Let me ask readers a question. What’s more important: freedom and its undergirding principles, or the entity meant to protect it? A word of caution: be careful how you answer that question, because the way you answer marks your understanding (or lack thereof) of both freedom and the purpose of government.
Thomas Jefferson–and the rest of America’s founders–believed that freedom was the principal possession, because liberty is a divine–not human–gift. Listen to Jefferson:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.” (Declaration of Independence)
Jefferson could not be clearer: America’s founders desired a land in which men might live in liberty. By declaring independence from the government of Great Britain (and instituting new government), Jefferson, et al., did not intend to erect an idol (government) that men would worship. They created a mechanism designed to protect that which they considered to be their most precious possession: liberty. In other words, the government they created by the Constitution of 1787 was not the object; freedom’s protection was the object.
Again, listen to Jefferson: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.” In other words, government is not the end; it is the means. Government is not the goal; it is the vehicle used to reach the goal. Nowhere did Jefferson (and the rest of America’s founders) express the sentiment that government, itself, was the objective. Listen to Jefferson once more:
“That whenever ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” (Declaration) (Emphasis added.)
Jefferson is clear: people have a right to alter or abolish ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT that becomes destructive to liberty. To America’s founders, there was no such thing as a sacred cow when it came to government. Government had but one purpose: “to secure these rights.” When ANY FORM of government stops protecting sacred, God-given liberties, it is the right and duty of people to do whatever they deem appropriate to secure their liberties–even to abolishing the government.
To America’s founders, patriotism had everything to do with the love of liberty, not the love of government!
Today’s brand of patriotism (at least as expressed by many) is totally foreign to the fundamental principles of liberty upon which America was built. I’m talking about the idea that government is an end and aim in itself; the idea that government must be protected from the people; the idea that bigger government equals better government; the idea that criticism of the government makes one unpatriotic; the idea that government is a panacea for all our ills; and the idea that loyalty to the nation equals loyalty to the government. All of this is a bunch of bull manure!
When government–ANY GOVERNMENT–stops protecting the liberties of its citizens, and especially when it begins trampling those liberties, it has become a “destructive” power, and needs to be altered or abolished. Period.
Can any honest, objective citizen not readily recognize that the current central government in Washington, D.C., long ago stopped protecting the God-given rights of free men, and has become a usurper of those rights? Is there the slightest doubt in the heart of any lover of liberty that the biggest threat to our liberties is not to be found in any foreign capital, but in that putrid province by the Potomac?
Therefore, we must cast off this phony idea that we owe some kind of devotion to the “system.” Away with the notion that vowing to protect and prolong the “powers that be” makes us “good” Americans. The truth is, there is very little in Washington, D.C., that is worthy of protecting or prolonging. The “system” is a ravenous BEAST that is gorging itself on our liberties!
Patriotism has nothing to do with supporting a President, or being loyal to a political party, or anything of the sort.
Is it patriotic to support our country (which almost always means our government), “right or wrong”? This is one of the most misquoted clichés in American history, by the way. Big Government zealots (on both the right and the left) use this phrase often to try to stifle opposition by making people who would fight for smaller government appear “unpatriotic.”
The cliché, “My country, right or wrong,” comes from a short address delivered on the floor of the US Senate by Missouri Senator Carl Schurz. Taking a strong anti-imperialist position and having his patriotism questioned because of it (what’s new, right?), Schurz, on February 29, 1872, said, “The senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming, ‘My country, right or wrong.’ In one sense I say so, too. My country–and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” (Source: The Congressional Globe, vol. 45, p. 1287)
Schurz then later expanded on this short statement in a speech delivered at the Anti-Imperialistic Conference in Chicago, Illinois, on October 17, 1899. He said, “I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves . . . too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of TRUE patriotism: ‘Our country–when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’” (Source: Speeches, Correspondence and Political Papers of Carl Schurz, vol. 6, 1913, p. 119) (Emphasis in original.)
Amen! In a free society, genuine patriotism demands that our country be RIGHT, as our nation’s policies and practices reflect the values and principles of its citizens. To feign some kind of robotic devotion to a nation without regard to sacred principle or constitutional fidelity is to become a mindless creature: at best, to be manipulated by any and every Machiavellian that comes along, or, at worst, to be a willing participant in tyranny.
As to loyalty to a President merely because he is President, Theodore Roosevelt may have said it best:
“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth–whether about the President or anyone else.”
Hence, freedom-loving Americans cannot afford to become infatuated with Washington, D.C. We cannot allow these propagandists on network television to distort the meaning of true patriotism in our hearts.
Patriotism means we love freedom. It means we understand that freedom is a gift of God. It means we understand that government has only one legitimate function: to protect freedom. It means that our love of liberty demands that we oppose, alter, or even abolish ANY FORM of government that becomes destructive to these ends. And it means that we will never allow government to steal liberty from our hearts.
As I asked at the beginning of this column, What’s more important: freedom and its undergirding principles, or the entity meant to protect it? The right answer is, freedom and its undergirding principles. If you understand that, then you rightly understand that the current government we find ourselves under is in desperate need of replacement. And whatever, however, and whenever that replacement reveals itself is not nearly as important as that liberty is preserved.
On the other hand, if you mistakenly believe that government (the entity meant to protect liberty) is more important than liberty, you are both tragically deceived and pathetically impotent to preserving freedom. You may also have identified yourself as an enemy of freedom.
As for me and my house, we will stand with Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence–in whatever form it may present itself in a modern world bent on dismantling our liberties. In other words, I pledge no loyalty to any government that seeks to destroy our freedom–including the current one!
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Let me ask readers a question. What’s more important: freedom and its undergirding principles, or the entity meant to protect it? A word of caution: be careful how you answer that question, because the way you answer marks your understanding (or lack thereof) of both freedom and the purpose of government.
Last week the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill that equates recruiting militia members to recruiting gang members.
“Recruiting membership in an unauthorized militia or the Ku Klux Klan would be a crime if legislation approved Thursday by the House of Representatives becomes law. ‘This is making unauthorized militias illegal,’ said Rep. Mike Shelton, the amendment’s author,” News OK reported on Thursday.
Shelton wants to send people to prison who do not ask the state for permission to form a militia. If the bill becomes law, it will likely be challenged as unconstitutional. However, the bill and its passage in the Oklahoma House reveals there is support on the part of lawmakers to deny citizens their rights under the First Amendment (specifically, the right to peaceably assemble).
A news report video on the law can be viewed here.
Shelton exploited the government attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City fifteen years ago in order to rationalize the law. “In Oklahoma, we have seen the damage done by militia fanatics,” he said. “The Ku Klux Klan has a long history of violence and domestic terrorism.”
It sounds like Mr. Shelton has read too much Southern Poverty Law Center literature. The Ku Klux Klan is not only almost entirely dormant — with the exception of a few FBI-run stragglers kept around just in case the race card needs to be played — but the throwback organization has nothing to do with state militia movements.
Even the ADL admits that Timothy McVeigh was not associated with a militia group.
“Involvement in those types of organizations should be treated no differently than participation in an urban gang,” said Shelton, a Democrat.
“Shelton’s amendment was filed about a week after news reports indicated some in Oklahoma tea party groups supported a volunteer militia to help defend the state’s sovereignty against federal government infringement. Several tea party leaders later said they had been talking about reinstituting a state guard, which would help with emergencies and would be under the direction of the governor and Legislature,” News OK adds.
Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, asked Shelton if he characterized the Black Panthers as an unauthorized militia.
“Are they going around terrorizing communities, doing drive-by shootings, using ammonium nitrate to blow up buildings?” Shelton asked. “When they start doing that, they would be considered (that).”
Militia groups have never been accused or prosecuted for using ammonium nitrate to blow up buildings.
Shelton’s bill has moved to the Oklahoma Senate.
On April 17, the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, reported on a military exercise dubbed “Mangudai,” named after the special forces of Genghis Khan’s Mongol army who could fight for days without food or sleep. The Kentucky newspaper portrayed the exercise as an effort to train soldiers to battle the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“Designed to test the limits of officers’ physical, mental and emotional endurance, the emerging Army exercise offered a revealing window onto modern combat training in the era of Iraq and Afghanistan,” Chris Kenning wrote for the newspaper. “Over three days last week, participants had to crawl on their bellies under real machine-gun fire, shimmy commando-style over a single rope high in the air and march for more than 22 miles through forests.”
