Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘History’

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
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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.

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Significant “Others”

In Libertarian Party-US, Politics on August 5, 2008 at 8:47 pm

I have just finished the third volume of the ongoing series “Others“, an encyclopedic history of American third parties and independent political movements by my friend — and onetime Pennsylvania Consumer Party U.S. Senate nominee — Darcy Richardson. The series is captivating for a guy like me, and I eagerly await the day when Darcy finally gets up to the Libertarian Party’s history. (The first four volumes, those that are published so far, only go up to 1928, and the LP did not come on the scene until 1971.) Perhaps by the time he gets to the modern day, in Volume 15 perhaps, I will have done something worth a mention.

The books leave me both hopeful and pessimistic as someone who has dipped in and out of alternative parties for years and who has cast his lot with one. I am hopeful because the books show that despite the rarity with which they actually win elections, alternative parties do change the debate and can impact policy. The best example of this is the Socialist Party, which had much of its agenda implemented in a bastardized form under Franklin Roosevelt (my Socialist grandfather, a Norman Thomas man, despised F.D.R. for this until the day he died). The Prohibitionists also had their agenda implemented after their rise threatened the established parties throughout the 1910s. Even today, though not so much on the national level, we see Republicans trying to win over Libertarians and Democrats trying to win over Greens by giving lip service to aspects of their agendas.

I am pessimistic, though, because the books imply the heyday of the third party is over. It used to be comparatively easy to start up a new party, get on ballots, and win over voters. New parties rose and fell throughout the post-Civil War era with great regularity, but even those that were doomed still often attracted governors and senators to their ranks. That is very rare today. True, both the Libertarians and the Greens are running former members of Congress for president this year (both from Georgia, and both voted out of office in 2002, interestingly enough), but this is an anomaly. In 2004, the parties nominated a software engineer and a lawyer, respectively. And ballot access laws adopted since the 19th century party boom now make it nearly impossible for a new party to form, unless it has a celebrity candidate or a billionaire behind it.

I do not really think the Libertarian Party will ever achieve high office, but I do think the party plays a role in getting an otherwise little heard message out to the public. It also provides a home for people like me who have no place in the R-D duopoly. I plan to stay with the party — though whether or not I’ll ever actually be a candidate for anything remains to be seen. I’d probably be awful at it.

Talk Amongst Yourselves

In Libertarian on August 1, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Here’s a discussion-stoker for this first weekend of August: Here’s my ranking of the libertarian-ness, or lack thereof, of the U.S. presidents of the past 100 years (starting with 1909), from most to least. What’s yours?

Calvin Coolidge
Warren Harding
William Howard Taft
Gerald Ford
Ronald Reagan
Jimmy Carter
John Kennedy
Dwight Eisenhower
Herbert Hoover
George H.W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Harry Truman
Woodrow Wilson
George W. Bush
Richard Nixon
Lyndon Johnson
Franklin Roosevelt

Antiwar songs: “Rooster” by Alice In Chains

In Celebrities, Communism, Entertainment, History, Military, Music, Obituaries, Protest, US Government, Veterans, War on April 22, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Alice In ChainsThis video is especially interesting because it includes snippets of an interview with guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s father, who served two tours in Vietnam. In the father’s interview, he states that he hopes no one else will ever have to go through what he went through.

Jerry Cantrell never even met his father, Jerry Sr. (nicknamed “Rooster”), until he was three years old. Up until then, his father had been a soldier. About his father, Jerry once said:

My dad was trained to be a fucking killer. After that, you can’t just come back home and say, “OK, everything’s cool. I’m going to work 9 to 5 now.” That shit scars you forever.

“Rooster” is Jerry’s tribute to his father’s suffering. I will warn you, though, that the video contains explicit images of war.

For those of you who would prefer to not view images of that nature, this second video is the unplugged version of the same song, which shows nothing but the band performing:

Here are the lyrics, in case any of you can’t make them all out:

Ain’t found no way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with stinging sweat
Seems every path leads me to nowhere

Wife and kids, household pet
Army green was no safe bet
The bullets scream to me from somewhere

Here they come to snuff the Rooster
Yeah here come the Rooster, yeah
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no, ya know he ain’t gonna die

Walkin’ tall machine gun man
They spit on me in my homeland
Gloria sent me pictures of my boy

Got my pills ‘gainst mosquito death
My buddy’s breathin his dyin’ breath
Oh God please, won’t you help me make it through

Here they come to snuff the Rooster
Yeah here come the Rooster, yeah
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no ya know he ain’t gonna die

Alice In Chains is Layne Staley, lead singer/songwriter; Jerry Cantrell, guitarist/vocals/songwriter; Mike Inez, bassist; and Sean Kinney, drummer. AiC was one of the most popular and successful heavy metal bands to come out of the early 90s Seattle music scene, along with Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

AiC was nominated for a Grammy for “Best Heavy Metal Group”, and nominated for an American Music Award for “Favorite Heavy Metal Artist”.  AiC reached platinum album status with both “Dirt” (which contained “Rooster”) and “Facelift”, and was awarded an MTV Music Award for best video from a film, with “Would” (from the film “Singles”).

Singer Layne Staley, ranked #27 in Hit Parader’s “Heavy Metal’s All Time Top 100 Vocalists” and widely considered one of the most influential singers in rock, struggled with a severe heroin addiction for over a decade, and finally succumbed to the ravages of that addiction in 2002.

RIP, Layne.

EW’s List of Memorable Antiwar Films

In Activism, Celebrities, Entertainment, History, Media, Terrorism, War on April 1, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Entertainment Weekly has come up with a list of memorable antiwar films, listed below.

Would you add other films to this list? Do you believe that any don’t belong on the list? Have antiwar films helped form your present views? What is the greatest and/or most memorable antiwar film of all time, in your opinion?

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930)
The Hollywood adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel is one of the earliest anti-war films, and still stands among the most haunting. As naive young German troops fight and die in World War I, their devotion to their homeland comes to seem cruelly meaningless.

LA GRANDE ILLUSION (1937)
French auteur Jean Renoir looks at WWI from the other side of the trenches and arrives at much the same conclusion. Three captured officers (Pierre Fresnay, Jean Gabin, Marcel Dalio) bond in a German POW camp and learn that nationalism and class divisions are less important than the things all humanity has in common. Such a damning statement that the Nazis seized its negatives when they invaded France three years later.

THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)
Call it the Stop-Loss of its day: Midwestern war heroes (Dana Andrews, Harold Russell, Frederic March) struggle to ease back into their small-town lives after World War II. A rare look at the long-term challenges faced by ”the Greatest Generation” once they defeated the Axis.

PATHS OF GLORY (1957)
Director Stanley Kubrick’s first big box-office success was also his first foray into the anti-war territory he would return to again and again. Kirk Douglas stars as a compassionate French colonel defending troops who have been accused of cowardice by their brutal superiors during WWI.

DR. STRANGELOVE: OR, HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964)
Kubrick’s approach is considerably lighter in this mordant Cold War satire. As the U.S. and U.S.S.R. hurtle toward nuclear apocalypse for no particular reason, Peter Sellers pulls off a hat trick, playing the psychotic rocket scientist of the title, the ineffectual American president, and the lone sane military man. A masterpiece of weapons-grade gallows humor.

THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (1966)
Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo delivers a still-searing portrait of Algeria’s mid-20th-century war of independence against its French colonial government. As both sides trade escalating acts of terrorism and brutality, the Western occupation is revealed as an exercise in gory futility.

CATCH-22 (1970)
Yossarian lives! Mike Nichols directs an all-star ensemble (Alan Arkin, Martin Sheen, Jon Voight, Orson Welles, Anthony Perkins, Bob Newhart…Art Garfunkel?!) in an adaptation of Joseph Heller’s tragicomic WWII novel. The characters may have been Allied bombers stationed in the Mediterranean, but the theme of senseless violence amid a bureaucratic tangle could hardly have been more relevant to the ever-deepening Vietnam disaster.

M*A*S*H (1970)
Before Hawkeye and Trapper John were primetime-TV staples, they featured in Robert Altman’s dark Korean War comedy. Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, and Tom Skerritt star as wisecracking Army doctors in a chaotic base camp south of the DMZ in the 1950s — another thinly veiled stand-in for the situation in Vietnam.

COMING HOME (1978)
Three years after the U.S. withdrew from Southeast Asia, American audiences finally got a great film that explicitly addressed Vietnam. Jane Fonda and Jon Voight both took home Oscars for their roles in a love triangle involving a paraplegic veteran and his nurse…

THE DEER HUNTER (1978)
…and that same year, the Academy voted this intense Vietnam movie Best Picture. Robert De Niro, and Christopher Walken star as Pennsylvania steelworkers turned soldiers; we watch the war’s inhuman violence tear them apart as they proceed from a pre-war hunting trip through the battlefield and back home. You’ll never forget those Russian roulette scenes.

APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)
In a loose re-telling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) journeys up a Cambodian river to find and kill the unhinged Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). It’s since become one of the most iconic Vietnam War films — quotes don’t get more quotable than Robert Duvall bellowing, ”I love the smell of napalm in the morning!”

DAS BOOT (1981)
Back to World War II: Director Wolfgang Petersen takes us inside a claustrophobic German submarine, revealing the grueling realities of undersea battle for a young crew whose members are beginning to question Nazi ideology.

PLATOON (1986)
The first and most affecting of Oliver Stone’s Vietnam films. Charlie Sheen, standing in for Stone’s own wartime experiences, drops out of college and ships off to the Army. Caught up in the violent rivalry between two superior officers — a brutal authoritarian played by Tom Berenger and a warmer sergeant played by Willem Dafoe — Sheen’s ideals are shattered.

FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
Another insanity-of-war polemic from Kubrick, this one focusing on a troop of Vietnam-bound Marines. First we see Vincent D’Onofrio as a young recruit driven insane by the brutal dehumanization of basic training. The film’s second segment follows the rest of the troops through a similarly hellish march into the city of Hue.

THREE KINGS (1999)
In director David O. Russell’s quirky examination of the (first) Gulf War’s aftermath, soldiers played by George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze happen upon a treasure trove of Saddam Hussein’s gold bullion in 1991 — and then things really get started. As they traverse the desert, gradually coming to realize the war’s effect on Iraq’s civilians, wry humor gives way to touching drama.

MUNICH (2005)
Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated epic takes place more than 30 years ago, but it’s still the only feature film that’s truly done justice to the profound ethical complexity of today’s ”War on Terror.” Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds, and others are undercover Israeli spies, assigned to secretly track and assassinate the Palestinian terrorists who planned the vicious murder of Jewish athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Their mission seems entirely righteous at first — but as they travel through Europe, picking off the men on their hit list, anything resembling moral clarity soon vanishes.

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS/LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (2006)
Clint Eastwood directed not one but two dramas about the punishing Allied campaign to take Iwo Jima at the end of WWII. In Flags, the U.S. government forces the soldiers who hoisted the stars and stripes above the island in the iconic photograph into uncomfortable propaganda roles when they return home. And in the Japanese-language Letters, we see the same bloody battle from the other perspective, as Ken Watanabe’s Gen. Kuribayashi struggles to maintain dignity amid rising casualties.

I was surprised that they didn’t include “The War At Home“, a film which takes place after a soldier returns home from Vietnam, as he struggles to deal with the horrors he experienced; the film stars Emilio Estevez, Kathy Bates, and Martin Sheen.

Another antiwar film which I would highly recommend is “Jacob’s Ladder“. It stars Tim Robbins and Danny Aielo, and is kind of hard to explain. IMDB describes it as, “A traumatized Vietnam war veteran finds out that his post-war life isn’t what he believes it to be when he’s attacked by horned creatures in the subway and his dead son comes to visit him.” It seems like a horror film in many ways, but has a very interesting plot twist at the end, which still gives me goosebumps when I think about it. I cannot recommend this film highly enough. Here is the trailer for “Jacob’s Ladder”:

Which antiwar films have you seen and would recommend to others?

A Conversation With Mike Gravel

In Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Democracy, Democrats, Drug War, Global Warming, History, Iraq War, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Medical Marijuana, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Second Amendment, Taxation, US Government on March 28, 2008 at 1:21 am

Mike GravelEarlier today, I had an opportunity to speak by telephone with Senator Mike Gravel, a presidential candidate who has switched from the Democratic Party to the Libertarian Party. Senator Gravel welcomed my questions, and I had a very positive impression of him. He is extremely well spoken, and quite passionate about many of the issues near and dear to the Libertarian Party.

My purpose, of course, was to ascertain why he decided to switch parties, and whether he truly holds Libertarian views as opposed to only conveniently holding libertarian views in order to get the LP nomination. I quickly discovered that his most basic belief, which he has provably held for over 30 years, is thoroughly libertarian: the right of the American people to bypass and even overturn Congress and the President, when those elected officials act in contradiction to the will of the people.

Senator Gravel believes that “the American people are not empowered to do anything, and this is wrong.” He therefore believes Americans should have the ability to directly make laws through federal ballot initiatives. At present, many states allow citizens to present laws directly through initiatives which, if supported widely enough, will be placed on the ballot to potentially become law; an example of this is Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California. Senator Gravel believes citizens should be able to do the same thing on the federal level, under his National Initiative For Democracy.

The government is a tool, the people can use it. But if the people have the direct power to use it, then you’re going to see the government as a real tool, not the tool you have when the special interests determine how the tool of government is handled, by the lobbyists, who pay for the campaigns, who manipulate you to vote for them. That’s the process that has to change.

When he says that the government has the duty to release information to the public, so they can make sound decisions, he is not blowing smoke, nor is he promoting something he hasn’t already done himself. During the Vietnam War, Senator Gravel released the Pentagon Papers, reading thousands of pages into the Congressional Record, so that Americans would finally know the truth behind that war; and his defiance, by informing Americans of information which was previously viewed as classified, was a pivotal moment in American history.

Under his National Initiative For Democracy we, as citizens, could end the war, end the federal income tax, or pass a federal law allowing Americans to carry guns openly; we could make any law we want, as long as there is sufficient citizen support for it. Senator Gravel says that “the real power in this country does not lie with the leadership, with Congress or with the President; it lies with you, the American citizen”. This program would in fact become an important part of the checks and balances system, which Senator Gravel believes should have been in force from the beginning, so citizens could more easily keep Congress and the President in check.

