Steve G.

Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

LEE WRIGHTS FOR PRESIDENT 2012 EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE

In Activism, Austrian Economics, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Drug War, Iran, Iraq War, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Middle East, Minorities, Music, Nanny State, Police Brutality, Presidential Candidates, War on December 4, 2010 at 4:37 pm

For more information:
Brian Irving, press secretary
Phone: 919.538.4548
E-mail: press@libertypoint.org

Wrights pledges a ‘wise and frugal’ principled campaign
BURNET, Texas (Dec. 4) – In the four months since R. Lee Wrights began exploring the idea of seeking the Libertarian presidential nomination he has become even more convinced how critical it is for the Libertarian Party to be the anti-war party in 2012.

“The Democrats have not just completely failed to stop the ever expanding cycle of war, they continue to enlarge the cycle,” he said. “When the Republicans take control of the U.S. House, there will be no one left to speak for peace, no one but Libertarians,” Wrights said.

“When I announced formation of an exploratory committee on July 4, I said the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war.” Wrights said. “Since then many Libertarians have told me they agree, and some have signed on to the campaign to help make it so.”

Thomas Hill, of Charlotte, N.C. has known Wrights for 10 years. He agreed to chair the exploratory committee because he said Wrights has proven to be a consistent and principled libertarian.

“He has never been afraid or ashamed of the axiom of non-aggression,” Hill said. “A true patriot through and through, Lee loves our great country and sincerely wishes to not only restore our once great Republic but to guarantee all men and women are truly free to live their lives and pursue their peaceful and honest dreams.”
“You cannot lead a nation into peace and prosperity while constantly initiating aggression against other nations,” said Norman Horn, who signed on as webmaster. “War is the ultimate evil and must be vigorously opposed by all true libertarians.”

Other members of the committee include: Brian Irving, press secretary; Robert Butler, treasurer; Julie Fox, assistant treasurer; Sean Haugh, events coordinator; Zachary Smith, campus coordinator, and; Katie Brewer, social media coordinator.

Wrights said he intends to run a campaign that will mirror the way a Libertarian president would govern. “I plan on running what Thomas Jefferson would probably call a ‘wise and frugal’ campaign,” he said. “It will be professional and well-run, a campaign all Libertarians can be proud of, but we won’t waste money on frills and we will rely heavily on grassroots activists.”

He said he is determined that whoever wins the 2012 nomination is totally committed to proclaiming the message to stop all war. To that end, Wrights has pledged to commit ten percent of all donations to his campaign to gain ballot access in all 50 states.

The committee also wants to ensure the 2012 nominee is equally committed to running on an unequivocal libertarian platform. “We need a candidate who is not ashamed nor afraid to proclaim the true libertarian message of individual liberty and personal responsibility, without compromise, without watering down and without pandering to those who are afraid of freedom,” said Irving.

Wrights, a Winston-Salem native, is a writer and political activist living in Texas. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All.
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Earl Ofari Hutchinson Scares Me

In Drug War, History, Immigration, Libertarian, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Minorities, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Republican, Ron Paul, US Government, War on February 24, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Three days ago, Mr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson posted a piece at The Huffington Post concerning Ron Paul, the man who won the straw poll at the 2010 CPAC thanks largely to the huge number of young people who attended the event.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hutchinson’s post contains a number of errors as well as a number of rather disturbing comments and implications.

Before I address those concerns, however, I wanted, simply as a point of objectivity, list some things on which I disagree with Dr. Paul:

(1) Although Paul does supports gay marriage (as he made clear in interviews with Elliot Schrage and with John Stossel), he unfortunately also supports the so-called Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is both unconstitutional and heterosexist. I do not understand how Paul can rationally defend his support for this legislation, since it creates a federal definition of marriage which the federal government has no authority to create, and since it is, once again, heterosexist.

(2) Ron Paul unfortunately does not support open borders, even though government regulation and planning of human migration is both economically backward and unconstitutional.

(3) Ron Paul supports copyrights and patents, whereas I do not.

(4) Ron Paul does not share my nuanced (and difficult to describe in short passages) view on abortion.

And, finally, (5) Ron Paul is not an anarchist, and as such, is simply not radical enough.

These are all flaws that Ron Paul has, but compared to other politicians, these flaws are so few in number that I’m willing to look past them and throw my support to Ron Paul. He is one of the few politicians in either establishment party for whom I would not feel uncomfortable voting.

With these points dutifully addressed, I believe it is now appropriate to detail the flaws I find with Mr. Hitchinson’s post.

Mr. Hutchinson comments on what he calls Ron Paul’s “controversial off beat quips on race matters,” but fails to give even one quote to illustrate what sort of “quips” Paul allegedly makes.

It is possible that Mr. Hutchinson is referring to the Ron Paul Newsletters from the ’80s and early ’90s, but I believe it has been fairly-well demonstrated that Ron Paul did not author these, and was likely unaware what the specific articles in his newsletters even said. Of course, this isn’t to say we should not hold Paul to task for being an irresponsible editor; we most absolutely should. There is no defence for his irresponsible failure to even read what was being published in his newsletters. But, at the same time, there is not one shred of empirical evidence I have ever come across to indicate that Ron Paul himself is in any way racist or has ever said anything disparaging about other “races.” (I have opted to put the word “races” in quotation marks for, in my opinion, “race” does not actually exist; it is nothing more than a social construct. I regard myself as a member of the human race.) In 2007, I conducted a detailed analysis of the Newsletters. The results of my analysis are available here.

Mr. Hutchinson also references “a 30 second TV spot that ran in New Hampshire during the 2008 campaign,” an ad that was not particularly tasteful, nor particularly individualistic. What Hutchinson fails to mention is that many grassroots Ron Paul supporters disliked the ad and made their discontent known. I should know: I was one of them. Here is what Justin Raimondo, another Ron Paul supporter, had to say of the ad.

I suspect that Paul issued this ad to appeal to those conservatives who viewed him, ignorantly enough, as “soft on terrorism.” I actually approve of Mr. Hutchinson’s critique of the ad itself, but it would have been nice if he had presented a balanced acknowledgement of its negative reception amongst Paulians.

Then, shockingly and disgustingly, Mr. Hutchinson attacks Ron Paul for not being bloodthirsty enough. Ron Paul had correctly asserted that slavery could have been and should have been ended without war. Paul had also correctly asserted that no other country that abolished slavery engaged in civil war to do so. Mr. Hutchinson refers to this as “historical dumbness” but fails to show even a shred of evidence to the contrary of Paul’s claims.

I don’t if Mr. Hutchinson has ever studied in detail the civil war era, but I have studied it to some degree, and what I discovered had caused me to lose all respect for Lincoln. Growing up, I had considered Lincoln a hero. But upon studying the matter, I discovered (1) that the war was not even fought on the grounds of ending slavery, and that the slavery issue was not even brought up until halfway into the war; (2) the slavery issue was only brought up as a means of enticing the South to rejoin the union, and Lincoln made it abundantly clear that he was willing to keep slavery going if it meant the union would be reunited; (3) the abolitionists of the day were not fans of Lincoln, and were the first to point out that his Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free a single slave; (4) Lincoln engaged in a form of enslavement called conscription; (5) Lincoln jailed dissenters for speaking out against war, and even suspended habeas corpus; and (6) Lincoln made openly racist statements about black people that ought to sicken any modern American, liberal or conservative.

I must admit, I find it downright scary that Mr. Hutchinson dismisses Paul’s claim that we can make meaningful change without resorting to war.

Mr. Hutchinson claims that Paul “asserted that blacks are criminally inclined, political dumb bells, and chronic welfare deadbeats.” I would like to see Mr. Hutchinson present one verified quote from Paul on this. Again, while there were indeed disgusting, racist comments that made their way into the Newsletters, there is no evidence that Ron Paul wrote or even read said comments. If any evidence were to arise, I would be the first to denounce Paul; yet empirical evidence remains un-presented.

While there was indeed a few white supremacists who supported Dr. Paul, there is no evidence that a “hobnob” occurred with them. Moreover, the vast majority of Paul supporters were extremely embarrassed when it came to light that there was some racist scumbag who was planning to vote for Paul. This is why so many Ron Paul supporters in 2007 came to Paul’s defence, saying that Paul was not a racist and that the tiny number of white supremacists ought there planning to vote for Paul did not represent the rest of us.

Hutchinson scares me when he criticised Ron Paul for correctly pointing out that “[g]overnment as an institution is particularly ill-suited to combat bigotry.” Does Mr. Hutchinson not know that government is a particularly racist institution? It was an institution called “government” that murdered innocent Jews simply for being Jewish; it was an institution called “government” that sent innocent Asians into dirty camps in California; it was an institution called “government” that instituted Jim Crow laws, which systematically infringed upon the rights of a people simply for looking a little different; it was an institution called “government” that protected and defended the institution of slavery centuries. In fact, the U.S. government is still racist: just look at how the war on drugs is used to attack blacks so much more often than whites, despite the fact that whites use just as much drugs as blacks. Government is racist, government is patriarchal, government is evil. Mr. Hutchinson cites a few tiny examples of a government doing some less-indecent things, as though this somehow undoes or excuses governments around the world for all the horrors they have unleashed upon people. It does not! Moreover, if Paul errs in any way on this matter, it’s in not being even more opposed to statism than he is.

Mr. Hutchinson also writes that “Paul’s views are a corn ball blend of libertarianism, know-nothing Americanism, and ultra conservative laissez faire limited government.” I hold, however, that there is nothing “limited government” about conservatism. Perhaps this is a minor complaint, since so many people do define the term in so many different ways; but, I nevertheless desire to state my position on the matter, and in so doing, to promote the definition I employ for the term.

More importantly, Mr. Hutchinson makes the error of describing Paul’s foreign policy as “neo-isolationist.” In reality, Paul’s foreign policy is far more similar to that of the classical liberal Richard Cobden, as Dr. Thomas Woods has pointed out. Paul has nothing against employing diplomacy and open dialogue with other countries, nor has he anything against trade with other countries; in fact, it is still the popular liberal foreign policy view that open trade between countries diminishes or eliminates the tendencies for war-making between said counties. Paul isn’t supporting the goal of cutting America off from the rest of the world, he simply opposing American imperialism in other countries. I do not know if I should infer from Mr. Hutchinson’s comments whether or not he supports imperialism, war-mongering, and militarism, but if he does, then I should hasten to add that such an aggressive foreign policy scares me.

Finally, Mr. Hutchinson says that Paul’s speech at CPAC contained “a pinch here and there of racial baits,” but again Mr. Hutchinson fails to give even one example.

In conclusion, Hutchinson’s piece is poorly researched and poorly argued. While I believe there are legitimate criticisms one can make about Paul, this article reiterates many of the unfounded ones that have been demonstrated to be false time and time again. While Hutchinson does make a couple good points, these are unfortunately overshadowed by his veiled militarism and other statist viewpoints. Thus, I would hope to see less articles of this nature from The Huffington Post in the future.

—Alexander S. Peak

Creative Commons License

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.

How War Does Speed

In Activism, Corruption, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Drug War, Humor, Iraq War, Libertarian, Military, War on October 26, 2009 at 1:47 pm

War is not the health of the state. At least not in the long run. I respect Randolph Bourne and his cogent observation that  “War is the health of the state”. But he is far too lenient in diagnosing war and that psychopathic institution of monopolistic coercion, which is the state. Rather war is the amphetamine of the state and speeds it along to its destruction along with the attending population.

War is a collective addiction of those who are vetted for violence and recklessness. They charge into areas laden with known lethal dangers. Amphetamine (or Amvet-a-mine?) is a capsule description of this addictive drug. It comes in many forms, as does war. It has been described to me by an addict as giving initially a rush of power, a feeling of purpose that drives eventually to conflict. One goes into the most difficult of projects with gusto only to be distracted later into another one. As its use continues headlong into constant use it brings on paranoia, exhaustion, anger and lack of judgment. One forgets simply how to take care of oneself and family as nourishment, health and hygiene fall by the wayside. Initial goals are forgotten for while the drive becomes for more and more of the experience itself. It ends up in despair, delusions, discord, disease and death.

It has been prescribed and proscribed by people who are doctors. It is designed in laboratories and manufactured in factories. This was seen as a way to get more work out of a nation. They have also said it was a way to get out of a depression. It was also seen as a way to stop other drug use or just to generally wake people up.

These authorities also saw it as a way for people to become more aggressive and talkative. Every thought became concentration and power. It was hailed as a way to increase initiative, confidence and alertness. Some also used it to get in trim and decrease consumption. While it was given to adults to stimulate them it was also administered to children to keep them quiet. Many use it to keep an edge on themselves. They also want others under them to use it to validate their use.

The drug operates the same way as war. It is uniform in effects, which may be why so many of its users wear uniforms or think uniformly. So they are in an outfit, which is also a gang. The drug was widely used by many of those involved in fighting in World War II, whether they were up in the air while acting as pilots or in the tank shooting off. They became crack troops. Even those who were behind the lines with their nose close to their desk and just working the lines given them in factories were inhaling this rush to destruction. It seemed that you could get a lot more done while doing it. So nations became addicted and could not see imagine existence without it. Hitler was known to get a lot of shooting done and stealing to feed his all-consuming frenzy. It was injected through his works and became his daily life. So it became part of others as well. So there was a method of amphetamine in his madness.

Even now that methamphetamine is banned, there is a band of brothers involved in it. Motorcycle gangs, which are uniformly military in organization, appearance and predereliction for violence are the primary purveyors of speed. Some speed around the country in formations and formulate speed as well. The origin of the Hell’s Angels name comes from names of military units. These bikers wore black leather Air Force bomber jackets adorned with unit patches as well as old German military helmets when riding . . .

One of the ingredients of meth is ammonia. Ammonia is a fertilizer as well as a poison. It is released as a dead body decays and has an evil smell. It is available everywhere for everyone to use. It is also a harsh cleanser of the fabric of society.

A saying during war is “Keep your powder dry”. This is so as that this substance will not lose its explosiveness. This also applies to speed, which is powder as well as a shot. It can come in any color or packaging. It is often used as a source of amusement or display of patriotism and visual effects. However fireworks are just an amusing aspect of explosive powder. The explosive powder of power must be kept pure and packed into a tight shell and then is placed in the head that is prepared for launching. It is dangerous in its denseness and kept dry so it will ignite. It could be shot up or hurled into an opening.  There it breaks up into the energy of destruction, which ends in nothingness. The process usually repeats endlessly. It is an expensive habit to maintain. Keep alert, more than alert and the over-stimulation becomes a danger to the user. For this dry powder can kill friend and foe alike.

It is dangerous to make as well. One becomes connected to one’s product even without use. Stories abound of how manufacturers of this poison hurt and poison themselves or lose their lives and fortunes in explosions and fires. It’s been called by the godly an involvement in a satanic process. This dangerous edge may be a perverse incentive to some, like a shot of adrenalin.