But according to information received by The Patriot Post blog, there is another aspect to the military exercises not reported by local media.
“This week, I was contacted by a number of military personnel, enlisted and officer ranks, who expressed concern about a military exercise underway at Ft. Knox, the U.S. Bullion Depository. As with most such exercises, the Ft. Knox alert occurred in stages, as if real time intelligence was being provided at various intervals,” writes Mark Alexander.
Alexander cites an intel advisory issued on Friday, April 23, 2010, that identifies terrorist threat adversaries as “Local Militia Groups / Anti-Government Protesters / TEA Party” (see image below).
In short, the military was training in Kentucky to take on mythical militias — no word if they were of the FBI-created variety — and remarkably the non-violent Tea Party movement.
“Anti-Government – Health Care Protesters have stated that they would join the TEA Party as a sign of solidarity” during a protest at Fort Knox. The Tea Party “groups are armed, have combative training and some are former Military Snipers. Some may have explosives training / experience,” according to the intel report.
An intel report update, dated Monday, 26 April 2010, noted that a “rally at the Militia compound occurred,” and “Viable threats … have been made… Many members were extremely agitated at what they referred to as Government intervention and over taxation in their lives. Alcohol use ‘fanned the flames.’ Many military grade firearms were openly carried. An ad hoc ’shoot the government agent’ event was held with prizes (alcohol) given for the best shot placement.”
In addition to being drunkards, the report describes the Tea Party as bomb-throwers. “Components of bomb making are reported to have been on the site. Some members have criminal records relating to explosive and weapons violations.”
In response to the this “immediate threat,” the military established concentration camps for “mass arrests.”
QRF, short for the Quick Reaction Force of the 16th Cavalry Regiment and the 194th Armored Brigade were placed on two hour recall. “The 26 April order gives specific instructions for the 5-15 CAV (a 16th Cavalry battalion) to have weapons, ammo, vehicles and communications at ready, and it places the other 2,200 members of the units on two-hour recall. In other words, these orders are to gear up for defending Ft. Knox against Tea Party folks and their co-conspirators who oppose nationalization of our health care sector,” writes Alexander.
Military officers and enlisted personnel told Alexander about their concerns:
- As one put it, the exercise “misrepresents freedom loving Americans as drunken, violent racists — the opponents of Obama’s policies have been made the enemy of the U.S. Army.”
They were equally concerned that command staff at Ft. Knox had signed off on this exercise, noting, “it has been issued and owned by field grade officers who lead our battalions and brigades,” which is to say many Lieutenant Colonels saw this order before it was implemented.
An Army document entitled “Army Continuity of Operations Program (COOP)” spells out the militarization of the U.S. “Homeland” under Northcom.
In July, 2009, Infowars reported on a Missouri National Guard unit out of Camp Crowder engaged in a training exercise designed to take on a fictitious militant group. An earlier exercise in the Black Hills of South Dakota trained soldiers to confront an “insurgent group” with “a reputation for harassing convoys with ambushes and improvised explosive devices.”
In September, 2008, the Pentagon announced the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team would be deployed in the United States under the control of Northcom. “They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack,” the Army Times reported. (Emphasis added.)
Since the end of the Civil War deployment of the U.S. military inside the U.S. has been prohibited under The Posse Comitatus Act.
In early 2006, the 109th Congress passed a bill containing controversial provisions granting the president the ability to use federal troops inside the United States in emergency situations. These changes (in Section 1076) were included in the John Warner Defense Appropriation Act for Fiscal Year 2007. In 2008, Congress restored many of the earlier limitations on the president’s ability to deploy troops within the United States, but Bush issued a signing statement indicating he was not bound by the changes. Obama has taken up with signing statements where Bush left off.
A report issued in 2008 by the U.S. Army War College discussed the use of American troops to quell civil unrest brought about by a worsening economic crisis. The report from the War College’s Strategic Studies Institute warned that the U.S. military must prepare for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States” that could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse” or “loss of functioning political and legal order.”
For more than a decade the Pentagon has endeavored to acclimate Americans to the presence of troops on the streets. Instances of the Pentagon putting troops on the streets are numerous and have increased in frequency over the last few years.
In March of 2009, Infowars reported on U.S. Army soldiers dispatched in Samson, Alabama, supposedly in response to a rampaging gunman.
In December, 2008, the Marine Corps Air and Ground Combat Center and the local California Highway Patrol worked together “in a joint effort to reduce accidents and drinking and driving” in San Bernardino County, a blatant violation of Posse Comitatus.
The Iowa National Guard planned an exercise in the small town of Arcadia but rolled back the invasion after citizens complained about soldiers patrolling the streets of an American town.
Military police were positioned at the 2009 Kentucky Derby and in April of the same year 400 National Guard Combat Support Battalion troops were dispatched to “maintain public order” at the Boston Marathon.
In April of 2009, an Infowars reader sent a page taken from the Hardeman County, Tennessee, Bulletin Times announcing a seat belt checkpoint to be conducted on April 4 “in conjunction with a Homeland Security training exercise by the 251st Military Police in Bolivar who recently returned from Iraq.”
On April 15, 2009, Paul Joseph Watson reported on the Maryland National Guard put on alert in anticipation of Tax Day nationwide Tea Party protests. A Force Protection Advisory issued on April 11 instructed the National Guard to be on alert during the Tea Party protests because Guardsmen and Guard facilities might become “targets of opportunity.” It was later learned that the Department of Homeland Security had put the protesters under surveillance.
Adding the Tea Party to the list of “insurgents” is a new and especially surreal development, but hardly an unexpected one considering the fear of the establishment to this growing political movement.
A poll conducted earlier this month found supporters of the Tea Party to be primarily white, male, married and older than 45.
“Of the 18 percent of Americans who identified themselves as supporters, 20 percent, or 4 percent of the general public, said they had given money or attended a Tea Party event, or both. These activists were more likely than supporters generally to describe themselves as very conservative and had more negative views about the economy and Mr. Obama. They were more angry with Washington and intense in their desires for a smaller federal government and deficit,” the New York Times reported.
They are not, as the DHS and the Southern Poverty Law Center would have it, disgruntled returning veterans, white supremacists, and violent militia members who hate Obama because of his skin color.
Over the last several months the government and corporate media have endeavored to portray this demographic as potentially violent and has fallaciously connected it to white supremacists and a mythical militia movement that is supposedly gearing up to attack the government.
If we are to believe the above report, the U.S. military is preparing to attack Tea Party supporters. All that will be required is an appropriate false flag event to set this act in motion.
The Sheridan police are either unable to make proper judgment calls, or they believe in extreme authority opposite of constitutionally protected rights, you decide…
It was Sunday after spending the weekend in Sheridan for the local Tea Party, we were leaving the hotel to head back home, while driving only 100 yards away, there were two police officers coming up the hill on foot carrying AR-15 rifles.
As we approached them they stopped my vehicle and the officers yelled “put up your hands” to myself, wife and my little girl, then I was ordered to step out of my vehicle. (while armed of course)
The officer demanded my I.D. to which I responded “you aren’t getting anything, I didn’t break any law”.
The part that really sticks in my head is this- in one of his hands (Sgt. Kody Lamb) was an AR-15 Rifle and his other free hand shuttered like he was on an extreme adrenaline rush, I thought to myself he better keep his finger off the trigger.
I told Lamb “he had a duty to protect my rights and not act on the whim of a tourist that doesn’t know it’s legal to have firearms here”. I also asked him if he "read our Constitution”, Lamb said he was aware of what it said” then I said to him “didn’t you take an oath to uphold it?”
Then there's this- when the officer Sgt. Kody Lamb realizes he doesn’t have a beef, he threatens me with “disturbing the peace”. To which I responded “I was on private property with the owner’s consent”, and then Sgt. Kody Lamb stated it was a place frequented by the public.
This has become the norm, for police to twist things around when they want to bully someone.
I told Lamb “I want to speak to your supervisor”, Lamb responded with “I am the supervisor”, It was at this point that I knew the Peter Principle was in play, a philosophy that in a Hierarchy “Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence”.
Why would officers respond in this manner to a “man with gun call” when their own report states about me- “is not seeming to be a threat just standing there”.
