Steve G.

Archive for the ‘Protest’ Category

Boycott the Census

In First Amendment, Humor, Protest, US Government on March 18, 2010 at 8:04 pm

When the founders drafted the U.S. Constitution, they included the sentence, “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” Nevertheless, the actual census mailed out by the federal state (at the tax-payer expense) often includes more questions than simply, “How many people live in your household?”

I first began thinking about the census a few years ago while talking to the perennial Libertarian candidate Lorenzo Gaztañaga. I was helping the Libertarian Party of Maryland at a fair, and a man (whose name I do not recall) had been asking me about the Green candidate for U.S. Senate, Kevin Zeese. This man told me that he didn’t want to vote for the Republican candidate Michael Steel because Steele might then go on to become President. I looked at him with obvious confusion on my face, to which the man responded, “We must keep the White House white.” I turned away from the man with disgust and walked back under the tent we had set up. When Gaztañaga got back, I told him about the incident, and Mr. Gaztañaga said to me, “Good for you. Good for you.” Presently, he told me that when he and his wife (who is currently running for Governor here in Maryland) filled out their 2000 census, they refused to give a racial identity. Instead, they wrote in “HUMAN,” since they recognised themselves simply as members of the human race. I loved this idea, and vowed that I would do the same from there on out.

Well, the 2010 census has arrived! And, boy, am I excited! Why? Because this is the first of many census questionnaire that I shall be boycotting.

Interestingly, I have heard many people tell that they will not include any information about race, since it’s “none of the government’s damn business.” Naturally, I agree. But, honestly, I don’t see what business it is of the government as to how old I am, either, or with how many people I live.

So I would simply recommend, boycott the census. This is a very simple form of civil disobedience, since all it requires you to do is to go about your day normally. There’s no reason you should have to waste even a second on the census if you don’t actually want to. Despite government propaganda, the world will not come to a screeching hault if they don’t have your name, age, date of birth, gender, and place of residence. Remember, you are not their slave; the courts have repeatedly said that the government doesn’t owe you anything, so it stands to reason that you cannot possibly owe it anything, either.

Of course, the government threatens to steal $100 from you should you fail to fill out the census (and $500 should you present false information), however I have been informed that punishment for failure to respond is not usually enforced. Naturally, one must access the risks for herself.

And, naturally, since I believe one should live by what she or he preaches, I’m following my own advice. I actually did fill out the census, but only to inform the central state that I do not consider many statistical data to be any of its business. You can see my census answers here.

Finally, even though the return envelope had one of those pre-paid labels on it, I have opted to place a stamp on the envelope. It’s my general understanding that those who do not include their own stamps will have their mail paid for by the Census Bureau, which of course gets “its” money in turn from innocent tax-payers. Since I did not want to see tax-payers have to shell out forty-four cents on my behalf, I opted to spend my own forty-four cents in this act of civil disobedience.

—Alexander S. Peak

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Confused Man Crashes Plane

In Communism, Corruption, Crazy Claims, Media, People in the news, Protest, Taxation, US Government on February 18, 2010 at 8:56 pm

A Confused Man

This morning, a confused man named Joseph Andrew Stack, crashed a plane into a building in Austin, Texas that housed IRS offices.

The man, before crashing his privately-owned plane, wrote a message on his website, which is now being called the Stack Manifesto.  In reading this manifesto, one can see just how absolutely confused this man was.

It seems that most blogs and message boards have been focusing on this man’s ideology, which is quite hard to pin-point.  He appears to oppose heavy taxation while also supporting government involvement in healthcare.  He displays a clear hatred for big government, big business, and big unions alike.  And the last two lines of his manifesto seem to imply that he considered communism a lesser evil than capitalism.

His mixture of libertarian, communist, populist, and socialist sympathies, thus, make it impossible to pinpoint the man.

With that said, he does nevertheless present some reasonable comments about problems faced in our society.  The problem, again, is that the man is clearly confused; thus, he conflates things that oughtn’t be conflated, and he often errs in the direction of his rhetorical attacks.

The man’s confusion was manifested this morning in his suicide-as-protest, when he crashed into a building with IRS offices.

People Matter

Unfortunately, the online news media fail to focus on the most important issue: was anyone killed?

I’ve searched through a variety of articles, and yet few present any information regarding whether anybody (other than Stack himself) died in the crash.  I finally found what I was looking for from Channel 8 News in Austin.

It appears that one person (other than Stack himself, presumably) died in the crash, and thirteen others were injured.  It also appears that Stack lit his house on fire this morning with his family still inside; luckily, they escaped.

Illiberalism

In my opinion, this is more than enough information to completely condemn Stack for his deed, just as the The Humble Libertarian blog does:

As the Editor-in-Chief of The Humble Libertarian, I unequivocally and without qualification, condemn this brutal, senseless, and stupid act of violence.  As a libertarian, I am incensed that Joe Stack took it upon himself to take innocent lives in the name of less government spending and lower taxes.

The writer makes it clear that Stack is not a libertarian, writing, “Libertarianism emphasizes non-coercion, non-aggression, and peaceful coexistence among people.”

Actions speak louder than words, and even if Stack’s rhetoric had been 100% in line with plumb-line libertarianism (which, obviously, it was not), his actions would necessarily belie his words.

This is not to say that we cannot or should not have sympathy for what Stack went through.  We most definitely should.  But his experiences do not justify the actions he took.

Had it been the case that Stack had crashed his privately-owned plane into an unoccupied government building, I would be whistling a very different tune right now.  I would actually be praising Stack for his brave act of defiance.  But, sadly, Stack cannot be cheered, for he is a murderer, and thus unworthy of praise.

A Libertarian Critique

A proper libertarian understanding of justice can illuminate just how problematic Stack’s actions ultimately were.  In order to evaluate Stack’s actions, let us consider the views promoted by the libertarian anarchist Murray N. Rothbard in his 1982 book, The Ethics of Liberty.

Although Rothbard defends the concept of using force defensively, i.e., using force to repel aggression (where aggression is defined as the initiation of force or fraud), he is very clear that responsive force is only ethical if it is in proportion to the force to which it is responding.  On page 85, Rothbard provides a very clear description of the limits of responsive force:

[U]nder libertarian law, capital punishment would have to be confined strictly to the crime of murder.  For a criminal would only lose his right to life if he had first deprived some victim of that same right.  It would not be permissible, then, for a merchant whose bubble gum had been stolen, to execute the convicted bubble gum thief.  If he did so, then he, the merchant, would be an unjustifiable murderer, who could be brought to the bar of justice by the heirs or assigns of the bubble gum thief.

The news report does not make it clear whether the persons who were killed or injured were all IRS agents or not, nor even whether they were all government employees.  Thus, while taxation is certainly and undeniably a form of theft, it would be impermissible to kill the IRS agents as retribution for their crime.  For, in so doing, Stack became an aggressor.

Perhaps we need not even go this deeply into analysis, however, for remember, Stack lit his house on fire with his family inside.  Unless it turns out that every member of his family that was inside of the house happened to be a murderer, Stack had clearly engaged in attempted murder of innocent people even before setting foot on his plane.  He was, thus, a criminal by libertarian standards, and one even more dastardly than those criminals we call IRS agents, who, by and large, at least aren’t murderers.

It is quite clear, therefore, that Stack did not care who he killed in his strive to retaliate, and even if people who have never worked a day in their lives for the state apparatus happened to be in the building at the time of the crash, Stack’s attitude was apparently, “So what?”

This brings us back to Rothbard, who wrote on pages 189 through 190,

[I]f Jones finds that his property is being stolen by Smith, Jones has the right to repel him and try to catch him, but Jones has no right to repel him by bombing a building and murdering innocent people or to catch him by spraying machine gun fire into an innocent crowd.  If he does this, he is as much (or more) a criminal aggressor as Smith is.

The same criteria hold if Smith and Jones each have men on his side, i.e. if “war” breaks out between Smith and his henchmen and Jones and his bodyguards.  If Smith and a group of henchmen aggress against Jones, and Jones and his bodyguards pursue the Smith gang to their lair, we may cheer Jones on in his endeavor; and we, and others in society interested in repelling aggression, may contribute financially or personally to Jones’s cause.  But Jones and his men have no right, any more than does Smith, to aggress against anyone else in the course of their “just war”: to steal others’ property in order to finance their pursuit, to conscript others into their posse by use of violence, or to kill others in the course of their struggle to capture the Smith forces.  If Jones and his men should do any of these things, they become criminals as fully as Smith, and they too become subject to whatever sanctions are meted out against criminality.  In fact if Smith’s crime was theft, and Jones should use conscription to catch him, or should kill innocent people in the pursuit, then Jones becomes more of a criminal than Smith, for such crimes against another person as enslavement and murder are surely far worse than theft.

Conclusion

Joseph Stack acted unethically.  While we can sympathise with his struggles, we cannot, if we are libertarians, condone his aggressive, anti-social acts.

Although I would like to see revolution, it cannot be achieved with the methods employed by the confused Stack.  If we want to see positive change, nonviolent civil disobedience is a far better method, both tactically and ethically.  If there is one thing I sincerely believe, it is that there is something in the nature of the universe that prevents aggression (i.e., the initiation of physical force or fraud) from ever yielding the desired results.  If we fight the state using aggression, the unintended consequence will not only be that we will become the very thing we hate, it will also be that we will drive away public support for our noble cause.  But in using nonviolent civil disobedience, we force the state to show the guns it is holding, we force it to stop hiding that the entire state apparatus is built on violence.

Murdering an IRS agent will never solve the problems we face.  It won’t bring an end to taxation, and it certainly won’t help to convince other IRS agents that their occupation is unethical.  But if we use nonviolent civil disobedience, we thereby force the IRS agents (and other government employees of the world) to recognise that they themselves are actually threatening innocent people with violence, and this realisation will go a long way to promote the expansion of liberty.

—Alexander S. Peak

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Constitutional Oaths and A Plea to President Obama

In Barack Obama, Corruption, Democracy, Democrats, History, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Politics, Protest, Republican, US Government on January 30, 2010 at 1:25 am

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

This simple thirty-five word Oath of Office is specified by The Constitution of The United States as the one, single oath which much be taken by every person who will serve this nation as our President. After this oath is taken every four years, however, no one seems to ever pay much attention to it, but it is important enough that it is the ONLY oath spelled out word for word in The Constitution. There are also only two specific obligations it places on a President; to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” to the best of their ability.

While no other oath is specified in The Constitution, it DOES state in Article VI, clause 3 that:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

For other federal officials, including members of Congress, it specifies that they “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this constitution.” By federal statute, the oath which must be taken by all members of The House of Representatives and The Senate, as well as by The Vice President, members of the Cabinet, and all other civil and military officers and federal employees other than the President is:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

The taking of oaths by all other federal officials in addition to the President dates back to the fourteen word oath created by the first Congress in 1789 (“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support The Constitution of the United States.”), but the current wording is based more on the oaths written during The War Between the States which were intended to allow treason charges to be leveled against those who supported the south or didn’t support the Union.

The first Congress also specified in The Judiciary Act of 1789 the oath which would be required of all federal judges in the United States:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent on me, according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably to the Constitution, and laws of the United States. So help me God.”

In fact, federal judges are currently required to take not just one, but TWO different oaths:

I, _____ _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _____ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”

And:

I, _____ _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Federal statute specifically states that this second oath “does not affect other oaths required by law.”

Within the military forces of The United States, the oaths required of both officers and enlisted men are statutory and are prescribed in Section 3331, Title 5 of the United States Code. The oath which officers are required to take is:

I, _____ _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

While enlisted men are required to take this oath:

I, _____ _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

An important distinction between the oaths required of officers when compared with that required of the enlisted ranks is that the oath taken by officers does not include ANY provision to obey orders. While enlisted personnel are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice to obey LAWFUL orders, officers in the service of the United States are bound by their oath to disobey ANY order that violates The Constitution of the United States.

As far as I can tell, these are all of the oaths required by our federal government for any person who is in any way obligated to serve The United States of America (I am obviously not aware of any secret oaths which might exist within the shadowy corridors of secrecy which our country tries to keep hidden from its citizens). I am also not including the oaths taken by the National Guard or officials of the various states, counties and communities as doing so could fill a small book, needless to say, all of those oaths must meet the same Constitutional requirements as these federal oaths do.

At this point you are probably wondering why I have spent almost a thousand words just to tell you want the different United States federal oaths are. It is very simple. OATHS MATTER! Whether we pay attention to them or not, our Constitution requires them and many people take them, which means MANY people are BOUND by them. Now, as you read through them, you might have noticed that there is only one thing which they ALL have in common (aside from all being very short). I’ll give you a minute to look back through them in case you haven’t noticed it yet.

Every single oath proscribed by or contained within The United States’ Constitution and/or federal statue, EVERY one, obligates the taker to preserve, protect, defend, uphold, support and/or administer justice agreeably to The Constitution of The United States, not the nation, not the people, not the business interests, not any person, concept, idea or entity other than THE CONSTITUTION itself. Furthermore, where any of the oaths mention enemies, it specifies enemies foreign AND domestic, ALL enemies of The Constitution, not enemies of the nation or the people but of THE CONSTITUTION. Thus, by my personal interpretation (and, I assume, that of everyone who demands a strict, literal interpretation of The Constitution), while the economy, national security, foreign, etc. are important concerns of our federal government, as provided for WITHIN The Constitution, the SINGLE most important duty of the President and every member of our federal government is to ensure the health of and obedience TO that constitution. ALL other considerations come after that one and NO duty or obligation is higher than it.

