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Four Must-Read Articles

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I ran across four articles written by Nat Parry. I wanted to bring them to your attention because the information contained in them goes a long way to helping one understand what we see unfolding before as this administration grabs more and more power. I'll list them in the order that I read them. Each article had reference back to the earlier and that helped to paint a very broad picture as to why things are happening the way they are. Remember, nothing in politics happens by chance. These article are more proof of that fact.
The first article:
Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'

By Nat Parry
February 21, 2006

Not that George W. Bush needs much encouragement, but Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a new target for the administration’s domestic operations -- Fifth Columnists, supposedly disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.

The second article:

An Upside-Down Media

By Robert Parry
February 18, 2006

The gravest indictment of the American news media is that George W. Bush has gutted the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter – yet this extraordinary story does not lead the nation’s newspapers and the evening news every day.

The third article:

The End of 'Unalienable Rights'

By Robert Parry
January 24, 2006

Every American school child is taught that in the United States, people have “unalienable rights,” heralded by the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Supposedly, these liberties can’t be taken away, but they are now gone.

And the last article:

Alito & the Ken Lay Factor

By Robert Parry
January 12, 2006

The “unitary” theory of presidential power sounds too wonkish for Americans to care about, but the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court could push this radical notion of almost unlimited Executive authority close to becoming a reality.

After reading all the information and evidence that Robert Parry lays out for us, can anyone argue against the theory that the Bush administration intends to create a king-like Executive? You'd have to be pretty thick-headed not to see this.

3 of 14 Characteristics of Fascism

Sunday, February 26, 2006

(Note: I quickly discovered that there was simply no way I could crank this thing out in the timeline I gave myself. I wouldn't be doing this piece or you any service if I were to even attempt such an ambitious goal. I will, however, endeavor to get at least one catagory posted per day. To be honest, It's not that there's so little to be found for examples, it's that there's so many. I just want to try and pick the best.)
The 3rd of the 14 characteristics of Fascism is:

Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
Also, if you know of a better example for one of the subjects I've listed, let me know in the 'Comments' section.

Retroactive Bills Don't Make It Right

Saturday, February 25, 2006

(Note: The following is from a letter sent to the Everett Herald by a concerned citizen. His letter expresses what I believe many of us are feeling concerning this administration's blatant disregard for our Constitutional protections and the rule of law.)

by Jackie Minchew

For the past four years the National Security Agency has engaged in an illegal and unconstitutional program of warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. This program, authorized by President Bush, is justified as being necessary to protect American citizens from terrorists. As with the previously exposed program of torture, it is apparently supported by the full range of legal minds within the administration. (It is well known that dissenters are not tolerated in the Bush administration.) Legal arguments in opposition to the justification for both programs abound outside of the administration.

Every American, without regard to political affiliation, should be outraged! If the rule of law matters to us, if the Constitution matters to us, if honor, integrity and justice matter to us, we should all be outraged!

By way of oversight, Congress is holding hearings of the most toothless variety. Witnesses are not required to be sworn in, thereby exempting them from prosecution for perjury. Alberto Gonzales was repeatedly allowed to refuse to answer questions if he was uncomfortable with them. As usual, the White House refuses to comply with requests for documents.

Now we learn that Republican senators are floating bills to retroactively make warrantless wiretapping of American citizens legal. Clearly they have moved far beyond the possibility of holding the Bush administration accountable for its illegal and unconstitutional actions.

Is there no limit to the crimes this administration can commit without fear of being held culpable?

2 of 14 Characteristics of Fascism

Friday, February 24, 2006

(Note: I quickly discovered that there was simply no way I could crank this thing out in the timeline I gave myself. I wouldn't be doing this piece or you any service if I were to even attempt such an ambitious goal. I will, however, endeavor to get at least one catagory posted per day. To be honest, It's not that there's so little to be found for examples, it's that there's so many. I just want to try and pick the best.)
The 2nd of the 14 characteristics of Fascism is:
Also, if you know of a better example for one of the subjects I've listed, let me know in the 'Comments' section.

1 of 14 Characteristics of Fascism

Thursday, February 23, 2006

(Note: I quickly discovered that there was simply no way I could crank this thing out in the timeline I gave myself. I wouldn't be doing this piece or you any service if I were to even attempt such an ambitious goal. I will, however, endeavor to get at least one catagory posted per day. To be honest, It's not that there's so little to be found for examples, it's that there's so many. I just want to try and pick the best.)
The 1st of the 14 characteristics of Fascism is:

Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottoes, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

Also, if you know of a better example of one of the subject I've listed, let me know in the 'Comments' section.

