Sunday, December 27, 2009

Iranian Government Has No Monopoly On Violence Against Citizens

In considering all of the actions and violence committed against "anti-government protesters" in places like Iran, is it not worth considering whether or not the scenes here are often that much different? At the end of the day, Americans live under a system that steals from them, lies to them, commits fraud, illegally invades other countries, detains people, puts them on lists, sometimes allies itself with dictators and now threatens to make laws at the Federal level that REQUIRE you to buy products from insurance corporations or be threatened with fines and jail time?

G20 protesters get assaulted:

Police make a joke and laugh about shooting a peaceful protester (think about a culture where this is promoted as funny and worthy of reward):

There is always a worthy discussion about new laws where ultimately, the question should be asked ... "Are you willing to shoot someone over this?"

People chuckle and say, "we're just talking about a fine or a warning or something minor." BUT, the ultimate enforcement mechanism of any law, no matter how seemingly innocuous, is that it presents additional opportunities for there to be potential armed aggression against citizens.

This puts police officers in the position of not being thought of as "protecting and serving" us, but puts them in adversarial positions with the general public. How many people can say they've never been pulled over for something? How many people felt they were posing a clear and present threat of immediate harm to someone else and thereby warranted being detained by someone with a gun, fined and otherwise inconvenienced? Why do we accept this as okay?

Think about tax enforcement. Being required, by threat of potential government force being used against you, to pay for sports stadiums, convention centers, transfers of wealth to private entities, for abortions or stem cell research, billions to foreign dictators or paying for research on the mating habits of butterflies. We must again ask... Are we willing to destroy people's lives, reputations or families? Are we willing to march armed soldiers to their door steps and even shoot them over their objections to this? Yes, even in America, the political elites are willing to do so.

And this is why we must always remember that "The Law" is there to protect our life, property and rights. It is not supposed to be used to take away our life, transfer our property to others or reduce, limit or undermine our rights.

Live your life as you chose so long as you do no harm to, or violate the rights of, others. There is a foundational principle to live by and one that nobody should have any objection to.

Friday, December 18, 2009

If Our Rights Are Natural, Then Everybody Has Them Not Just Citizens

I had a good back and forth discussion with one of our Indiana Tea Party Patriots today.

Our good patriot friend said:

I mean the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the natural rights bestowed upon us by God, our Creator. I believe our country does not/cannot give us rights..they are from God.

But then in a subsequent message added:

My concern is not to give terrorists the same constitutional rights that citizens have.

So, understanding that the debate over the current Guantanamo prisoners is terse and heated, I still waded in to the water a bit as I perceived a bit of circular logic here. I don't propose that true enemy combatants in a war should be granted the same privileges non combatant citizens enjoy; however, it did spark a train of thought related to the source of our rights and who has them. It occurred to me that there is a trap in the debate about the prisoners and whether or not they have rights. If you believe rights come from government and can be taken away, then you have to believe that the prisoners have no rights. If you believe we all are endowed with natural rights and that government does not grant them, then you have to accept that even prisoners accused of terrorism have a right to due process and fair treatment.

E-mail is never a great place for debate and for busy people the responses can often be quick, not well thought through or riddled with typos, but here is what I responded with:

Do people have rights guaranteed by the creator or not? If the rights come from, as you state, God (or whatever creative force one subscribes to) and not from our Constitution then do these people have rights or not? (I'm not taking a position either way - just confused by the circular logic).

I would argue that anyone has a right to face their accuser, be presented with evidence, given a fair and speedy trial and then either required to provide compensation/restitution for their crimes or set free. I would also be curious as to how many people we have in Gitmo who were captured just, as far as they were concerned, defending their country and were not really "terrorists". I don't trust anything the government tells us about anything or anyone anymore.

You can't invade a country and then accuse everyone who fights back of being a "terrorist". Most of the problem we have with modern terrorism is that these folks feel they are fighting back against U.S. hegemony. Unfortunately, they cross an unforgivable line when they target innocent people and private interests. Again, a lot of terrorism's roots lay in the response to actions most Americans are not even aware happened 'on their behalf'. The foreign foot soldiers may not know this, but their leaders and those that manipulate are keenly aware of their political and economic goals.