Every time I hear our President say that he “wants to look forward”, I want to cry. We cannot look forward or move forward by ignoring the past. What he is trying to do is build a wonderful new house upon a foundation that is very badly damaged. In such a case, it doesn’t matter how well you construct the house, it will not last because it must have a solid foundation. In fact, the bigger the house, the more important the integrity of the foundation is. Oaths matter, but so do the principles demonstrated by those who take those oaths. No matter what words we might choose, words are not actions and principles are demonstrated by our actions. A principle is only a principle if it is something you do even when it is difficult, inconvenient or could cause you, yourself, damage. If principles only required us to do things when they are easy or convenient, when there is no real cost associated with following them, then EVERYONE would be principled. Principles DO matter and what is shown to us by a person’s very real actions is what tells us what their principles truly are, not the words they tell us.

Therefore, I call upon Barack Obama, the 43rd President of the United States to uphold his constitutional oath of office and preserve, protect and defend The Constitution. I call upon him to repair the damage done to our constitutional government by past administrations and officials, elected and appointed. I call upon him to define what his powers are as President under The Constitution and to specifically repudiate those which are not consistent with the provisions of The Constitution, including the power to single handedly declare that he will not obey and uphold laws or treaties enacted by Congress simply because he doesn’t like them or to claim dictatorial powers to dispense with constitutional provisions (like habeas corpus, cruel and unusual punishment, right to speedy trials, legal advice and hearing all evidence presented against the accused.) upon his own whim. I call upon him to publicly repudiate the entire concept of The Unitary Executive and acknowledge the Constitutional invalidity of all exercises of such by ALL Presidents going back to the administration of Harry Truman. I call upon him to investigate and prosecute all officials and officers of The United States, in every branch and department of The United States who have ever done harm or damage to The Constitution, including by refusal to abide by legal and treaty obligations, up to and including war crimes committed within The United States and/or in the name of The United States by anyone in or working on behalf of The United States, up to and including former Presidents and Vice Presidents of The United States.

 To Mr. Barack Obama, 43rd President of the United States, I would like to personally say this:

Mr. Obama, I know that you were elected to be President of The United States for many reasons… our economy is bad and people thought you could fix it; our national reputation is tarnished and people thought you could improve it; we needed hope for the future rather than fear of it and people thought you could give that to us; and for so many other reasons both important and trivial. However, there were many people in this country, including me, who voted for you because our Constitution and our constitutional government have been horribly damaged over the course of the last eight years, if not over the last quarter of a century, and we believed that you could and would work quickly and aggressively to fix it, as well as to prosecute and punish those guilty of violating their own oaths to it and of doing harm to it.

No damage has EVER been done to our Constitution by any EXTERNAL enemies of our nation. Those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001 might have hurt our nation and killed our citizens, but they did not hurt our Constitution. The same is true of Timothy McVeigh and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. He attacked the people of the United States but he did not threaten or harm our Constitution. No external enemies of our nation ever did any damage to our Constitution in the 50s, 60s or 70s. All of that damage was done by domestic enemies who were attacking The Constitution from within… McCarthy, The House Un-American Activities Committee, J. Edgar Hoover, the Nixon Administration and many others. No damage was ever done to our Constitution by the Soviet Union or ‘international communism’ but rather by those Americans who thought that the Soviet Union was so dangerous that they had the right to violate our own laws as well as our Constitution. But in fear of communism, many threats to our Constitution result from the actions of our own Congress and administrations from Truman to Reagan. No foreign enemy has EVER harmed or even threatened our Constitution over the entire course of our history as a nation, but many domestic enemy have, and they have done so while wrapped tightly in the flag of and holding the symbols of The United States, going back to at least 1798 with The Alien and Seditions Acts. America may have been threatened many times in its history by enemies foreign and domestic, but no threats to our Constitution have ever come from external forces attacking us, they have ALWAYS come from our own internal rot.

I know it will be difficult to do. I know that it will cause political problems and turmoil. I know that it could precipitate a political civil war within this country. I know it would detract from other areas which you need to address, such as our economy. None of that matters however. The oath you took obligates you to do this. It isn’t a choice, it is a duty, and no one gets to pick which duties they will fulfill based on which ones are more difficult or unpleasant than others. Remember though, you are the person who is charged by the Constitution to execute the provisions of and laws according to it. In the end, your most important legacy will not be our economy, our wars, or our energy policies, or our healthcare system; those things are all transitory. In the end, your most important and lasting legacy will be what you demonstrate to the American people about what our Constitution and our constitutional government really mean. There is no one else, Mr. President, except you upon whose shoulders this duty falls. Please, do not let our nation, no, not our nation, please, Mr. President, do not let our CONSTITUTION down. I don’t think we can survive if you do.” 

Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas 

Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor

© Copyright 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier

John Dough, Inc. — Legal Person and Citizen of The United States

In Activism, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Democracy, First Amendment, Fraud, History, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Politics, Protest, US Government on January 25, 2010 at 12:24 pm

With its January 21, 2010 decision in the case of CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION (http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf), The Supreme Court of The United States issued a ruling as wrong as any it has made since the infamous “Dred Scott decision” and more activist than any judicial legislation that those on the far-right have ever cried out about. Overturning over 120 years of precedence and legislation, the five conservative justices alone have given body and breath to the “corporate person” which was created, not by legislation but rather by another decision of The Supreme Court, Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886). (see http://blavier.newsvine.com/_news/2009/05/07/2789966-the-corporate-person-re-edit for more information).

 

In response to this horrifying and unjustifiable ruling, I have sent to the office of the Texas Secretary of State, a check for $25 and a Certificate of Formation Nonprofit Corporation, signed and dated by me on January 21, 2010 to create “John Dough, Inc.”. Clearly stated on the application for certification, the corporation is created with the purposes of:

 

1.) To function as a legal corporate person in the United States of America, based on decisions by the SCOTUS, beginning with Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. (1886) through Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (2010) which conferred the legal status of “personhood” on American Corporations.

 

2.) To seek to achieve legal and judicial recognition of all of its citizenship rights and privileges as a native-born “person” of The United States of American, including the right to vote, the right to run for office, the right of free speech, the right of gun ownership and every other right which belongs to any and every native-born American.

 

3.) To create challenges, through the judicial authorities and courts of The United States of American, to the legal concept and standing of a “corporate person” as having the same rights and powers of flesh and blood citizens of The United States.

 

It further states in the application that:

 

This corporattion shall not exist or function to profit any individuals, and its membership shall be open to any other persons who wants to support the efforts of this “corporate person” to challenge the standing and status of corporations as legal “persons” under The Constitution of The United States, as created and defined by decisions of The Supreme Court of The United States since 1886.

 

The Corporation shall exist be an instrument with which its members will register for any and all rights which, by nature, belong to a legal and native-born person in the United States, including its standing as a legal citizen of The United States, a registered voter of its home state and districts, to apply for licenses as a legal person, to run for political office as a legal person, to possess a passport of a citizen of The United States, and of any and all other tactics by which it can be used to challenge the legal “personhood” status of corporations within The United States.

 

I will be registering John Dough, Inc. to vote as a resident of precinct 15, Liberty County, Texas.

 

Once John Dough, Inc. is certified as a non-profit corporation, I will seek donations and membership within the corporation by any and everyone who supports this effort to challenge The Supreme Court of The United States. If The State of Texas refuses to certify John Dough, Inc. as a nonprofit corporation, then I plan to challenge that decision. Anyone with legal training who is a member of the Texas Bar Association and, thus, eligible to practice law within The State of Texas are also welcome to help with this cause.

 

Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

 

“Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor”

 

© Copyright 2010 by Rhys M. Blavier

 

Thank you for reading this article. Please read my other articles and let me know what you think. I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225 years of The American Experiment.

Loving Our Veterans

In Civil Liberties, Human Rights Abuses, Protest on November 25, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Loving our Veterans

By Don Meinshausen

freedonnow@yahoo.com

 

Despite the holidays of Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day there is little appreciation for veterans. Oh there may be a few generals and politicians pontificating and maybe a parade and a concert but that’s usually seen as patriotic blather for the media and for the declining numbers that remember the conflict or care.  Very few show up. Most go to the beach or stay home.

 

Of course there is not much for the guys who really paid a big price in a war that are still with us.  The amputee, the horribly disfigured, with scarred psyches to match and those who will be in and out of hospitals for the rest of their lives.  And then there are those who were so heavily traumatized that they cannot handle the crowds, the rhetoric and the fireworks will not be brought out or would come out for these events.  It would be too upsetting for all concerned.

 

Now I am not a veteran and I am fortunate enough not to have anyone close to me who was so damaged.  Regardless of what you think of war or a particular conflict you can’t help but sympathize with their situation.  I have thought it would be an interesting experiment to survey those who really suffered in Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq.  I’m not talking about the desk jockeys, short timers or those who saw little action even though they might have been willing to be in harm’s way.  Just to go to the ones who have really suffered and spent some time there and ask  “Was it worth it?”  Maybe they are just as divided as all Americans are years after the conflict. It stands to reason that they would have more wisdom on such conflicts than the pundits, armchair generals and chicken hawks that decide where the next war should be. I think that our wounded vets would be happy to give advice after all that time lying in beds in VA hospitals thinking about their decisions. I think that all of us reading this, hawk and dove alike, would agree that the counsel of such men would be valuable about the worth of war.

 

Most of us men decided not go to war. Only a few avoided due to conscience. Some used the system of deferments to avoid something unpleasant. Others avoided because of fear. Some still agonize over that decision not to serve.  While such a survey would be fascinating, I would not force these veterans through another painful reappraisal.  But many of them who are psychologically fit though scarred, are just waiting to be asked.  Maybe even men in the same unit who fought side by side and suffered the same wounds might have radically different ideas about their service.

 

There was a book called “The Warriors” that showed studies of veterans of different nations and conflicts who were interviewed about why they fought.  The reasons for their participation were not bravery, patriotism, and hatred of the enemy, ideology or religious values.  The primary reason was the bonding of the men who fought side by side and the honor shared between them.

 

This holds especially true for the terribly scarred, whether physically and emotionally, returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Let us not make the same mistake we did with the Vietnam veterans who were ignored. They had such high addiction and homeless problems that laws were passed banning discrimination based on service in Vietnam.  The trauma veterans suffer is obvious even after decades have lapsed. It is so widespread that the military is considering asking the government to change the law to allow the use of psychedelics, like MDMA, to treat their veterans PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder.

 

In my middle class hometown of Nutley, New Jersey there was a man named Eddie who was a veteran of the First World War.  He would walk the streets and sometimes started screaming.  He was brought home from the war for being shell-shocked or PTSD.  He still heard the shells explode almost fifty years after the war ended.

 

 

Do you remember the movie “Born on the Fourth of July”?  A young marine shot and crippled in Vietnam returns home and travels with a friend to a town outside the US.  The town is known among veterans for its brothels and bars.  The women there are very sympathetic and very poor and not bad looking.  The movie shows the town as a continuous party with too much drinking. But remember what they have been through. It seems to help but its not officially noted by the veteran’s groups or the VA.

 

This makes sense.  The great sex destinations of the Pacific to this day are Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand and Angeles in the Philippines.  These sex tourist towns got their start courtesy of the US military during the 60’s and were regulated by them.  During the Vietnam War R&R (Rest and Recreation) was called I&I (Intercourse and Intoxication) to the soldiers who went to Bangkok and Pattaya.  Angeles served the Clark Air Force Base and a nearby naval base.  In fact Angeles American Legion Post has a high membership because retirees can find a wife or young girlfriend there who actually wants a relationship. Veterans are very respected here.

 

Back to our disabled veterans who in their minds and remaining body parts are still manly studs and needing affection.  Even with the sexual revolution of carefree contraception these guys find it next to impossible to get laid.  No medal is going to make up for the loss of appearance and self-esteem of missing eyes, hearing, limbs, bodily functions, looks and peace of mind.  Even if they can wheelchair out of a VA hospital, how can these guys go out to a local bar where they will be stared at?

 

There is also the movie “Coming Home” about a disabled Vietnam vet that does get an American woman to fall in love with him with no financial motive.  The American woman happens to be Jane Fonda, and for the life of me I can’t understand why a woman who would go to bat (so to speak) for disabled Vietnam vets is so scorned by veteran groups.

 

There is no movie from a conservative point of view that shows a disabled Vietnam or Iraq war vet who finds love.  Sexual or romantic fantasies via Hollywood would help a lot.  These men still need sex.  These men still need to be held and loved.  The women who provide it whether out of money, personal need or financial support can show love and care as well as any nurse or wife. Some hookers even marry these guys.

 

Many women do this to support parents and their children.  No woman should be forced to be a prostitute, but it can be an ennobling profession.  To be able to combine passion and compassion and give it to guys who may be so traumatized that they cannot respond emotionally is practically sainthood in my opinion. This is the reason that there was in ancient society a tradition of sacred prostitution. Such acts of love and the teaching of love were considered homage to the Goddess.

 

I think of women who respond to soldier’s needs as Valkyrie. They were the Rhine Maidens of German Wagnerian folklore who picked up the dead heroes off the battlefield and carried them to Valhalla or paradise.  Amazon Grace, how sweet the sound, to save a wretch like me.

 

The juxtaposition of sex and death is a powerful one and can be misused. The Valkyrie image was used to motivate women in Nazi Germany to drop Victorian mores and marriage requirements to help repopulate the Reich’s battle casualties in state sanctioned sexual celebration. This release from the strict sexual mores of Germany also was used to motivate potential soldiers as well. The progeny were to be raised by the state or state approved families

This was actually a way to destroy family structure as well as a way to enforce racism.

