Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Tea Parties STILL don't get it

Update April 1: The rally was not heavily publicized in the media, and likely for good reason. The turnout, estimated at 200, was pathetic. The event was well organized, but very poorly publicized. (I did not know of the rally until the day it was being held, and then only through Facebook). Here is the UPI report, for what it's worth.

More than a year ago, I warned that if the Tea Parties started drinking the Washington Kool-Aid, they would fail. I warned last August that Glenn Beck's 8-28 rally would not accomplish anything politically (though, perhaps, it did morally). So what is Tea Party Nation planning? Yup. Yet another rally in the imperial capital, which they call "Continuing Revolution 3.31."

It will surely fail. Even Congressmen who were elected as Tea Party supporters have failed the movement. With extremely few exceptions (starting with Ron Paul), the Washington environment corrupts whomever it touches. For the rest of my reasoning, I yield my space to Mike Tuggle at Rebellion (emphasis added):

How, then, can concerned patriots hope to bring about real reform? Go where real battles are being fought for the reforms the people demand, and you'll find yourself at the local and State level. The reasons for this are simple. For one thing, DC is too divided politically, with conservative States grappling endlessly with liberal States for mythical "one-size-fits-all" legislation.

Worse, the DC bureaucracy actively opposes the reforms the people of the States so desperately need -- how else can you explain Obama siding with Mexico to oppose the people of Arizona to control the border? State initiatives not only work, they send shudders down the jellied spines of the ruling elite -- and if you don't think so, read the ruling elite's frantic denunciations of State efforts to solve the problems DC won't, and ask yourself why these efforts terrify our rulers.

Here's the entire text of a recent email from a [Rebellion] reader:

How can we get more involved in FREEDOM?
There's no mystery here. If you want to catch fish, you head toward water, not the desert.
Graphic by Mike Tuggle at Rebellion.

SB 5 passes House, awaits Gov. Kasich's signature

Here is the Associated Press's take, from the Washington Post website. The bill's passage was prominent in the national news last night.

The bill passed by a vote of 53-44. Two Republican State Senators who objected to the bill, Timothy Grendell (R-Chesterland) and Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) questioned its legality. I have extensively discussed the ramifications of the bill with a teacher in the Support SB5 Facebook page. News reports indicate that, for teachers, the bill will base merit heavily on test scores. This basically is forcing teachers to teach by rote, which only forces facts down children. It does not teach them to think or reason. I am not familiar enough with education to suggest a better way to reward merit in education; but I cannot believe that one does not exist. The teaching profession will be hard-hit by this bill; and I would urge the members of the House-Senate conference committee to weigh these concerns heavily when finalizing the bill for Gov. Kasich's signature.

I have supported SB5, and continue to do so; but I am not satisfied with the result. The purpose of the bill should be to help the State of Ohio contain payroll costs, not to punish certain groups of workers or impose burdens unevenly across state employees. With this in mind, I quote with approval a statement by State Rep. Matt Szollosi (D-Oregon, reported in the Columbus Dispatch): 
These are not numbers on a page or lines on a graph, they are people with families ... and they do not deserve to be slapped in the face and put further into harm's way because liberty groups or tea party groups or whoever is pulling the Republican strings right now have demonized public workers.
From being involved with the Support SB5 Facebook discussion, I can tell you that far too many supporters have demonized public workers. This is just as wrong as the selfishness shown by many of its opponents. Far too few of us (on either side) are even trying to look at this issue rationally.

The unions are expected to call for a referendum in November to repeal this bill. The campaign will be bitter and will divide the state politically in a way that we have not experienced since the Right to Work debate in 1958. Unions may be smaller and less powerful than they were 53 years ago, but they still command a great deal of support.

We can only hope that Gov. Kasich and the Republican leadership in the General Assembly have soberly weighed the advantages of SB5 against what could become a very long, hot summer.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The "kinetic humanitarian liberty action" isn't over, and Libya already has a new central bank

It seems that the Libyan rebels have already created a central bank, from The Economic Collapse blog. They have also started up a new oil company that has already made a deal with Qatar.

Anyone who thinks these two actions will work to benefit anyone other than Wall Street and European bankers needs to wake up and smell the espresso.

"We are so hosed"

That is what a commenter wrote in response to Lee DeCovnick's post in American Thinker. Mr. DeCovnick was musing on the Japanese official estimate of the cost of rebuilding following the recent earthquake and tsunami, which is in the range of $198-$309 billion. Mr. DeCovnick's reaction:
Uh... hold on a minute. Something seems wrong with these numbers.  Do I understand this correctly; all those coastal cities and towns that were leveled, the tens of thousands of cars and homes that were pulverized, all the stores, shops, factories, warehouses, schools, freeways, roads, ships, aircraft, trains, port facilities and infrastructure reduced to rubble and it will only cost as much as US Federal deficit for a couple of months?
Yup. Read the article, see the evidence, and then get angry. Very, very angry. 

