Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Conservative or Liberal: Pick Your Poison

Human nature and history teach us that political labels are used to influence society to accomplish a certain political end. Many times, words used to describe original principles are somehow conquered or hijacked and then proclaimed to be a part of those original principles, but are realistically far from them. As I was growing up, I remember thinking this: “‘liberal’ equals bad and ‘conservative’ equals good.” “Conservative” was proposed to be a word purely describing the principles believed and proclaimed by America’s founding fathers. “Liberal” was proposed to describe those whose only goal was to bring Americans under the control and dominion of the federal government. As it turns out, these words and descriptions were not only misleading and narrow-minded in their application, but they were also incorrect in their origin. Today, neither “conservative” nor “liberal” accurately describe the philosophy and principles they purport to advocate. Consequently, freedom suffers because of America’s ignorance of and infatuation with these labels, contrary to George Washington’s warning of this very tragedy.

The United States were born and raised on the principles of a constitutionally limited government, (state) powers checking (federal) powers, federalism, natural rights, natural laws of God, individual liberty, self-government, consent of the governed, state and individual sovereignty, and meaningful checks and balances, just to name a few. With these ideas, America threw off the enslaving chains of Great Britain’s national and centralized government control in the individual, familial, commercial and religious affairs of the people, to the point that most of our constitution’s framers and ratifiers believed that the government which governs least, governs best. So, were these principles advocated by conservatives or liberals from 1776 to 1787? Perhaps those who call themselves conservatives today should understand the original application of that word before being proud of it. Same goes for liberals.

Conservatives in the 1700 and 1800’s preferred government controls, privileges, monopolies, cartels and subsidies in the areas in which the revolutionary Americans believed government had no business whatsoever. Conservatives were those who wanted America to be the “British system without Great Britain.” (Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty: Libertarian Manifesto, 2nd Ed. [Auburn, AL, Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 2006], 8. These conservatives unsuccessfully attempted to interject their ideas for a centralized/national and monarchical government at the Constitutional Convention debates in 1787. These conservatives attempted to annihilate the existence, sovereignty and power of the states in the union. (Alexander Hamilton, The Works of Alexander Hamilton, Ed. Henry Cabot Lodge, vol. 1, [New York, NY, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904], 397-398, 400: “We must establish a general and national government, completely sovereign, and annihilate the State distinctions and State operations; and, unless we do this, no good purpose can be answered…I believe the British government forms the best model.”) These conservatives possessed Old World ideas completely contrary to the foundations of American Revolution during the 1700 and early 1800s. For this, the Federalist Party died (another example of a deceptive use of a word: in this case, “Federalist”). However, their kind, agenda and philosophy did not die, but still thrives today under different labels, even under the label, “conservative”.

Conversely, liberals of the 1700 and 1800s were those who believed that government was to leave individuals, families, commerce and religion alone; that the freedom of the people to produce and prosper was more important than government sustainability and energy; and that the natural rights of man were to be protected, preferred and secured at the cost of government power and control. It was this freedom movement that led us from victory during the American Revolution in the 1700s to the Industrial revolution in the 1800s. Classic liberal leaders like Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams and John Randolph fought vigorously to keep Old World conservatives like John Adams, Henry Clay, and Alexander Hamilton from creating in America through subversive constitutional (de)construction what they could not accomplish through transparent constitutional debates and ratification in 1787. From Jefferson’s Presidential election in 1801 to James Buchanan’s election in 1857, classic liberal concepts, such as laissez-faire, individual and natural rights, state sovereignty and limited and divided government, prevailed in public opinion, believing that “the ideal government…is one which barely escapes being no government at all.” (Henry Louis Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series, [New York, NY, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1922], 292.)

Over time, the labels, “conservative” and “liberal”, changed meaning and application. You hear the word “liberal” today, and every notion contrary to classic liberalism comes to mind. Liberalism’s ideals of freedom were distorted, through the government-controlled education systems, into socialistic and fascist forms and masquerades, where “individual rights” are obtained through government force, control and regulation. Through duplicity and deceit, classic liberalism was replaced with social liberalism, whereby the “[government] must regulate industry for the public good; substitute organized cooperation for the dog-eat-dog of the free and competitive marketplace; and above all, substitute for the nation-destroying liberal tenets of peace and free trade the nation-glorifying measures of war, protectionism, empire and military prowess.” Rothbard, For A New Liberty, 12.

Admittedly, conservatives today attempt to present themselves in a form similar with classic liberals of the 1700 and 1800s, but their substance is far removed from those ideals. Consider this: since Abraham Lincoln, more supposed conservative presidents have been elected than any other political or philosophical category; and yet, since Lincoln, the power of the federal government has become exponentially more centralized and powerful. Like social liberals, these conservatives claim to advocate freedom for society (and even the world!), only this freedom comes by government centralization, control, war and force. Consider the following few historical illustrations.

Abraham Lincoln engaged in what became America’s most horrific war–against our own people, no less! And for what purpose? Most Americans have been taught Lincoln “had to, to save the union”? The truth is, Lincoln destroyed the union, by destroying the principles that formed the union. In Lincoln’s own words, the Civil War was to reform (replace) the original nature and character of the union from a federation of states to a nation of people, despite our original formation under the constitution. Lincoln says, “[T]he awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of national reformation as a whole People[.]” (Abraham Lincoln, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union, [Washington D.C., Government Printing Office, 1899], 106). Lincoln knew that for the ratified federal union to become a national system (which was rejected by the people and founders), the nature and character of the union must be reformed. For this cause, Lincoln waged war against the Confederate States of America, creating substantially the same national system of government that the colonies seceded from in 1776 and the states rejected in 1787. This is “saving the union”!? This is “American”!? This is “freedom”!?

Shortly after the Lincoln administration, President William McKinley led a war against Spain in 1898, eventually giving the United States empirical control of former Spanish colonies, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. What was the driving force behind this “conservative” President?–well, in his own words, to commercialize and imperialize the Spanish territory. McKinley says, “I don’t know how it was, but it came [to me]: (1) that we could not give them [the islands] back to Spain…(2) that we could not turn over to France or Germany – our commercial rivals in the Orient – that would be bad business and discreditable; (3) that we could not leave them to themselves – they were unfit for self-government – and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain’s was; and (4) that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them…I told [the War Department] to put the Philippines on the map of the United States…and there they are and there they will stay while I am President!” If there is anything contrary to the American ideal of justice, it is empire-building, colonizing, foreign entanglements, and unjust wars. Yet, many conservative presidents have towed that line.

Even modern conservatives’ model president, Ronald Reagan, adopted the imperialistic approach to the United States’ involvement in foreign affairs–a notion completely contrary to the laws of nations as expressed by our founders. Reagan describes the United States role as peace-giver to the world! He says,

“Our dream, our challenge, and yes, our mission, is to make the golden age of peace, prosperity, and brotherhood a living reality in all countries of the Middle East. Let us remember that whether we be Christians or Jew or Moslem, we are all children of Abraham, we are all children of the same God… If you take away the belief in a greater future, you cannot explain America – that we’re a people who believed we were chosen by God to create a greater world.” (John W. Robbins, Freedom and Capitalism, [Unicoi, TN, The Trinity Foundation, 2006], 123).

