Sunday, October 31, 2010

An economic morality tale

My mother forwarded this to me.

An economics professor made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan". All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A... After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Getting Back to the ‘Real’ Constitution--Fagettaboutit

Kirkpatrick Sale, for all of his shortcomings as a leader, is still a powerful theorist on secession. In this article, published DumpDC, Prof. Sale discusses why going back to the U.S. Constitution will not work, in his view.

I am not yet prepared to go as far as Prof. Sale has in this article, but his arguments are sound, and his conclusion may prove to be the only way to preserve our freedom. If this seems far-fetched, consider Arizona's experience with illegal immigration and the federal courts.

(This article is a direct quotation, despite lack of indentation).

There’s much talk these days, particularly by the Tea Party types, about getting back to the “real” Constitution, forcing the Obama government to honor the “original intent” of the Founding Fathers, and “understanding the Constitution through the eyes of its creators,” as one contributor to the Tenth Amendment Center recently put it. That center, in fact, is dedicated to, and attracting a growing following for, a rigid interpretation of that amendment reserving to the states the powers not expressly given to the Federal government.

And along with it in the last few years has grown up a Constitution Party that has the idea that the nation’s problems can be solved by “a renewed allegiance” to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and hence a return to “limited government.” The problem with current officials of both parties, as the CP see it, is that they “ignore their oaths to uphold the Constitution,” that is to say, the Constitution as originally written and used in the 18th century .

This would be a far different country, of course, if it paid an allegiance to the document of 1787 that the renegade Congress had come up with, in secret, that summer in Philadelphia, even along with its first ten amendments. But what all the critics who believe that going back to the original Constitution would forestall the kinds of forces that have led to the present bloated, overstretched, intrusive, and unwieldy government do not realize is that this is what it almost inevitably had to lead to.

Let’s wake up these “real Constitution” die-hards and the ardent “Tenthers” and tell them that it’s a waste of time to try to resurrect that document in order to save the nation ---because because the growth of government and the centralization of power is inherent in its original provisions. As the anti-Federalists were trying to say all along from the very beginning of the ratification process. Only when we get people today off this understandable but ill-fated track can we begin to open their eyes to the reality of our present peril: we have a big overgrown government because that’s what the Founding Fathers founded, and we won’t escape from it until we take the idea of secession as seriously as it must be taken.

Let’s look at some of the dangerous elements of the “real” Constitution.

It starts off with a phrase that, right there at the start, sounded alarm bells in those who, having experienced the powers of the individual states as sovereign states under the Articles of Confederation, saw that it was not to the states but to “we the people” that power would be given. “What right had they to say, We ,the people,” cried Patrick Henry to the Virginia ratification convention, “instead of, We, the states?” He saw that the phrase gave power to an amorphous “people” whom the new government could define and use as it chose, bypassing and undercutting the states. If “the people” spoke through the Congress, it could willy-nilly ignore the individual states.

Which, indeed, is what happened, and Congress was cheerfully ratified in doing so by another centralizing branch of government, the Supreme Court. But the idea was never more egregiously used than when Lincoln denied that the states had any particular power, indeed denied that they were sovereign entities at all, and argued that all power rests with the people, who had created a United States and wanted it united. “Government of the people,” in other words, means that Washington can do whatever it damn pleases in their name.

And the anti-Federalists had warned of exactly that seventy years before. The framers of the Constitution, said Luther Martin, a delegate to the convention from Maryland, were crypto-monarchists whose “wish it was to abolish and annihilate all State governments, and to bring forward one general government…of a monarchical nature, under certain restrictions and limitations.” That was said in November 1787—don’t say you weren’t warned.

But let’s go on with the faults of the centralizers’ Constitution. There is in Article I a bold statement that “Congress shall have the power to” and there follow some specifics about taxes and debts—and then “provide for the… general welfare of the United States.” Agree to that and you’ve agreed it can do anything it likes without check or rein, for what measure could not be thought to be enhancing the “general welfare”? James Madison, who had a hand in Federal enlargement elsewhere in the document, saw the danger here: “If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of …in short, everything, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police.” That is not what they had fought a war against the British monarchy for.

Not more than a few phrases away is the famous “commerce clause,” by which a Supreme Court, ever-willing to enhance the powers of the Washington establishment, managed almost from the beginning to enhance Congressional control over what the states would be allowed to do. Congress shall have the power, it reads, “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states.” That would seem to mean that Congress could establish terms by which states could trade with each other, so that none would establish tariffs against any other—“a negative and preventive provision against injustice among the States themselves,” as Madison saw it, “rather than as a power to be used for the positive purposes of the General Government.”

But positive is what the clause became. The Supreme Court decided that practically anything that went on commercially within one state would have some kind of effect on all the others, in some way or other, and so government can regulate it; as early as 1828 it held that the government could regulate trade on the Hudson river for its entire length because some of it ran along New Jersey, and the monopoly New York state had given to Robert Fulton to run his steamboat it decided to be null and void because it affected New Jerseyans. Its reading of the clause became ever more expansive as time went on and by the New Deal it gave the government carte blanche to interfere in state business down to the level of a janitor’s salary and a farmer’s wheat crop.

And as if that wasn’t a sufficient interference in state business, the Founding Fathers wound up their Constitution with a clause that ringingly asserted that what they had just enumerated as the powers of the government—and any laws that they should subsequently pass “in pursuance thereof”—“shall be the supreme law of the land” and judges in the states better take that to heart.

This “supremacy clause” was hotly debated at the time because it, like the other sections above, could be interpreted in such a broad way that the states would be powerless to act on matters of serious concern, and thus it was that when there finally came a slew of amendments that the people of the states demanded as checks on Federal power, one of the most important was the Tenth, asserting that Washington had only the specific powers enumerated in the Constitution and the states had jurisdiction in all else.