Fascism: A Closer Look

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I've recently come across a list of 14 identifiable characteristics of a fascist government. The list was compiled by Lawrence Britt in the Spring of 2003 for Free Inquiry magazine. I found an excerpt of his article on the internet at Veterans for Peace that I will reference for this post. They have an excellent introduction for the excerpt on their page, so I'll reproduce it here for you:
Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism ("Fascism Anyone?," Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The excerpt is in accordance with the magazine's policy.
I'm planning on going through the list to add links to various articles and web sites where applicable in the text. For example, let's say that he lists 'villianization of whistleblowers who expose government's illegal activities', I would add to it a hyperlink to a relevant piece by William Fisher titled At Spy Agencies, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished that goes into greater detail about that cited topic. Unfortunately for me, time has run short and I must be off. Look for the completed post tomorrow (time permitting). For now, I'll leave you with the fourteen main characteristics of fascism...
  • Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
  • Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
  • Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
  • Supremacy of the Military
  • Rampant Sexism
  • Controlled Mass Media
  • Obsession with National Security
  • Religion and Government are Intertwined
  • Corporate Power is Protected
  • Labor Power is Suppressed
  • Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
  • Obsession with Crime and Punishment
  • Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
  • Fraudulent Elections
On a side note, there's also an excellent flash post at that I found on this topic, too. Click here to watch it.

Democracies and Republics

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In the ongoing struggle between democracies and republics, sometimes it is helpful to stop for a moment and remember why their is even a battle taking place. Democracies are in the most basic sense an understanding between those parties governed that the majority will always rule the minority in all decisions. Right or wrong, the will of the majority is paramount. Republics, on the other hand, place emphasis and supremacy on the individual's rights. While the majority get their say, their will will be done until it conflicts with an individual's rights. To help us understand why our government was modeled after a republic, not a democracy, we can look to the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson:
"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."
~ Thomas Jefferson (First Inaugural Address, 4 March 1801)
It would do us all a great service if we could once again strive to make this a more perfect union by adhering to the principals impressed upon us by the original intentions of our Founding Fathers. We are forever a republic and should never claim to be a democracy!

The IRS and Telephone Taxes

Monday, February 20, 2006

Imagine, if you will... Suppose that you have discovered that the garbage collection company you use has been charging you a fee for picking up the garbage. Suppose also that you have discovered that this fee is illegal and federal courts have ruled on different occasions that the garbage company has no authority or power to collect the fee. Finally, suppose the garbage company has told you that it will not stop collecting the fee because it doesn't want to and because it thinks the courts are wrong in their determinations. How does it make you feel if I told you that the above situation is absolutely true? The only difference between this story and our reality is that instead of the garbage company collecting a fee from you, this role is played by the Internal Revenue Service which is forcing the phone companies to collect an illegal tax on you and me for making long-distance phone calls.
Seriously, on three separate occasions the courts have ruled that the tax, as written, cannot be imposed because methods of billing for telecommunications have changed. The tax in question originated in 1898 to help pay for the Spanish-American War. Granted, it's been updated and changed a couple of times over the last 100 or so years to reflect the changing times. The parts that are being contested in court were written in 1965. For a closer look at what is being taxed and how much the imposed tax is see Title 26, Subtitle D, Chapter 33, Subchapter B--Communications if the Internal Revenue Code. What I found interesting was what the federal government considers a taxable "privilege." From Section 4252:
(a) Local telephone service
  For purposes of this subchapter, the term "local telephone service" means--
(1) the access to a local telephone system, and the privilege of telephonic quality communication with substantially all persons having telephone or radio telephone stations constituting a part of such local telephone system.
(b) Toll telephone service
  For purposes of this subchapter, the term “toll telephone service” means—
(2) a service which entitles the subscriber, upon payment of a periodic charge (determined as a flat amount or upon the basis of total elapsed transmission time), to the privilege of an unlimited number of telephonic communications to or from all or a substantial portion of the persons having telephone or radio telephone stations in a specified area which is outside the local telephone system area in which the station provided with this service is located.
(c) Teletypewriter exchange service
  For purposes of this subchapter, the term "teletypewriter exchange service" means the access from a teletypewriter or other data station to the teletypewriter exchange system of which such station is a part, and the privilege of intercommunication by such station with substantially all persons having teletypewriter or other data stations constituting a part of the same teletypewriter exchange system, to which the subscriber is entitled upon payment of a charge or charges (whether such charge or charges are determined as a flat periodic amount, on the basis of distance and elapsed transmission time, or in some other manner).
Did you know that when you pick up your telephone to call dear old Aunt Maggie, that you are in fact exercising a privilege granted by the federal government to you? I didn't, either. I thought when I paid the phone company for their services that I was paying for the ability to communicate with anyone who also pays for the service. Hmmm... But, I suppose they'll argue that the telephone poles that the phone company's wires are strung upon are placed in public right-of-ways and that is where the privilege originates from.
For more on this topic, I'll refer you to the article that brought this to my attention, Merchants Fight IRS Over Telephone Taxes. One last thing I want to point out before I leave this subject. The article states:

The government can expect to collect $52 billion over the coming decade from all telephone excise taxes, according to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office.

The report said there is a "significant likelihood" the Internal Revenue Service will continue losing in court and eventually stop collecting the tax on some long-distance calls.

While cases work through the courts, the IRS says it still is instructing telephone companies to keep collecting the tax.

After losing in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the IRS issued a notice stating that it would continue to assess and collect the tax. After losing in the 6th Circuit, the IRS asked all judges on that court to hear the appeal. The IRS also lost in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The agency has not asked the Supreme Court to consider the issue.

