of secession can sound treasonous. Most of us have grown up believing that the United States was morally superior to other nations because we promoted personal political and economic freedom, equality of opportunity, and the rule of law; and I am sure most Americans who have served their country in the armed forces did so in defense of those ideas against nations who were not so committed.

Unique among the nations of the world, the United States was founded on ideas, not tribalism or loyalty to a strongman. This foundation was laid with our Declaration of Independence, which includes these words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men … 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, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” (Emphasis mine)

Twenty years later, George Washington, in his farewell address, warned us about entering into “entangling alliances” with foreign powers. Unfortunately, his advice was ignored almost immediately. Since then, the United States has engaged in nine major wars. One of them was the Civil War, which requires a whole discussion to itself. Of the others, only two can even be partly justified as self-defense: the Pacific theatre of World War II, in response to the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and Santa Barbara, and its occupation of some Aleutian islands near Alaska; and the current war in Afghanistan, in response to 9-11. The American involvement in all of the others was the result of some action instigated by the United States, to either expand its territory, its economic influence, or its military power.

Sadly, then, we would have to acknowledge the fact that thousands of Americans died for an unworthy cause; but the truth is, they thought they were fighting to preserve the liberties that we won in the American Revolution. The bankers and politicians pursued one cause, but the soldiers and sailors fought for another, higher one.

Therefore, if we agree that America was founded on the ideals stated in the Declaration of Independence, and that the present government of the United States has become destructive to the rights of our people, it not only follows that secession into a Republic based on the same principles does not betray the sacrifices of our warriors – it may prove to be the only way that we can really honor them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What a small business owner needs

Fellow Ohio blogger De Magno Opere is very dissatisfied with the options Sen. McCain is offering him as a small business owner. His complaints about the tax system and government waste are perfectly justified. Unfortunately, he thinks Sen. Obama will do better if he is elected.

As it stands now. George Wallace was right. There isn't a dime's worth of difference between the two major parties in the American Empire. He will see the same screwy tax system and just as much waste in an Obama Administration as he would in the McCain.

Washington isn't accountable, and we cannot make it so.

The only way we can restructure society to help our small business become more successful is to remove the bureaucratic burdens heaped on us by Washington. And the only way we can do that is ... well, you know.


A good question to ask is, where did we go wrong? How did the United States change from the federation envisioned by the Constitution into the imperial power that attempts to smash everything under its feet (including, now, its own people)?

The United States made a sharp turn in the wrong direction in one year, 1913. Mike Tuggle's article gives a clear picture of the steps that were taken to consolidate authority in Washington that year.*

* Mr. Tuggle perhaps overemphasizes the Southern perspective in the article; however, since he is from North Carolina, we'll give him a pass...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Time to start thinking like an independent nation

An alarm went off in my head when I read Saturday’s economic news:

- Crude oil prices Friday increased $10.75 per barrel to $138.54. This is a record increase for one day, doubling the previous record Thursday. On Saturday, I saw the price of unleaded gasoline over $4.00 ($4.019) for the first time in the Columbus area.

- U.S. unemployment jumped 0.5% to 5.5%, the highest one-month increase since 1986. (But see BizzyBlog for a caution about seasonally adjusted data).

- The Dow-Jones Industrial Average dropped 394.64 to 12,209.81.

- The U.S. dollar fell to a near-record low against the Euro (€1 = $1.57).

That on top of continuing concern about high food prices, mostly occasioned by the escalating price of oil; the announcement last week that 13% of Ohio’s families lived below the poverty level (most of whom had breadwinners with full-time jobs); and an increase in unemployment in auto plants in northern Ohio and two major employers in southeastern Ohio.

What are the Feds doing about it? As far as I know, nothing.

What will the Feds do about it? Probably nothing, except throw a few welfare and pork-barrel dollars our way to keep us hooked.

With the $5.2 billion dollar initiative to modernize Ohio’s economy, the State is taking constructive action; but we need to do more.

We need to start thinking like an independent nation.