To these past conservative presidents, America has to force others to accept (their version of) peace, way of life and government. To do this, of course, America must entangle itself in the affairs of foreign sovereign nations and force the states in the union to participate in unconstitutional acts. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington despised and warned us about these very dangers: empire-building, military-industrial union, corporate statism, and foreign entanglement. Yet, somehow, many conservatives and liberals in America erroneously believe this philosophy to be what our forefathers accepted in principle.

The immeasurable expansion, size and control of the federal government includes both foreign affairs and domestic society–at the hands of both conservative and liberal. Of course, we know that politicians can advocate for good causes, but these causes have been the distraction to the more important and fundamental matters of freedom. What good is it for those on a train heading over a cliff to enjoy the ride before falling? Do you want someone advocating that you have tastier food, more comfortable seats, and a better view on the train or do you want someone trying to stop and reverse the train before falling? Evidently, conservatives and liberals in America have not protected, preserved and defended the American ideals adopted by the people of the states from 1776 to 1787. How do we know? Well, they have had a DU-nopoly in America for the past 150 years. Yet , here we are!

A country does not go from good to bad over night. It takes decades. A country does not go from libertarian to fascist, communist or socialist in a matter of months. It takes generations. You think Obama has caused all of our problems? How ludicrous! By chance, to those who now criticize Obama’s enormous federal spending, did you criticize G.W. Bush for his 4 Trillion dollar debt increase, setting a federal spending record at that time? Wake up! Slavery is accomplished by the gradual sink method, not by the mere election of a democrat or republican president. And if these presidents in fact make this determination, then we no longer live in a confederate republic, but a despotic monarchy; and this whole system is just a matrix of lies and deceit to make the people think they have anything whatsoever to do with the outcome of political, social and individual freedom.

Could I agree with certain ideas advocated by conservatives and liberals? Certainly. Even a blind squirrel will find a nut every so often, and talk is cheap. You cannot dump every American into the red-blue, republican-democrat, conservative-liberal pigeon holes–despite the politicians’ and media’s attempt to do so (because it gives them monopolistic control over all public debate and perception).

However, conservatism and liberalism today are missing the ultimate goal for which our forefathers fought and died, and serve only to place those in power who perpetuate the very form and substance of government that continues to deny us our contractual and natural rights derived from God and secured by our Constitution. If that is what being a conservative and liberal is, I do not classify myself as either. Rather, call me a Freedomist! If you agree, join me!

Tim Baldwin is an attorney who received his Juris Doctor degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a former felony prosecutor for the Florida State Attorney’s Office and now owns his own private law practice. He is author of a soon-to-be-published new book, entitled FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE. Tim is also one of America’s foremost defenders of State sovereignty. See his website.

Copyright ©Timothy Baldwin 2009

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Presidential Tyranny 2.0: Executive Power as the Enemy of Freedom

by David Swanson

bush-obamaPresidential power has been on a pathway of expansion beyond what the Constitution outlined, and what a government of, by, and for the people requires, since George Washington was president. That expansion, which hit the highway after World War II, got a turbo boost during the co-presidency of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Some of the new powers that those two stole from Congress, the courts, the states, and us the people are being abused less severely in this new age of Obama; others, more so; but far more crucially, in a pattern followed by recent presidencies, all are being maintained, if not expanded, and thus more firmly cemented into place for future presidents to use. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, you are likely to strongly oppose some major decisions of some future presidents. So it shouldn’t be hard to envision some pretty undesirable consequences that might flow from presidential power that increasingly approaches the absolute.

Our television news and newspapers don’t seem terribly interested in this story, despite scraping its surface with reports on the many “czars” Obama has appointed or lectures on the importance of renewing, or only marginally amending, the PATRIOT Act. And Congress seems, if possible, even less interested. That’s not so surprising, given that we’ve replaced the three branches of government with the two parties, so that at any given time roughly half the members of Congress take as their leader a president who is theoretically supposed to execute the will of Congress. And the other half usually obey their party’s “leaders” in Congress, whose primary interest is in electing one of their own as the next president. Both parties continue to value presidential power itself either for its uses in the present, or for when their candidate is elected. Everyone wants to inherit the imperial presidency, not constrain it.

Under these circumstances, bills to create commissions investigating presidential abuses, to place a judicial check on claims of “state secrets,” limit the use of presidential signing statements, or to allow more than eight members of Congress to be given “security” briefings by the executive branch prove not to be priorities for either party.

These days, the old-fashioned idea of checking executive abuses of existing laws through the issuance of subpoenas or by impeachment is, in Washington, widely considered a scandalous proposition. Congress impeached a judge this year who had groped his employees, but Jay Bybee, who signed secret memos purporting to legalize aggressive war and torture, and who now holds a lifetime seat on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, is protected from such a step by his recent membership in the executive branch (and the displeasure Fox News would express toward his impeachment).

In April, Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked Bybee to testify, and the judge refused, just as many of his former colleagues in the Bush administration had in 2007 and 2008. Leahy may be unwilling to follow up by issuing a subpoena that even the new Department of Justice might refuse to enforce. The current department, for instance, allowed the White House Counsel to negotiate partial compliance with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena by former presidential advisor Karl Rove. And if Leahy is like most members of Congress, he will not even consider the option of using the Capitol Police to enforce a subpoena himself – something that no committee has done in 75 years.

All Power to the President

Any quick survey of the powers the presidency now claims would have to include the power to make laws, the power to make wars, the power to spend money, the power to make treaties, the power to grant immunity for crimes, the power to operate in secrecy, the power to spy without warrants, the power to detain without charge, and the power to torture.

Laws are still made by Congress, but they can be rewritten via signing statements; that is, statements announcing a president’s intention to violate particular sections of the very bill he is signing into law. Neither Congress nor President Obama has thrown out all of Bush’s extensive signing statements that did indeed alter laws. In fact, Obama has announced that his subordinates will review his predecessor’s signing statements only as the need arises.

This policy might please those imagining that the Obama administration will always make the right decision about whether to maintain or reject a Bush-made amendment to a law, but it does nothing to strip the presidency of the power to use the mechanism of the signing statement to re-make or amend or alter new laws. As it happens, Obama has already published his own law-making signing statements.

Presidents now also routinely determine national policy through executive orders and, in doing so, run the country out of the White House rather than through departments headed by officials approved by Congress. They also increasingly dictate a legislative agenda to Congress – and both members of Congress and members of the public generally accept without comment or opposition that inversion of our constitutional system. And then there are the secret memos.

In those secret memos, Bush’s lawyers in the Department of Justice dutifully “legalized” numerous illegal acts, including aggressive war and torture. Despite years of public back-and-forth between the White House and the Congress over the question of whether to ban torture, any act of complicity in torture was already a felony in the U.S. code under the Anti-Torture Act, which enforced the Convention Against Torture signed by President Ronald Reagan. However, the secret Justice Department memos were taken as the final word in legality, no matter what the law said.