Of course, when he was running for President in the Democratic Party, the Democrats weren’t very happy with that idea. I asked the Senator whether they oppose it because it threatens their power, or if they oppose it because they believe the average American is unable to make sound legislative decisions. He immediately replied, “Both.” He went on to explain that “the average person in Congress believes they are more intelligent than the average American, and there are a few in Congress who are very intelligent; but at the same time the average American is smarter than the average Congressman, and perfectly capable of making sound decisions.”

His suspicion of the leading presidential candidates was made clear when he said, “Don’t trust anyone who says they have all the answers. Nobody has all the answers; I don’t have all the answers. But the American public knows what is best for them, and I trust them to make those decisions.”

Talking war with Senator Gravel, for someone my age who lived during Vietnam, is like getting into a time machine, and going back to the last destructive war this country faced, when he forced a filibuster to end the draft, and thus end the Vietnam war. Senator Gravel was a maverick, and he defied Congress again and again.

As you may recall, even before we sent troops to Iraq, he warned the American public that there were no WMDs in Iraq. I asked him why, in his opinion, President Bush lied about the presence of WMDs. “Oil. He wanted to get control of the oil, and it’s all just more American imperialism and the military-industrial complex.” He went a step further, and agreed that Bush and Cheney should not only be impeached, but that they should face trial for war crimes. “Americans must stop thinking we’re above the law,” he stated. He believes that the United States should stop getting involved in foreign conflicts altogether, and “stop being the world’s policeman”.

Senator Gravel is completely against the War on Drugs, which he categorizes as a failure. “We spend 50 to 85 billion dollars a year on a drug war that does no good to anybody other than criminalizing people who shouldn’t be criminals. We have 2.3 million people in jail right now, and half of them shouldn’t even be in jail …. if you want marijuana, why not go to a package store? A fifth of gin will do more damage to you, to your health, than will a pack of marijuana. As for the rest of the drugs, why not legalize them and regulate them? We put addicts in jail when they aren’t criminals, but there they learn to be better criminals, to steal and commit crime to feed their habit. It’s a public health problem, and we need to solve it as a public health problem, and save all this money we’re spending to keep people in jail for drugs, $30,000 a year for each of them.”

He is therefore in support of decriminalizing and regulating all drugs. “If you need to get some coke, go to a doctor and get a prescription. If you’re an addict, you’ll have to register so we can help you. But the way we do it now, we catch you with drugs, we throw you in jail, and you don’t get any help.”

With regard to whether legalizing all drugs would increase addiction, he states, “That’s what they told us about alcohol, during Prohibition. Alcohol is more addictive than marijuana. Should you go to jail for having marijuana, when you don’t go to jail for having whiskey and alcohol? It’s a stupid policy, it’s gutless, and it’s damaging our inner cities. Seventy percent of the people in jail are African-Americans, and most of it is for drugs. It’s gutless on the part of our leaders to not solve this, to not treat it as a public health problem rather than a criminal problem ….. For those who say we have a drug problem, yeah, we have a problem, and it’s with stupidity at the highest levels of our government.”

As for those in prison for drug offenses, he would educate nonviolent drug offenders – whether it’s a college degree or technical training – then grant them a full pardon so they can not only be released from prison, but also have the tools they need to immediately become fully productive members of society.

He is for Second Amendment rights, saying “I have a weapon, and I’ll fight to keep it.” Insofar as how openly Americans should be able to carry weapons, he referred me back to the federal ballot initiative, saying that the American people should decide that issue.

When I asked him about reducing the size of government as well as its spending, he agreed that it has gotten completely out of hand, and that severe cutbacks should be made. The first steps would be dismantling the IRS (which would no longer be needed with his national sales tax program), and the “War On Drugs” arm of the DEA (since all drugs would be legalized). He also believes that “if we empower the people to make laws, they will shrink the government.”

I could actually hear the thrill in his voice when one question pointed out that libertarians are, by and large, for open borders. He believes that we have so many illegal immigrants here because our own laws caused them to not have work available in their own country; he states that 1.3 million farming jobs were lost in Mexico when NAFTA was passed. For that reason, he believes repealing NAFTA would cure most of the illegal immigration, as more jobs are created in their home countries. As for those who are already here and don’t want to leave, he wants to simply “put them on the path to citizenship.” He believes that we should create completely open borders, similar to what is in place in Europe, whereby citizens could cross into or from Canada or Mexico, with no questions asked.

It is undeniable that the federal government is deeply in debt, and must raise revenue. Senator Gravel, however, is opposed to the income tax, since it over-taxes the poor and middle-class, and grossly undertaxes the wealthy. He therefore proposes dismantling the IRS altogether. He would replace the income tax with a 23% sales tax, and give a rebate each month to every American family to pay for necessities. Senator Gravel believes that this would allow the poor and middle class, who spend mostly on necessities such as food and housing, to have far more disposable income. He believes this program will create the same amount of federal revenue, but in a manner which is far more fair to the poor and working class.

“I don’t know whether it’s a step to end taxation, but at this point it is a good way to fund needed revenue. Right now we tax income and investments, and investment income is taxed at a lower rate than income. We don’t tax the wealthy, and that’s what’s wrong with our system.” He again reiterated that the American people could make the final decision regarding whether federal taxation should eventually end, through his ballot initiative program.

Senator Gravel believes that Social Security funds should be left alone, rather than used by the government for other purposes as is now the norm. At this point, most Americans have already paid into Social Security. He wants everyone’s Social Security funds invested in the free market, and he wants everyone to get an accounting of their money and interest earned, just as if they had invested it with a bank; and if they die before spending what they have invested and earned, he believes that the surplus in their Social Security account should go to their heirs.

As for private investments, he believes his sales tax program with refunds for necessities will give the average American the additional funds needed to save in an IRA or other investment vehicle, as additional retirement savings to supplement what they have already put into Social Security.

He is aware that many libertarians are against Universal Health Care, but believes his plan will meet libertarian standards. He came up with the idea of a Healthcare Security System 30 years ago. Senator Gravel pointed out that he knows the healthcare system “up front and personal”. One year, he ended up with over $150,000 in healthcare costs, and went bankrupt as a result.

He believes the Democratic health care plan, wherein businesses are forced to provide health insurance for their employees, is “the wrong way to go, because it is not the responsibility of businesses to provide healthcare; their job is to be competitive in the global marketplace.” So instead, he wants to enact a Universal Single Payor Voucher plan, similar to the plan which the Veterans Administration has in place. Every American would be given a health care voucher. The vouchers would have a very modest co-pay, and a very modest deductible. Americans would have their choice of hospitals, their choice of doctors, and a choice of five or six plans. There would be no exclusions for preexisting conditions.

He doesn’t think we need to raise taxes in order to provide health care for all Americans; we just need to make our healthcare system considerably more efficient than it is at present. He believes that if we computerize healthcare records, it will streamline the system, because he says 30% of healthcare cost is in paperwork. He intends to provide every American with basic healthcare services, and if they want more or different coverage, they can choose to buy additional or supplemental plans in the free market.

He is aware of Ron Paul’s belief that the Federal Reserve is responsible for the inflationary effects which are harmful to poor and middle-class Americans. Senator Gravel wants to reexamine the Federal Reserve, and study the gold standard with an eye toward a global monetary system, which will better protect the value of our money in a global marketplace.

Senator Gravel was pivotal in shepherding the Alaska Pipeline though Congress, but at this point he would oppose any effort to drill for oil in the Alaskan Wildlife Preserve. He states that instead, he wants us to end our dependence upon oil within five years. His goal would be to replace oil with alternative energy sources.

