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Scales Of Justice

Friday, June 30, 2006

We must always remember that State's Secrets should never trump an individual's right to a fair trial.

The Eye of NOI Finally Falls on Hamdan

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The NOI's have finally ruled that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees. So, what was finally decided? Well...
The ruling, a rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti-terror policies, was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and Geneva conventions.
The case focused on Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who worked as a bodyguard and driver for Osama bin Laden. Hamdan, 36, has spent four years in the U.S. prison in Cuba. He faces a single count of conspiring against U.S. citizens from 1996 to November 2001.
While reading this article at Yahoo! News, I came across the following line:
Bush spokesman Tony Snow said the White House would have no comment until lawyers had had a chance to review the decision. Officials at the Pentagon and Justice Department were planning to issue statements later in the day.
The way Tony Snow's comment came across reminded me of yesterday's post where I pointed out how this administration has made a habit of rejecting our reality and substituting in it's own version via signing statements.

Pruning the Branches of Government

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

This morning, I wanted to briefly look at the separation of powers and the checks and balances that were built into our Constitution. The framers wanted these put in place to help protect and ensure that the public were never again subjected to despotic rule. So, let's start with the following which can be found at the website. You can click on each respective link for a broader explanation of what each branch's duties are. I've added (in bold) a brief synopsis for each branch below it's section. (Note: The information provided on the site is really pretty basic.)
Branches of Government
White House
Executive Branch
The power of the executive branch is vested in the President, who also serves as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
The Executive Branch is meant to execute and enforce the laws of the land.
U.S. Supreme Court
Judicial Branch
The judicial branch hears cases that challenge or require interpretation of the legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President.

The Judicial Branch is meant to resolve disputes and interpret the intent of the laws of the land.

U.S. Capitol
Legislative Branch
The legislative branch of the federal government consists of the Congress, which is divided into two chambers -- the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Legislative Branch is meant to create the laws of the land.

 For a more indepth look at the speration of powers and checks and balances, let's turn to Wikipedia:

Seperation of Powers

The separation of powers (or trias politica, a term coined by French political thinker Montesquieu) is a model for the governance of the state. This same principle is applied in non-political realms under the term separation of duties.

Montesquieu proposed division of political power between an executive, a legislature, and a judiciary. Under this model, each branch has separate and independent powers and areas of responsibility; however, each branch is also able to place limits on the power exerted by the other branches.

The United States

Main article: Separation of powers under the United States Constitution

In drafting the United States Constitution, the framers are believed to have included the best features of many concepts including the then-new concept of the separation of powers. The concept is also prominent in the state governments of the United States; as colonies of Britain, the founding fathers felt that the American states had suffered an abuse of the broad power of the monarchy. As a remedy, the American Constitution limits the powers of the federal government through several means, but in particular by dividing up the power of the government among three competing branches of government. Each branch checks the actions of the others and balances their powers in some way.