 

There is a different archetype of women in war that is emerging. There are now women soldiers dressed in khaki to help search and interrogate civilian women and some see actual combat. In Israel they do practically all the jobs that male soldiers do. The more safer, saner and more feminist version of the woman/warrior image is the fantasy/science fiction vixen in Heavy Metal or biker chick attired in studded black leather bikinis and a sword.  Totally hot.  Totally cool.  Sexy, but not my cup of tea and not the model of compassion that might be appropriate here for those traumatized by war.  Besides women are outnumbered by men in the military. Many of these guys can’t get this kind of action, so to poor countries they go.

 

 

In third world countries, twenty bucks for a sex act is more pay than a week’s work in a sweatshop of twelve-hour days.  And you can’t work on your back in a factory or pulling a plow.  Of course the guys are not always so bad and the girls are not always so good.  But with a legal system of brothels men are protected against disease and theft.  Women also have protection against violent and drunken men and predators.

 

According to a prostitution rights activist, based on the Green River killings and other reports there are several unknown serial killers who prey on prostitutes and hitchhikers in every American metropolitan area.  When their activities are illegal and scorned by society, prostitutes are so afraid of the system that many don’t even report rapes, robberies or missing co-workers. The police would rather ignore, exploit or arrest them. In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico many mutilated bodies have been found and hundreds of women are missing.

 

In sex tourist areas even with a quasi-legal format, the hookers are more relaxed and friendly because they are safe from prisons, police rapes and psychotic customers.  Word gets out about who is crazy, alcoholic, dishonest, etc., and these people don’t get hired or serviced as the case might be.  Nicer people become popular and relationships sometimes form and the traditional heart of gold hooker becomes a reality. Extortionist pimping is rare.

 

Here even the most wretched have a chance for passion or even a relationship.  The US military and the State Department is now under pressure by the so-called Christian Right to close this venue even in foreign countries for civilians, soldiers and veterans alike.  We’ve heard it all before for decades.  Prostitution denigrates marriage.  It exploits women.  It gives foreigners a bad image of America.  Sleazy shock journalists, control freaks and moralizers ignore the underlying racism and fascism of attacking poor foreign women who want jobs and relationships with American men.  Nobody asks the servicemen or veterans, who like the ladies’ attention, the ladies themselves or even their neighbors who value the tourist money it brings.

 

Do we care about our servicemen and veterans enough to listen to what they want?  Let me put it this way.  Why don’t all those nice church groups volunteer to give these poor disabled heroes charity sex or porn?  It would be part of the great tradition of pubic support for American servicemen that goes back to World War 2.

 

There were women in America back then called Victory Girls or V Girls like the Valkyrie.  They worked or hung out at USO canteens, dance halls and bars and offered something more sought for than a doughnut. They flouted the strict moral standards of the day by having sex without marriage with soldiers on their way to the front.  In those days any woman who did not hold onto her virginity until marriage was considered a whore. No respectable man would marry her and could have the marriage annulled if she did not bleed on her wedding night. Why should our heroes have to die a virgin or rush into marriage?  These men were risking their lives and honor and the women thought they had an obligation to do the same.  (Venereal disease was such a risk that sometimes they were called VD girls.) . Considering that many soldiers dying young in combat would never have a chance at passion and that many women would not have a chance at marriage due to so many soldiers dying the answer would seem obvious today. But then was a different morality.

 

Still they helped the men the best way they knew to help their morale.  Considering their reduced opportunities to find men during and after the war it was the logical marriage strategy since if the guy came back the relationship could re-ignite.

 

There are many statues of generals and rulers who start and run wars in our parks and military cemeteries. These types rarely see the blood and gore of war and they do profit by it. There are few statues of soldiers who suffer greatly and are poorly compensated for their pain. There are still fewer statues of nurses who had their hands full of traumatized, wounded and needy men.

 

Someday there will be a statue of those whose contribution has been ignored or covered in shame. They took care of our soldiers most deep, personal wants that no one in command would even acknowledge. There should be a statue or some recognition of the V-Girls and prostitutes. They have taken care of wounded, traumatized and lonely soldiers and veterans for ages uncounted.

 

 

But to get that statue a statute need to be repealed. Let’s legalize prostitution to help our soldiers and veterans.  At least send some porn to your local VA hospital.  You do care about veterans, don’t you?

 

Don Meinshausen is a founder of the libertarian movement in that he organized the draft card burning at the 1969 YAF convention, which is regarded in “Radicals for Capitalism” as the “founding of the modern libertarian movement.”  He is also known for his connections with Robert Anton Wilson, Karl Hess and Timothy Leary and being a former political prisoner. He is looking for work in any part of the country.

 

Comments on Mr. Beck’s 9/12 Project

In Activism, Law, Libertarian, Politics, Protest on September 2, 2009 at 11:51 pm

I do not watch much television, and thus the few clips I’ve seen of Mr. Glenn Beck have been YouTube clips that people have posted on Facebook.  Those that have been following Mr. Beck, however, are aware that he has a project called the 9/12 Project, which is “designed to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001.”  I have liked the few Beck clips I have seen, but knowing nothing about his 9/12 Project, I decided to look into it.

I see from its website that the 9/12 Project has nine core principles.  In this blog post, I shall analyse each of the nine principles from a libertarian perspective.

1. America Is Good.

This principle is vague and unexplained.  The first question that pops into my head is, What is America?

The Americas are a set of two continents that were brought into “continuing economic or social relation with the Western world” in the early sixteenth century (Rothbard, Conceived in Liberty vol 1, p. 15).  They got their name from a Florentine map-maker named Amerigo Vespucci (p. 26).

If we are to assume that “America” refers to the land comprising North and South America, then I would have to wonder what it means to say the land is good.  Does that mean it is fertile?  Does it mean the land is useful for humans in some other way?  Does it mean the land is somehow “intrinsically” good?

It is just as possible that the statement refers to that land solely monopolised by the federal government that goes by the style of “United States of America,” since it is often referred to as “America” for short.  But, then, the same questions regarding the land remain.  What about the land is good?

Perhaps we are completely off base insofar as we assume that this principle refers to land.  Perhaps by “America” the principle is supposed to refer to the people who inhabit the land, rather than the land itself.  But if this is the case, why not simply say “Americans are good”?

Finally, perhaps the principle refers to neither the land nor the people, but rather to the gang calling itself the federal government of the United States.  But if this is the case, then the principle is quite wrong.  The federal state is, like all other states throughout the world, too powerful, too big, too inefficient, too costly, and in severe need of being limited as much as possible.

2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.

Libertarians can take either side on this matter.  Personally, I am not wise enough to know whether or not there is a God or gods.  I hope there is a God, that this God is good, and that this God will deem my actions in life to merit receiving whatever rewards one may receive in whatever afterlife may exist, but I am not wise enough to know either way whether this is actually the case.

Libertarians run the full gamut on this one.  There are atheist libertarians (especially those who call themselves Objectivists), there are Christian libertarians, there are libertarian Buddhists, there are pagan libertarians…the list goes on.

3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.

This is certainly not an invalid goal.  Methinks libertarians and non-libertarians alike can appreciate this.

4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.

On this one, a libertarian is likely going to pause.  The libertarian certainly agrees that the government is not the “ultimate authority,” but she or he may disagree as to exactly what is the “ultimate authority.”

Those libertarians are are very religious may say that God is the ultimate authority.

There are many who, like myself, will say that the individual or natural law is the ultimate authority.  Personally, I see natural law as the law governing ethical human interaction which arises in each individual innately as a product of human nature.  Thus, I see no conflict in concurring with both the claim that it is the individual and that it is natural law, for they cannot exist independently of one another.

Natural law can be a secular or a religious concept.  Thus, a religious libertarian could also believe in natural law, and can also say that the individual is the ultimate authority in human society.

But what of the family?  Is the family sacred, and if so, what does that even mean?  In Atlas Shrugged, a mother tries to destroy her son.  Does the son owe any allegience to the mother?  Is the relationship somehow binding upon the son?  I have to think it is not, and that family, insofar as it is unchosen, holds no intrinsic value.

The husband and wife (or husband and husband, or wife and wife, or two husbands and a wife, or whatever other combination is deemed desirable by those entering into the union), for example, come together voluntarily.  Or, at least, they do so whenever the state or tribe or commune do not impose patriarchal or matriarchal regulations upon the couple (trio, et cætera).  But even these bonds are not necessarily “sacred,” and even if or where they are sacred, they are not eternally binding.  If the wife at some point wishes to no longer be wed to her husband, there is no legitimate reason to force her to remain within the union.  Secession is a natural right that must remain respected.

Finally, it seems problematic that this principle would say that “[m]y spouse and I are the ultimate authority,” for I am not married.  Do I only possess the ultimate authority when I have a spouse with which to share it, or do unmarried persons have just as much a right to the claim of “ultimate authority” as those who are wed?

5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.

Insofar as “the law” refers to natural law and not to statutory law, I can agree with this statement.  Granted, not all libertarians claim to be proponents of natural law, but as all libertarians adhere to the non-aggression axiom (whether on utilitarian or on natural law grounds), we can, in effect, say that all libertarians believe that aggression (i.e. the initiation of force) is or should be prohibited.  Thus, even those libertarians who do not claim to believe in natural law, who instead claim to arrive at libertarianism through utilitarian or consequentialist rationales, still advocate a legal system based upon the prohibition of aggression.

Libertarians can be divided into many subcategories, but all libertarians fall into either one of these two groupings: minarchists, who advocate a very small state, and anarchists, who advocate no state at all.  (Not all who advocate the complete abolition of the state refer to themselves as anarchists; some call themselves autarchists, some sovereign individuals, et cætera, but for the purpose of this post, I shall simply refer to them as anarchists for simplicity.  Likewise, not all non-anarchist libertarians refer to themselves as minarchists, but I shall refer to them as such again for simplicity.)

Minarchists comprise the largest group of libertarians.  Around only one in ten of us call for the complete abolition of the state.  Thus, while all libertarians advocate the existence of law, minarchists (unlike anarchists) advocate the existence of statutory law.  Nevertheless, anarchists and minarchists typically advocate the same narrow set of laws, specifically those laws that adhere to the non-aggression axiom.  Some minarchists deviate here and there from the ideal of non-aggression, but all libertarians wish to see aggression limited as much as possible, and thus those libertarians who do advocate statutory law wish to see those statutory laws conform to the law of non-aggression.

As such, libertarians do not see laws against such things as drug use, prostitution, tax evasion, or gambling as necessarily binding.  (This is not to say that libertarians advocate these activities, only that they see those statutory laws that enforce these prohibitions as illegitimate, and the governments that enforce these prohibitions as criminal.)

When some random guy on the street places a gun against a person’s head, and tells the person that he will take violent action against the person should the person place Advil into her own body, the gun-man is clearly a criminal because he has violated the non-aggression axiom.  Whether a given libertarian arrives at libertarianism through natural law, utilitarian, or consequentialist reasoning, all libertarians agree that the actions of this gun-man are wholly illegitimate.  The libertarian continue to see such aggression as illegitimate and criminal even if it is a representative of the state holding the gun, and even if, instead of Advil, the gun-man is prohibiting the individual from placing marijuana in her body.  To the libertarian, there is no difference between these two acts of aggression.  In both scenarios, the aggressive act is criminal, and the gun-man should pay the penalty for breaking the law.  The libertarian, thus, more than anyone else, agrees that justice is blind and that nobody, not even the politicians, bureaucrats, and law enforcement, is above it.

Contrariwise, if this principle is meant to imply that one should accept whatever edicts the state issues simply because the state has issued it, then libertarians do not agree with this principle, for there is definitely such a thing as an unjust statutory law.  In fact, even most non-libertarians agree that such things as unjust laws exist.  Few people today, whether libertarian or not, would agree with the Socratic view of law.

6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.

Libertarians have no problem with this view, so long as it is properly understood that the right to life (et cætera) is a negative right and not a positive right.  In other words, I have the right to not be murdered, to not have my life wrested from me through aggression; but I have no right to enslave or aggress against others in order to sustain my own life.

7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.

This principle, likewise, is consistent with libertarianism.  Although the state certainly is capable of forcing people to surrender the fruits of their labour, it ought not do so, and for the same reason that I ought not force my neighbour to surrender the fruits of her or his labour.

In an article titled Why You Are a Libertarian, Harry Browne wrote that,

When a neighbor isn’t willing to contribute as much to a social project as you are, you’d never think of:

Using a gun to force him to contribute;

Hiring an armed gang to threaten to kidnap him or confiscate his money if he didn’t contribute;

Using the government in place of the armed gang if he didn’t contribute—because every government program, in the final analysis, involves violence against those who don’t comply.

8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.

Libertarians absolutely agree with this.

But, here is where this entire 9/12 Project thing seems confusing to me.  Mr. Beck wants Americans to return to the way they felt on 12 September 2001, but on that date, it had become almost impossible to disagree with or question authority.

On 10 September 2001, questioning authority was happily accepted by many Americans.  But by the twelfth, questioning the government was considered by many, and especially by members of Republican Party, to be sacrilege.  If I recall correctly, Bill Maher even lost his ABC show because people were outraged when he pointed out that the terrorists were not cowards.  Mr. Bush, a man just as bad as Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama, was virtually worshipped.