I asked Senator Gravel if there was any one moment – a light bulb moment, if you will – in which he realized that he was a libertarian. He stated, “Not really. It’s an awareness that goes back 30, 40 years, that the best way to to change things was from inside, within the power structure. Now, it’s time for a change. I am joining the Libertarian Party to become its presidential nominee. I can take the Libertarian Party to a level they’ve never been before. I am against war, I am against taxing income, I am against the war on drugs. I am for smaller government, open borders, and the ability of the American people to self-govern. I am a libertarian. I scored seven out of seven on Reason’s “Seven Ways To Win Votes” – I am for internet gambling, for medical marijuana (but I go much further than that, by decriminalizing all drugs) …. so I’m more libertarian than Ron Paul, because he scored lower. And I will work very hard as the Libertarian Party’s candidate, I will get the libertarians the national playing field they need to grow. And not just libertarians, either. I will raise the playing field for all third parties.”

All in all, Senator Gravel impressed me as sincere, intelligent, and passionate about libertarian issues. I did not at all get the impression that he is a pseudo-libertarian; I think he’s the real deal, because his actions even decades ago indicated that he is a libertarian. He left the Democratic Party because he realized that they are not receptive to his ballot initiative plan, and are not in agreement with his healthcare plan, his opposition to the War on Drugs, and many other issues. He has the presence, he has the speaking ability and dynamic personality, and he has the name recognition and contacts to place us on a more even playing field.

The Democrats’ loss may very well be our gain.

Senator Gravel suggested that those interested in more information about his views read his book “Citizen Power: A Mandate For Change”, which can be ordered online here. It is also available on Amazon.com, but their new book price is actually several dollars higher than the price on his website. Amazon’s description of the book is as follows.

As author of Citizen Power in 1971, Senator Mike Gravel determined that much of what he wrote then is apropos in America today; hence, the release of Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change that reflects the accuracy of his evaluation of problems then, his current position on a number of issues facing America now, and the process that Americans can undertake to become empowered as lawmakers in partnership with their elected officials. Most chapters of Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change present material from the original book, as well as new information and revised positions. The exceptions are Chapter 2: The National Initiative, and Chapter 7: The War on Drugs. All other chapters cover similar topics in both books, but with the senator’s fresh insights for today’s world. Each chapter ends with how the National Initiative, once enacted, could help solve the problems presented in that chapter. The Table of Contents is as follows: Chapter 1 – Now It’s the Citizen’s Turn Chapter 2 – The National Initiative Chapter 3 – America’s Failure in Education Chapter 4 – Tax Reform – The Fair Tax Chapter 5 – The Health Security System Chapter 6 – National Environmental & Energy Policy Chapter 7 – The War on Drugs Chapter 8 – Crime & Punishment Chapter 9 – The Shroud of Secrecy Chapter 10 – American Imperialism Chapter 11 – Global Governance Chapter 12 – Who Stole the American Dream?

All three customer reviews give the book five stars. There is a “look inside the book” feature, and based on that material and given that it was originally written in 1971, then updated recently, I don’t think there is any real question whether Senator Gravel is a libertarian. Based upon his statements in that book, it appears that he was a libertarian even before there was a Libertarian Party.

Here are the reviews:

It’s all about lawmaking!,

February 25, 2008
By Goodrich (Dearborn, MI USA) – See all my reviews

Those who still want Mike Gravel’s original Citizen Power, but can’t afford to pay over $200 for the few rare copies that are available, will be pleased with the new Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change. In some chapters, Senator Gravel has incorporated substantial excerpts from his original book and then updated his thoughts on each issue, often admitting that his position on a certain issue in the 1970s was naive and that he now views that issue with a mature mind. This is a refreshingly candid look at a presidential candidate’s positions on key issues facing the American people today. Most importantly, however, is Chapter 2 and supplemental appendices about the National Initiative, which Senator Gravel and some of the nation’s top constitutional scholars crafted to empower citizens as lawmakers; after all, lawmaking is the cornerstone of democracy. All subsequent chapters address how the National Initiative for Democracy (NI4D)would work to alleviate problems, such as healthcare and education.

From ending the war on drugs to restructuring the UN,

March 8, 2008

Senator Gravel has produced an engaging book! He presents complex and difficult issues facing the US and the world in understandable prose and proposes solutions that call for transformational change. In response to a legislative process controlled by corporations and special interests Gravel proposes the National Initiative on Democracy that would empower the people to legislate through direct democracy in national referendums on issues. In response to ineffective global governance Gravel calls for a restructuring of the UN including an end to veto powers for the permanent members of the Security Council. I was delighted to see his position on American exceptionalism. Granted that we are #1 in the world in the numbers of people in our prisons, on many key measures such as education, healthcare we are far from being the best in the world. I was most pleased by the optimism of Mike Gravel’s vision for the future of America in the world. He sees solutions to problems such as global warming, energy, and national security through greater cooperation with other countries. The beginning of his space policy statement on page 59 is particularly encouraging: “SPACE REPRESENTS A LIMITLESS FRONTIER for humankind. Laws modeled on the Law of the Sea need to be agreed upon to make energy, natural resources, and knowledge available in a manner that fosters greater cooperation, rather than greater competition, among all nations. In keeping with this spirit, space must not be militarized.”

Gravel’s Populist Manifesto,

March 19, 2008
By D. Douglas (California) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

An eloquent and lucid political manifesto by an increasingly refreshing, honest and prudent politician.
Citizen Power showcases a myriad of power-to-the-people proposals, and sways from your politics as usual demagoguery, while Gravel’s prose is filled with solemnity and earnestness, contrary to his political opponents.
The book’s motif is the National Initiative for Democracy, a populist program that will enable ordinary citizens to become legislatures, moreover eliminating large bureaucracies and big government lapdogs.
An emphasis is brought upon the military-industrial complex and its draconian, unproductive results. Suggesting the ultimate disintegration of the latter, if not grave consequences will ensue
Gravel’s proposals on education is most interesting, and offer an ingenious subsidiary, if utilized in orthodoxy, to our failing educational system.
The War on Drugs chapter was dismaying at least, and produced a sharp contempt for the activities our government continues to perpetuate.

I have probably forgotten important topics of this book, and my review is ultimately asymmetrical and lackluster. I can only recommend this fine book, so you can make your own judgments and discoveries.

Senator Gravel was kind enough to state that, if any of our readers have additional questions, I can phone him again to get those answers. Therefore, if you have any questions which aren’t answered here, post them and in about a week I will give him another call to get your answers for you.

American death toll in Iraq reaches 4000

In Activism, Children, Congress, Corruption, George Bush, History, Human Rights Abuses, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Middle East, Military, Music, Obituaries, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Protest, Republican, US Government, War on March 24, 2008 at 6:17 am

Today, the official death toll for American soldiers in Iraq hit 4000. The actual number is undoubtedly higher.

4000+ Americans are dead, because Bush lied about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction.

4000+ Americans are dead, because Bush claimed that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Iraq.

4000+ Americans are dead, because Congress blindly accepted Bush’s lies.

4000+ American are dead, because Americans reelected Bush for a second term

4000+ Americans are dead, because the American people elected a Democratic Congress to put an end to the killing, and they failed us miserably.