The IRS won't ask the Supreme Court to hear their case because if they lose again, and they will, their done. If they can drag their feet and keep it tied up in the lower courts, the IRS will be able to keep on collecting the tax. As demonstrated by their actions mentioned in the above article, they intend to keep on bullying businesses into illegally collecting their taxes. These are the very same strong-armed tactics that we fought the British to get away from.


A Refresher On The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Sunday, February 19, 2006

With the upcoming vote by the International Atomic Energy Agency concerning Iran's nuclear ambitions to generate electricity, I thought it would be a good time to take a second look at the document at the center of all the controversy. That document is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. When you read through this document, I want you to pay special attention to articles 4 and 5. In the next couple of months, as you're reading various "news" articles emanating from Washington D.C. and elsewhere, I want you to remember these particular sections of the treaty. I want you to determine for yourself the truthfulness of the claims made by Washington and Iran as well as the other member states. I want you to verify that their claims conform to their obligations under this treaty. If their claims and assertions do not, you then need to ask yourself, "Why not?" And probably most importantly, if their claims are erroneous, you need to try to discover what their hidden agendas are. After all, why else would they try to deceive you?


Signed at Washington, London, and Moscow July 1, 1968
Ratification advised by U.S. Senate March 13, 1969
Ratified by U.S. President November 24, 1969
U.S. ratification deposited at Washington, London, and Moscow March 5, 1970
Proclaimed by U.S. President March 5, 1970
Entered into force March 5, 1970

The States concluding this Treaty, hereinafter referred to as the "Parties to the Treaty",

Considering the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war and the consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war and to take measures to safeguard the security of peoples,

Believing that the proliferation of nuclear weapons would seriously enhance the danger of nuclear war,

In conformity with resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly calling for the conclusion of an agreement on the prevention of wider dissemination of nuclear weapons,

Undertaking to cooperate in facilitating the application of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on peaceful nuclear activities,

Expressing their support for research, development and other efforts to further the application, within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards system, of the principle of safeguarding effectively the flow of source and special fissionable materials by use of instruments and other techniques at certain strategic points,

Affirming the principle that the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology, including any technological by-products which may be derived by nuclear-weapon States from the development of nuclear explosive devices, should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties of the Treaty, whether nuclear-weapon or non-nuclear weapon States,

Convinced that, in furtherance of this principle, all Parties to the Treaty are entitled to participate in the fullest possible exchange of scientific information for, and to contribute alone or in cooperation with other States to, the further development of the applications of atomic energy for peaceful purposes,

Declaring their intention to achieve at the earliest possible date the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to undertake effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament,

Urging the cooperation of all States in the attainment of this objective,

Recalling the determination expressed by the Parties to the 1963 Treaty banning nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water in its Preamble to seek to achieve the discontinuance of all test explosions of nuclear weapons for all time and to continue negotiations to this end,

Desiring to further the easing of international tension and the strengthening of trust between States in order to facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery pursuant to a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control,

Recalling that, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, States must refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations, and that the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security are to be promoted with the least diversion for armaments of the worlds human and economic resources,

Have agreed as follows:

Article I

Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices.

Article II

Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

Article III

1. Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agencys safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Procedures for the safeguards required by this article shall be followed with respect to source or special fissionable material whether it is being produced, processed or used in any principal nuclear facility or is outside any such facility. The safeguards required by this article shall be applied to all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within the territory of such State, under its jurisdiction, or carried out under its control anywhere.

2. Each State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to provide: (a) source or special fissionable material, or (b) equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or production of special fissionable material, to any non-nuclear-weapon State for peaceful purposes, unless the source or special fissionable material shall be subject to the safeguards required by this article.

3. The safeguards required by this article shall be implemented in a manner designed to comply with article IV of this Treaty, and to avoid hampering the economic or technological development of the Parties or international cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear activities, including the international exchange of nuclear material and equipment for the processing, use or production of nuclear material for peaceful purposes in accordance with the provisions of this article and the principle of safeguarding set forth in the Preamble of the Treaty.

4. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty shall conclude agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency to meet the requirements of this article either individually or together with other States in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Negotiation of such agreements shall commence within 180 days from the original entry into force of this Treaty. For States depositing their instruments of ratification or accession after the 180-day period, negotiation of such agreements shall commence not later than the date of such deposit. Such agreements shall enter into force not later than eighteen months after the date of initiation of negotiations.

Article IV

1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty.

2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also cooperate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.

Article V

Each party to the Treaty undertakes to take appropriate measures to ensure that, in accordance with this Treaty, under appropriate international observation and through appropriate international procedures, potential benefits from any peaceful applications of nuclear explosions will be made available to non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty on a nondiscriminatory basis and that the charge to such Parties for the explosive devices used will be as low as possible and exclude any charge for research and development. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty shall be able to obtain such benefits, pursuant to a special international agreement or agreements, through an appropriate international body with adequate representation of non-nuclear-weapon States. Negotiations on this subject shall commence as soon as possible after the Treaty enters into force. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty so desiring may also obtain such benefits pursuant to bilateral agreements.