So why doesn’t Mr. Beck instead start a 9/10 Project?  Why 9/12, a day on which nationalism clouded out reason, a day when people wanted to nuke an entire region of the globe simply because a minority of persons, who were uninterested in adherence to the non-aggression axiom, came from said region?

9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.

It is certainly a libertarian sentiment that the government, if it is to exist at all, should be the servant, rather than master, of the people.

But let’s be realistic: no state truly serves the people.  And this is why statism must be limited as much as possible.  Those in the cozy seat of power serve themselves, and even those politicians and bureaucrats who truly do believe that they can help and serve the people can only ultimately fail because coercion never achieves the desired goals.  The government is constantly promising us things.  It’s going to protect us from criminals and terrorists, it’s going to help us in our medical needs, it’s going to deliver our mail on time—yet it consistently fails to deliver on its promises because any system that runs on coercion will necessarily lack the signals necessary to indicate the best course of action.  Private firms use profit and loss signals to indicate whether to invest more in this or that, whether to increase or slow production; but the state has no profit or loss signals because it acquires virtually all of its revenues through confiscation.  Government cannot keep its promises even if all of the bureaucrats want it to.  It cannot keep our streets safe, it cannot properly teach our children, it cannot provide us with better healthcare—it cannot serve the people.

Conclusion

I really do not know what to make of Mr. Beck’s 9/12 Project.  It seems to have a mix of good ideals and confused positions.

I don’t know what “America Is Good” is even supposed to mean.

The question of belief in God, as addressed by the second principle, seems almost out-of-place.  My understanding is that the 9/12 Project wants to march on D.C., but what precisely is the objective of the march?  Is it to promote the nine principles listed above, and if so, in what way could the march in any way promote the second principle?  Politicians are free to believe in whatever God or gods they like, or to believe in none at all, as I’m sure Mr. Beck himself would agree.  What could possibly, then, be the rallying cry for this principle?  “We believe in God, but it’s okay if you believe in a different one, or even none at all”?  Surely, there would be no point in chanting such a sentence.

All in all, even the best principles listed above are vague, and do not constitute an actual objective for the project or the march.  Rather, it’s simply a list of general views, and most politicians are crafty enough (most are lawyers, after all) to spin these statements in a manner that allows them to pretend they adhere thereto.  Moreover, since no specific policies are promoted (e.g., tax cuts, separation of healthcare and state, devolution of power, gun rights), I still do not have a clue as to what the march actually explicitely wishes to achieve.

I obviously have my reservations, but I do wish to end on a positive note, for I feel I have been almost unfairly negative in this piece.  Insofar as Mr. Beck aims to get people to forget about the petty fighting that takes place between the red team and the blue team, he and his project are to be celebrated.  Far too often we let our parties speak for us, conforming our views to the expectations of one or the other side.  Yet we are individuals, and it is simply silly to think that anyone must agree with her or his party on every issue.  We all too often let the party shape our views and thus also our responses to those on the “other“ side, to the point where we actually convince ourselves of absolutely idiotic conclusions, such as “all Democrats want to see bin Laden win“ or “all Republicans hate the poor.”  Neither is true, and in fact both are untrue in the vast majority of cases.  But as long as we convince ourselves that such nonsense is true, we cut ourselves off from reality and cease having the ability to work to improve things.  It appears that Mr. Beck recognises this in a way that the likes of Ann Coulter and Janeane Garofalo do not.  And insofar as this is the case, Glenn Beck ought to be applauded.

—Alexander S. Peak

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Yesterday’s Townhall Meeting With Ben Cardin: Part III

In Activism, Health, Libertarian, Live-blogging, Media, Nanny State, Protest, US Government on August 13, 2009 at 4:43 pm

The event having ended, the crowd stands up and many file to exit.  Some stand around to talk with one another.  One gentleman comes to me to inquire about the meetings of the College Libertarians of Towson while many others, at least twenty, comment to me that I asked a great question.

As I exit the building, I see night has arrived.  I also see what I had not expected: hundreds of people outside with signs and flags.

One woman is holding a Gadsden flag, and I enquire as to where she got it, hoping to perhaps be able to purchase one of my own.  She informs me that she had gotten it at a Tea Party protest.

Although posters and signs had been banned inside the building, they were on full display outside.  There were also persons handing out flyers with information regarding a petition they wished for attendees to sign, a petition declaring their objection to the government’s new plan.

Walking from the building to the road, virtually every protestor there was against the government’s plan, many holding signs declaring government involvement in healthcare to be socialist.  I saw virtually no counter-protestors in favour of the statist plan until I reached the road itself, where the pro-statism counter-protestors stood on one side of the road and the anti-statism protestors on the other.  A quick glance at the two sides confirmed what one might suspect: the anti-statism side, which was chanting “No Obama care, no Obama care!” was larger than the pro-statism side.

One protestor, on the anti-statism side, yelled to me as I was crossing the street, “Did he answer your question?”  I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond.  After all, Cardin indeed had responded to my question, but not in any satisfactory way.

Still receiving compliments for my question, I made my way to my truck.  Traffic was slow, but I eventually escaped, driving past both groups of protestors.

All in all, it was a rather good event.  It was an absolute pleasure to see the masses verbally tearing down a member of the political class, instead of treating the politician like some holy cow not to be touched or demeaned.  There is nothing magical about politicians, after all—they are humans, just like us; they are flawed, just like us; and, in the state of nature, they are our equals, not our glorious, unquestionable superiors.

This is not to say that all of the sentiments of those who attended should be applauded.  Rather, it’s to say, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1787 to Abigail Adams, that the “spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive.  It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all.  I like a little rebellion now and then.  It is like a storm in the Atmosphere.”

Those wishing to contact their representatives to encourage them to adopt a separation of healthcare and state are encouraged to visit DownsizeDC.org.

—Alexander S. Peak

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Yesterday’s Townhall Meeting With Ben Cardin: Part I

In Activism, Health, Immigration, Libertarian, Live-blogging, Media, Nanny State, Police State, Protest, US Government on August 11, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Yesterday, I attended Ben Cardin’s Townhall meeting at Towson University.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss healthcare in America.  Ben Cardin currently serves as one of Maryland’s U.S. senators.

I arrived at 4:11, even though the event was not sceduled to begin until 7:00 PM.  Nevertheless, there was already a line.

This line grew quickly, and by 5:30, the Towson University administration began turning people away.

When they finally let us into the auditorium, they inspected bags and purses to ensure an absence of weapons and food.  Walking through the auditorium door, we were each handed blue cards on which we would write down a question for Mr. Cardin along with our contact information.  Inside the auditorium, classical music played.

I sat toward the front.  At 6:57, a gentleman in the corner of the room holding a small camera was asked to be seated.  It was difficult to hear their conversation, but the man appeared to ask the administrator if it was okay for him to stand where he was for the simple purpose of recording the event and the audience, to which the administrator clearly told him it was not.  The man submitted to the administrator.

I commented to the woman sitting to the right of me, “That guy wasn’t harming anyone,” to which she responded, “Yeah, none of us [audience members] had a problem with him.”

About a minute later, Cardin and a few others walk out.  I had not been paying attention to the stage as I was reading my book, but the audience reaction told me all I needed to know, and so I closed the book.  An administrator in a green tie makes some brief opening remarks.  All three persons and on the stage in front of the audience, and two projection screens stand on either side of the three persons.  Behind the podium are three nice-looking chairs, and above the chairs is a banner—probably paid for with your tax dollars—that said, “Every American Deserves Healthcare.”

The administrator lists a bunch of people who were there that night, most of the names being unfamiliar to me.  I presume a number were state delegates.  Although our other senator, Ms. Barbara Mikulski, was not present, her name was mentioned for some reason—perhaps her aids were in the audience.  Although most of the names mentioned received applause, her name received boos from the audience.

I became immediately aware of how lively this audience was going to be.  Clapping and booing were both highly-valued means of communication throughout the night.

Following the administrator, a woman spoke. She explained the troubles her family is facing, and how difficult it’s been caring for her children, the youngest of whom has some serious ailments.  Needless to say, the entire audience—regardless of what its individual members thought about the healthcare crisis—felt sympathy for this woman, the husband of whom currently works two jobs to make ends meet in our turbulent economy.  She ended her brief presentation by saying that she did not know what the best solution to our nation’s problems is, but that she hoped that events such as this townhall meeting would help to flesh out some of the problems and their solutions.

I could not help, when listening to her presentation, but to think that many of the problems she faced were the fault of statist intervention into the healthcare system and into the economy as a whole.

The audience was, for the most part, respectful to this woman.  This audience did not hold the same respect for the man who spoke next—the politician.

Cardin began speaking at 7:09, and he faced many hecklers.  It was really a beautiful sight: people, refusing to place politicians on some godlike pedistal, but instead speaking their mind, challenging the establishmen man, and, in so doing, challenging the entire elitist system!

This isn’t to say I loved every utterance that this audience made.  I was extremely annoyed to hear some audience members whining, “What about the illegals!?”  Such narrow-minded rhetoric was, in my opinion, a detriment to the otherwise-glorious anti-government arguments and sentiments of the crowd.  I half-wanted to pull these anti-immigrationists off to the side and chastise them for their wrongheaded focus, but decided against it.

Cardin had various slides he wanted to show the audience, but the audience was getting wrestless.  “We want to ask you questions!”  “Let us ask questions!”  Still, Cardin continued.

One of his slides, unvailed at 7:18, showed the increasing cost of health insurance over the past ten years.  Looking at the slide, I couldn’t help but to suspect that it was not adjusted for inflation.  Rising costs of health insurance is certainly not a positive thing, of course, but no evidence was presented to indicate that the cause was anything other than the declining value of the dollar.  What is inflation?  Inflation is any increase in the money supply, and it causes the value of each unit of the money supply to drop.  Thus, when the government inflates the dollar by creating new money and credit out of thin air, the purchasing power of the average user of that currency falls.  The solution, therefore, to this problem is not new government mandates and higher taxes; the solution is to abolish the fraudulent institution responsible for inflation the money supply—in the case of America, that institution is the Federal Reserve.

Still facing heckles, Cardin becomes visibly became tiffed a couple minutes later.  He says to his audience at this time something to the effect of, “I know you don’t care about the facts, but…”  The audience responded, unsurprisingly, with further heckles.  Listening to the audience and our guest speaker, I couldn’t help but to feel like I was sitting in the British parliament.

At 7:22, cops walk from the back of the audience down to the front, and stand in the corners of the room.  I didn’t make precise count, but I estimate that about ten cops made this trek, presumably to intimidate speakers by showcasing the might of the state apparatus.  I do not believe anyone actually allowed themselves to be intimidated, but it was an interesting sight nevertheless.  Where has America gone?

At 7:25, in response to calls from the audience to begin the Q&A session, he pleads with the audience to just let him get through the last few slides.  The administrator in the green tie also kept insisting that the audience stay quiet while Cardin finishes his presentation—repeatedly, and to no avail.

Finally, Mr. Cardin finished his presentation at 3:33, and announces that he will now answer questions.  To this, the audience applauded.

—Alexander S. Peak

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A reply to Rabbi Dr. Pomerantz

In Barack Obama, Constitutional Rights, First Amendment, George Bush, History, Human Rights Abuses, Iran, Libertarian, Middle East, Military, Minorities, Protest, War on June 18, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Greetings, Last Free Voice community:

Recently Newsmax.com distributed this essay from Rabbi Dr. Morton H. Pomerantz, which accused President Obama of “‘creating a climate of hate” with his “‘code” creating a “danger as great as that posed by the Nazis to the Jewish people”. The Rabbi even insinuated a connection between Obama’s Mid-east trip and Cairo speech with the murder at the Holocaust Museum. While I find many of the President’s actions immoral and unwise, these accusations (and the distortion of the relative threat posed by Israel and Iran to each other) prompted the following reply:

The Rabbi’s conspiracy theory regarding Obama, the Holocaust Museum murder, Israel and Iran is so twisted, off the mark and devoid of reality that it calls his good judgment, and yours, into question. One should be critical of Pres. Obama on many scores, but any suggestion that he is in some way culpable for yesterday’s (06/10/09) unprovoked assault by the loathsome criminal is insulting and absurd. The Statue of Liberty deserves better than to be attached to such an unconscionable screed.

How ironic that as the Likudniks continue their efforts to manipulate America for the benefit of another country and to our detriment, becoming vengeful and petulant at the first hint of the possibility of our country waking up you publish this vile disinformation, meant to gin up hatred and war fever against Iran. Unlike Israel Iran is a signatory of the Non Proliferation Treaty, has not invaded or occupied it’s neighbors and has allowed complete and open inspections of nuclear facilities by the IAEA which has declared it to be in full compliance.

How many WMD are they hiding in Israel? How many innocent Iranian – as well as Israeli – civilians and American service personnel would die as a result of an unprovoked Israeli and / or American attack on Iran?

America’s foundation is the recognition that all human beings are born with unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, as granted by our creator.   Theocratic states of all religious affiliations violate these rights and are, contrary to American values. Since “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion..”, according to the First Amendment, it is illegal for Congress or the US Government to support any theocracy anywhere of any faith – Jewish, Muslim or Christian. Private, non-governmental, voluntary support of a foreign cause that does not put the rest of the nation at risk is everyone’s right to pursue to the satisfaction of their own conscience.