Virtual buckeye to Charlie Earl.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Do you think gas prices are too high?

Don't blame the Arabs. Blame the Federal Reserve Bank for inflating our currency over the years. I can prove to you that today's gasoline prices, in real terms, are lower than they were during the Great Depression! Let me walk you through the math:

  1. Prior to 1965, the value of the United States dollar was set at 412½ grains (0.7736 troy ounces) of silver .900 fine.*
  2. At yesterday's close (Monex), the price of a troy ounce of silver was $37.05.
  3. Therefore, by multiplying $37.05 by 0.7736, we find that the silver value of the U.S. dollar is $28.66.
  4. The average price for regular unleaded gasoline in Columbus this morning is $3.46 per gallon (calculated by averaging the highest and lowest prices at
  5. By dividing $3.46 by $28.66, we find that the price of gasoline in the silver coin used prior to 1965 is 12.07¢ per gallon.
  6. The lowest unadjusted ("nominal") price for regular gasoline (which was leaded in those days) was 17¢ per gallon in 1931 (Department of Energy analysis). 
This suggests two logical conclusions:
  1. The wars in Iraq and Libya are simply excuses to waste American lives and materials to support the military-industrial complex at taxpayer expense, and
  2. The perceived increase in gasoline prices reflects the inflation that the United States has endured since the Federal Reserve Bank was established in 1914.
This is why we need to "end the Fed," and end the wars. The American people are paying for wars in the Middle East, which when coupled with unreasonable restrictions on oil exploration by American companies, act against our own interest..

* Technically, today's silver bullion coins are at least .999 fine, which means that the old silver dollar of 0.7736 troy ounces should be adjusted for fineness to 0.6969; however this additional calculation is not necessary to establish the point I am making. Following through with this adjustment would yield a gasoline price of 13.4¢ per gallon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The politics of freedom is like an unfair basketball game

... so says Charlie Earl in littlestuff-minoosha using an apt comparison with March Madness. While I agree that blunt talk is necessary, it need not be uncivil. For example, in my less than humble opinion, there is no excuse for namecalling or personal attacks -- ever. But stating the truth honestly and without regard for whether or not the truth is pleasant is absolutely necessary.

The liberty movement is in the unfortunate position of having to work twice as hard to accomplish half as much. We therefore must maintain a "laser-like" focus on our "goal of restoring our constitutional republic," and as Charlie writes, avoid rancor within the movement.

However, if we are to maintain that laser-like focus, we have to agree on our priorities. If you have not yet commented on my Wednesday post on setting priorities, please do so now.

Is this really the message America wants to send to the world?

If not, we need to tell Congress not to appropriate any money for the Libya operation, and let the Administration face the consequences.

SUPPORT THE TROOPS (and our real national interest) - END THE WARS.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mood swings

The following appeared in my e-mailed Rotunda Report from Hannah News Service*:
The latest Quinnipiac University Poll shows voters preferring President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown over unnamed Republican challengers in 2012, but split on whether they approve of the job performances of the president and Ohio's senior senator. 
Oh, wonderful. We just swing back and forth until the branch breaks, right?
When will we learn that both major parties are the cause of our problems, not their solution? Or will we learn at all?

* It is a newsletter with three brief articles about Statehouse issues. Available free from Hannah.

A poet's comment on today's foolishness

One of my favorite hymns, traditionally sung to the Old 124th in the Genevan Psalter. It is based on I Samuel 13:13.
Turn Back, O Man

Turn back, O man
Forswear thy foolish ways
Old now is earth
And none may count her days
Yet thou, her child
Whose head is crowned with flames
Still will not hear
Thine inner God proclaim,
"Turn back, O man
Forswear thy foolish ways."

Earth might be fair
And all men glad and wise
Age after age their tragic empires rise
Built while they dream
And in that dreaming weep
Would man but wake
From out his haunted sleep
Turn back, O man
Forswear thy foolish ways.

Earth shall be fair
And all her people one
Not till that hour
Shall God's whole will be done
Now, even now
Once more from earth to sky
Peels forth in joy
Man's old undaunted cry
Earth shall be fair
And all her people one.*

-- Clifford Bax (1916)
arr. Stephen Schwartz in the soundtrack to Godspell.

* I interpret this as being one in the Spirit, not one nation or of a single mind.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Indiana state senator and state Libertarian Party victimized by e-mail hoax

Update Mar. 24: The Indiana Libertarian Party learned late yesterday that the e-mail purportedly sent by a state senator demanding that the Libertarian Party to keep postings about gay marriage to a minimum was a hoax. The Indiana Libertarian and Republican Parties are co-operating in the investigation. I have removed the e-mail (there being no point to keeping it up), but am retaining my comments at the end.


Gay marriage is a political issue for two reasons: (1) because the state decided that it wants to regulate marriage through the issuance of a license, and (2) because our health care benefits are structured around marriage and families. If the government got out of the licensing business (or made it neutral, as in "whatever is is what it is") and we returned to a free market in health care, the issue would go away on its own.