Article VI

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

Article VII

Nothing in this Treaty affects the right of any group of States to conclude regional treaties in order to assure the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories.

Article VIII

1. Any Party to the Treaty may propose amendments to this Treaty. The text of any proposed amendment shall be submitted to the Depositary Governments which shall circulate it to all Parties to the Treaty. Thereupon, if requested to do so by one-third or more of the Parties to the Treaty, the Depositary Governments shall convene a conference, to which they shall invite all the Parties to the Treaty, to consider such an amendment.

2. Any amendment to this Treaty must be approved by a majority of the votes of all the Parties to the Treaty, including the votes of all nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty and all other Parties which, on the date the amendment is circulated, are members of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The amendment shall enter into force for each Party that deposits its instrument of ratification of the amendment upon the deposit of such instruments of ratification by a majority of all the Parties, including the instruments of ratification of all nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty and all other Parties which, on the date the amendment is circulated, are members of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Thereafter, it shall enter into force for any other Party upon the deposit of its instrument of ratification of the amendment.

3. Five years after the entry into force of this Treaty, a conference of Parties to the Treaty shall be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in order to review the operation of this Treaty with a view to assuring that the purposes of the Preamble and the provisions of the Treaty are being realized. At intervals of five years thereafter, a majority of the Parties to the Treaty may obtain, by submitting a proposal to this effect to the Depositary Governments, the convening of further conferences with the same objective of reviewing the operation of the Treaty.

Article IX

1. This Treaty shall be open to all States for signature. Any State which does not sign the Treaty before its entry into force in accordance with paragraph 3 of this article may accede to it at any time.

2. This Treaty shall be subject to ratification by signatory States. Instruments of ratification and instruments of accession shall be deposited with the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which are hereby designated the Depositary Governments.

3. This Treaty shall enter into force after its ratification by the States, the Governments of which are designated Depositaries of the Treaty, and forty other States signatory to this Treaty and the deposit of their instruments of ratification. For the purposes of this Treaty, a nuclear-weapon State is one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to January 1, 1967.

4. For States whose instruments of ratification or accession are deposited subsequent to the entry into force of this Treaty, it shall enter into force on the date of the deposit of their instruments of ratification or accession.

5. The Depositary Governments shall promptly inform all signatory and acceding States of the date of each signature, the date of deposit of each instrument of ratification or of accession, the date of the entry into force of this Treaty, and the date of receipt of any requests for convening a conference or other notices.

6. This Treaty shall be registered by the Depositary Governments pursuant to article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

Article X

1. Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.

2. Twenty-five years after the entry into force of the Treaty, a conference shall be convened to decide whether the Treaty shall continue in force indefinitely, or shall be extended for an additional fixed period or periods. This decision shall be taken by a majority of the Parties to the Treaty.

Article XI

This Treaty, the English, Russian, French, Spanish and Chinese texts of which are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the Depositary Governments. Duly certified copies of this Treaty shall be transmitted by the Depositary Governments to the Governments of the signatory and acceding States.

