Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Death & Taxes Poster

"Death and Taxes" is a large representational graph and poster of the federal budget. It contains over 500 programs and departments and almost every program that receives over 200 million dollars annually. The data is straight from the president's 2011 budget request and will be debated, amended, and approved by Congress to begin the fiscal year. All of the item circles are proportional in size to their funding levels for visual comparison and the percentage change from both 2010 and 2001 is included so you can spot trends.

"Death and Taxes" is more than just numbers. It is a uniquely revealing look at our national priorities that fluctuate and almost always expand yearly according to the wishes of the President, the power of Congress, and (to some extent) the will of the people. Thousands of pages of raw data have been boiled down to one poster that provides the most open and accessible record of our nations' spending you will ever find. Everyone who taxes has paid for a part of everything in the poster.

A substantial part of this spending is for unconstitutional and anti-liberty budget items. It would be interesting to compare these 500+ federal programs with the strictly limited 17-20 (depending how you count them) enumerated powers given to the federal government through the US Constitution by the people. In fact, such a study must be done and all extra-constitutional laws, rules, policies, and agencies must be phased out!

Every congressman should have a copy of this poster on his office wall and should, with his full staff, take the time to ponder the conflicts between its content an that of the Constitution while thoughtfully reviewing his oath of office
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
.Voters would do well to do the same.

The overwhelming nature of this poster could easily be resolved if Congress would conduct an audit of all laws, rules, policies, programs, and agencies followed by legislation to phase out all laws, rules, policies, programs, and agencies which are outside the limits placed on the federal government by the US Constitution. Congress should also enact legislation requiring that all new or expanded laws, rules, policies, programs, and agencies have a maximum 10-year sunset.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No-knock police raids and the American police state

Police raids on the wrong house are not infrequent and innocent homeowners have been killed in such raids. Also, thugs have been known to shout "FBI!" or "Police!" when breaking into a home.

So, how is a homeowner -- felon or responsible citizen alike -- supposed to respond when somebody knocks down his door in the middle of the night -- submit unquestioningly to whomever it is -- police or axe murderer?

on the 16th of September, Todd Blair was gunned down by three well-placed bullets in the first seconds of a no-knock police raid on his home because of suspected drug activity.

This leaves me asking myself, could I -- a typically law-abiding citizen -- die from police gunfire during the violence and extreme chaos of a no-knock police raid? It seems to be very possible.

That said, a hostile person with a contact weapon -- as Blair had -- within the distance of this shooting is, indeed, capable of causing death or serious bodily injury and the application of deadly force can be justified. Like everyone else, cops want to safely go home after work and that is why they carry a gun. Contrary to popular perception, that gun is not there to protect you or me nor even to enforce the law. They carry a gun because, like you and me, they need the means to protect themselves.

But, how much of a threat was Blair really? The shooting officer had an adrenalin-filled instant to make that critical decision. It has been announced to be justified. Nevertheless, it was police-provoked -- over a now-reported half-once of dope!

I suspect the Blair family civil litigation against the agencies involved in this shooting will be successful -- very profitably.

I have concerns with the procedure for no-knock warrants and I hope that many of these concerns will get a thorough hearing in the lawsuit. I am not convinced that Blair did anything to merit his violent death on September 16.

In the following video, you will see an officer challenge an innocent, homeless, partially deaf Native American woodcarver -- John Williams who was crossing a street while whittling. The act of whittling on a public street cost him his life!

As long as police persist in bullying innocent people (like Williams) and engage in high-risk entries (such as in the Blair case) tragedies will happen unnecessarily. It is far too evident to me that the police have become the law unto themselves to a significant level. We live in a police state and Blair and Williams are among its victims.

The most troubling aspect of these, and similar, stories is that judges who issue no-knock search warrants and police officers who execute them and who stop wood carvers on the street have sworn an oath to the US Constitution which was designed and intended to eliminate government interference into innocent lives and to protect human rights. What happened to the Constitution and its protections?

Citizen, don't ever think that because you are an innocent, responsible person, the police will always leave you alone and that only bad people get the Blair treatment. Such is the denial that has given us asset forfeiture and these extremely dangerous no-knock raids.

The government needs careful watching and tight control. We voters have utterly failed in that role.

Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen
Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen

The Emerging Police State
The Emerging Police State

The Making of a Police State
The Making of a Police State

Judicial Tyranny - the New Kings of America?
Judicial Tyranny - the New Kings of America?

Lost Rights; The Destruction of American Liberty
Lost Rights; The Destruction of American Liberty

Monday, December 27, 2010

Yet another "gun-free" zone failure

Once again, a place where lawful carry of a self-defense firearm is frowned upon, innocent lives were in grave danger. Fortunately, only the intruder was harmed. In this case, it was on the grounds of an LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) temple in a Salt Lake City suburb.

Who needs a gun for self defense on church property? According to some church and public officials, nobody. A church is a sanctuary, after all -- which, it is presumed, even criminals and the insane would surely obey.

Even after the in-church murder of an LDS bishop, the LDS Church stipulates that "Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. The carrying of lethal weapons, concealed or otherwise, within their walls is inappropriate except as required by officers of the law." (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 21.2.4)

It seems to me that it is unreasonable to presume that persons with criminal intent will obey any law or other prohibition -- even a religious "haven."

"Gun-free" zones are, in reality, disarmed-victim zones where only evil-doers and cops carry guns. Fortunately, this time the cops arrived in time. Most times they can't. This time, worshipers were lucky -- saved only by an observant citizen who called 911 just in time.

If armed security is apporpriate for certain government and church leaders -- even within so-called "gun-free" zones, why must we commoners be expected to do without self-protection other than a cell phone?

