Friday, December 31, 2010

Paradise Lost

What the United Nations should have, but did not, become -- and a warning against "world government":

We shall not rebuild civilization on the large scale. It is no accident that on the whole, there was more beauty and decency to be found in the life of the small peoples, and that among the large ones there was more happiness and content in proportion as they had avoided the deadly blight of centralization. Least of all shall we preserve democracy or foster its growth if all the power and most of the important decisions rest with an organization far too big for the common man to survey and comprehend.

Nowhere has democracy ever worked well without a great measure of local self-government, providing a school of political training for the people at least as much as for their future leaders. It is only where responsibility can be learned and practiced in affairs with which most people are familiar, where it is the awareness of one’s neighbor rather than some theoretical knowledge of the needs of other people which guides action, that the ordinary man can take a real part in public affairs because they concern the world he knows. Where the scope of the political measures becomes so large that the necessary knowledge is almost exclusively possessed by the bureaucracy, the creative impulses of the private person must flag. I believe that here the experience of the small countries like Holland and Switzerland contains much from which even the most fortunate larger countries like Great Britain can learn. We shall all be the gainers if we can create a world fit for small states to live in.

But the small can preserve their independence in the international as in the national sphere only within a true system of law which guarantees both that certain rules are invariably enforced an that the authority which has the power to enforce these cannot use it for any other purpose. While for its task of enforcing the common law the supernational authority must be very powerful, its constitution must at the same time be so designed that it prevents the international as well as the national authorities form becoming tyrannical. We shall never prevent the abuse of power if we are not prepared to limit power in a way which occasionally may also prevent its use for desirable purposes,. The great opportunity we shall have at the end of this war is that the great victorious powers, by themselves first submitting to a system of rules which they have the power to enforce, may at the same time acquire the moral right to impose the same rules upon others.

An international authority which effectively limits the powers of the state over the individual will be one of the best safeguards of peace. The international Rule of Law must become a safeguard as much against the tyranny of the state over the individual as against the tyranny of the new superstate over the national communities. Neither an omnipotent superstate nor a loose association of “free nations” but a community of nations over free men must be our goal.

-- Friedrich A. von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, (1944; Definitive edition, Bruce Caldwell, ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 234-235.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Think America is a free country? Think again

Here is a list of 14 ridiculous offenses that have led to police action recently, from Before It's News. I checked the sources, and nearly all of them are mainstream media:

#1 A Michigan man has been charged with a felony and could face up to 5 years in prison for reading his wife's email.

#2 A 49-year-old Queens woman had bruises all over her body after she was handcuffed, arrested and brutally beaten by NYPD officers.  So what was her offense?  The officers thought that her little dog had left some poop that she didn't clean up.

#3 A 56-year-old woman who was once a rape victim refused to let airport security officials feel her breasts so she was thrown to the floor, put in handcuffs and arrested.

#4 In Milwaukee, one man was recently fined $500 for swearing on a public bus.

#5 Several years ago a 12-year-old boy in South Carolina was actually arrested by police for opening up a Christmas present early against his family's wishes.

#6 In some areas of the country, it is now a crime to not recycle properly.  For example, the city of Cleveland has announced plans to sort through trash cans to ensure that people are actually recycling according to city guidelines.

#7 A 12-year-old girl from Queens was arrested earlier this year and taken out of her school in handcuffs for writing “Lex was here. 2/1/10" and “I love my friends Abby and Faith" on her desk.

#8 Back in 2008, a 13-year-old boy in Florida was actually arrested by police for farting in class.

#9 The feds recently raided an Amish farmer at 5 AM in the morning because they claimed that he was was engaged in the interstate sale of raw milk in violation of federal law.

#10 A few years ago a 10-year-old girl was arrested and charged with a felony for bringing a small steak knife to school.  It turns out that all she wanted to do was to cut up her lunch so that she could eat it.

#11 On June 18th, two Christians decided that they would peacefully pass out copies of the gospel of John on a public sidewalk outside a public Islamic festival in Dearborn, Michigan and within three minutes 8 policemen surrounded them and placed them under arrest.

#12 A U.S. District Court judge slapped a 5oo dollar fine on Massachusetts fisherman Robert J. Eldridge for untangling a giant whale from his nets and setting it free.  So what was his crime?  Well, according to the court, Eldridge was supposed to call state authorities and wait for them do it.

#13 Once upon a time, a food fight in the cafeteria may have gotten you a detention.  Now it may get you locked up.  About a year ago, 25 students between the ages of 11 and 15 at a school in Chicago were taken into custody by police for being involved in a huge food fight in the school cafeteria.

