Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Isolationism, Interventionism, Noninterventionism!?

Any time a Republican takes a stand against aggressive wars, his opponents always raise a hubbub about isolationism.  They call him unpatriotic, they say he doesn't support the troops, or that he is naive.  They say isolationism caused World War 2, equating an anti-war as isolationist.  The truth is, though, that those who are against war are the most supportive of the troops, and the troops know it.  Let's take a few lines and define these three policies.

According to Merriam Webster:
Isolationism is a policy of national isolation by abstention from alliances and other international political and economic relations.  (Emphasis added.)
In other words, isolationism is the policy of maintaining no relationship with foreign nations - no military alliances, yes, but also no trade and no diplomacy. What makes islationism is very dangerous is that it undermines markets and can kill an economy - it impoverishes nations.  Of course we already know that, afterall we are currently practicing isolationism against North Korea, Syria and Iran via trade sanctions - we're isolating them in order to destroy their economies.  It worked with Iraq, didn't it?  Syria and Iran will be starving soon enough, just as North Korea already is.

Interventionism is different, but related, as mentioned above.  Merriam Webster defines this term:
Interventionism is the theory or practice of intervening; specifically: governmental interference in economic affairs at home or in political affairs of another country. 
I'll rearrange that last bit slightly so it more accurately reflects interventionism in practice:
Interventionism is the theory or practice of national governmental interference in economic or political affairs of another nation, or in those affairs of local governments in its own nation.
As you can see, it is not, as some believe, a benevolent policy of helping those in need, it is in fact a policy of aggressive interference with sovereign governance. Only in theory it can be carried out peacefully, in reality this interference has always been aggressive force, carried out using military, police, or proxy governments (dictators) to impose our authority or culture upon other nations.  The US has been engaging in this activity for decades.  Just in the last ten years, we have embarked on this military interventionism against Afghanistan, Colombia, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.  We've also, as I mentioned above, been using interventionism as a mechanism by which we enforce isolation on other nations.  Using sanctions, we've effectively isolated Iran in order to start a war.  It is just as Jefferson warned:
"We had relied with great security on that provision, which requires two-thirds of the Legislature to declare war. But this is completely eluded by a majority's taking measures as will be sure to produce war."
- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1798
So the truth is that inteventionism is very dangerous to us, and we must learn this before cause irreversible damage.  Iran is only one example - here's a second, much more dangerous one: in 2008 we came very close to war with Russia.  You don't believe me?  Look it up.  In 2007, Randy Scheunemann (John McCain's principal foreign policy adviser) pushed for Georgia’s entry into NATO.  If successful, that would have committed the United States to fighting for Georgia during the South Ossetia war of 2008.  Despite these dangers, there are interventionists in government today still pushing for this. 

Interventionism is the policy of permanent war, and war cannot but cause loss of liberties at home, as supplies, morale, funding and public patience is stretched thin.  War of course has its dissenters, and they grow more numerous as wars drag on.  The government, in an effort to gain the cooperation of the citizens, will use any means at its disposal - nationalistic propaganda will be trumpeted via the media, campaigns to silence or ridicule opposition will be put in place, and fear of eminent attack will be used to justify removing the protection of civil liberties.  Citizens will be recruited to spy on their neighbors, and all communications will be monitored.
"War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties. The minorities are ... intimidated into silence."
- Randolph Bourne
Our founding fathers, men of keen minds and impeccable honor, men who built a foundation for individual freedom and prosperity of a magnitude never before achieved in the entire history of mankind, were proponents of peace and commerce between nations, and against entangling political and military alliances.
"Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and the opportunities of fraud growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could reserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
- James Madison
So what is this noninterventionism, and why do so many people believe is the best policy? Merriam Webster's definition is:
Nonintervention is the state or policy of not intervening (nonintervention in the affairs of other countries)
While noninterventionism abstains from entangling military alliances, it is distinctly different from isolationism in that other international political and economic relations are maintained.  In other words, nonintervention is the policy of friendly political and economic relations, of free trade and communication, of honest diplomacy.  It is what we generally use when we deal with our allies, such as Britain, France, Germany, and even those we consider rival nations, Russia and China.  Nonintervention is the policy of diplomacy over military action, of reason and persuasion over force.  Nonintervention is the policy that protects us from becoming involved in wars or other conflicts where no threat to our national security exists, and where we do not understand the culture or character of the people.  Nonintervention is the tenet of rational men.
"Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy."
- John Quincy Adams
Rational men are able to apply reason - they are able to examine facts and reach conclusions that work within the framework of those facts.  No rational man could examine the facts associated with intervention and conclude that it works. 

