Decent folk don’t need Dick Cheney to describe something as “a good policy” to know it’s probably a bad idea. But just in case they missed the point the first time around, the former VP was on television last week to hammer it home for them.
In an interview with CBS This Morning, Cheney brushed aside calls for “checks and balances” against the Obama administration’s controversial drone program.
“I think it’s a good program,” Cheney told the host. “I don’t disagree with the basic policy that the Obama administration has pursued in that regard.”
Readers will recognize drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as the weapon of choice used by Nobel Peace Prize recipients who wish to carry out extrajudicial assassinations of United States citizens abroad… and to lay bloody and horrific waste to hundreds of innocent children by raining missiles down on their heads from the high heavens.
Never mind all that, grumbled Cheney. The president “is getting paid to make difficult, difficult decisions.”
In sum, the man who told the world that invading US troops would be greeted in Iraq as “liberators” has assured us that it’s ok for another man, one who personally oversees a “kill list” before unleashing remote control murder machines abroad, to make tough military decisions on your behalf… because he is getting paid a lot of your dollars to do so. They just don’t want anyone to keep track of what they’re doing, is all. On that last point, members of both parties are paid to be in conspicuous agreement.
Are you feeling safer yet?
Of course, as anyone with a spine well knows, it’s not making the “difficult, difficult decisions” that counts; it’s getting them right… or at least not murderously wrong, that’s important. Any scoundrel of the hoi oligoi can choose to, say, invade a foreign country on a false premise… or to bend at the waist every time a special interest group whispers the words “Blackwater” or “Monsanto” or “Unmanned Systems Caucus” softly in his ear. Indeed, moral malleability is practically a job requirement. And for the truly sociopathic, these decisions might even come easily, automatically… as if not a thought was given to their outcome or human consequence.
As it turns out, Obama himself seems capable of understanding that, at least in certain cases, scorching poor, forsaken villages on the other side of the globe with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles is probably less than neighborly conduct. In fact, the “leader of the free world” said as much at press conference in Asia just last year.
“…[T]here’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” the president solemnly declared.
“So we are fully supportive,” he then added, “of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.”
Mr. Obama might want to get out a map (here’s a helpful link, sir). His Weapons of Aerial Destruction are currently, as we type, cutting lines across the skies over (as least) Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. As far as we are aware, these are countries roughly located “on this earth.”
If, as the president asserted, “Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory,” then what are we to make of the rights of those innocent people formerly living in the above mentioned areas, whose bloodied remains now stain the dirt whence they came? Is pre-meditated murder somehow less painful for the victims’ families if it is delivered by a RQ-1 Predator drone? Is it somehow less “murderous” if the act is carried out by a gutless bot wearing a US military uniform or in possession of a CIA clearance card? Do the bodies still count if the assassin answers to a chain of command that ends with the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize?
The issue clearly appears to be a confusing one for Obama. “To drone, or not to drone?” Hmm… this must be what Cheney meant by “difficult, difficult decisions.”
Unperturbed, the president marches to the age old Mantra of the Militarist: When in doubt, proceed!
Since taking office, Obama has upped the ante on Bush’s UAV program, increasing total missions flown to date six fold. According to analysis conducted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), current through January of this year, the Obama administration has executed at least 312 drone strikes, including a couple of operations carried out over Yemen on Christmas Eve which killed at least seven people.
Observed blogger Kevin Gosztola at the time:
There was no ceasefire from the Obama administration during the holiday. In fact, it appears they waited until Christmas Eve on purpose to conduct a couple strikes as there had not been action in the covert drone war in Yemen for well over a month.
In earlier wars, there may have been some kind of a truce because most of the soldiers and their families would be celebrating Christmas, however, characteristic of drone warfare, the drone pilots who carried out the order to fire upon suspected militants were nowhere near the area of the strike. They were completely detached and, depending on where they were when they directed the flying killer robot to attack, they were likely able to go home and see their family on Christmas Eve.
On the body count question, Obama’s “targeted killing” operations have so far resulted in the deaths of between 473 and 893 civilians in Pakistan. Of these victims, 176 were children. They had names like Syed Wali Shah, a seven year-old boy, and Maezol Khan, an eight year old girl. Between 1,270 and 1,433 innocent people were reported injured in the attacks.
Of course, precise numbers are notoriously hard to come, due both to the nature of the strikes themselves and the bureaucratic opacity shrouding operations. This is especially true in Yemen and Somalia. In the former state, the BIJ estimates anywhere between 42 and 135 strikes carried out since 2002. Total death estimates range from 374 to 1,112 people.
In their 2012 report, Living Under Drones, researchers at Stanford University found that, lo and behold, the tale served up to the American public with regards to the administration’s expanded drone program was, well… flawed.
“In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling ‘targeted killings’ of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false…
“Publicly available evidence that the strikes have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best,” says the report, adding that targeted killings and drone attacks undermine respect for international law.
Is it any wonder then that the Cheneys and Obamas of the world would rather their heinous operation be kept under wraps, far from the prying eyes of the public and the dreaded “checks and balances” they might seek to impose?
Needless to say, the families of slaughtered civilians in Pakistan and elsewhere know far more about the horrors of living under America’s predator drone program than do Americans themselves. Don’t feel left out though. If these criminals have their way, (and there is good reason to believe they will) their robots of death will be patrolling the skies over your backyard soon enough… if they aren’t already.
[Ed. Note: When the last administration started the drone war almost 10 years ago, hardly anyone said anything. And then when the current administration continued and expanded it to target U.S. citizens abroad, the outcry a reasonable person might expect, didn’t happen.
Now we have drones patrolling our skies in North Dakota, keeping an eye on potential cow thieves. And the Dallas Police Department’s SWAT team has a 50 lb. drone with the capability of carrying a 12 gauge shotgun or a 40 mm grenade launcher (though neither’s been installed…yet).
And just yesterday, there are reports of House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, saying that the President doesn’t have to disclose to the public when he targets and executes an American citizen with a drone. As she eloquently told the Huffington Post, “It just depends.”
As you probably know, the FAA has cleared the way for 30,000 drones to patrol American airspace, watching, recording and transmitting the images of your daily life back to some data storage facility. Leaving a record of your activities in your backyard, trips to soccer games with your kids and even walking your dog.
This is not what we want from our government. I can only assume that you feel the same way. If you do then sign our petition and tell the White House, Congress and John Brennan we have seen enough of their drones.)
Original article posted on Laissez-Faire Today
Stem cell therapy and RNA interference (RNAi) may be the sexiest hook-up since peanut butter and chocolate. And scientists are just beginning to explore the potential of combining these medical therapies.
Until very recently, the application of each therapy seemed very specific and limited: stem cells for regenerative medicine; RNAi for genetic correction. Furthermore, the repairing abilities of stem cells seemed more limited than first expected, and RNAi proved very difficult to be delivered to its intended targets.
But researchers recently discovered that the weakness of one technique was the strength of the other. So some research teams began combining the two to develop innovative and effective therapeutic tools for victims of neurodegenerative disorders like Huntington’s disease (HD).
At present, no preventative or curative treatments exist for HD, a hereditary disorder in which nerve cells (neurons) progressively breakdown in certain parts of the brain. Victims of the disease experience uncontrolled movements, dementia and eventually die from complications (infection, heart failure and pneumonia) that arise from the effects of HD on the body.
Normal human DNA contains a gene that codes for Huntingtin protein (htt). But in HD victims, that particular gene mutates, leading to the production of abnormally long htt proteins. The elongated htt proteins degrade into smaller, toxic fragments that bind together and accumulate in neurons, disrupting their normal functions. [For the record, “huntingtin,” the protein, is spelled with an “i,” while “Huntington,” the disease, is spelled with an “o.”]
The degeneration and eventual death of neurons in certain areas of the brain underlie the signs and symptoms of HD. Therefore, reducing or eliminating the mutant htt would halt or slow the progression of the disease. Many researchers consider gene-silencing with RNAi the best candidate therapy for the job.
Here’s how it works: Scientists produce in vitro snippets of RNA, called small interfering RNA (siRNA). siRNA are a close relative of DNA that match a portion of the gene of interest — like, for example, the mutant gene that produces the abnormal htt protein. siRNA can destroy the gene’s products before they can be turned into a protein. So in theory, specialized siRNA could be designed to interfere with the mutated htt gene’s ability to produce the abnormal htt protein.