It is said of dealers and manufacturers on the highest levels of this trade that they never get involved in this for personal use. It distorts good judgment and interferes with making a profit. And they do accumulate a lot of wealth and toys, more than they can ever use, in this trade of theirs.  This may be the mainline reason that they got involved in all of this dealing with death.

It is also used to obtain sex and other favors. There are issues of identity, status as well as social climbing. There is also the feeling of control as addicts put more money into your pockets. There is adventure, and the joy of conspiracy with other like-minded wealthy, people. Dealing meth, like diplomacy, which is dealing with politics, can be war with another name.

It is used by the actors who play our lives on stage and in film as well as the suites of power. It also runs as a suite of those who give a music to our souls. For the music of this experience reaches to all whether you are of the country or the urban or urbane cultures or styles. Some who use it use this to rise to the top and maintain their positions there. This helps them attract huge audiences. For all this drive does is make the heart beat faster but then irregular. This raises the blood pressure as well. So they speed the march to the attack!

But it does create culture even with its destruction.  As theater needs conflict war is a theater and conflict as well. While those in this field need initiative as well as discipline and power, inevitably through use there will arise unprovoked acts of violence. These are the first signs of misuse causing canceling of performances, productions as well as the conflict of the actor with civilized society.

Conflict is sometimes the result of irritability, which is also common with users. The tremors may arise from not being on firm ground. The effects might at first seem to give   a unity of purpose but later it gives schizophrenia as an end result of its paranoia. This is a result of over-indulgence and leads to even larger doses with even greater symptoms resulting. A constant state of tenseness leads to brittleness. It also leads to a dramatic increase in spousal and child abuse. Alcoholism and other addictions can create some of the same effects.

War is the cancer of the state and it affects those who live within its power even if they are not users. Overgrowth of the defensive cells of any organism is cancer. The body goes haywire in determining what is hostile and what is essential to it. Cancer leads to the takeover and the death of its host. So war can bring about good things as well like ending a state. But will it bring the end of the addiction in others it has infected? A different way to alter consciousness is needed.

Because after long use depression will return worse than ever. The body politic will wonder what is wrong. So paranoia and fear will ensue and then it closes up. The shit that inevitably accumulates within it will not be let out. It is more than a constipation that the body suffers, for the toxins will leach into the blood. And with that comes pain, lack of appetite and blurred vision. Communications that are very demanding will also become increasingly unclear and rambling at the same time. The old remedy for this was blood letting. This is what is happening now as the head in its fever turns to the solutions of what is considered general use of Mc CHRYSTAL METHods. We Af Ghan too far into the glass pipe-line of war.

There are scores of similar symptoms shared by both amphetamines and war in this article. In fact, every symptom of speed has a war analogy. When the similarities become so often between two different fields and so obvious that puns and wordplay abound between them then there is more than a smile of a simile at work. This phenomena I call meta-forensics.

So let us proceed in this what I describe as a meta-forensics to understand how to deal with these problems. Yes, war and amphetamines are addictive and dangerous in many ways. While I would not recommend or use either one neither would I want either one banned, as the consequence of banning would only increase the problem. We have all seen how the War on Poverty increased the poverty problem. A War on War would be just as insane like the War on Drugs.

A misunderstanding of terms, or the inability of the terms to describe, terminates understanding. A psychosis that cannot be understood in its terms becomes a metaphorosis, which is another term I have invented.  When much more of that happens it can cause such a dissonance that a metamorphosis can happen. .

We must acknowledge that the widespread use of amphetamines, especially meth, has been disastrous for poorer, rural America, like war always is.  In prison I met many of these people who used or sold “meth” (speed), which is so similar to crack or cocaine it is sometimes called “country crack”. And like crack it is defining the culture of the country people as well in music and story as well as those who write and perform it.

It also addicts the brilliant, creative and disciplined.  I’ve met in prison stockbrokers and fashion designers from New York City who used “meth” as well. I’ve never done it, sold it and always warned people against it and still do. Yet how can I completely condemn a drug that helped the great novelist and paragon of rationality, Ayn Rand, finish “The Fountainhead”? Or how can I condemn something used by Jack Kerouac, the novelist of the Beat generation, in writing On the Road”? Or how about all those college students who have used it for decades for the same reasons as Ayn or Jack, to cram knowledge and finish writings on a deadline?

The same goes for a fight. Fighting is natural for every tribe, even among boys. There is such a thing as just war. However if it becomes a continual policy among large amounts of combatants as it so often does it becomes just a war. This is one reason why we focus on individual stories in war fiction rather than the tramping of armies. Those involved in war or speed must be small in number and very aware of the dangers of what they do.  If the state gets involved in pushing it or even if it becomes a mindless fad (something that often comes together) there is incredible danger. For something banned that thing becomes an allure and quest all of its own (The Fight Club). So war in its righteous wrath must be separate from the state as the church is separate from the state.

I preach and practice non-violence. When I have a violent fantasy (which is fairly often) I try to imagine and think through what are the goal and the aftermath and then try to imagine other strategies. I also ask the same in what I am going to get out of any drug experience, in imagining creative alternatives. Only psychedelics allow those types of questions and quests. There is so much shortsightedness in this world. Especially with those who act either inside or outside the box, whether the box contains cartridges or capsules. Still there are so few who will go out of the box that I encourage people to do so.  But at the same time have an understanding or vision of what can come next.

War can have a horrible beauty and quest that has inspired much art at terrible cost. We can no longer afford it except as metaphor or as a final option. If we end up hurting others and ourselves, rather than helping then we must stop. When the process fails to work for someone the drug and war experience must end and not returned to.  It seems so true and obvious in a normal state to do so but in the intoxicated state that these bring it seems unreal and even frightening. Those involved in war and speed tend to associate and trust only those who have close ties to it. So it is imperative that those involved maintain a connection with those who are judiciously honest and understanding of the problems involved and who are outside of that experience.

I suppose that some will also make the analogy of some ideas such as religion and politics are also addictions. For the purposes of this discussion a practice that becomes such an obsession in that it becomes uniformly dangerous to practitioners that they become violent to others qualifies that as an addiction. One of the reasons that a person wants to spread a practice so that they become an intense advocate is to validate the experience for themselves and to learn more about it. It is possible that among the advocates of an idea you will have addicts and non-addicts in this definition.

There is also the possibility of a genetic predisposition and that we orient ourselves to those drives such as has been theorized as for religion. Or we may have receptor sites for speed (or is it adrenaline) or war because it increases adrenalin. These may be related to our need for war. If this is how we are wired then we should allow expression of these instincts in as safe a way as possible and even give them a sense of meaning. And when it gets out of hand and causes the user to be damaging then the fullest moral authority with the least use of violence must be used.

So let’s continue with the addiction analogy. Those involved in wars of aggression and hurting those who are not involved should be treated as an addict who commits violence and theft. Let us leave aside criminal penalties that are levied on these acts. How can you motivate the addict to stop the anti-social behavior and instill an awareness or guilt of what they are doing so that they will decide to stop?

The best accepted treatment of those in addictive behavior is a staged confrontation. Those who are friends, family and others who have been hurt and know the actor have a planned surprise meeting with the accused. They all give their individual testimony of the terrible things that the person has done. Afterward they give their verdict to the miscreant.  The sentence is: “Deal with their problem!” This is usually done through a program. The program is designed to understand their behavior and build support means so that they never indulge in the drug or behavior again. The twelve-step success begins with an admission of guilt and that they are addicts. It is as an act of recovery, which may result in a real change. The addict will use any rationale as an excuse to use the drug again. Yet long experience has concluded that a drug once abused can never be used again or the same destructive pattern re-emerges. So if they do go back to old habits they should suffer an exile, a shunning or boycott. This cycle can continue endlessly until the addict dies. Most never recover. The ones that do keep clean see themselves in a constant state of recovery, not as cured people.

The behavior of the state and its military is to ensnarl itself in everything that could be in opposition to it so as to engender self-censorship of possible critics. It also co-opts, censors, minimalizes, avoids, arrests or chases away any opposition to its self-perception as heroes. Still wars, attempts at empires and other horrid behavior have on occasion been shamed out of existence. This is how colonialism, Communism and the Vietnam War ended.

Police state functions can be dealt with the same way. In spite of propaganda from the official culture, high pay and other inducements police are often socially isolated. Who wants to party with someone who is obligated to bust you for breaking a stupid law? Partly because of this disconnect and the official requirements of violence, police and military people have high alcoholism and other drug problems, suicide rates and other abuse issues. Police and the military are war drug cultures.

Peace people are a small group of disguised therapists in a huge asylum that is run by the inmates. Some of us are in recovery ourselves. Even among the therapists we are in the minority. It is commonly accepted among the violent addicts that if something goes wrong it is OK and even a duty to relapse into the drug called war. This imprint has gone on for ages. So we must build through culture, tradition and moral code and imprint a loathing of war. The extreme efforts and accomplishments that made possible the imprint through this drug of war must be made through other means. This could be done through other drugs such as psychedelics, which help in reprinting. Other quests such as spiritual and cultural imprints help as well.

So we define the mass use of violence and amphetamines as the sign of massive evil and psychosis. We see this as the state or state of mind that accepts horror as normal or even ideal. We create communities of peace amid this structured chaos of war. We persevere and create this peace even if just to maintain our own sanity.

It is through our analysis, ideals and vision that we have a way of treatment. We must prove to our patients that they have a problem and that there are other more peaceful ways of dealing with their problems than what they are doing now. Whether they are consciously pursuing terror as a way of life or thinking that this is the only or best way out we must provide better options without the drug-like frenzy of violence. It has been described as one of the most difficult and rewarding of accomplishments for genius and commoner alike to give up an addictive drug. Giving up war will be a similar struggle. So let’s start looking at the problem this way.

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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The American Vice Presidency… Graveyard of the Constitution

In Congress, Democracy, Democrats, History, Law, Libertarian, Politics, Republican, US Government on August 27, 2009 at 7:12 pm

America’s first Vice President, John Adams, described the office as “the most insignificant office that ever the Invention of Man contrived or his Imagination conceived”. When Daniel Webster was offered the nomination of Vice President, he said “I do not intend to be buried until I am dead”. Perhaps the most succinct assessment of the office was given by Texan John Nance Garner, a former and powerful Speaker of The House of Representatives and Vice President under FDR for two full terms, who claimed that the office wasn’t “worth a bucket of piss”.

In many ways, the office of Vice President of The United States can be seen as the most singular indication of the noble goals and yet practical failure of The United States Constitution, and its fate was sealed before the 19th Century even began. While there might have once been a chance for the Vice Presidency to have been an office of viable contribution to the functioning of The United States’ government, there are five key moments in early American history which, I believe, combined to relegate the office itself to impotence and insignificance only moderated by either the good will of any particular President or by the vacation of the office of President and subsequent elevation of a Vice President to that office. The first of these moments was the creation of the office itself (1787).  The idea was that it would be held by a major statesman, the candidate for President who came in second and who would, for the greater good of his nation, join the administration of the victor.  Yet within this idea was still recognition of the reality of opposition and the understanding that you would not want to give the primary challenger of the President any real power with which to work against the Chief Executive.  Thus was an office created in which the primary requirement was, apparently, to have a pulse. 

While, primarily because of their revolutionary credentials, Washington’s Vice President, John Adams succeeded him as President, and then Adams’ Vice President, Thomas Jefferson succeeded him, the office of Vice President has not been seen as a natural stepping stone to the Presidency.  After Jefferson, and after the adoption of the 12th Amendment to The Constitution (which provided for the direct election of the Vice President) the only Vice Presidents who have been elected to be President WITHOUT FIRST having already assumed the office through the death or resignation of the previous holder of that office have been Martin Van Buren (1836), Richard Nixon (1968), and George H. W. Bush (1988).  Furthermore, of those three men, Richard Nixon was not the current Vice President when he was elected, having lost to John Kennedy in 1960.  Thus, the two men after Jefferson who were elected to the office of President while holders of the office of Vice President served only two terms between them for a total of eight years, and the three men combined for 4 terms and less than 14 years out of the whole of the history of The United States.  By contrast, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and James Buchanan (the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 15th Presidents) all served as Secretary of State and served as President for eight terms and a total of 32 years, while several others served as Ambassadors or envoys to other sovereign nations.  So, we can see that diplomatic credentials have been seen as better qualifying a candidate to be President than serving as Vice President has been.

The second moment in history’s conspiracy to insure the insignificance of the office of Vice President was George Washington’s view that the office was a part of the Legislative branch of the government rather than part of the Executive branch (1789). As a result, Washington not only did not include Adams in his cabinet meetings or consult him very frequently on matters within the Executive Branch. He believed, in fact, that he was not ALLOWED to do so as part of The Constitution’s requirements for separation of powers. It is impossible to minimize the influence Washington had on establishing the precedents and operational functions of The United States government as established by The Constitution. If any man in history had it in his power to make from nothing a relevant constitutional office of the Vice Presidency, it was Washington; but he did not do so. As aware as the Revolutionary generation was that they were making history, they seemed to have had no awareness of the importance of the precedents which they were establishing every day as part of a continuity of history which would last for centuries.

In many ways, they were making it up as they went along and the openness of the Experiment they had initiated would have permitted them to follow almost any vision that they could have put into practice.

The third moment in this sorry tale was the decision of The Senate to forbid the Vice President from being part of the debates and deliberations of their body (1789). We can never know how much of this decision was inspired by the personal rancor and dislike felt by many members of The Senate for the person of John Adams and how much was an inevitable course which would have been followed no matter who had been The Senate’s first presiding officer.

In the end, it makes little difference. While Washington did not consider the Vice President a member of the Executive Branch, The Senate did not consider the officeholder a contributing part of their august body or, therefore, of the Legislative branch of government. While a man with more people skills and a more stable temperament might have been able to make the Senators accept the Vice President as a full member of The Senate, John Adams was not that man. As Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, “It is to be sure a punishment to hear other men talk five hours every day and not be at liberty to talk at all myself, especially as more than half I hear appears to me very young, inconsiderate and inexperienced.” If Washington had made the Vice President insignificant as a member of the Executive branch, The Senate itself made him insignificant as a member of the Legislative branch. All of this, of course, reaches new heights of irony in the person of our former Vice President, Dick Cheney, who has used this ‘confusion’ to declare himself the beneficiary of the rights and privileges of both branches while, at the same time, free of the obligations or restraints upon either branch. The burden of the fourth moment in our tragic history of the establishment of the role of the Vice Presidency falls squarely on the shoulders of the second holder of that office, Thomas Jefferson (1797).

Adams, for all of his faults of personality, truly cared for what was best for the nation he served. He did not plan to treat Jefferson, as Vice President, as he had been treated himself (or, as Tom Lehrer put so humorously in his satirical song about Hubert Humphrey and the treatment of Humphrey as Vice President by Lyndon Johnson as President, “I’ll do unto you as they did unto me.”).  As Joseph Ellis tells so well in his Pulitzer Prize winning book ‘Founding Brothers, Adams fully desired to work with Jefferson to create a bipartisan administration which utilized both of their talents and skills (Chapter Five: The Collaborators). 