Even the Scriptures indicate that defense of self and others is appropriate and necessary:
A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well. — Proverbs 25:26

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. — 1 Timothy 5:8

He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. — Luke 22:36

If the thief be found breaking in, and be smitten so that he dieth, there shall be no bloodguiltiness for him. — Exodus 22:2

Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. — Psalm 82:4

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his house, his possessions are safe. — Luke 11:21

And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies. And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion. — Alma 43:46-47

Let us resist evil, and whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom. — Alma 61:14
"Gun-free" zones such as churches, schools, businesses, government property, etc. must be abolished unless sufficient on-site armed security is provided to foil all criminal attacks on or in that property.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Protect Sacramento-area pilot punished for YouTube video

I been a frequent flyer for some 3 decades. Throughout that period, I have been deeply concerned by serious gaps in airline security which are fully obvious to anyone who cares about security or about defeating security.

I am outraged that a whistleblower is being targeted for identifying a few of the countless dangerous flaws in the lame theatrics that DHS Secretary Janet "The System Worked" Napolitano calls airport security. What we clearly have here, is the heavy hand of a police-state mentality intended to crush criticism through intimidation and force.

The airline pilot who has been singled out in this case is surely concerned about his own safety on the job, knowing that airport security is a sham. I'm sure that all he wants is a consistent and effective security process -- something that Secretary Napolitano and her staff are unwilling and/or are incompetent to do. This attack on the pilot is nothing more than a cover for incompetence and embarrassment.

There are many extremely serious problems in security at US airports. In spite of what TSA and DHS bureaucrats may beleive, pilots who express their concerns about security are not the problem!

Secretary Napolitano must immediately be held publicly accountable for this egregious attack on another honest, frustrated citizen who simply wants to see true security -- not silly DHS and TSA theater with an amateurish plot and horrible actors.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All Legislation Must Cite Constitutional Authority

Any student of the US Constitution knows that the Tenth Amendment states:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Unfortunately, this simple but essential separation of powers and check on those powers is all but forgotten. Between an ever-expanding Federal bureaucracy that for decades has crept into many facets of traditionally locally controlled government to a Federal judiciary that time and time again completely ignores the intent of the Tenth Amendment, the Federal government has become wildly inefficient, expensive, and hostile to State and individual rights.

New Jersey's Congressman Scott Garrett has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives Tuesday that would require all legislation to cite an enumerated power in the Constitution that grants authority for the bill’s mandate.

Garrett’s resolution will prohibit members from manipulating the more ambiguous “general welfare clause” and “necessary and proper clause” and instead require members to isolate specific provisions which make their proposals Constitutional.

The resolution is the direct result of the American people’s cry for Congress to restore the preeminence of the Constitution in law-making and does that by, as the rule would say, passing a non-waivable rule that would require every bill and amendment to have a citation of the specific authority in the Constitution.

Most the federal legislation, regulations, programs, policies, agencies, and debt are excellent examples of the nation's desperate need for Garrett's proposed change in legislative process.

Current practice is for Congress to almost entirely ignore the precious principles of the Constitution and cede the decision of constitutionality to the courts who also ignore or twist the Constitution far too often. This legislative attitude imposes the heavy expense of constitutionality litigation on the States and the people, violates each congressman's solemn oath to the Constitution, and is an egregious betrayal of the people's trust.

Garrett's proposed House Rule is a worthy step in the right direction. I am deeply saddened that nobody in the Senate seems to have the courage, integrity, and respect for the Constitution to introduce a similar resolution in the Senate. I urge every congressman to join this movement and ensure that this rule is immediately implemented in both chambers of Congress.

I also urge Congress to take this a step further and work for immediate enactment of the Enumerated Powers Act to make the intent of Garrett's proposal a permanent part of our legislative process.

In addition to Congressman Garrett's resolution to cite an enumerated power in the Constitution that grants authority for a bill’s mandate, Congress should also adopt a resolution requiring that all new or expanded laws, rules, policies, programs, and agencies have a maximum 10-year sunset.

The overwhelming abuses and cost of the federal government be resolved if Congress would conduct an audit of all laws, rules, policies, programs, and agencies followed by legislation to phase out all laws, rules, policies, programs, and agencies which are outside the limits placed on the federal government by the US Constitution.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reign in the BATFE!

The Obama administration just can't stop blaming the Second Amendment and law-abiding American gun owners and gun dealers for violence perpetrated by criminals -- particularly Mexican drug cartels.

In their latest attempt to circumvent and trivialize the US Constitution (and most State Constitutions), Obama and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) are seeking to implement new rules that will subject American gun dealers to additional paperwork requirements to solve an unrelated problem in a foreign nation. To suggest that adding yet another layer of paperwork requirements to American gun dealers will help to stem the violence is just plain stupid! In fact, the new requirement is designed simply and only to intimidate gun buyers.

The new proposed rule will, for the first time, establish the precedent that licensed firearms dealers will be required (by administrative fiat) to report to the government the sale of two or more semi-automatic rifles that are greater that .22 caliber, can accept a detachable magazine, and are purchased by the same person within five business days.

Several points in the new registration scheme simply don't make sense here's one: The Feds want reports on rifles greater than .22 caliber. That would seem to exclude most AR-15s which are .22 caliber (.223 Remington). After the sale, they can be easily converted to shoot a larger-caliber cartridge -- and the Feds won't know about it! Some AR-15s are chambered for calibers larger than .22 caliber and would be reported. The inconsistency and lack of rational thought are overwhelming!

The measure would apply to approximately 8,500 gun dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. There is no assurance that this foot-in-the-door requirement won't be expanded to other States in the future. The reporting of multiple sales of handguns is already required in all 50 States -- a requirement that must be stopped immediately. There is no evidence that the reporting of multiple sales of handguns has prevented any violent crimes with the reported handguns.