Branch Constitutional Powers Executive counterbalance Legislative counterbalance Judicial counterbalance
  • Operational command of government services and contracts
  • Sole power to wage war (operational command of the military)
  • Responsibility for negotiating treaties
  • Power to appoint judges, diplomats, cabinet, and department heads
  • Police powers of arrest, detainment, and search
  • Prosecutes crimes
  • Collects taxes
  • Civilian and military chains of command constrain low-level executive officials to obey the policies of high-level non-executive officials.
  • Extensive bureaucracy limits ability of executive to make extensive changes in operational practices.
  • Power to determine what laws exist
  • Power to write laws to constrain the internal operation of government
  • Power to write laws limiting searches, arrests, and detentions
  • Power to make laws concerning what regulations may be declared by the executive
  • Power to declare war
  • Responsibility for ratifying treaties (Senate)
  • Responsibility for confirming executive appointments (Senate)
  • Power to set the budget of the executive
  • Power to impeach and remove executive officers (two-thirds majority)
  • Power to set limits
  • Acts as a neutral mediator when the executive brings criminal or civil enforcement actions, and has the power to stop inappropriate enforcement
  • Issues warrants for searches and arrests
  • May declare actions of the executive to be illegal and/or unconstitutional
  • Determines which laws apply to any given case
  • Power to write laws
  • Power to enact taxes, authorize borrowing, and set the budget
  • Sole power to declare war
  • Various other powers of the federal government
  • Subpoena (investigative) power
  • Power to confirm Supreme Court judges and Executive cabinet officials
  • May veto laws (but this may be overridden by a two-thirds majority in both houses)
  • May refuse to enforce certain laws
  • May refuse to spend money allocated for certain purposes
  • Sole power to wage war (operational command of the military)
  • Responsibility for making declarations (for example, declaring a state of emergency) and promulgating lawful regulations and executive orders
  • Executive privilege (refusal to submit to legislative subpoena)
  • Use of the bully pulpit to propose and advocate for laws
  • Each house is responsible for policing its own members.
  • Powers internal to the legislature are split between its two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Only the House may originate spending bills. Only the House may impeach the President, but only the Senate may remove him or her from office. Only the Senate approves treaties and nominees.
  • Each house can prevent the other from passing any law.
  • May declare laws unconstitutional and unenforceable
  • Determines which laws apply to any given case
Supreme Court)
  • Sole power to interpret the law and apply it to particular disputes
  • Power to determine the disposition of prisoners
  • Appointed for life
  • Power to compel testimony and the production of documents
  • Responsibility to appoint judges
  • Power to grant pardons to federal offenders
  • Sole Federal Agency with the power to pass Constitutional amendments (by two-thirds majority and with the consent of three-quarters of the states)
  • Power to determine the size and structure of the courts
  • Power to determine the budgets of the courts
  • Responsibility for confirming judicial nominees
  • Power to impeach and remove judges
  • Power to determine courts' jurisdiction (except Supreme Court's original jurisdiction)
  • The appeals process enforces uniform policies in a top-down fashion, but gives discretion in individual cases to low-level judges (The amount of discretion depends upon the standard of review, determined by the type of case being reviewed.)
  • May only rule in cases of an actual dispute brought between actual petitioners
  • Polices its own members

Maintaining balance

The independence of the executive and legislative branches is partly maintained by the fact that they are separately elected, and are held directly accountable to the public. There are also judicial prohibitions against certain types of interference in each others' affairs. (See "separation of powers" cases in the List of United States Supreme Court cases.) Judicial independence is maintained by life appointments, with voluntary retirement, and a high threshold for removal by the legislature. Recently the accusation of judicial activism has been leveled at some judges, and that the power of interpretation of law is misused.

The legal mechanisms constraining the powers of the three branches depend a great deal on the popular sentiment of the people of the United States. Popular support establishes legitimacy, and makes possible the physical implementation of legal authority. National crises (such as the Civil War, the Great Depression, pre-Pearl Harbor World War II, the Vietnam War) have been the times at which the principle of separation of powers has been most endangered, through official "misbehavior" or through the willingness of the public to sacrifice such principles if more pressing problems are solved. In the present day, the American state is remarkably stable, and all three branches have largely enjoyed their sovereign powers continuously since the founding of the republic.

The system of checks and balancing is also self-reinforcing. Potential abuse of power is deterred and the legitimacy and sustainability of any power grab is undermined by the ability of the other two branches to take corrective action. This is intended to reduce opportunities for tyranny and to increase the general stability of the government.

However, as James Madison wrote in Federalist 51 regarding the ability of each branch to defend itself from actions by the others, "But it is not possible to give to each department an equal power of self-defense. In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates." Bicameralism was, in part, intended to reduce the relative power of the legislature, by turning it against itself, by having "different modes of election and different principles of action." (This is one of the arguments against the popular election of Senators, which was instituted by the Seventeenth Amendment.) But when the legislature is unified, it wields dominant, unbalanced, power over the other branches.