#14 A few years ago a 70 year old grandmother was actually put in handcuffs and hauled off to jail for having a brown lawn.

Our country is clearly abandoning the rule of law. If we don't rise up against these violations of our Constitutional rights, we will soon find ourselves facing mass killings and torture for similar offenses.

Our government is capitalizing on the fear of bogeymen -- real and imagined. We must get over our fear and stand up for our freedom! Otherwise:

If we are too frightened, then we should stop complaining that someone is suffocating us. We ourselves are doing it. Let us then bow down even more, let us wait, and our brothers the biologists will help to bring nearer the day when they are able to read [that] our thoughts are worthless and hopeless.

And if we get cold feet, even taking this step, then we are worthless and hopeless, and the scorn of Pushkin should be directed to us:

"Why should cattle have the gifts of freedom?

"Their heritage from generation to generation is the belled yoke and the lash." 
 -- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "Live Not by Lies", Washington Post, February 18, 1974

The Constitution is "confusing"

So says Ezra Klein at the Washington Post in an MS-NBC interview with Norah O'Donnell, as reported by NewsBusters.

The liberal establishment just can't understand this obsession with the Constitution. After all, according to Mr. Klein:

The issue of the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending on what they want to get done.
This statement was to support Ms. O'Donnell's assertion that the emphasis on the Constitution is nothing more than a political gimmick. "I wouldn't make too much of this," Mr. Klein replied.

Now, the Constitution is really a simple document, only 7,000 words long. A high school graduate should not have any problem with understanding it. It specifically lists the powers granted to the federal government, the powers prohibited to it, and the powers prohibited to the states (Article I, Sections 8-10). And to make it crystal clear, the Bill of Rights added the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.*

Still, I can understand why liberals find it confusing. They have bought into their own rhetoric about a "living Constitution,"  which means whatever the Supreme Court wants it to mean at the time. Understanding what the Constitution means isn't that difficult. If the literal meaning is unclear, check the record of the debates at the Constitutional Convention. If that isn't clear, check the Federalist Papers. If that isn't clear, clean your glasses.

The liberals want us to be impressed with their learning. But learning is useless without common sense, something these two commentators clearly lack.

One more thing. If the Republicans don't "make too much of this," they will join the Democrats  behind the woodshed in 2012, as the frustrated American voters administer to both parties a whipping they will never forget.

* Ninth: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed [by the courts] to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Tenth: "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.

Thought for the day

An original:

The only solution to political correctness is to:
  • Take great care with what you say, 
  • Not care what other people think when you say it; and 
  • Never take offense at what others say, when they intend to be reasonable.

If enough people will do this, this problem will go away -- but for enough people to do this, they will have to be taught.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Three questions to ask in any political discussion

Here are three questions every liberty activist and Tea Partier should ask whenever a political discussion comes up on pending federal legislation. They will help educate others and strengthen the movement. These come from Karl Uppiano at American Thinker.

1. Which article of the Constitution gives government the authority to do this?

2. How does this help reduce the deficit and balance the budget?

3. Why does this have to be mandatory and not voluntary?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reminder to President Obama and other liberals

"[F]ormal equality before the law is in conflict, and in fact, incompatible, with any activity of the government deliberately aiming at material or substantive equality of different people, and that any policy aiming directly at a substantive ideal of distributive justice must lead to the destruction of the Rule of Law. To produce the same result for different people, it is necessary to treat them differently...

"[F]or the Rule of Law to be effective it is more important that there should be a rule applied always without exceptions than what this rule is."

-- Friedrich A. von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, Bruce Caldwell, ed. (1944; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 117.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Eliminate terrorism? Get real.

Harry Browne, a libertarian thinker, wrote an article, "What can we do about terrorism?" published in In it he attacks conventional wisdom on terrorism. He starts the discussion by laying out seven ground rules for understanding terrorism: (1) No solution is going to be perfect; (2) The issue is not Muslim fundamentalists attacking America, it is Muslim fundamentalists defending themselves from American aggression in their countries; (3) Bombing does not defuse terrorism, it provokes it; (4) Because the war is not between the U.S. and another government, terrorism is a criminal matter, not a military one; (5) If you think we have a right to be in Iraq and Afghanistan, apply the Golden Rule and ask yourself how you would feel if a detachment of, say, Chinese troops were in your city and attacking Americans; (6) "Don't assume that just because the government has the legal authority to do something that it will actually succeed. So be careful what you ask for;" and (7) There is no possible way to eliminate terrorism in the world -- it has existed since Biblican times. These rules should be common sense, but our "state-run media" have brainwashed Americans to the contrary.