Why would I want to buy multiple guns at once? Well, most importantly, according to the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments to the US Constitution, it's none of the government's business! (The government only has an interest if I commit a mala in se crime with any of the guns -- and that's almost always a state or local crime -- not the federal government's concern!) That said, perhaps I want all my children and their spouses and my grandchildren to have the very special gift of sequentially numbered rifles (That'd be a single purchase of two dozen rifles -- all for a legitimate, responsible, Constitutionally-protected purpose.).

The Obama administration and the BATFE intended to bypass the elected representatives of the people (Congress) to impose their new gun control by regulatory fiat as soon as January 5, 2011. It has been delayed, but the final decision on implementing this plan will probably be by the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), headed by Cass Sunstein -- a man who would ban hunting and would allow animals to have legal representation in court.

This mandate will not only violate federal statutory law prohibiting a federal gun registry, it will also give the BATFE another excuse to harass American gun dealers -- while the Obama administration does absolutely nothing to address the problem of border violence -- including the cross-border murder of our citizens and law-enforcement officers.

There is another essential issue here. Normally, federal rule changes are given a 90-day public comment period. This regulation, however, was published in the December 17th Federal Register and comments close in early January, 2011! Not only is the proposed regulation a bad idea, but there are only 3 weeks to receive comments, and that period includes a major holiday season! Why cut the comment period from 90 days to three weeks? Most likely, to sneak it through before anyone catches on. The cover, however, is that chronic organized crime in Mexico can somehow be resolved if treated as an acute US "emergency" for which American rights must be infringed -- an "emergency" which has escalated for decades because of Mexico's internal corruption and our own failed "war on drugs"!

American freedoms, including those protected by the Second Amendment, are not the cause of border or drug-related violence. Rather, as violence increasingly occurs on our side of the border, those God-given rights that are protected by the people's Second Amendment to the people's Constitution become even more important for self-protection.

I urge and expect each member of Congress and of the Obama administration to live up to his or her oath to the Constitution by immediately stopping this egregious abuse of federal power.

Congress and the BATFE leadership must ensure that the BATFE either allows a full 90-day period for public comment or withdraws the regulation. If the BATFE does not comply with this reasonable standard, the BATFE leadership must appear before Congress to explain its legal justification.

Then, Congress must acknowledge that the BATFE is one of the most dangerous and out-of-control agencies ever created by Congress. Congress must abolish the BATFE and consolidate most of the other federal law-enforcement agencies. (There at least 57 of them!) The BATFE is but one of countless examples of the gross negligence by which Congress (staffers, actually) creates legislation that enables and even encourages bureaucrats, judges, and presidents (all of whom, ironically, swear to be faithful to the Constitution) to trample the Constitution.

In the future, the Senate must be extremely careful to ensure that anti-Constitution presidential appointees such as Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Eric "My People" Holder, Elena Kagan, Janet "The System Worked" Napolitano, Sonia Sotomayor, Cass Sunstein, and Andrew Traver are never confirmed. No president is ever entitled to appoint anyone who would ignore or undermine the Constitution and the prinicples it outlines. So far, the Senate has been criminally negligent in thus protecting the Constitution.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let the States manage their own wolf populations!

Federal and State wildlife managers, wildlife scientists and the Bush and Obama Administrations all have agreed that wolf populations far exceed recovery criteria.

Nevertheless, the poorly-managed managed wolf population is doing serious damage to our herds of moose, elk and deer. Wolves are even degrading other natural prey bases! Lack of reasonable wolf control has resulted in the slaughter of an estimated tens of thousands of cattle, sheep, horses and even pets. Hardly the fuzzy little creatures of environmentalist dreams and other fairy tales, wolves are perhaps the most efficient predator species in North America.

Extremist "animal rights" groups like PETA and Defenders of Wildlife continue to exploit legal technicalities and liberal activist judges in a perpetual effort to prevent sound management of wolf populations by state wildlife agencies.

Management of wolf populations must immediately be turned over to state wildlife managers who can better manage the balance between predators and prey than has been demonstrated by bureaucrats in Washington, DC.

In my study of the US Constitution I cannot find where it delegates authority to the federal government to control wildlife in any of the several States. Instead, the 10th Amendment to the Constitution specifically states that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The federal government must immediately get out of the business of managing wildlife in any of the States. Passing HR.6028 and S.3919 will be a small step toward restoring sanity to wildlife management and to restoring the proper and wise power restrictions defined by the US Constitution.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stop the tax deal between Obama and the GOP!

I oppose the tax "deal" between the President and the GOP leadership. It's bad for America because:

• It extends current tax rates for a mere two years. This makes it hard for businesses to make long-term plans and may actually discourage them from hiring. A permanent extension would send a much better signal to the business community.
• It includes a "food safety" bill that will ruin tens of thousands of farmers without making food any safer.
• It reinstates the death tax.
• It extends unemployment benefits without making corresponding cuts elsewhere - expanding the national debt and increasing the employer's cost of hiring new workers.
• It funds unconstitutional and bad-for-America Obamacare for 2011.

I won't be surprised if the final version includes a bunch of back-room deals and unrelated bills catering to special interests. After all, nothing much has "changed"?

This sell-out is an egregious betrayal of the voters who fired this Congress and voted for smaller government.

Congress must reject this deal between the GOP leadership and the acting president and:

• Pass permanent extension of all current income tax rates.
• Pass a temporary government funding resolution of two months so that the next Congress can handle the budget.

Congress must respect the will of the people and give the next Congress a chance to clean up the mess the current Congress made.