Obama has directed the Justice Department not to prosecute those at the highest levels responsible for producing those memos, though he has permitted consideration – whether seriously intended or not – of the possibility of prosecuting a handful of low-ranking staffers who strayed beyond the illegal policies outlined in the memos. Not only does this bestow immunity on the most prominent criminals, reversing the approach – starting at the top – that the U.S. took at the Nuremburg war crimes trials after World War II, but it has the potential to create a terrifying precedent for the future. If a president can use his justice department to legalize a crime simply by asking a lawyer to write a memo, then who can doubt that a president has something approaching absolute power?

Presidents, not Congress, do indeed make wars now, whether or not they consult Jay Bybee’s memo on the subject. They make wars without congressional declarations of war, using instead vague bills to maintain a pretense of congressional involvement – and then they don’t even comply with the terms outlined in those authorizations. Illegal (as well as unconstitutional) as they may be, these wars can be expanded into apparently permanent occupations that include the construction of gigantic military bases from which additional wars may be launched. In the process, mercenaries often take the place of soldiers, and as “private contractors” they then operate even further from congressional oversight or the law.

To invade Iraq, President Bush spent money not appropriated for that purpose. He also gave himself the power to transfer money into “black budgets” beyond the purview of all but a few members of Congress, and so use it for secret tasks signed off on by his officials. Of course, massive secret budgets under the control of the president are nothing new, though they’ve grown through the years. Neither are they constitutional or sustainable.

On October 6th, the leaders of the two parties met with President Obama and, by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s account, let him know that he could end, decrease, maintain, or escalate the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan as he saw fit. The Senate had voted the previous week not to call on war commander Stanley McChrystal for public testimony about that ongoing war until after the president determines his war policy, which of course means a war policy for all of us. Two days later, in a surprising flicker of dissent, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey released a statement suggesting that, contrary to everything he’d said for years, he recognizes that Congress has the power to choose not to fund those wars and thereby to end them.

As his presidency was winding down, George W. Bush concluded an unofficial treaty (though it was called a Status of Forces Agreement) with the government of U.S.-occupied Iraq for three more years of war there without feeling the slightest need for it to be ratified by the Senate. Ever since, the U.S. military has actually violated the terms of that document, while its key commanders continued to publicly state their intention to remain in Iraq beyond the end of 2011, a clear violation of the agreement. In the meantime, this White House has used the treaty as cover for an ongoing illegal occupation of Iraq with, at this point, 120,000 U.S. troops and tens of thousands of private contractors.

Is Congress Broken?

When many feared that Bush might pardon his subordinates for crimes he had himself authorized, the consensus among members of Congress and scholars was that he could, in fact, do such a thing. In some ways what both Bush and Obama have actually done is worse. With a big assist from Congress in the form of bills like the Military Commissions Act and the FISA Amendments Act, they have worked to grant immunity for crimes without even naming the criminals or revealing what they have done. Obama’s Department of Justice is now arguing, appealing, or re-appealing in various court cases to keep secret the abuses of government officials and corporations involved in torture and warrantless spying. Recently, the Justice Department even argued that, when it comes to denying information to a court or the public, telecommunication corporations must be considered a part of the executive branch of the federal government, and earlier this year the administration threatened the British government with an end to intelligence sharing if it revealed evidence of torture.

President Obama announced that he will only claim the right to hide information from a court on the grounds that important “state secrets” are involved after careful review by lawyers at the Department of Justice. This may be an improvement over the Bush years – not exactly a hard standard to reach – but notably this decision still cedes not an ounce of power to any branch other than the executive, even as Obama’s lawyers make radical “state secrets” claims in attempts to block entire court cases, rather than over particular pieces of information.

While this president is ceding modest amounts of territory claimed by the previous one, he is ceding nothing when it comes to presidential power itself. For example, the president said he would release White House visitor logs (as the Bush administration had not), just not those already recorded, including the ones that held records of the visits of deal-making health insurance executives, nor any future logs that he thinks would endanger “national security.” That offers change of a sort, however modest, but leaves it entirely in the president’s hands to decide which logs to release.

This administration has indeed released some of the secret memos that Bush’s Department of Justice used to justify torture and never shared with the public, but only when compelled by courts. The Justice Department has, in fact, fought fiercely against their release and has redacted significant sections of them before making them public.

Bush claimed for the presidency the power to detain people without charge or legal process – and then used it. Obama stood in front of the U.S. Constitution in the National Archives in Washington and asserted the same power, in violation of the right of habeas corpus found in that torn and tattered document. Director of Central Intelligence Leon Panetta and presidential advisor David Axelrod have similarly made clear that the president still claims the power to engage in “harsh interrogation techniques” but chooses not to use it. Torture in this way has been transformed from a crime into a policy choice, with the intended message apparently being that we can stop torture temporarily by choosing to elect Democrats. This is perilous territory.

Perhaps presidents simply cannot be expected to give back powers gained by the executive branch, but shouldn’t we expect Congress to work to take them back on our behalf? When Alberto Gonzales resigned as attorney general, he did so because a rapidly growing list of members of Congress signed onto a one-sentence bill directing the House Judiciary Committee to investigate possible grounds for his impeachment. Such an approach toward Judge Jay Bybee could begin to restore the power of Congress to assert itself in other areas as well, while pressuring the Justice Department to enforce the law, and potentially making public a great deal of information through the subpoenas involved in any impeachment hearing, which does not permit claims of “executive privilege.” Information subpoenaed in an impeachment hearing must be produced, or the failure to produce it can become another impeachable offense.

Many of us probably consider our current president a much nicer guy than our local congressional representative. That doesn’t change the fact that influencing a president, or even a senator, via grassroots pressure is infinitely more difficult than influencing a member of the House of Representatives.

This is not a new discovery. After all, isn’t this, in part, why the House was given the power of the purse and the power of impeachment? Being closer to the ground, that body is, by its nature, going to be more amenable to democratic pressure and direction. If we want once again to have a real hand in making our nation’s policies, our best shot – admittedly still a distinctly uphill course – is to focus on the person who represents us in the House.

Unfortunately, we have to compel each of them to do something they have come to collectively fear: taking back the power originally bestowed on them and not on behalf of their party, but of their branch of government, of the Constitution to which they’ve sworn an oath, and of the proper sovereigns of this nation: we the people. Otherwise the chief legacy of the Obama years will, like those of his immediate predecessors, be the slide from republic into empire and the continuing growth of an imperial presidency.

David Swanson served as press secretary for Kucinich for President in 2004, runs the website, and is the creator of His new book is Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union (Seven Stories Press). Visit his website. He is now touring the country for the book. You can find out when the tour will be in your town by clicking here.