Don’t get the wrong idea – I’m not suggesting secession right now; or even resistance to Federal authority. We’re far from being ready for that; but we can take this news as a warning of worse things to come; events that could convince us that separation from the American Empire is the key to our freedom, well-being, even survival. We can prepare for independence in our role as the State of Ohio by:

- Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of every Federal dollar that comes into Ohio. We must ask ourselves: is there a better way to accomplish the same end? If the State can design a program that works better and costs less than the State cost to a Federal program, we need to say “No, thanks,” to the Federal funds and develop a program that works our way. On the short term, this will also result in a very unfavorable balance between taxes out and Federal payments in; but it will also remind us that so-called "Federal funds" are nothing more than our tax dollars, returned to us under Washington's restrictions and after the Feds have taken their cut.

- Remembering that the people are sovereign (re-read the quote from the Ohio Constitution at the upper right of this page). We elect State government to work in our interest, not that of the Feds. We need State and local elected officials who are attuned to that difference, and make decisions according to our interest.

- Standing courageously for our personal freedoms. Stop cowering at the hyped threat of “foreign terrorists.” They are only a threat because American troops are occupying their territory. Stop catering to the “politically correct.” We must learn how to discover the truth and find the courage to express it in our political conversation.

- Speaking out for real jobs, real community, real business opportunities (large and small); building sustainable local economies, mass transportation systems, and alternative energy sources.

- Building an Ohio our children will call home and be proud to call their country.

American history in the last generation should satisfy anyone that President Obama cannot solve the problems we face, nor can President McCain, nor can the Congress – especially not the Congress! Our Federal Government is corrupt, probably beyond repair, and has more than proven its inability to take any constructive action for the American people.

The time to begin thinking independently is now.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Halloween in DC: Part II

Halloween in DC: Part I

You thought last October's post was scary? Check this out:

According to retired Air Force Col. William Astore, the US Air Force (yeah, the people who can't keep track of our nukes) wants to spend $30 billion to find a means to fry the computers of Internet users. As Col. Astore suggests, it would give "Mutual Assured Destruction" a whole new meaning.

"Working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Department of Homeland Security, and other governmental agencies, the Air Force's stated goal is to gain access to, and control over, any and all networked computers, anywhere on Earth."

The Air Force wants to spread this cyber strike force across several bases in the US, the better to take advantage of Congressional pork.

To silence us skeptics, the Air Force has prepared an online quiz "to silence naysayers and cyberspace appeasers." Stupid me. I thought the Internet was an open place where we can present our great ideas for things like international cooperation; but instead, according to the Air Force (as reported by Col. Astore), "we face nothing but ceaseless hostility from cyber-thugs seeking to terrorize all of us everywhere all the time." This is, of course, an expression of the command-and-control mindset of the military, necessary on the battlefield, but dangerous to everyone (including themselves) away from it.

One small bit of reassurance from Col. Astore: The Air Force has had a horrible record in systems development, with projects tending to be far behind schedule.
One other small bit of reassurance from me: This goal may not be technically possible because of pirate servers, which can operate offshore outside the jurisdiction of any nation. Any attempt to control the Internet would only increase the profitability and availability of such alternatives.

However, it does underline the importance of getting out from under this militocracy* as soon as possible. The resources of the Ohio Republic will be sufficient to build a self-defense capability; but not for this kind of arrogant foolishness.

Virtual buckeyes to Rob Williams at Vermont Commons and .

* I made up the word, but I suspect its meaning is intuitive to most readers.

Quote of the day

Stephen Colbert [interviewing Bob Barr] –

“You accused the Bush administration of actually being big government. I disagree -- George Bush worked very hard to reduce government down to one person – him.”

Virtual buckeye to Mike Tuggle at Rebellion.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

U.S. Government bonds "offer little to no value"

If I were an investment guru, I probably would not be writing a radical blog; but I do receive a newsletter from a friend who is (whose identity I am concealing out of respect for his business and the controversial nature of this blog). He compares 10 year government bond yields and finds that the United States performs worse than Canada, the U.K., Germany, and Japan, actually producing a negative yield of minus 0.23% (as of May 5) when adjusted for inflation. His conclusion: "[A]t current levels, we believe U.S. government bonds currently offer little to no value."

To me this is common sense. If the U.S. government were a business, it would have faced foreclosure long ago.