There must be no compromise. Compromise on principles always moves the nation in the wrong direction albeit more slowly that the opposition desires.

We need an amendment to the US Constitution that prohibits a "lame duck" Congress from doing anything short of dealing with an act of war.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Language to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been added or will be added to the Defense Authorization Bill. Language has also been added to the Defense Authorization Bill that constitutes a "Gay Bill of Special Rights."

I am left wondering, how did our nation reach the point where deviant, immoral, and destructive behavior deserves integration into mainstream society and even special treatment? Where will our society and its political leaders draw the line on the expanding acceptance of pathological sexual behavior? Bestiality? Exhibitionism? Incest? Necrophilia? Pedophilia? Polygamy? Rape? Transsexualism? Transvestism?

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy already grants far too much leniency to homosexuals in the armed forces. As a 23-year military veteran, I urge Congress to vote against the Defense Authorization Act as long as it contains either a "Gay Bill of Special Rights" or the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

There must be no compromise. Compromise on principles always moves the nation in the wrong direction albeit more slowly that the opposition desires.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The 1911 as Utah's Official State Firearm!

The Model 1911 pistol was designed in Utah by John M. Browning. This pistol was designed 100 years ago next year. In spite of its age, it continues to be one of the most widely used pistols for military, police, competition, self-defense, and sporting uses.

To go along with Utah's State Flower and State Bird and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the 1911, Rep. Carl Wimmer has proposed naming the 1911 pistol as the Official State Firearm.

A great idea! I strongly support this proposal.

Congress vs the Constitution and Natural Rights

For those who have read the US Constitution, and especially for those who understand the debates surrounding the creation of the Constitution, the plain language it contains, and the prevailing “original intent” offering context to the document, there are myriad federal laws, rules, policies, and court rulings whose lack of constitutionality are glaringly obvious.

All federal public servants (congressmen, judges, and members of the executive branch) swear an oath to uphold the US Constitution. It is unconscionable for them to enact or enforce anything in defiance to the Supreme law of the Land -- the Constitution. Yet, they do so all the time with the full expectation that the other branches of the government will let them get away with it.

Why must almost everything be a federal crime -- especially the practice of Constitutionally-enumerated rights? Here is an egregious example:

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution says, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The US Supreme Court has confirmed that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right.

In spite of the Constitution's clear and specific restriction on the infringement of the right to arms, Congress and many of the agencies it has created have clearly, defiantly, repeatedly, and willfully infringed on that civil right. For example:

18 USC § 930(a) says, in part, "Except as provided in subsection (d), whoever knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a Federal facility (other than a Federal court facility), or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both." Subsection (d) lists some exceptions to the above restriction including "...the lawful carrying of firearms or other dangerous weapons in a Federal facility incident to hunting or other lawful purposes." Incomprehensibly, several federal agencies, including the National Park Service, do not accept self-defense as a "lawful purpose" for having a weapon in a federal facility.

What is so special about federal facilities, in general, that justifies a blanket denial of a constitutionally-enumerated right? And, what reasoning person really believes that such a prohibition would ever convince a criminal to leave his weapons outside any federal facility?

The US Postal Service has its own, more severe, infringement on Second-Amendment rights: 39 CFR 232.1(l) says, “No person while on postal property may carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, or store the same on postal property, except for official purposes.” This prohibition clearly was of no help to the two postal workers who were recently shot while at work.

Natural law has given us sufficient restrictions on behaviors which are, in and of themselves, harmful to society and to the natural rights of the people. When lawmakers expand on natural laws, prohibiting or demanding behavior "because we say so" or creating new rights "because we say so", they invariably mess things up.

Instead of focusing on doing something about everything (I say gridlock in Congress is good), perhaps Congress should focus on undoing everything wrong it and the federal courts have done over the past 100+ years.

I urge Congress and the Whitehouse to initiate a full audit of all federal laws, rules, policies, and court rulings that are silly or unwise or counterproductive or unnecessary or that violate the US Constitution and the natural rights of the people. Then, initiate legislation that will make the necessary corrections.

There must be no compromise. Compromise on principles always moves the nation in the wrong direction albeit more slowly that the opposition desires.

Removing all unwise infringement of the Second Amendment found in 18 USC § 930 and 39 CFR 232.1 is a good place to start. History shows that restrictions on firearms have absolutely no effect on criminal behavior.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Taxing the rich

Except for when I mowed the law of the widow next door (she paid 50¢) as a teenager or when I worked for my dad, every one of my employers has been wealthy. Dunno why the anti-success politicians (usually, but not always, Democrats) want to tax the successful into oblivion. Who does Congress think will provide jobs (and pay taxes) once they have eliminated everyone with sufficient money to be comfortable?

A more important question is why so many of us in the working class (usually, but not always, Democrats) want the politicians to tax the successful into oblivion instead of working to join the wealthy. The answer to that is simple: Covetousness. And, covetous is the root of Socialism and the Democrat Party platform.

Except for the aristocratic class in the US (ie the Kennedys and the Bushes), how does one become wealthy? It certainly isn't because of the largess of government. I think the following quotes explain it best:
For the most part, treat consumers pretty well. The way to get rich in business is to create something good, sell it for a reasonable price, acquire a reputation for honesty and keep pleasing customers so they come back for more. — John Stossel, TV consumer reporter

I don't pay good wages because I have a lot of money; I have a lot of money because I pay good wages. — Robert Bosch

Never forget: the secret of creating riches for oneself is to create them for others. — Sir John Templeton

Starting out to make money is the greatest mistake in life. Do what you feel you have a flair for doing, and if you are good enough at it, the money will come. — Greer Garson

The worst crime against working people is a company which fails to operate at a profit. — Samuel Gompers

Recommended reading:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Costly Returns: Burdens of the US Tax System
Costly Returns: Burdens of the US Tax System

The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke
The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Defeat S.510 (The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act)

I oppose S.510 for a few reasons:

1 - It is unconstitutional because it regulates in-state commerce. The federal government has no business regulating in-state commerce!