Copyright © 2009 David Swanson

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The 10th Amendment Movement

“If the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, warned the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions’ authors (James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, respectively), it will continue to grow – regardless of elections, the separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on government power.”
–Thomas E. Woods


Nullification: When a state ‘nullifies’ a
federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in
question is void and inoperative, or
‘non-effective,’ within the boundaries of that
state; or, in other words, not a law as far as
that state is concerned

The 10th Amendment Movement is an effort to push back against unconstitutional federal laws and regulations on a state level. The principle is known as “nullification,” and was advised by many prominent founders.

Current Nullification Efforts:

Potential Future Efforts:

  • Sheriff’s First
  • Patriot Act
  • Cap and Trade
  • Federal Tax Escrow
  • No Child Left Behind
History of Nullification: While the media generally portrays nullification as being solely aligned with the efforts of the nullifiers of the South and the Civil War, this is certainly false, and reeks of misinformation. Nullification has a long history in the American tradition and has been invoked in support of free speech, in opposition to war and fugitive slave laws, and more. Read more on this history here.

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10th Amendment Resolutions
These non-binding resolutions, often called “state sovereignty resolutions” do no carry the force of law. Instead, they are intended to be a statement of the legislature of the state. They play an important role, however. If you owned an apartment building and had a tenant not paying rent, you wouldn’t show up with an empty truck to kick them out without first serving notice. That’s how we view these Resolutions – as serving “notice and demand” to the Federal Government to “cease and desist any and all activities outside the scope of their constitutionally-delegated powers.” Follow-up, of course, is a must.
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Firearms Freedom Act
Originally introduced and passed in Montana, the FFA declares that any firearms made and retained in-state are beyond the authority of Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce among the states. The FFA is primarily a Tenth Amendment challenge to the powers of Congress under the “commerce clause,” with firearms as the object. (source,
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Medical Marijuana Laws
An honest reading of the Constitution with an original understanding of the Founders and Ratifiers makes it quite clear that the federal government has no constitutional authority to override state laws on marijuana. All three branches of the federal government, however, have interpreted (and re-interpreted) the commerce clause of the Constitution to authorize them to engage in this activity, even though there’s supposedly no “legal” commerce in the plant. At best, these arguments are dubious; at worst an intentional attack on the Constitution and your liberty.
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Led by Maine in early 2007, 25 states over the past 2 years have passed resolutions and binding laws denouncing and refusing the implement the Bush-era law which many expressed concerned about privacy, funding and more. While the law is still on the books in D.C., its implementation has been “delayed” numerous times in response to this massive state resistance, and in practice, is virtually null and void.
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Health Care
Like Marijuana above, a reading of the Constitution through the original understanding of the Founders and Ratifiers makes it quite clear that any national health care plan, or national public option, is not something that was delegated by the People to the Federal Government in the Constitution. However, the courts, politicians and many commentators have interpreted (and re-interpreted) the Commerce Clause, the general Welfare Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause in ways not intended by the Founders so as to justify such programs under the Constitution. They are most certainly wrong. A number of states are considering legislation to effectively nullify any future national health care plan.
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Bring the Guard Home
Under the Constitution, the militia (now called the National Guard) may only be called into duty by the federal government in three specific situations. According to Article I, Section 8; Clause 15, the Congress is given the power to pass laws for “calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.” The militia was intended by the Founders and Ratifiers to be defense force and nothing more. Deployments outside the country were not considered, and neither were internal deployments in pursuance of powers that were not delegated to the federal government. Congress has passed numerous laws in the past 100 years giving the federal government additional authority not mentioned in the Constitution. But, without amendment, altering the enumerated powers by legislative fiat is, in and of itself, unconstitutional. Campaigns in states around the country are working to reassert the authority of governors over guard troops.
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Constitutional Tender
The United States Constitution declares, in Article I, Section 10, “No State shall… make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” Constitutional Tender laws seek to nullify federal legal tender laws in the state by authorizing payment in gold and silver or a paper note backed 100% by gold or silver,
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Source: 10th Amendment Center

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Resist DC: A Step-by-Step Plan for Freedom

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power-to-the-people-webby State Rep. Matthew Shea (WA-4th)

This summer, legislators from several states met to discuss the steps needed to restore our Constitutional Republic. The federal government has ignored the many state sovereignty resolutions from 2009 notifying it to cease and desist its current and continued overreach. The group decided it was time to actively counter the tyranny emanating from Washington D.C.

From those discussions it became clear three things needed to happen.

  1. State Legislatures need to pass 10 key pieces of legislation “with teeth” to put the federal government back in its place.
  2. The people must pass the legislation through the Initiative process if any piece of the legislative agenda fails.
  3. County Sheriffs must reaffirm and uphold their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

With the advent of the Tea Party Movement, many people have been asking how exactly we can make the above reality. What follows is Part I of the outline of that plan regarding state legislation, the action steps any concerned citizen can take to see this legislation to fruition, and the brief history and justifications behind each.

Step 1: Reclaim State Sovereignty through Key Nullification Legislation

Our Constitutional Republic is founded on a system of checks and balances known as the “separation of powers.” Rarely, however, are the states considered part of this essential principle.

Enter the “doctrine of nullification.”

Nullification is based on the simple principle that the federal government cannot be the final arbiter of the extent and boundaries of its own power. This includes all branches of the federal government. In the law this is known as a “conflict of interest.”

Additionally, since the states created the federal government the federal government was an agent of the states; not the other way around. Thus, Thomas Jefferson believed that, by extension, the states had a natural right to nullify (render as of no effect) any laws they believed were unconstitutional.

In the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 he wrote,

“co-States, recurring to their natural right…will concur in declaring these acts void, and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shalt be exercised within their respective territories.”1

Alexander Hamilton echoed this sentiment in Federalist #85 “We may safely rely on the disposition of the state legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority.” 2

It is clear then that State Legislatures can stop the unconstitutional overreach of the Obama administration through nullification. Here is a list of proposed nullification legislation to introduce in all 50 States.

  1. Nullification of Socialized Health Care [current efforts] [example legislation]
  2. Nullification of National Cap and Trade [example legislation]
  3. Federal Enumerated Powers Requirement (Blanket Nullification) [details]
  4. Establishment of a Federal Tax Escrow Account [example legislation]

If imposed, socialized health care and cap and trade will crush our economy. These programs are both unconstitutional, creating government powers beyond those enumerated by the Constitution. If those programs are nullified, it will give the individual states a fighting chance to detach from a federal budget in freefall and save the economies of the individual states.

Next, blanket nullification.

The Federal Government, particularly the House of Representatives, needs to abide by its own rules. In particular, House Rule XIII 3(d) specifically states that:

“Each report of a committee on a public bill or public joint resolution shall contain the following: (1) A statement citing the specific powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the law proposed by the bill or resolution.” 3

Needless to say, this rule is generally ignored. The idea behind blanket nullification is that if the Congress does not specify the enumerated power it is using according to its own rules, or the power specified is not one of the enumerated powers granted to Congress in the United States Constitution, then the “law” is automatically null and void.