There are far more Iraqis dead, though. Just today, soldiers killed a 10-year-old Iraqi girl. They claim they didn’t do it on purpose, but who knows the truth of that situation. When you put soldiers in a country where their lives are constantly at risk, and you arm them with automatic weapons, it is inevitable that many innocents will be killed. Some will be killed accidentally. Some will be killed due to mistaken identity. And some will be killed because the armed soldiers snap under the pressure, and just start killing people.

Unlike many in the antiwar movement, I don’t blame the soldiers. After all, they are doing what they were trained to do, under circumstances that no human was ever intended to experience; and the vast majority of soldiers became soldiers to protect us, and not to kill innocent civilians. So no, I don’t blame our soldiers when the inevitable happens. I blame Bush and Congress for putting our soldiers in that situation.

Of course, our tax dollars will be spent for the foreseeable future treating the injuries, physical and mental, those soldiers received while fighting in the war that should never have been fought. Some of them will recover from their wounds, but many won’t. I don’t complain about spending our tax dollars on the soldiers in need of medical and psychiatric care; we owe them that. I do complain that they should never have been sent to Iraq and injured in the first place.

Let us all look forward to the day when the killing stops, and our soldiers are brought home from the Middle East once and for all. When will that happen? It’s up to the American voters. If Americans put another warmonger in the White House, the blood will be on their hands. It is already on the hands of those who voted Bush for a second term, knowing full well he was a warmonger.

When considering candidates for the Libertarian presidential nomination, especially given that there are so many candidates brand-new to libertarianism, ask them whether they voted for Bush. If they did, they have blood on their hands, and therefore can never truly represent the Libertarian Party.

My hands, I’m happy to say, are clean in this situation (though I am not running for any political office). I didn’t vote for Bush the first time, and I actively worked against his candidacy the second time. Many may think my efforts were for naught, but I disagree. The message of true freedom is spread one person at a time.

I’ve asked this before, and I’ll ask it again. Where is Osama bin Laden? We can see a dime on the sidewalk from outer space, but we can’t seem to find a strange-looking human giant hiding in the desert. I find that extremely hard to believe. I also won’t be the least bit surprised if we suddenly “find” him just in time for the presidential election. Younger readers may not be cynical enough to believe our country would play us for fools like that. To them I would simply say, history has been my lesson; let it be yours as well.

To that end, I offer the song “End of the Innocence”, which was a hit song when many of our readers were but infants. It applies more today than ever.

FBI posts fake hyperlinks to entrap would-be child porn viewers

In Big Brother, Children, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Fraud, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Police State, US Government on March 22, 2008 at 4:21 am

From The Iconoclast:

The FBI has recently adopted a novel investigative technique: posting hyperlinks that purport to be illegal videos of minors having sex, and then raiding the homes of anyone willing to click on them.

Undercover FBI agents used this hyperlink-enticement technique, which directed Internet users to a clandestine government server, to stage armed raids of homes in Pennsylvania, New York, and Nevada last year. The supposed video files actually were gibberish and contained no illegal images.

A CNET News.com review of legal documents shows that courts have approved of this technique, even though it raises questions about entrapment, the problems of identifying who’s using an open wireless connection–and whether anyone who clicks on a FBI link that contains no child pornography should be automatically subject to a dawn raid by federal police.

Roderick Vosburgh, a doctoral student at Temple University who also taught history at La Salle University, was raided at home in February 2007 after he allegedly clicked on the FBI’s hyperlink. Federal agents knocked on the door around 7 a.m., falsely claiming they wanted to talk to Vosburgh about his car. Once he opened the door, they threw him to the ground outside his house and handcuffed him.

My Lai Massacre remembered by survivors

In Activism, Crime, History, Human Rights Abuses, Military, Obituaries, Terrorism, Torture, US Government, War on March 16, 2008 at 5:20 pm

My Lai Massacre MY LAI, Vietnam – Forty years after rampaging American soldiers slaughtered her family, Do Thi Tuyet returned to the place where her childhood was shattered.”Everyone in my family was killed in the My Lai massacre — my mother, my father, my brother and three sisters,” said Tuyet, who was 8 years old at the time. “They threw me into a ditch full of dead bodies. I was covered with blood and brains.”More than a thousand people turned out Sunday to remember the victims of one of the most notorious chapters of the Vietnam War. On March 16, 1968, members of Charlie Company killed as many as 504 villagers, nearly all of them unarmed children, women and elderly.

When the unprovoked attack was uncovered, it horrified Americans, prompted military investigations and badly undermined support for the war.

Sunday’s memorial drew the families of the victims, returning U.S. war veterans, peace activists and a delegation of atomic bombing survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On that morning 40 years ago, Tuyet and her family were getting ready to go to work in the fields when members of Charlie Company burst into their house and herded them outside at gunpoint.

They were pushed into a ditch where more than 100 people were sprayed with bullets, one of which hit Tuyet in the back, paralyzing the right side of her body.

Her parents, three sisters and a brother were slaughtered. The oldest child was 10, the youngest just 4.

“I was here when the shooting started,” Tuyet said, sitting by a family altar in the replica of her simple two-room home. “The troops rounded us up and took us to the ditch.”

Her 4-year-old brother, who was eating breakfast when the troops came, died with his mouth full of rice, Tuyet said.

You can read this entire disturbing article here.

Live Blogging: Radicals for Capitalism: Introduction: Reviving an American Radical Tradition

In History, Libertarian on December 15, 2007 at 7:47 pm

Having recently finished the Tannehills’ The Market for Liberty, I am currently reading Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement.  The book deals with the many facets of the libertarian movement this century, as well as some details about classical liberal and proto-libertarian activists in centuries prior.  As I read the book chapter by chapter, I’ll write a little bit about it here for your pleasure.

Prior to reading this book, I had read one review of it: a poorly-reseached review from The New York Times by David Leonhardt.  The review had motivated me to write this reply.  David Boaz, too, couldn’t resist making mincemeat of Mr. Leonhardt’s review.

Mr. Doherty explains the title of his book on page fifteen.  It is true, as Mr. Doherty points out, that libertarians are radicals for liberty and for choice.  However the phrase “radical for capitalism” comes from Ayn Rand.  Mr. Doherty contends that this phrase “characterizes the movement’s prickliness, its willingness to take on terms from their enemies and turn them to their own advantage” (p. 15).  Although the term “capitalist” was used by Karl Marx to be a term of derision, many libertarians like the notion of “re-claiming” the term.  The GLBT community has since done the same thing with the term “queer.”

The introduction is where Mr. Doherty introduces us, broadly, to this whole “libertarian” thing.  Many have heard the term, perhaps linked to the Cato Institute or to the Libertarian Party, to blogs or to syndicated radio shows (p. 2-3).  Nevertheless, not everyone knows exactly what the term means.  Mr. Doherty sums up the libertarian belief as follows: “Government, if it has any purpose at all (and many libertarians doubt it does), should be restricted to the protection of its citizens’ persons and property against direct violence and theft” (p. 3).

Libertarians tend to have a fond view of America’s founding, but as Mr. Doherty explains, it is not a backward or reactionary ideology.  “By extending individual liberty into radical areas of sex, drugs, and science (no restrictions on stem cell research, cloning, or nanotech), libertarianism is the most future looking of American ideologies.  It sells the promise of a world mankind hasn’t yet fully known, one with personal liberty limited only by preventing damage to other people or their property” (p. 3-4).