Which brings up the final deficiency in that Constitution, that Tenth Amendment itself. It seems clear that a great many serious people felt that when it said “the powers not delegated to the U.S….are reserved to the states…or to the people,” that this guaranteed a considerable sovereignty for the states. But the centralists agreed to it (and put it at the end of the Bill of Rights) because they knew that it was so unspecific, so merely rhetorical, that it was capable of any interpretation—and that a Supreme Court capable of giving itself judicial review over Congress ( not enumerated in the Constitution) would be capable of finding that the powers delegated to the U.S. were pretty vast and those given to the states were few and limited in scope. As it so happened.

The Tenthers are fighting valiantly to reverse the 220 years in which that last item in the Bill of Rights has been emasculated and rendered effectively irrelevant, and they may even be gaining some attention, particularly in the states’ growing resistance to Obamacare. But it seems most unlikely that, with the other centralizing tools at their command, the Federal courts will give it much consideration.

And then when they finally see their beloved amendment in shreds, maybe then the Tenthers and other Constitutional-Firsters will begin to see that the U.S. Constitution, by the centralists, of the nationalists, and for the Hamiltonians, is not a document that will lead them to liberty and sovereignty. The only method for that, let us hope they finally realize, is secession.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Additional candidates to consider

I have already written pieces on:

Here are some other candidates I like:

  • Bill Yarbrough (L) for State Senate, 3rd District (Eastern Franklin County). He is working hard to get the position, has reasonable positions on issues affecting Ohioans, and actually has a shot at winning.
  • Lawrence Binsky (L) for State Representative, 20th District (Eastern Franklin County). He is a small businessman who will, like all Libertarians and Constitutionalists, for lower taxes and more efficient government. He is also a positive, refreshing, alternative to the slugfest taking place between his opponents.
  • Eric Deaton (C) for U.S. Senator.
  • Travis Irvine (L) for Congress. Don't confuse him for a Republican. He skewered the Pledge to America with this and some other very creative YouTube advertising.
  • Rep. Jarrod Martin (R-Beavercreek) for re-election and Sen. Timothy Grendell (R-Chesterland) as State Representative. They were staunch supporters of the state sovereignty resolutions, and for getting the Feds off Ohio's back.
  • Rep. Kris Jordan (R-Delaware) for State Senator, who also supported the state sovereignty resolutions.

There are many other good candidates out there -- I just listed the ones I know. Please vote intelligently and remember, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Insider trading: 3,177 shares sold for every one bought

Fast Money at CNBC tracked leading executives at the 10 largest corporations on the NASDAQ, and found that in the last six months, they sold 120,000,000 shares and purchased only 38,000. This leads to the inevitable question: If the economy is rebounding, why are the people in the best position to know running to cash?

And people wonder why I'm a secessionist...

Eric Foner editorial in The Nation, February 11, 1991 (quoted by Thomas DiLorenzo in -- Prof. DiLorenzo's article is well worth reading, by the way):
In an editorial in the February 11, 1991 issue of The Nation magazine entitled "Lincoln's Lesson," Foner called the breakup of the Soviet Union, which at the time was being wildly cheered by freedom lovers everywhere, as "a crisis" that threatened the "laudable goal" of creating a system that demanded "overarching loyalty to the Soviet Union" while at the same time allowing separate republics to exist. No "leader of a powerful nation," Foner wrote, should allow such a thing as "the dismemberment of the Soviet Union."

He concluded that "The Civil War was a central step in the consolidation of national authority in the United States," which he of course views as a great event. One cannot adopt socialism – in the United States or anywhere else – without a highly centralized, monopolistic government. "The Union, Lincoln passionately believed, was a permanent government . . . and . . . Gorbachev would surely agree."

Well, President Gorbachev didn't agree, and on Christmas Day 1991, the Soviet Union was no more. Power is dangerous, especially when pursued for its own sake. If centralization is a necessary step to creating socialism, then it logically follows that we must decentralize to avoid it.

Virtual buckeye to Rebellion.

A picture says a thousand words

This is a photo from the Ohio University Post in Athens, showing the three candidates for the 6th Congressional District in a debate at the Athens Public Library last night.

This is the Post's caption: "Republican candidate Bill Johnson and Democratic incumbent Charles Wilson shake hands after laughing at a comment made by Libertarian candidate Martin J. Elsass at the Candidates' Forum for the Sixth U.S. Congressional District Race at the Athens Public Library yesterday. 'I will say that I can agree with both of them, neither one of them should be elected,' Elsass said." (Photo by Kaitlyn Bernauer for the Post)

Virtual buckeye to the Ohio Libertarian Party in Facebook.

A darned inconvenient truth

Daniel Miller of the Texas Nationalist Movement lays out the case for secession about as plainly as it can be laid out. After cataloguing the excesses of the federal government, he writes this:

So What Is It Going To Take?

The Founders of Texas declared independence from Mexico for far less and sacrificed way more. The Founders of the United States declared independence for far less and sacrificed way more. The people of France took to the streets for far less and sacrificed way more.

It is time for you to make a decision. Either you want to: “A” live like this or you want something better. Either you or perfectly fine with the ride the federal government is taking you or you want to be rid of it. Either you want to exist in bondage or you want to “B” live free and independent. There is no "Option C". There is no compromise option. There is no middle ground. There is only slavery and tyranny or freedom and liberty.

If you fail to choose, you have chosen. We either create history or it will be created for us.

Years from now, you will have the opportunity to explain this period in our history to the generations yet to come. When they ask you what you did when Texas became a Republic again, are you going to tell them that you couldn't take off of work? Are you going to tell them that you missed out because the Cowboys game was on? Are you going to tell them that a pizza or a case of beer was more important?