Why didn’t they ask more questions BEFORE ARRIVING, like this simple one- Has he threatened anyone?
Hell no, let’s just storm in there because we have a badge, guns and adrenaline.
Maybe this is a response to my speech at the Sheridan Tea Party, by the way when we were setting up for the event, a police officer questioned me about the way I was carrying my firearm. (holstered, cocked and locked and in plain view) I told him I always carry this way. he responded to me with "That's not what I asked you" citing this “he had a duty to protect the public”. I later asked him how he felt about “concealed carry without a permit” like Arizona just passed into law, he said no one should be allowed to carry without a permit. Are you seeing the anti-gun police union agenda? You know the "only ones" mentality.
The next day after the incident the police refused to let me have the dispatch recordings unless, I "have a subpoena", also I was told that the police report wouldn’t be available for a week, but apparently they handed their reports over to the local newspaper within hours of telling me otherwise. Does any of this sound suspect?
I also contacted Evidence Technician Stephen Johnson inquiring about exactly what statute they are using to deny the dispatch recordings, he has refused to return my call.
Wyoming statute states that “the person in interest” is allowed to have access to the recordings, but the the City of Sheridan would rather flex their power. The City Attorney Mia Mikesell said "she didn’t have to cite statute" to me and "it was their policy" to ask for a Subpoena, she then hung up on me.
It is these lawless Bureaucrats, Police and Attorneys that are nipping away at the Republic on a daily basis.
The question is- are we going to be silent and just let it happen?
The City of Sheridan web-site says: they have been voted #1 Western Town of the Year for its truly special qualities…“Enjoy a frontier spirit that values friendship – and independence”, really? NOT SO MUCH!
Area Citizens should call and tell them you don’t appreciate this kind of treatment and expect more from the police officers that work for “we the people”.
Tourists- call them and tell them you will skip Sheridan, tourism dollars will be spent elsewhere.
Sheridan City Hall (307) 674-6483
Gun owners planning on visiting Wyoming-
Call the Governor’s office and tell him in this tight economy you don’t have to visit Wyoming.
Tell him Wyoming is the last place you expect to be harassed about firearms!
His number is: (307) 777-7434
In a speech before the elitist Council On Foreign Relations organization in New York earlier this week, President of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet called for the imposition of global governance to be bossed by the G20 and the corrupt Bank of International Settlements in the name of safeguarding the global economy.
In an address entitled “Global Governance Today,” Trichet proclaims how the elite need to impose “A set of rules, institutions, informal groupings and cooperation mechanisms that we call “global governance”.
During the course of the speech, Trichet uses the term “global governance” well over a dozen times, outlining how “global governance is of the essence” to avoid another financial crisis.
Section one of Trichet’s speech is entitled, “Why we need global governance,” and from then on he constantly invokes the economic downturn as a justification for empowering secretive, undemocratic and corrupt global institutions with the power to rule the world.
Highlights of Trichet’s speech can be viewed below via the official Council on Foreign Relations You Tube channel.
A full transcript of the speech was also carried by the Bank for International Settlements, an international organization of central banks that has constantly lobbied for a centralized global currency to replace that of nation states. Trichet praises the BIS as being “ahead of the curve” in dealing with the financial crisis during the speech.
The primary outfit that will boss the institutions of global governance, according to Trichet, is the Global Economy Meeting (GEM), which regularly meets at the BIS headquarters in Basel. This group, states Trichet, “has become the prime group for global governance among central banks”. The GEM is basically a policy steering committee under the umbrella of the Bank for International Settlements.
The BIS is a branch of the of the Bretton-Woods International Financial architecture and closely allied with the Bilderberg Group. It is controlled by an inner elite that represents all the world’s major central banking institutions. John Maynard Keynes, perhaps the most influential economist of all time, wanted it closed down as it was used to launder money for the Nazis during World War II.
Financial website Investors Insight describe the BIS as “the most powerful bank you’ve never heard of,” labeling it “the most powerful financial institution on earth”.
The bank wields power through its control of vast amounts of global currencies. The BIS controls no less than 7% of the world’s available foreign exchange funds, as well as owning 712 tons of gold bullion.
“By controlling foreign exchange currency, plus gold, the BIS can go a long way toward determining the economic conditions in any given country,” writes Doug Casey. “Remember that the next time Ben Bernanke or European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet announces an interest rate hike. You can bet it didn’t happen without the concurrence of the BIS Board.”
The BIS is basically a huge slush fund for global government through which secret transfers of wealth from citizens are surreptitiously handed to the IMF.
“For example, U.S. taxpayer monies can be passed through BIS to the IMF and from there anywhere. In essence, the BIS launders the money, since there is no specific accounting of where particular deposits came from and where they went,” writes Casey.
“The bank was a major player promoting the adoption of the euro as Europe’s common currency. There are rumors that its next project is persuading the U.S., Canada and Mexico to switch to a similar regional money, perhaps to be called the “amero,” and it’s logical to assume the bank’s ultimate goal is a single world currency. That would simplify transactions and really solidify the bank’s control of the planetary economy,” adds Casey.
The Bank of International Settlements is responsible to no national government whatsoever. Trichet’s acknowledgment that an offshoot of the corrupt BIS will boss the main engine global government is a startling revelation, and emphasizes once again that world government is inherently undemocratic and dictatorial in nature.
The fact that Trichet unveiled this new approach in the march towards global governance before an audience of CFR insiders is fully appropriate.
The Council On Foreign Relations comprises of influential elitists and powerbrokers from all sectors of government, business, academia and the media. It is the public face of the more secretive Bilderberg Group. The CFR only recruits members sympathetic to its agenda for global government and the elimination of U.S. sovereignty.
The scope of the CFR’s mission was best encapsulated by former Deputy Secretary of State under Clinton and CFR luminary Strobe Talbott, who told Time Magazine in July 1992, “In the next century, nations as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. National sovereignty wasn’t such a great idea after all.”
As we have emphasized, the global elite have already announced the birth of world government and who will run it. People expecting the UN to be at the helm have been distracted as the G20, alongside the BIS, was being empowered with the tools through which global governance is being coordinated.
In his speech, Trichet acknowledges the role of the G20 in using the financial crisis to mandate developing countries’ “full integration into the institutions of global governance.”
“The G20 has been effective in addressing the global crisis. We are now at the stage where this forum is making the transition from acting in a crisis resolution mode to contributing to crisis prevention,” said Trichet. In other words, the elite exploited the financial crisis in order to allow the G20 to pose as saviors and consequently empower itself to impose global governance regulations on nation states in the name of avoiding another economic crisis.
As EU President Herman Van Rompuy stated during his speech in Brussels, 2009 marked the first official year of world government powers being directly exercised to control the economies of nation states.
“2009 is also the first year of global governance, with the establishment of the G20 in the middle of the financial crisis. The climate conference in Copenhagen is another step towards the global management of our planet,” said Van Rompuy.
WASHINGTON — A top prospect for the Supreme Court was a paid member of an advisory panel for the embattled investment firm Goldman Sachs, federal financial disclosures show.
Solicitor General Elena Kagan was a member of the Research Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute, according to the financial disclosures she filed when President Obama appointed her last year to her current post. Kagan served on the Goldman panel from 2005 through 2008, when she was dean of Harvard Law School, and received a $10,000 stipend for her service in 2008, her disclosure forms show.
A spokesman for Goldman Sachs did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
The advisory panel met once a year to discuss public policy issues and was not involved in any investment decisions, Justice Department spokesman Tracy Schmaler said.
Kagan, the administration's top lawyer before the high court, has been named in news reports as a possible replacement for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Last year, Obama interviewed her for the high court seat now held by Sonia Sotomayor.
If Kagan is nominated to replace Stevens, senators will scrutinize those ties to Goldman Sachs, said Northwestern University law professor Lee Epstein.
"One side will pick apart anything a nominee has done," said Epstein, who co-wrote a book on the politics of judicial nominations. "Here, Goldman Sachs doesn't have a lot of fans. It may make things more complicated for her."
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil lawsuit against Goldman Sachs earlier this month, accusing the financial giant of failing to disclose important information about an investment it sold in 2007 that was tied to subprime mortgages. The SEC lawsuit alleges investors lost $1 billion and that Goldman Sachs didn't tell them it had packaged the mortgages at the request of a hedge fund manager who bet the housing bubble would burst.