He wanted Jefferson to be a functioning member of his cabinet and an active participant in foreign policy efforts. Jefferson, influenced greatly by the advice of James Madison, chose to be a party man and watch the Adams administration fail without him. Jefferson, at this time, chose the good of his party over the good of his nation. After Adams’ desire to give the office a ‘place at the table’, it wasn’t until Warren G. Harding took office in 1921 that a President again made the choice to include his Vice President in his cabinet meetings, and it wasn’t until Richard Nixon’s service under Dwight Eisenhower that a Vice President was given a substantial and public role by the President but, in all cases, up to and including the present, the role and power of a particular Vice President has been dependent upon their President to give it to them.

If the damage done to the office of Vice President was not already irreversible by the election of 1800, that election itself ensured that it was permanent, and the blame for it can be placed on the personage of Aaron Burr. If one wants to make the case that the Adams’ Vice Presidency was not a standard to judge by because of the newness of the office, or that the Jefferson Vice Presidency cannot be used because he was of an opposition political position to his President, then there is no excuse for the damage done to the office by Burr before he was even inaugurated, damage so great, in fact, that the first substantive change to The US Constitution was made to prevent the circumstances from ever again even being possible through the adoption of the 12th Amendment. For the election of 1800, the supporters of Jefferson and his Republican / Anti-Federalist movement conspired to maneuver the election so that their candidates would end up holding the offices of both the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. While they succeeded in the goal of having all of their electors vote for both Jefferson and Burr, they apparently never considered the ramifications of this actually happening. They believed that somehow, without any need to orchestrate it as well, some random elector would cast his vote for Jefferson but not cast their second vote for Burr. The conspiracy, however, was too well planned and the soldiers followed their marching orders without deviation…and Jefferson and Burr ended up exactly tied in the electoral vote totals.

At this point, a good party man would have fallen into line and worked to finish what had been started, but Burr was an opportunist whose personal desires completely overshadowed any belief he may have had in the greater good. When the election went to The House of Representatives, Burr fought to win the Presidency for himself. He almost managed to pull the feat off as it took 36 ballots in The House before Hamilton intervened and one member chose to abstain. Well, after that, what President would trust the man he was stuck with as Vice President? And so, Burr alienated himself from any role in Jefferson’s first administration and The Constitution was changed…and changed VERY quickly.

The new nation went through only four elections, three administrations and 12 years before the first substantial flaw in the design of the governmental structure of The United States had to be addressed. 46 men have been dumped into the graveyard of The Constitution, including 2 men who each served under two different Presidents (George Clinton under Jefferson and Madison, and John C. Calhoun under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson). Except for the ones who eventually became President themselves or who have served in a person’s own lifetime, how many people can name even one of them? The Vice Presidency is a unique office with a unique role in government. If we want evidence of the lack of experience which burdened the men who created The Constitution, all we need do is look at the Office of The Vice President of The United States. However, if we do look at it, we will have done more than most people ever do.

P.S.– It might also be of interest, for anyone who wants to consideration how truly UNimportant the office of Vice President has been to our nation over the entire course of its history, for me to point out that, while we have never had any real period without a President since Washington first took the oath of office in 1889, between the years 1812 (when the office was vacated upon the death of Vice President George Clinton) and 1974 (when the office was vacated by the elevation of Vice President Gerald Ford to the Office of President) (a period of 162 years), there were 18 different times when we were without a Vice President totaling more than 426 months (35.5 years, an average of 23.666 months per vacancy). This includes two periods when the office was vacant for 47 months (out of a 48 month term of office), but does NOT include any periods when the holder of the office just left Washington and ignored his role in government (as, for example, Richard Mentor Johnson did during Van Buren’s administration).

As an indication of how little impact the absence of a Vice President has meant to the functions of our government, I would simply ask how many of you reading this have ever even wondered just how often the office has even been vacant because there WAS no holder of the office?

As a point of useless trivia from an infomaniac, did you know that the first Vice President to die in office (George Clinton) died about a year before the end of his second term (Clinton had served one term as President Jefferson’s second Vice President and his second term as Vice President was consecutive to his first when he was elected to be Vice President under Jefferson’s successor, President James Madison, for Madison’s first term.  For Madison’s second term of office, he ran and served with Vice President Elbridge Gerry, who THEN proceeded to die in office after about a year and a half into his term.  As a result, President James Madison served with a different Vice President for each of his two terms in office and neither of them lived to complete their own terms.

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.

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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Why Exactly is Madoff Going to Prison?

In Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Fraud, Law, People in the news, Taxation on July 3, 2009 at 3:01 pm

On June 29, 2009, Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison.  According to The New York Times, Madoff was guilty of running “the largest, longest and most widespread Ponzi scheme in history.”

It is true that Madoff ran a Ponzi scheme, but it is categorically false to call his the largest, the longest-running, or the most widespread.  But I digress.

The point is, I do not believe jail-time is the appropriate punishment for Mr. Madoff.

(1) If Madoff told his customers that he would be investing their money in a way he did not, then he committed fraud, and his punishment should be to pay back his customers in full plus extra for time preference.  If he has less money in his name than he owes to his victims, then he should (A) first pay what he has and (B) then have his future wages garnished to pay those to whom he still has debt.  (He should also pay back his poorest victims first, working his way up the ladder until he either pays off his entire debt in full or dies, whichever comes first.)

(2) If he did not lie to his customers about what he was doing with their money, then he committed no real crime, and should not be punished at all.

Either way, he should not go to jail.

As Mr. Jeffrey Tucker writes,

What, then, precisely, is the point of jailing him?  He is no direct threat to anyone.  Society would not be safer because he is in the slammer.  He is not going to rob people or beat people up.  He might write a book and donate the funds to charity or make some restitution to his victims.  I, for one, would like to read that book.

Instead, taxpayers will be forced to pick up the tab for his living expenses.  Victims get nothing.  That’s not justice.  That’s inhumane for both sides of the transaction: Bernie and us.

—Alexander S. Peak

Why Taxes Enslave… Period.

In Austrian Economics, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Economics, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Taxation, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on June 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I often find myself in discussions with people. People who insist that the state is their best friend. People who believe that waging mass murder on the rest of the world is keeping us safe. People who believe that being a serviceman/woman does still serve the good of the world. People who believe that our support for the state is necessary for our well being and that of the world at large. Some people cannot be broken out of this infinitely flawed view. Some of these are the same people who can’t see that capitalism is not the culprit of the current economic crisis or that the same issues that caused alcohol prohibition to fail will be the same causes that make the “War on Drugs” fail.

Oddly, these same people are the ones who’ve never heard of the torture that we carry out at Guantanamo and other “black sights” around the world. They’ve never heard of the illegal detention and kidnapping of people around the world who were tortured, in some cases, and never had the chance to file for grievances with their captors. The daily killings of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan somehow escape their world view. What do these things have in common? The killing, detentions, torture, economic crises, and their continuation are made possible by you and I. Our tax money has not only turned life into a living HELL for other foreign people but it has also enabled the state to use our money to crack down on us. Taser’s, tanks, pistols, missiles, jets, and aircraft carriers are all bought and built with our money.

The money coerced out of me and you not only has resounding macro effects but it also has micro effects like the police state here in the US. Woman, children, and the disabled are being assaulted by cops who are paid by the very people they violate. How else can this occur other than in a state run system. Imagine a company who routinely violates it’s customers. This could not occur in a purely Free Market society because the victimized customers would quickly switch to the competitor and the aforementioned company would suffer great loses and possibly go out of business. Instead we are stuck with a system where the state has a monopoly on security which means that they can treat us any way they want without the risk of losing income. Other municipal systems operate this way too. Instead of water systems finding ways to maximize their water output or conserve they simply cut off water to their customers because they can. Of course in a free market one would be able to switch water companies or other technologies would be created to acquire water in other ways to keep water providers afloat.

So, as I’ve shown above taxes not only fuel wars, torture, monopoly’s, police states, and the war machine, but there are also many indirect consequences. For example the unlawful detention and torture of civilians in other countries creates resentment and hatred for the occupying power. When people are killed then you have others who want revenge against the occupying power (or invader) who committed the atrocity. As a result more enemies are created against the state (who took it’s people’s money (taxes) and used it to create war and mass murder in the foreign land). Some foreigners will want to take revenge on the people who enabled the occupying or invading state to carry out the attacks that killed their loved ones. The attacks that these people carry out in the homeland of the occupying/invading force will in turn be used by that occupying/invading force to justify it’s interventions in foreign countries and might be used to expand these operations. As a result more and more people are hostile toward the occupying/invading country. As a result the occupying/invading state is forced to crackdown more and more on it’s people to stem any attacks that might be carried out by it’s foreign enemies. Thus, the people who enabled their state to take their money for “security” are eventually the ones who the state has to keep itself safe from.

However, this is just one facet of the enslavement that taxes enable. The other facet is one that undermines private property. Certain things like your labor or property (that is acquired from another party) have nothing to do with the state yet they find it appropriate to come in and tax these things. The state has never owned or contributed to 100% of the property in it’s borders so how can it claim to be owed a taxes for 100% it’s use? Likewise, how can the state claim to have a stake in the income you receive from your job? Your labor never belonged to the state so how can they tax you when you trade it for private income (at your job)? The fact that you are taxed in these two ways means that the state feels that it owns us. You can never truly own private property because you must always pay taxes on it or the state will take it. Likewise, if you do not pay income taxes, even though they never owned the money or your labor, they will either take some of your money (a fine) or your time and labor (prison time). Does this sound like an entity “that’s for and by the people”? NO!

In-other-words the state makes freedom impossible for others and it’s own people. The state claims the right to wage mass murder in it’s people’s name while simultaneously taking it’s people’s rights. It creates monopoly’s in certain markets and undermines capitalism. It claims to provide security while being the biggest threat to it. It takes people’s money and converts it into death and destruction on foreign countries. It claims to own everything. It claims to be accountable to nobody.

Peace…

How I Think The Constitution Can Be Fixed (Part III [c]: Article I – The Legislative Branch)

In Congress, Democracy, Democrats, History, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Politics, Republican, US Government on June 15, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Section 6, paragraph one deals with Congressional compensation for their services.  Many years ago, Congress enacted standing legislation to provide them with regular pay raises UNLESS Congress, at the time of EACH particular raise, actively raises the issue and votes against it.  This is one of the examples I was referring to when I talked about how Congress makes what will be their path of least resistance be what benefits them, rather than the people.  Thus, if Congress does NOTHING, is silent and doesn’t even raise the issue, they get their raise each year.  In ADDITION, they get unbelievable pensions based on how long they served as well as life time healthcare.

To me, this is another simple issue to deal with.  Tie the salaries of ALL federally elected officials to the median incomes of the American people, not counting bonuses or other backdoor ways of hitching things a little higher for them. Based on the real and reported income of all citizens who file income tax reports, divided by ALL citizens, let’s say that (as a starting point for discussion), members of the House would receive an annual salary based on what 60% of the median incomes of all Americans equals to, with Officers of The House getting 62.5%.  Members of The Senate would get a salary based on 65% of the median income, with Senate officers getting 67.5%.  Members of the Supreme Court would get 70% of the median, with The Chief Justice and The Vice President getting 72.5%.  Finally, the highest salary allowed would go to The President, with the salary of that office being based on the 75% of the median incomes of all Americans.

Now, I want everyone to notice something.  I did NOT say that these salaries should be based on mean, or AVERAGE incomes (the total of all incomes divided by the total number of people), I said that they would b based on the MEAN incomes.  The mean is a statistical average based on the individual numbers which are ranked from highest to lowest.  Thus, Bill Gates is only one statistical number, while a disabled elderly person who has an annual income of $5,000 is another individual number equal to Bill Gates.  A median average would give a much more accurate picture of how much average Americans earn and tie the salaries of Constitutional and elected Federal officials to that average.

So, what would THIS accomplish?  Several things; for one, it would make elected Federal officials more caring about how much money the American people have because their own welfare would be improved by having more people earning (and reporting) higher incomes.  In fact, the more income earned by those at the bottom quarter, half and three-quarter marks of the social ladder, the higher the income they would make themselves.  For another, it would increase their focus on eliminating loopholes which allow people to underreport their own incomes. The fiscal conservatives tend to support theories which state that there is a finite amount of REAL income (as opposed to, say, capital income) which is available.  Thus, to raise the income levels of those at the lower ends of the social ladder would mean that the additional monies would have to come at the expense of the earnings of those at the top of the social ladder.  For yet another thing, the more money earned by AND KEPT by corporations and businesses is money that is NOT increasing the income levels of the bottom three-quarters of the income bracket.  This would make Congress more likely to support higher individual wages and eliminate more corporate loopholes.  Again, the more money earned by the most people would benefit them personally… and if the incomes of average Americans goes down, so does theirs.  We would all swim or sink together.  Their pay rates would be worked out and modified every two calendar years to coincide with election cycles.

As for pensions and permanent healthcare, I do not believe that people should make holding elective or political offices their primary livelihoods.  I am against, as I have said before, a professional political class.  I believe in the founders’ idea of people who would make sacrifices in their own lives of short periods of time to serve their nation with their public service and would then go back to their public lives.  Thus, ANY elected official, or any official who is subject to Senate approval would not earn ANY pension or retirement benefits for their time in service.  Regarding members of The Supreme Court, I will deal with them in the part(s) of this article which deal with Article III of The Constitution.

Section 6, paragraph two is the one that says that no Senator or Representative can hold another civil office in The United States during their tenure in their respective House, and that no officer or official of The United States can serve as a Senator or Representative while they hold their other office or position.  This, among other things, is what prevents us from having a Parliamentary system of government and ensures that the membership of each branch of government will be totally and completely distinct and separate from the others.  It also says that:

No Senator or Representative shall… be appointed to any civil office under the authority of The United States which shall have been CREATED, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been Increased during such time [as they served as a Senator or Representative]…”

THIS portion of The Constitution does need to be addressed to clarify, one way or the other, what authority the Executive branch does or doesn’t  have to appoint sitting or recently sitting members of Congress to other civil positions … especially with automatic pay raises being provided for all such civil offices.  Either our Constitution very specifically prohibits this and it is accepted by all members of our government or we change it.  I personally would rather leave it as it is and expect our government to abide by such limitations.

Well, I think this is a good place to end this part of this article.  When we come back, I will address the rest of Article III, including legislation to raise revenue, the budget, and the enumerated powers and authorities of Congress.

(This article will be continued in Part III [d], which will continue discussing Article I of The Constitution.)

Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

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

© Copyright 2009 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.