If you ignore this call to join with the Texas Nationalist Movement, then never, ever complain about the federal government again. Never complain about Obama, Pelosi, Reid or any of their successors. Never complain about taxes, inflation, unemployment or immigration. When the banks run out of money, don't complain. When your job goes to an illegal alien, don't complain. When your money becomes worthless, don't complain. When the price of food goes sky high, don't complain.

And whatever you do, never insult the French. They at least did something that you were unwilling to do for far less.

However, if you are ready to join with me and other Texans who are ready to give everything and sacrifice all to live for a cause, then I welcome you and embrace you as my countrymen.

Respectfully submitted to the Citizens of Texas this 26th day of October 2010.

Daniel Miller, President
Texas Nationalist Movement

Liberty-minded Ohioans are hoping for election results next Tuesday that will strengthen our voice in the General Assembly and the Congress. I voted, and I hope we are right. But if we're not, then what?

I have advocated taking the nullification route first; but we must start preparing for the step after that. As a certain Columbus-based insurance company would say, "Life comes at you fast." Like it or not, ready or not, the revolution will soon be upon us. What we do in the next few months will determine whether or not we deserve to live in a free society.

No longer will we stand idly by!

The Tenth Amendment Center has been holding a series of rallies across the United States called "Nullify Now!". As the name suggests, their purpose is to motivate citizens in every state to support resolutions and acts (such as The Ohio Project on health care) to reduce the size and scope of federal government.

This speech (including a video) by Andrew Nappi, of the Florida Tenth Amendment Center, summarizes the moods of many liberty-loving Americans. I quote the beginning as a teaser:

Isn’t it incredible that, despite all the historical evidence to the contrary, that anyone can still believe that the founders would’ve fought a long, cruel, bloody war just to exchange one central, overpowering government for another? And yet, these guys sitting on the courts want to define the limits of our freedom for the extension of greater government control. That is not the founders’ legacy. That’s not why we’re here today.

For these out of touch elitists, the Bill of Rights is just a historical curiosity – it’s quaint and doesn’t mean anything. But we know that the Bill of Rights is the very essence of state sovereignty. That’s why it was created, and that wasn’t lost on the founders.

The entire speech is well worth reading.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unraveling the social contract

Two very different articles -- same message:

Allen Sloane in Fortune in "Want to get away with murder? Become a bank" writes of the two-faced system of justice that lets the banks get away with robbery, while individuals get taken to the cleaners:

It's utterly shocking, even to a congenital skeptic like me, to see that giant institutions such as Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), GMAC, and J.P. Morgan (JPM, Fortune 500) were allegedly using misleading affidavits to oust people from their homes. Employees of these institutions -- the "robo-signers" -- repeatedly misled courts by saying they had examined documents they hadn't examined and had reviewed documents they hadn't reviewed.

If you or I as individuals did that, we'd be kicked to the curb by the legal system in about two seconds. If we said that we hadn't wanted to spend the money to do things right -- the real reason that robo-signers exist -- it would take only one second for the system to whack us.

Follow this with a post that quotes Mr. Sloane's, but puts it on a more personal level -- Karl Denninger in The Market Ticker, explaining why "The banks must not get away with this."

There's a limit to the screwing of this sort that the people will take. I have no idea where it is. Neither does anyone else. The Politicians definitely don't; they're tone deaf to this sort of abuse, because most of them haven't bought their own groceries or pumped their own gas in 20 years. We have reported every time there's an election how "Politician X" didn't pay his 24 speeding tickets and as a result his license was suspended - but now he paid them and it's all ok.

These people live in a different world. If you or I don't pay one speeding ticket the next time we're tooling down the road the cop's "robocamera" will pick up our license plate and we'll get treated to the felony stop - that's where four cop cars pull you over and the cop steps out with his gun out, behind his door, and tells you to get .. out of the car and lie on the ground. Then, since you've got a suspended license, you get to spend the night in jail before you see The Judge.

This isn't hyperbole - it happens all the time. Sometimes it's legitimately you trying to be an ass - you tossed the ticket and the warning from the state that your license and plates were suspended.

But sometimes it's not - you didn't get the notice yet, or you send in a check but for the wrong amount. No matter, you get the felony stop treatment.

Here's the problem: If the people get into their head that not only politicians can do this sort of thing and get away with it when it comes to things like traffic tickets, but banks can literally rob the people with predatory lending and then enlist the courts to screw them a second time in unjustly evicting them from their house, there is a point where they will snap.

Many of us sense that we are very close to that point. If the line gets crossed, the banks will discover just what it means to hurt, because we'll go through a time when it will be impossible for banks to do business. And it won't be pretty.

Robert Owens defends Cordray supporter's First Amendment Rights

In Warren, Constitution Party Attorney General Candidate Robert Owens defends the First Amendment rights of a resident who wishes to put up a yard sign for his opponent Richard Cordray. If this is not a sign of high character, I don't know what is!

I think most objective journalists would consider this incident to be newsworthy, at least on a local level, but the Warren Tribune-Chronicle did not report it.

Quotation of the day

"To all my Tea Party friends who believe that voting for the GOP candidates is the best option/the lesser of two evils: When you feed the Monster, the Monster grows larger and more difficult to control. If you continue to feed the Monster, someday the Monster will eat you. The Monster has no heart, no mind, no soul and an unquenchable appetite for power."
-- Charlie Earl, Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State, on his Facebook page

It should be clear by now that principle means nothing to the two major parties. President Obama promised hope and change in 2008. Change we definitely got, but it wasn't what we hoped for. As to the Republicans, they want to fool us again the way they did in 1994. For both major parties, its about power, and nothing else. (Need more proof? See my post Oct. 28).

The "lesser of two evils" is still evil.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

End the Fed? Yes, but more needs to be done

... as the Czech Republic's President Václav Klaus points out in this October 18 speech, in which he attacks the International Monetary Fund (emphasis in the original):
I consider the IMF a barbaric relic from the Keynesian and fixed-exchange rate era. I know it is a harsh verdict but Keynes himself repeatedly used similar strong statements about his colleagues which
justifies my using such a terminology.