But the challenge remains how to dispatch the siRNA into the human brain in a sustained, safe and effective manner. And even after siRNA find its way to the brain, it still has to penetrate into the brain cells in order to reach the degenerating neurons’ of HD patients. This is where stem cells enter the picture. They might be able to help siRNA make this challenging journey.
A group led by Dr. Jan Nolta of the University of California Davis, has tested a unique and very ingenious method to pass siRNA into neurons using mesenchymal stem cells (MSC).
MSCs have a wide variety of important roles in the body, but what interests Nolta is their ability to converge on sites of injury — kind of like cellular paramedics. But unlike ordinary paramedics, MSCs would also be willing to perform a transplant on the spot, using their own organs to save their patient! MSCs fuse with the damaged cells and inject them directly with ‘spare parts’ to help aid healing.
Therefore, if the MSCs contained siRNA designed to reduce the amount of abnormal htt, MSCs could transport and deliver them right to the heart of the degenerating neurons and prevent htt accumulation.
Scientists can easily extract MSCs from fat or bone marrow of adult donors. In Dr. Nolta’s vision, MSCs, isolated from a patient, would be modified in vitro to carry and produce siRNA. These modified MSCs would then be injected back into the patient’s brain, or possibly blood. Because of their natural properties, MSCs would then sidle up to neurons, poke them with a membranous finger, and pump them full of the miracle therapy.
In a paper published this year in Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Nolta’s team documented that siRNA-carrying MSCs were able to reduce htt levels by 50% in the target cells…at least in a petri dish. The reduction was not complete, or permanent, but it served as a proof-of-principle that MSCs can indeed deliver siRNA to other cells.
Dr. Nolta’s team has ideas on how to optimize its MSCs/siRNA system and has started testing it in animal models.
“Not only is finding new treatments for Huntington’s disease a worthwhile pursuit on its own,” said Nolta, who recently received a prestigious Transformative Research Grant from the National Institutes of Health to pursue her research, “but the lessons we are learning are applicable to developing new therapies for other genetic disorders that involve excessive protein development and the need to reduce it. We have high hopes that these techniques may also be utilized in the fight against some forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) as well as Parkinson’s and other conditions.”
While a therapy based on Dr. Nolta’s approach remains far from the doctor’s office, stem cell treatments are closer than ever. Combining them with RNAi, the hottest technique in molecular biology, opens more possibilities and hopes than ever before of curing degenerative diseases.
RNA Interference’s Hot Partnership With Stem Cells appeared in the Daily Reckoning. Subscribe to The Daily Reckoning by visiting signup for an Agora Financial newsletter.
One year can make a big difference.
In 2012, the market quietly jumped higher to start the year. No one cared.
Yet in 2013, it’s almost impossible to escape the coverage — and the worries that have come along with the news that stocks are close to new highs.
Thanks to some impending market milestones, investors can’t shake the feeling that disaster is nearby. The generally accepted market narrative for 2013 is that stocks are overinflated and due for a huge correction.
Most investors — along with the financial media — are so wrapped up in new highs that they have lost the ability to think straight. For some reason, everyone believes that the 2013 rally is some unprecedented event that has to immediately end in a meltdown.
But it’s not. In fact, the action we’re seeing in stocks this year isn’t even beating out the market’s start to 2012.
That’s what happens when you get stuck in the vortex of the big bear market — you tend to lose perspective.
In 2012, the market ended the year higher with little fanfare (with a couple of twists and turns, of course). Today, investors are losing their lunch over a 6% move…
But if you commit to following price action — instead of emotional news stories — you can get a leg up on this market. No, stocks won’t go straight up forever. But during the quick January push higher and the consolidation we’ve seen so far this month, price action has been orderly, healthy, and downright bullish.
You don’t need to sell here and lock yourself in the basement. There’s plenty of upside potential left. Let price guide you — not hysteria.
“32 days of higher gas prices comes at tough time” shouts a headline at CNN Money.
All told, national gas prices are up 13% in a little over a month – I’m sure you’ve seen the change in price at your local gas station, too.
But if you think that’s painful, you’ll want to keep an eye on what happened in DC this past weekend…
On Sunday, 35,000 protesters gathered in Washington D.C. to protest, of many things, the Keystone XL Pipeline decision.
This Keystone Pipeline decision, as you’ll see, is an important milestone in U.S. energy policy. If environmental interests get their way, Obama will block the increased flow of crude oil from Canada to the U.S. On the other hand, if the pipeline proposal is approved, more crude will flow from Canada to Houston’s refineries.
And while we may not be able to control the outcome of this landmark decision, we sure as heck can take a look at both sides of the argument and figure out how to play this whole situation.
First, though, let’s cover the basics.
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline expansion will bring increased amounts of Canadian crude oil to Houston’s refineries. But since the increased capacity will be crossing international borders it needs federal approval (in particular a State Department report along with president Obama’s signature.).
For years now, the Keystone Pipeline saga has been playing out like any inefficient, red-tape laden government decision would.
In January 2012 Obama officially vetoed the proposed pipeline expansion, citing questions about the environmental impact to an aquifer in Nebraska. Since then, the pipeline proposal has been slightly altered and now we’re waiting for the latest State Department report to get a feel for which way the president will lean.
Here’s a visual of what we’re talking about:
The way I see it, I’ll take all the Canadian crude we can get.
Right now the U.S. still relies heavily on oil from the Middle East and OPEC. So in lieu of more cargo ships from the Persian Gulf, a Canadian pipeline is a welcome site. Not to mention having a safe, abundant supply of crude could keep domestic prices in check if Middle East turmoil causes a supply disruption.
But I bet the 35,000 protesters that showed up at the national mall on Sunday have a different view.
Here’s the thing. Most of these anti-pipeline folks don’t know the whole story. In other words they were probably referred by a friend, a Sierra Club email, or a short essay on why the pipeline is allowing “dirty” oil into the world market.
At any rate, they got the wrong info. For some reason this crowd is looking at the pipeline decision in a vacuum. They believe a presidential veto will stop the flow of Canadian crude to market. In so doing, this will reduce the amount of dirty crude oil on the market and help reduce carbon emissions.
This, however, is NOT the case. As you and I know, economic oil will find its way to the market. And if the Canadians can produce the stuff for $60/barrel and sell it for $95, they’re going to.
An approved pipeline means that oil comes south to Houston’s refineries. A presidential veto means Canada will figure out a new plan – most likely with the word “China” attached to it.
So you see, while the protesters have a valid cause, they don’t have their facts straight. Nor did they pay attention during their Economics 101 lecture.
Whatever the case for their attendance, I vehemently disagree with their stance on the pipeline. It’s a no-brainer to approve this project, and as Byron King puts it an “energy disaster” to veto it.
Heh, and get this. According to Bloomberg protesters were coming from all over the country – a bus from Massachusetts, a train from Chicago, and plenty of other far off places.
Taking a gasoline-chugging bus to an oil pipeline protest? Yes, the irony runs thick my friend.
The point is cheap and abundant energy is an important part of America. Today, though, the pendulum has swung so far that we’re encountering pushback on the key factors that made our nation so prosperous.
Cheap, abundant energy – and unfettered capitalism – made our country what it is today. Just looking back over the past 100 years this is what made our country thrive – plus, gave us a crucial advantage in WWII.
Ugh. And here we are today with tens of thousands of people trying to block a pipeline decision that’s in our country’s best interest.
Lies Spread Faster Than The Truth
What you have to understand is that in a lot of cases – as my late grandmother used to say – the lies spread faster than the truth. When it comes to the Keystone Pipeline decision or opinions on “fracking” this is most certainly the case.
Sure, thinking the veto of a pipeline will protect polar bears is catchy, but it’s not necessarily accurate. Instead, just think that a veto of the pipeline could mean millions of barrels of crude headed to China where most of their cars don’t even have catalytic converters! With lax Chinese pollution standards I couldn’t think of a worse fate for Canada’s crude.
Switching gears a bit, just yesterday I was driving home and saw a “stop fracking now” bumper sticker on a car near my house (ha, there goes the neighborhood!) I didn’t get a chance to poll my neighbor, but I can say with near certainty that had I asked her to describe what fracking actually is she wouldn’t be able to.