I do not like the idea of gay marriage myself, but I would rather see religious organizations working to persuade people of its immorality, than to have its existence or non-existence dictated by the state.

We need to set priorities!

Glenn Beck likes to compare President Obama to a magician by saying that we always have to watch what his other hand is doing. The powers that be have thrown so much at the liberty movement in the last year, that it is hard to know where to direct our efforts. This could be intentional. If we split ourselves into many different directions, none of us will be effective. 

One of my most persistent critics likens me to a "gerbil in a wheel, spitting out worthless posts about secession-is-just-around-the-corner almost daily," a comparison I find laughable, but one which could become apt if we fail to focus on priorities. 

As a business analyst, I have to recognize that there are three constraints to every project: time, cost, and people. You cannot cut all three at the same time. If you want something done faster, you need more people, more money, or both. If you cut costs or people, you will probably need more time. 

Applying this to Ohio's liberty movement, we need to ask – among the many urgent needs we have to regain our freedom, which should we tackle first?

I observe that we can express most of our requirements as pairs -- actions needed in Congress that can be complemented or replaced by state actions. I list these pairs below. Note that I am ignoring the state budget and SB 5 because both are certain to pass in some form, most likely in a way that will work in the direction of smaller government.

My question to my readers is, which of the following should we be pursuing first, second, and third? Please comment; even if it is nothing more than "1.x, 2.y, 3.z."

Actions by Congress
Actions by the State of Ohio

Governor Kasich to refuse deployment of Ohio National Guard to Libya.


Authorize state and local tax payments in gold or silver: "Honest Money."

Intercept federal taxes (through the Ohio Department of Taxation) pending a state board or legislative ruling on the constitutionality of federal expenses.

Nullify the use of body scanners and aggressive patdowns in Ohio airports.

Modify or repeal federal gun control laws.
Nullify gun control for weapons both made and sold in Ohio (intrastate commerce). (Note: link is to bill in previous General Assembly)

Repeal federal drug laws, particularly those related to marijuana.
Nullify federal prohibitions on the use of marijuana as a prescription drug.

Repeal federal food laws that affect intrastate commerce in farm produce.
Nullify federal regulation of farm produce both grown and sold in Ohio (Manna Storehouse – but note that Manna Storehouse was an abuse of state power).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quotation of the day

"Putting troops into that hell hole Libya would be BEYOND MADNESS even for that Marxist LUNATIC Obama! Thats why I'm convinced its going to happen." (Emphasis his)
-- John Anderson, on Charlie Earl's Facebook page

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why we should not call a Constitutional Convention

I have discussed this thoroughly before. One of the reasons is that a Constitutional Convention can get out of control, just as the convention to amend the Articles of Confederation did in 1787. The result could be an entirely new Constitution, like that proposed by Rexford P. Tugwell in 1974, called the "Constitution of the Newstates of America." *  In it, you will see that the Federal Government would be given the power to abolish States, reducing them to administrative units with less freedom of action than our counties have today.

* The original link to this document was through the site of an anti-Semitic hate group.  A friend found for me a neutral link to present the same document.

Warning about Libya to the Tea Parties

You cannot support both the Constitution and the attack in Libya.

The attack is an act of war that was never declared by Congress, contrary to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. In fact there has been no Congressional approval of any kind. Our Founding Fathers knew that the Executive would be tempted to send the nation into war to support his foreign policy goals, so they required that Congress specifically authorize any such actions. The fact that we have not had a declared war since World War II does not speak to changing times or the need for immediate action as much as it does the ignorance and lack of vigilance by our people.

You are also wanting in vigilance if you allow your state governor to approve the use of National Guard troops abroad, which is a violation of the same section of the Constitution, where it states that the National Guard (which was originally the Militia) is called "to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions." Our foreign wars are none of these.

If you are not vigorously opposing this action, and any other new extensions of American military presence abroad, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution to tyranny in America.

Some additional thoughts about SB 5

Joe Guillen, a writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer provides concise and objective answers in to rumors that have been floating about on the collective bargaining bill SB 5.

I have been a frequent commenter in the Facebook page called "Support Ohio Senate Bill 5," but which in fact has become a discussion forum both for supporters and opponents. I consider my role in that page to be one of educating the supporters about the realities of being a state employee (which I am), and to exhort those who oppose SB 5 to accept the fact that employees will have to contribute to the solution.

Those who have observed the actions of people like Andy Stern and Richard Trumka should disabuse themselves of the notion that unions are about protecting their members. They do that to some extent, but their principal purpose is to acquire and wield power. This is evident from the fact that payment of union dues is compulsory for employees of corporations and governments whose employees are part of their bargaining units. No one other than management can completely escape paying the dues, though a reduction to a "fair share fee" is available for those who follow a convoluted process to file an objection letter, as I do every year. The absence of a right to work is really a violation of the Ohio Constitution, Article I, Section 19, because it is a seizure (through the "fair share fee") of the private property of objectors for purposes unconnected to governmental protection of the public welfare.