Now that we have a relatively decent grasp of these two concepts, we can more closely look at what we've been witnessing lately. Namely, the Bush administration's gathering of more and more power unto itself. They have done this mostly by claiming authority found in the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against (a) terrorism and (b) Iraq. After a cursory read of each of these AUMF's, one can tell that you would really have to stretch their words to create the claimed authority.
This example is exactly why we have the three branches of government. When one branch becomes too powerful, the other two are supposed to step up to put it back in it's place. This safeguarding mechanism was built so that the people didn't have to take up arms every time government exceeded it's authority. Unfortunately, what we've seen lately is but a half-hearted effort by Congress to reign in the Executive not to mention the Judicial System's stance of, "If you don't make us rule on whatever it is that you're doing then you can keep doing it."
What this administration has managed to do is position itself as the controlling power by claiming some immaculate Commander in Chief authority derived from the AUMF's Congress passed. He's made the other two branches subordinates to the Executive through political appointment or party politics. It seems, however, that at least one of the underlings has grown tired of the "whipping boy" status. Senator Arlen Specter has opened hearings on the issue of the President's signing statements. He's quoted as saying, "It's a challenge to the plain language of the Constitution. There is a sense that the president has taken signing statements far beyond the customary purview."
Signing statements: what better way to circumvent the intent of the framer's construction of the three branches of government? By issuing signing statements, the President can rewrite the laws--authority reserved exclusively to Congress--as well as interpret the laws as he sees fit--authority reserved exclusively to the Judiciary. What's worse is the notion that if, at some future date, a dispute ever comes before the court, who's version of the law do you use? Do you use the one passed by Congress or the one that has been bastardized by the Executive? Who decides? When the public at large read the laws (to make sure they live their lives in compliance with the millions of regulations we have now), who's version do they use? What do they do if they find contradictions between the laws issued by Congress and the rewrite done by the Executive? Who's right?
Remind me again that we don't live under a dictator because I'm having a hard time proving it to myself.

Holy Flaming Flags!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The headline reads: Senate Rejects Flag Desecration Amendment. Yah... I didn't see that one coming. I'm about as shocked as when I learned the marriage protection amendment failed. Rest assured, we'll see this again in 2008.

Today's Recommended Reading

Monday, June 26, 2006

Today's recommended reading is an article by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.:
I wanted to highlight a quote from this article that really resonated with me:
Now, just as with "emergency powers" and "business affected with a public interest," the phrases "compelling governmental interest" and "least restrictive means" appear nowhere in the Constitution. No objective definition of what constitutes a "compelling governmental interest" exists. No set of generally applicable rules for determining whether a means is "least restrictive" or not has even been promulgated. So when these terms are applied to the actions of some public officials by other public officials, they end up meaning whatever public officials want them to mean. This is "Humpty-Dumpty Law," in which legalistic verbiage functions as the playdough of power, and the only issue is who is to be master.
Mr. Vieira has an awesome understanding of the subjects he writes about. Go, read, and be enlightened.

To Tase or Not to Tase?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Seattle Times carried an article yesterday about a Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff who accidentally shot a man in the leg. Apparently, this guy--whether high, drunk, or bored--wandered up a fig tree. Kitsap County must have a "no tree climbing" ordinance on the books, because their sheriff's office attempted to extricate this fellow from the tree. After a grueling two hour standoff, they decided that this guy was just going to end up ________ (hurting himself? starving to death?) if he remained in said fig tree. So, the deputies decided the best course of action would be to taser the perp out of the tree. And that's where our story takes a bad turn.
Officer A aimed his taser at the tree-bound perp and fired--and missed. He then asked his partner if he would attempt the same. Officer B reached for his taser, brought it up to sight, aimed, then fired. A loud BANG! rang out... followed by, "Ow ­ that hurt. I'm coming down; I'm coming down."
It seems Officer Friendly accidentally drew his .40 caliper pistol instead of his taser. At least that's the story that's being reported to us. Maybe they grew tired of babysitting this tree-dweller and decided to force his compliance with their demands to come out of the tree. We'll never really know for sure.
What we do know for certain is police officers SHOULD know the difference between their tasers and their pistols. While they both are similar, they are distinctly different once placed in the hand. Besides, one is clearly marked to help identify it quickly as a "less than lethal" weapon.
In closing, I want you to ask yourself the following question: Can you tell the difference between a taser, a pistol, and a story that smells like a steaming pile of bullshit? I know I can.