Many have discussed this issue, and I encourage you to read what they have to say as well:

Monday, November 28, 2011

More amendment ideas!

These may need a bit of work.
A Constitutional Amendment to strengthen the Ninth Amendment:
  1.  The Ninth Amendment of the United States Constitution is amended to read:
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People;

The People as individuals have now and shall always have every right, enumerated or not, and may act upon any of these rights so long as that act does not impinge on the rights, life, liberty, or property of other individuals."

A Constitutional Amendment to clarify the Supremacy Clause:
  1. Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution is amended to read:
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States authorized by the enumerated powers of Article I, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land;
The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state, city or municipality to the contrary notwithstanding.

A Constitutional Amendment to amend Article I, Section 6:
  1. Article I, Section 6 of the United States Constitution is amended to read:
"No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.
No Senator or Representative shall, except in the case of Treason, Felony or Breach of the Peace, be Detained or Arrested during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, nor in going to and returning from the same; nor for any Speech or Debate in either House.
Any Senator or Representative may be Questioned in pursuance of the Law provided such questioning does not prevent their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses.
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, 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; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office."
A Constitutional Amendment to expand the definition of Treason:
  1.  Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution is amended to read:
"Treason against the United States consists of a Citizen of the United States
    1. levying War against them, or 
    2. adhering to their Enemies, providing their Enemies with financial, military, or tactical aid, or
    3. advocating for violence against them or their Citizens, or
    4. violating the United States Constitution under the color of authority;
No Citizen shall be convicted of Treason 
  1. unless on the Presentation of Evidence and or Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court, or
  2. on the charge of verbal or written advocacy for the non-violent support of an Enemy of the United States or her citizens, or
  3. on the charge of providing medical aid to an Enemy of the United States;
No immunity is granted to any Agent or Officer of the United States, nor to any Representative or Senator of the Congress, nor to any Federal Judge or Officer of the Court, nor to any Executive of the United States, whether elected or appointed;
The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted." 

A Constitutional Amendment to Codify Jury Nullification:
  1. "The Right of Citizen Jurors to Evaluate and Nullify Unconstitutional Laws during Trials:
In all criminal prosecutions, tried by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, the citizens of the Jury have the right and authority to nullify, for the purpose of the finding a verdict, any law that the jury concludes is either immoral or wrongly applied to the defendant."

A Constitutional Amendment to Strengthen Habeas Corpus:
  1. Article I, Section 9, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution is amended to read:
"The Right of the People to the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Amend the Constitution!

I read this morning that the House is going to vote on a balanced budget amendment.  I like this idea, but I have my own thoughts on how this amendment and other amendments should be written.  That being the case, I am going to use this post to list several Constitutional amendments I would like to make.

A Constitutional Amendment to require an annual balanced budget:
  1. No federal budget may become United States law if
    • (a) the budget includes gross expenditures that exceed a spending limit established as the average of the prior 5 years federal revenues not adjusted for inflation, or
    • (b) the budget appropriates surplus funds from existing programs in any manner that may circumvent the spending limit in 1 (a), or
    • (c) the budget includes borrowing that would be used to increase spending beyond the spending limit in 1 (a) in any form except 
      • (i) to provide for emergency funding to defend the physical soil of the United States, or territories or embassies of the United States from actual attack or
      • (ii) to provide for emergency funding to assist with search and rescue or medical operations during natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or earthquakes if the magnitude of the disaster exceeds the capacity of the effected states provide such operations to their citizens.
    • or
    • (d) the budget includes funding for any act, law, program or agency that is not authorized by those enumerated powers listed in Article I, section 8 of the United States Constitution, or
    • (e) the budget includes any article or clause that does not list the enumerated power of the United States Constitution that grants Congress the authority to fund it, or
    • (f) the budget includes funding for any act, law, program or agency that is in violation of any Article or Amendment of the United States Constitution.
  2. If the federal budget is not passed by the Congress and signed by the President six (6) months before the beginning of the fiscal year for which the budget is assigned, then until it is passed by the Congress and signed by the President
    • (a) no bill of any kind other than the federal budget may be considered by the Congress or become United States law.
1 (a) will cause there to be a surplus most of the time - we might require this be used to pay down debts or when there is no debt, save for an emergency next egg.  There is certainly room for creative ideas here.
1 (b) prevents the government from "borrowing" from Social Security.
1 (c) ii might encourage States to rely on the Federal Government and not build their own disaster relief funds.  Perhaps this can be made a requirement of some kind.
2 might also specify some kind of penalty for the Congress or the President.