Mr. Browne then wrote that we have a choice between war and peace. If we choose war, we fuel the terrorists desire to attack us.  No one (that is not bribed by us) supports us in war. If we will risk peace, it is very likely that the death and destruction will end immediately.

He then suggests four principles that we should adopt and proposes a Constitutional amendment to implement them. The principles are: (1 & 2) Non-interference: no military action in other countries and no foreign aid; (3) Secure ourselves against attack by updating our missile and border defenses. Mr. Browne thinks that our Defense Department is incompetent to handle the task, and suggests that the feds should offer a $25 billion reward to the private contractor who can set up a competent defense system; (4) If we are threatened by a foreign ruler, target the ruler, say with a $100 million reward for his assassination (including by his wife and closest aides), sparing his people.

I'm not completely sure about that last one; but I am completely convinced that peace will serve our interests far better than war. And peace through strength will protect us far better than START treaties that give away the store.

Quotation of the day

"We must not hate the banksters, war generals, and party bosses. They have not taken our country or labor from us. We have given it to them."
-- Jeremiah Arn, in Facebook

Friday, December 24, 2010

Iraq veteran speaks out against the war

Do you really want peace on earth? Start here. This veteran explains to an audience how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are really a racket. Another interesting point: he says the military can only pursue these wars by promoting racism.

Peace on Earth?

[The angels sang,] "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." -- Luke 2:14 (NIV)

[Jesus said,] "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." -- Matthew 10:34
Should we be at war in Iraq and Afghanistan? This issue divides both the Tea Parties and American Christianity.

At Christmas, we tend to quote the angels as singing "Peace on earth, goodwill to men," but what the angels promised was not the absence of war. What they promised was a way for Christ's followers to find inner peace.

On the other hand, Matthew 10:34 has Jesus saying something very uncomfortable -- something that many Christians want to pass over. He is not advocating war. The following verses (Matthew 10:35-42) state that those who choose to follow him run the risk of losing their families and even face violent persecution because of their faith.

Too many Christians, and too many in our movement, are willing to rationalize America's warmaking in Afghanistan and Iraq. They say we must "project our strength" to defend our freedom, when our experience since 2001 tells us the very opposite. The terrorism we experience in this country is a response to our aggression, not the cause of it.

We will not be free until we align our faith and our movement with the idea of a strong national defense within our borders, and a willingness to proclaim what the Bible really said in these passages. Until then, pro-war Christians and liberty activists will be rightly viewed as hypocritical liars.

America is great because she is good. When America ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.
-- Rev. John McDowell, sermon in New York September 3, 1922; quoted by Dwight D. Eisenhower in his final campaign speech November 4, 1952.*
Christians and liberty-minded people, wake up! If good is to prevail, we must act to bring about real peace -- in our hearts, and for our country.

I pray that you will enjoy the blessings of Christmas, and that the truth will set you free.

* This quotation is often misattributed to Alexis de Tocqueville in his book Democracy in America. It appears nowhere in that book.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'd like to teach the world to sing...

... but if we sing in "perfect harmony," we destroy individual freedom. This is the point of Charlie Earl's message in today's littlestuff-minoosha:
For centuries nefarious dream weavers have sought to unify the people of the globe. Some like Alexander the Great used military might, and others attempted to use the force of ideas. An example of the latter would be Marx who promoted the proletariat as the unifying mechanism. No matter the source of the global unity movement, the result is the loss of freedom for individuals. The overwhelming pressure to conform causes the suppression of the individual’s uniqueness.

Teaching the world to sing is notable. Requiring perfect harmony and unity leads to a one world government. The world is a beautiful place. The world can be a beautiful place, but its beauty should not be surrendered to a one-size-fits-all mentality that denies our God-given humanity. Freedom is our legacy. It’s our primary inalienable right. No fuzzy idealistic feel-good sentiment should be allowed to undermine our individual relationship with God. The world will be much better if each of us is free to do our best.

Respecting diversity is one thing. Making an idol of it, or trying to force everyone into a one-size-fits-all mold is quite another. Doing so will destroy the spiritual joy that comes from using one's God-given talents to benefit family and community.

Have a blessed Christmas. Let its joy fill your heart so you can share it with others.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Sesquicentennial of WHAT?

Today marks the 150th anniversary of South Carolina's secession from the union, which marks the logical beginning of observances remembering the war that ensued. Naming that war, however, is very tricky because the common names used for it are biased for one side or the other. In order from extreme unionist to extreme Confederate, we can call it: War of the Rebellion, Civil War, War Between the States, War for Southern Independence, War of Northern Aggression.