One can arrive at libertarian views by a variety of avenues, including natural law theory and utilitarianism, sometimes both (p. 4-5).  But despite libertarianism’s radical individualism, it is not an atomistic philosophy.  Mr. Boaz’s father’s “good reputation didn’t extend much beyond the small town where [they] lived, and he would have had trouble borrowing money in a hurry even a few towns over.  [Conversely, Mr. Boaz has] instant access to cash and credit virtually anywhere…because the free market has developed credit institutions that extend around the world.  …  The network of trust and credit relies on all the institutions of a free society: individual rights and responsibility, secure property rights, freedom of contract, free markets, and the rule of law.  A complex order rests on a simple but secure foundation” (p. 7).  Despite the radical individualism advocated by libertarianism, it would yield a highly interconnected society.

The introduction states that the book will deal with five intellectuals in particular, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, and Milton Friedman.  He goes on to, in a section I love, note simularities and differences between these five (p. 8-9).  The book then briefly discusses these figures over the next few pages to provide the reader with some basic information.

Despite the libertarian’s association with the term “capitalism,” it would be a mistake to assume that libertarianism is simply apologia for privilege.  Whereas Big Business often petitions Big Government to enact protectionist measures, such as Roger Milliken agitating for tariffs, it would receive no such advantages from libertarians.  Those who advocate libertarianism do so therefore because of a personal conviction for liberty, not simpply out of pecuniary interest (p. 16).

Because libertarians are an eclectic bunch, arriving at their views from many different avenues, there tends to be a great deal of infighting within this movement.  To exemplify this, Mr. Doherty quotes one Fred Smith: “When two libertarians find themselves agreeing on something, each knows the other has sold out” (p. 19).

Although the in-fighting is quite annoying to those of us living through it, I suspect that the in-fighting depicted in this retrospective will make this an very interesting story indeed.  I look forward to it.

A Report from the 1770s by the Modern American Mainstream Media

In Crazy Claims, History, Humor, Media, Politics, Republican on December 13, 2007 at 6:04 pm

BOSTON — Calls have been recently made by fringe elements in these colonies to secede from Great Britain, which they call an “empire.”

The movement for breaking our bonds with our king has the appearance of being large.  Indeed, some are calling this a “revolution.”

In reality, only a small band of quixotic yet well-organised pamphleteers are behind this effort.  Many mail-boxes, including ours here at the New York Province Times, have been spammed with pamphlets and letters in support for this radical measure.

Donations by these out-of-touch yet apparently-wealthy radicals toward secessionary forces have been surprisingly large.  This cause has had more money directed to it than have been directed to our king–even considering his power to tax–nevertheless secession remains a long-shot cause.

Leaders of this cause, such as dark horse Patrick Henry, have given a few speeches in support for this cause.  Supporters have called these speeches “stirring,” but King George III dismisses them, noting that he is our rightful sovereign and that secession is an isolationist cause.

“These nutty rebels cannot succeed,” explained George yesterday.  “They lack the resources and the momentum.  Moreover, most of our subjects in America oppose these anti-British radicals.”

When told that some of these fringe activists actually believe our colonies can survive without British leadership, George said, “That’s really an extraordinary statement.  That’s an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through many European wars, that the colonies can govern themselves without a government.  I don’t think I’ve heard that before, and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for cutting and running from Great Britain.”

Experts say this quixotic effort will not be able to muster anything other than destructive acts like we say two years ago in the Harbour of Boston.  This cause will fizzle away any day now.

Rapper Nas, The N-word Apologist.

In History, Personal Responsibility on October 19, 2007 at 9:58 pm

It looks like title of Rapper Nas’s new album will be called “N****r”.

There were reports that his label, Def Jam, had scuttled the title idea. But Nas told MTV that he has had no opposition from the label, and said his intent in naming the album the N-word was to take the sting out of it.

“The title using the ‘N’ word is morally offensive and socially distasteful. Nas has the right to degrade and denigrate in the name of free speech, but there is no honor in it,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said in a news release.

For the first time in years, I’m actually in agreement with Jesse Jackson when he says that there is no honor in the use of the n-word. African-Americans are not empowered by the liberal use of the racial epithet within our communities. Like I want to be reminded everyday of a word that is as degrading as the white racists who created it’s use. The real honor is to not use the n-word at all and bury the use of the word into non-existence.

“We’re taking power from the word,” he added. “No disrespect to none of them who were part of the civil rights movement, but some … in the streets don’t know who (civil rights activist) Medgar Evers was … they know who Nas is,” the rapper said, referring to the civil rights leader slain in the 1960s.

“And to my older people who don’t know who Nas is and who don’t know what a street disciple is, stay outta this (expletive) conversation. We’ll talk to you when we’re ready. Right now, we’re on a whole new movement. We’re taking power from that word.”

Well, Mister Nas, instead of rapping about selling drugs, pimping hos and brag about how much bling-bling you have, why don’t you start rapping about those who made it possible to spit your filth on CDs. Use your voice on positive subjects to uplift our communities. If it weren’t for those who fought and died during the civil rights movement, NAS wouldn’t be making any money today as a rapper but as a bathroom attendant in some posh, upscale restaurant in Lower Manhattan.

To me, there is no difference when a white person or black person uses the n-word, I’m disgusted when I hear it either way.

Happy Bastille Day. We need a new one.

In Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, George Bush, Guantanamo, History, Human Rights Abuses, Personal Responsibility, Police State, Politics, Protest, Second Amendment, Terrorism, War on July 15, 2007 at 6:40 am

Originally posted yesterday on my blog for Bastille day. Forgot to transfer it over til today. Oh well, better late than never…

According to wikipedia,

On 5 May 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General to hear their grievances. The deputies of the Third Estate representing the common people (the two others were clergy and nobility) decided to break away and form a National Assembly. On 20 June the deputies of the Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath, swearing not to separate until a Constitution had been established. They were gradually joined by delegates of the other estates; Louis started to recognize their validity on 27 June. The Assembly re-named itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July, and began to function as a legislature and to draft a constitution.

The blue-blooded Chimperror, Cesar Potus George Dubai-ya Bushitler II, has brung back the clergy and the nobility back to a level of undue influence in civic life. Perhaps we need a new storming of the Bastille?

In the wake of the 11 July dismissal of the royal finance minister Jacques Necker, the people of Paris, fearful that they and their representatives would be attacked by the royal military, and seeking to gain arms for the general populace, stormed the Bastille, a prison which had often held people arbitrarily jailed on the basis of lettre de cachet. Besides holding a large cache of arms, the Bastille had long been known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government, and was thus a symbol of the absolutism of the monarchy.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The general populace being increasingly outgunned by regime agents? Check. People jailed arbitrarily? Check. Political prisoners? Check. Absolutist, hereditary rulers? Check.

The storming of the Bastille was more important as a rallying point and symbolic act of rebellion than a practical act of defiance.

Shortly after the storming of the Bastille, on 4 August feudalism was abolished and on 26 August, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was proclaimed.

Ending feudalism and having citizens rights? Yeah, we kinda need that again. Check!