How Do You Cancel The Fourth Amendment? By Congressional Approval

Saturday, February 18, 2006

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.
~ Amendment IV, The Constitution of the United States of America
Government shall not violate the right that you and I have to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures. The pivotal word for me is 'unreasonable'. What is considered 'unreasonable' and who gets to decide? In my opinion, we Americans are completely secure from unreasonable searches and seizures. If an agent of government wants to go through my things, he must go to a judge and explain the circumstances. If the judge, being an impartial third party, decides that his suspicions are founded on fact, he issues a warrant allowing that agent permission to conduct a search of my property. This is how the search and seizure moves from unreasonable to reasonable.
Let's look at this a different way. Power and authority resides in you and I as individuals. If we individually are also members of a larger community, we can decide to form a governing body for our community. At that point, each individual must vest in that governing body a portion of our power and authority so that the governing body can act on our behalf. This is where phrases like 'By the power vested in me' comes from. Original power and authority always resides in each of us. So, when questions arise asking whether a particular activity can or cannot be done, we need to ask ourselves whether we have the authority as individuals to carry out that action on our neighbors. If we do not have the power and authority as individuals, we certainly wouldn't have it as a group or government. That would be mob-rule, and it would be wrong. We must remember that an individual's rights are always paramount. The acts of searches and seizures are part of the police powers of the state. We grant these powers to government, and therefore government cannot have any more power than what each of us has individually.
Can you go to your neighbor's house and rifle through his belongings while he's at work? Absolutely not! That would be a violation of his right to privacy as well as his right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures, not to mention trespassing. If I cannot do it as an individual, can I do it if ninety-nine of my best buddies and I decide that it is in our best interests to see what you've got locked up in your home? Or if we decide that we want to read your mail to see who your corresponding with? Or to listen in on your phone calls to see who you're talking to and what you're discussing? The answer to each and every one of these questions is no. Your "right to be secure from harm" does not and can never trump someone else's right to privacy or to be secure from search and seizure without cause. It doesn't hold that a larger group of individuals claiming rights outweighs a smaller group claiming rights. Individual's rights can never be canceled out by the will of the majority. There is no greater manmade authority that will change this fact.
Let's presume that there is no governing body for a moment. Speaking as an individual, let me ask you what you would consider appropriate for me to do in the following case. How could I search my neighbor's belongings if I suspected that he were in violation of some law? The first rule is probable cause. This basically means that I have made a reasonable determination that my neighbor is violating the law. To support this, I would need to have some type of evidence. I must always back up my suspicions with evidence. I simply cannot get a "bad feeling" about a guy and then rummage through his things to see if my intuition was correct. To better illustrate this, let us look at what is practiced in the realm of science. When a scientist begins to form a hypothesis about observable events, he has to move from hypothesis to theory being supported by facts. Hypotheses are derived from assumptions while theories are supported by facts. Back to our case, lets say I observe my neighbor hauling black plastic bags out of his house and then placing them in the trunk of his car. As he carries them out, I can see red liquid dripping from holes in the bottom of the bags. In addition to this, I haven't seen his wife for a couple of days and I usually see her coming and going everyday. Do I have probable cause to believe that my neighbor has killed and dismembered his wife and that I have observed him attempting to dispose of the body? Any reasonable person would have to agree that this was the case. I would have probable cause, supported by fact, to then search his property to see if he committed a crime.
Here's something we need to understand about our little scenario. If my neighbor comes home while I'm rummaging through his stuff, he has every right to accuse me of trespassing and violating his right to privacy as well as violating his right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures. I would be bound to make my case before an impartial third party as to why I felt I had to violate his various rights. If my case doesn't hold water, I should be charged, period. If I lived on an island all alone, I wouldn't need to worry about any of this, but I don't. If I lived in a community which was made up of just two individuals--me and the other guy--we'd have to settle these matters between us. But I don't. I live in a community of hundreds, and therefore I am answerable to that community for my actions. I am expected by my community to be civil and I expect others in my community to be civil, too. When someone runs afoul of those expectations, he must answer for his actions. This is done by bringing all the affected parties before an impartial third party (a judge) to make their arguments.
Lets say my neighbor was arrested by the police because they believed he murdered his wife. Let's also say that the police arrived at their conclusion because I discovered evidence that he dismembered his wife after I searched this guy's home. He has every right to question my method of obtaining that evidence because he has the right to privacy, as well as the right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures. Remember what I said before? One right doesn't trump another. All rights are to be respected under law. I better have all my evidence ready for inspection by the defense because I essentially violated this guy's rights. If he is convicted of murder and ends up being executed or imprisoned for life as punishment, I have a responsibility to him and my community to make sure my evidence is solid.
This leads us to ask the question: At what point does our neighbor's right to be secure from being searched or having his property seized or having his privacy violated become suspended? This question is actually a lot easier to answer than most people realize. These rights we are discussing are no more nor are any less important than say his right to life or his right to practice a religion or his right to defend his property from thieves. The point where he loses his claim on these specific rights is the moment he violates his wife's right to life. Until that event happened, his rights were perfect under law. More to the point, it would take evidence supporting a claim that he violated his wife's rights to cause the suspension of him being able to claim the right to privacy or to be free from search and seizure under law. This is why all searches must be supported by oath or affirmation and must describe in detail the facts surrounding the violation. And this all must be presented before an impartial third party to prevent bias or prejudice against any parties involved. To restate this position for clarity, it takes evidence of a violation of another's rights to cause your rights to be suspended.