In the same sense, I guarantee you a majority of the protesters in DC yesterday never got a full economic dissertation on the pipeline decision. This is the same crowd of people that would have chained themselves across a train track to get special funding for “green” energy – the same funding that went to debacles like the now-defunct Solyndra. That my friend is called getting swindled.
Again, it’s easier to spread lies than the truth. No one wants to hear about “balance sheets” and “year over year profit” instead, they want to hear (and believe) in economic solar energy.
They don’t want to hear about geophysics and geopolitics, they want to hear (and believe) about “dirty” oil – and blocking a symbolic pipeline. Indeed, people love being tricked, it’s easier that way.
Heck, I even saw this a few years back on a visit to South Africa. South Africa, if you didn’t know, has a moratorium on fracking. This was a preemptive move by the government to understand concerns with the technology before permitting it. That’s all well and good.
But what’s funny, really funny, is that when you ask the people on the street why fracking is banned you get some wild stories! The one that I heard more than once revolved around a giant telescope.
What’s a giant telescope got to do with fracking? Damned if I didn’t want to find out! Well, it turns out that someone spread the idea that seismic activity cause by fracking would disrupt this huge telescope and create blurry pictures. (This is completely unfounded by the way.)
But that’s what the oil industry is fighting, “blurry pictures of the moon.” So instead of the citizens thinking in terms of energy development and facts about ground-water safety they’re all tied up on blurry pictures of the moon!
The same goes for this pipeline decision – stories have trumped facts. So where do we go from here?
How To Profit From The Protests
Last year when president Obama vetoed the Keystone Pipeline I discussed three blue-chip ways to play the botched pipeline decision. Today with a second decision in our immediate future let’s check in on our thesis.
The key back then was that no matter which way the State Department report and presidential consent went, three energy companies were set to cash in. The list included companies that had Canadian crude production as well as a strong U.S. presence: Chevron (CVX), Exxon (XOM) and ConocoPhillips (COP).
All three companies are sporting a profit since Obama’s botched decision in January 2012. Exxon is up 7%, ConocoPhillips is up 9% and Chevron is up 12% (dividends included.) That’s solid work for these blue-chips!
The real profit multiplier, though, came in the form of a ConocoPhillips spinoff. Back in May 2012 ConocoPhillips spun off its refining business unit, Phillips 66, and gave shareholders one share of the newly formed refiner for every two shares of ConocoPhillips. Refiners had a great year. Had you held on to shares of Phillips 66 through the spinoff you’d be sitting on a 30% total gain on your ConocoPhillips position, since January 2012.
All said, our thesis is still intact. These blue-chip players are going to ride the North American energy wave higher. With production coming from Canada and the U.S. they’ll be able to keep churning revenue and paying dividends – no matter which way the pipeline decision goes.
And on a positive note, if gas prices keep heading higher these players should help us offset some of that pain at the pump… unlike the bussed in folks in D.C.
Keep your boots muddy,
Original article posted on Daily Resource Hunter
Richard W. Rahn
An upside down world. Here I am, in my London hotel room, watching an English-language financial program being broadcast from Moscow on RT (Russian TV). The program host is correctly berating the heads of the major Western central banks for acting like socialists in setting interest rates and ignoring the fact that free markets will do a better job. He notes that both China and Russia are on a gold-buying spree in order to strengthen their currencies, while the Europeans, Japan and the United States are in a race to weaken theirs. Finally, he goes on a rant against the Western governments for their continuing fiscal irresponsibility.
“Rich countries do not naturally become poor. They only become poor when they have poor leadership.”
The fact is that big capitalist economies are rapidly becoming less capitalist and more government-controlled. In the accompanying chart you can see how the United Kingdom, France and the United States are all rapidly moving downward. They all have fiscal deficits that will push their debt-to-GDP ratios into critical territory (more than 90 percent) within a matter of months. Economic growth has come to a virtual halt in the three listed countries.
The United Kingdom, France and the United States do not have a credible plan to bring their deficits down to a level below realistic expected growth rates, which is what is needed to avoid a financial meltdown. The three governments have what they politely call a “moving target” for spending, deficits and economic growth. The moving target is one that never gets any closer.
The Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank (ECB), the Bank of England, the U.S. Federal Reserve and others have been engaged in a currency war in which they try to reduce the value of their currency relative to the others. This past weekend at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting, the above-mentioned nations and others denied they were in a currency war and then pledged not to do more of what they said they were not doing. Don’t bet your life on that.
Many of the central banks are trying to do the impossible: To increase inflation while keeping interest rates very low. They want to raise inflation to erode the real value of the debts their governments have been creating, but they are fearful that raising interest rates will make the costs of servicing both private and public debt unmanageable.
Where will all of this lead? Argentina provides an interesting case study. When its fiscal imbalances started to pinch a decade ago, the government stopped servicing its foreign debt, and it has been in international courts ever since. The country was still spending too much and was unable to sell its bonds at what it considered a reasonable rate of interest. So a few years ago it nationalized the private retirement funds of its citizens, giving them government bonds as a replacement. The Argentine government has been cooking the books when it comes to the inflation numbers. By greatly understating the rate of inflation, it has been able to cut the costs of servicing the pension and welfare programs by, in effect, only partially indexing them for inflation. This has caused great hardship to the recipients. The situation has become so bad that the International Monetary Fund just censored the Argentine government for producing phony statistics.
If you are a citizen of the United Kingdom, France or the United States, you might be thinking that this could not happen in your country. Really? Argentina is a democracy, rich in natural resources, with a relatively well-educated population largely of European descent. A century ago, it had one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Now it ranks around the middle or lower, all due to bad economic management.
What do you think President Obama will do if the Chinese, Japanese and others suddenly stop buying U.S. bonds and private buyers start demanding far higher interest rates? Do you think he will accept the responsibility for his own economic mismanagement, or will he find some group to demonize and then try to take their assets?
None of this has to be this way. Reasonable modifications in the government transfer payments and real cuts in government spending to bring it back to the level as a percentage of GDP that it averaged in the two decades before 2007 would quickly lead to a boom and full employment. In fact, with all of the new, low-cost energy that is available in the United States, the country should be able to quickly regain its manufacturing prowess. The same goes for Britain. Recent discoveries in the United Kingdom indicate it has decades of gas if only those in government will let it be developed.
Rich countries do not naturally become poor. They only become poor when they have poor leadership.Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth.
The order authorized the Secretary of War and the U.S. Army to create military zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded.” The order left who might be excluded to the military’s discretion. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt inked his name to EO9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, it opened the door for the roundup of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese citizens living along the west coast of the U.S. and their imprisonment in concentration camps. In addition, between 1,200 and 1,800 people of Japanese descent watched the war from behind barbed wire fences in Hawaii. Of those interned, 62 percent were U.S. citizens. The U.S. government also caged around 11,000 Americans of German ancestry and some 3,000 Italian-Americans.
Today, people around the country say are saying “never again” – and working to resist the same kind of arbitrary power to detain people with no due process written into the 2012 National defense Authorization Act. Washington state Senator Bob Hasegawa is one of those people. Following is the story of his family’s personal experience with indefinite detention and what he’s trying to do about it today, originally published on the Daily Caller website.
For most Americans, the debate over indefinite detention provisions written in the National Defense Authorization Act plays out primarily as an academic exercise. The average Joe walking down Main Street U.S.A. simply doesn’t worry about armed government thugs snatching him up, throwing him in the back of a van and hauling him off to some camp somewhere.
But one Washington state senator plunged into the NDAA fray with much more than academic, political or rhetorical interest. For Sen. Bob Hasegawa, indefinite detention without due process is personal.
His family lived it.
Hasegawa’s parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, along with their entire community, spent three years living in barrack shacks behind barbed wire and armed guards at Minidoka Internment Camp in southern Idaho, not knowing if, or when they would ever get out.
“While they were constructing the camp, my family lived in horse stalls in the stables at the Puyallup Fairgrounds,” he said. “They were all U.S. citizens.”
The Seattle Democrat was the first member of his family born after internment. The injustice his family endured needs no explanation, but he said the sad legacy of that experience lingers on even today.