How I Think The Constitution Can Be Fixed (Part III [b]: Article I – The Legislative Branch)

In Congress, Democracy, Democrats, History, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Politics, Republican, US Government on June 11, 2009 at 1:52 am

From Article I, Section 3, paragraphs six and seven, the portions of the provisions for either House regarding impeachment require no changes other than possibly the provision that the threat of and right to impeach is a constitutional DUTY of Congress and it cannot surrender its willingness to implement that duty when it is called for.  To do so is malfeasance in the performance of their constitutional duties and should subject any members of Congress who are willing to agree to surrender their willingness to fulfill ANY of their obligations and duties under The Constitution.

Section 4 of Article I deals with the times and places of elections of Representatives and Senators, and with the requirement for Congress to meet at least once every year.

I think that the provisions for periods of adjournments and recesses by Congress are not appropriate to our modern day government.  For those who argue that they do not want Congress in session any longer than it has to be, while I don’t entirely disagree with them, I think the larger and more important issue is how just adjournments and recesses empower the Executive branch as the expense of the Legislative branch.  While I will deal more with such things as ‘recess appointments’ in the part(s) of this article which deal Article II of The Constitution (The Executive Branch), I am against ANYTHING which serves to make the Legislative branch less than equal to the Executive branch, much less subservient to it.  Thus, I think that Congress should never be considered in recess and only be adjourned by standing legislation which provides for pre-defined periods of adjournment, focused around legal federal holidays (not religious holidays) and, say, a single one week-long adjournment each  quarter of the year… each one, preferably centered around an appropriate federal holiday each quarter.  At ALL other times it would be required to be in session (and remember, I would not allow for any member of Congress to hold office for more than a single term, so there would be no NEED for Congress to be in adjournment during election cycles).

Section 5 deals with various procedural matters (such as judging their own elections, the power to compel attendance by absent members, and the prohibition against adjourning for more than three days while in session).  Paragraph two deals with allowing each House to punish and/or expel its own members.  It also states that each House shall determine its own rules for proceedings.  Paragraph three covers the requirements of each House to keep a journal of its proceedings ad periodically publish those journals, as well as the requirement of each House to record the ‘Yeas and Nays’ (i.e. – the votes) of each House and to publish those totals for either House upon the request of one-fifth of the membership of that House.

While The Constitution should not get into the minutia of establishing all of the rules for either House, there are some which I think it would be appropriate to enact, enshrine and enforce within The Constitution.  Among these are:

1.)   No office created by either House of Congress can be specific to any particular political party.  While any party can choose to elect its own leadership by whatever methods it wants, it does not mean that those elected to such offices are deserving of extra pay by the nation or extra privileges and powers within Congress for holding an office restricted to the members of that Party.

2.)  All officers elected by either House should be selected by secret nomination and secret ballot.  I would also recommend the use of Approval Voting for the actual elections.  Again, this would be to try to help break the stranglehold on power which any party holds simply by having more members that any other party.  This provision would probably result in most offices being held by less extremist party loyalists.  If our nation can succeed in establishing a viable third-party, it will throw the current methods of selecting Congressional offices in the toilet anyway.  Let’s do what we can to speed that process up a bit.

3.)   All ballots casts by members of either House should be cast in secret and the individual results of any vote kept but only revealed (published) 25 years later for historical purposes.  Now, I know that this one is going to be met with shock by most people.  After all, how else are we supposed to keep tabs of what these people actually do?  Well, stop and think about this one for awhile.  Let me explain my reasoning for this idea.  Why do WE cast OUR ballots in secret?  So that no one WILL know exactly how we voted which, among other things, limits to ability of anyone else to threaten or intimidate us.  Open balloting in Congress does not help ‘we the people’, it helps the parties, lobbyists and special interest groups keep members of Congress in line with what benefits THEM the most, not what benefits us the most.  Open balloting in Congress allows the political parties, the lobbyists, the special interests groups, the media and, yes, even the people to threaten and intimidate individual Congress who might otherwise have the will to vote their according to their conscious as they believe is right rather than how others want to compel them to vote.   This is also one of the major ways that the two parties effectively prevent other viable parties from having a voice in our system of government (the other major way that they accomplish this is by the maintenance of our current Majoritarian / Plurality election system). (Please see my earlier article on ‘The Laboratory of Democracy — Alternative Voting Methods (Approval Voting) [Re-edit]’ for a more detailed explanation of this idea.)  It is also what allows small groups of extremists to move the politics in Congress in extremist directions and which makes moderate or centrist positions untenable to maintain.

With a provision that, in an investigation, a select independent committee can review specific votes and make them public IF they show evidence or a pattern of corruption, malfeasance or negligence, but also with a protection provision that baseless accusation for no purpose other than to discover what a personal voting record is will be a felony, this provision could provide safety and protection for those legislators who do want to go along with their party’s line on any particular issue.  So, how is a member of Congress judged if their individual votes are not known?  They would be judged in two ways. First, they would be judged by what they say on the record and, second, they would be judged by what their House accomplishes or FAILS to accomplish.  Under this method, ALL members of a House are collectively responsible for what that House does or doesn’t do… they rise or fall together.   This means that their motivation which change to being how can they work together to make them all look good.  Just think about it for awhile, ok?

4.)  Right now, most legislation includes meaningless introductions which tell us how wonderful it is and how it will single-handedly make the world a better place to live (and they are capped off with some kind of sensationalist title which will make those who vote against it sound like they are bad Americans for voting against it… especially those who don’t actually read the proposed legislation that they are voting on.  I believe that ALL legislation proposed and voted on in either House of Congress should include measurable and quantifiable goals, and specific objectives to indicate what will be considered a successful result of the legislation.  Goals and objectives, strategies and tactics.  I also believe all legislative objectives should include a time frame by which the legislation must accomplish its goals or it will automatically cease to have legal standing.  This is not a meaningless point.  The example I like to use has to do with Civil Rights legislation.  Under the legislation as written, neither side of the debate has an actual motivation to see the objectives of the legislation accomplished.  Each side uses it as a weapon with which to attack the other, and leaders on both sides have built their power bases upon the on-going conflict it engenders.  There is more political power to be gained by keeping the conflict going than there is in accomplishing its purposes.  Now, imagine if that legislation had included measurable, definable and quantifiable goals AND it had an objective of accomplishing those goals in, say, 25 years.  One way or the other the legislation would end; the only question would be “when” it would end.  Those who are fighting for the achievement of those civil rights would have been motivated to make sure that the goals were achieved before the end of the 25-year deadline so as to get them in place, and the side which was not in favor of the penalties and restrictions imposed by the legislation would be motivated to accomplish those goals as quickly as possible so that the legislation would go away as quickly as possible.  In either case, if the goals were either not achieved or led to the consideration of additional goals, new legislation could be crafted and proposed at that time which would better meet the needs of that time and that generation.  The purpose of this proposal is to give ALL sides reasons to work together to accomplish things rather than give them reasons to fight against each other endlessly.

To justify why this should be import, keep in mind all of the calls by the people and politicians for, and interpretations by the courts based on what the ‘intention of the founders’ was.  Intention is difficult to know, and impossible to speculate on to determine law when those intentions are never officially, and reliably set forth and documented.  The fact that the founders destroyed all OFFICIAL minutes and notes from The Constitutional Convention can only leave us with one of two ways to make such judgments; either the founders did not WANT us to base our interpretations and decisions based on what THEY intended (which means that we do, in fact, have a LIVING Constitution), OR, they did not understand how important it would be to us to be able to discern their intentions when we try to interpret what they intended.  We need to not only insure that the present generation fully understands what we are trying to do and what we want to accomplish, we need future generations to understand why we felt each specific law was necessary… our intentions, in other words.  Goals and objectives would make legislation easier to interpret and less likely to be twisted and MISinterpreted by other.  It would also allow those who read a law thoroughly to see if the actual content and execution of the law is true to its goals and objectives.

5.)  That idea leads us to Thomas Jefferson’s theories of generational laws.  He said “[B]etween society and society, or generation and generation, there is no municipal obligation, no umpire but the law of nature. . . . [B]y the law of nature, one generation is [therefore] to another as one independent nation to another.”  He also said “Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right.” (http://www.conlaw.org/Intergenerational-II-2-9.htm) I believe in the idea of generational laws (with all laws having a natural expiration deadline of either 25 or 50 years (generations being longer now that they were when Jefferson wrote that, and some laws being more important than others), depending on the law, with 25 being the norm and 50 being the exception, for several reasons.  First, laws seem to work conversely to the adage that it is easier to destroy than it is to build.  With law, it is easier to pass one than it is to get rid of one.  When politicians or officials come along later and try to have a law removed from the books, the tendency is to wonder what ulterior motives they ‘really have (no matter how bad or irrelevant the law might be) and political inertia tends to win.

As a result, our legal systems end up cluttered with an unbelievable number of laws which are either (a) no longer of any value, (b) no longer in sync with the progress of our culture or, (c) just plain stupid.  A generational law standard would mean, first of all, that no one would have to actively campaign or fight to have laws actively removed piecemeal.  By doing nothing the laws will just go away.  If they still have value or there is still a need for them, they can be re-written and passed again. Secondly, the future will not be bound by considerations or standards of the past which no longer apply to them.  Thirdly, politicians are, by nature, egomaniacs who want to be immortal, and the way a politician becomes immortal is by sticking us with their own ideas of how we should live (i.e. – with laws).  When all of the basic laws are already in place, they have to go farther and farther to find their own immortality.  I would rather have them continually working on and improving basic legislation than to have them spending their time finding cruel and unusual ways to torment, punish and control ‘we the people’.

6.)  I think that all of us, all of us who are not in Congress, at least, would agree that the Legislative Amendment process is out of control and all too easily abused by politicians who cannot get their own moronic ideas passed into law on their own merits; or who want to ‘game the system’ by attaching bad legislation to other legislation that, itself, cannot be voted down.  Riders and amendments are a bane to good legislation which can be (a) understood, (b) respected, and (c) followed by everyone.  This would be simple to deal with.  Any amendment or rider which has nothing to do with the primary legislation AND / OR which does not have the support of the primary author of the legislation (not sponsors or co-sponsors, the primary author) can only be attached to the proposed legislation by a super-majority vote of two-thirds of the House in which it has been proposed in.  Any rider or amendment which does relate to the primary legislation AND has the support of the primary author can be attached if it gets a majority vote in the House in which it has been proposed.  Note: these votes would NOT be to approve the amendments or riders, only to allow them to be attached to the primary legislation before IT was voted on.  For those who want the President to have a line item veto authority, all that would have to be done here would be to say that he has the power and authority to approve or veto the results of such votes before they can be attached to the primary legislation (as provided for in Article I, Section 7, paragraph four of The Constitution).

7.)   Congress has made themselves exempt from abiding by the laws that they force on the rest of us.  This is one of the (many) reasons why it is so easy for Congress to hypocritically impose legislation on ‘we the people’ that is harsh or intolerable… because THEY don’t have to also live with the consequences of their decisions.  This blanket exemption needs to be removed and, any individual exemptions that they want to pass for themselves should be stated publicly, be required to undergo a full and open debate, require a two-thirds super-majority of BOTH Houses AND be subject to Presidential  vetoes for which it would take a three-fourths super majority of both Houses to override.

8.)  As in all things, politicians will take the paths of least resistance.  If their path of least resistance in legislation is to maintain the status quo by not voting for something, they will do that.  Conversely, if they have to actively vote for the status quo to maintain it, they will let it change.  As an example of what I mean by this, consider automatic Congressional pay raises.  Those raises will automatically take place unless Congress actively votes to stop them.  Thus, the path of least resistance is to maintain the status quo by doing nothing and, as a result, allow the raises to happen.  If the legislative process required on-going legislation to require active votes to keep it going, and the path of least resistance is to not vote for something (like the pay raises), they will not vote for them and they won’t happen.  The direction of how Congress votes for on-going legislation needs to be changed so that the path of least resistance is what benefits ‘we the people’ and not what benefits Congress or the government.

(This article will be continued in Part III [c], which will continue discussing Article I of The Constitution.)

Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

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

© Copyright 2009 by Rhys M.  Blavier

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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.

How I Think The Constitution Can Be Fixed (Part III [a]: Article I – The Legislative Branch)

In Congress, Corruption, Democracy, Democrats, History, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Politics, Republican, US Government on June 1, 2009 at 1:35 am

Congress, The Legislative Branch of The United States of America was, as ‘the people’s house‘, intended to be the most powerful of the three branches of government created by The Constitution… a ‘first among equals‘, as it were.  Of the 4,543 words of The Constitution, the 2,312 words of Article I constitute just over half of the total (50.89%).  Unlike Article II (The Executive Branch) and Article III (The Judicial Brach), Article I deals very much with the actual workings, duties, powers and authorities of Congress.  A primary reason for this, I assume, is that the founders had a long history of experience with operating a working, functioning Congress or Legislature.  They also had more trust of a strong legislative branch than they did of a strong executive branch.

The first representative legislative body established in the American Colonies, in fact, in ANY of the British Colonies, was Virginia’s House of Burgesses, which was created in 1619… 170 years before the creation of Congress under The Constitution.  Before and during the Revolutionary Period, ALL of the American Colonies had functioning state legislatures and, at the national-level, the first Continental Congress had been called in 1765.  Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress ran the nation with a VERY weak Executive, who was appointed by Congress itself to preside over ‘A Committee of The States‘.  The delegates to the Constitutional Convention well understood what a legislative branch could do, although, prior to The Constitution, members of Congress for any state were appointed by the legislatures of that state.  As such, apportionment by census and direct elections of the members of The House of Representatives was their great experiment with a representative legislature.  Members of The Senate, of course, continued to be appointed by each state’s own legislature until the passage of Amendment XVII, which was ratified in 1913 (although some states had been providing for the direct election of their Senators by the people of those states as early as 1907).

It was never the intention of the founders to create a permanently ruling political class.  They envisioned men, who would, for a short period of time, leave their private lives, take up the burden of public service for the good of the nation and then go back to their private lives.  This idea was only one of many visions of theirs that did not survive our national transition from our ‘first generation‘ to our ‘second generation‘ [see ‘Part I‘ of this article for an explanation of my theory of the first and second generational effects].  Many Americans have the mistaken belief that the founders created a two-party system.  This is patently false, but still many of our children are taught it.  The founders tried to create a NO-party system, with the idea that individual members of Congress would band together is short-lived coalitions for each separate issue that came before them.  This is another idea which not only did not survive our nation’s first generation; it did not survive the Washington administration.  This is probably the biggest reason that party politics dominates our government, because The Constitution did not provide any guidelines for or controls / limitations upon them.

Several of my suggested changes will be attempts show how I think that we can restore the founders’ original concept of public service to our government, and show a way to end or, at least, make it more difficult for the continuation of our professional and permanently ruling political class.  These suggestions will be made to try to minimize the amount of time elected officials have to spend in their continuous cycle of staying elected, to maximize their learning curve and effectiveness in office, and to reduce their susceptibility to the corrupting effects of long-term office holding.  They will also have a goal of wanting to breaking the stranglehold which the two major parties have on our government, at all levels, as well as minimizing the power and effect which those at the extreme ends of any political spectrum have on our government.  This is crucial if we are to return our government to a rational level of moderation.