A Constitutional Amendment to clarify the Necessary and Proper Clause:
  1. Article One of the United States Constitution, section 8, clause 18 is amended to read:
    "The Congress shall have authority to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution only those Powers enumerated in Article I, section 8 of the United States Constitution.

    The Congress may not cede this authority to any other branch of government or any unelected body, committee, agency, or individual.

    The Congress may expand the Powers enumerated in Article I, section 8 of the United States Constitution only by amendment of the United States Constitution."
This amendment prevents Congress from acting outside of the enumerated powers of Congress.

A Constitutional Amendment to define the term "General Welfare":
  1. "General Welfare" or "Welfare"
    • (a) means
      • (i) the maintenance and security of the physical, national borders and seas of the United States and
      • (ii) the maintenance and security of the infrastructure of federally controlled transportation highways, public lands and parks;
    • (b) and does not mean
      • (i) any power, authority, or grant not specified by those enumerated powers listed in Article I, section 8 of the United States Constitution.
This amendment prevents Congress from acting outside of the enumerated powers of Congress.

A Constitutional Amendment to prohibit Line Item Vetos, Signing Statements, and to Clarify Limits on Executive Orders:
  1. The President of the United States may not
    • (a) use the so-called "line item veto" in order to veto sections of bills passed by the Congress and presented for his or her signature or
    • (b) alter any bills passed by the Congress with signing statements or
    • (c) issue any Executive Order that 
      • (i) does not enforce existing law authorized under Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution or
      • (ii) is not enumerated in Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.
  2. The President of the United States may
    • (a) void or cancel any existing Executive Order for which the authority is not enumerated in Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution.
This amendment prevents the President from usurping lawmaking power from the Congress via Executive Orders, and also grants the President has the authority to void any prior, unconstitutional Executive Orders.

A Constitutional Amendment to clarify the terms of and to amend the Commerce Clause:
  1. "Regulate Commerce" or "regulate Commerce"
    • (a) means
      • (i) to assist as is reasonable the smooth and continuous flow of goods and services;
    • (b) and does not mean
      • (i) to reduce, impede, obstruct, limit, prohibit or deny the continuous flow of goods and services or
      • (ii) to mandate, require, or subsidize the continuous flow of goods and service;
    • (c) and does not imply or grant the authority to impose any Federal laws of a Commercial nature upon Individual Citizens of the United States.
  2. "[Commerce] among the several States"
    • (a) means
      • (i) the transfer of goods or services that are produced in one state and consumed in a different State;
    • (b) and does not mean
      • (i) the transfer of goods or services produced in one State and consumed in the same State or
      • (ii) any other activity of Commerce or of Business or of Individual Citizens of the United States that originates and stays within the border of a single state.
  3. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 is amended to read:
    "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes; and to reduce, impede, obstruct, limit, prohibit or deny Commerce with a foreign Nation pursuant to a Declaration of War upon that Nation;"
  4. The following is inserted after Article I, Section 8, Clause 3:
    "To regulate or to reduce, impede, obstruct, limit, prohibit or deny the sale or transfer of any weapons, weapons research, weapons technology, or any other specialized technology developed for use solely by the United States Armed Forces to any foreign Nation by the United States or any business or university located in the United States for any reason;"
This amendment redefines the terms "regulate commerce," and "[commerce] among the several states," and amends the Commerce Clause to prevent the Federal Government from hindering trade.  It furthermore specifically prohibits the Federal government from attempting to interfere with citizen commerce.  
With these changes it will be clear that the Federal Government's only power is to help maintain or improve commerce, not to impede or prohibit it, however there are strict allowances for the prohibition of trade:
3 serves to ensure the Federal Government can prevent all trade with a foreign Nation during times of war.
4 gives the Federal Government the power to manage (regulate or prohibit) the sale of weapons or advanced weapons technology to any nation for any reason.