“They never talked about it at all,” he said. “It was sort of like a community embarrassment, and they internalized it.”
That shame led to a suppression of Hasegawa’s culture and heritage. His parents rarely spoke Japanese after that. He said they didn’t want the kids to have an accent. They gave their children American sounding names – like Bob.
“They didn’t want anything to be held against us, be it race or ethnicity. They wanted to shield us from that.”
Many Americans write off the danger of indefinite detention powers, arguing they “only apply to terrorists.” Hasegawa bristles at such rhetoric.
“It makes me angry – really angry,” he said with barely contained emotion. “So many presidents gave lip service. When President Gerald Ford finally rescinded EO9066 in 1976, he said, ‘I call upon the American people to affirm with me this American Promise – that we have learned from the tragedy of that long-ago experience forever to treasure liberty and justice for each individual American, and resolve that this kind of action shall never again be repeated.’ Yet, it seems we have to relive these lessons.”
Hasegawa said he often runs into the “it could never happen to me” mentality.
“That makes me think of that German priest’s quote about Nazi Germany. What was his name? He said, ‘There was nobody to speak up for me…’”
The quote Hasegawa references is attributed to Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller.
“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”
With his family’s experience motivating him, Hasegawa decided he needed to step up and speak for any future victims of unjust federal force. On Feb.1, he filed SB 5511 in the Washington Senate. The bill condemns sections of the NDAA allowing for indefinite detention without due process as unconstitutional and includes provisions blocking any such attempts in the Evergreen State. It forbids any state agency cooperation with federal indefinite detention attempts and provides criminal penalties for anybody who tries.
Republican Rep. Jason Overstreet sponsored similar legislation in 2012 and filed a House companion bill this session. Overstreet reached out to Hasegawa across the political aisle after learning about his family’s internment during a “Day of Remembrance” in the Washington House last year. Hasegawa said he’s happy that they can work together and form a coalition to protect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Republican Matt Shea signed on as a cosponsor to HB1581. He said he considered it an obligation
“Indefinite detention means that due process is dead,” he said. “State legislators must defend against federal overreach. It is our duty. The oath we take in accordance with Article VI of the U.S. Constitution requires nothing less.”
Washington joins 13 other states considering bills to block NDAA detention within their borders. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed a similar bill into law last year and more than 16 local and county governments have passed resolutions condemning detention without due process.
by Roderick T. Beaman
In 1976, my wife and I bought our first house in Warwick, Rhode Island on a main thoroughfare called, appropriately enough, Main Avenue. We planned to live there and have an office where I could have a medical practice. After we moved in, we had the front yard paved over for off street parking. At that point, all hell broke loose.
There was a pack of organized anti-progress neighborhood nosy-bodies called the Greenwood Improvement Association. They were committed to stopping any development in the area. To the Greenwood Improvement Association, development could roughly be translated as exercising property rights.
The Warwick Planning Commission then sent two robots, they called themselves officials, to our house to measure the percentage of space we would be using as the office. In most Rhode Island communities, zoning laws allowed a professional office in a residential area as long as it was less that 20% of the total floor space (that’s just one example of how picayune government is.) The head of the Planning Commission then sent me a Cease and Desist letter. In preparation for my response, I spent a day at the Planning Commission, looking up the zoning regulations for all of the addresses in our little section of Main Avenue where there were businesses. None of them, a total of seven others, including two dentists right across the street and a vendor selling honey from his home, had a variance or was zoned for business.
I then wrote to the Commissioner and told him I would not cease and desist practicing out of my house and met with him. I told him that if I were forced to close down, then I would submit complaints about those businesses at the other addresses and if they weren’t forced to comply with the same regulations, I’d go to the newspapers with it. I also told him, that I would go to other sections of Main Avenue and then the other thoroughfares throughout the city.
I had spoken with my City Councilman about it and he had stated he was unaware of any problem so I inquired of the Commissioner about the source of the problem; when government is involved, such disputes always have sources. He gave me a name that I immediately recognized as a member of a local law firm, known as a political incubator for the state. The lawyer was rumored to be on the fast track for higher office. I called him up and the exchange was, also, quite pleasant.
He told me that he had received numerous phone calls as soon as the workers started paving the front lawn. People just wanted to know what was going on in their precious neighborhood. I explained what I was trying to do and he indicated that he understood what it was like to start a professional practice and that he didn’t care as long as he stopped getting complaints. Notice, he didn’t care about the law, only that his phone stopped ringing! That tells you something about politicians and the laws they pass and enforce! It’s a caprice.
At any rate, the whole thing blew over and I went about my business of trying to build a practice but the whole thing got me to thinking; why do we even have zoning laws and what purpose do they serve? The most pitiful aspect of zoning laws is how people just accept them today as part of their lives but they weren’t always. They were originally passed to keep Chinese immigrants out of certain areas of San Francisco and were declared unconstitutional, among the few times the Supreme Court sided with the individual against the state when it comes to property rights.
Later the goal was changed to, ostensibly, preserve and develop community character. Like everything else that government ever does, of course, they don’t. I looked around and saw mostly malls and strip malls with about as much character as the poured cement they were made from.
I saw that the places that had the most neighborhood character, or a semblance of it, were the ones that had developed before zoning laws were enacted. Plus, within those areas, you could surmise the stores and businesses that had opened before zoning laws and after. This confirms the libertarian adage that government will always accomplish the opposite of its goal.
Upon further reflection, I realized that zoning laws are an uncompensated expropriation of property rights, among the most basic of assaults on our liberties. As I read further, I found they are right out The Communist Manifesto. The abolition of private property is communism’s goal. In other words, those people on those zoning and planning commissions are enablers of communism, yet if you state that, they will rail and protest but it’s true. Land is the most basic of our resources, in fact all of our natural resources should most probably be considered land, in the economic sense. What better mechanism for the allocation of our resources than the free market? Yet zoning laws prevent that!
History has shown that people, naturally, will cluster together to form communities that ultimately offer a large array of services and products within walking distance of where people live. Zoning laws prevent that and block human progress, like all communism does.
A proper community should provide most of the ordinary needs of people on a day-to-day basis and they should be able to walk to their shopping and their work. Zoning laws prevent that. This list could go on and on but with just a little effort, any thinking person could probably think of quite a few.
Zoning laws have led to suburban sprawl and the destruction of millions of acres across this country that would have better served our people if left as farmland or even wilderness. They have led to an unnecessary dependence on automobiles and their attendant air pollution. They have led to the endless commutes in every urban area that have left our lives fractured along fault lines of places to work and places to live. Those long commutes have meant the loss of billions of hours of human productivity but the governmentalists never consider this. Radical environmentalists, like Al Bore, er Gore, never do because it would mean a reduction in government power over our lives. This list could go on but again, just some thought will lead the reader to realize many others.
An economically integrated community or neighborhood is a cohesive one, with a spirit and synergy such that together, it is more than the sum of its parts. The bonus for the Marxists is that this synergy and cohesion are prevented and people will be more likely to look to government rather than themselves for solutions to their problems. A community that looks to its own spirit for guidance is outside the realm of the communist mind that views mankind in strictly materialistic terms. It’s important to realize that at every step, I was treated courteously. These people were not villains but they were the willing partners of the villainy; the enablers. They are the indispensable wheels in the machinery without which the totalitarian state of our country could function nor could Auschwitz, The Gulag or The Killing Fields.
The Scriptures tell us that you know a tree by its fruit. These results ensue because they are immoral and unethical and not coincidentally, counter to the spirit of The Constitution. Errors in assumptions have such consequences. Like a laser beam shot into space with just a .0001% error, at the other side of a galaxy, it can be light years across.
These are the fruits of zoning laws. Zoning laws are immoral, unethical and communist and have no place in a free society.
Dr. Roderick T. Beaman is an osteopathic family physician practicing in Jacksonville, Florida. Born in New York City, he attended New York University as an undergraduate. A recipient of a 2003 Ron Paul Liberty in Media Award, he has had dreams (delusions?) of becoming a writer. He has written a novel that he has given up hope of ever getting published and so has made it available for the asking through TheFreedomBeam@comcast.net.
The presidential election is over, but Barack Obama gave another campaign speech. Only he called it his State of the Union address.