As a general change for ALL elected offices, no one would be allowed to campaign for one office while they are holding another.  If people think that such an allowance is necessary, they could be allowed to run for as MANY offices at one time as they want, but they have to be campaigning on their own time (they, of course, could only accept election to one office if they should win more than one election at the same time… if they do win more than one, though, maybe they should have to pay for any special elections which they necessitate by winning an office they have intention of serving in).  Since all elected officials are elected to serve their constituents by doing a specific job, and not to spend their time on that job trying to keep their current job or trying to get a new one at our expense, once a public office holder is officially a candidate for any national office (the point at which they start raising funds or operating a campaign), they will be REQUIRED to immediately resign any elected office, at ANY level, that they might hold at that time.  This would also help keep the lengths of campaigns down to more reasonable amounts of time as elected officials would be less likely to give up an office in their hand too long before they run for the office in the bush that they want to seek.

Section 2 of Article I lays the groundwork for the composition of The House of Representatives.  Paragraph 1 of Section 2 sets the term of office for members of the House of Representatives at 2 years.  I would change this to 6 year terms, with one third of The House being elected every three years and a one term limit.  This would allow an on-going House with regular turnover and without the turmoil of having to elect ever member of The House and recreating itself every election cycle.  Former Representatives could be elected to additional terms by the people of any particular state that they have served when they have been out of The House for the length of a full term between each term.

Paragraph 2 sets the minimum age for eligibility for election as a Representative at 25.  I would lower this to 20, although with the requirement that being a Representative is a full time job (i.e.  – if someone is a student and is elected, they would have to leave their studies for the duration of their term of office).  We allow citizens to vote at age 18, we let them serve in our military, we require them to pay taxes (which they have to do at ANY age when they earn any money), etc., there is no reason that citizens of that age should not be allowed to elect Representatives of their own age range if they are able to.

Paragraph 3 of Section 2 deals with apportionment of Representatives among the various states.  As we have seen all too frequently, the abilities of modern computing to pinpoint every voter has given the supposedly forbidden practice of gerrymandering an even more frightening and insidious power than it has had in a long time.  That same computing power can allow us to create congressional districts that are of the most compact size and even shape as possible without ANY regard to the politics, or any other discriminating factor, of the citizens of any particular district.  Every state has corners and edges.  All that would have to be done is to program the same computers to start at each corner and create evenly shaped and compact districts as they work in towards the middle of each state.  Alternatively, the first district could start in the middle of a state and work outward.  This would still allow for differing proposals, depending on starting points and merging points, but the test would still be which proposal presents the most precise and evenly shaped districts possible.  Basically, if districts can be created within a smaller or more compact area of a state, you go for the most compact districts possible.  This would not only prevent the parties from manipulating districts in the way that is most advantageous to them, it will prevent them from creating both ‘safe‘ districts (which protect members of either party), and ‘reservation‘ districts (which isolate and limit ethnic voting power overall to specific limited areas).

Paragraph 3 also provides for the total number of Representatives the House.  Its original provision of “The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative;” has been modified by legislation passed in 1911, which capped the total number of Representatives in The House at 435.  One man, one vote‘ was NEVER an intention of the founders (as seen by their plan of equal apportionment of Senators, the guarantee of at least one Representative from each state, and the fact that Congressional districts must be fully contained within their home state) because it was never their desire to allow high population areas to dominate the government at the expense of the rural areas by the simple fact of having more people.  However, it was also not their intention to let rural areas have excessive power by limiting the numbers of Representatives to be divided among the more populous states.  As was seen when Alaska and Hawaii entered the union (the total number of members in Congress was temporarily increased by one for each state UNTIL the next apportionment, at which time it was returned to the 435 Representatives level), the current total is seen as a hard and fast one which is not increased by the admission of additional states.  As a result, with each shift in population and a theoretical continuous expansion of the numbers of states in the Union, the single Representative for the states with the smallest population increase in their own proportional power within Congress.  To counter this, I would propose that the total number of Representatives be equal to ten times the total number of states.  This would mean that every time a new state is admitted, ten Representatives will be added to the total number of Representatives in The House.  Right now, that would result in a total of 500 Representatives, with 50 being taken by guaranteed representation for each state and the other 450 apportioned according to state population sizes.

Paragraph 4 deals with vacancies within The House while Paragraph 5 creates the office of Speaker and allows for The House to create and choose its other officers.  The only change I would make here is that ANY officer of The House (or The Senate) has a responsibility to the nation, as a whole, as well as to their own district’s constituency.  As such, ALL officers of The House or The Senate, from any party, must equally accept feedback, requests, petitions, etc.  from anyone within the nation as they do from anyone within their district.

Section 3 of Article I deals with The Senate.  Paragraph 1 sets the length of term for a Senator at six years.  As with the House, I would increase the lengths of their terms of office to twelve years, with a limit of one term and the passage of a length of time equal to one full term before they can be eligible to run again within their state.  For those of my readers who have caught some of my specific wordings, by the way, these limits would only apply to a candidate in a single particular state if they want to run again in that state.  If someone thinks that they can just pack up and move to another state to get elected again, they would be welcome to try it.  I would love to see the spectacle of hordes of former Congressmen moving constantly between states while trying to convince the voters of their ‘new‘ home states that they are not carpetbaggers who are only looking out for themselves rather than for the citizens that they purport to serve.

Paragraph I also sets the numbers of Senators from each state at two.  I would increase this to three for each state so that every state will have an election turnover of one Senator for every equal third of a term (i.e.  – every four years), which is what is dealt with in Paragraph 2.  Paragraph 3 sets the minimum age of a Senator at 35.  As with The House, I would lower this age by five years to 25 in order to increase the chances for better representation of the younger population of the nation.

Paragraph 4 of Section 3 deals with the role of The Vice President as the President of The Senate.  While I will deal with the larger issue of the office of Vice President when I discuss The Executive Branch, the primary constitutional duty of a Vice President is to be President of The Senate.  This office needs to be a functional part of our government.  [Please see my article on ‘The American Vice Presidency…  Graveyard of the Constitution’.]  While I would still give The Vice President no vote in The Senate except in cases of ties, I would give the office political power in The Senate equal to that of The Speaker in The House.  I would also give The Vice President the freedom to address The Senate under the same rules as any Senator, but with the provision that they must temporarily give up the Presidency of The Senate while speaking on the floor, and maybe with the additional restriction that they must ask the permission of The Senate to be allowed to speak to it from the floor.

Paragraph 5 of Section 3 provides for the creation and selection of other officers for The Senate, including The President pro tempore.  My biggest issue with how Section 5 is fulfilled is that The President pro tempore, the third person in line to the office of President of The United States, has become a meaningless ego job which is simply given to the oldest, most senile member of the majority party.  This Constitutional office needs to be held by the person elected by the whole Senate to be its Floor Leader.  Tell me, honestly, would you have wanted to see a 99 year-old Strom Thurmond succeeding to The Presidency?  What about an 84 year-old Ted Stevens?  Or a 92 year-old Robert Byrd?  The President pro tempore should be the Senator who is leading the legislative agenda on the floor of The Senate, not the one singing ‘I’m a Little Teapot‘ with the Spectre of Death.

 

(This article will be continued in Part III (b), which will continue discussing Article I of The Constitution.)

Rhys M.  Blavier
Romayor, Texas

 

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

 

© copyright 2009 by Rhys M.  Blavier
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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.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF PIRACY: PART SIX

In Corruption, Crime, War on June 1, 2009 at 1:35 am

PART SIX: PIRACY’S END AND BEGINNING

With the round-up of the major British pirates in the 1720s, piracy was relegated to the status of minor nuisance. European governments made efforts to keep privateers in line by limiting letters of marque and demanding bonds for assurance of good behavior. Quite likely the major restraint on piracy was the increased presence of European navies in remote areas, a side-effect of the constant European wars.

As ever the rise and fall of empire spurred sea-raiding. From 1775 to 1822 the Americas and Europe were convulsed by revolution. American, French, and Latin American revolutionaries found themselves desperately short of sea-power. Their answer was privateering. Predictably, the lure of loot undermined adherence to strictly patriotic motives.

The French Revolutionary Wars generated one of the United States’ first international crises. French and English privateers had hunted each other’s sea-trade to near extinction. Consequently merchant sailors from the United States stepped in to fill the gap. In due course the rivals began seizing vessels suspected of carrying a belligerent power’s merchandise. By 1798 attacks by French privateers on American vessels sparked a brief war at sea. In 1800 the new dictator of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, decided one global enemy was enough and adopted a conciliatory line towards Washington ending the Quasi-War.

No sooner than the Quasi-War had ended than a new crisis arose in Africa. The Barbary corsairs were taking an interest in American sipping. While Morocco took a decidedly friendly approach to the U.S., the bashaw of Libya tried to squeeze more money by declaring war in 1801. The U.S. Navy began by bungling badly and losing a frigate and its crew. But U.S. forces re-grouped and were soon shelling the bashaw’s palace.

Meanwhile a group of U.S. Marines, Greek mercenaries, and a rebel Libyan prince were making their way across the desert to enact a bit of regime change. This, perhaps more than the rather lumbering U.S.N. vessels, alarmed the bashaw sufficiently to cause to make peace in 1805 with a minor discount in blackmail. The prince was unceremoniously abandoned in the desert to make his way home.

Back in the West Indies the erstwhile French privateers found new employment as corsairs for the Latin American republics. The revolutionary juntas were suitably lax in their oversight to make privateering profitable. In time honored tradition, the raiders preferred to loot more profitable American or British vessels rather than the relatively low-profit Spanish shipping.

Although slavery was still legal throughout the Americas, there was an increased international opposition to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. While slavery remained in force, importing slaves from Africa was illegal. Though perhaps it was the best that could be done at the time, the effect was to shoot prices for slaves sky-high and make slave smuggling highly profitable.

The focus of both privateering and slave smuggling was the thriving port of New Orleans. A pair of brothers, Jean and Pierre Lafitte, managed to unite the smugglers and the corsairs in an enormously profitable alliance from 1810 to 1817. Jean also dabbled in covert operations, alternately fomenting conspiracies against Spanish rule and reporting on them to Spanish authorities.

The end of the Napoleonic Wars saw the U.S. and Britain, lately enemies, deliver a one-two punch to the Barbary corsairs (Morocco excepted). In the 1820s they tackled the growing menace of West Indian piracy. Pirates, devoid of even the fig-leaf of rebel privateer commissions, had proliferated. Many found Cuba a friendly haven. The colonial authorities had a push-pull effect of compensation from pirate loot and the pleasure of seeing their American and British rivals discomfited. By 1825 most of the pirates had been swept up. The Lafittes were out of business, but slave smuggling remained highly lucrative until abolition in the 1860s.

The Pax Britannica of the 19th century was the death-knell for piracy. In the 1850s sea-raiders swarmed in Eastern waters from the Red Sea to China. They were diverse in their origins and motivation. They included the Arab corsairs of the Red Sea, the Angrians of India, the Ilaununs of Sulu Sea and other Malay raiders, and outlaws from China. These groups ranged in type from Vikings to privateers to out-and-out pirates. By the 1840s few were left. The Royal Navy, along with the expansionist Spanish and Dutch empires, swept the seas. The Age of Empire imposed a lockdown.

Privateering had its last flings in the Texas War of Independence (1835-36) and the American Civil War (1861-65). The new era called for centralization and control. Advanced military technology was no longer marketed to privately owned warships. Privateers had a long history of excess, unsuited for the new era of enlightenment and progress. Pillaging was retrograde, torpedoes and bombs embodies the modern way of war at sea.

And so matters stood. But the Pax Britannica is gone, vanished as thoroughly as the Cold War verities of the American Century. While Somali pirates are defying the world and collecting ransoms that would make Caesar wince, crime syndicates in the Far East are running hijacking rings engaged in systematically looting the busy shipping lanes of South East Asia.

The international community seems unable to mount any truly effective response. Pompey’s preferred method, crucifixion, is off the table (at least until Dick Cheney gets back to the Whitehouse). The Woodes Rogers program, generous pardons and certain hanging, is limited by the uncertainty of any kind of punishment being imposed on pirates, let alone hanging. The classic standby, recruiting them all as mercenaries, perhaps offers some hope, if only one can organize a joint Blackwater-Somali pirate venture. But if history teaches us one thing it is that each case is unique and fraught with its own perils and pitfalls.

Somewhere the Cilicians are laughing.

END

HOW I THINK THE CONSTITUTION CAN BE FIXED (Part II: The Preamble)

In Activism, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Democracy, History, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Military, Politics, US Government, War on May 26, 2009 at 8:00 am

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

At 53 words (1.15% of the total words in The Constitution), The Preamble to The Constitution of The United States is, not counting any of the Amendments, the shortest section of The Constitution after Article VII (Ratification). It has never, to my knowledge, ever been used as a basis for any constitutional court case, or for any decision (majority, dissenting, or separate) made by The Supreme Court. The Preamble is essentially considered to be the ‘pretty words’ before the ‘actual’ Constitution. That is kind of like seeing it as a short, light poetry reading for entertainment purposes before the start of the ‘real business’ part of the program. I think that such a view is a tragic mistake.

First of all, The Preamble is fully a part of The Constitution, written with it and subjected to the same ratification process as every other part of The Constitution was. It is a shame, at best, and short-sighted, at worst to not give it the same respect and standing as every other part of The Constitution. For example, for the hawks and for those in the Bush administration, it provides the best justification in the entirety of The Constitution for their aggressive military views and focus on defense issues (“We the People of the United States, in Order to…, provide for the common defence). In my view, the ‘Commander-in-Chief” clause (which I will talk about in my part of this article which will deal with Article II – The Executive Branch) does NOT give the Executive Branch the power or authority that it wants to claim under that clause. Their best arguments can be made using the relevant words in The Preamble.

Unfortunately, for those same hawks and those conservatives who are against progressive social policies, if they want to use the ‘common defence’ wording of The Preamble upon which to build a case, they must also concede equal standing to all of the other provisions of The Preamble. To me, The Preamble is an active part of The Constitution which establishes objectives which our government under The Constitution is obligated to strive to try to achieve. I will discuss this idea in more detail in the part of the article which will deal with Article I (The Legislative Branch) but, briefly goals and objectives are the same as strategies and tactics. Objectives / tactics are the broad, general, rather nebulous overarching purpose of something which cannot be quantifiably measured or ever be truly achieved… we will make the world a better place, we will create a more perfect union, we will explore space, we will end sickness and disease, etc.… these are all objectives. You cannot measure them, you cannot quantify them, you can ONLY work towards them. What helps you work towards achieving your objectives / tactics are your goals / strategies. Goals / strategies are the specific, quantifiable and measurable and specifically achievable progress points which are established as as ways to help us achieve our objectives / strategies … we will reach the moon by the end of the decade, we will give the vote to eighteen year-olds, we will defeat Hitler, we will wipe out smallpox, etc…. these are all goals.