Bush's Signing Statements

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Martin Kettle has an excellent article in The Guardian Unlimited that I recommend. The article, titled America's problem is again a usurping king called George, is dated June 17th... which means I'm a little late in discovering it. The message of the article is still relevant, though. President Bush, instead of vetoing a bill he doesn't like, simply attaches his own interpretation of the bill to it along with any actions he reserves unto himself--or any future president for that matter. It's a good read.
As a teaser, here's an excerpt from the article: "Imagine a country with a different kind of monarch from the one we are used to. Forget the nation-binding human monarch whom Archbishop Rowan Williams praised so deftly this week. Imagine instead a monarch who, like many of Elizabeth II's ancestors, routinely reserved the right to override laws passed by the legislature, or who repeatedly asserted that the laws mean something they do not say. Imagine, in fact, King George of America."
I especially liked the article's closing paragraph... but you'll have to go read it for yourself. (And no skipping to the end, either!)

Silver Certificates

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I almost forgot to tell you about this. Last Saturday, a customer came in to the store where I work and purchased some odds and ends. When he paid, he used these:
1935 Silver Certificate
1957 Silver Certificate
It's been a very long time since I've seen these certificates in real life. I figured that most were now held in private collections. What's funny is that if I had put these two One Dollar Silver Certificates in my cash drawer, they would have been worth more than all the other "money" in there. There's something to think about...
The certificates state, "This certifies that there is on deposit in the treasury of the United States of America one dollar in silver payable to the bearer on demand." Really? I kinda doubt it. The certificate should have also contained the following disclaimers: "Void where prohibited by law. Act now while supplies last."

Public Service Announcement

Monday, June 19, 2006

The following is a PSA that I cooked up. It popped into my had while reading an article, so I thought I would throw it together. Hope you like it...
(P.S. If you see any typo's, let me know so I can fix 'em.)

Quote of the Day

Sunday, June 18, 2006

From the Comments Section for the article Risks of raising hopes, at the Guardian Unlimited:
"The idea terrorism is lurking behind every door, under every stone in every corner of the globe is evidently extremely potent, and is a classic example of the runaway success of the Bush administrations scare manufacturing. Of course terror groups have existed since the dawn of man. Most countries have experienced terrorism to some extent and yet don't feel the need to start a Global War On Terror. Why? because they understand they'd be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If you're treating cancer, you don't start by killing the patient. When 9/11 happened it was [as] if the Americans woke up to a reality the rest of the World was already living in, but America thought it had a monopoly on suffering. America's been hit so now we all have to go stamping around with our torches and pitchforks. Naturally the Whitehouse has no intention of getting to the root cause of terrorism, why start now? But for Eddie Sixpack American to follow unquestioningly is surely a pinnacle of unpatriotic behaviour. Then again, when you're a hammer every problem looks like a nail..." (Slightly edited for clarity.)
Posted at June 16, 2006 09:37 AM

Apethetic, Complacent Consent

Saturday, June 17, 2006

  1. Acceptance or approval of what is planned or done by another; acquiescence.
  2. Agreement as to opinion or a course of action: She was chosen by common consent to speak for the group.
It was written in our Declaration of Independence that, "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed." There is no doubt in my mind that you give your consent to be governed. How do I know this? Because we are not in a state of revolution. But, here's the real question I want to ask you, dear reader: What type of consent do you give? If we rewrote this sentence to read, "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the                 Consent of the Governed," what word would you use to describe your consent? I'll offer two that I believe many have [perhaps unknowingly] chosen.
  1. Feeling or showing a lack of interest or concern; indifferent.
  2. Feeling or showing little or no emotion; unresponsive.
  1. Contented to a fault; self-satisfied and unconcerned: He had become complacent after years of success.
  2. Eager to please; complaisant.
Again, "Do you consent to be governed as we are today?"

The NOI Reinterprets the 4th

Friday, June 16, 2006

For today's post, I redirect you to Mark's post at South Puget Sound Libertarian, Katie Bar the Door and my comment that follows it.