A Constitutional Amendment to strengthen the Second Amendment:
  1. The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution is amended to read
    "A well armed citizenry being necessary to the security of a free state, and the People so armed being their own final defense against tyranny, the Right of the People to own, keep, transport, carry, bear, train in the use of and transfer ownership of arms shall not be infringed."

This amendment strengthens the second amendment by replacing the term "regulated militia" with "armed citizenry," and clarifying the role and rights of the citizens.

A Constitutional Amendment to strengthen the Tenth Amendment:
  1. The Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution is amended to read:
    "The powers not enumerated in the Constitution are prohibited to the United States, and reserved firstly to the People, and secondly to the States;
    The States and the People shall always have legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of Federal laws, rules and regulations."

This amendment strengthens the tenth amendment in two ways - first it specifically prohibits all powers not enumerated in the Constitution to the Federal government, then it ensures that States and Citizens will always have standing to challenge Federal laws they believe are unconstitutional.

A Constitutional Amendment to restore sovereignty to the States:
  1. The Seventeenth Amendment of the United States Constitution is repealed and
  2. Article I, section 3 of the United States Constitution is amended to read:
    "The Senate of the United States represents the member States, and shall protect the sovereignty of the member States against encroachment by the Federal government; it shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.
    When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the State legislature fills the vacancies by appointment.
    This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election, appointment or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Debunking Keynes

When Bastiat described, in his famous Broken Window analogy, what he called "What is seen, and what is not seen," he was really describing the entirety of what would later become the field of Keynesian economics. Keynes' macroeconomic theory of government intervention is indeed a bloated form of the same broken window analogy.

What is this broken window analogy I keep repeating?  In short, it says that destruction does not create profit.  This should be obvious to most poeple, but then it is not usually stated so clearly.  It is dressed up generally as follows: destruction of property necessitates repair - the payment for the repair is profit for the workman, and as he will then spend it on some other service or merchandise, the initial destruction is thus profitable for the economy as a whole.  It sounds almost reasonable when put this way, but you miss the rest of the picture - the unseen.  The owner of the destroyed property was unable to spend his money on something else - in other words, some other industry lost out because he needed to make repairs instead.  This other industry you might have supported is "what is not seen."  In reality, the owner loses wealth - his savings - and another industry he may have supported loses that support. 

Now for the reason I equate this to Keynesian market intervention.  In society, it is the people who hold the wealth.  We create, we earn, we save.  Government cannot do this - government creates no products, earns nothing, and saves nothing.  All government can do is confiscate property and redistribute it in some way. 

So let us now apply these two concepts to one of the obvious government interventions in the free market - bailouts.  When government wants to bail out a failing industry, it first must confiscate your wealth - it will do this with higher taxes or by borrowing money that you later have to pay back.  Next it directs these funds towards a that industry it wishes to prop up.  What it has done, then, is taken your wealth, and prevented you from choosing where to spend it.  You are the property owner who has lost his wealth, the bailed out industry is the workman who now has your money.  Further, "what is not seen" are those industries that you can no longer support because you "needed to make repairs."

Keynesians would have you believe that government spending is the same as individual demand; that when government spends a dollar, it is equivalent to you spending a dollar.  This quite clearly cannot be true, for when you spend a dollar, you also gain property!  When the government spends your dollar, you do not gain property. 

Contemporary economists, even nobel prize winners, push this ridiculous concept.  Paul Krugman said that a military buildup in anticipation of an alien invasion would end the recession.  This fits perfectly into the Broken Window analogy.  What industries would benefit from the huge confiscation of citizens' wealth?  Which ones would suffer?  Would you gain property?  In this case the military industrial complex would most certainly benefit - they would be the workmen.  You, on the other hand, would not be able to support another industry you might have otherwise supported.  Perhaps you won't buy that new car.  You gain no material wealth by the deployment of a surface to space missile either.