Over the years, actors within our government have worked tirelessly to erode our rights of privacy and to create special rules allowing government agents to conduct warrantless searches of our possessions as well as illegal seizures of our property. All of these erosions have been made possible by interpretations of our laws by various courts. Unfortunately for individuals, we are not always the prevailing party when it comes down to whom has supremacy under law. When it's a contest between an individual's rights versus a governing body, the governing body will usually be victorious. People erroneously think that our government's primary duty is to enforce the will of the masses. Governments are first and foremost instituted to secure and protect the rights of the individual not to enforce the arbitrary will of the majority. To think that our government was created for this purpose is a perversion perpetuated by the ignorant masses assuming that we all live under a form of democracy where the majority rules supreme. This is simply not the case. Our form of government, from it's inception, was always meant to be a republic. As a matter of fact, the drafters of the Constitution of the United States of America specifically "guaranteed to every State of this Union a Republican Form of Government." (Art. IV, Sec. 4) When asked by a lady in the crowd, about the kind of government the Constitutional Convention created, Benjamin Franklin, responded to her by saying, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it!"
Knowing all this, you can now understand why I was so upset to learn that the President of the United States had authorized what he called warrantless eavesdropping on communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives. He claimed that he authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on communications originating outside of the United States by known al Qaeda operatives coming into the United States. The rub was that the person at the other end of the communications link would most likely be an American citizen. All Americans are protected by a compact with their government to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. In order for the President or the Attorney General to be able to listen in on these communications, they must go before an impartial third party and present their evidence supporting their claim that the American citizen has violated the law. It is the exclusive duty of the third party alone to authorize any suspension of that American's right of privacy or that American's right to be free from an unreasonable search or that American's right to have his property seized by his government based on the facts and details submitted to him, supported by sworn statement. Agents of our government have neither the power nor the authority to arbitrarily ignore or side-step these rules.
When I heard that Congress was upset with the President and his administration and that they were going to look into his secret spy program, I was happy. There could have been no clearer case of abuse by government officials than this example of a blatant disregard for our laws. One only needs to read the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and Title 50, Chapter 36, of the United States Code to see that their actions were in direct violation of all accepted and understood practices. I thought my elected representatives would stand up for my rights and impeach anyone caught in this web of deceit perpetrated against the American citizens. I discovered I was wrong. I discovered that members of Congress knew about the program the whole time. I discovered that they gave the President a pass to conduct their warrantless surveillance operations of American citizens. I discovered I had been betrayed by my government.
I read in an article that Congress had decided not to investigate the administration. Senate Republicans had decided to block the proposed investigation because the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said he had reached an agreement with the White House to pursue legislation that would clarify rules surrounding the controversial National Security Agency surveillance program. Senator Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, said the vote was put off because the White House had "committed to legislation and had agreed to brief more Intelligence Committee members on the nature of the surveillance program." Let me be clear. I don't care if every single member of Congress is privy to the inner-workings of the President's secret surveillance program. He has circumvented the Forth Amendment requirement to present evidence of a crime before an impartial third party, in this case the FISA Court, and therefore is in violation of the supreme law of the land. Why, dear reader, is this concept so hard for them to understand?
The White House responded to these events by stating, "We maintain that the president does not need additional congressional authority." Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, went on to say that the Bush administration would be willing to discuss a GOP proposal that contains "some good legislative concepts that would not undermine the president's ability to protect Americans." Senator Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican, offered up a proposal that would specifically authorize the NSA to eavesdrop on international calls involving U.S. residents and suspected terrorists overseas without first obtaining a court warrant. I hope you had to re-read that last sentence, too. If Congress is guided by the same set of rules as the rest of our government, rules established in our Constitution, then how can Congress "specifically authorize the NSA" to violate our rights? They can't and Mike DeWine knows it! He should be thrown out on his rear for even making such a claim. But, how do I know that he knows the President's program is unconstitutional? Because, he told me... on Fox News.
You see, Mike DeWine sat down with Jim Angle of Fox News to discuss his proposal. His new legislation would exempt the President's program from FISA, which is the law that governs domestic surveillance, but would add additional congressional oversight. He says that when a known terrorist outside the United States communicates with someone inside the United States, the President would be allowed to eavesdrop on this without needing a warrant, regardless of whether the recipient was an American citizen or not. The President could do this because the Congress would "authorize" his surveillance program. Mr. DeWine continues by directly addressing whether his proposed program is legal or not. He states, "You know, there's been some controversy about whether this program is legal or is not legal. I think we need to get beyond that and the vast majority of the American people think these calls need to be listened to. But, we don't want to have any kind of debate about whether it's Constitutional or is not Constitutional. So, I think we need to put that beyond this." Mr. DeWine is attempting to cleverly disguise this clear violation of our Constitution by stamping it with Congressional approval. However, his new proposal doesn't change the fact that the Fourth Amendment still requires a legally obtained warrant in order for them to suspend an American citizen's rights. He basically told Americans that if they wanted to have a discussion on whether or not the President violated our Constitution, we could just shut the hell up, because Congress wasn't interested in listening.
I got news for you, Mr. DeWine. I don't care how much lipstick you put on this pig, it still doesn't change the fact that the President and all his henchmen that participated in his program are guilty of violating our Constitution. Furthermore, Mr. DeWine, by deliberately abstaining from your duty to bring charges against them, your just as guilty as they are.