Lastly, the federal government cannot survive without money. I know that seems obvious but many states are missing the opportunity to use money as an incentive for the federal government to return to its proper role. Most visibly, states help collect the federal portion of the gasoline tax. That money should be put into an escrow account at the state level and held there. The Escrow Account legislation includes a provision that all consumer, excise, and income taxes payable to the federal government would go through this account first. This would do two things. First, it would give states the ability to collect interest on that money to help offset revenue shortfalls. Second, it would allow states to hold that money as long as needed as an incentive for the federal government to return within the enumerated boundaries of its power.

Step 2: Erect an impenetrable wall around the County Sheriff and the 2nd Amendment.

As recently stated in the famous Heller opinion by the United States Supreme Court, the right to bear arms “is an individual right protecting against both public and private violence” and “when the able-bodied men of a nation are trained in arms and organized they are better able to resist tyranny.” 4

Thus, it is clear that the 2nd Amendment not only protects the right to self-defense but that right extends to defending oneself against tyranny. As with any historical attempt to establish a dictatorship weapons must be seized or severely regulated. 5

Here is a list of legislation to prevent this from happening, some of which has already been introduced in states around the country:

The county Sheriff is the senior law enforcement officer both in terms of rank and legal authority in a county. This comes from a tradition of over 1000 years of Anglo-Saxon common law. Anglo-Saxon communities were typically organized into “shires” consisting of approximately 1000 people. 6

The chief law enforcement officer of the shire was the “reeve” or “reef.” Hence, the modern combination of the two words, as we know them today, “shire reef” or “Sheriff.” 7

Consequently, the Sheriff’s pre-eminent legal authority is well established. This was confirmed in Printz v. United States. 7 Justice Scalia quotes James Madison who wrote in Federalist 39:

“In the latter, the local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority, than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere.”9

Sheriff 1st legislation would formally declare that all federal agents and officers must give notice of, and seek permission before, any arrest, search, or seizure occurs. Thus, federal agents and officers seeking to enforce unconstitutional laws must go through the county Sheriff first.

Extending the castle doctrine to one’s person would go a long way toward eliminating the arbitrary “no carry” areas. Like Virginia Tech, it is these areas where guns for self-defense are most needed.

Many gun and ammunition tracking schemes have been, and are still being, attempted. The intended purpose of “reducing gun related” crime is never realized. Instead, law-abiding citizens are punished with regulatory burdens and fees. Quite simply we need transparency in government not in the people.

Montana started the firearms freedom act to rein in the federal government’s use of the Commerce Clause to regulate everything within the stream of commerce. The original intent of the Commerce Clause was to regulate commerce between states not within states as Professor Rob Natelson points out in his 2007 Montana Law Review article.10

The Montana FFA simply returns to that original understanding regarding firearms made, sold, and kept within a state’s borders.

This list is by no means exhaustive. However, it does contain some immediate steps that can be taken toward freedom and restoring our God honoring Constitutional Republic. Hitler’s laws of January 30 and February 14, 1934, should serve as a stark reminder of what happens when state sovereignty is abolished.

In the coming few weeks I will publish the next part of the plan.

Matthew Shea [send him email] is a State Representative in Washington’s 4th District. He’s the author of HJM4009 for State Sovereignty. Visit his website.

Copyright © 2009 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.


  • 1. Kentucky Resolution of 1798, Thomas Jefferson, Adopted by Kentucky Legislature on November 10, 1798.
  • 2. Federalist No. 85, Publius (Alexander Hamilton), August 13 and 16, 1788.
  • 3. Rules of the House XIII 3(d), “Content of Reports,” Page 623, 110th Congress.
  • 4. District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. ___ (Actual Pages 11, 13) (2008)
  • 5. Id at (Actual Page 11).
  • 6.
  • 7.
  • 8. Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997)
  • 9. Federalist No. 39, Publius (James Madison), January 16, 1788
  • 10. Tempering the Commerce Power, 68 Mont. L. Rev. 95 (2007).

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    Is this the challenger who will eject Pelosi?

    A libertarian conservative has declared his plans to "take out Nancy Pelosi" in the 2010 election to stop her from devastating the nation.

    John Dennis, a businessman and real-estate investor in California's 8th Congressional District, told WND, "I've decided to run because the statist Pelosi agenda will destroy America."

    Rep. Pelosi's district covers most of San Francisco, and Democrats have held the seat since 1949. Since first winning the House seat in a 1987 special election, Pelosi, 69, has breezed to re-election 10 times. President Obama received 85 percent of the vote there in 2008.

    For just $29.95 you can send an individualized notice to every member of Congress in the form of a "pink slip."

    Looking ahead to 2010

    What gives Dennis hope for 2010?

    "I think we can build a very sturdy case for taking out Pelosi," he said. "I find most of the people on the left find that she's not their cup of tea. She engages in a lot of class warfare, and there are a lot of folks on the left who are disaffected by her and disaffected with her. We're going to leverage as many of those relationships as we possibly can."

    California's 8th Congressional District

    Dennis, son of a longshoreman and a city hall clerk, grew up in a Jersey City, N.J., housing project. He graduated from Fordham University with a degree in business administration and co-founded Humanscale, one of the world's top 10 design firms, specializing in office ergonomics. He later created Foundation Real Estate, a San Francisco-based investment company. In 2008, he served as Phonebank and Get Out the Vote director for Ron Paul's presidential campaign in San Francisco.

    "I became actively involved in politics about two years ago," he said. "I was frustrated with everything – even my own party and the lost opportunities we had to put a cap on spending and the growth of government. I was looking for good candidates to support, and I just finally decided to be a candidate myself."

    Dennis is founder of the San Francisco chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus, board member of the Republican Liberty Caucus of California and has served as an alternate on the San Francisco Republican Central Committee.

    Rep. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House

    Asked whether he has the Republican Party behind his campaign, he replied, "I don't have the nomination yet, although I have some major endorsements. I don't suspect that's going to be an issue."

    Dennis expressed deep concern over the "looming dollar crisis," the nation's "mountain of debt" and what he considers the federal government's unconstitutional expansion of power.

    He blasted Pelosi's "disastrous" legislative agenda advocating government-run health care, cap and trade and the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, a bill that would give the president "emergency" control of the Internet.

    "Everything that Nancy Pelosi has her hands on is anti-liberty and pro-government power," Dennis said, with a laugh. "I defy anybody to show me a speech or a press release that says she's going to somehow protect their liberties and reduce the size of government."

    Energy and the free market

    Dennis said he would like to see improved relations with foreign countries and that the federal government's only energy policy should be its foreign policy.

    He noted that Sen. John McCain said during his 2008 presidential campaign that Americans are buying oil from "countries that don't like us very much."

    "It stopped me in my tracks and made me think, what if they did like us?" Dennis asked. "How would we feel about that?"

    He continued, "The first step is to see what we can do to improve our relationships so we feel more comfortable with other countries as trading partners for our energy needs. The second thing to do is let the free market do its job. If we allow the market to do what it does best, much better than any managed economy could ever do, then, ultimately, we'll find the appropriate sources for our energy needs that'll make everybody feel comfortable and drive our economy."