I am convinced the IMF should be dismantled or radically restructured as soon as possible. To do the opposite, to increase its role as it happened as a result of the last year’s G20 decision in the middle of the panic connected with the then looming crisis or to speculate about creating similar institutions on individual continents (especially in Europe) is a wrong way to go. It is yet another manifestation of a mistaken and dangerous global governance mindset which – to my great regret – has been getting more and more support in the intellectual and political circles these days. To whom and how at all can the IMF be held responsible for its activities? And if its proposals or measures turn out to be mistaken (and this can happen very easily), who will face the consequences? Certainly not the IMF.

The Czech Republic has provided two of the greatest statesmen of our time, Václav Havel and Václav Klaus. They experienced Communism, know how and why it has failed the people, and have led the Czech people to freedom. We would do well to listen to them.

Virtual buckeye to Brian at Repeal the 17th Amendment.

... and speaking of the Fed ...

Have you heard of "Fedmageddon?" Stephen Gandel, Time magazine's Curious Capitalist, isn't exactly predicting it, but he conducts an excellent review of economic opinion as to what could happen if the Federal Reserve Board decides Nov. 4 to engage in a policy called "quantitative easing." In plain English: print more than $1 trillion to satisfy large bank debtors, so we can become more like Zimbabwe (left).

However, even as this most mainstream medium points out, that could destroy the savings of millions of Americans. While the Curious Capitalist doesn't think that riots and civil war will really happen, he does see dry gunpowder waiting for a catalyst.
The consensus? With 10% unemployment, zero interest rates, and a stagnant economy, there will be a double-dip recession. Delaying the second dip will only make it worse when it comes, so let's get it over with.

The only problem is, getting it over with would deny Wall Street yet another chance to rob the American people, and we can't let that happen, can we?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The difference between patriotism and nationalism

I am a patriot, but not a nationalist. Here is the difference, according to Joe Sobran, via Rebellion:

Patriotism is like family love. You love your family just for being your family, not for being "the greatest family on earth" (whatever that might mean) or for being "better" than other families. You don't feel threatened when other people love their families the same way. On the contrary, you respect their love, and you take comfort in knowing they respect yours. You don't feel your family is enhanced by feuding with other families.

While patriotism is a form of affection, nationalism, it has often been said, is grounded in resentment and rivalry; it's often defined by its enemies and traitors, real or supposed. It is militant by nature, and its typical style is belligerent. Patriotism, by contrast, is peaceful until forced to fight.

The patriot differs from the nationalist in this respect too: he can laugh at his country, the way members of a family can laugh at each other's foibles. Affection takes for granted the imperfection of those it loves; the patriotic Irishman thinks Ireland is hilarious, whereas the Irish nationalist sees nothing to laugh about.

The nationalist has to prove his country is always right. He reduces his country to an idea, a perfect abstraction, rather than a mere home. He may even find the patriot's irreverent humor annoying.

Or, put another way, I would hold nationalists in the same esteem as Bill O'Reilly might hold "pinheads."

Plain Dealer endorses Libertarian for treasurer

The Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed Libertarian candidate Matthew P. Cantrell for Treasurer of State (via Independent Political Report):

In a campaign for Ohio treasurer that produced more light and less mud, Matthew P. Cantrell, the young Libertarian candidate, probably wouldn’t get a second look. That would be a mistake — especially in light of glaring deficiencies that make both major-party candidates unattractive options. Cantrell, 28, has the best professional preparation for the job. He understands the treasurer’s core duties and supports their continuation. In other words, he’s not running for the office just to dismantle it.
According to Ohio Libertarian Chairman Kevin Knedler, this is the first time a major Ohio newspaper has ever endorsed a Libertarian for statewide office.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Robert Owens for Attorney General

Update Oct. 25 at end of post.

I am recommending for your consideration Robert Owens for Ohio Attorney General. Robert is a trial attorney in Delaware, Ohio, running for the second time for this office on the Constitution Party ticket. I know him personally from activity in the Ohio Freedom Alliance, and believe that he would be an effective Attorney General -- certainly one free of political baggage that both of his opponents carry -- the one a longtime career politician whose interest in Attorney General would be transient at best, the other (the incumbent) with a questionable record in dealing with ethics and campaign finance laws.

According to his website, Robert’s legal experience includes working for a Federal Judge in the U.S. District Court, Eastern Division. Robert subsequently practiced at a large law firm in Columbus, handling corporate, real estate, employment, and banking litigation. Even in a large firm environment, Robert focused on individual needs and concerns, resulting in repeated honors for superior client service. He prides himself on his attention to detail and his ability to "think outside the box."

Robert feels that the best thing the Attorney General can do for consumers is to strongly prosecute fraud of all types, including white collar crime. The prosecutorial power of the Attorney General and filing civil actions through the judicial system, he believes, is much better than bureaucratic regulation and administrative rules. I call this the "passive regulatory model," which I favor, and will discuss in my book Governing Ourselves.

He is also concerned about the waste of taxpayer dollars that so greatly affect individuals and small businesses. As Attorney General, he will eliminate $140 million each year in no-bid contracts, and enforcing transparency of governmental functions so it is more accountable to taxpayers.

While his site unfortunately (in my opinion) focuses too much on issues unrelated to the office he is seeking, Robert Owens does have a realistic grasp of what is needed in the Attorney General's office and has been campaigning energetically. He deserves your consideration.