Goldman Sachs insists it did nothing wrong. CEO Lloyd Blankfein will testify today before a Senate panel that the company did not bet against its clients.
The Global Markets Institute, Goldman Sachs' public policy research unit, was not involved in the conduct being challenged by the SEC. The council Kagan served on is a group of outside experts called on to organize discussions and examine public policy issues. The institute provides analysis and advice to Goldman Sachs and its clients.
Although Goldman's executives have been generous political donors, particularly to Democrats, some lawmakers are trying to distance themselves from that link. One example: Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, who is running for the Senate in Illinois, announced he will return more than $20,000 in campaign contributions linked to Goldman Sachs.
(Reuters) - Three times a week, Mike Lackomar climbs into his truck and drives the same delivery route through the suburbs of Detroit.
Lackomar is an independent contractor for a private parcel company. If you live northwest of this battered city and you recently purchased something from a home shopping network, there's a good chance the 36-year-old handled your package.
But there is one small item that never leaves his truck: a green nylon satchel Lackomar jokingly calls "the football," a reference to the briefcase with codes for a nuclear strike kept close to the U.S. president. Inside, along with a pocket knife and a small first aid kit, is a sealed envelope containing codes, rallying points and detailed plans that Lackomar would use to mobilize his squad of armed citizen-soldiers in an emergency.
Lackomar is a team leader in the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia (SMVM), the largest and most visible of this state's many small private armies. He is a husband, a father and a musician. But his favorite picture on his Facebook page shows him standing in front of a snowmobile trailer packed with rifles, clips and ammunition boxes, a picture he laughingly admits looks "like an evidence photo from the 6 O'clock News."
The SMVM is one of 200 armed militias in the United States, a number that has quadrupled since 2008, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights watchdog, which says they may have 6,000 members and many other adherents.
MILITIAS: HARMLESS UNTIL THEY ARE NOT
The United States is one of the few Western democratic countries that permit independent militias.
Their rapid growth coincides with a sharp rise in partisan rhetoric as the November U.S. congressional elections draw nearer. Depending on your perspective, they are either patriots or paranoid. Experts in law enforcement and academia are divided as to how big an actual threat they may pose. But they all agree on one thing: the groups are very well armed.
"Most (militia groups) are merely in the rhetorical and defensive stage," said Brian Levin, professor of criminal justice at California State University and an expert on militias and domestic terrorism. "But we don't know which groups are going to be benign and which are going to be small incubators for radicalism."
His point was underscored by the arrest in late March of nine members of anti-government extremist group called the Hutaree, whose website says its name means "Christian Warrior." They were charged with planning a cop-killing spree intended to spark a broad insurrection.
And in February, a computer engineer angry with the government crashed a small aircraft into an office building in Austin, Texas, housing the federal Internal Revenue Service. In a rambling six-page statement, the man said he hoped his act would help make "American zombies wake up and revolt."
Until their arrest, the Hutaree were considered brothers-in-arms by other Michigan militia groups, including the SMVM. At least two of the men indicted by the government in the case briefly trained with Lackomar's group.
Before the group hatched its plot, the only rap against it in militia circles was that its training practices -- like run-and-gun target shooting -- were not the safest.
"I knew a couple of the guys that are sitting in jail right now. They were nice people," said Lackomar.
That is not to say he condoned the group's plan. One Hutaree member who evaded the police dragnet asked a member of Lackomar's group for help retrieving weapons and other supplies he had hidden at the group's safe house.
Instead, he got some unexpected advice: Turn yourself in. The suspect ignored the SMVM member, who went to the police.
Far from joining a rebellion, Lackomar's group and other militia members denounced the alleged plot and applauded the way the FBI and state police handled the raids.
"Nobody got hurt," Lackomar said. "There weren't any shots fired. They got everyone needed. They stopped the plan."
For that stance, Lackomar and other group members took some heat from what he calls "ultra-right ideologues" who consider the Hutaree victims of political persecution.
Lackomar's group claims to have about 150 regular members and another 150 informal affiliates. At its annual field day and picnic recently, held not far from where the Hutaree are alleged to have hatched their plot, fewer than 100 people showed up.
All self-respecting militias pack what they call "toys" and the SMVM is no exception. Lackomar, who never served in the armed forces, favors an AK-74 assault rifle, an updated version of the iconic Soviet AK-47. Others in the group with army or marine experience prefer the AR-15, a copy of the M16 they used in their military days.
One member, a vice president of a financial services firm who prefers to be identified only by his radio call name, uses a Spanish version of the Heckler & Koch G3, a gun with a terrific report that Lackomar says "will rattle your fillings." Hence the man's call name: Thumper.
"When he's laying on the ground firing, the muzzle blast will dig trenches in front of him," Lackomar says with a hint of envy.
The lack of standardized weapons reflects both the ad hoc, volunteer nature of the SMVM and its egalitarianism.
There are no ranks, only positions like team leader and unit coordinator -- all decided by the group on a democratic basis. To become a voting member of the SMVM requires only two things, Lackomar says: possession of basic gear and a demonstrated competency with a weapon at 100 yards -- a hurdle that Lackomar says took him six months to clear.
Those two requirements aside, the SMVM insists it's open to anyone, regardless of race, color, religion or national origin. Lackomar nonetheless acknowledges the group's actual makeup is overwhelmingly white. "We're probably a little lopsided into the white end of the spectrum," he said.
THE MAD HATTER'S FOOTBALL
The SMVM trains once a month in a state park about 45 minutes outside of Detroit. The training, which includes a winter survival course, is designed to keep the unit in a state of readiness for an emergency.
For Lackomar, whose radio call name is "Mad Hatter," the emergency that triggers a militia response and tearing into "the football" might be a replay of a massive power outage in 2003 that paralyzed parts of the United States.
He ticks off other "tripwires" that might "drive our unit into action," including the imposition of martial law, a possibility many in the militia movement deem an imminent threat.
"The longtime discussion between militias has always been, 'What is the final straw?'" Lackomar said. "Freedom of speech has to be the final line. If we find ourselves in a situation ... where our freedom of assembly is suspended, demonstrations are outlawed or restricted, that's going to be the tripwire that sets everything off."
An assault on another militia group, like the Hutaree, could be a tripwire, too, Lackomar and others say. All it would have taken were for a few facts to be different.
"If what happened ... was a true crackdown on militias by a government run amok," he said, "not only would you have had the other units in Michigan say, 'Stop,' but it would have gone on all over the nation."
Lackomar provided two instances where he said the Michigan militia had activated -- at least on a small scale. Both involved standoffs between the police and a property owner who Lackomar said was being "crapped upon." The militia showed up, cradling but not pointing their weapons, as a show of solidarity with the property owner. In one case, Lackomar said the cops backed down. In another the property owner relented. No shots were fired or verbal threats exchanged.
Mike Vanderboegh, a militia veteran in Alabama who runs the influential blog called Sipsey Street Irregulars, adopts a more provocative tone in discussing what might trigger armed conflict.
"I can't see this (tension between federal authorities and the people) ending in any other way other than conflict," he said in an interview. "They (the government) truly believe that when they issue an order they think it will be obeyed. I don't see how that can end other than civil war."
PROTECTING THE CONSTITUTION
The militia movement has no single national leader and it contains wildly divergent strains of thought, according to militia members and experts. These include white supremacists and neo-Nazis; "Millenarians," who say major social transformation is imminent; and believers in "Christian Identity," a pro-white version of Christianity.
But the vast majority seem to be "constitutional" militias, fans of low taxes and small government -- values similar to those of many conservatives and the Tea Party movement.
They also see the possession of firearms as not only a right protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution but a patriotic duty, a symbol of the citizen's equal standing with the government.
At the heart of the movement is a fierce allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and a belief that its rights and freedoms are threatened by the government.
One leading light is Robert Schulz, founder and chairman of We The People Foundation, a non-profit that organized two national gatherings last year. The meetings popularized a check list of alleged constitutional violations cited by elements of the conservative Tea Party movement and militias, according to "Midwifing the Militias", a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit which tracks hate groups.
Such violations included undeclared foreign wars, gifting and lending money and credit to private corporations, unconstitutional tax levying and unenforced immigration laws.
"What we have is government ignoring the Constitution," Schulz told Reuters in interview.
"TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY"
Militia members like Lackomar, who is rare in his willingness to talk to the media, say that the movement is a healthy, democratic phenomenon with a real public benefit: providing an armed civilian alternative to the police and military. Although they don't quote Alexis de Tocqueville, the 19th century French observer of the United States, the militia members definitely see themselves as a deterrent to the "tyranny of the majority" that Tocqueville and others warned was a risk to the republic.
But the recent 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing served as a chilling reminder of the danger posed by so-called lone wolves: individuals fired-up by the movement's rhetoric -- and trained in militia warcraft -- who go on to stage attacks without the wider group's blessing.
Timothy McVeigh, the man convicted of the bombing, briefly associated with militia in Michigan in the 1990s before breaking away. When he resurfaced, in 1995, he murdered 168 people.
Private armies have a long history in America. In the 1850s, in the run-up to the American Civil War, anti-slavery and pro-slavery militias clashed in Kansas and Missouri, for example.
The modern militia movement was stirred into action in large part by George H.W. Bush's "New World Order" speech in 1990. The president's rhetoric fed into longstanding fears among far right groups like the John Birch Society about internationalism and the United Nations.
The resurgence then was also boosted by deadly sieges involving federal law enforcement officers in Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas -- events militia members viewed as examples of oppressive government force used against citizens.
Today, militia members and experts say a number of factors are driving the new surge:
* The 9/11 attacks, which revived the notion that citizens should defend the United States against threats.
* The 2001 Patriot Act, passed in the wake of 9/11, which stirred fears that the government would use enhanced powers against ordinary citizens.
* Anger at government failure to stop mass illegal immigration from Latin America.
* The recent recession, the worst since the 1930s.
* The election in 2008 of President Barack Obama. Many see Obama as a Socialist bent on growing government, raising taxes and confiscating guns; his status as the country's first African American president exacerbated fears about him, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
* Healthcare reform, seen as exemplifying oppressive government power and intrusion -- the contemporary version of a 1994 ban on assault weapons that enraged the right wing.
The extent to which healthcare reform is galvanizing the militia movement cannot be overstated. In more than a dozen conversations with militia members in recent weeks, the topic came up over and over again without prompting.
Even Lackomar, who has no insurance and admits "I'm one paycheck away from disaster -- and I have been for years," says: "I hate the reform." What infuriates him, he says, is that it was enacted despite widespread opposition.
The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors militia websites, said anti-government extremists were widely citing healthcare reform as a justification for violence.
"Many militia members and other extremists believe that the recently passed health care legislation will be followed by the mass legalization of illegal immigrants, postponement or elimination of democratic elections, martial law and gun confiscation," it said.
Allegations of infringed liberties are amplified in some sections of the media and online where false stories flagging government plans to build internment camps to detain U.S. citizens in the event of unrest or to install a New World Order can find a willing audience.
"The Internet has really facilitated a lot of communications between the militias," Lackomar said. "It's also given a voice to a lot of the wacko element. So you have got to take the good with the bad."
Most law enforcement agencies see the bulk of militia members as law abiding citizens exercising their rights to associate, bear arms and speak freely.
But one factor separates the mainstream "anti-government right" from those on the fringe, said Mark Pitcavage, ADL director of investigative research -- conspiracy theories.
"If your conspiracy theories are pretty limited and mild, like Obama is not really a citizen, or if they're generic, like Obama is a Socialist and he wants to turn this into a Socialist country, that's one thing," he said.
"But if you have specific conspiracy theories about the New World Order, the unholy trinity, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) concentration camps, martial law or door-to-door gun confiscation, then you have crossed the line," he said.
Some say the partisan polarization of the country's news media, typified by Rupert Murdoch's Fox News and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, has also contributed to the militia's resurgence.
Robert Churchill, author of "To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face", a book about militias in U.S. politics, credits popular Fox News presenter Glenn Beck with bringing some ideas espoused by militias to a wider audience.
"You are beginning to get a spillover from far right discourse into main stream Republican discourse," he said.
SEND MONEY, GUNS AND TEA
In the early 1990s the militias were politically isolated. Today, they appear to be an armed point along a much bigger popular continuum that includes the Tea Party and the Oath Keepers, both gaining momentum fast.
Lackomar and other militia members, while certainly sympathetic to the Tea Party's goals, insist the two groups are unconnected -- even informally. "What we've tried to do is to make it so our group does not take political positions, except for constitutional versus unconstitutional, and the necessary focus on the Second Amendment," Lackomar said.
Still, in conversations with Reuters, SMVM members expressed admiration for the Tea Party's rapid growth in the past year and its ability to draw big crowds and mainstream politicians like Sarah Palin.
The online invitation to the SMVM's picnic this year encouraged guests to "show, shoot, shout then sip some tea with us." Lackomar says the reference was designed to appeal "to people who might be put off by the pure militia aspect."
The picnic culminated with a shooting competition. Among the promised targets: Copies of the U.S. tax form known as the 1040.
The Tea Party movement has sought to distance itself from the militia phenomenon, but the Oath Keeper movement seems closer to it in many ways while also sharing some common ground with the Tea Party.
Founded just a year ago by a Yale-educated lawyer and former paratrooper named Stewart Rhodes, it actively recruits serving and former military personal and law enforcement and asks them to pledge to defend the constitution -- even if it means disobeying orders. One of their slogans is "Not on Our Watch. At the top of its home page -- oathkeepers.org -- is a painting showing a rag-tag group of colonial militia men fighting British regulars.
On a recent warm, windy evening, a new central Texas branch of the Oath Keepers had its first official meeting at a community center annex in a residential housing complex at Fort Hood military base -- site of last November's mass shooting by a Muslim officer who killed 13 people.
Children rode bikes in the parking lot while Erik McKinster, a 39-year-old sergeant in the 1st Cavalry Division, introduced the Oath Keepers and their mission to four acting and former soldiers aged from their mid-20s to around 40.
"We don't care if an unlawful order comes from a Republican or a Democrat or is bipartisan," he said. "We don't need to follow orders from the president if they are unlawful, the oath is to the constitution."
The Oath Keepers are not a militia, but they share some Constitutional militia values and echo their call to action under certain circumstances.
Among orders they pledge to ignore are "any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps" and any order to "support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people."
The Anti-Defamation League sees them as prey to far right conspiracies. "They are not any orders that anyone (in government) would actually give," said Pitcavage. "They're only orders that you think someone might give if you believe in incredibly elaborate conspiracy theories."
McKinster, who was raised Catholic and is now an evangelical Christian and father of four, said he doesn't "believe for a second that there are currently secret plans to impose martial law ... but there are cases from the recent past where this has happened."
The central Texas group has over 30 members, he said, but none among law enforcement yet.
Few people have spent as much time tracking militia groups and domestic terrorism as James Cavanaugh, who spent 36 years as a lead investigator with the U.S. bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Cavanaugh was a senior commander on investigations into the "Unabomber" case, the bombing by Eric Rudolph of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, the 2002 Washington, D.C. sniper case and a rash of racially-motivated church fires in Alabama.
To cap it all, he led negotiations during the 1993 Waco siege at which around 80 people died. He talked by telephone with Branch Davidian leader David Koresh throughout the group's gun battle with federal agents in an attempt to secure the release and rescue of wounded agents and children.
He is concerned that even if most militia members are law-abiding, web-fueled paranoia and wild theories can tip an individual or a splinter group toward criminality.
"They (militias) all sit around the campfires, rattling sabers and looking into the woods believing that somebody's coming. To make sure they come, they plan an attack," he said.
"The reason they are dangerous is they live on the edge of the abyss," he said. "Sure, there are groups who dress in camouflage, stockpile guns legally, talk incessantly about crackpot conspiracy theories, that don't fall into the abyss.
"The problem is there is always ... (someone) who attaches themselves, and if the group doesn't go over the rails the individual does," he said.
While security authorities say the majority of militia groups operate within the law, law enforcement is watching. Quietly.
Lackomar says that on the eve of the 2008 presidential election, four SMVM leaders were simultaneously visited by the FBI agents, who wanted to know if the group had heard any chatter about possible violence if Obama was elected.
And the swiftness with which the Hutaree were infiltrated and brought down shows the Feds are not asleep at the wheel.