It was part of a silly ritual that has nothing to do with the “state of the union.” It would make more sense for presidents to follow George Washington’s example and just send their written text over to Capitol Hill. Then members wouldn’t spend hours sitting in a near empty chamber to snag seats along the aisle where the president enters. The emphasis would be on legislative initiatives rather than photo ops.
The nonsense started early in President Obama’s talk. “Thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report,” he said. For instance, “brave men and women in uniform are coming home.” True, but that is only after two successive presidents foolishly promoted nation-building in Afghanistan over the growing opposition of the same American people.
Moreover, “our businesses have created over six million new jobs.” Again, true, but in spite, not because, of Washington. U.S. politicians have wasted prodigious amounts of money that would better have been left with entrepreneurs, investors, and consumers. Every year legislators and bureaucrats disgorge new laws and regulations which discourage job creation. Clyde Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has pointed to the government’s “hidden tax” of regulation, which alone imposes nearly $2 trillion in compliance costs on the economy.
“Although President Obama’s speech was filled with political blather, he was right to call on Americans to act as Americans to solve problems.”
The president did acknowledge the necessity of restoring “the basic bargain that built this country—the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love.” Yet Uncle Sam routinely violates this bargain on behalf of the interest groups which dominate Washington. The state has become a huge parasite, the collective representative of those who see government as the means to live at everyone else’s expense.
Indeed, Barack Obama asserted that “It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation.” Then he should not have spent his first term giving government greater power to manipulate the economy and redistribute wealth through big-spending “stimulus” legislation, centralized health care “reform,” and expansive new regulatory initiatives. Such measures are designed to give the few ever greater control over the many—forever.
The president patted the backs of the assembled politicians for raising taxes in January, putting America, he argued, “more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.” Yet the latest Congressional Budget Office report warned that we still face another $7 trillion in deficits over the coming decade. The official federal debt will remain above 73 percent of GDP—far higher than the 39 percent average over the last four decades. And then there’s the federal government’s many unfunded obligations, more than $200 trillion worth, according to economist Laurence Kotlikoff, which will come due in the future.
Nevertheless, according to President Obama the scheduled budget sequester is a terrible idea—“harsh, arbitrary cuts” that would “devastate priorities.” That is, America would be ruined if Uncle Sam trimmed just $85 billion from his annual budget of about $3.6 trillion. Apparently there aren’t any wasteful, useless, unnecessary, duplicative, or stupid programs in Washington that could be killed. Obviously, taxes should be raised again.
Perhaps the president’s biggest whopper was that “the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs.” No. Whatever the theoretical virtues of the president’s program in expanding access to health insurance, the law actually bent the medical cost curve upward. If you provide more insurance to more people to cover more procedures, you increase demand for health care. Which means costs will go up—a lot.
Patients are about to see how much. Since there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch or medical benefit, Americans soon will be paying much higher insurance premiums. The Washington Post headlined one article Saturday: “Insurers Warn of Health Law ‘Rate Shock’.” For many people, the only saving grace will be federal subsidies. But those, which are likely to rise along with health care costs, will hike taxes for the rest of us, or create an even bigger pile of federal debt, or both.
President Obama made a welcome call for tax reform, which would simplify compliance while creating “jobs right here in America.” However, over the last four years he has increased Washington’s hold over Americans at every turn. Nothing in his record suggests that he wants to lower government’s burden or reduce government’s control.
Indeed, his proposal for “making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing” involves more of the usual social engineering. The president claimed that “no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy,” yet his past subsidies for the industry have gone bust. He lauded increases in oil and natural gas production, but those have occurred in spite of the many barriers created by his own administration. He cited renewables, on which he has thrown good money after bad for political purposes. We would be far better off if that money had been left in the private market to be invested by entrepreneurs rather than redistributed by politicians.
President Obama urged expanding America’s “rebuilding effort” to housing. Yet the most recent housing bubble, relentlessly inflated by vote-seeking pols who poured taxpayer funds into housing at every opportunity, is what did so much to wreck not just the financial sector but the entire economy. Now the president wants to toss more public money at the industry. That lenders and builders have grown a bit cautious after the 2008 wipe-out is not what is “holding our entire economy back,” as he claimed. Government’s constant determination to intervene and channel resources to politically favored industries is the real culprit.
The president rightly worried about America’s failure to “equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill” new jobs. However, he failed to note that education is a government crisis. And not because of the lack of “high-quality preschool available to every child in America,” as President Obama suggested.
The public school monopoly is a wreck. University education is better, but federal money has inflated costs, enriching institutions rather than students, and contributing to the expensive delusion that everyone should go to college. Rather than proposing to spend more taxpayer money on more government schools and expand federal authority over state and local education—at least the administration is consistent!—the president should have suggested pushing money and responsibility in the other direction, back to parents.
To help the least advantaged workers Barack Obama advocated raising the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. However, if federal fiat can make us rich, why not set the minimum at $90 or $900 an hour? Then we all could be rich. I certainly believe my work is worth $900 an hour, even if no one else does!
However, all Washington can do is mandate that if a business hires someone, it must pay the minimum. Government cannot—yet, anyway—force companies to pay unskilled, inexperienced, and ill-educated workers more than they are able to produce. The president’s proposal would make it even harder for the most disadvantaged workers to get started in the workplace.
The president lauded the “troops and civilians who sacrifice every day to protect us.” However, the mission in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda was completed a decade ago. He has increased the number of Americans unnecessarily at risk in that tragic land, where the U.S. is wasting lives and money in an attempt at international social engineering that ignores differences in history, tradition, religion, culture, and much more. He claimed “by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over,” but the Pentagon may keep thousands of personnel in the country for years to come.
He called America to its better angels when he said the country “must remain a beacon to all who seek freedom during this period of historic change.” That is wonderful sentiment—but one the oppressed majority in U.S. ally Bahrain would have trouble recognizing. Or those who suffer under the dictatorships in Central Asia, most supported by Washington. Or the people of Saudi Arabia who live under a totalitarian, kleptocratic monarchy befriended by successive U.S. governments.
The president made the expected call for new restrictions on gun ownership. Yet past laws go unenforced. And we all will be less secure if Washington makes it harder for the law-abiding than the lawless to own firearms.
Although President Obama’s speech was filled with political blather, he was right to call on Americans to act as Americans to solve problems. That means working together as individuals, families, and communities. This nation has always been characterized by the “little platoons” who don’t wait for politicians, especially from Washington, to show up.
The president concluded his speech: “We are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of the United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.”
Let’s take President Obama at his word. Let Americans—all of us, and not just those who spend their lives seeking and counting votes—work together to author that next great chapter.Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.
Markets are closed today, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hunt for bargains in America’s energy patch.
North American energy is running full-tilt. Drill rigs are spinning more efficient than ever and oil is flowing to the surface at an increasing rate in places like North Dakota and Texas. It’s no flash in the pan, either.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world, minus a few budding energy plays, is having a tough time finding low-risk oil prospects.
That’s a win/win for the U.S. – and it also leads us to our next round of profit opportunities. Including one oft-overlooked industry – and in particular one beaten down energy player that just went “all in”…
Let’s begin with a simple question: what do the oil shale boom and the natural gas shale boom both have in common?
Simply put, you have to know where to drill!
Thousands of wells have been drilled over the past few years here in the states. Each well had its own drill plan. And each drill plan had a geologist or engineer point to an exact spot on a map and say “this is where we drill.”
You can’t get to that point without seismic data. Improved seismic data is one of the overlooked heroes of America’s shale boom. Indeed, unlike the 1960s you can’t just drill anywhere and expect to hit a gusher. Instead teams of geologists, geo-physical experts, engineers and others analyze seismic data to find “sweetspots” in a shale formation.
Without seismic data, which provides an underground map of a shale play, many of the wells drilled over the past few years would have been worthless. That’s the same as throwing $10 million out the window.
But it’s rarely the case nowadays – instead these $10M wells are hitting oil and gas and able to produce anywhere, on average, from $30-40 million in energy production.
Kudos can go to horizontal drilling and “fracking” – but one of the unsung heroes is surely the seismic revolution.
Today I want to share one bargain in the seismic industry.
But first, it’s important to realize that much of the seismic work is done by the big guys. Oil service companies like Schlumberger have divisions dedicated to providing seismic. They’ve got some cool tech, too. Every time I speak with a service company about seismic or geophysics they always have something new up their sleeve. It’s a fast-moving industry indeed.