Federalist Paper No. 26

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I was reading an article by Nancy Levant that referred to The Federalist No. 26. Having been awhile since I read this, I decided to take her advise and go read it again. The subject of this letter to the citizens of New York was to calm their fears about having a permanent standing army. While reading it, I ran across the following excerpt that made me laugh because of how ludicrous it sounds in our day.
Hamilton wanted to reassure citizens that even if the national legislature became corrupt, the state legislatures would sound the alarm to the local citizens. The citizens of the several states could then act swiftly to put down any national attempt to oppress the individual state governments. Hamilton, I'm sure, did not envision the individual states becoming handmaidens of the national government when he wrote these words. He surely could not anticipate that the states would be reliant on the national government for a large part of their operating revenue. In addition, the state's reliance on national funds would required them to do the national government's bidding or face bankruptcy. (You don't suppose this is why the 16th and 17th Amendments were passed in quick succession, do you?)


The Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard
to the Common Defense Considered
For the Independent Journal.
Alexander Hamilton

"...if the majority [of the national legislature] should be really disposed to exceed the proper limits, the community will be warned of the danger, and will have an opportunity of taking measures to guard against it. Independent of parties in the national legislature itself, as often as the period of discussion arrived, the State legislatures, who will always be not only vigilant but suspicious and jealous guardians of the rights of the citizens against encroachments from the federal government, will constantly have their attention awake to the conduct of the national rulers, and will be ready enough, if any thing improper appears, to sound the alarm to the people, and not only to be the VOICE, but, if necessary, the ARM of their discontent.
Schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community REQUIRE TIME to mature them for execution. An army, so large as seriously to menace those liberties, could only be formed by progressive augmentations; which would suppose, not merely a temporary combination between the legislature and executive, but a continued conspiracy for a series of time. Is it probable that such a combination would exist at all? Is it probable that it would be persevered in, and transmitted along through all the successive variations in a representative body, which biennial elections would naturally produce in both houses? Is it presumable, that every man, the instant he took his seat in the national Senate or House of Representatives, would commence a traitor to his constituents and to his country? Can it be supposed that there would not be found one man, discerning enough to detect so atrocious a conspiracy, or bold or honest enough to apprise his constituents of their danger? If such presumptions can fairly be made, there ought at once to be an end of all delegated authority. The people should resolve to recall all the powers they have heretofore parted with out of their own hands, and to divide themselves into as many States as there are counties, in order that they may be able to manage their own concerns in person." (Emphasis mine)
The questions posed by Mr. Hamilton probably seemed to him to be almost to absurd to ask. In our times, it is not hard to go right down the list and answer 'Yes, Yes, Yes' to each one.
An army, so large as seriously to menace those liberties, could only be formed by progressive augmentations; which would suppose, not merely a temporary combination between the legislature and executive, but a continued conspiracy for a series of time.
    • Is it probable that such a combination would exist at all?
    • Is it probable that it would be persevered in, and transmitted along through all the successive variations in a representative body, which biennial elections would naturally produce in both houses?
    • Is it presumable, that every man, the instant he took his seat in the national Senate or House of Representatives, would commence a traitor to his constituents and to his country?
    • Can it be supposed that there would not be found one man, discerning enough to detect so atrocious a conspiracy, or bold or honest enough to apprise his constituents of their danger?
Like I said, not hard at all... Can you imagine swarms of IRS, EPA, FBI, DEA, CIA, HLS, and so many other alphabet agents? Many of these agencies have been with us for too many decades.
And what of Hamilton's recommendation to pull authority from the national government when it becomes destructive? I don't think we have the fortitude to do it. Heck, many of us are absolutely content with the way things are. Besides, even if we tried, the national government isn't likely to submit to the states without a fight. Remember, this letter was about how the national government wouldn't be able to have a standing army for more than a couple of years--and using that standing army to oppress the individual states... You know, the standing army we've now had for several decades.

Enjoy your Coffee

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A friend sent me the following:
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

All the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself, adds no quality to the coffee in most cases, just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups... and then began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee, and the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us.