Update Oct. 25 from The Ohio Project e-newsletter, another reason to consider Robert Owens . The Ohio Project is collecting signatures for an Ohio Constitutional Amendment to ensure that we will never be forced to purchase health care insurance. Emphasis is added:

Maurice Thompson, legal counsel for The Ohio Project and the Executive Director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law says this about the possibility of Ohio joining other states in the federal lawsuit, "Ohio’s participation in the Obamacare lawsuit, if a candidate other than Richard Cordray wins, will be much more meaningful if our Amendment is on the ballot, because it sets up a direct conflict between state and federal law, and provides a much greater likelihood of success." Indeed, a state constitutional amendment is the strongest way to fight back against unsconstitutional federal law. Furthermore, we note that if Richard Cordray wins the Attorney General race, he has already publicly declared that he believes Obamacare to be constitutional, which puts him in a position of a conflict of interest in defending the Health Care Freedom Amendment.

Friday, October 22, 2010

How do we break the vicious cycle?

A commenter to yesterday's post cited an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer observing that the League of Women Voters requires a 15% showing in public opinion polls before including a third-party or independent candidate in a debate. This is a standard that is used by most debate organizers. On its face, this seems to be a reasonable requirement; but in reality it perpetuates a vicious cycle against third-party and independent candidates, because such candidates must mount several times the amount of effort to get noticed by the voter that Democrats and Republicans do.
If we are to effect change through our existing political system, how do we break this cycle?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How the media can help improve the political process

My October 8 post cited a letter from Charlie Earl to the Toledo Blade as the centerpiece of a discussion as to why third-party candidates cannot gain traction for their campaigns.

On Sunday, Columbus Dispatch columnist Joe Hallett was continuing his campaign against the negative advertising and lack of focus on issues being carried on by the major-party candidates. These prompted me to write an e-mail to Mr. Hallett suggesting how the problem might be resolved. To date, I have not received an answer, but will publish it here if I receive one. I have removed from this post one paragraph that introduced myself to Mr. Hallett -- you can get the same information on my About page. (The following is not indented, but is a direct quotation from my e-mail.)

Mr. Hallett:

I have been reading your columns with great interest in recent weeks, commenting on the candidates’ and major parties’ negativity and failure to effectively communicate the positions they would take on the critical issues of this election – particularly the gubernatorial candidates’ failure to openly address the $8 billion hole in the SFY 2012 budget. I trust your writing because I know you are an experienced observer of Ohio politics, and like your realistic style.

Your column today not only builds upon your campaign against negative campaigning reflected in your earlier columns this fall; but supports the thrust of today’s Letters to the Editor, particularly that of Norma Nero against the tactics used by Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern.

While I commend The Columbus Dispatch for not covering much of the silliness that Mr. Redfern (and for that matter, his Republican counterpart) are promoting; I suggest that the Dispatch and other media are in part responsible for this state of affairs by their insistence on ignoring the campaigns of independent and third-party candidates.

I know the objections – the largest third party in Ohio has only 6,000 registered voters; most independents and third-party candidates are underfunded, and often very naïve; the media are not responsible for promoting anything, let alone small parties; and in any event, journalistic resources are limited. And, anyway, the Dispatch at least mentions third party candidates, though usually in a way that says that oh, by the way, Larry Libertarian or Connie Constitutionalist is also running – without saying anything about what their positions are.

The problem with this policy is, there are third-party candidates who have enough funding to travel around the state, print brochures, and post yard signs; and enough knowledge to articulate their positions in the debates in which they are permitted to participate. While I am more familiar with the Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates than I am with the Greens and the Socialists, I have no reason to believe that my points would not also apply to them. Third party candidates not energetic enough? Look at the Facebook pages of Libertarian Secretary of State candidate Charlie Earl and the Constitution Party’s Attorney General candidate Robert Owens, who, by the way, is running for the second time for that office. Naïve? Look at the same candidates’ websites (Charlie Earl’s and Robert Owens’s). Not to mention Libertarians Travis Irvine for the U.S. Congress and Bill Yarbrough for Ohio Senate in the Third District. Both candidates have run effective YouTube videos: Mr. Yarbrough appeals to the intelligence of voters in his “sound bite,” and Mr. Irvine skewers the Republican “Pledge to America.”

The point is this: if the Dispatch and other media are truly serious about improving the quality of political communication – and I believe this is part of the mission of journalism – then they must have the diligence to at least fairly cover the third-party candidates who make the effort to knock on their door. That means not excluding those candidates from the editorial board interviews, not giving them short shrift in the resulting articles, and not ignoring them entirely. Not every candidate deserves to be covered; but many of them do, as I hope I demonstrated here. To ignore them is essentially to say, “what is, is right,” and turns into hypocrites those who work for those media who say they want cleaner, issues-based politics, but will not support the effort to find work with* candidates who practice them.

* My original post used the word find, but on reflection, work with better expresses my intent.

... and here's why it's needed

Before It's News, a summary of news items in the blogosphere, has published a list of eight of the dirtiest campaign ads of the season. The ones I've seen in Ohio are nothing to be proud of, but these point out the urgency of electing candidates who know what they want to do, and are publicizing their program, rather than dirt (often flat-out lies) about their opponents.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another quotation for today

"Some people in distant lands have a dream of freedom. Some in this land do, too. Some of us are fortunate enough to have some lasting memories of a freer time. The dreamers must secure their Liberty, and those of us with the memories must labor to restore it."
-- Charlie Earl, Libertarian candidate for Ohio Secretary of State, on his Facebook page

Quotation of the day

"Secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy...."
--Lord Acton to Robert E. Lee, November 4, 1866

In our time, secession may prove to be our best hope for freedom.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cleveland councilman goes Green

Sign of the times?

The Columbus Dispatch carried an Associated Press story reporting that Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins requested a Green Party ballot for a county primary last month, following a letter of resignation from the Democratic Party. While acknowledging that his change in party affiliation may impact his re-election chances in three years, he believes that people will vote for the person who can do the job.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Charlie Earl for Secretary of State

I am beginning a series on third-party candidates that I like. They are not formal endorsements, but are recommendations for your consideration.