American organized labor historically has downplayed its association with the international socialist movement; but anyone who reads any political communication by a union knows that they support a large paternalistic government that provides entitlements to everyone, paid for through confiscatory taxes on the "rich". In other words, they make productivity difficult by making it unrewarding. I am sure many union leaders would be happy to offer exceptions to this assertion -- as I am aware that AFSCME and SEIU have on several occasions cooperated with the State of Ohio on such efforts as the governmental flavor of Total Quality Management (known as "Quality Services through Partnership," or QStP) and on a fairer reclassification of positions in information technology; but the overall thrust of their politics has always favored more government and more entitlements.

Attitudes supporting the entitlement mentality were responsible for the failure of the steel and most of the automotive industry in the United States, as pensions and health benefits both for the currently employed and retirees drove their employers to (or close to) bankruptcy. Now the field of conflict is in state and local government. Forced to balance the budget every year, and having run out of accounting tricks to balance the budget, the time has come to make some hard decisions.

SB 5 and the pension reform bill HB 69 will not impoverish public employees, and it really is not intended to punish teachers. It will not reduce our pensions, but it will make some local employees pay the full employee share, as state employees do now. Even with the takeaways, most public employees will have decent salaries, and all will have vacation and other benefits that will continue to be the envy of the private sector. One benefit to employees who care about their professionalism is that a mechanism will put into place to reward those who do outstanding work -- something that has always been missing from public employment.

All of us, regardless of our position on SB 5, should tone down our rhetoric and consider both the public welfare and that which public employees have legitimately earned through their work. Only through reason can the Ohio House write a law that approaches fairness for all.

Original post: "SB 5: A qualified endorsement" from Feb. 22

Friday, March 18, 2011

For those of you who have not checked for a while...

One buckeye sterling
Overnight prices from, which are higher than yesterday's close (for example, Monex):

Gold, per troy ounce: $1,418.94
Silver, per troy ounce, $35.14

Buckeye sterling: $24.49 (= bullion value of one pre-1965 U.S. silver dollar, adjusted for the difference between the .900 fineness of the silver dollar and the .999 fineness of today's bullion coins).

We need a bank in Ohio that will set up checking and savings accounts in gold or silver. I don't have the capital, but I can't believe that it would not be well received...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Stay out of Libya

... and while we're at it, get us out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Europe, and Korea. We have no business intervening in the rest of the world.

But to focus on Libya: This is a struggle the Libyan people will have to work out on their own -- and history suggests that the best solution is probably partition into three nations: Tripolitania (capital: Tripoli), Cyrenaica (capital: Benghazi), and Fezzan (southwestern Libya, capital: Sabha). The current struggle in Libya points directly to a secessionist movement for Cyrenaica. The history of the region indicates that it (like many Arab places) is highly tribalist. We cannot change that, and shouldn't even be trying. Peace and stability will come when people are satisfied with their own nations, regardless of how small we think they are.
Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her (America's) heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. - John Quincy Adams, then-Secretary of State, 1821

Monday, March 14, 2011

Now here's a heretical thought

If this idea catches on, I would lose my job -- but it would be worth it.

Government social service programs are a scam favoring public employee unions and the Democratic Party. Charlie Earl presents the evidence, which in fact is very simple: The poverty rate today is almost the same as it was in 1967, when President Lyndon Johnson started his "Great Society" initiatives (at the same time, I might add, as we were fighting the Vietnam War. Those of us who are old enough might remember the "guns vs. butter" debate).

Charlie observes that we have spent $5 trillion on social welfare programs in 44 years, and for what?

What those most in need need most, is love. And no government agency can provide that; but charitable individuals and their organizations (especially religious ones) can.

Instead of charity, we have allowed government to become a perverted Robin Hood, stealing from everyone, so they can give to the voters who will support certain candidates. It replaces common sense with an elitist "conventional wisdom," and community with a socially-enforced loneliness that breeds drug usage and crime.

One workable solution to the $8 billion hole in Ohio's budget is not higher taxes, but returning social welfare to local communities and to the people themselves. The resulting prosperity in the private sector will enable me to find another job.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Warning to the Middle East

Democracy doesn't work either. We've tried it and see where it has taken us.

Ron Holland, writing for, shows how freedom would be better preserved using the Swiss model of direct democracy at the local level and a loose confederation at the national level. Mr. Holland even suggests that local direct democracy might be accomplished through social networking tools like Facebook.

He concludes:
Build your system of government based on the successful Swiss model of Confederation government which gives the people the right to create and cancel legislation and laws when your legislative body or leaders fail to follow the majority will of the people. Today, forms of direct democracy, referendums and decentralized government like in Switzerland can easily be created using Facebook and other social media.

You have organized your freedom efforts with social media and these new internet tools can also be used to control a government you establish. Second, after 100 years of foreign intervention and manipulation of governments and leaders in your region, the tools of the Facebook color revolutions can also work to build freedom-oriented institutions and safeguard your freedom movements from foreign intelligence actions against your efforts.