With this all said, I hope you will take it upon yourself to try to see all of "what is not seen" when some bureaucrat or politician pushes his latest intervention plan.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dangerous Precedents

I said it months ago - allowing the President to ignore Congress and unilaterally go to war with Libya unchecked, unquestioned and unpunished was setting a horrible precedent.  I said that once a President grabs a bit of power, and the Congress lets it go, he will never relinquish it.  I said that if he does it once, he will do it again, and again, and again.

I have been proven right - Obama has sent ground forces into Africa to fight against the Lord's Resistance Army.  He has ordered combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa. It is yet another war he has started, for which the Congress will hassle him very little, if at all.  It's Libya all over again.

It was illegal when Obama invaded Libya; after 60 days the Congress made a halfhearted effort to force him to explain himself.  He responded by insisting what he did was legal and thanking the Congress for supporting his actions.  He broke the law by attacking them - he broke the law by not getting Congress' approval for continued aggressions.  And now he's doing it again, almost word for word, he still insists what he does is legal.  This time he says it is within his Constitutional authority!  He finishes up by telling the Congress that he "appreciates their support."

First of all, the United States does not go to war without the Congress declaring the war.  It is very explicitly laid out in the Constitution - the power to declare wars lies solely with the Congress, not the President!  This is a fundamentally important part of the separation of powers that the founders set up to protect us from despotism.  Even the War Powers Resolution, which grants far more authority to the President, is limited to defensive actions!

Yet our President now exercises the authority - with regularity - to start aggressive wars against nations that have done us no harm.  He sits in his high throne and sends our fathers, brothers, and sons off to fight wars of his choosing.  He bypasses the courts and declares citizens dead men walking.  The Congress does virtually nothing to stop it - the few who band together to try are labelled as crackpots and attacked as "unpatriotic."

We're on the road to ruin folks, and let me tell you that I for one don't think there's any way back.  I think it has gone too far, and within the next decade, perhaps two, we will see a full fledged dictator take control.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Rule of Law, humanity’s greatest achievement

Historians can, more easily than the rest of us due to their training, look back over the past and compare it to the present.  Thus they have a unique perspective on current events.  If you make your own study of history, you will find that over the many centuries of human experience true Liberty and the Rule of Law is a very rare occurance.  Totalitarianism makes up the vast majority of governments that have existed, and even many contemporary governments tend towards totalitarian systems.

Thus the statement that the Rule of Law is humanity's greatest achievement.  The Law binds not people but government; it is put in place to ensure that liberty is protected, that honest men remain free and can persue their own activities and reach their own goals.  It binds government for one simple reason - it is government that is the greatest threat to individual liberty.  Not a mugger, not a banker, not a terrorist.  Government.  The Rule of Law brought justice to the people.  Before we had the Rule of Law, any strongman could take over and extort, pillage, rape, murder and otherwise suppress a people.  This happened everywhere.  In time these guys became feudal lords. 

Feudal lords, then, were the government - they owned everything, including you.  They controlled the coin, they controlled the land, they ran the justice system, they operated the prisons and police.  One man would run the entire show from the top.  He was answerable to no one, and had the ultimate power of life and death over the people.  The stronger his power became, the more he covetted it - the feudal lord raised armies, conquered lands, became a king.  Law was a farce - in that situation it really meant the will of the king.  If his whim was to take your daughter and give her to a vassel, that was the law of the day.  If you should be executed for not paying enough in taxes, so be it.  Dissent was never tolerated, spies were often everywhere. 

The Rule of Law changed this.  The Rule of Law set the previous rulers, the Kings, the feudal lords, the strong men, below the law and subject to oversight, review, and indeed, justice.  The Rule of Law is humanity's greatest achievement because it made men free.

Think about this when your government, be it your local police, your state senators, or your President, throw away the law that they are sworn to obey, in the name of false security or even simply expedience. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Terrorism and Treason

I want to clarify something about my earlier post - I am not saying al-Awlaki was not a bad man or that he should not have been killed. I am saying that ends do not justify means. The end always needs to be justified, but just as importantly, the means also need to be justified - on its own.