As I suggested last week, Libertarian Charlie Earl is a man who says exactly what he thinks. Think of him as the antidote to the evasive, fork-in-the-tongue politician. Think of it as a quality we really need in a Secretary of State.

The elections for statewide offices are particularly critical this year, because they will determine the makeup of the State Apportionment Board, which draws the districts that will be used in elections for the Ohio General Assembly during the next decade. Membership consists of the Governor, the State Auditor, the Secretary of State, and one member from each major party in each house of the General Assembly. Ohioans have been frustrated for years with the gerrymandering of districts to favor incumbents of one party or the other. There was an excellent proposal on the ballot in 1983 for "Fair and Impartial Redistricting," but it was complex and difficult for most people to understand, which led to its defeat.

The best chance we have this year for fair and impartial redistricting -- and to ensure that election laws are administered fairly -- is to elect a Secretary of State who is neither Democratic nor Republican. In the last twelve years, we have suffered from two very partisan Secretaries of State, a Republican who saw no conflict between his office and actively promoting his party's Presidential campaign and a Democrat whose impartiality has been called into question in her votes to break deadlocks in county Boards of Elections.

While no stranger to the Statehouse -- he was a State Representative from Bowling Green in the early 1980s -- he is not a professional politician either. He has also been an energetic campaigner, as his Facebook page will attest.
His platform consists of five planks:

1. He strongly believes that no action should be taken that violates either the United States Constitution or the Ohio Constitution.

2. On elections, I'll let Mr. Earl speak for himself (from his website): "Dedicated to enforcing free, fair and efficient elections, Charlie will strive to insure that every legal state citizen who is registered to vote can rest assured that her/his vote will be counted fairly and efficiently...and once for each election. Those who chose to willfully skirt, break or violate Ohio's registration, voting and tallying laws will be vigorously prosecuted. The right to vote is a privilege that must be cherished, honest and forcefully protected."

3. He believes that petitions for ballot access should always receive the "benefit of the doubt" in favor of the petitioner, rather than assuming that all petitions are corrupt, inadequate or incomplete.

4. As I suggested earlier, Mr. Earl, as a Libertarian, would be the swing vote on the State Apportionment Board that ensures that no backroom deals or districts protecting incumbents will prevail.

5. The Secretary of State is also responsible for the filing, registering, and licensing most businesses. Mr. Earl wants to streamline the process for small startups, and when necessary "drop the hammer" (his phrase) on enterprises who violate their contractual obligations and do harm to their customers and to the business environment in the state.

Charlie Earl is definitely an alternative worth considering.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Of the Amish, the Unabomber, and Slavery to Progress

What is the common denominator? According to Virgil Vaduva at The Greene County Herald (Xenia), we have given up happiness and spiritual values in favor of working jobs we don't like to buy stuff we don't need.

Mr. Vaduva contrasts our lives with those of the Amish:

While the Amish view their lives as a living sacrifice to their Creator, families and communities, the English (as the Amish would call us) dedicate their lives to the 8 to 5 job, corporatism and a life-long pursuit of a career, all away from family and community. As we are told, this is “the American dream,” to have a full time job so that can make money, so that we can purchase things.

This dichotomy is well-presented by Chuck Klosterman in his book, Eating the Dinosaur. He virtually dedicates an entire chapter to Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. While not justifying his actions, Klosterman sees how Kaczynski’s own rage against encroaching progress caused him to blow people up rather than finding ways to control progress.

Klosterman asks a seemingly inconsequential question: what does it take to keep my living room at 70 degrees in the middle of July? Very little, if anything, is the first answer. But to have air conditioning, one would have to live in a building with electricity and be connected to a society.

This requires money, which means a job, which means adapting and changing one’s life to meet certain parameters, like living in a certain place, around certain people, following the rules established by these people, working a job created by someone else for their own benefit.

In other words, most of us (present company included) live lives that do not make any rational or spiritual sense. The Amish offer a model for a more satisfying, if less opulent, life. But each of us has to decide for oneself how much of a price we are willing to pay for sanity:
As time is the most valuable thing one has, I would like to encourage you to look at the Amish tradition as an example of wisdom and resolved resistance to the pressures of greed, banks, politicians and Progress. They have managed to overcome and have long ago took the underground railroad, the path to true economic, social and spiritual freedom.

I readily recognize the irony of writing this article for an Internet website, on an expensive laptop computer, using electronic tools to research and gather my thoughts. So I use the irony as a prodding stick so I can daily ask myself the question: Is today the day I walk away from the system?
Virtual buckeye to Andy Myers in Facebook.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Is the American economy in decline? Yes.

Here are 24 statistics that prove it, with links, from The Economic Collapse via The Liberty Voice:

(The following is a direct quotation, despite not being indented. My comments are in brackets [])

#1 Ten years ago, the United States was ranked number one in average wealth per adult. In 2010, the United States has fallen to seventh.

#2 The United States once had the highest proportion of young adults with post-secondary degrees in the world. Today, the U.S. has fallen to 12th. [And Ohio is near the bottom among the states in its proportion of young adults with post-secondary degrees! We educate them, then they emigrate.]

#3 In the 2009 “prosperity index” published by the Legatum Institute, the United States was ranked as just the ninth most prosperous country in the world. That was down five places from 2008.

#4 In 2001, the United States ranked fourth in the world in per capita broadband Internet use. Today it ranks 15th.

#5 The economy of India is projected to become larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2050.

#6 One prominent economist now says that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

#7 According to a new study conducted by Thompson Reuters, China could become the global leader in patent filings by next year.

#8 The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001. Approximately 75 percent of those factories employed at least 500 workers while they were still in operation.

#9 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#10 Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

#11 In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of all U.S. economic output. In 2008, it represented only 11.5 percent.