Therefore take into account your religious and cultural traditions in creating a government model and don’t make the expensive mistakes we have made in the West as we like you have also lost control of governments. Your success just might provide the example we need to escape our own forms of political tyranny in the rest of the world

I wish you good luck, prayers and victory in your efforts but remember democracy does not guarantee either freedom or a government controlled by the people. With regret, our loss of freedoms is proof that American-style democracy isn’t the answer.

Is secession viable?

Mark Vogl at The Nolan Chart thinks so. Now, note two things: (1) His are not the typical so-called "neo-Confederate" arguments, and (2) He claims to be a conservative, not a libertarian. His arguments are primarily economic ones:
[F]or the moment, just to get to the economics of secession, let’s assume that peaceful secession of a state is a right.  What would be the economic impact of secession on the state, and on the federal government be?

If a state were to secede, the federal government would lose all the revenue brought in through federal taxation in that state.  But it would also lose all the costs associated with federal spending in that state, with the exception of federal retirements and social security.  Of course, it’s possible the feds would attempt to block those payments, but one would have to ask, would they block all monies going out of what remained in the union...whether those checks went to a seceded state or Mexico and Germany?

The residents of the seceded state would lose the federal jobs, and the jobs funded by the federal trough.
No question there would be economic disruption on both sides. But in the long run there would be one less level of government for the residents of the seceded state.  One less group of people the special interests could sack.

The special interests and power groups of Washington, New York and California would see their influence reduced considerably. Instead of directing change through DC, they would have to work [through] 50 different states!  The people of each state would become a special interest in and of themselves.*

Secession has another aspect all together. Should states actually have the right to leave the union  peacefully, the power of the federal government to impose its will would be dramatically and permanently reduced.  If the Supreme Court had to include in its consideration how the separate would react to their decisions, they could not expect to impose decisions like Roe v. Wade or Gay marriage. Controversial, undecided questions would have to be left to the respective states...which is EXACTLY what the Founding Fathers intended.

An accepted right of secession might actually strengthen the union by introducing the idea of real limits on power at the federal level and mor work towards compromise and diversity in dealing with issues.

At a time when globalism has been imposed on us, and the threat of even another layer of governance and taxation (the United Nations) rests just over the horizon, the natural counter is a resurgence of the right of secession.

Are you anti American if you believe in secession? I would argue quite the contrary. American is as much a state of mind as it is a citizenship.  America is about its founding philosophies; Christianity, republican - democracy, and the free market and capitalism, plus an appreciation for the land that is America.  It is not first and foremost about loyalty to Washington, the city, as it is about loyalty to Washington the man!

As I have repeatedly stated, I would like to see nullification run its course first. But I have an obligation to the public to remind it that, if all else fails, secession is an option.

On a related note, Russell Longcore at DumpDC has written a draft of a Texas Declaration of Independence, based on Thomas Jefferson's. You might be interested in comparing it with my draft Ohio Declaration of Independence, which is modeled on the South Carolina Declaration of the Causes of Secession.

* Not necessarily true -- the 50 states are more likely to reconfigure into 6-20 nations or loose confederations. Here is my conjecture.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Gallup Poll: Republicans and Democrats mostly agree on cuts in state spending

From Clips & Comment:
Gallup is out with another survey asking what we Americans prefer when it comes to combating state fiscal problems. According to their survey, most of us (65%) respond favorably to cutting or eliminating state programs. Sixty-two percent responded favorably to cutting the number of state employees.

Without much support is borrowing money (30% favor) and raising taxes (32% favor).

Forty-nine percent of respondents favor changes in state collective bargaining laws as a way to trim budgets.

Although Gallup modified their questionnaire from a like survey in February, there is strong evidence that the number of people supporting cuts and program eliminations is on the rise. Another interesting point in the survey is that Democrats and Republicans agree more than they disagree on the proposed budget remedies surveyed. Majorities of respondents from both parties favor program and employee cuts, but they diverge on the union question with only 31% of Democrats supporting changes in state labor laws while 66% of Republicans favor limiting collective bargaining.

Ohio government implements visionary approach to back-office systems

This article from Government Technology documents how the State of Ohio has created a Shared Services Center to relieve many state agencies of the accounting headaches that sometimes distract them from their core missions (for example, in Rehabilitation & Corrections, of improving safety for prisoners and guards).

The Center radically changes -- with the approval of the union -- how workers relate to their supervisors (called "coaches" in the article) and how each are held accountable using objective metrics. It also uses innovative technology and has designed the workspace for easy and effective communication within each team.

At a time when stereotypes seem to dominate the conversation about government employees, examples like the Shared Services Center need to come to light -- and be copied as much as possible.

We need the freedom to build a sensible car

My friend Sherry Mann wonders on Facebook why, if America is so free, we can't buy a sensible car. Volkswagen is getting ready to introduce a non-hybrid concept car (granted, it's a one-seater) that gets 258 mpg, and can go 75 mph.