Are We a Republic or a Democracy?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

by Walter Williams (January 5, 2005)

(Note: I ran across this essay at Capitalism Magazine while researching the subject of Democracy vs. Republic. I liked it so much that I decided to post it here for others to read. Mr. Williams asks a very pointed question at the end of his essay that I believe needs to be asked and answered in all seriousness. As I study our country's history, I see where our leaders have made a distinct change in course that has turned us from a true republic into a high-bred democracy. Unfortunately, it will still fail because the masses can still consume the wealth of the nation and the rights of the individuals are subject to the will of the people. I hope you enjoy this essay as much as I did. I included a short bio at the end as well as some additional links to related essays. ~Don)

We often hear the claim that our nation is a democracy. That wasn't the vision of the founders. They saw democracy as another form of tyranny. If we've become a democracy, I guarantee you that the founders would be deeply disappointed by our betrayal of their vision. The founders intended, and laid out the ground rules, for our nation to be a republic.

The word democracy appears nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution -- two most fundamental documents of our nation. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution's Article IV, Section 4, guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government."

Moreover, let's ask ourselves: Does our pledge of allegiance to the flag say to "the democracy for which it stands," or does it say to "the republic for which it stands"? Or do we sing "The Battle Hymn of the Democracy" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"?

So what's the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence of the difference when he said, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." Nothing in our Constitution suggests that government is a grantor of rights. Instead, government is a protector of rights.

In recognition that it's Congress that poses the greatest threat to our liberties, the framers used negative phrases against Congress throughout the Constitution such as: shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied. In a republican form of government, there is rule of law. All citizens, including government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government power is limited and decentralized through a system of checks and balances. Government intervenes in civil society to protect its citizens against force and fraud but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange.

Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

How about a few quotations demonstrating the disdain our founders held for democracy? James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 10: In a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual." At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said, " ... that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy."

John Adams said, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Chief Justice John Marshall observed, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos." In a word or two, the founders knew that a democracy would lead to the same kind of tyranny the colonies suffered under King George III.

The framers gave us a Constitution that is replete with undemocratic mechanisms. One that has come in for recent criticism and calls for its elimination is the Electoral College. In their wisdom, the framers gave us the Electoral College so that in presidential elections large, heavily populated states couldn't democratically run roughshod over small, sparsely populated states.

Here's my question. Do Americans share the republican values laid out by our founders, and is it simply a matter of our being unschooled about the differences between a republic and a democracy? Or is it a matter of preference and we now want the kind of tyranny feared by the founders where Congress can do anything it can muster a majority vote to do? I fear it's the latter.

About the Author:

Born in Philadelphia in 1936, Walter E. Williams holds a bachelor's degree in economics from California State University (1965) and a master's degree (1967) and doctorate (1972) in economics from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Author Archives

Related Articles on Democracy:

Democracy vs.The Essence of Liberty
The False Hope of Democracy
Democracy and the Right to Vote
Are We a Republic or a Democracy?
Democracy is No Guarantee of Freedom for Iraq
Majority Rule: The Tyrants Next Door
Republic? Democracy? What's the Difference?
A Constitutional Republic for Iraq
Freedom--Not Democracy--for the Arabs in the Middle East
Do We Want Democracy?
De-mystifying Democracy
America, The Republic

21st Century Siege Warfare

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Special thanks to for the use of this image.Just a few moments ago (relatively speaking), the Palestinian people went to their ballot boxes and voted in a new government. The two major parties available to cast a vote for were the Fatah and Hamas parties. Palestinians apparently had grown tired of the Fatah party and decided that a change was in order. Utilizing the ballot box, Palestinians demonstrated what can be done when you live in a democratic society. The people voted, and when the dust settled, the one who garnered the most votes took control. Right or wrong, the will of the people prevailed. Hamas was the victor. And they all lived happily ever after.

...Ummmmm. Not quite.

The United States and Israel didn't take too kindly to this type of democracy. You see, this election doesn't fit into their plans for the region--whatever those plans may be. Immediately after the victor was announced, the U.S. declared that it would not recognize Hamas as the new leader of Palestine and basically called for a 'do over' on the election.

The long and the short of this is that the U.S. and Israel basically told the Palestinian people that their votes didn't matter and that they were going to do everything within their powers to disrupt and destroy their newly elected government. You see, dear reader, while Palestinians exercised democracy in the choosing of their leaders, they didn't exercise U.S. brand Democracy. Therefore, any outcome would be considered fraudulent and subject to revocation by the United States.

To prove this point, I've come across a couple of articles that explain the methods of siege warfare the U.S. and Israel intend to employ to cripple financially the new Hamas led Palestinian government. A quote from one will suffice to show this. From a New York Times article, U.S. and Israelis Are Said to Talk of Hamas Ouster, we read how they intend to "starve the Palestinian Authority of money and international connections to the point where, some months from now, its president, Mahmoud Abbas, is compelled to call a new election. The hope is that Palestinians will be so unhappy with life under Hamas that they will return to office a reformed and chastened Fatah movement."

"But, how can these two countries lay siege to Palestine?" you may ask. The article explains:

The officials said the destabilization plan centers largely on money. The Palestinian Authority has a monthly cash deficit of some $60 million to $70 million after it receives between $50 million and $55 million a month from Israel in taxes and customs duties collected by Israeli officials at the borders but owed to the Palestinians.

Israel says it will cut off those payments once Hamas takes power, and put the money in escrow. On top of that, some of the aid that the Palestinians currently receive will be stopped or reduced by the United States and European Union governments, which will be constrained by law or politics from providing money to an authority run by Hamas. The group is listed by Washington and the European Union as a terrorist organization.

A brilliant plan. By cutting off a nation's cash supply, that nation will whither and eventually die. This tactic is similar to cutting off vital utilities on your initial strike into enemy territory. If you can sever their power, communications, and water/sewer supplies, the chaos this generates will go far to consume your enemy's resources and create great uncertainty in their minds.

So, what are we to learn from all this? That only U.S. branded Democracy will be tolerated through out the world. If any country chooses to deviate from our brand of Democracy, they had better be prepared for the consequences of their actions.