Our Founders, including George Washington, urged us to not become entangled in permanent foreign alliances and to not go abroad ‘in search of monsters to destroy’. Considering the harm done to our nation by intervening in quarrels that did not impact our security until after official US Government. involvement, and in light of the outrageous hijacking of American military personnel, safety and tax dollars by advocates for various foreign countries (including, but obviously not limited to, Israel) we can see the wisdom of their admonitions. The American peoples’ blood, treasure and safety are not anyone’s to give on behalf of a foreign country or cause.

Suggesting that is anti-Semitic or hateful to recognize the need for a change in policy that would benefit America is ridiculous, though history suggests we have a long way to go before such a providential change actually takes place. If Rabbi Pomerantz is concerned about dangerous hate activities, he may want to cease slandering Muslims as a group and to challenge these practitioners:

1. Chabad rabbi: Jews should kill Arab men, women and children during war.
2. Prosecution drops indictment against settler filmed shooting Palestinians.
3. Netanyahu Promises Lieberman Pivotal Ministership.
4. Gaza war rabbinical edict draws protest in Israel.

I was part of a group that visited the Holocaust Museum on Memorial Day Weekend. Naturally, it was a very moving experience. All those innocent victims of Man’s Inhumanity to Man! We should never forget what has been done to so many (Turkish Genocide of the Armenians, communist destruction of the Kulaks, Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the holocaust of European Jews, all the victims of the Nazis, Soviets, Mao, etc..etc ) by statist and/or racist collectivists.

We should also never let the terrible crime committed yesterday (6/10//09) against the helpful and courteous Stephen Johns be used to smear innocent people or to promote collectivist political agendae. There are good and bad people of all religious faiths and also, those of no faith. Each human being must be judged on their own personal merits and not as part of a racial, ethnic or religious group.

This response is not an endorsement of the Obama regime, which is continuing which is continuing the bad policies of its predecessors overseas (including terrorist attacks AGAINST Iran by Sunni extremists allied with Al-Qaeda) and is intensifying the socialist, fascistic policies which are creating so many problems at home. God Bless America – and all His other children, too.

Hadji

The Corporate ‘Person’

In Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Democracy, Economics, History, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Politics, Protest, US Government on May 11, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Nowhere are corporations mentioned in The Constitution of the United States of America.  The Constitution was 32 years old before the Supreme Court even dealt with its first case regarding a private, for-profit corporation (Dartmouth College vs. Woodward, 1819) under the contracts clause of Article I, Section 10 (“No State shall…  pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.”).  It was the conservatively activist court of the period following the War Between the States which changed the landscape of corporate law in the United States with a dictum by Chief Justice Morrison Waite in his opinion on Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886) stating that corporations were ‘persons’ as meant by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment (…  nor shall any State deprive any ‘person’ of life liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any ‘person’ within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.)

 

Between 1890 and 1937, VERY activist courts that were VERY conservative and pro-business weakened the ability of employees, customers, state legislatures and labor unions to challenge the power of corporations in the United States.  Even under more liberal courts, corporations have been given additional rights of ‘persons’, such as with 1978’s National Bank vs. Bellotti decision which protected corporate ‘political speech’ under the 1st Amendment.  In all ways, corporations in the United States are legal ‘persons’ under The Constitution which means that, in The United States, certain stacks of signed documents are the same as, and have the same rights under the law as any living, breathing flesh and blood ‘person’ does.  Isn’t it time to challenge the legal and logical fallacies of this position?

 

A human ‘person’ is born.  You can say that a corporation is born, also, but a corporation does not go through a childhood or minority in which it is raised and educated before it is given rights and powers of equal standing with an adult.  There is no consideration of childhood for a corporation and yet for a human person, the importance of childhood cannot be minimized.  Children can be required to attend school and be subjected to curfews that do not apply to adults.  Children are restricted in purchasing or using things with which they might harm themselves or others through restrictions which do not apply to adults (alcohol, tobacco, guns, etc.).  Children cannot legally gamble or enter into contracts.  Children can be restricted from accessing information which other adults can freely access (pornography and restricted movies are two examples of this).  Children cannot vote and their rights of assembly can be limited.  Children cannot work or earn their own money except as specifically provided for by law.  Childhood places very real restrictions and limitations on human ‘persons’ before they are given all of the rights and privileges of an adult.  In addition, under The Constitution, there are even further restrictions on age…  no ‘person’ can be elected to a Constitutional office until they have the achieved the age of 25, 30 or 35 (depending on the particular office).  Corporations have no equal burdens placed upon them; rather they enter the world as full adults, like Venus rising out of the sea in a shell or Athena springing from the head of Zeus.

 

A human ‘person’ is responsible for their own actions.  A human ‘person’ who breaks a law and is brought before a court to answer to justice will be the one who pays a fine or goes to jail.  Felons also have restrictions placed upon them for the rest of their lives.  A corporate ‘person’ cannot be jailed.  A corporate ‘person’ can also just make changes in their management or their Board of Directors and make a claim for leniency or exception which a human ‘person’ who is sane cannot make…  It wasn’t us, it was others, and they aren’t here now”.  Such a claim made by a human ‘person’ would be considered proof of very real and very serious mental illnesses.  While individuals who work for a corporation can be held accountable for some of their actions (keep in mind, the purpose of incorporation is to shield individuals from personal liability or accountability to the public), a corporation itself cannot be imprisoned.  Further, while a corporation might be fined or otherwise punished by a court, the people who made decisions can go elsewhere and continue as they have.  Like a coach of a team which is sanctioned by the NCAA, if the coach can just get a job elsewhere, the sanctions don’t follow him.  Corporations can further shield themselves by creating other corporations which they own and control but which protect the greater corporation from financial or legal liability.

 

A human ‘person’ has duties to perform in their society.  A human ‘person’ can be called to serve on a jury as provided for in The Constitution.  A human ‘person’ can enlist in, or even be conscripted into a military service and sent to die for their country.  A human ‘person’ can run for political office to help fulfill the needs of leadership of their governments at all levels.  No corporate ‘person’ is capable of fulfilling the obligations or duty of service to their country of an individual.

 

A human ‘person’ dies.  How long can a human ‘person’ be part of the workforce?  How long can they provide for themselves and make their own decisions?  How long can a human ‘person’ keep death at bay?  While a corporation might go belly up, or be bought or just end by a decision of those at the top, a corporation, a corporate ‘person’, has no natural lifespan and can, in principle, go on living forever…  maybe a restructuring here and there or a name change but, none-the-less, the same legal ‘person’.

 

The logical case against considering corporations to be ‘persons’ could fill a book, however, there is also a legal flaw which should be addressed within the Constitutional framework of accepting corporations as ‘persons’…  a ‘person’ can’t be owned in the United States.

 

The idea of corporations as ‘persons’ was ‘found’ by the Court in the 14th Amendment.  If the 14th Amendment makes them ‘persons’ under The Constitution, doesn’t the 13th Amendment also apply to them?  (“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”)  Now, go to any dictionary you can find and look up, in order, slavery and slave.  I’ll wait.

 

No ‘person’ can own another ‘person’ in the United States.  Therefore, if a corporation IS a legal ‘person’ under the protection and jurisdiction of The Constitution, doesn’t that mean that they can’t be owned, and that they cannot own other ‘persons’ (i.e.  — other corporations).  If The Constitution applies to the Corporate ‘person’, doesn’t that mean that the WHOLE Constitution applies to them?

 

Rhys M.  Blavier

Romayor, Texas

Truth, Justice and Honor…  but, above all Honor

 

© copyright 2008 by Rhys M.  Blavier
_________________________________________________________________

 

Thank you for reading this article.  Please read my other articles and let me know what you think.  I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225 years of The American Experiment.

WE MUST AMEND THE CONSTITUTION IMMEDIATELY OR AMERICA IS DOOMED… DOOMED, I TELL YOU, DOOMED!

In Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Democracy, History, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Minorities, Politics, Protest, US Government on April 6, 2009 at 8:42 pm

We need to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage because people getting married to show their love of each other is an abomination… and because the idea of two guys or two ugly chicks making out with each other is just gross… and we can’t stop thinking about what it would be like to try it! We need to amend the Constitution to ban the burning of the American flag except by the Boy Scouts… and anyone who wants to dispose of a flag the way it is supposed to be disposed of, never mind that you can’t make people respect a symbol by passing laws which order them to We need to amend the Constitution to ban abortion because the wealthy can ALWAYS find doctors to take care of THEIR wives, mistresses and daughters! We need to amend the Constitution to allow school prayer and the reading of the Bible in school even though Jesus said “Do not practice your piety in public.”! We need to amend the Constitution to permit the use of the word ‘God‘ in the Pledge of Allegiance and the national motto because if WE are going to suck up to him, we damn sure want everyone else to be required to, also! We need to amend the Constitution and we have to amend it NOW, because the sky is falling on our heads… AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

For all of the ideologues who think that amending the Constitution is the appropriate way to enshrine their particular prejudices and passions, I want to ask you a question. Very simply, “Have you ever actually read The Constitution?

The Constitution is a relatively simply document. Its length is only 4543 words, which isn’t all that much longer than this article. One key thing that is important about the Constitution is not what it says, but what it does NOT say. The Constitution does NOT say anything about social rules or the moral conduct of ‘we the people’ of The United States. The Constitution is an owner’s manual of how to operate our government. It does not tell its citizens how to live their lives. In fact, with the exception of our disastrous foray into social policy with the 18th Amendment, which gave us both prohibition AND well financed organized crime, there is nothing in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or any subsequent amendment which deals with dictating social or moral behaviors or beliefs to the American people.

Nowhere in the Constitution is a single word which even speaks to specific imposed restrictions on the rights of the citizens, unless you count treason, insurrection, piracy, counterfeiting, malfeasance in office or other such defined crimes as rights which are denied to ‘we the people’. It doesn’t even speak to obligations of ‘we the people’ TO the government, though it does speak of obligations which the government has to ‘we the people’. In fact, other than talking about issues such as voting, or rights before the courts, the Constitution itself barely even deals with individual citizens.

The Constitution itself does not say anything about WHEN, WHY, or FOR WHAT REASONS it should be amended. THOSE questions are left up to the citizens and the legislators of The United States to answer. Article V of The Constitution, in its entirety, says:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

Thus, whenever someone raises the issue of amending the Constitution, the first question that should be asked is: “Is the issue itself appropriate for inclusion?

Amending The Constitution is, and was intended by the framers of The Constitution to be, a VERY difficult and VERY time consuming process. It is not supposed to be something that happens very often or for trivial reasons. To see how meaningless a constitution becomes when it can be easily and frequently amended one need only look at the state constitutions of either Texas (amended at least 632 times in 136 years [although Texas voters subsequently rejected at least 176 of them after our legislature passed them]) or Alabama (at 357,157 words it is about 40 times longer than the US Constitution and even three times longer than the longest national constitution of any sovereign nation in the world India, whose constitution has 444 articles, 12 schedules and 94 amendments, with a total of 117,369 words and is, unbelievably, an even worse document than the state constitution of Texas, which has been amended at least 798 times the last amendment was #799, but even the Alabama legislature couldn’t even keep track of how many there were and Amendment #693 doesn’t even exist in 108 years most of those amendments affecting only single individual counties or even cities, or regulate such minutiae at the salary as the Greene County Probate Judge).

Amendments to state constitutions, such as the one now being called for in Iowa by those scared to death by the idea of two people of the same sex even holding hands, often also seem to ignore the fact that the US Constitution takes precedence over them and has this little thing known as Article IV which includes such provisions as the Full Faith and Credit Clause (Section 1: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.) and the Privileges and Immunities Clause (Section 2: “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”).

As difficult as it is to amend the US Constitution, it is therefore necessary and proper for both the Legislative and the Judicial branches to interpret and even expand on the meanings of both The Constitution AND of its 27 amendments. Please note, however, that while the very names of those two branches tells us of THEIR roles in that process (to ‘legislate’ and to ‘adjudicate’), no such power is given to the Executive branch, whose task is to ‘execute’ the laws and provisions of The Constitution and the other two branches. This was yet another aspect of our Constitutional government which was not understood by King George (Bush) II or his cronies in crime. Many people who want to use legislation (either federal or state) to counter or go around provisions of The Constitution, however, also show their ignorance of the document as Article VI specifically states that “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Constitution of the United States was not conceived or written to tell ‘we the people’ how to live their personal lives or even to place burdens on them towards their Society or their government. It does, however, tell the government how to operate and imposes obligations on it towards ‘we the people’. The Constitution is not a downward directed document, written on the mountain and handed down to ‘we the people’ by a supreme being who must be obeyed. The Constitution was not written by the government to ‘we the people’. The Constitution was, instead, written by ‘we the people’ to tell their government what limits and restrictions are placed upon IT, and what powers and authority are granted to it by the citizens who agreed to be governed by it. I wish people would realize that when they think about using The Constitution for shaping American society according to their own preferences or to try to tell people how to live or what morals they should adopt based on their own prejudices, bigotries and beliefs.

So, if The Constitution focuses on the operation of our government rather than on the behaviors of its citizens, where does the whole debate about our rights originate? The framers of The Constitution believed in ‘natural rights’, the idea that people, by their very nature, HAVE (not ‘are given’, but by birth ‘have’) certain rights which precede the establishment of any government. When The Constitution was written, there was a huge debate about even listing the rights of the citizens of The United States because some feared that the very fact that some rights were enumerated within The Constitution would mean that there would be those who would later argue that rights which were NOT enumerated in The Constitution were not ones which the citizens would have. In Federalist #84, Alexander Hamilton asks “Why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?” and writes that a “bill of rights is not only unnecessary but even dangerous” for that very reason. James Madison told Thomas Jefferson that “I conceive that in a certain degree … the rights in question are reserved by the manner in which the federal powers are granted. The fear of many was the very idea that enumerating ANY rights within The Constitution be interpreted by any moron as meaning that citizens only had rights BECAUSE of The Constitution. The very intention of the framers was to emphasis that the entire purpose of creating The United States was to protect the rights of the citizens and that the very idea that rights had to be ‘givenTO ‘we the people’ was monarchical and anathema to everything they believed in and stood for. Connecticut’s Roger Sherman, in his own proposed draft of a Bill of Rights says that “The people have certain natural rights which are retained by them when they enter into Society.