    Cap and trade: 'Almost laughable'

    Dennis blasted Pelosi's support for the cap-and-trade bill, calling the legislation a "poor excuse for a new tax."

    "I'm very leery of the government," he said. "When I read the Constitution, I see our founders writing the document when they are very concerned about the potential abuse of power from the federal government. Every time I hear of a new scheme like cap and trade, it makes me ask, where's the constitutional authorization to do this? Of course, it's not there."

    He called the science behind the climate legislation "almost laughable."

    "The people who are advocating this say it will maybe reduce global temperatures by half of a percent by the year 2100," he said. "Good luck getting me behind that legislation."

    Education credits for homeschoolers

    Dennis proposes education credits for children enrolled in private, parochial and home schools.

    "It's very simple," he said. "Make a tax credit available to those folks and give them the option to take their money and go wherever they want."

    He said he lived in Holland for a brief time and noticed the region had a strong education system in which the students speak English by the age of 9 and are well-versed in history and mathematics.

    "What I found was, instead of the money going to the schools, the money followed the kids," he said. "That's the objective – to actually have the money go to the kids as opposed to being stuck in schools or some bureaucratic organization like the Department of Education, which may be the single biggest waste of money in the federal government."

    As for the Department of Education, Dennis proposes abandoning it altogether – and immediately.

    "Of all the departments, the only one I would cut immediately and not gradually unwind is the Department of Education," he said. "I challenge anybody to tell me how their life will be affected if the Department of Education didn't exist tomorrow."

    Dennis said he firmly believes education is an issue between parents and teachers.

    "It's as local of a decision as you can possibly imagine, and that's where it's going to be most effective," he said. "To think that adding a layer of bureaucracy is somehow going to improve the educational prospects of students is beyond naive and almost infantile."

    Health reform

    As for health reform, Dennis said he does not support Pelosi's agenda of big-goevrnment interference. He recalled a time when he was sick and his doctor made a house call, but he said that level of care doesn't exist today.

    "Back then, I would guess that virtually none or maybe 1 cent of every health-care dollar went through the federal government," he said. "But today, conservatively, 60 cents of every health-care dollar goes through government."

    Since the 1960s, Dennis said the nation has experienced an explosion in health-care costs.

    "I wonder if there's a relationship there," he said. "The government got involved in a particular industry, and the costs went up."

    He said free markets must be able to solve these problems, and government-run health care would seriously worsen an already overregulated system.

    "People think their health care is expensive when the government is involved with 60 cents on the dollar? Wait until it's involved in 80, 90 or 100 cents on the dollar and see how expensive it becomes," he said.

    Dennis proposes making all out-of-pocket medical expenses and insurance premiums tax deductible and using the Constitution's commerce clause to enable all insurers to compete anywhere in the United States.

    Illegal immigration

    While Pelosi has called enforcement of existing immigration laws, as currently practiced, "un-American," Dennis proposes an end to birthright citizenship, amnesty and government services for illegal immigrants.

    "People come here and use services mandated by the federal government that help bankrupt states and put hospitals out of business in border towns," he said. "To the extent that those illegal immigrants weaken the dollar and usher in the demise of the dollar, I am very opposed to illegal immigration."

    As a businessman, Dennis said he knows it is often difficult to find laborers during periods of economic growth. He also said he doesn't believe the U.S. border will ever be 100 percent "air tight."

    "They can fly in and stay, run across the borders. That's a reality, and I don't think we can ever stop that completely," he said. "We can try like heck, and we can stem the flow, but it's always going to happen."

    So Dennis proposes a temporary worker program that would require immigrants to identify themselves and register for work before entering the United States. The program would create incentives, such as a fast track to citizenship or partial Social Security benefits, for those who comply. He said harsh penalties would apply to those who don't participate in the program and to the employers who illegally hire them.

    "I don't think it's the silver bullet," he said, "but I think it's something that can contribute to a much more orderly process of immigration."

    Proud gun owner

    Dennis, a member of the National Rifle Association, or NRA, said he is a proud gun owner and strong advocate of property rights.

    "The Second Amendment is fine by me," he said, "and I don't even need a Second Amendment to tell me that I have the right to defend myself."

    As for mandatory waiting periods before an individual may purchase a firearm, he said, "I find it remarkable that private citizens who are non-felons can't buy guns and have them at their disposal. It's staggering to me."

    Clearly flustered at the mere idea of gun control, he added, "If I keep talking about this topic, I'll probably get upset.

    "You have the right to your person, and you have the right to your property," he said. "Without the right to defend your property and your person, then those rights are meaningless. That just goes without saying."

    Social Security and nation's 'mountain of debt'

    Referring to Social Security as a "pyramid scheme," Dennis advocates offering citizens a chance to opt-out of the system. He also proposes abolishing various departments to save billions, shore up Social Security and pay down the national debt.

    "I want to go back and look at every portion of the budget and say, 'Is this constitutional, or isn't it?'" he said. "If it isn't, let's cut it and manage to somehow create a surplus as opposed to a deficit. Let's start paying down the debt that we owe."

    He said the nation cannot ignore a $12.5 trillion mountain of debt that doesn't include unfunded liabilities.

    "We have no choice, we've got to do this," he said. "Either that, or we're going to debase the dollar and have a back-door default on what we owe. That will create chaos in the world."

    As for Social Security and Medicare, he said he believes the nation still owes the benefits it has promised.

    "But I think we have to find a way to make those private and get the government out of the retirement and health-care business permanently," he said. "We have to begin a reasonable, responsible march toward that end. I don't think governments are particularly good at creating wealth and managing wealth, and I really don't think they're great at managing money."

    States rights and Senate elections

    Dennis said he is a "big fan" of the 10th Amendment state sovereignty movement and advocates a complete repeal of the 17th Amendment, the 1913 constitutional amendment that calls for direct election of senators.

    As one example of why he believes senators should be elected by their state legislatures, as originally outlined in the Constitution, Dennis recalled taxpayer reaction to proposed bailouts earlier this year.

    "People are mad. People are upset," Rep. Mark Udall said on "Meet the Press." "My calls are mixed between people who say 'No' and people who say 'Hell no.'"

    Dennis noted, "People didn't want those bailouts. They were vocal enough about it to their representatives."

    However, he explained, the Senate passed the unpopular bill first because, with a re-election rate in the high 90 percent range, senators' races and positions are more secure.

    "It provided political coverage so it could go back into the House, and the members who were on the fence could say, 'Hey, look, the Senate passed it. They seemed to think it was the right thing to do, so I voted for it,'" Dennis explained.

    He said voters should imagine a situation in which those senators were elected by state legislatures and were forced to go back to those legislatures to defend their votes.

    "There would be a lot less job security for those guys and a lot more transparency and responsiveness if the state legislatures were putting the senators in Washington as opposed to the people," he said.

    'Time to bring troops home'

    Soldiers enter house in Tameem, Iraq, in search of suspects linked to shooting on U.S. forces (photo: Tech Sgt. Jeremy Lock, U.S. Army)

    While Dennis acknowledges that the U.S. military is "unwinding" in Iraq with goals to be out by 2011, he said, "I would just as soon see that time frame sped up so we can just get the guys out."