In fact, it was a war between two nations (one of which was unrecognized by anyone else) known as the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. In terms of international law, the Confederate States of America was de facto an independent nation (meaning that it functioned as one), but was not de jure (meaning that it was not accepted as such by other nations. This would have been accomplished for the Confederacy if it had executed a treaty with Britain or France, or if it had signed its longed-for Treaty of Peace with the United States).

Technically, it was not a "civil war" because that term refers to a war for control of the national (federal) government. The Confederates did not want to take over the United States Government -- they just wanted a nation of their own.

The "War for Southern Independence" is perhaps the most accurate name, but seems to reflect a moderately strong pro-Confederate bias. "War of the Rebellion" is also technically accurate, but reflects a very strong pro-Northern bias. I usually call it the War between the States, which is technically incorrect, but is descriptive and mildly pro-Southern.

So, take your pick, and we'll know what your bias is. Or, we could start calling it the "War of 1861", which is completely neutral but not very descriptive.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mandatory health care deemed unconstitutional

I am breaking my own hiatus to amplify what everyone has undoubtedly heard, that the Federal District Court for Eastern Virginia has ruled as unconstitutional section 1501 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly and inelegantly known as "Obamacare"). What is newsworthy is that the decision itself is a very clear and readable statement expressing the limits of Congressional power under the Constitution. My .pdf link to the text is provided by the Wall Street Journal.

Judge Henry E. Hudson acknowledges that the case will be appealed two more times -- to the Fourth District Court of Appeals and to the Supreme Court of the United States; but because the issues were so clearly those of law, and because of the clarity of this decision, there is much room for hope that his ruling will be sustained.

If you do not have the patience to read the entire ruling, start with section VII on page 32 and read the remainder.

Friday, December 10, 2010

On hiatus

I need some time to think about the implications of revolution on us as Ohioans; and to work further on my book Governing Ourselves. Consequently, except for a post scheduled for release December 20 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of South Carolina's secession and possibly a Christmas post, I do not plan to post again until after Christmas.

Please feel free to comment on any of my posts, or to contact me by e-mail in the meantime.

On revolution

The Ohio Republic has repeatedly written on the possibility of revolution. I have thought for some time that a revolution is in the air in this country; even though I think Glenn Beck’s assertion that it has already begun is premature. However, given the rate at which the degradation of our liberties is taking place, as evidenced by the TSA scanners, the Food Safety Act, and (possibly) the proposed rules on “Net neutrality,” I can see the revolution beginning in 2011, instead of 2012 as I had originally thought.

Every revolution is unique, and each affects its society in a unique way. Each is the explosion that follows when pressure builds up beyond the ability of a society’s institutions to contain it. Since the pressure builds up gradually, it is impossible to predict when the explosion will take place – but those who are watching can see the pressure building, and know that one is imminent.

How a revolution ends depends on whether the instigators prevail, as they did in Russia in 1917; and how prepared they are to govern, as the French were not in 1792. It also depends on how the people react to the revolution. Do we surrender to what appears to be an unstoppable force, or do we try to stop the revolution, as the French did in 1968? History shows that revolutions hardly ever end in exactly the way the instigators expect. Hegel’s dialectic is true, albeit not in the way Karl Marx anticipated: the thesis (revolution) is always met by an antithesis (reaction), resulting in a synthesis (society following the revolution). If revolutions do not always end as expected, its ideas (or its scars) will nevertheless continue to influence the society.

Glenn Beck is correct on this point: revolutions begin by creating chaos. No one (including Mr. Beck, if he is honest with himself) can know right now whether his particular recipe is accurate. His theory is that the revolution will involve a bottom-up approach (by union thugs and “progressive” activists on the street), coupled with a top-down one (by officials in the Obama Administration and rich and influential people like George Soros). There certainly is evidence that the radical left will try to pin the chaos on tea party activists and “right-wing extremists.”

We may not be able to avert a revolution, but we can prevent the left from imposing its dictatorship of the proletariat on our country. The left has an Achilles heel: its intellectual arrogance. Every statement they publish, every plan they make, reeks of contempt for the intelligence of the American people and their willingness to act. They think that we will fall for every trap they lay, that we will immerse ourselves in football and Desperate Housewives on the tube until it is too late. They think that those of us who do resist, will do so violently. After all, what other reason can there be for asserting our right to bear arms? The rest of us, they think, will engage in a feckless quest to use our corrupted institutions to reverse decades of policies that they have developed in preparation for this day. The key to stopping the left, then, is to act in ways they do not anticipate.