Much of the concept of natural rights which the framers believed in came from John Locke, the great philosopher and theorist of natural rights. He believed that the primary justification for even founding any government was specifically to make those rights more secure than they would be in a state of nature (a Society with NO government). Thus, the very reason to join together IN a governed Society is to provide ‘we the people’ protection of those rights by being part of a collective, governed Society which is not present in a lawless Society, in which the strong are able to prey on the weak and take those rights away from ‘we the people’. This is where the framers showed their true genius and foresight by giving us the 9th and 10th Amendments to The Constitution, the “if we forgot something, it’s covered, also” amendments.

The 9th Amendment, in its entirety, states that:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The 10th Amendment, in its entirety, says that:

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.

These are both very interesting Amendments. The 10th is usually used to support arguments which advocate State’s Right’s against federal power by people without an awareness that States do not have rights, only powers (as specified in the literal wording of the Amendment), and that those powers are granted by the citizens. It is usually ignored that the 10th tells us that, in addition to having rights, as provided for in the 9th, ‘we the people’ ALSO have power. By the very wording of The Constitution, our government only has certain powers and authorities (specifically spelled out within The Constitution), while ‘we the people’ have rights IN ADDITION to powers and authorities. While there has been a lot of talk about the 10th Amendment, especially since the end of Reconstruction in The South, and since the movement towards recognizing the civil rights of ALL citizens in the 40s and 50s, the 9th may very well be the most ignored part of the entire Constitution. There even seems to be more case law that is based on the 11th Amendment (“The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.”), which was passed in response to one single Supreme Court case in 1793 (Chisholm v. Georgia), than there has been based on the 9th. Most of the court cases which would seem to be obvious ones about the retained rights and powers of the citizens under the 9th and 10th Amendments, such as Roe v. Wade, typically hinge on arguments which use the provisions of the Section 1 clauses of the 14th Amendments regarding Due Process and/or Privileges and Immunities (“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”) as their foundations.

Why IS the 9th Amendment so rarely raised, utilized or argued in American Courts? I think it is, very simply and fundamentally, because both the courts and our government are afraid of it. If we followed the literal provisions of the 9th Amendment, both the courts and our entire government would have MUCH less power over the citizens than they would like. If we observed the provisions of the 9th Amendment, the citizens would never have the burden to prove that they have certain or specific rights, the government and the courts would have the burden to prove that they DON’T. The party on whom the burden of proof rests has an MUCH more difficult case to make than the one which has the presumption of being correct or innocent. No government in history has ever wanted to bear that burden when they are challenging their own citizens, and courts are a function of government. Into this fray go those who advocate that The Constitution favors the government over the governed. One of the most prominent advocates of reading The Constitution as only protecting enumerated rights was Judge Robert Bork and his famous ‘inkblot’ interpretation of the 9th Amendment. About the beliefs held by Judge Bork and those who interpret The Constitution using the same flawed concept of ‘originalism’ which he uses, that the only rights belonging to the citizens are those which are specifically spelled out in The Constitution and that any other ‘discovered’ rights are illegitimately ‘created’ by the courts, The Oxford Companion to The Supreme Court of the United States says:

Yet this skeptical view of unenumerated rights would have the practical effect of converting the original scheme of limited [and] defined powers [of the government] in a sea of individual rights into a scheme of limited enumerated rights in a sea of [unlimited] government powers.”

I would also ask those who advocate such positions as Judge Bork’s for his ‘original intent’ interpretation of The Constitution, “Why do you think that the framers of The Constitution destroyed all of their notes and minutes from the entire Constitutional Convention if not to keep those who followed them from relying on their intent and, thus, giving us the freedom to make this country what we want it to be and to be able to adapt it to the changing needs of Society? While I have my own beliefs about requiring legislators to specify the goals and objectives for any legislation that they create (in order to make it easier for us to get rid of that legislation later), I can find no fault with the wisdom of the founders to deny us the knowledge of their ‘original’ intentions.

Anthony de Jasay, a Hungarian-born libertarian anarchist philosopher and economist who is best known for his writings against ‘the state’, talks about using a ‘Presumption of Liberty’ concept of natural rights. De Jasay argues that “liberty should be presumed, not because we have a “right” to it, or because it is the most important value or goal, but because it follows from the requirements of epistemology and logic. In other words, instead of appealing to a person’s preference for liberty, logic dictates that liberty should be presumed. The critical rationalist and philosopher of science, Gerard Radnitzky, was so impressed with de Jasay’s case for the presumption of liberty that he stated that “for the first time the political philosophy of libertarianism and of classical liberalism has gotten a solid base in logic and epistemology.


There is much to be considered by anyone who would advocate amending The Constitution with a goal of enshrining bigotry or prejudice within it, or of using it to take away rights from our citizens. To do so would be against every idea upon which The United States was created. I personally think that there should be (at least) four levels of rights and powers which should be considered by anyone who thinks they should have the right to tell everyone else what freedoms they do and do not have. They are, in order from highest to lowest:

1.) Rights that are retained by the people;

2.) Rights that are voluntarily surrendered by the people to the government;

3.) Rights that are suppressed by the people in our ‘voluntary’ association in a governed Society; and

4.) Rights that are repudiated by the people through the granting of certain powers and authority to the government.

Governments may have power, but only people have rights, and it is simply wrong for anyone to try to use our Constitutions to try to take away ANY of those rights. That is a ‘right’ which I do not believe anyone of ‘we the people’ ever gave away to anyone else.


As always, I want to acknowledge books and the Internet for giving me invaluable assistance in being able to use my mind and to write articles such as this. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Special thanks must be given, as is common for my constitutional articles, to The Oxford Companion to The Supreme Court of The United States (second edition), edited by Kermit L. Hall.


Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

Truth, Justice and Honor… But Above All, Honor

© copyright 2008 by Rhys M. Blavier

The Establishment

In Art, History, literature, Poetry, Protest on April 5, 2009 at 9:54 pm

We’re
Living in the Future and We’re
Living in the Past.
These are the dark Ages where
Man is trapped behind Cages of
Political Caste.

The
System rages on while
She remains steadfast.
A Rebellion She does wage at
Every Crook on the World Stage; their
Crimes are oh! so vast.

And She whispers in your Ear,
“The Revolution is inside of You.”

—Alexander S. Peak

Live-blogging: Hamilton’s Curse: Chapter 1: The Rousseau of the Right

In Books, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, History, Libertarian, literature, Live-blogging, Police State, Protest, Taxation, US Government on March 31, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Although no other founder has had “a bigger impact on American society” than Alexander Hamilton, his impact has nevertheless been “almost universally negative from the perspective of those who would like to think of America as the land of the free,” people like you and me (p. 9).

Thomas J. DiLorenzo continues with this theme as he embarks on chapter two of Hamilton’s Curse, the title of which comes from an article by political scientist Cecelia Kenyon in the scholarly journal Political Science Quarterly (pp. 22–23).

The defining characteristics of the British Empire, the same British Empire American revolutionaries found so liberticidal that secession was their only option, were “dictatorial monarchy, centralized power, imperialism, and economic mercantilism”—the very same set of conditions Hamilton fervently hoped America would adopt (p. 9).  Thus, if Hamilton was to convince the public to adopt these conditions, he would have to use rhetoric with striking simularity to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s conception of “general will.”  Thus, Hamilton discussed his policies in terms of “the public interest” literally “hundreds of times in [his] speeches, letters, and writings” (Ibid.).  This is, of course, an ancient tactic of statist oppressors, but one that often proves successful nonetheless.

Thus DiLorenzo writes, “Hamilton was an American mercantilist, and he and his party (and its political heirs, the Whigs and Republicans) advocated special-interest policies that would primarily benefit politically connected merchants, manufacturers, speculators, and bankers at the expense of the rest of the public.  The ‘public interest’ rhetoric was (and is) an indispensable political smoke screen if they were to achieve political success.  The wool must be pulled over the public’s eyes with ‘public interest’ rhetoric if mercantilism were to succeed.  Jefferson and his political compatriots, such as John Taylor, saw through it” (pp. 23–24).

We learn a bit more about Hamilton in this chapter, for example we learn that he was a slave-owner (pp. 10–11) who became a founder of the New York Post with the purpose of smearing his rival Thomas Jefferson.  We learn that Hamilton was an advocate of outright nationalism (p. 13) who wanted America to “a kind of ‘king’ [a permanent president] who would yield supreme power over all people, who in turn would have essentially no say in how their government was run.  The states would be mere provinces whose governors would be appointed by and loyal to the ‘king.’  Under such a regime, all political power in the nation would be exercised by the chief executive and his circle of advisors” (pp. 16–17).  And we learn that Hamilton had no qualms with lying in order to achieve his goals.

Hamilton, for example, prior to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, assured Jeffersonian localists that the various states would still be sovereign under the Constitution, even though he clearly had no personal opposition to the seizure of power by the central state.  Moreover, he promised that the newly-proposed U.S. Congress would never contemplate “marching the troops of one state into the bosom of another” for any reason (p. 20).  This, it turns out, was a bald-faced lie.

Hamilton, who wished to have a huge national debt and ever-higher levels of taxation, “was instrumental in getting Congress to enact numberous excise taxes, a national property tax, and other taxes, including a special tax on whiskey” (p. 34).  Unfortunately for western Pennsylvanian farmers, who used whiskey as their means of exchange (i.e. money), this made basic commerce too difficult and thus destroyed trade.  Needless to say, the farmers rebelled by refusing to pay the insane tax.

This act of independence and rebellion infuriated Hamilton, who wanted to fight the rebellion with “overwhelming force” (Ibid.).  “So at Hamilton’s urging, President Washington personally led an army of more than 13,000 conscripts to Pennsylvania, accompanied by Hamilton the chief tax collector,” the very thing he had promised the New York ratifying convention less than a decade earlier would never happen (Ibid.).

We really shouldn’t be surprised by this corruption.  Hamilton had no love for restrained government, and instead aimed to “build the foundations of a new empire” (p. 14).  Both Jefferson and Hamilton, DiLorenzo tells us, “fully understood what was at stake:  Would the American government mimic the British and pursue ‘national greatness,’ ‘imperial glory,’ and empire, as Hamilton preferred?  Or would the primary purpose of government be the modest Jeffersonian one of protecting the lives, liberties, and property of its citizens?  Both men understood that empire would mean that government would become the master, rather than the servant, of the people, as it had been for generations in the Old World” (p. 12).  The difference between the two men is that Hamilton wanted the involuntary servitude associated with statism to be foisted upon the haplas masses; the Jeffersonians did not.

Hamilton was no doubt disappointed by the Philadelphia Convention, therefore, which rejected his goals.  As Robert Yates’s Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention and Senator John Taylor’s New Views of the Constitution of the United States (1823) point out, the Founders understood themselves to be creating a system wherein each of the states retain their sovereignty.  Although Hamilton proposed his “permanent president,” the Convention whole-heartedly rejected the proposal and the philosophy of “executive dictatorship and monopoly government” (p. 17), instead viewing the Constitution as “a compact among the free and independent states and not as the creation of a ‘national’ government” (Ibid.).  It was never their intention to create a “central government whose laws would always trump the laws of the states” (p. 18), so it should come as no surprise that Hamilton, following the convention, called the Constitution “a frail and worthless fabric” (p. 14)—it didn’t achieve his hypernationalist goals.

Unfortunately today, the central state is treated as a Leviathan whose legitimacy trumps all below it, from the various state governments down to the individual.  Thus, although Hamilton initially saw his objective as having failed, in the end Hamiltonianism has unfortunately succeeded in transforming the American republic into the American Empire.  Hamilton the nationalist, Hamilton the mercantilist, Hamilton the militarist (pp. 28–29, 32), would be gleeful at the position of the modern American state.

I cannot say that this chapter comes without a personal objection.  On page 27, DiLorenzo states that the doctrine of implied powers, as advocated by Hamilton and his Federalist Party, bore “liberal judicial activism.”

I must ask, why do people still insist on implying that judicial activism necessarily expands the state?  It seems to me that it is judicial restraint that allows the Congress and the president to expand state power—in other words, the judiciary restrains itself from overriding the unconstitutional actions of the other two branches.

Liberal judicial activism was used back in the day to limit the power of the state, used to say that the unconstitutional big government policies of the other two branches were just that—unconstitutional—and were thus null and void.  Liberal judicial activism was used in the early years of Roosevelt to fight his unconstitutional New Deal.

Judicial restraint, conversely, was used—more often then not—to pretend that various big government programmes of Congress and the president were in fact perfectly fine vis-à-vis the Constitution.  Thus, the judicially restrained court effectively restrained itself from nullifying these laws.

It therefore seems to me that the Federalist Party brought us the birth of conservative judicial restraint.

DiLorenzo also fails to point out, when speaking of state sovereignty, that states do not actually possess “rights,” that rights can only be possessed by individuals and the voluntary associations they form.  (Surely, not even Mussolini would be so cavalier as to claim that the state is a voluntary association.)  The Founders clearly understood this, as the tenth amendment, which DiLorenzo himself addressed on pages 17–18, refer to the reserved powers of the states, not their “rights.”