That is in part because digital tools work both ways, allowing authorities to infiltrate the groups more easily.
IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR
Back at the Michigan picnic near Detroit, Lee Miracle would do anything for a taste of baklava.
To the extent that the SMVM has a leader, it is Miracle, a 43-year-old, pony-tailed postal worker who has been a member of the movement for two decades.
For Miracle, as for a handful of other SMVM members, the militia is a family affair and all eight of his children, who are aged 6 to 18, have either trained with it or received weapons instruction. At the picnic in early April, Miracle's wife Katrina, a gracious Greek-American, came too, bearing not a weapon, but an enormous tray of baklava.
One of the group's more ominous looking pamphlets features Lee Miracle on the cover, standing on the front steps of a house, decked out in camouflage battle gear with a machine pistol resting on his hip. In the bottom left, a small child looks up at the armed, defiant figure in awe. "Defending your home is homeland defense," it reads.
In person, Miracle turns out to be a self-deprecating man with a fondness for jokes. What he seemed most frustrated about at the picnic was Katrina's refusal to give him any baklava.
"He has diabetes," she explained to a reporter.
Lackomar is also a family man. His sun visor has a kid's playing card attached depicting Loudred, a Rumplestiltskin-like Pokemon character, who spends much of his time stamping his feet on the ground and shouting. "My daughter says it fits me because I'm always yelling at other drivers," Lackomar said with a chuckle.
Yet he turns serious as he imagines scenarios under which the militia might mobilize, such as the day "it comes crashing down and the world ends" or the day "the communist Chinese or the Venezuelans or whoever come marching across the border."
His unit has been busy learning survival skills, such as making a bow from a sapling or fashioning a rock into a razor sharp knife.
"I carry, as part of my battle gear, a rifle and 290 rounds of ammo," Lackomar said. "If I can use a knife, and fashion a bow, and use that to feed my family, I can save the ammo for dropping bad guys."
NEW YORK, April 29 (UPI) -- Seven in 10 U.S. adults support arresting people who can't prove they're in the United States legally, a poll about Arizona's new immigration law indicated.
The Angus Reid Public Opinion poll of 1,002 American adults asked respondents if they'd want four guidelines in Arizona's immigration law enacted in their own state.
The law, the nation's toughest, seeks to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants and gives police broad powers to stop people on suspicion of being in the United States illegally.
Seventy-one percent of poll respondents said they'd support requiring their own police to determine people's U.S. status if there was "reasonable suspicion" the people were illegal immigrants, the poll found.
An equal percentage supported arresting those people if they couldn't prove they were legally in the United States.
Almost two-thirds, or 64 percent, said they believed immigration hurt the United States, with nearly six in 10, or 58 percent, saying illegal immigrants took jobs away from American workers, the poll found.
When asked about solving the status of illegal immigrants, 45 percent said undocumented workers should be required to leave their jobs and be deported, the poll found.
Sixteen percent said those people should be allowed to continue working on a temporary basis and 28 percent supported letting them to stay and apply for U.S. citizenship.
Respondents in the U.S. Midwest were more likely than those in other areas to express a desire to deport illegal immigrants, the poll found
The online poll, taken April 22-23, has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.
How many of these names do you recognize?
Adolfo Carrion, Aneesh Chopra, Ear; Devamey, Kenneth Feinberg, Carol Browner, Ed Montgomery, Todd Stern, Cass Sunstein, Ron Bloom, and John Brennan. If none of them ring a bell, it is because they and others are all part of a shadow government of some thirty “czars”; advisers to President Obama who did not submit to the Senate confirmation process and are exempt from Congressional oversight.
Article 2, Section 2, U.S. Constitution, an excerpt: He (the President) shall have power, by and with the advice and Consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States whose appointments are not herein provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or the heads of departments.”
The Constitution creates two types of positions in the executive branch: principal officers and inferior officers. The first of these are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The latter are not subject to this process.
The Obama administration began with a series of nominations that were found to be tax cheats and forced to withdraw before Senate confirmation. One of them, Van Jones, put in charge of “green jobs” was forced to resign when it became known that he was a self-identified communist. Carol Browner, responsible for environmental and energy issues, was on the board of the Commission for a Sustainable Society, the action arm of the Socialist International.
In the case of “special envoys” George Mitchell, Richard Holbrooke, and Dennis Ross, they all engage in ambassadorial duties, representing the nation to foreign entities and are responsible only to the president. Key elements of the nation’s foreign policy, particularly as regards the Middle East, remain hidden from the public, except in terms of the president’s public pronouncements.
All of the president’s cabinet secretaries in charge of various departments and agencies of the government are vested with administrative powers and all must be confirmed by the Senate. By virtue of the Administrative Procedure Act, these offices must hold public hearings and maintain records when decisions are made, thus creating a paper trail. All of these offices must have separate lines in Congress’s annual appropriations bills.
The bulk of the president’s czars are exempt from such oversight. They advise and answer directly to the president and a number of them exercise control over the decisions made by cabinet secretaries and agency directors, most of whom have been reduced to a role of carrying out their decisions, their agenda.
The U.S. government is being run out of the White House by a cohort of czars/advisers who do not answer to the American people and operate in the dark. This is part of the warning issued in “The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency.” The authors, Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski, are both attorneys with extensive knowledge of the Constitution. Blackwell has been an ambassador.
These czars are essentially unconstitutional and illegal.
All presidents have had advisers, but none prior to Obama have had so many and none have been delegated vast powers. They represent a violation of the separation of powers essential to a democratic republic and all violate the need and expectation of transparency and accountability.
Some have demonstrated in their past publications and present statements that they are wholly incompetent to hold such power. The regulations czar, Cass Sunstein, has said that animals should have the same legal rights as humans. The science adviser, John Holdren, has advocated putting chemicals in the drinking water or requiring devices that would neutralize fertility, including compulsory abortion.
John Brennan, the terrorism czar, responsible for homeland security, downplayed the near disaster of the Christmas “underpants bomber” and claimed that all possible intelligence that could be secured from him had been in less than an hour after his arrest!
All these czars function in direct contradiction of the long history of such advisers to presidents and in contradiction to the framework of the U.S. Constitution designed to ensure that the executive branch is answerable to Congress.
The function (or lack of it) of elected senators and representatives is ugly enough as seen in the failure of Congress to exercise caution in the passage of bills that affect the economy and the lives of all Americans. The U.S. debt has increased to levels not seen since World War Two. Obamacare was an ugly process of bribery and closed-door deals that resulted in a straight party line vote that was a repudiation of the will of the people.
No one knows what these unelected and unsupervised czars are doing, but you can be sure they all are loyal advocates and agents of the socialist transformation of America.
Sarah Palin was right! Of course, when she mentioned it liberals went nuts claiming that she was fear-mongering. Now, President Obama’s Budget Director is heralding the cost cutting measure.
Just a reminder from the Governor:
- Last weekend while you were preparing for the holidays with your family, Harry Reid’s Senate was making shady backroom deals to ram through the Democrat health care take-over. The Senate ended debate on this bill without even reading it. That and midnight weekend votes seem to be standard operating procedures in D.C. No one is certain of what’s in the bill, but Senator Jim DeMint spotted one shocking revelation regarding the section in the bill describing the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (now called the Independent Payment Advisory Board), which is a panel of bureaucrats charged with cutting health care costs on the backs of patients – also known as rationing. Apparently Reid and friends have changed the rules of the Senate so that the section of the bill dealing with this board can’t be repealed or amended without a 2/3 supermajority vote. Senator DeMint said:
- “This is a rule change. It’s a pretty big deal. We will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law. I’m not even sure that it’s constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a senate rule. I don’t see why the majority party wouldn’t put this in every bill. If you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future senates. I mean, we want to bind future congresses. This goes to the fundamental purpose of senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future congresses.”
In other words, Democrats are protecting this rationing “death panel” from future change with a procedural hurdle. You have to ask why they’re so concerned about protecting this particular provision. Could it be because bureaucratic rationing is one important way Democrats want to “bend the cost curve” and keep health care spending down?
There's a new narrative taking hold in the wake of the recent tea party protests and the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing: The tea partiers' intense opposition to the Obama administration has led to overheated political rhetoric, which could in turn lead to violence.