However, to act in ways they do not anticipate, we need to develop some new ways of thinking. Once the revolution begins, the United States of America-as-we-know-it will cease to exist. Not may, will. All of us who treasure our history and our institutions will experience the stages of grief: denial, anger, loss and, acceptance.

In the war of ideas, the Eastern Establishment must be countered by a libertarian intelligentsia; which, fortunately we do have. We have the Mises and Cato Institutes, Walter Williams, and Chuck Baldwin. In Ohio, we have the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law and the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions. Ohio has another asset, not evident in very many other states: a cohesive liberty movement. That movement made a mistake in this election by trusting too much in the Republican Party; but it will soon realize that it was a mistake. In our state history, we have protected civil liberties much more effectively than most other states. The reason for this has been the fidelity of our courts to the Bill of Rights in our 159-year-old Ohio Constitution. Obviously, we’re not perfect (as Manna Storehouse and the Constitution Day kerfuffle in Andover attest), but we can be proud of our overall record.

With one exception, we have everything we need to protect our freedom. We have the brains, the movement, and the laws behind us. What we need, and this does not come naturally to Ohioans, is the willingness to use them in creative ways.

In revolutionary times, we must think of ourselves as Ohioans first and Americans second. While the nation remains in some semblance of domestic peace, we must continue to use our existing institutions to resist tyranny; for example, by using our new Republican General Assembly and Governor to nullify unconstitutional federal laws in Ohio. We must uphold the rule of law as long as we can.

But when that peace ends, the rule of law at the federal level will go with it. In preparation for that day, we have three very high priorities: we need to strengthen our organized state militia to augment the National Guard to protect us from externally-generated violence; we need to establish a mechanism for using silver in everyday transactions (honest money); and we need for all of us to start thinking, buying, and as practicable, manufacturing locally. And we need to start on all three priorities now. As I wrote earlier, we cannot predict the day the revolution will begin, but we can sense that it will begin very soon. It could be today – it could be a year from now; but we need to prepare now.

In so doing, we will do one of two things, both protecting our liberties. If the rest of the United States proves to be of the same mind as we are, we will all defeat the “progressives” and save the union. Otherwise, we will be prepared to declare and sustain our independence.

Why the Food Safety Act is a bad idea

Charlie Earl at littlestuff-minoosha warns us how bureaucracies run amok in efforts to expand their mission. He uses the "camel's nose in the tent" analogy to suggest that the real purpose of the act is to destroy American agriculture.

He makes a good case. His writing style is such that if I try to quote it, it is sure to be out of context; but once you read it for yourself, you will gain a new appreciation for the reasons this act (and "Net neutrality" and a host of other bad ideas) must be resisted!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ron Paul becomes subcommittee chairman

.. of the Domestic Monetary Affairs Subcommittee in the U.S. House taking office next month. It was announced last night on Judge Andrew Napolitano's Freedom Watch show on the Fox Business Network.

There are still a few questions as to how long a leash incoming House Speaker John Boehner will give him, especially since Rep. Boehner will hold the subpoena power; but for now, it is a sign of hope that, just maybe, we can start in the direction of honest money.

But don't sell your gold and silver yet...

Video is from The Daily Paul.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nominations open for Champions of Liberty

I would like to have your nominations of African-Americans who have been outspoken in support of libertarianism, whom I call Champions of Liberty. The selected individuals will be announced in my post for Martin Luther King Day, January 17, 2011.

The honorees in 2010 were Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, and H.K. Edgerton. (After posting the nominees list, I learned that Ian Baldwin is not African-American; but because of his contributions to the cause in Vermont, I decided to leave his name in).

Common sense about the tax deal

Thomas Sowell (in today's Columbus Dispatch) is irritated about the terminology used around the extension of what has come to be called the "Bush-era tax cuts."
  • No one's taxes are going to be cut. The question is whether individuals, especially those who make over $250,000 per year, will get a tax increase (at the highest levels, from 36% to 39.6%).
  • Taxes do not affect billionaires, most of whom, as Dr. Sowell points out, would still remain billionaires even if the feds taxed them at 100%.
  • Extending unemployment benefits provides a disincentive to work. Human nature is to accept the benefits until they go away -- no matter how long they are given.
Here are some of Dr. Sowell's comments:

When you refrain from raising someone’s taxes, you are not “giving” them anything. Even if you were actually cutting their tax rate — which is out of the question today — you would still not be “giving” them anything, but only allowing them to keep more of what they have earned.