DiLorenzo’s failure to mention that states do not actually possess rights and his willingness to associate judicial activism with either the Federalists or Hamilton’s doctrine of implied powers appear to be the only drawbacks to this chapter.  DiLorenzo’s attack on Hamilton remains well-deserved, and my view of Hamilton has, especially in light of his vicious and vile attack on the admirable Whiskey Rebellion, sunk to all new levels.

—Alexander S. Peak

Cops Gone Wild: Brutal attack on teen girl not uncommon police behavior

In Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Human Rights Abuses, Law, People in the news, Police Brutality, Police State, Protest on March 13, 2009 at 6:15 pm

By now, unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve seen the video of the 15-year-old girl who was violently attacked by a Seattle (Kings County) cop while being booked, because she kicked her shoe off at him and called him a name.

For said cave dwellers, here’s the video in question from a news report.

The teen had been arrested when she and some friends were seen driving erratically; the car belonged to a friend’s mother, and had been taken without permission.  The girls were arrested and charged with stealing the car.

Bear in mind, I do not condone that behavior by any stretch of the imagination.  No one ever has the right to take someone else’s property without permission, and they were also a serious danger to everyone else on the road since their erratic driving along with their age suggests they had no training or experience driving a motor vehicle.  I therefore have absolutely no problem with the girls being arrested.

I do, however, have a very, very serious problem with cops violently attacking suspects in this manner.

In a nutshell, the 15-year-old girl (Malika Calhoun, who has since given media interviews so her name is in the public record) angered officer Paul Schene, age 31, by calling him a “fat pig” and kicking her shoe off at him (though the shoe was not kicked hard, so it could not have harmed anyone), and Schene reacted with a shocking level of violence.  As you can see in the video, Schene ran into the room in full attack mode, slammed her head against the wall, threw her to the floor, punched her in the head several times, then picked her up by her hair (don’t get me started on what the hair-pulling says about this cop’s psychological problems).  She complained of having trouble breathing after the attack, which I do not doubt.  If nothing else, she may have had a panic attack following the shockingly violent attack against her.

Should she have called him a “fat pig” and kicked her shoe off at him?  Obviously not, and it’s pretty clear that she is a troubled teen based on her being involved in auto theft.  At the same time, that kind of behavior in teens is not unusual, as many parents find out the hard way, and many teens engage in that kind of behavior but grow up to be perfectly respectable, law-abiding adults; in fact, that’s why the criminal records of minors are sealed, since they lack the maturity of adults and do many times make extremely poor choices.  Either way, her disrespectful actions toward Schene do not explain Schene’s reaction, and in fact his reaction says far more about him than her behavior says about her, given her age.  I therefore can’t say her portrayal of him as a “fat pig” was necessarily incorrect.  Why should anyone respect the authority of a cop like Schene, who acts like a violent criminal himself?

Even in light of the video evidence against him, Schene has only been placed on paid leave pending the investigation.  Yet it is very clear that he engaged in brutality, since even his defense – that she called him names and kicked her shoe off at him – does not in any way explain, much less excuse, his violent actions.  So why are taxpayers being forced to fund what amounts to a paid vacation for him?  Clearly he is a danger to the public, and thus should have been fired as soon as his actions came to light.  Steps must be taken to protect the public from Schene.  Pure and simple, this is a man who should never have been given a badge.  Paul Schene didn’t just snap and attack a suspect this one time, that much I can guarantee.  He merely got away with it until now, because he’s a cop.

While the various television talking heads are quick to point out that this is an unusual situation, they’re both completely right and horribly, terribly wrong.  This kind of violence toward suspects actually happens all the time, but is almost impossible to prove since the average person tends to believe cops over the people they arrested, so the public doesn’t hear about it.   The only thing truly unusual about this situation – not unlike the infamous Rodney King beating by the LAPD – is that the attack was caught on videotape.  In this case, the prosecutor who was assigned to examine the criminal complaint (filed by the cop against the girl, not vice versa) pulled the surveillance tape to see what happened.  Had Schene not charged the girl for kicking her shoe at him, the public would never have even known about this shocking instance of police brutality.  The truth is, few if any people would believe a 15-year-old girl over a cop, even if she went public with the allegation.  Schene was counting on that, too.  The fact that he knew there was a surveillance camera there, but still filed the assault charges against her, suggests that he was counting on the prosecutor looking the other way as well.

The other cop in the room, a trainee, never reported the incident even though he had an absolute duty to do so since a violent crime was committed in his presence.  Is this trainee really so stupid that he doesn’t recognize assault when it’s right in front of him?  Does that trainee believe that cops are allowed to brutalize suspects?  Was he afraid of getting into trouble for being there?  Or did the trainee not report it because he feared for his career, and possibly even his life since in the field he has to depend upon other cops to cover his back?

The trainee cop has not been disciplined, and has not been charged.  However, he should have been fired immediately for failing to report the assault.  It’s easy to fire a trainee, since they can be relieved of duty for any reason, or no reason at all.  Chances are he was not fired because he cooperated with the investigation into Schene’s actions, but that still does not excuse his actions (or lack thereof) insofar as his employment is concerned.  At most he should be granted immunity from prosecution, since he does not appear to have assaulted the girl himself (but could still be charged with conspiracy); however, he still should lose his job for not reporting Schene’s assault.

Schene, on the other hand, would be harder to fire because he almost certainly has the Fraternal Order of Police backing him up.  While the FOP is extremely powerful when it comes to defending cops who have been fired, it would also be extremely hard for them to successfully argue that Schene should not be fired in light of the video and his pathetic excuses for his actions.  Yes, it would cost the department quite a bit of money to defend against a union challenge, but that’s their mistake and they now need to correct it.  They obviously didn’t screen either cop very well, or else they would not be in this predicament at all.  They need to fire the trainee, fire Schene, fight any FOP challenge to the decision, and learn from it by more carefully screening their officers.  Either way, take the badge and gun away from this uniformed thug before he kills someone else.

Yes, you read that right.  Schene has been a cop for only eight years, but has already been investigated for two police-related shootings, one of which resulted in death.  He was cleared both times, which is also not at all surprising.  Cops are rarely found at fault in shootings, even when they acted improperly, because the cop’s claimed perceptions are given greater weight than the actual reality of the situation.  Schene’s shootings should be reinvestigated by an independent panel outside the law enforcement community and outside the area, given his actions in this case which clearly show that he has extremely serious impulse control problems which render him dangerous to others, as well as the failure of everyone within the department to report his assault upon the girl – though obviously numerous people knew, including the trainee and the medics – which suggests there may have been a coverup in the investigation of the shootings as well. 

This brings me to another issue, with regard to the complaint made against this girl which resulted in the discovery of this surveillance video.  Simply stated, charges of obstruction of justice and assault on a police officer are rarely legitimate charges.  More likely than not, they are used to pad other charges.  Sometimes, as in this case, a charge of assault upon a police officer is filed only to cover up violent behavior by the cops.  Those kinds of charges are also used as a trump card by the prosecution, to make defendants think they’re getting a deal by having some charges dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on other charges, when in reality there is rarely any evidence to back up the dropped charges beyond than the cop’s word.  That the girl would be charged with assault upon a police officer at all, given what is shown in that video, is disturbing at best.

What I find most disturbing of all, however, is the number of people who are defending Schene for committing a violent crime against a minor.  The internet is overrun by those making excuses for him, from “maybe he had a bad day” to “the girl had it coming because she stole a car”.   I hate to tell them this, but “having a bad day” is not an excuse for attacking anyone, or else it would be an affirmative defense for everyone accused of assault, murder, and other violent crimes; and there is no law in this country which states that the punishment for being accused of car theft is a violent beating by someone much larger than you, and trained to attack others. 

Those who claim to be law-and-order types are strangely the first ones to suggest that violent crime is acceptable, as long as it’s committed by a cop.  Those with the same mindset defended the animals-with-badges on the LAPD who nearly beat Rodney King to death (they claimed he was resisting arrest, though the video shows otherwise), and the NYPD cops who shot Amadou Diallo a shocking 41 times (they claimed they thought his wallet, taken out to show ID as he did not speak English well, was a gun), so making excuses for completely out-of-control cops is not a new phenomenon, but it never fails to be an extremely disturbing reflection upon our society.

At any rate, the US Department of Justice is now investigating Schene’s actions in brutalizing the teenager.  While normally I don’t approve of the feds intervening in local affairs, it is the best thing which could happen in this case since local authorities (and local juries) rarely take appropriate action in cases of police brutality, even when there is clear and convincing evidence and high public/media interest.  Even in this case, in which Schene was criminally charged, he was only charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree assault.  Chances are he will get probation at most if convicted of that charge, and based upon the long history of cops being acquitted for even more heinous acts against the citizenry, it is not even sure that he will be convicted despite the video evidence.  However, if convicted in federal court, he will likely be sentenced to federal prison, and caged like the animal he has proven himself to be.

Songs of Freedom: Tales from the Revolution

In Activism, Art, Protest on March 11, 2009 at 1:42 am

Artist-activist Darryl W. Perry describes his latest project.  Submission are accepted at the Songs of Freedom blog. –S.G.

I got the idea for this book about 6 weeks after the Presidential election of 2008. I began to reflect on the previous 18 months with all of the rallies and events that I (and thousands others) had attended in support of a smaller government and more personal freedom. I was reminded that Dr. Paul had become the unofficial spokesman for liberty for this generation. I, and others, see the “rEVOLution” as an extension of the American Revolution started by our ancestors over 230 years ago. While we aren’t fighting the British crown for independence, we are fighting an oppressive government for our freedom. We’re fighting to protect our Constitutional rights, which have slowly eroded away over the last century.

While this book is inspired by Dr. Paul and partially dedicated to him; it is also about more than one man. To borrow a quote from Adam Kokesh, “The freedom movement is bigger than any one party, and any one leader. The revolution of which I speak is a revolution of values, of political culture, and of the understanding of the responsibility of being a good citizen. When that happens, it will be reflected in our political system one way or another, be it through the Republicans, Democrats, Green Party, Constitution Party, or an independent candidate…More than the party or any one candidate, I am committed to this movement, my country, and my principles.

This is a book written by and for everyone in the freedom movement.  I’m hoping to have the book ready for release by April 15th. I’ve set a deadline of March 30 for submissions of pro-freedom artwork, poems, short stories and essays. Currently there have been submissions of work from Gary Franchi & Adam Kokesh. I have also found some good works in the public domain from Emma Goldman, Henry David Thoreau, Richard Henry Lee & Patrick Henry that seem fitting. After all, the fight for freedom spans centuries and “requires eternal vigilance”.

EXCLUSIVE: More LP Executive Session Info Leaked

In Activism, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Protest on December 9, 2008 at 10:45 pm

This is the letter I just sent to the LNC.

*****

December 9, 2009.

To the LNC:

In open session on Sunday, December 7, LNC Region #7 Representative Rachel Hawkridge was observed inadvertently mentioning Executive Session material. She immediately realized her mistake and publicly apologized.

It is in the best interest of the LNC to not pursue any sanctions of any sort against Ms. Hawkridge in this matter, because it will open another can of worms the LNC does not want to deal with. Please remember that I was present, not only broadcasting the meeting over the Internet, but also recording the broadcast and Twittering it out as well, where the Twitters were captured and blogged. In terms of what happened, I am an expert witness, and the events in question are well-documented.

That recording indicates that while Ms. Hawkridge undoubtedly leaked Executive Session material, she was not the first to do so. That would be the Treasurer, Mr. Aaron Starr. I also noticed it myself and Twittered the event.

To quote myself directly from the Twitter feed, in chronological order, typographical errors and all:

Starr just leaked that ES was about “staffing changes”. You draw the conclusions. 11:20 AM Dec 7th from web

Hawkridge also leaks ES on “staff cuts.” Mea cupla for her. But Starr already did it earlier. 11:37 AM Dec 7th from web

The words on the Twitters are quoted accurately, and the taped evidence of the open session confirms it, and is easily available to the public for viewing.

The difference in the words is irrelevant, as anybody who watched the budgetary part of the open session could plainly deduce that the “staffing changes” Mr. Starr refers to is the “staffing cuts” that Ms. Hawkridge refers to—the worst-kept secret in the room, in any case.

The only other difference is that Ms. Hawkridge expressed remorse for her accident and immediately apologized. Mr. Starr neither indicated remorse nor apologized. The conclusion is easily drawn that Mr. Starr’s actions were intentional and contemptuous of the rules. If they were not intentional, then Mr. Starr’s lack of awareness of leaking Executive Session material indicates an incompetence level unworthy of the office of LP Treasurer, and Mr. Starr ought to consider resigning in favor of someone more aware.

If the LNC chooses to pursue action against Ms. Hawkridge for an accidental slip of the tongue, then it is obligated to pursue more severe action against Mr. Starr for a deliberate one—perhaps even the actions sought in the most recent deliberate instance, meaning those sought in the shameful kangaroo case brought against Ms. Keaton, which if I recall correctly, was suspension from the LNC.

So the LNC is faced with four options.

Should action be pursued against Ms. Hawkridge and not Mr. Starr, then the membership will conclude it to be further evidence of a “purge” within the LNC—the very thing that further erodes the credibility of the LNC as a leadership body.

Should action be pursued against Mr. Starr and not Ms. Hawkridge, then the membership will conclude it to be Justice for past issues which may or may not have any bearing on the current situation.