For my section on the Legislature, I will advocate, and give my rationale for making goals and objectives a specific part of the legislative process. For this section on The Preamble, I will simply say that it is where I see the founders listing the objectives which they wanted us to work towards. To me, this makes The Preamble one of the, if not the, single most important parts of the entire Constitution. All that WE need to do is pay attention to it and give it the same respect and standing that we give to any and every other part of The Constitution.

The lack of consideration given to The Preamble is yet another shining example of what I see as the base hypocrisy of those who cry and scream that The Constitution needs to be read literally and without interpretation (the second part of which is, of course, impossible) but do not practice what they demand. The Preamble is just as much a part of The Constitution as any other part is. It was subjected to the same ratification procedure and cannot be changed without such changes going through the same amendment procedure as any other changes to The Constitution would have to go through.

The only change that I would make with regards to The Preamble would not be to change any of its words, it would be to change what respect and legal standing we give those words among our other laws and constitutional provisions.

Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

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

© copyright 2009 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.

Anarchy is Coming to America

In Art, Entertainment, Libertarian, Media, Personal Responsibility, Police State, US Government on May 23, 2009 at 1:52 pm

With massive government debasing of the fiat U.S. Dollar, with mounting decades of hypermilitarism, with the destabilising effects of ever more central planning, could the statist American Empire collapse within the next four years?  And if it does, how will citizens cope?

These are the questions aimed to be addressed by a daring new web series, Anarchy in America.

Written and produced by Sky Conway, President of Renegade Studios, Anarchy in America takes place in 2013, in a bankrupt America where “food riots erupt and mobs loot stores.”  While preachers on street corners claim this is “Armageddon,” the president addresses the nation on live TV.  He declares Martial Law.

I first learned of this project from Laissez-Faire!, a new magazine/catalogue being released by Laissez-Faire Books (which was recently acquired by the International Society for Individual Liberty).  In this magazine, Ms. Joyce Brand writes,

In a small coastal community in California, a band of colorful residents rally together to solve social problems from looting to feeding the elderly.  This is not utopia but flawed characters struggling to make their community work, battling each other and the remnants of government while building voluntary institutions for currency, charity, protection, and more.  But even as freedom takes root, the government returns.  State agents with guns demand taxes and obedience.  And, then, a tank rolls down the center of Main Street; the federal government has reconstituted (p. 9).

Professor Randy Barnett, author of The Structure of Liberty, is one of the consultants on Anarchy in America.

This show will be released as a series of webisodes at anarchy.tv, each approximating seven minutes in length.  Each set of twelve episodes will be “structured like a three-act feature film.  …  This allows us to consolidate each set of webisodes into movie-length DVDs,” writes the producer, “with extras, to market to a wide audience.”

Production will not begin until enough money has been raised to fund the first three episodes, but once things are under way, “Laissez Faire Books will publish the novelization of the series, and we expect to have graphic books as well.  We will have merchandise to sell, such as tee shirts, posters, baseball caps, mugs, etc.  There will be 15 second commercial spots available in front of each episode.  The DVD sales will bring in more revenue as the series continues, and there is the potential for a cable TV deal.”

All in all, I’m quite excited about the prospect of watching this show.

—Alexander S. Peak

HOW I THINK THE CONSTITUTION CAN BE FIXED (Part I: The Problem)

In Activism, Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Democracy, Democrats, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Politics, Republican, Second Amendment, US Government on May 20, 2009 at 7:12 am

I have said many times over many years that I think that The Constitution of The United States is broken.  I have recently been asked to give specific examples of what I mean when I say that.  This is, of course, a very fair question to ask.  To answer it, however, I will both give some background information to help explain WHY I feel the way I do on this subject (which is the topic of this first part of this article) and, as I don’t think that it is helpful when people say what they think is wrong with something without actually offering any possible solutions to the problems that they see, I will also provide specific examples of WHAT I would specifically suggest to fix these perceived problems (which will be the topic of the second part of this article). I will do this by primarily suggesting how I think specific aspects or parts of The Constitution can be improved to better accomplish the goals of the founders.  Now, with my suggested changes, I will not be offering specific wordings for those changes.  I believe it would be pre-mature and a poor process to do so within the scope of this article.  I think that that there needs to be some agreement first about what changes should be made, then establish specific goals and objectives for those changes, as well as agreement on why a specific change should be made and what its purpose would be, and THEN, work on the actual wording to be forever enshrined in The Constitution.  For me, then, to actually propose specific wording changes at this stage in the process would be pre-mature.  In addition, I am rather… verbose… and I personally think that such wording needs to be as concise as possible.

Let me start by telling my readers why this topic interests me and why I feel I am qualified to write an article on this subject.  When I was a 16-year old kid in high school, I was able to get involved in several college student organizations at Texas A&M University.  This was a very unique period at A&M in the mid-1970s, which is what made this possible.  As a high school kid, I was still an outsider in those groups.  This allowed me to be an observer of the organizational group dynamics.  In one of the organizations, after I had been in it for a couple of years, there was a huge internal crisis which literally tore the organization apart.  This was the first time I ever got to experience what I came to call the ‘second generation effect’.

It was for this group that I wrote my first constitution, a 25-page thing that no one ever got to see because when I had completed it, it was stolen before I could present it.  In retrospect, it probably wasn’t very a very good constitution, although I do not have a copy I can read to verify that.  What writing it began for me, however, was hobby of designing fictional organizations and writing constitutions for them that lasted well over a decade.  I would do this in the same way that some people do crosswords or jigsaw puzzles and, to me, the process was, and is, very much a logic puzzle.   Along the way I have written five to seven actual constitutions for real organizations and, because of what I watched happen in those groups I was part of while I was in high school discovered a desire to help other people create better organizations themselves. I eventually earned a Master’s degree that would allow me to work as a student activities / college union professional, which also provided me with the means to collect constitutions from all kinds of organizations from many different locations to study.  This has allowed me to see many commonalities, both good and bad, among those documents and helped me to formulate a guiding philosophy for designing and writing constitutions for ANY organization.  That philosophy is:

You can NOT, by definition, plan for the unexpected… but you are a damn fool if you do not prepare for the predictable.

In case anyone is interested, by the way, I think that my next project along this line will be to try to incorporate a city in the unincorporated area in which I live and try to create an actual ‘laboratory of democracy’.

The second generation effect is when an organization which has been created by people with a common understanding of why they created the organization themselves begins to have people who were NOT part of the organizational creation process reach a level where they begin to have a greater controlling influence on the organization than those who did create it.

When an organization is created, those who created it usually have a common understanding of the principles and processes they expect the organization to operate by.  Because of this mutual understanding, they are generally very minimalist about what they put into the organization’s founding document(s) or constitution because they think that more is unnecessary for the very fact that all of the original members have a consensus about those principles and procedures.  As a result, they leave those principles and procedures unspecified in the organization’s founding document(s).  Even where these people have differences with each other, they are actually bound together by their mutual understandings about the organization.  They simply don’t see how others who will come along later will not share those bonds and will not view the organization in the same way that they do.  This is what results in constitutions and founding documents which are what I classify as the ‘we create this group, and we will do things and we will be friends’ category of constitutions and founding documents.  This is also what I call the ‘first generation effect’.

So, why are the ‘first generation’ and ‘second generation’ effects important concepts when talking about our Constitution?  It is very simple.  I think that the founding fathers operated under the first generation effect when they wrote The Constitution.  Their common experiences with the separation from Britain, The Revolutionary War, and The Articles of Confederation created a common bond which unified them on a subconscious level.  Even with their many disagreements and differences, they were still bound to each other by what they had experienced in common with each other.

This period saw one of the most remarkable collections of great men and great minds in one place and one period of time in all of human history.  I still can’t figure out if history gave us this moment and gathering of mental giants, or if the moment and gathering of mental giants gave us history.  Which one is responsible for the other, I frequently wonder?  The result of their gathering in Philadelphia in 1787, The Constitution of The United States, is an amazing and awe-inspiring document.  In fact, I think that it has single-handedly shaped where the world has moved since it was created more than any other single document, philosophy, event, or person since then.  The downside of what they did in Philadelphia is that they had no other real historical examples which they could study, other than their experiences under The Articles, to see what would work and what wouldn’t.  They pretty much only had theories and ideas to use.  They also came up with a minimalist document that left much more unwritten and which would rely on their common understandings with which to fill in the gaps than it actually specified about the operation of the new government which they were creating.

In 1991, I was hired for my first job as a Director of Student Activities at a small, private liberal arts college in Illinois.  At this time, the Student Activities Board was an unconstituted committee of the school’s Student Forum.  I decided that the SAB needed to be a separate organization with its own constitution and I created a committee of students, faculty and staff to help design the organization and help write it’s constitution.  The Forum’s advisor was also the school’s government teacher and ‘expert’ on the U.S. Constitution.  One day, in passing, she stopped me and asked why the document I was trying to create needed to be as long as it was.  After all, she pointed out, the U. S. Constitution was only 4,543 words long (honestly, I remember it with her saying it was only 1,458 words long, which is the length of The Declaration of Independence and not of The Constitution but I will give her the benefit of the doubt by assuming she said the correct total).  I responded by telling her “Yes, and it isn’t a very well written document.  She got very angry and, without allowing me to explain to her what I meant, she stormed off.  She never again spoke to me civilly and I was terminated at the end of the school year WITHOUT getting my SAB constitution ever publically discussed or voted on, much less passed.

When I said that The Constitution was not a very well written document, I meant no insult to it or to the great men who wrote it.  I meant simply that they didn’t have the advantages of history which we have upon which to base their document.  NOTHING is ever as good as it can be on a first attempt (look at how much better The Constitution was than The Articles were), and distance is needed to see how things work (or don’t work) as desired, and what can be done to improve it.  I think that this is a necessary evolutionary process in any long standing organization.  I also never got to explain to her my theory of the second generation effect or how I think it illustrated the fundamental flaws in the document.

I think that there are many reasons that more things were not spelled out better in The Constitution.  One of them was the first generation effect of common understanding and fellowship.  Another was that the Federalists, under the leadership of Alexander Hamilton, did not WANT things to be spelled out better so that they could use the ambiguities of the document to argue that it said and meant things that it clearly didn’t.  As is common in history, those of a more liberal ideology will concede things to their political opponents in order to create a consensus while those of a more extreme conservative ideology will simply take those concessions as wins for their side and an indication of weakness for the other side, and will then proceed to try to use that point as a baseline from which to further advance their cause at the expense of those they oppose.  A defining characteristic of a liberal personally is individualism and efforts to strive for common agreement and consensus, while a conservative personality is more commonly seen as wanting unification among those who agree with them for the advancement of their agendas, suppression of individual internal disagreement and accumulation of power for their group.  (Please look for a future article to be written by me on the subject of groupthink, conformity and shame theory to further explain this claim.)

By the 1820s, the first generation of those who created our American constitutional government was mostly gone from the scene and the second generation was in control.  As I have personally seen in all too many smaller organizations, the second generation, not having had a hand in giving ‘birth’ to an organization does not feel limited by the voluntary constraints by which the members of the first generation operated.  A key aspect of the second generation effect is the rise of members who are more interested in their personal power than in the greater good of the organization.  These power-seeking second generation members will also look for weaknesses, flaws, loopholes, omissions and ambiguities within the governing procedures and document(s) of an organization to see how they can be utilized to advance their personal power or parochial interests at the expense of the greater good of the entire organization.  I also do not know how to test it, but I theorize that it is the very weakness and flaws in an organization’s founding documents which ALLOW the second generation effect to occur.  The better that things are clarified, and potential problems identified and provided for, the longer an organization can go on with unity and consensus.  I believe that it is the failures of the first generation to study more closely when they create their organization and better provide for potential problems in the future within their founding documents that is the cause of the second generation effect, and not the fault of those in the second generation.

In American constitutional government, this was seen in the rise of a professional political class; party politics holding dominance in the elected branches of government; party and regional (state) concerns being held as being more important by those elected officials than the greater good of the entire nation; and a desire for gaining and using personal power bases in order to control the functions of government at the expense of those who do not help the person wielding that power.

One last aspect of the generation effects is a blurring of the lines between and the convergence of common misunderstandings of the differences between and meanings of both ‘power’ and ‘authority’.  Contrary to common belief, the two ideas do not have the same meanings and, in fact, are completely separate concepts from each other. This is why they are both used together… power AND authority, like assault AND battery.  Authority is the RIGHT to do something.  Power is the ABILITY to do something.  While power and authority might reside together in some cases, it is much more common to have an exercise of POWER by a person or group who do not have the AUTHORITY to do what has been done, or a group or person who has the AUTHORITY to do something but does not have the POWER to accomplish the desired action (much like when the Supreme Court ruled against Andrew Jackson regarding the Cherokee Indian treaties with The United States and Jackson, supposedly, commenting in response that “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”)  Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay and John Calhoun are all classic examples of second generation personalities.

Part II of this article will deal with the actual flaws, weaknesses and omissions which I see in our Constitution and my personal suggestions for correcting them.

 

Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

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

© copyright 2009 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.

Torture by any other name….

In Civil Liberties, Crime, History, Human Rights Abuses, Iraq War, Libertarian, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on May 17, 2009 at 10:14 pm

The April 19th edition of the New York Times Scott Shane summarizes the now infamous 2005 CIA memo on torture. Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed were between the two of them waterboarded 266 times. Am I the only one who’s outraged by this? The same article conceeds:

A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.

So why the need to waterboard him after he confessed in the first 35 seconds? Why should he have been tortured in the first place? For a possible answer, three points:  first, a brief history of this form of torture; second, the effects of  torture on the human body; third, a look at how other countries have used and finally, some thoughts on why this issue doesn’t bother Americans.