2 - The problem this bill intends to fix are caused only by large international and interstate food companies. They are the ones that brought us chicken and eggs with salmonella, poisoned peanut butter, toxic dog food, and green onions and jalapenos with hepatitis ridden.

3 - In spite of the fact that giant companies have caused the problem with food safety, the expense and paperwork this new legislation will require will likely put thousands of small farms and food production companies out of business.

4 - While I am opposed to much of what S.510 will do, most of these regulations already exist!

5 - Giants such as Monsanto, Conagra, and Tyson support S.510 it even though it will raise their costs. Why? The costs are easy to absorb with economy of scale and most of them are already doing this type of tracking for marketing and logistics purposes. They know it will eliminate the competition of the small farmers and producers.

6 - This bill doesn’t make food safer anyway -- it is about tracking food after someone gets sick.

7 - Why must everything be a federal crime?

Instead of focusing doing something about everything (I say gridlock in Congress is good), perhaps Congress should focus on undoing everything wrong it has done over the past 100+ years. That would probably reduce the cost of government by about 90% and make everyone's life a whole lot better.

I urge Congress and the acting president to reject S.510 and anything like it and the inclusion of any of its provision in any other legislation.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reject Andrew Traver to run BATFE

I strongly oppose the nomination of Andrew Traver to head BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). The BATFE is just one of several out-of-control federal agencies that run roughshod over the rights of innocent citizens. Traver one of the people that make the BATFE the corrupt organization that it is.

Traver participated in an extremely deceptive NBC "news" report wherein fully-automatic arms were falsely portrayed as widely available to gangs. Traver must surely know that virtually all so-called assault weapons available in the US, including the AK-47, are not capable of full-automatic fire as shown in the NBC-Traver propaganda video. He surely must know that so-called assault weapons are rarely the choice of criminals because they are difficult to conceal. He also must surely know that no criminal can legally buy a gun anyway. These simple facts apparently are anathema to him and his agenda.

Traver has long been deeply aligned with gun control advocates and anti-gun activities. This further makes him the wrong choice to lead an enforcement agency that has almost exclusive oversight and control over the firearms industry, its retailers, and consumers.

Traver has not demonstrated the judgment and objectivity necessary to lead any law-enforcement agency, let alone the BATFE. Instead, he has a history of deep hostility toward a freedom that is so essential that it is specifically protected in the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

Traver, as a BATFE agent, has sworn to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Yet, his history shows to be one of its most dangerous enemies.

Like Traver, each Senator has a sworn duty to defend the Constitution. For this purpose, the Constitution gives the Senate the critical role of confirming or rejecting presidential nominations. To fulfill their mandate to protect the Constitution from the tyranny of an anti-Constitution president, each Senator has an obligation to reject the confirmation any anti-Constitution nominee. This includes Andrew Traver who must be denied any leadership position in the US government, especially the BATFE.

Every Senator must insist that, in the future, the current acting president as well as all future presidents nominate only individuals with a solid record of supporting and defending the US Constitution and of interpreting it as it was intended by the founders.

There must be no compromise. Compromise on principles always moves the nation in the wrong direction albeit more slowly that the opposition desires.

The Gang

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The curse of earmarks - a mere symptom of the problem

According to Wikipedia,
" earmark is a legislative (especially congressional) provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects, or that directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees....Typically, a legislator seeks to insert earmarks that direct a specified amount of money to a particular organization or project in his/her home state or district. Earmarks are often considered synonymous with "pork barrel" legislation, although the two are not necessarily the same.
Although widely abused in Congress, earmarks actually comprise a relatively small portion of the bloated federal government (reportedly less than 2 percent of the federal budget). It is because of this relative insignificance that politicians historically justify the practice.

In response to voter outrage over government spending, it has finally become fashionable in Republican political circles to eschew earmarks.

While I believe it is absolutely essential that we get the federal government and its budget under control -- and controlling earmarks is a part of that budgetary process -- I oppose earmarks for reasons that politicians and most other voters fail to acknowledge:

1 - The problem is not that federal tax money is spent. The problem is that the money is spent on State or local projects that should be State or locally driven and funded. The federal government has no Constitutional role in State or local affairs. In fact, the federal government is specifically prohibited from State and local matters by the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution.

2 - Earmarks are used to buy the loyalty of State and local politicians. Earmarks bribe them into accepting the federal "strings" attached to the funds. Consequently, State and local politicians cede precious sovereignty and power to the federal government. The closer the workings of government are to the people, the better control the people have over government. For this reason, the founders established clear and specific limits over the federal government and retained all other rights and responsibilities to the States and the people (9th and 10th Amendments).

3 - Because of all the "free" money pouring in from earmarks, State and local governments tend to build projects their constituents don't really need or projects that are much more extravagant than their constituents need. These projects are often of such a scale that the beneficiary States or communities can't even afford to operate and maintain them.

4 - Earmarks are often offered to members of Congress to entice them to vote for a bill they otherwise might not vote for. It is a corrupt soul who would sell his vote for an earmark, and there certainly seems to be no shortage of such corruption in the halls of Congress.

5 - There is no transparency or accountability in the system. Congressional members funnel hundreds of millions of dollars for pet projects without subjecting them to debate by their colleagues in the Congress, or to the scrutiny and oversight of the public. Congressmen use earmarks to secretly reward their biggest campaign contributors and even family members!