Is the government doing any of us a big favor by not taking even more of what we have worked for? Is it not an insult to our intelligence to say that the government is “giving” us something by not taxing it away? ...

With the government making it more expensive for employers to hire workers, and at the same time subsidizing unemployed workers longer and longer, you can have as much unemployment as you are willing to pay for, for as long as you are willing to pay for it.

As I have written repeatedly, "Federal funds" are nothing more than your tax dollars returned to you at a discount with strings attached. When will people finally wake up and realize that?
Thomas Sowell is one of the Champions of Liberty who were honored in January.

Why the Federal Reserve Bank is unconstitutional

Brian at Repeal the 17th Amendment has reproduced an opinion given by then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson to President George Washington on the Constitutionality of the Bank of the United States. The same reasoning applies today to the Federal Reserve Bank.

It is interesting that Mr. Jefferson makes passing reference to the idea of a world currency. Let us hope he wasn't being prophetic...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The American Empire

(click on the graphic to enlarge)

This is a graphic which displays the extent of the American military presence around the world. This is dated 2002 -- the extent may well be even greater today. Note that only 46 nations have no U.S. military presence; and that all four BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) do.

Virtual buckeye to Rob Williams at Vermont Commons

Quotation of the day

Seen in, reacting to a RawStory article [confirmation from the Drudge Report] indicating that Homeland Security messages would soon appear on large screens in WalMarts, hotels, airports, etc.:
Uhm... guys, 1984 is NOT a how-to manual.

Wikileaks: The plot sickens...

Now comes Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Ind.-Connecticut), who has introduced the dream act for neoconservatives. As reported by Kevin Poulson in the Wired magazine Threat Level blog, Sen. Lieberman has put into the hopper a bill he calls the "SHIELD Act," which would make it a criminal offense
to publish information “concerning the identity of a classified source or informant of an element of the intelligence community of the United States,” or “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government” if such publication is prejudicial to U.S. interests.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Wrong. Mr. Poulson writes:
Lieberman’s proposed solution to WikiLeaks could have implications for journalists reporting on some of the more unsavory practices of the intelligence community. For example, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was once a paid CIA asset. Would reporting that now be a crime?
For how long does this prohibition extend. Forever?

The proposed legislation, fortunately, does not affect Julian Assange, because the U.S. Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws (those which would prosecute an act that took place before the legislation was passed).

A nude awakening

The Transportation Security Administration security restrictions are so ridiculous that its logic can easily be demolished by a college student. And, as a matter of fact, it has.

Evan DeFilippis, writing for the Oklahoma Daily at the University of Oklahoma, takes a step-by-step methodical approach in presenting the reasons why TSA scanning is both humiliating and unworkable:
  • Statistical data show that plane crashes due to terrorism (1 in 25 million) are less likely to occur than crashes due to mechanical failure or pilot error (1 in 9.2 million). Mr. DeFilippis presents an array of other statistics listing causes of accidental death that are far more likely than either.
  • TSA workers are overworked and underpaid. It is unreasonable to expect that viewing a scanner, that such workers can completely distinguish between good people and bad people in less than five minutes.
  • It ignores the psychology of terrorism. Terrorists are proactive. They look for what works. TSA is reactive -- they seek to prevent what has already been done (thus guaranteeing that the same approach will not be attempted again by any terrorist with the intelligence greater than that of a pinhead).
Mr. DeFilippis also makes some pithy comments about the impact TSA has on our liberty:
The inconsistency of our outrage is instructive — it shows that our perceptions of safety and security are not reflective of reality but are instead dictated to us externally by demagogic politicians who have a vested interest in our fear. We are a passive audience trapped in a theatre of the absurd — apparently too absorbed in brilliantly orchestrated drama to realize it’s all just a play...

Security for the sake of security is pointless — I can assure you that the risk of terrorism would be neutralized if airline passengers were required to board planes naked but such a requirement would be so intrusive and humiliating that security would have lost its meaningfulness. There’s no purpose in security if it debases the very life it intends to protect, yet the forced choice one has to make between privacy and travel does just that. If you want to travel, you have a “choice” between low-tech fondling or high-tech pornography; the choice, therefore, to relegate your fundamental rights in exchange for a plane ticket. Not only does this paradigm presume that one’s right to privacy is variable — contingent on the government’s discretion and only respected in places that the government doesn’t care to look — but it also ignores that the fundamental right to travel has consistently been upheld by the Supreme Court. [In support of this point, he cites United States v. Guest (1966)].
And to those who think things could be worse, he makes a fundamental moral point:
Every time we convince ourselves that things “aren’t that bad” and thus not in need of change, we are training ourselves to be complacent in the face of injustice, and we are weakening our capacity to challenge those forces most in need of change. It could always be worse, but that doesn’t mean we should surrender the opportunity to make it better.
However, the point of TSA really isn't to combat terrorism. It is to condition the American people for slavery to an all-powerful federal (and perhaps eventually, world) government. If the American people continue to exchange essential liberties for (the illusion of) a little temporary safety, they will ultimately find that there are no liberties left to exchange.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Don't blame Wikileaks!