Nanny says we can't have it -- consumer safety, you know -- so we can just go into our corner and pout.

Update Mar. 12: A commenter has noted that one way around Nanny is to have a car designer license the design for manufacture and sale in-state. His inspiration came from a kit automobile, the King Midget, manufactured in Athens from 1946-1970. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wisconsin GOP state senators get death threat

Update Mar. 14: This is not a hoax. The Waukesha (WI) Patch reports that the Wisconsin Department of Justice has located the woman responsible for the e-mail quoted below. The suspect also sent a death threat to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The department has released no further information. 

Unionist anger against the collective bargaining bill remains unabated in the last few days. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that up to 100,000 demonstrators appeared in Madison Saturday, and that phone banks have been set up to force recall of State Senators who voted in favor of the bill. Organizers also hope to force a recall of Gov. Walker. [Note: The recall is not a legal option in Ohio].

I hope this is a hoax; but even if it is a hoax, the perpetrator should be brought to justice for what we in Ohio would call "aggravated menacing."

Reporter Charlie Sykes posted this in the blog of radio station WTMJ in Milwaukee. Mr. Sykes states that the e-mail was signed, but that he was withholding the name pending the police investigation. The e-mail is quoted in full, and is not for the fainthearted. The spelling and grammar were in the original.
From: XXXX

Sent: Wed 3/9/2011 9:18 PM

To: Sen.Kapanke; Sen.Darling; Sen.Cowles; Sen.Ellis; Sen.Fitzgerald; Sen.Galloway; Sen.Grothman; Sen.Harsdorf; Sen.Hopper; Sen.Kedzie; Sen.Lasee; Sen.Lazich; Sen.Leibham; Sen.Moulton; Sen.Olsen

Subject: Atten: Death threat!!!! Bomb!!!!

Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your familes will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks. Please explain to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. Read below for more information on possible scenarios in which you will die.

WE want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in the past couple of weeks I and the group of people that are working with me have decided that we've had enough. We feel that you and the people that support the dictator have to die. We have tried many other ways of dealing with your corruption but you have taken things too far and we will not stand for it any longer. So, this is how it's going to happen: I as well as many others know where you and your family live, it's a matter of public records.

We have all planned to assult you by arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head. However, we decided that we wouldn't leave it there. We also have decided that this may not be enough to send the message to you since you are so "high" on Koch and have decided that you are now going to single handedly make this a dictatorship instead of a demorcratic process. So we have also built several bombs that we have placed in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent.

This includes, your house, your car, the state capitol, and well I won't tell you all of them because that's just no fun. Since we know that you are not smart enough to figure out why this is happening to you we have decided to make it perfectly clear to you. If you and your goonies feel that it's necessary to strip the rights of 300,000 people and ruin their lives, making them unable to feed, clothe, and provide the necessities to their families and themselves then We Will "get rid of" (in which I mean kill) you. Please understand that this does not include the heroic Rep. Senator that risked everything to go aganist what you and your goonies wanted him to do. We feel that it's worth our lives to do this, because we would be saving the lives of 300,000 people. Please make your peace with God as soon as possible and say goodbye to your loved ones we will not wait any longer. YOU WILL DIE!!!!
I am not suggesting that anyone is doing this in Ohio, but obviously, we are in a time when we need to be aware of what is going on.

Update Mar. 11: The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the death threats. Its report essentially confirms what was stated above. Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told the Sun-Times that a protester "was arrested this week for trespassing at his Dodge County home after she walked onto his porch and banged on the window."

How the feds claim authority for indefinite detention

A commenter sent me a personal e-mail asking a question about "If this isn't unconstitutional, nothing is" from yesterday. He asked, 
I'm assuming this is referring to Executive Order 13567. I didn't read it thoroughly, but I wasn't able to find the section that claims this right on first scan.

Can you comment on which section of Executive Order 13567 claims this right?
I studied the Executive Order, and was stumped too. I consider Andrew Napolitano to be a highly trustworthy source, and was surprised that he came up with this without further backup. I did some further research. The fact is, this assertion is not new to this Executive Order. Here is how I answered the commenter:

The answer in Executive Order 13567 isn't obvious. Section 2 holds that continued detention is warranted if it is necessary "to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States." There is no independent assessment as to what a "significant threat" is. Practically anything the President has wanted to do in this area since 1945 can be, and has been, justified on the basis of "national security."

The second warning comes from section 1(b), which that this is a "discretionary process of review" that "does not affect the scope of detention authority under present law."  The periodic review process strikes me as being the reverse of a show trial. It pretends to offer a way for the detainee to be released, but a careful reading of section 3 in light of the other two sections suggests to me that it does no such thing. It's a completely non-binding review.