As I mentioned above, earmarks comprise less than 2 percent of the federal budget. Therefore, the Republican effort to curb earmarks is essentially a slight-of-hand to distract us from the real problem: an excessively intrusive, expensive, and wasteful federal government. I say the same for all "balanced-budget" proposals which in reality don't do anything to cut government.

In its early years, the federal government only needed about 4 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Now, it engorges itself on 20 percent of GDP (or 43 percent of each American's gross income) and wants more and more and more. While tackling earmarks seems a noble quest, it only addresses a minor symptom of the true problem. If the federal income tax were abolished altogether, the federal government would only need to shrink to its size of just over 10 years ago!

What we really need is politicians who will eliminate all federal agencies, legislation, rules, policies, and executive orders that exceed the authority delegated to the federal government by the people. I suspect that doing so would reduce the cost of the federal government back to around 4 percent of GDP (Dr. Walter Williams would allow a generous 10 percent). The States and our communities would need to increase their own tax revenue to pay for the services that currently and illegitimately are paid by the federal government. Think of all the good that States and communities could do if that money ceased to flow through the federal government and instead flowed from the people directly to their community and State governments. Think of the greater control the people would have over that flow (except in places like California where voters seem to have no desire to control their government whatsoever). Since that money is very likely to be spent more efficiently, States and communities would leave a lot more money in the pockets of the people. And, think of all the good that we, the people could do for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors if we could keep more of our personal GDP.

If we, the people fail to demand that of Congress, we have no standing to whine about our tax burden and our loss of individual liberty.

Abolish the TSA and DHS

As an airline pilot, I fully appreciate having a reasonable level of security screening at airports. However, the people's 4th Amendment rights must be protected!
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The TSA (Transportation Security Agency) has long deviated from the limits of reasonableness. It treats every traveler and every flight crew member as if he is on the FBI's 10-Most-Wanted list -- without the probable cause demanded by the 4th Amendment. Its ongoing trend indicates it is nothing if not another rogue out-of-control government agency created in the Frankenstein lab we call Congress. And, what is the probable cause that the overwhelming majority of travelers have committed, or are about commit, a crime justifying the level of government-mandated assault -- now including sexual assault -- imposed upon them?

Where in the Constitution did Frankenstein (Congress) find authority to nationalize a government-monitored free-enterprise security system into a full-fledged government bureaucratic monster, anyway?

TSA policies and regulations clearly indicate that the best DHS Secretary Janet “The system worked” Napolitano and TSA Administrator John Pistole can come up with are intrusive techniques intended to stop the last threat to aviation. It is extremely expensive theater designed to give the appearance of security to the citizens and to the threat.

The government seems to have the notion that buying an airline ticket give implied consent to the government for any level of search. The government posts signs indicating that all persons and items are subject to search. Passing such signs give implied consent to any level of search. Unlike Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, we, in the US, have a natural right to travel. But, we have blindly allowed our government to twist that natural right to travel into a government-granted privilege! I am saddened that the people of the United States have willingly submitted to ever increasingly intrusive government searches like a flock of sheep.

A very frightening aspect of this egregious institutionalized violation of Constitutional rights is that every individual TSA employee is apparently fully willingly to violate the God-given rights of another human being. They are only following orders, after all. Or, perhaps each TSA employee is on such a power trip that violating the rights of another person brings him sadistic pleasure. Were a military serviceman to be given an unlawful order (ie one which would have him violate the laws of war or to violate his oath to support and defend the Constitution), we all would expect him to refuse to obey that unlawful order -- and he his trained to do so! Yet, no TSA employee seems willing to refuse (or even intellectually capable of refusing) to violate the human rights of airline travelers. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the TSA's hiring practices are designed to select only people who are effectively mindless automatons.

Way back in the TSA's infancy I expressed my concern that the TSA was rapidly becoming the tail that wags the dog -- that its employees would view the aviation industry as noting more than something to justify TSA's existence. That seems much more evident today. As another observer said, TSA efforts now seem designed to drive away the lifeblood of the aviation industry -- the customers!

For example, the strip-search x-ray machines and the new, more intimate pat-down (groping) searches are effective in only stopping some, not all, things that are carried outside the body. The TSA seems to assume that a dedicated threat (bad person) isn't smart enough to carry weapons, explosives, or biological agents internally -- undetected by anything the TSA does or apparently plans to do. The TSA, under Napolitano's "leadership" is helpless against such a dedicated threat. (I warned Congress, during her confirmation hearing that she was a bad choice.)
The TSA agents never look at you because they're not looking for terrorists; they're looking for things. This is the bureaucratization of the war on terror and we should not allow it to happen. — Mark Steyn, 18 Nov 2010
The TSA must stop focusing its efforts on finding things (which they often miss) and start focusing on genuine threats: bad people and travelers about whom they know nothing. It's easy to know who the good people are -- leave them alone! Tiny little Israel can do it. Why can't Napolitano and her 15,000 gropers? (If they're not gropers, why don't they tell Napolitano that they refuse to grope and view porn -- then follow through with that refusal?)

There is no question in my mind is that sexual harassment is a significant element here. If any TSA employees are getting the slightest pleasure from all this groping and viewing nude images of innocent people, those employees are sexual predators. This raises the big question" Have TSA employees been screened to determine if sexual harassment has been a part of their life -- either as a victim or as an abuser? Either way, they are statistically much more likely to be an abuser than the general population. Napolitano and Pistole have created a perfect place for these people to get away with sexual predation -- and get paid for it! At lease one TSA emplyee is reported to have criminally exploited the trust some passengers have in the goverment.