Waterboarding has had many names over the many centuries that it has been used. A variation of it was used in the Spanish Inquisition under the name “toca“:

“The toca, also called tortura del agua, consisted of introducing a cloth into the mouth of the victim, and forcing them to ingest water spilled from a jar so that they had the impression of drowning”.William Schweiker claims that the use of water as a form of torture also had profound religious significance to the Inquisitors.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterboarding

The Dutch East India company used a variation of it as well. Pay special attention to the physical affects it had on the victim:

…Agents of the Dutch East India Company used a precursor to waterboarding during the Amboyna massacre, which took place on the island of Amboyna in the Molucca Islands in 1623. At that time, it consisted of wrapping cloth around the victim’s head, after which the torturers “poured the water softly upon his head until the cloth was full, up to the mouth and nostrils, and somewhat higher, so that he could not draw breath but he must suck in all the water”. In one case, the torturer applied water three or four times successively until the victim’s “body was swollen twice or thrice as big as before, his cheeks like great bladders, and his eyes staring and strutting out beyond his forehead”…

This next instance occured in more recent times in 1852 at Sing Sing prison:

…’hydropathic torture.’ The stream of water is about one inch in diameter, and falls from a hight [sic] of seven or eight feet. The head of the patient is retained in its place by means of a board clasping the neck; the effect of which is, that the water, striking upon the board, rebounds into the mouth and nostrils of the victim, almost producing strangulation. Congestion, sometimes of the heart or lungs, sometimes of the brain, not unfrequently [sic] ensues; and death, in due season, has released some sufferers from the further ordeal of the water cure…

And again in WWII by the “Evil Axis Powers”:

…During World War II both Japanese troops, especially the Kempeitai, and the officers of the Gestapo,[66] the German secret police, used waterboarding as a method of torture. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore the Double Tenth Incident occurred. This included waterboarding, by the method of binding or holding down the victim on his back, placing a cloth over his mouth and nose, and pouring water onto the cloth. In this version, interrogation continued during the torture, with the interrogators beating the victim if he did not reply and the victim swallowing water if he opened his mouth to answer or breathe. When the victim could ingest no more water, the interrogators would beat or jump on his distended stomach…

It sounds very barbaric but it’s still something that we “had to do” to get “intelligence” out of “high value detainees”. I will concede that we might not have stomped on the stomach’s of detainees when they could not swallow more water but we have done things just as bad or worse.

…In the memos, released Thursday, the Bush Administration White House Office of Legal Counsel offered its endorsement of CIA torture methods that involved placing an insect in a cramped, confined box with detainees. Jay S. Bybee, then-director of the OLC, wrote that insects could be used to capitalize on detainees’ fears…

…The memo was dated Aug. 1, 2002. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s children were captured and held in Pakistan the following month, according to a report by Human Rights Watch…At a military tribunal in 2007, the father of a Guantanamo detainee alleged that Pakistani guards had confessed that American interrogators used ants to coerce the children of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed into revealing their father’s whereabouts…

http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/04/17/bush-torture-memos-align-with-account-that-911-suspects-children-were-tortured/

A few of the effects of drowning on the the human body:

…A conscious victim will hold his or her breath (see Apnea) and will try to access air, often resulting in panic, including rapid body movement. This uses up more oxygen in the blood stream and reduces the time to unconsciousness. The victim can voluntarily hold his or her breath for some time, but the breathing reflex will increase until the victim will try to breathe, even when submerged.

The breathing reflex in the human body is weakly related to the amount of oxygen in the blood but strongly related to the amount of carbon dioxide. During apnea, the oxygen in the body is used by the cells, and excreted as carbon dioxide. Thus, the level of oxygen in the blood decreases, and the level of carbon dioxide increases. Increasing carbon dioxide levels lead to a stronger and stronger breathing reflex, up to the breath-hold breakpoint, at which the victim can no longer voluntarily hold his or her breath. This typically occurs at an arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide of 55 mm Hg, but may differ significantly from individual to individual and can be increased through training…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drowning

When water enters the lungs

…If water enters the airways of a conscious victim the victim will try to cough up the water or swallow it thus inhaling more water involuntarily. Upon water entering the airways, both conscious and unconscious victims experience laryngospasm, that is the larynx or the vocal cords in the throat constrict and seal the air tube. This prevents water from entering the lungs. Because of this laryngospasm, water enters the stomach in the initial phase of drowning and very little water enters the lungs. Unfortunately, this can interfere with air entering the lungs, too. In most victims, the laryngospasm relaxes some time after unconsciousness and water can enter the lungs causing a “wet drowning”. However, about 10-15% of victims maintain this seal until cardiac arrest, this is called “dry drowning” as no water enters the lungs. In forensic pathology, water in the lungs indicates that the victim was still alive at the point of submersion. Absence of water in the lungs may be either a dry drowning or indicates a death before submersion…

…The brain cannot survive long without oxygen and the continued lack of oxygen in the blood combined with the cardiac arrest will lead to the deterioration of brain cells causing first brain damage and eventually brain death from which recovery is generally considered impossible. A lack of oxygen or chemical changes in the lungs may cause the heart to stop beating; this cardiac arrest stops the flow of blood and thus stops the transport of oxygen to the brain. Cardiac arrest used to be the traditional point of death but at this point there is still a chance of recovery. The brain will die after approximately six minutes without oxygen but special conditions may prolong this (see ‘cold water drowning’ below). Freshwater contains less salt than blood and will therefore be absorbed into the blood stream by osmosis. In animal experiments this was shown to change the blood chemistry and led to cardiac arrest in 2 to 3 minutes. Sea water is much saltier than blood. Through osmosis water will leave the blood stream and enter the lungs thickening the blood. In animal experiments the thicker blood requires more work from the heart leading to cardiac arrest in 8 to 10 minutes. However, autopsies on human drowning victims show no indications of these effects and there appears to be little difference between drownings in salt water and fresh water. After death, rigor mortis will set in and remains for about two days, depending on many factors including water temperature…

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed experienced this 183 times. You think he felt that we were a proverbial “Shinning City on a Hill”? No, instead a bet he felt like he’d been captured by savages. I’m personally ashamed and appalled that my taxes paid the CIA torture this man.  They used our tax money to kill, torture, and humiliate people who we don’t even know. They coerce the complicity from each one of us living in America and Britain.

Historically speaking, there have been many other people persecuted for war crimes. America has even persecuted other people for waterboarding.

…McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning.” Politifact went on to report, “A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps…

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2007/dec/18/john-mccain/history-supports-mccains-stance-on-waterboarding/

Remember that they killed Saddam’s sons and one of their “justifications” was that they tortured Iraqis. This is ironic because we’re the ones torturing Iraqis now and nobody has been executed for it yet. This page outlines Saddam’s “Crimes Against Humanity”. It’s funny how we use these slogans against everyone except Americans even when our government commits the same crimes. Carl Clauberg experimented on over 300 woman and sterilized many of them. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Doihara Kenji was sentenced to death for his part in the Pearl Harbor incident. There are many other war criminals that can be found here.  Why no American presidents are on this list?

We want to believe that the American government is incapable of torturing people even though it’s exactly what we’re doing. Does the government have that much of a hold on the media?  They play word games  to cloud our view. They say that we’re in a “credit crunch” when we’re in a “recession“.  When they admit to  “recession,” we’re really  in a “depression“. They played the same game in Iraq. According to the news we were dealing with a few “foreign fighters” when it was an “insurgency”.  Called it “insurgency” when it was really a “civil war“.   Now that Baghdad has been separated among sectarian lines we’ve declared victory. Likewise they now call “harsh interrogation” what is “torture”.

I want  to remind people of the horrors of torture. When McCain was caught and tortured then sang like a bird but torture is only successful at getting the captor to say what he thinks the torturer wants him to say. Torture inevitably gives the torturer incorrect intelligence because the tortured just wants the pain to stop. It is also a double-sided sword  because the enemy becomes emboldened by the barbarism of the side that uses this disgraceful tactic. It reminds them of the immoral and merciless nature of their enemy and only makes them fight harder. In the case of religious fanatics they are emboldened even more when they see that their brethren are being tortured by people of a different faith.

So I think we just need to endorse Peace and do away with states who carry out atrocities in the name of all the people that live within its borders.

Peace…

A BRIEF HISTORY OF PIRACY: PART FOUR

In Crime, History, War on May 17, 2009 at 7:36 pm

PART FOUR: THE BUCCANEERS

The 1600s witnessed the birth of a new phenomenon, the buccaneers. These men were a frontier subculture, akin to the Gauchos, Trekboers, or Cossacks. The buccaneers were West Indian frontiersmen, drawn from runaway servants (white slaves, after a fashion), outlaws, deserting sailors, adventurers, and assorted drifters. They lived by hunting, logging, and smuggling. Their favorite dish was barbecue, called in the local patois boucan, thus boucaniers or buccaneers.

The principal base of these “Brethren of the Coast” was the island of Tortuga off Haiti. The lumberjack groups called the “Baymen” favored the mainland around the Gulf of Honduras and others associated with a short-lived Puritan colony on Providence Island.

French and English colonial governors found these well-armed hoodlums to be just the thing to confront Spanish might. The barbecue-men became privateering mercenaries and looted ships and cities across the Spanish Main. With their canoes and hunting muskets the Brethren of the Coast were a formidable, if rag-tag, force. Armed with actual warships and generously supplied with cannon, they were a major threat capable of seizing Spanish cities. In 1678 A Dutchman named Alexander Exquemelin penned a memoir of life among the buccaneers. He immortalized buccaneer leaders such as L’Olonnais, Rock the Brazilian, Bartholomew the Portuguese, and Henry Morgan. Exquemelin paid tribute to their cunning and courage without understating their treachery and cruelty.

The wild and woolly frontier days waned as English and French colonies became more established. The Baymen in the Gulf of Honduras began settling down as planters and formed the basis for the English colony of Belize. The buccaneer hang-out of Port Royal in Jamaica suffered a devastating earthquake in 1692 which sunk it to the bottom of the harbor. Successful raiders such as Henry Morgan, Laurens de Graaf, and Jean Ducasse found comfortable berths in the planter elite.

By the 1690s what was left of the buccaneers were almost entirely associated with the French colonial establishment. When Tortuga was incorporated into France’s empire, the buccaneers went with it. In 1697 buccaneers spearheaded a French naval task force that seized the colonial city of Cartagena. It was the last great buccaneer raid. Dynastic politics made France and Spain allies in the 1700s. But by then Spain was no longer the dominant colonial power. The buccaneers had worked themselves out of a job.

-Dave Hardy

PART I: An Introduction to American Involvement with War Crimes Trials

In Activism, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, George Bush, Guantanamo, History, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Military, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on May 12, 2009 at 11:27 pm

If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.

 

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of The United States
Robert H. Jackson

 

Justice Jackson was asked by President Truman to represent The United States in establishing the process for trying German war criminals after Germany’s surrender in World War II. The above quote was made by him in 1945 during the negotiations of The London Charter of The International Military Tribunal (IMT) which established the legal justifications and basis for the trials. He later acted as the Chief Prosecutor for the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (IMT) of the major war criminals.

 

I was probably only 12 years old when I first saw the movie ‘Judgment at Nuremburg‘ (based on the Judges’ Trial of the twelve subsequent Nuremberg Trials held after the one for the major war criminals). Even at that age, several things about the trials didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t have much more of an understanding of law or philosophy than that of any other child of my age, but I have always had a very natural understanding of logic… especially in my ability to recognize what ISN’T logical. The main question I have always had about the Nuremberg Trials is: “Why didn’t the losers get to file any charges against the winners?” That, to my mind, would be the primary aspect of a war crimes trial which would keep it from being simply ‘victors’ justice’

 

As I got older, more questions came to my mind about the Nuremberg Trials. The two most prominent of these questions are:

 

(1) We judged that those who were indicted and tried should have resisted or refused to obey laws and/or orders which they thought were immoral. However, what about those who did not have personal moral objections to those laws and/or orders? If they agreed with them but had no hand in giving or enacting them, weren’t they operating both within the law AND within their own moral codes and, if that was the case, then why weren’t they protected from prosecutions such as those at Nuremberg?; and

 

(2) If we wanted to establish that “I was just following orders” is NOT a valid defense, why doesn’t The United States put procedures and practices into place for our own soldiers and citizens who hold such objections to laws and/or orders which they are expected to follow and for which they would face court-martial and/or civil prosecution if they did refuse to obey.

 

In World War II, while there were several localized instances of American War Crimes which could be truthfully judged to be individual aberrations which could be properly, adequately and legally dealt with internally through courts-martial (the Biscari massacres, the Chenonge massacre, and the Dachau massacre, to name just three), there were no attempts to try larger scale incidents against any of the Allies for potential war crimes which originated at a command level or higher. Examples of these would include: the Dresden fire bombings of a non-strategic civilian city for the psychological effect it would have throughout Germany; the re-designation by the Allies of some German POWs (who were protected by The Geneva Conventions) to ‘disarmed enemy forces‘ (who, allegedly, were NOT protected he Geneva Convention) and their subsequent use as forced (i.e. – slave) labor by the French to clear minefields in France and The Low Countries (while this was provided for by the Armistice, the French government conceded that the practice was ‘perhaps‘ not in accordance with The Geneva Conventions. By December of 1945, the French government estimated that 2,000 German prisoners were being killed or maimed each month in accidents); and American food policy in post-war Germany which directly and indirectly caused the unnecessary suffering and deaths, from starvation, of large numbers of civilians and POWs in occupied Germany in violation of Article 43 of the 1907 Hague Rules of Land Warfare.

 

As we look at the debates our nation faces today about war crimes, it is ironic that, at the end of World War II and during the post-war period, it was The United States which took the lead in demanding legal actions and prosecutions to establish both guilt of those who would be punished AND legal precedence for the future. As early as December 1941, British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, was a vocal advocate for summary executions of war criminals, even to the point of being willing to use Acts of Attainder to circumvent any legal obstacles. It was leaders in The United States who eventually dissuaded him from this stance.

 

In 1943, at the Tehran Conference, Stalin proposed summarily executing 50,000 – 100,000 German Staff Officers. President Franklin Roosevelt tried to lighten this attitude with the suggestion that maybe only ‘49,000’ would need to be executed. Churchill followed this up by denouncing the “cold-blooded executions of soldiers who fought for their country”. In 1945, America’s Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, and his staff at The War Department drafted a plan for the ‘Trial of European War Criminals‘, which was strongly approved by President Truman. This plan formed the basis for negotiations of The London Charter.

 

While there may have been legitimate criticisms of the Allied war crimes trials, including by at least three other members of The United States Supreme Court… Chief Justice Harlan Stone (who called the Nuremberg trials “a fraud” and a “high-grade lynching”), Associate Justice William O. Douglas (who said that the Allies were guilty of “substituting power for principle” and that “law was created ex post facto to suit the passion and clamor of the time”), and Associate Justice Frank Murphy (who said, in protest of the war crime trial of Japanese General Masaharu Homma, “Either we conduct such a trial as this in the noble spirit and atmosphere of our Constitution or we abandon all pretense to justice, let the ages slip away and descend to the level of revengeful blood purges.”), it was The United States of America which led the path to the establishment of norms of public international trials for war crimes. Now we face showing ourselves as a nation of hypocrites who are quick to judge others but unwilling to have judgment turned on our own.

 

The war crimes trials of World War II may have utilized ex post facto laws and rules to judge and condemn Axis war criminals but, thanks in large part to The United States, they establish the precedent for holding accountable those at any and all levels of military, political, civilian AND economic structures for both actions AND decisions which lead to the systematic rule of brutality, terror and violence of both the German and Japanese regimes.