Let's take al-Awlaki's case. He's a citizen, and presumably we have evidence that he's joined a terrorist organization and is working against the United States.   The Constitution gives a definition that seems to fit him pretty well.  We should try him in absentia, convict him, and sentence him. That is the justification for the end - his execution.
Article III. Section. 3.Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
Now for the means, Congress can issue letters of Marque and Reprisal, the modern day version of this is essentially putting a price on someone's head right? We did it for bin Laden and for Hussein, it can be done for al-Awlaki. Or, if we want to use the military to take him out, we should determine, does the law allow the military to be used against a traitor citizen? If no, maybe the law allows a traitor's citizenship to be stripped. Then he would be a foreign national who perhaps could be legally, ethically, and morally targeted by the military.

I am arguing now, and will always argue against the power to unilaterally declare that a citizen is an enemy and summarily kill them without due process. Due process means that we operate on the presumption of innocence, that we produce evidence, that we allow for a defense, and that a judge looks at the evidence and the counter-evidence and determines the outcome of the case.  Guilt must be proven before punishments are undertaken. Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat. (Latin: The burden of proof rests on who asserts, not on who denies).

I can see an American citizen inciting Muslims to jihad as traitorous to our country. The Constitutional definition of treason, quote above, seems to apply quite well.  However, in addition to defining treason, it also says that no one can be convicted of such without a trial.  Furthermore, the 5th Amendment to the Constitution states:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Thus, for executions to be lawful, traitors must be indicted, tried and convicted by a grand jury.  If he was tried and convicted then his due process would be upheld - his execution (the end) would be legal and justified.  So again, the only question that would remain is, do we want to place that execution in the hands of the military (the means), who shoot missiles into civilian neighborhoods?

I think we can maintain a high ethical and moral position and still bring justice to the bad guys.

In fact, I think we MUST approach justice this way.  According to Bastiat, the purpose of the law is to prevent injustice from reigning...Law is justice. And it would indeed be strange if law could properly be anything else! Is not justice right? Are not rights equal?

If we do not maintain a high standard of ethics and morality, we will eventually degrade into a dictatorship where everyone is afraid, all the time; afraid of the government, and of everyone else.  If you put the tools in place that a tyrant can use to eliminate his political opposition, one day you will get one who does just that. I will always argue, loudly, against putting those tools in place.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Read more!

I've been angry for several years.  I knew the politics in Washington and in my home state and even in my city had gotten out of hand.  I knew that these politicians had decided they were above the law - above me.  They would consistently do whatever they wanted, and tell me it was for my own good.  I thought about what I could do to make a change.  Send emails?  Listen to well educated speakers?  Donate to anti-authoritarian candidates?

I realized that if I was ever going to be able to help change things, I would have to know things.  Not just listen to others who know.  I would have to find out for myself - about economics, about liberty, about government, and about the Constitution and our Founders.  I would need to know about the things they knew about.  Why did they write the Constitution, and what influenced them?  Where did their thoughts on liberty come from?

So I set about building a library.  It's still a work in progress, but I figured I would share.  You may want to read some of these books yourself.