The "scope of detention under present law" where it applies to foreign nationals, is vast. The issue of detention after acquittal arose in an article by Joan McCarter for The Daily Kos (not exactly a right-wing publication), entitled "Presidential Post-Acquittal Detention Power." Quoting testimony from the Senate Armed Services Committee July 7, 2009, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson gave this reply to a question by Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Florida):
Martinez looked surprised. "So the prosecution is moot?" he asked.

"No, no, not in my judgment," Johnson said. But the scenario he outlined strongly suggested it is. If an administration review panel "determines this person is a security threat" and "for some reason is not convicted of a lengthy prison sentence, I think we have the authority to continue to detain someone" under "law of war authority" as granted by the September 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, Johnson said. And beyond that source of authority "we have the authority in the first place."
Continued detention without trial, or after acquittal, is an egregious violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Questions: If we do not uphold our own Constitution, how can we say that we stand for freedom under the rule of law? And if we cannot say that we stand for freedom under the rule of law, by what moral authority are we conducting this so-called "War on Terror"?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Major bond fund dumps US government securities

Suzanne Walker at Bloomberg reports that Bill Gross, fund manager at the Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO, symbol PTTRX), has reduced the company's holdings of government-related debt to zero. PIMCO is the world's largest bond fund.
Yields on Treasuries may be too low to sustain demand for U.S. government debt as the Federal Reserve approaches the end of its second round of quantitative easing, Gross wrote in a monthly investment outlook posted on Pimco’s website on March 2. Gross mentioned that Pimco may be a buyer of Treasuries if yields rise to attractive levels.
Treasury yields are about 150 basis points too low when viewed on a historical context and when compared with expected nominal gross domestic product growth of 5 percent, he wrote in the commentary. The Fed is scheduled to complete purchases of $600 billion of Treasuries in June.
US Government bonds are unattractive because their interest rates are zero to 0.25% at the same time as the Federal Reserve Bank is clearly promoting an inflationary policy, which is conservatively estimated in the private sector to be 3% or more. Thus, the bonds are losing money for their holders. Mr. Gross recommends making bond investments in the developing world, which are likely to produce a higher return.

PIMCO returned 7.23% to its investors in the last year -- better than 85% of its competitors. The fund managed $1.24 trillion in assets in December 2010.

Virtual buckeye to the National Inflation Association.

If this isn't unconstitutional, nothing is.

Judge Andrew Napolitano substituting for Glenn Beck on Fox News, reported that President Obama has signed an executive order claiming the right to keep persons incarcerated at Guantánamo Bay for life, even after acquittal. This power is unprecedented in Western history. Not even Hitler or Stalin went this far.

Bottom line:

Why should you care about this? Because if the government gets away with it by demonizing these prisoners and making it the popular thing to happen, it could happen to you.
And if this isn't a "high crime or misdemeanor" under the Constitution, nothing is. One commenter to the posting on a site that quoted this described our future in America as "hell on earth." If this trajectory isn't corrected soon, that commenter is likely to be proven right.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Quotation of the day

From Michael Boldin, director of the Tenth Amendment Center, whom I met at the Nullify Now! rally on Saturday:

"One size fits all solutions lead to a situation where having a bad leader screws everyone. Decentralization allows a huge range of political, economic and religious viewpoints to all live together in peace..."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Texas group rallies for secession

From the Associated Press, via Politico:
"Texas can take better care of itself than Washington,” said Lauren Savage, vice president of the movement. “We are here to raise interest in the Legislature of the possibility of secession to cure the ills of America.”

Members are demanding that state lawmakers introduce a bill that would allow Texans to vote on whether to declare independence.

Fed up with federal mandates, the burden of unsustainable taxes and disregarded votes, members say secession has been a long time coming.

“This is a cake that’s been baking for 85 years,” said Cary Wise, membership director of the Texas Nationalist Movement. “All this administration has done is light the candles.”
Of all the states, Texas is probably the best prepared to resume life as an independent nation. The referendum is a great idea, and I hope they do it; but Texas will still have some ducks to line up before it is prepared to go out on its own.

Harold discusses nullification and secession on Blogtalk Radio

I appeared on Ohio Public Square with Brian Duffy to discuss nullification and secession:

Listen to internet radio with OhioPublicSquare on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, March 4, 2011

Utah considers Honest Money resolution

Not everyone is buying the soothsayers' assertions that the economy is recovering. The number of commercials on television to buy gold should be sufficient evidence that people are nervous about their currency. As a result, several states have been promoting the use of gold and silver as an alternative currency, as part of a movement that we in Ohio call "Honest Money."

I have repeatedly advocated doing this in Ohio; but several states are actively considering the proposal in their legislatures. Here is an article from Fox News about the effort in Utah. If we delay too much longer on this proposal in Ohio, it may be too late. The transition for most of us will be much easier with gold at $1,429 per ounce than it will be at $2,000 or more. Other states looking into it are Georgia, Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, Vermont, and Virginia.