Now, please consider a certain category of passengers who must endure these "pat-downs" or who are pressured into submitting to having nude images taken of them -- the sexual assault survivors. Has anyone in the DHS and TSA thought about the effect these enhanced screening methods have on passengers who have been subjected to sexual assault in the past? And, how do the innocent TSA employees who are sexual assault survivors feel about being required to do the same thing to others that caused themselves serious psychological harm?

Here's something for Commissar Napolitano to consider: Attacks on air travel have been thwarted by alert passengers, not the TSA! This after the TSA or its foreign counterparts cleared the threats to fly! How about treating the passengers as part of the solution -- not as the threat?

When will Congressmen in general muster the rare courage of Representatives Jason Chaffetz and Ron Paul and reign in the TSA? If Congress fails to draw the line now, what will it take to get Congress to stand up to the monster it created? Several months ago, the US House voted 310-118 in support of an amendment from Chaffetz to prohibit whole-body imaging as a primary screening. The cowards in the Senate, Under Harry Reid's leadership, let the plan die.

Congress and the acting President must immediately implement HR-6416 (The American Traveler Dignity Act). It is a very tiny step toward restoring rights and sanity to the airport screening process. Much more must be done.

Better yet, when will the aristocrats in Congress come to their senses and abolish the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA and return airport security to private enterprise (which met government screening standards, was just as effective, and a whole lot cheaper than the TSA, and substantially less arrogant, stupid, and abusive)?
They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

It is inevitable, that eventually the people will demand absolute security from the state...And absolute security is absolute slavery. — Taylor Caldwell
On 11 September 2001, the terrorists won in that they gave the political elite all the cover needed to destroy our Constitution and the rights it protects. We, the people, must fight this tyranny! It will soon be too late to avoid much bloodshed.

Now, here's my prediction for the next successful attack on air travel: The attack will be outside the secure area of the terminal at the busiest time of the day. While scores of people are lined up waiting to get through the security screening farce, someone will detonate a fragmentary bomb that will kill or severely maim everyone within 25 meters. Similar attacks will happen at a the same time at 5-10 (maybe more) airports across the nation. The terror resulting from this attack will shut down air travel for months, perhaps forever. Consequently, every US airline will go out of business. Because the DHS and the TSA are so focused on fingernail clippers, nude x-ray images, and groping nuns and children, they have no plan to defeat the attack that I predict. Why will such a successful attack cause the total collapse of air travel? Because the people will fully understand that our current process of security theater is only temporary and illusory and that such security measures inevitably fail. Not only will the feeling of insecurity be widespread, but there will also be the total loss of trust in the competence of those responsible for security -- Pistole, Napolitano, and Obama.

None of this is really about airline security. It's about governmental power overruling individual freedom. We might as well be subjects of a feudal English king once again.

The solution? Stop looking for things! Follow Israel's lead and look for bad people! Profile!

Recommended reading:

The Top 10 Insanities of Airport Security

The Constitution in Exile: How the Federal Government Has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land
The Constitution in Exile: How the Federal Government Has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land

Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen
Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen

Lost Rights; The Destruction of American Liberty
Lost Rights; The Destruction of American Liberty

Monday, November 15, 2010

No Compromise!

To Democrats, bipartisanship and compromise simply means they get what they want, but sometimes a bit more slowly than they would like.

To Republicans, bipartisanship and compromise simply means they give the Democrats what they want, but sometimes a bit more slowly than the Democrats would like.

This bipartisanship and compromise not only involves legislation, it involves the confirmation of the President's appointees and nominees. Historically, Democrats give the "Bork" treatment to Republican nominees and appointees. On the other hand, Republicans nearly always vote to confirm Democrat nominees and appointees -- no mater how unqualified, corrupt, or anti-Constitution they are.

For generations, the Republicans have cheerfully compromised with the Democrats, their big-government anti-liberty agenda, and their crusade to ensure the Constitution is a meaningless historical artifact. Often the Republicans have not only made compromises that have enabled the Democrats in these efforts, the Republicans also have initiated these anti-liberty efforts themselves!

Some time back, I heard a wise political observer announce, "The Democrats are evil. The Republicans are stupid." Try as I might, I cannot find evidence that his statement is incorrect.

Every politician, from the local city council member to the President of the United States must keep in mind that they do not swear an oath to a political party, nor to party leaders, nor to an agenda, nor to bipartisanship or compromises. Their sworn oath is to the US Constitution! Their primary obligation is to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic (including fellow politicians).

The 2010 voter revolt is a strong signal to both parties, especially to the Republicans, that we voters demand a return to the limited government mandated by the Constitution. There must be no compromise whatsoever!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Beware of the Dog House

I plead guilty. It was a garden hose. A really nice one! Honest!

The NEH: Part of the unconstitutional federal alphabet soup

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is a "grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities."

I have learned that the NEH recently funded a conference in Hawaii entitled "History and Commemoration: The Legacies of the Pacific war." One attendee, Professor Penelope Blake of Rock Valley College in Illinois, courageously described the conference as an "extremist, agenda-driven, revisionist conference, nearly devoid of rhetorical balance and historical context for the arguments presented." She reported that lectures included broad-sweeping assaults on the integrity and decency of US servicemen as well as US objectives during WWII.

As any objective observer well knows, nearly everything the federal government funds or manages is overpriced, poorly executed, and hostile to human decency and individual liberty. The NEH is no exception.

This pervasive failure is true of the government's all-encompassing alphabet soup of agencies such as the NEH, BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, an Explosives - whose primary objective seems to be enforcement of unconstitutional gun laws), CPB and NPR (Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio - entities which compete against private enterprise with content which can't survive in a free market using taxpayer money), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency - an agency which destroys the concept of property ownership in the name of protecting the environment), NEA (National Endowment for the Arts - an agency which funds self-described artists who don't have enough talent to make a living through their obscene "arts"), FED (the Federal Reserve - an organization which refuses to be held accountable to the citizens and their elected representatives), NIH and CDC (National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control - agencies which have funded biased studies designed to destroy the Second Amendment) and ED (Department of Education - an agency whose existence parallels the decline in the quality of education in the US).