Former President Clinton has emerged as a leading voice of this new narrative. In interviews, Clinton said it's "legitimate" to draw "parallels to the time running up to Oklahoma City and a lot of the political discord that exists in our country today."
"Watch your words," warned ABC News, reporting that Clinton "weighed in on the angry anti-government rhetoric, ringing out from talk radio to tea party rallies."
The reports dovetailed with earlier media that stories also depicted tea party gatherings as angry mobs, accusing protesters of throwing racial epithets at black lawmakers and of making threats of violence. The implication is that all this could be part of a nationwide trend.
"Just this month, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that it had tracked an explosion in extremist anti-government patriot groups fueled, in large part, by anger over the economy and Barack Obama's presidency," NBC's David Gregory said in early April.
"In this highly charged political atmosphere, where you've got so much passion, so much disagreement, this takes it, of course, to a different level."
How did this story line grow?
Many of the claims that extremism is on the rise in America originate in research by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based group that for nearly 40 years has tracked what it says is the growing threat of intolerance in the United States. These days, the SPLC is issuing new warnings of new threats. But today's warnings sound an awful lot like those of the past
In 1989, the SPLC warned of the growing threat of skinheads, saying, "Not since the height of Klan activity during the civil-rights era has there been a white supremacist group so obsessed with violence."
In 1995, the SPLC warned of the growing threat of right-wing militias.
In 1998, the SPLC warned of the growing threat of Internet-based hate groups.
In 2002, the SPLC warned of the growing threat of post-Sept. 11 hate groups.
And just a few weeks ago, the SPLC warned of the growing threat of "patriot" groups.
But in the world of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the threat is always growing. Ronald Reagan's policies led to a growing threat. The election of Bill Clinton led to a growing threat. Is it any wonder that Obama's presidency has, in the SPLC's estimation, led to a growing threat?
Hate groups exist across the political spectrum, and have for a long time. But they have nothing to do with the frustration over deficits, taxes and Obamacare that we have heard at tea party gatherings. That frustration, felt by Republicans, independents and even some Democrats, is a mainstream reaction to the activist course the president and Congress have taken.
It's important to distinguish between a political threat and a physical one.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The majority owners of the three largest Icelandic banks, Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir, and of the investment bank Straumur-Burdarás, were also their largest debtors, as the Special Investigative Commission’s crisis report, which was made public yesterday, has revealed.
According to dv.is, the following statements can be found in the report.
“At Glitnir Bank the largest loan recipients were Baugur Group and companies related to Baugur. The increase in Glitnir’s granting of loans to this group after mid-2007 is especially noteworthy.”
“A change in executives had then occurred, with parties connected to Baugur and FL Group significantly increasing their shares in the bank.” In April 2007, Lárus Welding took over as CEO of Glitnir from Bjarni Ármannsson.
“When Glitnir collapsed, Baugur and related companies owed the bank almost ISK 250 billion [USD 2 billion, EUR 1.5 billion]. That amount equals approximately 70 percent of the bank’s equity basis.”
“The largest shareholder of Kaupthing, Exista, was also its second-largest debtor. The largest debtor was Robert Tchenguiz, shareholder and chairman of Exista. At the collapse of the bank, Exista owed Kaupthing more than ISK 200 billion [USD 1.6 billion, EUR 1.2 billion].”
“At the collapse of Landsbanki, Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson and companies related to him were the bank’s largest debtors. Björgólfur Gudmundsson was the bank’s third largest debtor. In total, their commitments to the banks were well over ISK 200 billion. That was more than the entire equity of the Landsbanki conglomerate.”
“Björgóflur Thor was also the largest shareholder of Straumur-Burdarás and he was chairman of that bank. Björgólfur Thor and Björgólfur Gudmundsson were both, along with related parties, among the bank’s largest debtors and together they formed its largest group of loan recipients.”
The report also states that the employees of banks are generally not in a good position to evaluate whether the banks’ owners are suitable loan recipients.
Most taxpayers have no idea what their federal income taxes actually provide. When I ask folks if they know where their IRS check goes I get answers from, “…it pays for the operation of the Federal Government.” to, “… hummm, I really don’t know.” Actually both answers are partially true. Why were the IRS and the Federal Reserve created by the same act of Congress — what is their relationship to the Federal Government?
About a year ago, I made the assertion that the Federal Reserve through the IRS has the power to tax directly by congressional action and indirectly by inflation. It is very easy to see when you understand the “not quite governmental, not quite private” structure of the Federal Reserve System and its taxing arm the IRS.
Here is how it works. Congress passes a law, the House appropriates the funds. The Federal Treasury Department prints the notes for the appropriation. Then the Federal Reserve purchases these notes/paper at the cost of printing, about 4 cents note. A $1bill, $100 bill, or $1000 bond, costs the same 4 cents. The Federal Reserve then loans this money back to the Federal Government at interest based on face value. This interest rate may fluctuate. The cash is then distributed to the regional Federal Reserve banks from which the appropriations are disseminated as per the Congressional mandate.
Now, as the interest climbs with each appropriation, this debt requires payment your taxes – and occasionally the taxes must be increased to keep up with the “can never be paid off by design, debt”. The Federal Reserve profits greatly on this value created out of thin air paid by IRS collected taxes, and OUR REAL ASSET collateral on loans that go into foreclosure/confiscation.
Periodically, the Federal Reserve will ask Congress for an increase in money supply. This indirectly taxes folks by pumping cash into the economy which decreases the buying power of the dollar. This makes it seem as though prices have risen – not the case, the money added causes the value of the dollar to drop. This is the inflation tax. A tax that causes big problems for people with savings or on fixed incomes. The frightening thing is, the FED-IRS has NEVER had it’s books opened to Congressional scrutiny.
On 2/26/09, Representative Ron Paul rose before the House to introduce his “Federal Reserve Transparency Act” HR-1207. In his speech, he said…
“…Throughout its nearly 100-year history, the Federal Reserve has presided over the near-complete destruction of the United States dollar. Since 1913 the dollar has lost over 95% of its purchasing power, aided and abetted by the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy. How long will we as a Congress stand idly by while hard-working Americans see their savings eaten away by inflation? [...] Whenever you question the Fed about the strength of the dollar, they will refer you to the Treasury, and vice versa. The Federal Reserve has, on the one hand, many of the privileges of government agencies, while retaining benefits of private organizations, such as being insulated from Freedom of Information Act requests. [...] The Federal Reserve can enter into agreements with foreign central banks and foreign governments, and the GAO is prohibited from auditing or even seeing these agreements. Why should a government-established agency, whose police force has federal law enforcement powers, and whose notes have legal tender status in this country, be allowed to enter into agreements with foreign powers and foreign banking institutions with no oversight?”
In this unique Federal Reserve/Federal Government relationship the IRS works as the “Taxing Arm For The FED” – NOT the Federal Government which is prohibited from direct taxing at Article 1 section 9 clause 4 of the Constitution! Now you know. Those sneaky-rascal bankers anyway.
Even though it’s legal, not everyone comfortable with gun-wearing citizens, especially some police
Just about everybody on the Metro Police force has heard of Tim Farrell, and he sometimes gets mistaken for a law enforcement officer.
Farrell is simply a 29-year-old wireless Internet engineer — and a gun rights crusader. He is one of what appears to be a growing number of people taking up the “open-carry” cause, advocating a constitutional right to openly carry firearms.
“The open-carry movement has gained momentum over the last four or five years because people are waking up to their rights,” Farrell says. “I don’t need a permit to exercise free speech. I don’t need a permit to be tried by a jury if I’m accused of a crime, so why do I need a permit to carry a gun if I have a constitutional right to carry a gun?”
Nevada is a better place than most for Farrell because it is "an open--carry state." Nevada reiterates the right to bear arms in its constitution and does not have blanket restrictions on law-abiding citizens’ open carrying of firearms.
That’s why a dozen or so people who attended the March 27 Tea Party rally in Searchlight were able to openly carry firearms.
One was Dave Stilwell, a 44-year-old truck driver from Las Vegas who always carries a gun for self-defense.
He says he was jogging back from a garage sale near his house one morning last May with his .45-caliber pistol on his hip. Around Jones Boulevard and Cheyenne Avenue, a Metro patrol car rolled up slowly behind him.
A shopkeeper had called police after seeing the gun, said the officer, who took the pistol from Stilwell, removed the magazine and the bullet in the chamber, checked the ID number on the gun and then returned the weapon and ammunition to Stilwell before driving away.