... says Ron Paul. Wikileaks only disclosed to the public that the United States has a dysfunctional foreign policy:

State secrecy is anathema to a free society. Why exactly should Americans be prevented from knowing what their government is doing in their name? In a free society we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, however, we are in big trouble. The truth is that our foreign spying, meddling and outright military intervention in the post-World War 2 era has made us less secure, not more, and we have lost countless lives and spent trillions of dollars for our trouble. Too often it’s the official government lies that have given us endless and illegal wars resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and casualties...

The neoconservative ethos, steeped in the teachings of Leo Strauss, cannot abide an America where individuals simply pursue their happy, peaceful, prosperous lives. It cannot abide an America where society centers around family, religion or civic and social institutions rather than an all-powerful central state. There is always an enemy to slay, whether communist or terrorist. In the neoconservative vision, a constant state of alarm must be fostered among the people to keep them focused on something greater than themselves, namely their great protector – the state.

This my quarrel with Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. Supporting war, any war does not protect our freedom. It does the opposite. George Washington, in his Farewell Address, suggested the only workable foreign policy for a free people: Friendship and trade with all, alliances with none.

I agree that we should not disclose secrets that would telegraph our plans to the enemy, or would endanger the lives or blow the cover of our CIA operatives, but from what I have heard so far, little or none of the Wikileaks disclosures falls in those categories. Washington has abused the classification system for generations to hide essential knowledge from the American people. As far as I am concerned, anything that helps the American people make more informed decisions; and especially that which wakes them up is a good thing.

Good news -- the Food Safety Bill is apparently dead on arrival

The Congress has been playing so fast and loose with the Constitution lately, that it has tripped itself up on internal procedures! Case in point, from the New American,* quoting Natural News and Roll Call:

While Democratic Senators touted the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act as an “accomplishment,” conservatives and constitutionalists begged to differ. It appears, however, Americans may have run into some luck as a “blue slip mistake” may halt the bill in its tracks. Two different versions of the Food Safety Modernization Act were passed, one in the House and one in the Senate. The Senate version, touted as the softer one, passed earlier this week by a vote of 73-25. However, the two versions of the bill need to be reconciled, but the lame-duck’s full agenda inhibited the possibility of conference talks. The Hill reported that it was more likely that the House would approve the Senate version instead.

The House has rejected the bill, however.

In its haste to pass the Act, the Senate may have “forgotten” that it is the sole role of the House of Representatives to initiate new taxes. As the Food Safety Modernization Act creates taxes, the House, which was preparing to vote on the Senate version of the bill, must reject it.

If it doesn't pass now, it should not have any chance in the next Congress. Should, meaning "ought to, not necessarily will or must." The eternal vigilance rule still applies.

* Standard disclaimer. Yes, I know who publishes The New American, but (with occasional unfortunate exceptions), I judge such sources on the reliability of their sources. The New American usually contains very solid journalism.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Disciple of Liberty

Christians awake! And once you do, Jason Rink will explain to you why it is the duty of a Christian to participate in the system as an activist for freedom.

In his book Disciple of Liberty, he begins by describing how a young, politically apathetic Christian pastor became inspired to become a passionate political activist, and the questions about faith and authority he had to resolve. He then lists seven priorities that every Christian patriot should have: define the limits of authority, demand fidelity to the Constitution, defend liberty for all people, despise debt, demand honest money, desire peace with all nations, and disciple others in liberty. In each chapter he comments on relevant Bible references and cites works of the Founding Fathers in support of his points. He also provides texts of the Declaration of Independence, the original Constitution, and the Bill of Rights for easy reference.

The book is not long (about 100 pages, excluding the documents) and very easy to read. Most people will be able to read the entire book in an evening or two. For a limited time, he is giving away .pdf files of the book from his website. The printed version is also available for $14.95, plus shipping and handling.

Jason lived in Columbus before moving to Austin, Texas, about a year ago. I know him personally, and we have worked together on the "Introduction to Liberty and the Constitution" videos that appear on my Links page and other projects for the Ohio Freedom Alliance. He is also publisher of The Liberty Voice, in which I am a columnist.