#12 The television manufacturing industry began in the United States. So how many televisions are manufactured in the United States today? According to Princeton University economist Alan S. Blinder, the grand total is zero.

#13 As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing. The last time that less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

#14 Back in 1980, the United States imported approximately 37 percent of the oil that we use. Now we import nearly 60 percent of the oil that we use.

#15 The U.S. trade deficit is running about 40 or 50 billion dollars a month in 2010. That means that by the end of the year approximately half a trillion dollars (or more) will have left the United States for good.

#16 Between 2000 and 2009, America’s trade deficit with China increased nearly 300 percent.

#17 Today, the United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that China spends on goods from the United States.

#18 According to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, if the U.S. trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.

#19 American 15-year-olds do not even rank in the top half of all advanced nations when it comes to math or science literacy.

#20 Median household income in the U.S. declined from $51,726 in 2008 to $50,221 in 2009. That was the second yearly decline in a row.

#21 The United States has the third worst poverty rate among the advanced nations tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

#22 Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power. [The actual figure, based on the price of gold, is 98.7%]

#23 U.S. government spending as a percentage of GDP is now up to approximately 36 percent.

#24 The Congressional Budget Office is projecting that U.S. government public debt will hit 716 percent of GDP by the year 2080.

I'm not too worried about #24. The United States will collapse long before 2080 if growth of the public debt has not been reversed.

Manna Storehouse redux

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; but we really don't need the raid at Manna Storehouse to be imitated:

From SLMN News via Rebellion:
In another show of Federal illegitimacy, a FDA multi-agency “guns drawn raid” on simple dairy farm, orders 50,000 lbs of cheese destroyed. You see, the cheese wasn't processed in accordance with US government mandates, as directed by the processed dairy industry, partial owners of the US government.

One wonders how much longer it will be before a Ukraine style starvation by government will occur? Food as a weapon to force cooperation with a bloodthirsty government has a number of historical precedents, with the progressive/fascist Stalin's starving of millions in Ukraine the most infamous.

Missouri is a Southern State, how much longer do y'all think it will be before this happens in your State? It may already be happening.

It already has in Ohio. I hope Missouri has something like the 1851 Center to help the dairy farmer.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Common sense about terrorism

Glenn Greenwald on explains why suicide bombers attack us. It seems that they are upset about our military presence in the Middle East, and want revenge for our drones bombing the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also argues that terrorism would lose all its power if we simply left.

In other words, mind our own business, which is what I have been arguing for more than two years now:

True national security comes from having a strong national defense that focuses only on defense, from effective border controls; and from a citizenry that, while ever vigilant to threats on their liberty, remains satisfied that their government consistently acts in their interest as opposed to the selfish interests of an élite, or those of a foreign power. Firm in this belief, I remain confident that the Republic of Ohio would have little to fear from Islamic terrorism; but might have to cast more a wary eye on a District of Coercion that uses pretexts like 9-11 to advance its own agenda.
--The Ohio Republic, September 11, 2008

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Consolidation is not the answer

In recent weeks, I have noticed a tendency in the Columbus Dispatch (example) to favor a major reduction in the number of school districts and local governmental entitities. As a general rule, I am not in favor of consolidating anything, because consolidation is a centralizing tendency; and I favor the gradual abolition of the public education system in favor of vouchers to the private school of the parents’ choice.

In a few instances, consolidation might make sense. For example, in Franklin County, there are a few remnants of townships that occupy small non-contiguous areas that lead to extremely inefficient government. These remnants probably should be merged with neighboring townships if possible, and with municipalities if not; but this is a relatively unusual situation that exists only in large urban counties.

The drive for consolidation comes from two legitimate concerns: lack of accountability, because local governments do not report financial statistics in a way that enables them to be collected for review and comparison; and the proliferation of special districts for various purposes. Special districts historically have been created because the Revised Code has lacked flexibility in defining the functions of county or local government. In other instances, they have been created to address a local turf battle. In addition, this problem has led to numerous exceptions and extra clauses within the Revised Code itself.

The solution to these problems is really quite simple, but as with other simple solutions, will require a special measure of political will. Only three laws are needed.

First, the General Assembly should abolish statutory county, township, and municipal government by writing model charters for counties, cities, villages, and townships that essentially contains the features of the existing statutes. The model charter would not apply to any government that already has a charter of its own. The act, if it were adopted by the next General Assembly, would replace statutory rule with the model charters on January 1, 2015. In the meantime, counties, cities, villages, and townships could create charter commissions to amend the model charter as desired. On the same date, all special exceptions in the Revised Code related to county and local governments would be repealed.

Secondly, all special districts, except multi-county districts, will be merged with the next larger unit of government. For example, a police district that consists of part of a township would be run by the township trustees. Vocational school districts formed from several districts within a county would be run by the county board of education. They would either be run solely for the benefit of the taxpayers paying the taxes; or the larger unit could vote itself the same tax to broaden the area of service. Most "regional transit authorities" could be run as part of county governments.

Finally, all local governments would be required to issue a financial report in a state-standard format to the County Auditor and the State Auditor. While it would be the County Auditor’s responsibility to recommend solutions to problems found within the reports, the State Auditor would collect and report the statistics statewide. This relationship is similar to the reporting of election statistics by county Boards of Election to the Secretary of State.

In this way, we can achieve much greater efficiency while sacrificing very little local control.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why third-party candidates can't get traction

The media are not interested in fair coverage. Following is a letter the editor of The (Toledo) Blade by Charlie Earl, Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State, whom I shall feature next week. The letter appears in Mr. Earl's Facebook page. One thing about it -- if you're looking for a Secretary of State who says exactly what he thinks, Charlie Earl is your man.