God brews the coffee, not the cups... Enjoy your coffee.
Sometimes I think that Americans get caught up in the trap of wanting the very best while losing sight of the goal of enjoying their lives to the fullest possible measure. I often remark that I work to live--not live to work. I think that many of the people around me look at their lives through the latter's perspective. While I do not disagree with wanting the very best, I do agree with the conclusion of the professor that jobs, money and position in society are just tools we use in creating our lives. They can be our servants, or they can be our masters. It's up to us on who rules who.
Dare I say, the same can be said of our system of government, too. The founders wrestled and deliberated for many weeks trying to create a government that would only do those things that each individual state could not do by itself. Now, more than two hundred years later, we can see that the people elected into positions of power and authority are never content with the plain old government we've provided to them. They instead forever endeavor to reshape our system of government into something that it was never meant to be.
Unfortunately, the process of remaking our system of government requires more and more of the people's freedoms, liberties, and property to make it hold it's new shape. In an effort not to be outdone, each subsequent elected official has to recreate the government as if to say, "Look what I made of it. And it only cost you just a little more of your lives without government." One day we will all learn that government is merely a tool and should only be used as such. It should never be used to rule people--but to protect and defend the life, liberty and happiness of those who have instituted it.

A Decision on Domestic Spying

Monday, June 12, 2006

A judge in Detroit is expected to hear arguments and render a decision on whether the U.S. government's domestic spying program is constitutional or not (see here for more). Judge Anna Diggs Taylor will hear arguments from the ACLU who want the spying program declared unconstitutional and stopped. The government lawyers are expected to push to have the case dropped because they claim that it will reveal state secrets.
Is it me, or do you also have a bad feeling about this? If the judge acquiesces to the Justice Department's demands, there will be nothing standing in the government's way when it comes to domestic surveillance of U.S. persons. Additionally, all the various cases brought against the U.S. government over spying will essentially be thrown out. The Fourth Amendment will be completely torn out of the Bill of Rights. We will all be standing in a new country where the government can--and will-spy on every aspect of your lives. Welcome to the new Police State.
Bill of Rights with the Fourth Amendment torn out.
...let's hope I'm wrong.

Oligarchy Announces Victory

Thursday, June 08, 2006

If you had the power to tax a population of about 300,000,000 people, would it surprise anyone to learn that where you called home was also found to be the most wealthy? That's what a report released today found. D.C. area incomes are some of the highest in the country. And I suspect they are so high because they're either directly or indirectly receiving the money you fork over in taxes. In other words, you have to do without because some politicians in D.C. have decided that your money is better spent on, say, the military (which just happens to be their neighbors).

A Must Read: The Mogambo Guru

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Below is a link to an article that I highly recommend you read. The following excerpt talks about foreign exchanges, the pegging of foreign currency to the U.S. dollar instead of gold, and the possibility of the dollar's collapse when foreigners decide they've had enough and drop it. Can you say "inflation" when all those foreign-held dollars come back home?

Whatever Happens, It Will Be Expensive 

by Richard Daughty ("The Mogambo Guru")

...And, to make matters worse for the dollar, there are also indications of an Asian Currency Unit forming, mostly consisting of China and Japan, to trade goods and services [in] their currencies, too.
And it is not just the Chinese setting up shop, or the Iranians, or the South Americans, but also now the Russians have decided that they want to open an exchange to trade in oil, gas, and other goods, and for it all to be paid for with rubles.
Another big reason, aside from the prestige, is that the velocity of money will, necessarily, increase, as it comes pouring through the many intermediaries in the Russian marketplace. No doubt Mr. Putin was looking at the past century, where gigantic money flows in the American oil market produced American-made fortunes, as each American intermediary raked off another few bucks as the money went boinka, boinka, boinka through the system, and then, multiplied by the Required Reserve Multiplier, into the economy as "growth." And that is good for profits, higher local real estate values, wages, economy, standard of living and a feeling of prosperity that makes for easy-pickings in the corruption department.
How soon will all of this happen? Well, Julian Phillips of the reports that Putin said "work on making the national currency fully convertible should be completed by July 1, almost six months ahead of the original January 1, 2007 deadline." July first! Of this year!
So are foreigners ganging up on us? Yeah, I figure they are. And for good reason: We Americans treat every treaty like the ones we made with the American Indians. Without exception (as far as I can tell), we Americans gave them the short end of the stick. From there we lied, broke every treaty, stole everything they had, and then killed most of them if we ever had the slightest reason, no matter how slight or temporary, to do so.
And (fast-forwarding to today) like the dirty, deal-breaking, little back-stabbing crooks that we now are, we have also allowed Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve to renege on the international deal whereby every country gave up pegging their currencies to gold and, instead, pegged their currencies to the dollar, while we, (aka "Great White Father in Washington"), would promise to faithfully hold the dollar constant, in terms of buying power, thus achieving the stability of the gold standard without all those inconvenient gold-standard duties, not to mention the restrictions on government spending and bank revenue.
Although nobody literally said "We smoke-um peace pipe. Make mark on white man's treaty paper!", the result was exactly the same. And now they are angry, and simply want their money back. Or at least get the hell out of the system.