“I just told the officer I was exercising my body and my rights,” he said. “In retrospect, I didn’t think that was such a big deal.
“I knew I would have contact with police at some point. Even though it’s my legal right to carry a gun, there’s a lot of propaganda out there, a lot of inaccurate information. When I started to open carry a couple years ago, I would have guessed that 90 out of 100 people didn’t think it was legal.”
So have open-carry advocates latched onto the Tea Party movement? Stilwell said that although he attended with gun in holster, his reason for going was to join others who care about their rights.
“Rights are becoming more prevalent because people feel like their backs are against the wall because of the government,” he says.
Farrell is not a Tea Partyer. He describes himself as libertarian and pro-choice on abortion. He and Stilwell are on the same page when it comes to guns, however.
Like Stilwell, Farrell says he carries his handgun wherever he goes, for self-defense. He says he has never been kicked out of a casino or other place of business but finds himself educating business owners who question why he is so brazenly armed.
Farrell says he has worn his gun many times into his neighborhood restaurant and bar near the U.S. 95-Summerlin Parkway interchange. But as he walks in one recent afternoon, a bartender who spots the gun is taken aback. She says the only pistol-packing customers she has served are undercover cops.
“So what I should have done is asked to see your concealed weapons permit because that is something that’s mandatory,” she tells Farrell.
“I don’t have a concealed gun on me,” he replies. “I do have a concealed-weapons permit but you do not need a concealed-weapons permit for a nonconcealed gun.”
“I mean, a regular permit just to carry the gun around,” she says.
“There is no permit in this state for that,” he tells her.
“It used to be years ago you would have to give your weapons to the bartender,” she says.
“This bar is private property, obviously,” Farrell says. “You can set whatever rules you want.”
“You can pull that out on me and shoot,” she tells him. “You see what I’m saying?”
“Well, of course. And that’s one of the reasons to carry openly, is for self-defense but it’s also to educate others as well that, one, it’s not against the law and, two, that not everyone with a gun is a bad guy. Certainly if there was a bad guy coming to rob you, he wouldn’t let you see the gun until it was too late.”
With that, the bartender goes about her business.
It undoubtedly helps that Farrell is not one of those guys who wears head-to-toe camouflage gear. He wears polo shirts and bluejeans.
He doesn’t have a gun collection. “I have a handgun and a shotgun, that’s all, just to keep me and my wife safe.”
When Farrell read Stilwell’s blog post about how he had been stopped by police, Farrell researched state and local laws, as well as police regulations and then conducted an experiment.
On the night of June 24, he holstered up his loaded 40-caliber Glock 23 pistol and proceeded to a sidewalk on Las Vegas Boulevard, just south of Charleston Boulevard, where he was certain he would be noticed by police. He was.
It wasn’t his first encounter with the law. While vacationing in Nashua, N.H., early last year, he was stopped on foot on the way to a bank by police who asked about his gun. Minutes later he was allowed to go about his business with gun in tow. Such is life in the “live free or die” state, apparently.
The Las Vegas Strip encounter was far more intense, with police arriving in squad cars and on motorcycles in a show of force, guns drawn. Farrell was handcuffed and his gun was confiscated, its bullets removed. Over the course of the next 23 minutes, Farrell invoked his right to talk to an attorney, told police not to touch his gun, and that he hadn’t consented to being searched and detained. He refused to answer questions about whether he possessed a registration card for the weapon, and invoked his right to remain silent.
Bottom line: He hadn’t committed any crime. After police ran a background check on Farrell, confirming his gun was properly registered, and finding that he also has a concealed-weapons permit and is not a dangerous criminal, he was uncuffed. He was handed back his gun but the bullets were dropped down one of his pants pockets and the empty magazine was placed on an irrigation box 100 feet away. He was ordered not to move until police drove away.
“I understand the need for officer safety,” Farrell said. “These guys have a tough job. But officer safety does not trump my rights. To stop me there has to be something other than the fact I have a gun. They shouldn’t have even taken my gun.”
Based on complaints from Farrell, Metro’s Citizen Review Board and internal affairs division each launched investigations into his case last summer. Although the officers involved were cleared of wrongdoing, Metro’s force had to take a refresher course on how to handle individuals who openly carry firearms.
Last month, a five-member panel of the Citizen Review Board found that police had complied with department policy related to the incident but that neither the policy nor police training at the time Farrell was stopped was specific enough on “open carry” stops. The board concluded that the police action was “the result of ambiguity among officers on how to handle an individual asserting his Second Amendment right to openly carry a gun in public.”
While cadets are trained in Metro’s police academy on how to handle constitutional rights, including those involving gun possession, the agency’s thick policy and procedure manual is silent on open-carry issues.
Andrea Beckman, the Citizen Review Board’s executive director, says Farrell’s case “brought to light the significance of how to train police officers on open carry.” Farrell’s case, in fact, was the first open-carry dispute heard by the board, and his name is now familiar throughout Metro.
A little more than a month after “the Farrell incident,” Metro’s 3,000 officers took their refresher course.
“When we don’t respond to something the way we should have, we’re quick to correct ourselves,” Metro Patrol Division Deputy Chief Kathleen O’Connor says.
The review board noted, however, that one police sergeant who confronted Farrell needed more training because it was clear from the sergeant’s testimony that if he had been given a test after the refresher, he would have failed.
The open-carry issue is tricky for police, O’Connor says, because officers are caught between preserving an individual’s open-carry rights and protecting the public from potential harm.
Of course, some police officers are not the only ones uncomfortable with the idea of lots of citizens walking around with guns on their hips. Opponents say the more guns that are being toted around, the greater the possibility that a bystander could be hit by a stray bullet, the more likely it is that a criminal will get a citizen’s gun and use it for no good. Even some Second Amendment advocates acknowledge that an individual who openly wears a gun in a crowded public area might result in the same reaction that a false warning of fire can in a crowded theater.
There are exceptions to Nevada’s open-carry rights. Among them is a state law that prohibits average citizens from carrying firearms on college campuses, at public or private schools and at day care centers without written permission from the heads of those facilities. An individual also cannot legally possess a firearm while intoxicated.
Local laws prohibit possession of guns in Clark County parks or in vehicles within North Las Vegas city limits.
Violation of the North Las Vegas “deadly weapons” ordinance, on the books since 1978, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The ordinance provides exceptions to the weapons ban as it pertains to “ordinary tools or equipment carried in good faith for uses of honest work, trade or business, or for the purpose of legitimate sport or recreation.” The ordinance has only been enforced in conjunction with traffic stops for other violations, such as speeding or suspicion of criminal activity, police say.
It also appears to violate the state law that gives the Legislature, not local governments, the power to regulate firearms, UNLV Boyd School of Law professor Thomas McAffee says.
“The state statute does permit some older local registration requirements, but the city ordinance here is a complete ban on possession in a motor vehicle, which seems to clearly fall within the scope of the state reservation of authority,” McAffee says.
Michael Davidson, North Las Vegas’ chief criminal attorney, said his interpretation is that the ordinance is legal because when the state law was last revised in 2007, the intent was to preserve pre-1989 local gun laws that had nothing to do with firearm registration. He said there have been dozens of cases in recent years where convictions that included violation of that ordinance have been upheld in North Las Vegas Municipal Court without a single appeal of the weapons ban made to District Court in Clark County.
“The intent was to go after gangbangers, not mom and pop in the RV,” Davidson says.
Farrell and other local open-carry advocates counter that North Las Vegas’ law is unconstitutional on its face, no matter the intent.
These advocates staged peaceful protests in North Las Vegas last year — picking up litter “to show we’re just regular guys” — and in January in front of Bally’s on the Strip, where numerous tourists had their pictures taken with Farrell and roughly 20 of his fellow gun-toters.
Farrell had given a Metro watch commander a courtesy heads-up before his armed group headed down to the Strip. The police commander thanked him for the warning, acknowledged the group’s right to assemble, but also pleaded with Farrell to cancel his plans.
The tourists who took pictures, however, encouraged Farrell and his posse to keep standing up for the Constitution, he says, and that’s what he intends to do.
Zombie America is exercising the 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech. Those who attempt to hinder this right to free speech will be held accountable for their actions in a court of law.