  • The Theory of Money and Credit, Ludwig von Mises
  • Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, Ludwig von Mises, Bettina Bien Greaves
  • Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt
  • The Case Against the Fed, Murray N. Rothbard
  • End The Fed, Ron Paul
  • Pillars of Prosperity, Ron Paul
  • How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes, Peter D. Schiff, Andrew J. Schiff
  • The Misbehavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence, Benoit Mandelbrot, Richard L. Hudson
Liberty and the development of a Republic:
  • THE RIGHTS OF WAR AND PEACE: Including the Law of Nature and of Nations, Hugo Grotius
  • The Law of Nations, Emer de Vattel
  • The Whole Duty Of Man, According To The Law Of Nature (Natural Law Paper), Samuel Pufendorf
  • The Bastiat Collection, Claude Frédéric Bastiat
  • Common Sense, The Rights of Man and Other Essential Writings, Thomas Paine
  • The Original Constitution: What it Actually Said and Meant, Robert G. Natelson
  • The People's Guide to the US Constitution, Dave Kluge
  • The Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, Founding Fathers & others
  • The Federalist Papers, Founding Fathers & others
  • The Anti-Federalist Papers, Founding Fathers & others
  • Conceived in Liberty, Murray N.Rothbard
  • The Ethics of Liberty, Murray N. Rothbard
  • Free to Choose: A Personal Statement, Milton & Rose Friedman
  • What Social Classes Owe to Each Other, William Graham Sumner
Transition towards statism:
  • From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State, David T. Beito
  • The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, Thomas DiLorenzo
  • New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America, Burton W. Jr. Folsom
  • The Roosevelt Myth, John T. Flynn, Ralph Raico
  • The Road to Serfdom, F. A. Hayek, Bruce Caldwell
  • The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, Thomas Sowell
  • Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights, Ezra Levant
  • Lost Rights, James Bovard
  • The Revolution: A Manifesto, Ron Paul
  • The Tea Party Goes to Washington, Rand Paul
  • The Politics of Freedom: Taking on The Left, The Right and Threats to Our Liberties, David Boaz
  • For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, Murray N. Rothbard
  • Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom, Ron Paul
  • The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America, Nick Gillespie, Matt Welch
  • The LIBERTARIAN READER: Classic & Contemporary Writings from Lao-Tzu to Milton Friedman
War and Foreign Policy:
  • War is a Racket, Smedley D. Butler
  • As We Go Marching, John T. Flynn
  • Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War, Andrew Bacevich
  • Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, Michael Scheuer
  • Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq, Michael Scheuer
  • Osama Bin Laden, Michael Scheuer
  • Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, Robert Pape
  • Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, Chalmers Johnson
  • The Sorrows of Empire, Chalmers Johnson
  • Nemesis, Chalmers Johnson
  • Dismantling the Empire, Chalmers Johnson
  • We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now, Murray Polner, Thomas E. Woods Jr.
I bought my books through Amazon and Mises Store, but some of them are available for free as PDFs.  Check with the Mises Institute to see.

It's not all bad news!

In what I consider the best news I have heard in 10 years, a federal judge has struck down two provisions of the USA PATRIOT ACT as unconstitutional!  The judge recognized that the act illegally circumvented the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment. 
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The Federal government, since 2001, has been asserting that it needs no warrants, needs no probable cause, needs essentially, only an accusation against anyone - anyone at all - in order to surveil them, to snoop through their phone or bank records, to order companies to disclose sensitive information about their clients, and even to listen to their calls or rifle through their offices. This ruling is so important in the struggle to contain authoritarian government that we all should take a moment to celebrate.

Assassination of Americans

No one should be happy that Anwar al-Awlaki is dead.  He's an American citizen who was assassinated for exercising his right to Freedom of Speech.  One might even say he was exercising it in the most important way possible - advocating for violence against what he saw as a tyrannous government.  If the US government can assassinate its citizens for speaking out against it, how long before every one of us is afraid to do so?

Notable countries that imprisoned or executed their citizens for speaking against them:
  • Germany under Hitler
  • Spain under Franco
  • Italy under Mussolini
  • USSR
  • China
  • North Korea
  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • Iraq under Saddam
  • Egypt under Mubarek
  • Lybia under Gadaffi
  • Saudi Arabia
Are we proud to be added to this list of fine, upstanding governments?  Washington under Obama has now done away with due process, one of the most fundamental protections of our Constitution.  Just one more feather in the cap for the President, who appears to have made it his personal mission to trample our civil liberties.  Where are the protestors who urged the impeachment of Bush and Cheney for the very things they stand silent on when they are committed by Obama?  Your hypocrisy does not go unnoticed, but it may well end up dooming this country. 

Authoritarian governments don't always come into power overnight - often it is by degree.  That is what we've been seeing for the last decade. They grab power incrementally, often by stirring up fear and hysteria and using those heightened emotions to whip the citizenry into a nationalist frenzy. This is used to divert the attention of the people away from domestic policy and towards foreign enemies, usually manfuactured threats.  If they can't do it with war, they will do it with nature
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
- H.L. Menken
What's the point of my story?  Simply this - you are being manipulated by your government.  You are being pointed towards imaginary enemies and coaxed into letting go of your liberties.  It's happening under the guise of national security.  In other words, in order to protect you from the boogie man, they must take away all of these freedoms that protect you from the government.  Open your eyes.

Read my followup here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

One Step Forward...