It Must Be Reelection Season

Monday, June 05, 2006

You can always tell when politicians are up for reelection. "How?" you ask. They always seem to drag the same tired and/or dead horses out for their biennial beatings. This go-round: it will be, once again, the "Gay Marriage Amendment" horse. After doing a quick search on the internet for this topic, you'll never guess when the majority of the page hits date to... That's right: early to mid 2004. Right before the last election. Both the conservatives and the liberals wanted to get this one positioned, so they could come out at election time and say, "I voted (for/against) the GMA (Gay Marriage Amendment). Therefore, you must vote for me." And, being conditioned much like Pavlov's dogs, we'll do it. Politicians must stare in wild amazement at how easily they can whip the whole of society up into a mouth-frothing frenzy. We truly are lemmings.
So, this year when you cast your vote on who gets to next hold our leash, remember that our fragile society really does hang on who votes for and who votes against the GMA. If men are allowed to marry men and women are allowed to marry women, why... it'll be Y2K all over again!
So, what's the language of this proposed amendment? Here you go:
SECTION 1. This article may be cited as the `Marriage Protection Amendment' .
SECTION 2. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.'.
Is it me, or wouldn't this proposed amendment seem out of place in our constitution? I mean, the original purpose of our constitution was to restrict or otherwise restrain government. Now government is using our constitution against the people. Odd...
Anyway, the President came out (bad choice of words?) of hiding long enough to explain to us,
"In our free society, people have the right to choose how they live their lives. And in a free society, decisions about such a fundamental social institution as marriage should be made by the people, not by the courts."
Hahahahaha! I can't believe he said that! "In a free society, the people choose." I wonder what "free society" he's thinking about? A free society wouldn't try to pass an amendment that dictates to the whole what the definition of marriage is. A free society wouldn't try to enforce that definition with the might (and guns) of government. (BTW, a free society wouldn't require individuals to get marriage licenses, either.)
Back to the amendment. from this article, we read that, "Parliamentary maneuvers were likely to sink the amendment for the year. Senate procedure requires two days of debate before the 100-member Senate decides -- 60 votes are required -- whether to consider the amendment on an up-or-down vote." In other words, after a good sound beating, they'll put this horse back in it's stall for another couple of years. But, look for it to reappear in 2008 for another beating.
Do you have to worry about an amendment protecting marriage? Not unless they accidentally kill the horse.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Today while listening to Straight Talk, Jerry Hughes had on his program Jim Babka. Mr. Babka is on the board of directors for Their stated mission is to try to reign in the size of the United States government. He, like most of us who have taken the time to look, realized that many of the problems Americans face today are due in large part to the size of our government and the associated costs of its maintenance.
One of their most recent project is:
Make Congress read the laws it passes!
(Click image for more information)
After a quick visit to their website, I quickly realized that many of the topics listed on their homepage are ones I've addressed on this blog. Here is a brief list:
That is why I decided to dedicate today's post to urging you, at the very least, to join their Downsizer-Dispatch newsletter. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and add your name to the cause of reducing the size of government. Go and check it out.

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