Censored OJ Simpson book leaked; many believe it to be a confession

In Celebrities, Censorship, Constitutional Rights, Crime, History, Media on June 19, 2007 at 6:31 pm

OJ Simpson mug shotAs you may be aware, OJ Simpson’s book, titled If I Did It, describes how – if in fact he were guilty – he would have murdered his ex-wife (Nicole Brown Simpson) and her friend (Ronald Goldman). Admittedly, it’s an extremely strange idea for a book, but was also sure to be a bestseller.
However, publication of the book was cancelled due to public outrage (although I’d be willing to bet that many of those people would have secretly purchased it), and all copies of the book were destroyed by the publisher. Later, rights to the manuscript were awarded by a bankruptcy court to the Goldman family, as the result of a longstanding $33 million wrongful death civil judgment they won against OJ Simpson.

The original publisher, Judith Regan, called the book “a confession”. His attorneys denied that it was a confession.

Not surprisingly, a news organization received a leaked copy of the manuscript. Newsweek published an article in January about what was in the manuscript, and the writer stated that, in his opinion, it was a confession. However, they did not print any excerpts, so the reader was left wondering how accurate their characterization of a confession really was.

Today the manuscript was leaked again, to celebrity gossip site TMZ, and they published excerpts. I have posted those excerpts here so LFV readers can decide for themselves whether this is, in fact, a confession to the most notorious murder case of our time.

It begins with the following passage:

I’m going to tell you a story you’ve never heard before, because no one knows this story the way I know it. It takes place on the night June 12, 1994, and it concerns the murder of my ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her young friend, Ronald Goldman. I want you to forget everything you think you know about that night because I know the facts better than anyone. I know the players. I’ve seen the evidence. I’ve heard the theories. And, of course, I’ve read all the stories: That I did it. That I did it but I don’t know I did it. That I can no longer tell fact from fiction. That I wake up in the middle of the night, consumed by guilt, screaming.

OJ describes the murder scene:

I looked over at Goldman, and I was fuming. I guess he thought I was going to hit him, because he got into his little karate stance. “What the fuck is that?” I said. “You think you can take me with your karate shit?” He started circling me, bobbing and weaving, and if I hadn’t been so fucking angry I would have laughed in his face. “O.J., come on!” It was Charlie again, pleading. Nicole moaned, regaining consciousness. She stirred on the ground and opened her eyes and looked at me, but it didn’t seem like anything was registering. Charlie walked over and planted himself in front of me blocking my view. “We are fucking done here, man-let’s go!”

I noticed the knife in Charlie’s hand, and in one deft move I removed my right glove and snatched it up. “We’re not going anywhere,” I said, turning to face Goldman. Goldman was still circling me, bobbing and weaving, but I didn’t feel like laughing anymore. “You think you’re tough, motherfucker?” I said. I could hear Charlie just behind me, saying something, urging me to get the fuck out of there, and at one point he even reached for me and tried to drag me away, but I shook him off, hard, and moved toward Goldman. “Okay, motherfucker!” I said. “Show me how tough you are!”

Then something went horribly wrong, and I know what happened, but I can’t tell you exactly how. I was still standing in Nicole’s courtyard, of course, but for a few moments I couldn’t remember how I’d gotten there, when I’d arrived, or even why I was there. Then it came back to me, very slowly: The recital-with little Sydney up on stage, dancing her little heart out; me, chipping balls into my neighbor’s yard; Paula, angry, not answering her phone; Charlie, stopping by the house to tell me some more ugly shit about Nicole’s behavior. Then what? The short, quick drive from Rockingham to the Bundy condo. And now?

Now I was standing in Nicole’s courtyard, in the dark, listening to the loud, rhythmic, accelerated beating of my own heart. I put my left hand to my heart and my shirt felt strangely wet. I looked down at myself. For several moments, I couldn’t get my mind around what I was seeing. The whole front of me was covered in blood, but it didn’t compute. Is this really blood? I wondered. And whose blood is it? Is it mine? Am I hurt? Read the rest of this entry »

Energy Vortex II

In Civil Liberties, Economics, Environment, Global Warming, Health, History, Iran, Iraq War, Media, Middle East, Military, Police State, Terrorism, War on June 16, 2007 at 8:26 am

A while back I wrote about the Energy Vortex and others have commented on the same issue.

The most cited instance of this is the War in Iraq (and possibly Afghanistan; it may have had a lot to do with the proposed oil pipeline through Afghanistan).

This view of

Operation
Iraqi
Liberation

has worked its way into popular culture:

Many have denied the connection, but the new Iraqi Oil Law
makes it harder to give any credibility to such denials.

Nor is the regime’s energy fascism solely confined to grand projects abroad; sometimes, it can also be quite petty and domestic.
Francois Tremblay
reports:

Despite his good intentions, the state fined Teixeira $1,000 for not paying motor fuel taxes. North Carolina officials also told him that to legally use veggie oil here he’d have to first post a $2,500 bond.

Such penalties have also been levied against other North Carolina drivers whose vehicles were powered by alternative fuels.

It’s enough to make you do a Katrina Clap…

What Freedom of the Press Will Look Like if Adolf Giuliani is (s)elected President

In Big Brother, Censorship, Civil Liberties, Communism, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, History, Law Enforcement, Media, Police Brutality, Police State, Politics, Terrorism on June 6, 2007 at 9:19 pm

source:
http://www.infowars.com/articles/ps/
giuliani_reporter_arrested_on_orders_of_giuliani_press_sec.htm

Matt Lepacek had valid CNN press credentials and was doing freelance reporting according to InfoWars.com. He asked Adolf Giuliani some inconvenient questions about the events of 9/11/01.

Thereupon, Adolf Giuliani’s reichsminister of propaganda press secretary had the gestapo state police rough up Lepacek and fellow reporter Luke Rudkowski.

He said police physically assaulted both reporters after Rudkowski objected that they were official members of the press and that nothing illegal had taken place. Police reportedly damaged the Infowars-owned camera in the process.

Furthermore,

Though CNN staff members tried to persuade police not to arrest the accredited reporter– in violation of the First Amendment, Lepacek was taken to jail. The police station told JonesReport.com that Lepacek is being charged with felony criminal trespass.

According to Rudkowski, Lepacek was scared because he had been told he may be transferred to a secret detention facility because state police were also considering charges of espionage against him– due to a webcam Lepacek was using to broadcast live at the event. State police considered it to be a hidden camera, which led to discussion of “espionage.”

Wearing a webcam at a press event is not an act of espionage.

The state police in Goffstown, New Hampshire, where the arrest was made, confirmed that Lepacek is in custody on charges of criminal trespass.

These are blatant violations of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Actions like this would be more appropriate in the Third Reich, a
communist nation, or perhaps Italy under Mussolini. A clue, perhaps, as to what awaits America if this moral leper of an authoritarian dirtbag thug is allowed to stink up the white house the way he did Gracie mansion?

We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for 30 or 40 or 50 years, as if there is something wrong with authority. We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don’t see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

-Adolf Giuliani

Vote or Die, Bitch!

In Big Brother, Celebrities, Civil Liberties, Communism, Constitutional Rights, Democracy, Fraud, History, Humor, Law Enforcement, Media, Music, Personal Responsibility, Police State, Politics, Terrorism on June 5, 2007 at 3:48 pm

Since I gave Michelle a hat tip earlier, might as well make it a pair. (It’s easier to get away with staring with my hat tipped low). Something is making me think of Michelle and pairs today. Not sure what that is. Wait, don’t tell me, I almost got it figured out….damn, I forgot again. What was it, I wonder? Anyway. A wolf, a sheep, and a wolf in sheep’s clothing went in the polling booth….did I mention voting was mandatory in the USSR?