While I have been aware of the book for some time, I did not take the opportunity to read it until now. I heartily endorse it, not only for yourself, but as a gift to anyone who needs to understand the Biblical basis for liberty and be motivated to join the movement that seeks to restore it in our country today.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Is George Soros evil?

I tackled this subject Nov. 10, when Glenn Beck brought it up. Now Barracuda, a reporter at Before It's News, has amassed biographical information and the link to a website, called*, that is tracking Mr. Soros's activities. Before It's News has some flaky content, but this article confirms knowledge I already had, including Mr. Soros's biography in Wikipedia.

I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about Mr. Soros himself, but it is clearly evident that the actions he proposes to take (and has publicly proclaimed he is going to take) against the American economy must be resisted, if not by the President, then by the new Congress and the people.

* Update Dec. 3: This link returned a 403 Forbidden error (I do not have permission to access the server).

Definition of the day

U.S. Constitution

A document that, while never repealed, has lost its potency following decades of Supreme Court decisions, Executive Orders, and Congressional neglect brought on by the failure of the people to exercise due vigilance.

My comment to Andrew Scott McCleese on a Facebook posting about patriots serving summons for the arrest of certain federal officials on the charge of "misprision of treason".

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Federal Reserve bails out foreign banks, too

Isn't it amazing just how consistently our "Feds" (federal government and Federal Reserve) act against the interest of the American people? Here is a list from Zero Hedge of 35 foreign banks that received loans from the Federal Reserve Bank between October 27, 2008, and August 6, 2009. The loans totaled $350 billion.

Virtual buckeye to Rebellion.

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

That's "Merry Christmas" in German. Fox 29 in Philadelphia reports that, in a triumph of common sense over "political correctness", Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter reversed a decision that would have forced the organizers of a German "Christmas Village" on city property to rename itself "Holiday Village" in an attempt to make it "more inclusive."

Anyone who knows anything about German culture knows that renaming Christmas to anything else in that context would make no sense whatsoever.

However, let's call it the way it is: "political correctness" when related to Christmas is simply an attempt to suppress freedom of cultural (let alone religious) expression for Christians. Philadelphia Managing Director Rich Negrin inadvertently acknowledged as much when he defended a related decision on Tuesday:

"This is not about taking Christmas out of the holiday. It's about being more inclusive," Negrin said. He went to add, "I am a preacher's kid. I love Christmas. This is not about political correctness or trying to say something negative about Christmas."

In an interesting side note, Negrin defended the city's decision to light its annual Tree on Thursday. (The city calls the tree a Holiday Tree and not a Christmas Tree.) The tree is OK, Negrin said, because it's "not a discreet* religious symbol. It's a pagan symbol."

Uh-huh. Point proven.

* The writer probably intended to use the word discrete.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Why we need to repeal the 17th Amendment

My fellow Ohio blogger Brian has been running a blog for some time dedicated to the repeal of the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution. I have to admire his tenacity -- to regularly post to and maintain a blog on such a limited subject. His point is that the states would have a stronger hand against federal tyranny if we returned to the original system of having the state legislatures elect the U.S. Senators, instead of them being elected directly by the people. That way, the states as states would have a stake in how the federal government is run. You can be sure, at the very least, that Senators elected by state legislators would end unfunded mandates on state governments. Right now.

In today's post, Brian uses the Food Safety Bill (S.510) to explain how the U.S. Senate has been rigged to favor corporate special interests, and presents a convincing argument based on today's news for repealing the 17th Amendment. It is well worth your time to read.

Update Dec. 7: Brian posted a comment in his own blog that is worth reposting here:

Thanks Harold. It's been up and down over the years but the blogging keeps me partially focused on the shenanigans in the US Senate.

Getting this repealed is a tough fight, but at least for now I hope we are waking people up to the origins of the US Constitution and the creation of Congress and the role the US Senate once had.

But even if the repeal did happen we would still need to make a modification and add a recall provision that was left out of the Constitution from the Articles of Confederation. That would put the states back into the Federal Government and restore the 10th Amendment.

The Emperor has no clothes

We don't have to put the President through one of those body scanners -- he's already naked. So says Karen Kwiatkowski in in response to what she calls the "Cablegate" scandal occasioned by the release of classified documents on Wikileaks.

In her opinion, no federal agent will die ... unless it is of laughter. I cannot possibly do justice to her article in a summary; but assure you that the post is entertaining, as well as enlightening.

It is a fitting response to my more serious piece on Monday.

The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. (Psalm 37:12-13)