On a personal note, this is my 1,000th post. I have greatly enjoyed doing this over the last 3½ years, and have every intention of continuing. I welcome your e-mail on what you like about this blog, and how it can be improved.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tea Parties need to learn how to mobilize

SB 5, Ohio's now-famous collective bargaining bill, passed the Senate by one vote (17-16) on Wednesday, and has been sent to the Ohio House of Representatives. The discussion leading up to its adoption has been as ugly as anything I can recall, because the unions are determined to kill the bill, rather than suggesting reasonable amendments to it.

The bill obviously isn't perfect. My fellow Libertarian Bill Yarbrough and I had reservations about SB 5. One of the good things about having a bicameral legislature is that now, the other House has the opportunity to study the bill carefully and debate it thoroughly. At least, that's what they should do.

On the other hand, I have a problem with the comment from Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga that "Middle class Ohioans were locked out, literally, from having their voices heard." Taken literally, yes, the Highway Patrol did lock the Statehouse doors when it was getting too crowded to control. But the will of middle class Ohio was not thwarted. Ohioans voted for a Republican legislature because they are frustrated with our inability to work our way out of a thirty-year recession. We gave the Democrats their chance with Gov. Strickland and a Democratic House, and they were unable to get us off the ground.

The unions mustered 8,000 demonstrators on Tuesday giving a unified message, which left the Tea Parties somewhat flat-footed, by their own admission. It is hard to say to what extent the six Republican Senators who voted "No" on the bill were affected by the demonstrations. I know at least one of them, Sen. Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) represents a heavily-unionized district, and that two or three of them had serious reservations that were not addressed.

On the other hand, it is a constructive lesson for the Ohio Liberty Council, which needs to develop ways to effectively mobilize people on short notice. There is some indication it is learning: The Columbus Dispatch reported that "thousands" of union demonstrators were countered by "hundreds" of Tea Partiers on Tuesday.

This will not be the last time we face mass demonstrations on major issues at the Statehouse. We who support liberty need to make sure our voice remains heard when it's time to vote.

Quotation of the day

"Some people say I go too far in wanting to cut the government. They say I want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. But here's what they don't understand: It's Rosemary's baby."

-- Harry Browne, libertarian writer (1933-2006)

Virtual buckeye to Old Rebel at Rebellion.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

SB 5 amended, Senate vote expected Wednesday

Following are the major provisions of an omnibus amendment to the collective bargaining bill in the Ohio Senate, as reported by WCMH-TV in Columbus:
  1. State employees will have collective bargaining rights on matters related to wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment; but not health care benefits, pension pickups, privatization of services, workforce levels, or other provisions.
  2. There will be no right to strike for any public employees.
  3. Provides all public employees with a standard procedure for settling disputes.
  4. Clarifies public employer rights in hiring, discharging and disciplining employees, work assignments and hours, qualifications of employees, and employee rules.
  5. Sets bargaining timelines.
  6. Revises definition of bargaining unit for fire departments.
  7. Maintains pay ranges, but without step increases. Pay may be increased according to merit. Teachers' merit pay is according to definitions already in statute.
  8. Reduces maximum vacation leave at 4½ weeks at 19 years of service (from 6 weeks at 24 years of service). Sick leave for all public employees is limited to 10 days per year.
  9. Clarifies that health care benefits apply equally to all employees.
  10. Restores existing law on School Employees Healthcare Board.
  11. Allows new collective bargaining agreements to be reopened when a political subdivision is under a fiscal emergency watch.
  12. Allows teachers to negotiate initial contract up to 3 years, with subsequent contracts of 2-5 years.
  13. Clarifies when public university faculty is under the bargaining unit, and when they are considered to be management.
  14. Prohibits seniority from being the sole factor in determining order of layoff, with special rules for teachers.

Why we belong to the liberty movement

... and why some of us become secessionists. In September 2009, Cary Wise, a patriotic veteran of the Vietnam War, made a difficult decision to join the Texas Nationalist Movement. He did so, not because he hated the United States, but because he hated what its government had become.

Even if you are not a secessionist, Mr. Wise's essay is a stirring testimony that will motivate you to keep up the struggle -- so that you, your children, and grandchildren will have something important to live for.

I encourage you to read it in Russell Longcore's DumpDC.

Today is Ohio Statehood Day

A date hardly anyone observes, but is central to our identity as Ohioans. Part of the reason may be that it is the last of three dates that mark Ohio's statehood:
  • November 29, 1802, when Ohio adopted its first state constitution and ratified that of the United States;
  • February 19, 1803, when the Congress of the United States passed the Enabling Act recognizing Ohio's statehood and establishing the United Stated District Court for Ohio, and
  • March 1, 1803, when the first General Assembly convened in Chillicothe.
The story of how Ohio became a state is an interesting tale of political intrigue between Jeffersonians who wanted Ohio's seats in Congress, and Federalists who wanted to delay Ohio's statehood. It may be found at the Ohio Historical Society's History Central.
    Take a few minutes to think about what Ohio means to you. For all of the troubles Ohio has experienced in the last thirty years, there are many lessons we can learn from our past success. Be proud to be an Ohioan!