Sedition, Redefined

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Submitted for your consideration...
Sedition via Yahoo Education:
In law, acts or words tending to upset the authority of a government. The scope of the offense was broad in early common law, which even permitted prosecution for a remark insulting to the king. Although there have been several statutes in the United States forbidding seditious utterances and writings, the protection guaranteed to speech and press by the First Amendment to the Constitution has made them difficult to enforce except during periods of great national stress. The Sedition Act of 1798 generated so much opposition (see Alien and Sedition Acts) that similar statutes were not enacted until the 20th century. During World War I the Espionage Act (1917) and the Sedition Act (1918) punished speeches and writings that interfered with the war effort or caused contempt for the government. Vaguely worded and broadly interpreted, they resulted in over 2,000 prosecutions, mostly against radicals and the radical press. The Smith Act of 1940, restricted in scope to the advocacy of violence against the government, was invoked only infrequently during World War II, though it was later used successfully to prosecute Communist party leaders, as in Dennis v. United States (1951). The libel decision of Sullivan v. New York Times (1964), by granting special protection to criticism of public officials, largely eliminated what remained of the crime of sedition in the United States.

Sedition via Wikipedia:

Sedition refers to a legal designation of non-overt conduct that is deemed by a legal authority as being acts of treason, and hence deserving of legal punishment. The term is deprecated in most countries, though equivalent language may still be in use in totalitarian and fascist jurisdictions.

Critical speech, political organization, and mere association between individuals may be considered as "sedition." And though such behaviors may be common in a free society, in societies where sedition laws exist the acts and behaviors which qualify are highly subjective, and typically left to the whims of state agents. Legal definitions of sedition often include subversion of a constitution, or incitement to rebellion or insurrection toward the lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws.

Because "sedition" is typically considered the subvert act, the overt acts that may be prosecutable under "sedition" laws vary from one legal code to another. Where those legal codes have a traceable history, there is also a record of the change of definition for what constituted sedition at certain points in history. This overview has served to develop a sociological definition of sedition as well, within study of persecution.

The legal difference between sedition and treason consists primarily in the subjective ultimate object of the violation to the public peace. Sedition does not consist of "levying war" against a government nor of "adhering to [its] enemies, giving them aid and comfort" (Article Three, U.S. Constitution). Nor does it consist, in most representative democracies, of peaceful, non-violent protest against a government, nor of attempting to change the government by democratic means (such as direct democracy or constitutional convention).

Sedition via U.S. Code:

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 115 > § 2384

§ 2384. Seditious conspiracy

Release date: 2005-08-03

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

Title 18 > Part I > Chapter 115 > § 2385.

§ 2385. Advocating overthrow of Government

Release date: 2005-08-03

Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or
Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or
Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof--
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.
If two or more persons conspire to commit any offense named in this section, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.
As used in this section, the terms “organizes” and “organize”, with respect to any society, group, or assembly of persons, include the recruiting of new members, the forming of new units, and the regrouping or expansion of existing clubs, classes, and other units of such society, group, or assembly of persons.
Now that we all have a clear understanding of what "sedition" is, let's look at what our government considers seditious activity (from an Editor & article titled Nurse Investigated for 'Sedition' After Writing Letter to Editor):
NEW YORK Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has asked Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson for a thorough inquiry of his agency's investigation into whether a V.A. nurse's letter to the editor criticizing the Bush administration amounted to "sedition."

Merely opposing government policies and expressing a desire to change course "does not provide reason to believe that a person is involved in illegal subversive activity," he said. Bingaman said such investigations raise "a very real possibility of chilling legitimate political speech."

Laura Berg, a clinical nurse specialist for 15 years, wrote a letter in September to a weekly Albuquerque newspaper criticizing how the administration handled Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq [War]. She urged people to "act forcefully" by bringing criminal charges against top administration officials, including the president, to remove them from power because they played games of "vicious deceit." She added: "This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil....Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times."


In a press release, Simonson also said: "Is this government so jealous of its power, so fearful of dissent, that it needs to threaten people who openly oppose its policies with charges of 'sedition'?"

The answer to Mr. Simonson's question is a resounding, "Yes!" Look at the actions of our government. Erecting "Free Speech Zones", making it illegal to enter certain areas that may or may not be occupied by political leaders, arresting individuals with no more cause then a snap determination that they may be a protestor, expelling individuals from public functions because they may not agree with you, ordering wiretaps on Americans in clear violation of the law... the list goes on and on and on.

What are we to make of this recent reworking of the law and the above example of it's enforcement? Bloggers beware! The government will be coming for you next. It is now illegal to speak out against government or to question the government on any subject matter. They now have the authority, under color of law, to suppress your voices. Don't believe me? Just ask Laura Berg how free she feels. Ask her if the First Amendment protected her from government's reach. I suspect we all know what her answer will be.

One last thing. You may have missed it from above, so I'll highlight it again for you. From Wikipedia's above quote: "The term [sedition] is deprecated in most countries, though equivalent language may still be in use in totalitarian and fascist jurisdictions." Could we then deduce that by the very existence of Title 18, Part I, Chapter 115--Treason, Sedition, and Subversive Activities, we essentially live in a "totalitarian and fascist jurisdiction"? My answer, "You bet you ass we do!"

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