    He expressed concern about a civil war in Iraq that may "suck the troops back in."

    "That would be a heartbreaking thing to see happen," he said. "I'd like to see them unwind, and, if not, we can at least keep our fingers crossed that nothing happens to draw them back in."

    Dennis called the Afghanistan war "particularly troublesome."

    "Osama bin Laden and his whole crew, they deserve to be caught," he said. "We had the right to go in after them. But, frankly, we got who we got and we missed the big cheese. He's gone now, and the one place on Earth where he's not going to be coming back is the place where we are."

    While he said the troops have performed "magnificently," he called the current mission muddled.

    "They have done their job, and it's time to bring them home."

    Ending capital gains and income taxes

    From a liberty perspective, Dennis said he gets defensive when he discusses the income tax.

    "Think about everything it implies," he said. "It implies that the government owns things that you work for. It owns you, and it lets you keep a portion of it."

    When he suggests ending the income tax and cutting government spending, Dennis said some people ask him, "How are we going to finance our government?"

    "My first question is, 'Why don't you want your money back?!'" he said, laughing. "Why are you making excuses for people taking away your money to spend it the way they see fit? Why don't you work to keep your money and spend it the way you see fit?"

    While the income tax generates about $1.1 trillion, Dennis said the government must cut spending and send that money back to taxpayers.

    "Just imagine if we put $1.1 trillion back into consumers' pockets," he said. "Think about that and what that would mean."

    Abolishing the Federal Reserve

    Dennis suggests the Fed meet its fate.

    "Central banking is an interesting thing," he said. "It's a key plank in the Communist Manifesto. It's another form of central economic planning, just like they did in Moscow during the Soviet Union era. Look what it's wrought."

    He said allowing a central group to set interest rates – which he said they invariably set too low – will send the wrong economic signals to entrepreneurs.

    "By doing that, they start doing projects that will never be completed because the resources just don't exist for it," he said. "You might have mild business cycles, but with a central bank you have these gigantic boom and bust cycles."

    On the bust side, he said the Fed's response is to ease monetary policy when it should raise interest rates so people begin to save again. When people save, those savings go into investment, leading to production and spurred growth.

    Federal Reserve

    "When you discourage saving by lowering interest rates, you can never start the kind of growth that you need," he explained.

    Dennis said he's concerned the U.S. will face the same stagflation environment Japan has been suffering through for the last 20 years.

    "Think about another 17, 18 or 20 years of what we just went through from here on out," he said. "That's the prospect that a Federal Reserve central bank can create, and that's one of the things I'd like to see abolished."

    Homosexual 'marriage' and abortion

    As for same-sex "marriage," Dennis said, "I don't think the government has any business being involved in marriage in the first place. As much as I don't have anything against gays by any stretch of the imagination – as someone seeking federal office – I can't find a way to support gay marriage."

    Asked whether he believes the issue should be left to the states, he replied, "I'm running for federal office, and the states can decide what they want to do. But it's definitely not a federal issue."

    Dennis also said he's strongly opposed to federal funding of abortion.

    "I'm strongly opposed to the federal government getting involved in stem-cell research as well," he said. "That's just not its business. It shouldn't have anything to do with it. It's a really complex issue, and it's not in the Constitution that we should be subsidizing any kind of research, especially stem cell."

    John Dennis, wife Heather and daughter Devan (photo: John Dennis)

    'Sick' of Nancy Pelosi

    While he expressed numerous concerns about Pelosi's legislative agenda, Dennis was most outspoken about the House speaker's reported use of Air Force jets to fly back and forth between Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

    "Here's a woman who is a class warrior, constantly going after the rich, and yet she lives a very elitist lifestyle herself," he said. "In fact, her elitist lifestyle is subsidized by us."

    Air Force C-32

    Since Sept. 11, Pelosi has received what the Air Force refers to as "shuttle service," allegedly due to concerns for security. In recent years, Pelosi has reportedly requested a C-32 plane for her travels. The aircraft is a luxurious version of the Boeing 757-200 commercial intercontinental airliner and costs $22,000 an hour to operate.

    Dennis said some estimates reach as high as $25 to $30 million to fly her all over the country.

    "That's the sort of thing that infuriates people," he said. "You know why? We're borrowing one-third of that."

    He added, "She could buy out every first-class cabin in every flight and save the country a fortune. But she's got to use military jets."

    Dennis said he often asks people, "What's the one thing about Pelosi that bothers you most?"

    "A lot of times, truth be told, people respond, 'Everything,'" he said. "Aside from that response, people say her holier-than-thou attitude, her above-it-all unresponsiveness."

    Pelosi professes to have sentiments of being for the people, Dennis said, but her actions speak volumes.

    "Her lifestyle doesn't support any of those positions," he said. "I think people in this district are getting just as sick of her as everyone else."

    Source: World Net Daily

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    kenny's sideshow: Lover of War and Lies, Toby Keith, to Sing at Nobel Peace Prize Concert

    kenny's sideshow: Lover of War and Lies, Toby Keith, to Sing at Nobel Peace Prize Concert

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    What happened to White House transparency?

    After months of what some critics called overexposure, President Obama has of late avoided questions from the White House press corps at large, closing the Oval Office to traditionally informal question-and-answer sessions with reporters and pulling back from the fast pace of news conferences he established when taking office.

    The president, whose job-approval ratings have been on a steady slide, hasn't held a formal news conference in 19 weeks, since July 22. That one ended badly, when Mr. Obama waded into a racial controversy by saying a white police officer "acted stupidly" when he arrested a black Harvard professor.

    "It can't be a total coincidence that the last time he faced the press corps, we ended with beers in the Rose Garden with Henry Louis Gates and James Crowley, when the focus was supposed to be health care," said Julie Mason, a White House reporter for the Washington Examiner who also covered the Bush administration for the Houston Chronicle.

    "It does seem like they are responding to the overexposure argument and trying to exert more control over his appearances," she said.

    Veteran White House reporters have been grumbling about the lack of access to the president, who as a candidate vowed an unprecedented level of transparency.

    On his recent trip to Asia, Mr. Obama took few questions - and none during a session with Chinese President Hu Jintao that the White House dubbed "joint press statements."

    Mr. Obama has taken to limiting questions during press conferences with foreign leaders to one question each fromU.S. reporters and foreign correspondents, as he did last week when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in Washington. He did the same "one-and-one" with the Japanese prime minister and the South Korean president while in Asia.

    In a more unusual move, the president has altered the practice of allowing reporters into the Oval Office for what is called a "pool spray" - a few informal questions after a presidential meeting, often with a foreign leader. Mr. Obama's meeting Monday with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was closed to the press, even photographers, the White House said.

    "It's surprising and quite unusual that President Obama meets with an allied leader like the prime minister of Australia and there's no photo op at the beginning or end of the session," said Mark Knoller, a longtime White House reporter for CBS Radio.