The establishment and perpetuation of most of this federal alphabet soup is based on the arrogant assumption by America's elitist ruling class that we commoners can't make appropriate decisions on anything without the intrusion of the government.

But, more important than the horrid waste of the taxes imposed on hard-working Americans to fund these misguided agencies is the simple fact that the US Constitution clearly rejects all federal intrusion into these areas of American life.

I am appalled that any member of Congress would violate their oath to the Constitution by voting to establish, continue, or fund any of these agencies.

Every congressman and the acting president must lead the charge to phase out, over the next 10 years, every agency, law, rule, policy, and executive order which is incompatible with the restrictions the US Constitution places on the federal government. Begin that process now by defunding and eliminating the NEH.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Burglary and warning shots

Yesterday (8 Nov 2010), at approximately 1 am, a couple of young men tried breaking into a home in a Salt Lake City suburb. One of the burglars was fatally shot.

In the aftermath, one head-in-the-sand citizen pondered, "I wonder why the homeowner couldn't have fired a warning shot first?" Hmmm. I wonder where the homeowner should have sent that warning shot. Into the sky, maybe -- to fall somewhere else in town? Perhaps, into the ground -- to ricochet into the neighbor's bedroom? Possibly, into a wall -- to pass through and into the church down the street?

It seems to me that Mr. Homeowner did indeed fire a warning shot. He warned all potential burglars that getting shot is a serious occupational hazard in free States such as Utah.

The surviving burglar, 18-year-old Derek Sego, seems to have learned from that warning shot and immediately abandoned burglary as a career.

So, how much warning do criminals really need? They know that crime is, um, against the law. They surely must know that the rest of us are tired of being their victims. They know that homeowners in free States are armed. So, here's your warning, punk: Commit a forcible felony, expect to suffer severe consequences.

The real tragedy in this story is that the homeowner will feel profound heartache for the rest of his life for having been placed in the position of needing to take a human life to protect himself and his family. No criminal has the right to do that to innocent people.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

General William G. Boykin on the Ft. Hood Shooting

On offering aid to illegal immigrants

I was disappointed to learn that my senior senator, Orin Hatch, sought to help an Argentine family who wants asylum from religious persecution. The fact is that Hatch's clients were victims of a local crime in Argentina and should have dealt with it as such -- not run away.

The family claims religious persecution against Mormons in their homeland of Argentina. That excuse doesn't work. We have it here too -- religious bigots are burning LDS chapels and even throwing LDS college students out of sports because they choose to honor the Sabbath day!

For Hatch to step in to ensure the family's rights are being protected is fine. But to intervene and try to get them special consideration is an insult to equal protection under the law.

Where are we to draw the line on illegal immigration? How about: If one's presence here is in full compliance with our immigration laws, that person can stay. If not, he or she must go back home and begin or resume the immigration process properly.

Too harsh? Try violating Mexico's immigration laws (or those of almost any other nation)!

Our immigration problem is not inadequate, unfair, or inadequate immigration laws. The problem is politicians in all three branches of government who commit treason by refusing to ensure these laws are enforced.

Our nation's failure to execute its immigration laws is a white flag of surrender to a foreign invasion. Our national leaders have surrendered our national sovereignty, identity, and language to this invasion without so much as firing a single shot. It is complete and willful failure to fulfill the federal mandate to defend the States from invasion. For State and local leaders to participate in, or endorse to any extent whatsoever, this surrender is unconscionable.

There are situations and issues where compromise and moderation are appropriate. Dealing with an invasion is not one of them! There must be no compromise on illegal "immigration." Compromise on principles always moves the nation in the wrong direction albeit more slowly that the opposition desires.

Politicians love to talk about immigration reform. Our immigration laws do not need any reform. However, the administration's immigration policy does need reform -- reform to bring policy into compliance with the law!

BTW, I am pleased that Hatch's official website is not in Spanish. Other than for tourism or legal immigration, there are very few legitimate reasons for any federal, state, or local government to have a website in any language other than English or to offer services or printed matter (especially ballots) in any language other than English.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election 2010 lamentation

Although the voters made some progress in removing from Congress some of those who have been bent on running our republic into bankruptcy, they chose to return several who will continue their crusade to destroy the Constitution and to enslave the people with a bloated government: Boxer, Conyers, Dingell, Frank, McCain, McCarthy, Murray, Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, Rangel, Waters, and Waxman.

And, Alaska is letting Princess Murkowski keep the Senate seat her daddy gave her just because she thinks she’s entitled to it?

I suppose I should rejoice at the movement back toward politicians who at least say they'll follow the Constitution. But, I'm disappointed that we've kept so many who, at a minimum, have a long-proven history of ignoring the limits the Constitution places on the federal government. I hope they don't blow it like they did the last time the Republicans controlled Congress.

I hope Election 2010 teaches Republican politicians and party leaders at least one thing: When the Republicans put up Constitutionalist candidates or campaign on Constitutionalist principles, they generally win quite easily (except for hopeless places like New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco). When they put up moderates (ie McCain for president) or run on compromised principles, or fail to follow the Constitution after being elected, they are generally defeated.

We clearly have far too many voters who go to the polls who have insufficient facts on who or what they're voting for and too many who vote based primarily on bigotry or greed.
Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If the people be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand those high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. — James A Garfield
We need better civics education in our government schools.