Also important to today’s timely discussion is the fact that after wallowing in sideways trade, many of the big service companies are enjoying a solid rally since November 2012. Up anywhere from 15-40%.
But what’s great for the big guys can be even better for the small players. Sure, a lot of the market is occupied by the big service players, but the smaller, pure plays have a lot of upside as well.
And boy has one of the small, pure-play, seismic guys been beaten down!
I’m talking about Global Geophysical Services Inc. (GGS.) Since mid-2011 it’s been a rocky road for this company. Excessive spending and an “all in” mentality has eaten away at their bottom line turning a $15 company into a $4 company.
But that’s what bargain hunting is all about my friend. And today with the seismic industry still looking strong, a player like Global offers you a lot of bang for your four bucks. After all, there’s a high probability that the “all in” spending on enhancing their seismic library could soon pay off.
Here’s the rundown. Global has nine data acquisition field crews. Four of these crews are still working in the North American (onshore) to enhance Global’s multi-client data library. Currently their seismic library includes data in the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Niobrara, Haynesville, Permian, Marcellus and other shale plays. So while drill rigs keep spinning in these shale hotspots, each drill plan is another opportunity for Global to cash in.
Better yet, as I noted above most of the world’s oil growth is coming from North America. But there are, however, other budding energy plays that Global has field crews working. Brazil, Colombia to name a few.
The kicker for me is Global’s more recent focus in Iraq. “Iraq!?!” you may say. Yes. Iraq. Other than North America, resurgence in Iraq’s oil production is one of the only other major new supplies of oil.
Seismic is a great way to play this budding trend. After all, would you rather invest in a big oil company that brings millions of dollars-worth of equipment/personnel to Iraq. Or a company that has the potential to sit back and collect a payment each time a new drill plan is drawn up?
Remember, though, this is a speculative play (as is the case with a lot of bargains.)
That said, I wanted to get another opinion on Global’s financial position and it’s potential for a turnaround. So I asked our in-house value analyst, Dan Amoss. Here’s what Dan has to say:
There’s no question this is a very high risk/high reward stock. Global has grown their asset base – seismic library – way too fast, and funded it with debt. Now, they’re in a desperate spot to sell the heck out of it, or run into a liquidity crunch and bankruptcy.
The market clearly sees bankruptcy as a high possibility. The entire market cap equals just what GGS spent on shooting seismic and capex in just the past three quarters!
The stock could rebound dramatically (multi-bagger) if management can slow down capex sharply, increase seismic sales, and use free cash flow to pay down debt.
Their bankers look flexible, having granted several amendments to their credit agreement (if I were the banker, I’d keep rolling the credit line, because the loss given default on this loan – not backed by easily-value hard assets, but a seismic library – would be very high).
It’s an interesting speculation, but it’s very high risk.
Thanks for your input Dan.
Looking at the chart for Global, on a weekly basis the bloodletting looks to be over. A few months of higher highs for the stock signal an end to the stock’s weakness and potentially a bottom. From here we could be looking at an easy triple digit winner.
Global is in a profitable niche industry and the company has gone “all in” on its seismic library. If you’re the betting type, now’s the time to put in your chips on this bargain.
Keep your boots muddy,
Original article posted on Daily Resource Hunter
Global Geophysical Just Went “All In”, Should You Follow? appeared in the Daily Reckoning. Subscribe to The Daily Reckoning by visiting signup for an Agora Financial newsletter.
The following was Judge Napolitano’s closing argument on his FreedomWatch Presidents’ Day Special in 2011.
Does the government work on behalf of the people or do the people exist for the benefit of government? Is history a recollection of things that have actually happened, or a narrative deployed to legitimize power and the crimes that led to the acquisition of that power? Tonight, on this President’s Day, state-sanctioned history, the Presidents of the United States, and you.
In the last hour we’ve heard that some of the Presidents often billed by historians and the public as “the greatest” were anything but. To be fair, it’s difficult to be a great person when your job is to head an organization like the State that is rooted in deception, theft, and murder. And we know from Lord Acton that no great man is a good man.
From the beginning, any claim that the American government is good because some Americans are exceptional does not make any sense. The individual virtues of human beings cannot possibly extend to the government. By definition, the government lies, cheats, and steals. After all, it has no resources of its own, only those it appropriates from the people. No one may lawfully compete with it. We are forced to pay its bills and accept its so-called services. There is no escaping it. The ideas behind a nation may be exceptional, but they are not manifested by the government. And, of course, we must never mistake the government for the people it claims to represent.
So, why does the official history of our Presidents seem like so much mythology and legend when viewed side by side with what really happened? Is history being deliberately manipulated to whitewash the crimes of the past and manufacture the consent of the people? Or is the whitewashing of history simply a natural reaction by a people and a culture that would rather not come to terms with their not so rosy past? It’s both. It is human instinct to trivialize the dark and the wicked in us and to elevate the good and the honorable in us. But, indeed, the history transmitted to you and your children in government schools has whitewashed all the Presidents but a few. And make no mistake about it, they are government schools; because they all exist at the pleasure of the State so that the government’s version of history becomes the popular version of history. Napoleon understood this when he remarked that history is not the record of what has happened before us, it is the record of what people think has happened before us. The government understands this, too.
Franklin Roosevelt manipulated the United States into World War II for years prior to a declaration of war. The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941 was not only not a surprise, but was facilitated by FDR. Abraham Lincoln was a racial supremacist who wanted blacks forcibly removed to Africa. Woodrow Wilson arrested people for speaking German in public. If these facts were as well known as the fiction that has surrounded them, then the information which the government wishes us to accept uncritically about the present day state of affairs would be more vigorously challenged. So here is the lesson: The government has mythologized the past in order to lull us into accepting its version of the present; and the essence of that mythology is the presidency.
When Lincoln stated at Gettysburg that government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, that was government propaganda. The government is not of the people, and it shares none of the characteristics and traits of the people themselves. No less a president than George Washington told us that government is not reason, it is force. Government is a tool, a powerful and a dangerous tool. And so it must be wielded carefully and only when moral, constitutional, necessary, and proper. Government officials are not performing a public service, and they do not regard themselves as public servants. They regard themselves as our masters.
Under the Constitution and the law, as I’ve said time and again on this show, they are employees of the people and ought to serve at our pleasure. When we lionize our government officials, be they Presidents or postal workers, when we mythologize and deify them, when we build temples to worship them, we violate the nature of the service they ought to be performing. Jefferson would be scandalized at the temples we have built for him. Lincoln and FDR would no doubt welcome theirs. If we want to take our government back, we must begin by taking an honest account of what our government has done, ostensibly in our names, and reject the untrue narratives it instead foists upon us. The truth shall set us free.
All presidents but Jefferson have argued that their first job was to keep us safe. All presidents but Jefferson were wrong. If you read the Constitution, you will see that the President’s first job – as Jefferson understood well – is to keep us free.
Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.
Copyright © 2011 Andrew P. Napolitano
by Harry Browne
- Harry Browne (1933 – 2006) was an American libertarian writer, politician, and free-market investment analyst. He ran for President of the United States as the nominee of the Libertarian Party in 1996 and 2000. He received 485,798 votes or 0.5% of the vote in 1996 and 384,516 votes or 0.4% of the vote in 2000. His campaign qualified for matching funds during each election but didn’t accept them. Browne’s refusal to accept matching funds won him expected praise from libertarians and those who are against the concept of federal matching funds, but also earned him somewhat greater exposure in the “mainstream” media, as very few American presidential candidates who qualified for matching funds refused them.
Thomas Stone, 1743 - October 5, 1787
Stone was an American planter who signed the United States Declaration of Independence as a delegate for Maryland. He later worked on the committee that formed the Articles of Confederation in 1777. He acted as President of Congress for a short time in 1784.
Thomas Stone was born into a prominent family at Poynton Manor in Charles County, Maryland. He was the second son in the large family of David (1709-1773) and Elizabeth Jenifer Stone. His brothers Michael J. Stone and John Hoskins Stone also had important political careers. His uncle was Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer. Thomas read law at the office of Thomas Johnson in Annapolis, was admitted to the bar in 1764 and opened a practice in Frederick, Maryland.