    Source: The Washington Times

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    ID cards now available. Count me out

    People in Manchester can now sign up for an ID card. Let's use the occasion to say a firm no to the database state

    I will be making a trip to the Identity and Passport Service's registration centre in Manchester at 1pm today. I will not be registering for an identity card. Instead, I will be joining friends from No2ID and other campaigns in demonstrating against the identity scheme. Our message is simple – "Don't be a guinea pig, stop the ID card con!"

    I expect to see more protesters than volunteers at the registration centre; 96% of respondents in a recent Manchester Evening News online poll opposed the scheme. Fewer than 2,000 people in the north-west have "expressed interest" in the ID cards, and that number includes opponents like myself.

    Despite lack of interest, the government is still pushing ahead with the scheme, spending £230,000 every day to bring it about. Its current claims are that it is a cheap, convenient way to prove your identity.

    An ID card costs £30 initially, compared with £77.50 for your first adult passport – but for now you need a passport to apply for an ID card. Regardless, the ID card scheme costs every taxpayer about £300. It would save money if the government instead gave everyone a free adult passport when they turn 16. The passport cost has also increased from £42 in 2005, only £8 of which can be justified for meeting international standards for the insecure "e-Passports".

    I don't need to carry about vast quantities of paperwork with me on a daily basis to prove my identity or address. I rarely need anything more than my bank card to talk to my bank. A card that lives in my wallet is something I'm more likely to lose – and risk the fine for not reporting a lost ID card..

    Clearly, I don't want an ID card and shouldn't register. But why am I protesting against it? It's a voluntary scheme, and people can take it or leave it, right?

    The ID card may well be voluntary, but the underlying national identity register database reeks of compulsion. Registering for a card means being tracked for life by the largest state database system in the western world, which has no equivalent in European ID card systems.

    The Home Office is keeping quiet about the fines for not keeping your information up to date on this database, the vast numbers of faceless bureaucrats who will have access, and their inability to keep it secure. They don't like to remind us that from 2011 we'll be forced on to the database to get a passport, and after that perhaps for a Criminal Records Bureau check, and then ...

    I don't think it's fair for the government to trick people into this database state, which is likely to be scrapped after the general election. That's why I'm spreading the word – "Don't be a guinea pig, stop the ID card con!"

    Source: The Guardian

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    Climategate: Follow the Money

    Last year, ExxonMobil donated $7 million to a grab-bag of public policy institutes, including the Aspen Institute, the Asia Society and Transparency International. It also gave a combined $125,000 to the Heritage Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis, two conservative think tanks that have offered dissenting views on what until recently was called—without irony—the climate change "consensus."

    To read some of the press accounts of these gifts—amounting to about 0.0027% of Exxon's 2008 profits of $45 billion—you might think you'd hit upon the scandal of the age. But thanks to what now goes by the name of climategate, it turns out the real scandal lies elsewhere.

    Climategate, as readers of these pages know, concerns some of the world's leading climate scientists working in tandem to block freedom of information requests, blackball dissenting scientists, manipulate the peer-review process, and obscure, destroy or massage inconvenient temperature data—facts that were laid bare by last week's disclosure of thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, or CRU.

    But the deeper question is why the scientists behaved this way to begin with, especially since the science behind man-made global warming is said to be firmly settled. To answer the question, it helps to turn the alarmists' follow-the-money methods right back at them.

    Consider the case of Phil Jones, the director of the CRU and the man at the heart of climategate. According to one of the documents hacked from his center, between 2000 and 2006 Mr. Jones was the recipient (or co-recipient) of some $19 million worth of research grants, a sixfold increase over what he'd been awarded in the 1990s.

    Why did the money pour in so quickly? Because the climate alarm kept ringing so loudly: The louder the alarm, the greater the sums. And who better to ring it than people like Mr. Jones, one of its likeliest beneficiaries?

    Thus, the European Commission's most recent appropriation for climate research comes to nearly $3 billion, and that's not counting funds from the EU's member governments. In the U.S., the House intends to spend $1.3 billion on NASA's climate efforts, $400 million on NOAA's, and another $300 million for the National Science Foundation. The states also have a piece of the action, with California—apparently not feeling bankrupt enough—devoting $600 million to their own climate initiative. In Australia, alarmists have their own Department of Climate Change at their funding disposal.

    And all this is only a fraction of the $94 billion that HSBC Bank estimates has been spent globally this year on what it calls "green stimulus"—largely ethanol and other alternative energy schemes—of the kind from which Al Gore and his partners at Kleiner Perkins hope to profit handsomely.

    Supply, as we know, creates its own demand. So for every additional billion in government-funded grants (or the tens of millions supplied by foundations like the Pew Charitable Trusts), universities, research institutes, advocacy groups and their various spin-offs and dependents have emerged from the woodwork to receive them.

    Today these groups form a kind of ecosystem of their own. They include not just old standbys like the Sierra Club or Greenpeace, but also Ozone Action, Clean Air Cool Planet, Americans for Equitable Climate Change Solutions, the Alternative Energy Resources Association, the California Climate Action Registry and so on and on. All of them have been on the receiving end of climate change-related funding, so all of them must believe in the reality (and catastrophic imminence) of global warming just as a priest must believe in the existence of God.

    None of these outfits are per se corrupt, in the sense that the monies they get are spent on something other than their intended purposes. But they depend on an inherently corrupting premise, namely that the hypothesis on which their livelihood depends has in fact been proved. Absent that proof, everything they represent—including the thousands of jobs they provide—vanishes. This is what's known as a vested interest, and vested interests are an enemy of sound science.

    Which brings us back to the climategate scientists, the keepers of the keys to the global warming cathedral. In one of the more telling disclosures from last week, a computer programmer writes of the CRU's temperature database: "I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seems to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. . . . Aarrggghhh! There truly is no end in sight. . . . We can have a proper result, but only by including a load of garbage!"

    This is not the sound of settled science, but of a cracking empirical foundation. And however many billion-dollar edifices may be built on it, sooner or later it is bound to crumble.

    Source: The Wall Street Journal

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    Reviewing The Bully State

    Chris Snowdon, author of Velvet Glove Iron Fist: A History of Anti-Smoking, has written a review of Brian Monteith's The Bully State. Comparing the book to David Harsanyi’s Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotalling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists and Other Boneheaded Bureaucrats Are Turning America into a Nation of Children (2007), Snowdon writes:

    Eating, drinking and smoking feature prominently, since they have been propelled into the frontline by an over-mighty public health lobby. But, as Monteith argues, this regulation of lifestyle is a symptom - albeit a far-reaching one – of a wider shift of power from the individual to the state.

    The expansion of CCTV, the erosion of trial by jury, identity cards, censorship, health-and-safety hysteria and the DNA database constitute a ‘bullies’ charter’ made more dangerous by the ‘jobsworth mentality’ of British officialdom.

    Readers who have not visited Britain for several years may be shocked by the lurch towards authoritarianism described in this book. Those who have witnessed the creep of the bully state first hand will be enraged, amused and informed in equal measure.

    The full review can be found on the online magazine Spiked HERE.

    Source: Taking Liberties
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