Should action be pursued against both Ms. Hawkridge and Mr. Starr, then the membership will conclude it to be consistent but evidence of further unproductiveness, further eroding credibility of the LNC as a leadership body.

The only tangible and credible option left is to drop both matters completely and move on to much more important matters, perhaps with an appropriate public apology by Mr. Starr for his transgression.

At the end of the public comments section that day, I warned the LNC that while videotaping the meetings could produce evidence of liability, it could also provide exculpatory evidence, and that it all depended on how the LNC conducts itself. Here we see a perfect example of what I was referring to in how the body conducts itself. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a million pictures.

I am very sure the LNC does not wish to further expand on its current public relations disaster by pursuing this now or any time in the future. It is in the best interest of the LNC to simply let both matters drop, and I strongly encourage that route of inaction. Discretion is the better part of valor, and sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Sincerely,

Michael W. Seebeck

*****

Ironic, though, it bounced on Sullentrup, who had his email changed recently.  They can’t seem to get contact info for the officers updated very fast, but they wasted no time at all in removing Ms. Keaton from the page…and Mr. Squyres, who has also resigned, remains up as well.  Nice priorities!

Technical notes from the LNC “LP-SPAN” broadcast

In Activism, Corruption, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Protest on December 9, 2008 at 2:42 am

I’ve returned from the great adventure I call “LP-SPAN” and here are my thoughts on the technical side of the issue. It is my hope that we can take this and build on it to make the next round of LNC insanity even better in terms of the broadcast quality. All suggestions are definitely appreciated. This is most definitely a work in progress.

The equipment:

I was using a Microsoft LifeCam either attached to a clip on the top of my laptop or on its independent pole. The camera allows pan and zoom IF you use the Microsoft software. However, the Justin.tv feed doesn’t allow that. No idea if Ustream does. I also had trouble with lighting issues in the room, especially the projector screen glare.

For future, I’d recommend a real videocam on a tripod, which should be able to create a better view and video quality. Personal experience suggests a bird-watching scope tripod over a camera tripod for lightness and ease of use. Plus mine has super-high elevation so it could pan over the crowd. Background lighting was also a factor as the projection screen glare and the lights in the ceiling behind everyone made the picture quality poor.

The laptop was sitting on a tray table I had brought along since the room didn’t have any tables except for catering or the meeting table. It caused shaking of the cam at times when I tweeted, and the hunch-over caused havoc on my back over time. I was hurting badly until Rachel gave me a much-needed back rub. “Bitchin’!” 🙂

I’d recommend not having the camera attached to the laptop or at least set up in a way that it doesn’t shake. That and having a good setup so the laptop is the proper height to the user.

I’d also recommend a good omnidirectional microphone set up where everything can be caught well. The mic built into the webcam also caught my comments and occasional whispers, and a lot of extra noise. At SD the board table was in a cube with an open center, and the mic in there would have been best. I didn’t have that and it would have been a big help.

The testing:

I made sure that I understood how it all tied together and I did some test runs at home to make sure. That made a big difference come show time. However, the differences between my den and the meeting room were vast. I’d recommend testing in the meeting room if at all possible, because of the acoustics and lighting.

I tried the Justin.tv feed with the laptop’s webcam, then the external one recording, then with outside people and trying to embed.

Embedding the live feed was also a challenge. I had Todd Barnett on the phone helping to troubleshoot on his end. It helps to have someone on the receiving end to evaluate the reception. Ditto during the meeting. The justin.tv feed had a chat room built into each feed window, and that made getting the feedback easy, which came in handy when the connection got bad. Justin.tv does NOT work with WordPress well, unless Todd and I just missed something, which is certainly possible. I got it to embed at blogger/blogspot just fine. Other embedding notes are appreciated.

We also encountered a horrible screeching when we were testing, until we figured out that it was caused by the laptop speakers output being picked up by the webcam mic and creating a nasty feedback loop. The solution was to mute the speakers. Wear headphones when adjusting the microphone volume in advance.

The Feed:

First, I was on the hotel’s wireless connection, which at times was very slow. The more people that were logged into the network, the slower it got. If you can, use a wired connection to ensure the connection rate stays consistent.

Second, it is extremely important to have someone on the other end provide feedback on the reception. On my end, the display on the popout window was far different than the one in the main window. Here the chat box was invaluable, and I was lucky to have multiple people giving me feedback.

Third, Justin.tv gave me the option to record as we broadcast. Do it. It saves off the pieces online for later download. I’d suggest stopping and restarting the recording at various spots to break it up into manageable segments instead of one long one. I always made sure to check the bandwidth between recordings because of the wireless, but I don’t think that may be necessary on a wired connection.

The twitter:

It’s a great tool to do this live. Yes, the 140 character limit can be an issue at times. I’d recommend two tweets, both in the gallery rather than on the board, who should focus on what is going on anyway. Plus, it removes any issue about “decorum” or “executive session”, but the tweets should be as neutral as possible. The advantage of two is that one can pick up what the other missed, which is an area I had trouble with at times. I’d also suggest that if you can’t get on a wired connection, then see if the tweet can be done on a Blackberry. The wireless connection problems that plagued the feed connection also slowed down the tweets. It may be advisable to have whomever is tweeting be different from the camera operations.

All in all, my rig was a little crude, but it was something. I don’t see this as too difficult, just taking a little getting used to. If you test beforehand and practice, it goes better.

It is my hope that anyone else who does this will report back here and add their own thoughts as well.

Georgia LP passes resolution against LNC’s proposed Keaton suspension

In Activism, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Protest on December 2, 2008 at 12:09 am

The following is a Resolution passed by the Libertarian Party of Georgia this evening, with regard to the LNC’s Resolution of Discipline regarding LNC At-Large Representative Angela Keaton:

Resolved, the Libertarian Party of Georgia expresses its deep disappointment with the Libertarian National Committee in its continued activities regarding Angela Keaton and it neglect of its proper Party duties, and expresses a desire that the LNC get back on proper course for the LP by actually working for the growth of the Party and advancing public policy in a libertarian direction, instead of engaging in self-destructive, alienating, embarrassing, and pointless internal squabbles.

You can read about the LNC’s Resolution of Discipline here, including a PDF of the actual Resolution.

Call to Arms: Resolution of Discipline against Angela Keaton

In Activism, Boston Tea Party, Crazy Claims, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Politics, Protest on December 1, 2008 at 10:15 pm

The charges against Angela Keaton have finally been disclosed (well, leaked, LOL) and Stewart Flood is behind them.  He wrote it, and he plans to present it on Saturday.

Grab your popcorn, folks, because this one is a doozy.  Strangely, it reflects far more upon Stewart than it does on Angela.  After reading it over, it’s my opinion that Stewie needs both a humor implant, and a life.  It must have taken him forever to dig up all this crap on Ms. Keaton, and most of it obviously was just a joke on her part, an exaggeration on his part, and/or taken completely out of context.  The rest I’ll have to check into, but as far as I’m concerned, just glancing over it based upon what I have seen, the charges are a joke.

Of particular interest is the allegation that Ms. Keaton provided material support to another political party (assumably the BTP).  What exactly was Bob Barr doing, both when he sat on the LNC and was the LP’s presidential candidate, while his PAC contributed thousands to Republican candidates, if not providing material support to another party?  Why wasn’t he brought up on disciplinary charges? 

The resolution is to suspend her, but the suspension will be rescinded if she submits a written apology to millions of people within seven days, on about 20 differerent alleged “offenses”, to be published in LP News.  This is clearly in my opinion nothing but an attempt to humiliate her, given the very weird nature of the charges, and force her to bend to the demands of the reformers.  

So, here’s your assignment, LFV contributors and readers.  Dig up all the dirt you can on every single person she has allegedly harmed, according to the resolution.  I know there’s a lot out there, because I have received a lot of it over time.  I’m talking everything, from Stewart allegedly claiming to have been a Unabomber suspect, to men on the LNC calling Angela a “fucking bitch”.  Post it in comments.  

Here’s the “Resolution of Discipline”:  resolution-of-discipline-for-angela-keaton

The LNC shows its true agenda

In Boston Tea Party, Censorship, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Protest on November 27, 2008 at 12:19 am

The Agenda for the December LNC meeting – which looks like someone has quite an agenda indeed – has listed 30 minutes for “Discipline of Angela Keaton”.

How strangely interesting that Angela Keaton was unaware of this item until the agenda was released. Quite the contrary, in fact, since she was under the impression that the “discipline” discussed at the last meeting was now moot.

There are several theories floating around about that agenda item, and one of them is that Angela is being disciplined for wearing a Boston Tea Party t-shirt. It appears that at least one LNC member snooped around her Facebook until he found the allegedly incriminating photo.  Why on earth would someone do that, unless they had a predetermined agenda?

Problem is, though I had seen the picture numerous times, to the point that I knew exactly which photo was in question even before I saw it, even I didn’t know it was Angela in the t-shirt, since the photo doesn’t show her head or face.  Honestly, I thought it was Miche modeling the t-shirt.  That being the case, how could it possibly be a breach of duty even if, arguendo, it is Angela?

The other theory is that during the last LNC meeting, Angela was given ten days to apologize, but she has not done so; and as a result, rather than the item being moot, it is being revisited.  I did not believe then that the LNC acted professionally or with the best interests of the LP at heart in their behavior during the last LNC meeting, and I still do not believe they acted appropriately.  

One thing is abundantly clear, and must not be forgotten: Angela Keaton is a two-term elected member of the Libertarian National Committee. She is the most active LNC member by far with regard to keeping the membership apprised of party actions and business.  As such, she is irreplaceable.  To even attempt to remove her yet again, will cause irreparable damage to the morale of many libertarians at a time when the LP can hardly afford to spread ill will.  

Last but certainly not least, this silly vendetta makes the LP look grossly unprofessional to those who are outside looking in.  We don’t see the major parties comporting themselves in this manner regarding strictly internal questions, because they know how damaging it would be not only to their personal reputations, but the reputation of the party they represent.  The LP doesn’t have a built-in constituency like the GOP and the Democrats.  The LP cannot afford behavior which makes them look like they’re coming apart at the seams from the inside, yet that’s exactly how this appears.

It is one thing when libertarians fuss and fight with each other.  It is something altogether different when the elected governing body is engaging in that behavior.

This is not how such internal problems – assuming it is a problem at all, and in my opinion it is not – should be handled.  Furthermore, I don’t understand why 30 minutes is being set aside for the LNC to publicly humiliate an elected representative, while far less time is set aside for far more substantive matters.

Frankly, I am disappointed.  I was under the mistaken impression that the LNC is comprised of adults. Instead they appear to be perpetually in kindergarten, where they put people in “time out” for alleged offenses, then keep badgering them until they apologize even when they don’t believe they did anything wrong.

Seriously, LNC, is badgering Angela Keaton worth 30 minutes of your meeting time, when your presidential candidate fell so far short of his pre-nomination promises that the end result was nothing short of humiliating? Is it worth it to burn up that time when you should be discussing the fact that your presidential candidate gave money to Republicans running against Libertarian candidates? Is it worth it so you don’t have to discuss your VP candidate’s racist comments in Reason Magazine?  Is it worth it to burn up that time when the LP is, financially speaking, the rough equivalent of the Titanic?  Or is burning up time the whole point, since “disciplining” Angela Keaton will eat up time more enlighteningly spent analyzing and discussing what went so terribly wrong with the Libertarian Party this election season, and what part the LNC played in that failure?

The LNC already ate up a great deal of its only pre-election meeting with “disciplining” Angela Keaton, when they had far more important things to discuss; and perhaps if they had spent their time doing what it is that they were elected to do, the election would have fared far better. How long is this vindictive agenda against Ms. Keaton going to continue? Why wasn’t this discussed on the LNC talk list, rather than dragged out into full public view? There is really only one possible reason for that, and that reason is to publicly humiliate Angela Keaton.

Why should anyone take the LNC seriously, when they repeatedly waste precious quarterly meeting time trying to remove an elected LNC member, rather than discussing the important issues which affect the party as a whole?  I find the LNC’s behavior on this subject to be extremely distasteful, and downright embarrassing.  

Nevertheless, Angela Keaton has every right to appear at that meeting fully prepared to refute the charges against her.  However, that will prove difficult since she has not been formally apprised of the specific charges against her, nor has she been apprised of the identity of her accuser(s).  

What kind of kangaroo court does the LNC plan to hold in San Diego?  Again, it disgusts me, as it should disgust all libertarians.  It is an act of aggression against a woman elected by the membership, through its delegates.  This is not Ms. Keaton’s first term, so it’s not as if they didn’t know exactly who they were electing, or why they were electing her.  Ms. Keaton was elected to do exactly what she has done to get her into this predicament, which is to represent the voiceless within the LP through whatever means necessary.  That was the will of the membership.  Now, she is paying a heady price, and to what end?  What does the LNC stand to gain from her departure?  That is a question best posed to the LNC member behind the agenda item in question, as well as for any other LNC member who supports this action.

One thing is for sure.  This insistence by the LNC to continue its vendetta against Ms. Keaton will only harm the Libertarian Party, its members, and the libertarian movement as a whole.  Longtime respected libertarian activists are rebelling already; and without the activists, the LP may as well not even exist.

For the above reasons, I respectfully suggest that those who keep pushing this anti-Keaton agenda should be the ones disciplined, for openly engaging in a public vendetta against a fellow elected representative, thus causing serious harm to the party they are duty-bound to protect.