 

The United States considered such trials so important that after growing differences between the four major Allied Powers made additional international trials under the International Military Tribunal impossible, that they held 12 subsequent trials on their own at Nuremberg. Under Control Council Law #10, which empowered any of the occupying authorities to try suspected war criminals in their respective occupation zones, The United States alone, between December 1946 and October 1948, conducted:

 

01.) The Doctors’ Trial (Medical doctors and Nazi officials)

 

War Crimes: Performing medical experiments, without the subjects’ consent, on prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, in the course of which experiments the defendants committed murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhuman acts. Also planning and performing the mass murder of prisoners of war and civilians of occupied countries, stigmatizated as aged, insane, incurably ill, deformed, and so on, by gas, lethal injections, and diverse other means in nursing homes, hospitals, and asylums during the Euthanasia Program and participating in the mass murder o concentration camp inmates.

 

Crimes Against Humanity: For performing those same acts on German nationals.

 

02.) The Milch Trial (Field Marshall of the Luftwaffe, Erhard Milch)

 

War Crimes: Knowingly committed war crimes as principal and accessory in enterprises involving slave labor and having also willingly and knowingly participated in enterprises involving the use of prisoners of war in war operations contrary to international convention and the laws and customs of war. Also, knowingly and willfully participated in enterprises involving fatal medical experiments upon subjects without their consent.

 

Crimes Against Humanity: For slave labor and fatal medical experiments, in the same manner as indicated in the first two counts, except that here the alleged victims are declared to be German nationals and nationals of other countries.

 

03.) The Judges’ Trial (German jurists and lawyers)

(Held responsible for implementing and furthering the Nazi “racial purity” program through the German eugenic and racial laws)

 

War Crimes: Abuse of the judicial and penal process, resulting in mass murder, torture, plunder of private property.


Crimes Against Humanity: The same grounds, including slave labor charges.

 

04.) The Pohl Trial (Employees of the SS Economics and Administrative Department)

(Held for active involvement in and administration of the “Final Solution”; they also handled the procurement for the Waffen SS and the administration of the SS ‘Totenkopf’Divisions)


War Crimes: Administration of concentration camps and of extermination camps, and the mass murders and atrocities committed those camps.

 

Crimes Against Humanity: The same grounds, including slave labor charges.

 

05.) The Flick Trial (high-ranking directors of Flick’s group of companies)

(Charges centered on slave labor and plundering, but Flick and the Otto Steinbrinck, were also charged for their membership in the “Circle of Friends of Himmler”, a group of influential German industrialists and bankers for the purpose of giving financial support to the Nazis. Its members “donated” annually about 1 million Reichsmark to a “Special Account S” in favor of Himmler.)


War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Participating in the deportation and enslavement of the civilian populations of countries and territories under the belligerent occupation of or otherwise controlled by Germany, and of concentration camp inmates, for use as slave labor in Flick mines and factories.

 

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Plundering and spoliation of occupied territories, and the seizure of plants both in the west (France) and the east (Poland, Russia). Crimes Against Humanity: participation in the persecution of Jews and the ‘aryanization’ of their properties.

 

06.) The Hostages’ Trial

(Regarding the taking of civilian hostages; wanton shootings of hostages and ‘partisans’)


War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Mass murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Greece, Albania, and Yugoslavia by having ordered hostage taking and reprisal killings.

 

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Plundering and wanton destruction of villages and towns in Greece, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Norway.

 

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war, and arbitrarily designating combatants as “partisans”, denying them the status of prisoners of war, as well as killing them after such a designation.

 

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: Murder, torture, deportation of, and sending Greek, Albanian, and Yugoslav civilians to concentration camps.

 

07.) The IG Farben Trial (directors of IG Farben)

(IG Farben was a large German civilian industrial conglomerate of chemical firms)


War crimes and crimes against humanity: Through the plundering and spoliation of occupied territories, and the seizure of plants in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, France, and Russia.

 

War crimes and crimes against humanity: Through participation in the enslavement and deportation to slave labor on a gigantic scale of concentration camp inmates and civilians in occupied countries, and of prisoners of war, and the mistreatment, terrorization, torture, and murder of enslaved persons.

 

08.) The Einsatzgruppen Trial (Officers of SS mobile Death Squads)

 

Crimes Against Humanity: Through persecutions on political, racial, and religious grounds, murder, extermination, imprisonment, and other inhumane acts committed against civilian populations, including German nationals and nationals of other countries, as part of an organized scheme of genocide.

 

War Crimes: For the same reasons, and for wanton destruction and devastation not justified by military necessity.

 

09.) The RuSHA Trial (Various SS officials of various political and administrative

                  departments)

(For implementation of the ‘pure race’ program [RuSHA])


Crimes Against Humanity: Implementing “racial purity” programs; kidnapping children; forcing ‘non-Aryan’ pregnant women to undergo abortions; plundering; deportation of populations from their native lands in occupied countries and resettling of so-called Volksdeutsche (‘ethnic Germans’) on such lands; sending people who had had ‘interracial’ sexual relationships to concentration camps; and general participation in the persecution of the Jews.

 

War Crimes: For the same reasons.

 

10.) The Krupp Trial (Directors of the Krupp Group)

                  (The Krupp Group was a collection of large German civilian industrial companies)


Crimes Against Humanity: Participating in the plundering, devastation, and exploitation of occupied countries; participating in the murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, and use for slave labor of civilians, German nationals, and prisoners of war who came under German control.

 

11.) The Ministries’ Trial (officials of various Reich ministries)

(Charged for their participation in or responsibility for atrocities committed both in Germany and in occupied countries during the war)


Crimes Against Peace: Planning and waging aggressive war against other nations and violating international treaties.


War Crimes: Being responsible for murder, ill-treatment and other crimes against prisoners of war and enemy belligerents.


Crimes Against Humanity: Committing atrocities and crimes against German nationals on the grounds of political, racial, or religious discrimination.


War crimes and crimes against humanity: Participating in or being responsible for atrocities and crimes committed against civilians in occupied countries; plundering and spoliation of occupied territories; participation in the enslavement, deportation for slave labor, and ill-treatment of civilians in both Germany and occupied countries, and of prisoners of war.

 

12.) The High Command Trial (Senior Flag Officers of the German High Command)

(Charged with having participated in or planned or facilitated the execution of the numerous atrocities committed in countries occupied by the German forces during the war)


Crimes Against Peace: Waging aggressive war against other nations and violating international treaties.

(The tribunal considered all of these accused to be not guilty of this charge, stating that they were not the policy-makers and that preparing for war and fighting a war on orders was not a criminal offense under the applicable international law of the time.)


War Crimes: Being responsible for murder, ill-treatment and other crimes against prisoners of war and enemy belligerents. Crimes Against Humanity: participating in or ordering the murder, torture, deportation, hostage-taking, etc. of civilians in occupied countries.

 

All of the judges for all twelve of these trials were American, as were all of the prosecutors. As a result of these trials, 142 out of 185 total defendants were found guilty of at least one charge. Out of the 142 guilty verdicts, those convicted received 24 death sentences, 20 life sentences, and 98 other prison sentences of varying lengths. In addition to the 35 of the accused who were acquitted, 4 were removed from the trials due to illnesses and 4 others committed suicide during the trials. All of these trials also included charges of conspiracy to commit the various crimes and to initiate and engage in wars of aggression but those charges were mostly dropped either because of poor wording in the orders which provided the legal justification the tribunals or because of beliefs among many of the judges that consideration of those charges was outside of their scope of authorization, or various other concerns. Any future war crimes trials would have to be aware of these difficulties so that they could adequately justify including conspiracy charges in those trials.

 

The United States has prosecuted our vanquished opponents in war for war crimes at least since the trial of Henry Wirz, Commandant of Camp Sumter, the Confederate prisoner of war camp at Andersonville. We also had a history going back just as long of denying full justice and fair trials to those we have accused while, at the same time, have not held our own accountable to the same standards of justice we have condemned others for. A large part of the problems at the Andersonville Prison, for example, occurred because the Union ended the policy it had with the Confederacy of exchanging prisoners in an effort to cause hardship for the Confederacy, which resulted in the massive overcrowding and food shortages at Camp Sumter (which, at its maximum occupation, held enough Union prisoners to make it the 5th largest city in The Confederacy).

 

In 1902, the Lodge Committee in the United States Senate was supposed to investigate allegations of American war crimes committed in The Philippines, which had been building until they eventually ignited when Brigadier General Jacob Smith remarked to a reporter from The Manila News that he “intended to set the entire island of Samar ablaze” and would probably wipe out most of the population of the island. At Nuremberg, Karl Dönitz Commander In Chief of the Kriegsmarine, was charged, tried and found guilty of violating the Second London Naval Treaty (1936) which prohibited unrestricted submarine warfare even though Admiral Chester A. Nimitz stated that The United States also conducted unrestricted submarine warfare in the Pacific Theatre from the first day we entered the war (Great Britain had also violated the treaty itself).

 

During the Vietnam War, The United States used Agent Orange and other defoliants in Operation Ranch Hand, even though the use of poison agents as weapons in war has been banned since World War I, and initiated The CIA’s Phoenix Program, which was designed to identify and ‘neutralize’ (via infiltration, capture, terrorism, or assassination) the civilian infrastructure supporting the National Liberation Front (NLF) of South Vietnam (or Viet Cong) insurgency. In addition, the files of The Vietnam War Crimes Working Group, a Pentagon task force created to detail endemic war crimes, compiled documentary evidence which confirmed 320 incidents committed by U.S. forces (NOT counting the massacre at My Lai), including seven massacres from 1967 through 1971 in which at least 137 civilians died; 78 other attacks on noncombatants in which at least 57 were killed, 56 wounded and 15 sexually assaulted; and 141 instances in which U.S. soldiers tortured prisoners of war or civilian detainees.

 

These examples show how The United States has not been consistent in its pursuit of international justice regarding war crimes investigations or trials, especially when such investigations or trials should focus ON Americans. However, WE established the precedents at Nuremberg that any and everyone within a nation is accountable to the world for their belligerent actions and intentions against other nations and that, once a nation has acted ON those intentions and engaged in such actions, they are also accountable to the world for their actions regarding how they treat their own nationals, citizens and those within their own borders during such international actions. The United States has also set its own precedents for the legality of removing persons who it considers to be criminals in violation of its own laws, most notably with our invasion of Panama and the forcible removal of Manuel Noriega from his own country to The United States to stand trial under our laws and then be imprisoned in our jail system. This case also demonstrates very nicely our own view that being a head of state is not a protection against international justice.

 

It seems to me that war itself is a crime not ONLY because of what one nation does to another nation and its people in the course of war but also because of what it inevitably causes any warring nation to do to its own people while it is in preparation for and engagement of such wars. This would seem to make the investigation and prosecution of war crimes to be a domestic civil necessity as well as an international criminal one. In 1945, in his opening statement before the IMF during the Nuremberg Trial of the major war criminals, Justice Robert Jackson, in his role as Chief Prosecutor said:

 

Any resort to war – to any kind of war – is a resort to means that are inherently criminal. War inevitably is a course of killings, assaults, deprivations of liberty, and destruction of property. An honest defensive war is, of course, legal and saves those lawfully conducting it from criminality. But, inherently criminal acts cannot be defended by showing that those who committed them were engaged in a war, when war itself is illegal. The very minimum legal consequences of the treaties making aggressive war illegal is to strip those who incite or wage them of every defense the law ever gave, and to leave war-makers subject to judgment by the usually accepted principles of the law of crimes.

 

The United States of America has not demonstrated itself to be deserving of the trust of its own citizens or of the world in examining our own for potential war crimes. Nor would it seem that we could be trusted conducting trials for such crimes internally. Since World War II, the prosecution of war crimes has become, of necessity, an increasingly international matter. The United States needs to cooperate with the international community to investigate and try such crimes. Part II of this article topic will cover the rise of and legal justification for international courts for conducting war crimes trials.

 

Rhys M. Blavier
Romayor, Texas

 

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

 

© copyright 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier

 

 

The accused and trial results of the Nuremberg Trial (IMT) of the major war criminals were:

 

Martin Bormann: Nazi Party Secretary

(Bureaucrat)

            Sentence: Death

 

Karl Dönitz: Commander-in-Chief of the Kreigsmarine / Hitler’s successor as President of Germany

            Sentence: 10 years

 

Hans Frick: German Law Leader and Governor-General of Poland.

            Sentence: Death

 

Wilhelm Frick: Minister of the Interior and Reich Protector of Bohemia-Moravia

(Authored the Nuremberg Race Laws)

            Sentence: Death

 

Hans Fritzsche: Radio Commentator and Head of Nazi Propaganda Ministry’s news divisions. (Tried in place of Joseph Goebbels who had committed suicide)

            Sentence: Acquitted

 

Walther Funk: Minister of Economics and head of the German Reichsbank.

            Sentence: Life

 

Hermann Goring: Reichsmarshall

(Second highest Nazi official after Hitler)

            Sentence: Death

 

Rudolf Hess: Hitler’s Deputy until 1941

(Flew to Scotland in 1941 to try to broker peace)

            Sentence: Life

 

Alfred Jodl: Wehrmacht Generaloberst

(Military leader)

            Sentence: Death

 

Ernst Kaltenbrunner: Chief of the central Nazi intelligence agency.

(Highest surviving SS official)

            Sentence: Death

 

Wilhelm Keitel: Head of the Wehrmacht command structure

(Military leader)

             Sentence: Death

 

Baron Konstantin von Neurath: Foreign Minister and Protector of Bohemia and Moravia (Resigned in 1943)

            Sentence: 15 years

 

Franz von Papen: German Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor under Hitler, Ambassador to Austria, and Ambassador to Turkey

(Politician and Diplomat)

            Sentence: Acquitted

 

Erich Raeder: Commander-in-Chief of the Kreigsmarine (before Karl Dönitz)

(Resigned in 1943)

            Sentence: Life

 

Joachim von Ribbentrop: Ambassador-Plenipotentiary and Minister of Foreign Affairs

(Politician and Diplomat)

            Sentence: Death

 

Alfred Rosenberg: Party Ideologist, later Minister of Eastern Occupied Territories

            Sentence: Death

 

Fritz Sauckel: Plenipotentiary of slave labor program

            Sentence: Death

 

Hjalmar Schacht: Banker and economist

(Admitted violating the Treaty of Versailles)

            Sentence: Acquitted

 

Baldur von Schirach: Head of the Hitler Youth and Gauleiter of Vienna

(Retired in 1943)

            Sentence: 20 years

 

Arthur Seyss-Inquart: Various political positions and instrumental in the Anschluss

(Political functionary and Diplomat)

            Sentence: Death

 

Albert Speer: Architect and friend of Hitler, later Minister of Armaments

            Sentence: 20 years

 

Julius Streicher: Gauleiter of Franconia, and the publisher of a weekly pro-Nazi newspaper

            Sentence: Death

 

 

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.