Just a brief blurb too recognize and congratulate Saudi Arabia for taking another step towards a free, modern society.  Though they still don't allow women to drive, they can now vote!  Well done, it has been long in the coming.  Let's hope that this signals an era of enlightenment for the Kingdom, one in which the individual is raised up, and Liberty made the goal.


The original definition of blowback is those unintended consequences arising as fallout from clandestine operations undertaken by the CIA.  Contemporary writers often refer to blowback as the unintended consequences of all foreign militarism, from covert wars run by the CIA to open warfare such as the war in Afghanistan.

So why am I bringing up blowback tonight?  Well, it appears that after 10 years, the Pakistanis have finally had it with the US bombing villages inside their borders.  Yes, it was suspicious when Osama bin Laden was discovered hiding next door to a Pakistani military compound, but now the US is officially accusing Pakistan - specifically Pakistan's intelligence agency the ISI - of complicity in the bombing of the US embassy in Kabul.  If that isn't enough for you, now the intellectually and morally bankrupt Senator Lindsay Graham is calling for the US to "put all options on the table" in dealing with Pakistan.  Apparently he wants us to engage in yet another war with yet another Muslim country, as if four simultaneous wars isn't enough. 

Is anyone else reminded of 1984?
Since about that time, war had been literally continuous, though strictly speaking it had not always been the same war ... At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia ... Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.
So, now all of the mainstream media is brimming with news of the evidence of Pakistan's betrayal, support of terrorism, and general evilness.  We won't be reminded that Pakistan has been our ally for decades - no, like Winston we will be fed articles that are designed to inflame us against them.  The politicians and their black PR artists, the newspapermen will continue to treat us all as mindless gullible sheep, and why not?  They have carefully cultivated, in the minds of the American people, that Muslims are evil, Muslims hate Americans, Muslims hate freedom, Muslims hate women, etc, etc.  It's the "morning hate," to quote Orwell again, only for us it's been pretty much non-stop for at least 10 years.  Don't believe me?  Turn on the boob-tube and watch our very own born-again McCarthy execute his inquisition on American Muslims as he attempts to track down "home-grown terrorism."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I am a Libertarian

A while back I realized that I am a Libertarian.  Libertarianism, or Classical Liberalism, essentially means that the individual is senior to the state.  It means that all rights belong to individuals - not groups, not governments.  It means that as an individual, my life, my liberty, and my property are sacrosanct.  It means that these Natural Rights can't be taken away or lain aside.  It means that my Rights are limited only if they interfere with the Rights of other individuals.  It means that Vices are Not Crimes.  It means you don't initiate force against others.  It means you abide by contracts.  It means you don't steal.  It means that government power must be used only to protect the individual from the use of force or fraud by others.  It also means that you have the same Rights that I do, and so does each and every individual on this Earth.  Not just Americans, not just allied countries - everyone.

The basis of Libertarian philosophy is well known to all people, really.  You learn it when you are a child - don't hit other kids, don't take their stuff, and keep your promises.  This is fundamentally sound and universally recognized precisely because it stems from Natural Rights that we all know without being taught. Authoritarian societies arise from the un-teaching of this fundamental truth - they teach that it's fair to confiscate property from some individuals and give it to others.  They teach that it is right to start a war "for the greater good."  They teach that it is just to break contracts if it is against "a greedy business."  The more authoritarian, the greater the re-education.  Communism, for example, is based in the idea that no one owns that which he produces - it is complete confiscation of property.  In Britain they floated the idea of having paychecks delivered straight to the state, from which the state would distribute "just" income to the people.  In China they initiate force against their own people when they think too much about Natural Rights.  Even here in the US, there is a violent distrust of anyone successful - a belief that success can only come from cheating. 

Forget about the left and the right - in reality there is Libertarianism and Authoritarianism.  If you embrace liberty you are libertarian, if you don't you are authoritarian.  Note what I did there - the words libertarian and authoritarian are being used not as nouns, now, but as adjectives.  It's a distinction you should keep in mind while you think on the subject.  Libertarian the noun, or libertarian the adjective.  In other words, your leanings.  You may not lean as far as I do - but if you think about it you probably do lean libertarian.  Shake off the yoke of the media brainwashing and you will see clearly.

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