It was revealing for me to read your endorsement of Jon Husted for Ohio Secretary of State. I have no problem with your endorsement, per se, because you are a private enterprise. I do question your reasoning, your diligence and your understanding of the office of the Secretary of State. Your reasoning is flawed, in my view, because of two critical elements. You cited Jon’s “experience” without acknowledging that many citizens are frustrated with career politicians. You also failed to mention that Husted has skated near the precipice of ethical behavior. It seems that someone who has demonstrated an inability to observe reasonable ethical practices should NOT be the chief elections officer in Ohio.

Your diligence seems to be lacking because I reside a mere 14 miles from your “tower of power,” and NO ONE from The Blade has made any attempt to contact me since I announced my candidacy in January. So, apparently you arrived at your endorsement while sporting an information deficit. In addition, I was involved in the reapportionment process in the Eighties when Husted was still in grammar school.

Your lack of knowledge about the Secretary of State functions is probably your most egregious error. When a Constitutional officer is responsible for the registering process, voting procedures, tallying methods, petitioning oversight and apportionment, does not it seem preferable and logical that the Administrator be unencumbered by partisan pressure and concerns? You have endorsed another “experienced” partisan hack who probably wants to run for governor rather than be entirely focused on the Secretary of State office.

Given your history you probably don’t have the courage to print this. If you do not, I will not be surprised.

Charlie Earl
Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State
Bowling Green

I noticed that the Columbus Dispatch also endorsed Mr. Husted. I guess Mr. Earl would be too difficult for the handlers to handle. Which is a good reason to vote for him.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Handwriting on the wall?

Note, in this video, when President Obama says "We cannot sustain...", the Presidential seal falls to the floor.

(The video object does not work here, for some reason, hence the link).

Virtual buckeye to Rebellion.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The state of secessionism in Ohio

Yesterday, in “Kerfuffle in Vermont,” I agreed with Kirkpatrick Sale that The Ohio Republic is not a “real secessionist movement.” Ohio does not have a secessionist movement; and in my view, that is not a problem. In this post, I shall explain why.

The idea that Ohio could secede from the union is a very new one. As far as I know, I made the first serious public reference to secession outside this blog at the Southwest Ohio Liberty Conference in Beavercreek, November 21, 2009 (photo at left). Those who were in attendance were remarkably open to secessionism. Ideas as radical as this take time and favorable events to take hold. We are not ready for such a movement.

Secondly, Ohio has a well-developed, well-coordinated liberty movement, in which the various Tea Parties, 9-12 Projects, and similar organizations are working together – thanks to the hard work of people like Joe Bozzi, Jason Rink, Jason Mihalick, and many others building the Ohio Freedom Alliance, the Ohio Liberty Council, and The Ohio Project (which is working to nullify forced health care). Ohioans who have thought about and discussed secession agree that it should be resorted to only when it becomes clearly evident that less radical measures, such as nullification, have been tried and failed. As I noted yesterday, nullification has not yet been tried in Ohio. If the result of next month’s election for the Ohio General Assembly proves favorable to the liberty movement, I anticipate that several nullification bills will be introduced and passed. If these and all else fail, I have little doubt that the liberty movement in Ohio can be persuaded to support secession – but such talk is clearly premature at this time.

Finally, we have to consider the fact that the success of any movement requires favorable public opinion. Frankly, the public opinion I have observed has viewed most existing secessionist movements as rather flaky. We do not need this kind of public relations baggage.

We have a good thing going in Ohio. We don’t need, and shouldn’t even want a secessionist organization at this time. If the situation changes in a way that would make such a movement desirable, we can reconsider.

Photo by Andy Myers

Ten questions to ask your candidates for Congress and U.S. Senate

Thomas R. Eddlem at The New American* has some suggested questions to help you distinguish between the candidates who claim "Tea Party values" and those who really do. The remainder of this article is a direct quotation from Mr. Eddlem's, except for the comments in brackets, which are mine.

1. When should the federal budget be balanced? (If they have a deadline any time later than the next two-year election cycle — the term for which representatives are currently seeking election — suggest that the candidates should suspend their current campaign and run for office later when they’d fight for a balanced budget. They’re as phony as a $3 bill.)

2. How would you balance the federal budget? Other than cutting “waste” and “pork,” something even liberals claim they want to do, what programs costing more than $1 billion per year would you vote to eliminate entirely in order to balance the budget? (This is an especially relevant question if the candidate says he or she is for tax cuts, as many Republicans do. If a candidate cannot name a single program of $1 billion or more he’d cut out entirely — such as foreign aid — in the face of an annual deficit of $1,400 billion, he is lying when he says he wants a balanced budget or that he wants to reduce the size of government.)

3. Would you balance the budget based on the current level of federal revenue — or reduce taxes while also cutting spending? Congressman Ron Paul says he would eliminate the federal income tax and replace it with nothing. Do you think this could be done, and if so, how?...

4. Would you vote to abolish the Federal Reserve and replace it with a gold standard?

5. Do you believe the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion decision, which took the issue of abortion out of the hands of states, was a direct assault on the Constitution’s 10th Amendment? [Interesting take on that issue, don't you think?]

6. Would you pull U.S. military forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan? [Don't take any waffling on this issue. You need to know whether a candidate's "conservatism" is an attempt to hide a pro-war, any war stance].

7. Would you also pull U.S. military forces out of South Korea and Germany, and in general support a non-interventionist, mind-our-own-business foreign policy?

8. Would you end all foreign aid, including aid to Israel, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq?

9. Would you insist that the NSA and the rest of the federal government abolish all warrantless wiretapping and honor the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that all searches have a warrant and probable cause? Would you seek to get the executive branch to punish violators with prison sentences?

10. Would you insist that the federal government not engage in torture, which violates the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and vote for a law banning waterboarding and extraordinary rendition? Would you insist that the Fifth Amendment be vindicated and the right to trial by jury be upheld, even for terrorism suspects?

* Yes, I know that The New American is published by the John Birch Society, but that affiliation doesn't affect the quality of the questions.