In 1768 Stone married Margaret Brown (1751-1787), the younger sister of Dr. Gustavus R. Brown (see Rose Hill), thought to be the richest man in the county. Soon after, Stone purchased his first 400 acres (1.6 km²) and began the construction of his estate named Habre de Venture. The family would make their home there, and they would have three children: Margaret (1771-1809), Mildred (1773-1837) and Fredrik (1774-1793). Stone’s law practice kept him away from home, so he brought in his younger brother Michael to manage development of the plantation.
As the American Revolution neared, Stone joined the Committee of correspondence for Charles County. From 1774 to 1776, he was a member of Maryland’s Annapolis Convention. In 1775, the convention sent Stone as a delegate to the Continental Congress. He was re-elected and attended regularly for several years. On May 15, 1776 he voted in favor of drafting a declaration of independence, in spite of restrictions from the Maryland convention that prevented their delegates from supporting it. In June the restriction was lifted, so Maryland’s delegates were free to vote for Independence. Previously, Stone had been in favor of opening diplomatic relations with Great Britain and not going to war, as he was not only a pacifist but a conservative reluctant to start a gruesome war.
That same year Stone was assigned to the committee that drafted the Articles of Confederation, and he was struck with a personal tragedy. His wife Margaret visited him in Philadelphia, which was in the midst of a smallpox epidemic. She was inoculated for the disease, but an adverse reaction to the treatment made her ill. Her health continued to decline for the rest of her life.
After Stone signed the Declaration of Independence, he took his wife home and declined future appointment to the Congress, except for part of 1784, when the meetings were at Annapolis.
Stone accepted election to the Maryland Senate from 1779 until 1785, at first in order to promote the Articles of Confederation, which Maryland was the last state to approve. But he gave up the practice of law to care for Margaret and their growing children. As her health continued to decline, he gradually withdrew from public life. When Margaret died in 1787, he became depressed and died less than four months later in Alexandria, reportedly of a “broken heart.”
Thomas was buried at his plantation home, which still stands.
Read more about Thomas Stone here.
by James Bovard, FFF.org
It has been almost four years since George W. Bush’s presidency ended. Unfortunately, it increasingly appears that Bush did permanent damage to this nation’s political vocabulary and understanding. Rather than repeal his worst precedents, Barack Obama used them as launch pads for his own abuses. And the scant discussion of Obama’s power grabs in this fall’s presidential campaigns illustrate how Bush’s abuses have become the new norms.
Perhaps Bush’s worst damage to the American constitutional heritage was his continual defining down of freedom. His vision of freedom was the opposite of that of the Founding Fathers. For Bush, the survival of freedom required unleashing government power to preemptively destroy any potential enemy of freedom or America. “Bush freedom” required that neither Congress nor the federal courts be able to curb the power of the executive branch. James Madison’s carefully crafted checks and balances seemed as anachronistic and subversive as taking a flight while carrying a pocket screwdriver. Bush’s concept of freedom was similar to that of many authoritarian rulers throughout history who promised future bounties of liberty after the latest emergency crackdown.
In his 2002 State of the Union address, after bragging about victory in Afghanistan, Bush proclaimed, “We have shown freedom’s power.” Every B-52 bomber and every 15,000-pound daisycutter bomb had become as much a symbol of American freedom as the Bill of Rights. For Bush, the Pentagon budget was one of the clearest measures of America’s devotion to freedom. At a 2002 Republican fundraiser in Connecticut, he observed, “That’s why my defense budget is the largest increase in 20 years. You know, the price of freedom is high, but for me it’s never too high because we fight for freedom.”
“Bush freedom” was based on trust in almost all governments. His “world freedom” campaign did not aim to make governments less oppressive: instead, it provided U.S. military aid and tax dollars to support almost every government’s effort to crush opposition. In his view, freedom was something that can occur only after governments seize enough power to crush all terrorists, or would-be terrorists, or potential terrorists, or suspected terrorist sympathizers.
“Champions of freedom”
Bush tossed freedom accolades to some of the world’s most oppressive governments. Uzbekistan was among the most barbaric of former Soviet republics, renowned for vicious prosecutions of anyone who attended private Muslim prayer groups or distributed literature not preapproved by the government; the government boiled alive dissidents and other suspected enemies of the regime. Yet in September 2002 Bush sent Uzbek President Islam Karimov a letter proclaiming his readiness “to work together to create a world which values people and promises them a future of freedom and hope.” Karimov may have used some of the U.S. aid he received to slaughter 500 peaceful demonstrators in 2005. (The Bush administration blocked international efforts to condemn Karimov for the massacres.)
The government of Kazakhstan, another central Asian tyranny, collected more than $100 million in U.S. government handouts during Bush’s presidency, despite that government’s record of torture and “extrajudicial killings,” in the State Department’s euphemism. Yet Bush issued a joint statement with Kazakh ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev pledging to “reiterate our mutual commitment to advance the rule of law and promote freedom of religion and other universal human rights.” Shortly after Bush hailed the Kazakh government, it shut down 30 newspapers and television stations and roughed up and arrested journalists because the media had exposed the Kazakh president’s billion-dollar Swiss bank account. U.S. aid to the Kazakh government soared after it destroyed the independent media.
Nations whose governments kowtowed to the U.S. government were by definition free. On May 10, 2005, Bush visited Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and told an adoring crowd that “Georgia is today both sovereign and free and a beacon of liberty for this region and the world.” Georgia had become a democracy a mere year and a half before. The government had yet to reach Jeffersonian standards, owing to pervasive torture, killings of dissidents and potential opponents, and jailings of people without charges. Human Rights Watch reported that Georgia’s government was “one of the most corrupt in the world … and has a record of persistent and widespread human rights abuses.” But, because the government sent troops to Iraq and permitted U.S. troops to base themselves in the country, Georgia was a “beacon of liberty.”
Bush exploited and twisted the word “freedom” to cover whatever policy he was pushing at that moment. Perhaps his clearest corruption of the meaning of “liberty” was his endless invocations of the word to sanctify his foreign aggression and war on terrorism. He declared in July 2003 that because of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, people are “going to find out the word ‘freedom’ and ‘America’ are synonymous.” Freedom was equated with U.S. military triumphs — with the imposition of the will of the U.S. government on foreign peoples. In his second inaugural address, Bush invoked freedom and liberty more than 40 times. But none of his comments was in reference to restrictions on U.S. government power. Instead, they sanctified the president’s authority to forcibly intervene abroad wherever he believed necessary. In a televised speech from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in June 2005, he invoked freedom and liberty more than 20 times to sanctify the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
The war on terrorism was a war for freedom, regardless of how much additional power governments around the world seized, because, for Bush, the threats to freedom came largely from the private sector — from private citizens, from malcontents, from rebels. The Bush administration seemed ready to target anyone it suspected was an enemy of freedom.
Unleashing the state
While gushing praise of freedom at almost every opportunity, Bush also sometimes scapegoated freedom. In a November 29, 2001, speech to federal attorneys, he proclaimed that “we must not let foreign enemies use the forums of liberty to destroy liberty itself. Foreign terrorists and agents must never again be allowed to use our freedoms against us.” But the record of federal investigations showed that the government had more than enough power and resources to detect the 9/11 terrorists before they wreaked havoc. The fact that numerous government agencies botched their duty to defend the American people became, in Bush’s eyes, a failure of freedom itself.
Bush portrayed unchecked executive power as the bulwark of liberty. In 2001, a congressional committee sought to subpoena documents on the more than 30-year involvement of the FBI with a killing spree by Boston’s Irish mafia that left 20 people dead. (The FBI obstructed justice to block the prosecution of its favored killers and to send innocent men to prison for life in their place.) He invoked executive privilege to thwart the subpoena, declaring, “The Founders’ fundamental purpose in establishing the separation of powers in the Constitution was to protect individual liberty. Congressional pressure on executive-branch prosecutorial decision-making is inconsistent with separation of powers and threatens individual liberty.” He could make such an invocation only because so many peoples’ minds have gone blank on the subject of freedom.