Immigration hysteria + “Fair” tax = Police State USSA

In Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Communism, Constitutional Rights, Fraud, History, Immigration, Law Enforcement, Police State, Taxation, Terrorism, War on June 1, 2007 at 4:22 pm

UPDATE 6/2: Claire Wolfe reports that current employees will also have to apply for government permission to keep their jobs.

Recently, I wrote about how immigration hysteria being used as an excuse for rise of a US police state.

Here, Mark Yannone documents some of the proposed mechanics of this connection are being put together. Like me, Yannone believes that the Trojan horse of a fraudulent “fair” tax will also be a key building block of this disturbing development. This guy, this guy, or maybe this one could easily be the perfect candidate to put the finishing touches on a domestic system of fascism.

Makes a lot of sense, except for this picture of ol’ Kris Kristofferson. What’s he got to do with it?

UnemployedStop the Experiment

by Mark Yannone

Half in jest, I’ve long referred to employment regulation as government’s attempt to make employment illegal. Legislation like the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 makes the federal government’s desire for complete control over our lives more evident than ever.

By ignoring existing immigration law for years, the law enforcement failure—in conjunction with welfare programs and other socialist policies—has helped to produce conditions that make Soviet-style control of its citizens a more palatable “solution” to the government-engineered problems associated with illegal immigration.

Is this draconian legislation the last straw for those who assert their inalienable right to earn a living without government interference? Maybe . . . if it were rigorously enforced. But it could never be fully enforced as long as we have cash. So, once again, Americans will have to surrender more freedom for the sake of the success of a government program. When our money is 100 percent digital, enforcement will be fairly easy, except where barter is used. Barter will include what was previously considered legitimate money: gold and silver coins. Of course, such transactions will have to be outlawed, but they won’t stop. Barterers who are discovered will lose their assets and what remains of their freedom to teach the rest of us that such behavior is ill-advised.

The final step in the system will be the implementation of the world’s most controlling system of taxation, currently referred to as the FairTax, a 30 percent national sales tax that will require everyone to receive a monthly living allowance from the federal government, transferred electronically into their bank accounts (as long as the citizen remains compliant).

The economy in such a government-controlled society cannot thrive. As it deteriorates, law enforcement will grow increasingly difficult and expensive, so the measures used will become extreme. Given the history of mankind, we can expect these enforcement tools to include labor camps and extermination. And if you think that can’t happen in our system of government then you must have missed the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive from the White House.

The world is a living laboratory. The experiments outlined here have already been performed, and the results were all negative. They don’t need to be repeated, and you don’t need to continue to live as a lab rat.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bush Administration Declares Anti-War Nobel Peace Prize Winner “Irrelevant”

In Big Brother, Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Crazy Claims, Democrats, George Bush, Guantanamo, History, Iraq War, Middle East, Military, Police State, Politics, Republican, Terrorism, War on May 22, 2007 at 7:43 am

Jimmy CarterCRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) – The White House on Sunday fired back at former President Jimmy Carter, calling him “increasingly irrelevant” a day after Carter described George W. Bush’s presidency as the worst in history in international relations.Carter, a Democrat, said on Saturday in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that “as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.”White House spokesman Tony Fratto had declined to react on Saturday but on Sunday fired back.“I think it’s sad that President Carter’s reckless personal criticism is out there,” Fratto told reporters. “I think it’s unfortunate. And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments.”Carter has been an outspoken critic of Bush, but the White House has largely refrained from attacking him in return. Sunday’s sharp response marks a departure from the deference that sitting presidents traditionally have shown their predecessors.In the newspaper interview, Carter said Bush had taken a “radical departure from all previous administration policies” with the Iraq war.“We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered,” Carter said.In a separate BBC interview, Carter also denounced the close relationship between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.“Abominable. Loyal, blind, apparently subservient,” Carter said when asked how he would characterize Blair’s relationship with Bush.”I think that the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world,” Carter said.Carter, who was president from 1977-1981 and won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his charitable work, was an outspoken opponent of the invasion of Iraq before it was launched in 2003. [Source: Reuters.com]

Across the blogosphere, conservatives are now making the rather shocking claim that 9/11 occurred as a result of Jimmy Carter’s policies. In a way, it’s amusing, since most of those bloggers are too young to even remember the Carter presidency. As a middle-aged left Libertarian, I remember it well. Jimmy Carter was the first president I ever voted for, although he lost that time around to Ronald Reagan. I voted for Carter because he is a humanist who believes in a strict policy of non-military intervention in international affairs, opting instead for diplomacy, except if our national security is directly threatened. After all, I was alive during Vietnam, and during the height of the Cold War, so that was (and will always be) an extremely important issue for me.

At the same time, it’s typical that conservatives would find a way to blame the actions of George W Bush – decades after Jimmy Carter left office – on a liberal. After all, they can’t blame themselves for re-electing a known warmonger who openly advocates torture and the erosion of our civil rights …. can they?

Let’s compare the two presidents.

Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize. George W. Bush couldn’t even win second prize in a beauty contest on Monopoly.

Jimmy Carter is known as a peace-advocating diplomat, and a humanitarian. George W Bush is known as a lying, draft-dodging, bloodthirsty warmongerer.

Don’t blame a man, who advocated peace, for a war that started decades after he left office. And don’t just dismiss him because he dared to say what many, if not most, politically active Americans are already thinking.

Put the blame where the blame is due. This is a war based on lies and deceptions, all of which are directly traceable and attributable to the Bush administration. There were no WMDs, folks, and Bush knew there were no WMDs; but he attacked Iraq anyway because they might one day get WMDs. Huh? I’m still scratching my head about that one. Now, Bush wants to attack even more countries, and the Democrats have already backed off the promises they made when they were elected, to end the war in Iraq. Is it therefore any wonder that third parties are more attractive than ever to voters during the 2008 presidential election cycle? Read the rest of this entry »

McCain: The Manchurian Candidate

In Censorship, Civil Liberties, Communism, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Fraud, History, Iran, Iraq War, Middle East, Military, Nanny State, Personal Responsibility, Police State, Politics, Second Amendment, Terrorism, War on May 18, 2007 at 6:41 am

With all the attention we have been paying to Republican Presidential candidates Adolf Giuliani and Ron Paul lately, I thought it would be only fair to say a word or two about creepy warmonger
John McCain.

Here he is singing “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” and laughing about it.

What did the Iranians ever do? Never mind, war criminal McCain has never met a war he didn’t like.

McCain can’t help but remind me of the
Manchurian Candidate.

This illustrious member of the Keating Five Savings and Loan scandal Senators and noted gigolo is also well known for the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act.

Somewhat less well known is that he also co-sponsored the McCain/Lieberman gun show bill, which would have given the federal government the administrative power to prohibit all gun shows, and to register everyone who attends a gun show. According to wikipedia, “Since 2004, McCain has gained the unique distinction of receiving an F- rating from Gun Owners of America; and further unlike any other 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate has a dedicated section/compendium within the GOA web site, which contains numerous pages relating to John McCain’s very own anti-Second Amendment initiatives while in the Senate”.

Wikipedia also points out that he hired a board member of the Project for the New American Century, Randy Scheunemann, as his foreign-policy aide and is considering Billion Dollar Bob Riley for veep.

Oh, and his anti-torture provision? Not all it’s cracked up to be.

To sum it all up, I have to give McCain the maximum number of flushes.