Bush encouraged Americans to judge actions of the federal government solely by his proclaimed goal — freedom — and not by what the government did. But the issue is not whether he personally loved or hated freedom. The issue is that he constantly invoked freedom in order to unleash government. He did not respect the freedom to protest in his presence, did not respect the freedom from being searched without a warrant, and did not respect people’s right not to be perpetually detained without being charged. Because he was devoted to government secrecy, Americans were obliged to take his word when he said he was championing freedom.
Bush’s message on freedom implied that only self-proclaimed or officially designated tyrants posed a threat to people’s rights and liberties. But the actual process of destruction of liberty rarely begins with trumpets blaring and neon warning signs flashing. Instead, freedom is destroyed piecemeal, one emergency edict at a time — and with continual public assurances that the government does not intend to go any further — unless absolutely forced to by events beyond its control.
Bush was a champion of freedom only if, as the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel asserted, the state is “the actualization of freedom.” Bush’s concept of freedom hinged on the presumption of absolute benevolence of both himself and the entire U.S. government. That notion of freedom required the nullification of all historical memory.
“The Restraint of Government is the True Liberty and Freedom of the People” was a common American saying in the 18th century. As James Madison warned, “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” Yet, according to the Bush administration, the only threat to freedom lay in insufficient federal power, too few foreign interventions, and not enough bombing abroad. The principles and precedents that he established pose grave threats to freedom as long as they are tolerated by the American people.
This article was originally published in the November 2012 edition of Future of Freedom.
Josh Blackman and Ilya Shapiro
In a brazen giveaway to celebrities who like to vacation on its pristine beaches, Hawaii is about to bid a sorry aloha to the First Amendment.
The 50th state is poised to pass the “Steven Tyler Act.” The bill, named after — indeed, written by — the Aerosmith frontman, could punish anyone who takes a photograph of a celebrity in public. That includes a tourist who takes out her iPhone to snap a pic of a rock star or, perhaps, the Obama family.
The law would prohibit recording someone “in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person,” while that person is “engaging in a personal or familial activity.” The Steven Tyler Act not only departs from a century’s worth of privacy laws, but does so at a huge cost to the First Amendment’s guarantee of the freedom of speech.
“The Steven Tyler Act misses a very important thing — that privacy and the First Amendment can coexist.”
There are several significant constitutional defects.
First, the bill offers no exceptions for newsworthy content. It simply assumes that if a person is “engaging in a personal or familial activity with a reasonable expectation of privacy,” any recording would be illegal. Newspapers covering matters of public affairs (that may be personal or familial) could be snared by this statute. Citizen journalists reporting from the field, or even perceptive tourists, will be at risk of litigation.
Second, the proposed statute is intentionally vague. It offers no guidance of what “personal or familial activity” means. Courts may construe this statute too broadly, limiting the ability of the press to report the news.
Third, courts would have the authority not only to stop the initial publication of a photograph, but to issue orders against future reproductions of the same photograph. This type of authority is called “prior restraint,” which is highly suspect in First Amendment jurisprudence and allowed only in certain exceedingly rare cases with uniquely compelling interests.
Prior restraints will rarely survive scrutiny even when national security concerns are raised. Perhaps most famously, in 1971 the Supreme Court found that the government couldn’t stop the New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers, which contained classified information about war strategy in Vietnam. Surely blocking publication of awkward photos of Britney Spears or Tommy Lee — other supporters of this bill — isn’t more compelling than blocking the release of sensitive materials regarding military decision-making. (Indeed, going by tabloid sales, there’s significant public interest in obtaining such pictures.)
Fourth, the penalties are severe, and include compensatory damages, triple punitive damages and disgorgement of profits. Such penalties attached to a vague statute would chill speech far more than the worst kind of paparazzi can chill celebrities’ personal activities.
Fifth, this standard applies not only to the person who takes the photograph, but potentially to anyone who uses the photographs in any capacity — even if not for profit. Imagine incurring liability for sharing an Instagram photo on Facebook.
Many of these constitutional defects could be fixed by (1) adding a newsworthiness exception to the law, (2) defining where in public places this law would apply and (3) limiting the scope and nature of damages that can be awarded.
These tweaks would bring the law more in line with existing privacy law while still respecting the Constitution. This bill should be fixed now before it passes, rather than after it is challenged in court.
Protecting privacy in public is a laudable goal. Indeed, we’re all affected by the sweet emotion of seeing celebrities harassed by the paparazzi (think of Princess Diana). The Steven Tyler Act, however, misses a very important thing — that privacy and the First Amendment can coexist.
Hawaii shouldn’t walk this way. Instead it should promote the right of privacy that our society should strive for, while ensuring the freedom of speech. Let’s not be jaded by the social costs of freedom. Anything else is just crazy.Josh Blackman is an assistant professor at the South Texas College of Law. Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review.
by Michael Hammond
At its core, Section 3 would send a person to prison for 20 years if you ATTEMPTED or PLANNED (”conspired”) to buy a firearm as a gift for another person or to conduct a raffle of a firearm, and negligently failed to note that the gift recipient or the winner of the raffle was, for instance, a veteran with PTSD who had been placed by the Department of Veteran Affairs onto the NICS list.
Note that you don’t have to actually transfer the firearm to go to prison for 20 years, nor do you have to know that the proposed recipient is a prohibited person. It is enough that you acted negligently, that you planned to gift or raffle the firearm, and that you engaged in one “overt act” necessary for conspiracy to take effect (e.g., getting in your car to drive to the gun shop).
In fact, the veteran or “prohibited person” doesn’t even have to be on the NICS list and doesn’t have to know they are a prohibited person. A marijuana smoker is a “user of … [a] controlled substance.” If you buy a gun with the intention of gifting or raffling to one of those, you can go to prison for 20 years, be subject to draconian forfeiture provisions (933(a)), be prosecuted and sued under RICO (933(c)), and be prosecuted for money laundering (933(d)). In other words, unless you’re “feeling lucky,” the bill would effectively outlaw gifting and raffling firearms.
Finally, buying a gun for any other person — even though it’s perfectly legal for him to own a gun — is illegal under all circumstances except for a gift or a raffle. Hence, if a person buys an AR-15 in another state where he has a vacation home (under 18 U.S.C. 922(b)(3)) and leaves it with a friend in that state for safekeeping — 20 years.
Section 5 could allow New York to prohibit virtually anyone in the country from owning a gun without a license. Under that section, you are a prohibited person if you are “prohibited by State or local law from possessing” a firearm. So, if New York bans firearms possession by anyone who has not received a permit, federal law now bans that person from owning a firearm — and presumably mandates that they be placed in the NICS system.
Let’s throw into the mix a New York City requirement that a person have a “justification” for possessing a firearm and the City’s finding that he doesn’t have one. New Yorkers need a permit to have a gun, and most lack the justification needed to get one.
So, to start out with, this section turns federal law into a gun licensure requirement in some parts of the country. But this opens a couple of questions: Virtually every 18 U.S.C. 922(d) and (g) prohibited person specification is a lifetime gun ban, and there is no clear indication that this is any different. Do you become “non-prohibited” when you move to New Hampshire? And, if so, is New York going to keep track of everyone who moves out of the state and notify NICS when they are no longer prohibited persons?
GOA just talked with a New Yorker who had been subject to a restraining order years ago, and New York had still not taken his name out of the system. But there’s yet a more nightmarish possibility: Most similar gun laws specify WHOSE state or local law is applicable. For instance, 18 U.S.C. 922(b)(3) specifies compliance with the law of the state where the transaction takes place and the state where there purchaser resides. But, in an intentional or unintentional drafting error, S. 54 doesn’t specify WHAT state law applies.
Hence, this section does NOT say a prohibited person is a person “prohibited by State or local law IN THE STATE OR LOCALITY WHERE SUCH PERSON RESIDES from possessing a firearm.” Presumably, that’s implied. But how much are you willing to trust the people who tried to bankrupt the gun industry by bringing nuisance suits? So, presumably a few years from now, one can expect a new 23-point Executive Action memo from an anti-gun President attempting to use this language to impose a national licensure requirement.
Section 7 penalizes gun smuggling. But, given that the biggest facilitator of gun smuggling in the U.S. is Attorney General Eric Holder and his Fast & Furious program, we’ll believe Democrats are serious about ending gun smuggling when Holder and his subordinates are in prison cells.
Michael B. Hammond works at the Washington-based Gun Owners of America as their legislative counsel.