We fell right into their trap by spending trillions on these wars overseas that have contributed to tanking our economy and weakening our nation. They knew they couldn't win a military victory, but they knew they might get us economically eventually. They saw us do it to the U.S.S.R.

In all fairness, entitlements are ultimately the bill that we will not be able to pay; but, in an already weakened and debt ridden state tacking an extra couple (or few) trillion for war just isn't helpful. We should always be wary of the economic warfare, not just the physical warfare fought by troops and machinery.

Regardless of disagreements, it is oftentimes in conversations like these where thoughts, opinions, policies and approaches are forged. A far better source of belief, understanding and rationale than just parroting whatever the favorite partisan hack of the day is saying on the boob tube.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cuba Becoming More Capitalist To Save Socialism?

There was an article posted to McClatchy that appears to be by Frances Robies of the Miami Herald. Drudge linked it up today and when I read it I was reminded of George W. Bush saying that we had to become more socialist in order to save capitalism. Of course, this showed a complete misunderstanding of the state of capitalism and (what haven't been for decades) free markets in the United States.

But the article today was about Cuba becoming a little more capitalistic in order to save socialism. We know that increased socialism has led to some of the worst economies in the world (Cuba, Soviet Union) and that free market capitalism is what made America the most prosperous and powerful nation in the world well prior to the The Federal Reserve System, Income Taxes, FDR, The Welfare State, The Great Society and such. In fact, we can easily point to increased economic intervention as the root causes of the malaise which afflicts us now. Even the Communist Chinese had enough sense to keep their hands off their economy as possible to allow it to prosper, and now they make fun of us and our economic and fiscal policies. Strange how the tables have turned, yes?

From the article:

As the Cuban government struggles through a deep recession, its leaders have begun picking away at socialism in order to save it. But experts say the latest buzz by the Cuban government is simply another desperate fix to stem the slide of a failed economy that buckled long ago.

Even one of Havana's leading economists recently said Cuba's economy needed to be turned upside down -- "feet up." So taxi drivers got private licenses, farmers now have their own plots of land and government workers have to pack their own lunches.

"I think what they are trying to do is prepare the people for a hard landing," said Cuba expert Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado of the University of Nebraska. "The government is really saying in so many words: We've got limited resources and can only do so much. I think they are stuck."

Since he took office early last year, Raúl Castro has been saying that the country's severely battered economy needs fixing. In a widely quoted August speech, Castro said Cuba was spending more than it made.

"Nobody, no individual nor country, can indefinitely spend more than she or he earns. Two plus two always adds up to four, never five," he said. "Within the conditions of our imperfect socialism, due to our own shortcomings, two plus two often adds up to three."

As with any government redistribution of resources ... 2+2 always equals 4 no matter how much the politicians like to try and claim they can make 5 out of it. Just like Alchemists found out they couldn't turn lead into gold, so it is true with those who might pretend to be "economic alchemists".

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Recent Jobless Claims Data - Two Stories To Get Whole Picture

The following two articles came out today. I am always struck by how when "continuing claims" are reported, they never (almost never?) actually report the number of benefit recipients who reached the end of the benefit period. So, when you see "continuing claims dropped 16,000" but have to go dig to find out that "400,000 had their benefits expire" ... well, you do the math.

Even more fascinating is that both articles are from the same news source, CNN/Money. I'm just surprised that when these things are written the authors don't think to go find what that number is (benefits expired) and just include it. Is that not part of the story?

From the first article:

The 4-week moving average for ongoing claims fell by 15,750 to 6,144,250, from the prior week's revised average of 6,160,000.

But the slide in continuing claims may not be a positive sign, Resler said, as it may signal that more filers are falling off that count and into extended benefits.

Continuing claims reflect people filing each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, which usually last 26 weeks.

From the second:

more than 400,000 people ran out of unemployment benefits in September, according to the National Employment Law Project.
and it also noted:

Some 1.4 million people will stop receiving checks by year's end

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Please Watch These

I know he takes some criticism and sometimes seems inconsistent; but, he is pretty much the only guy saying the things that need to be said. You would think self-avowed "Communists" being appointed to positions of power in government would make newspaper headlines, heck that should be the lead story, but the mainstream media is far too cozy with government, fears losing "access" to celebrity politicians and their credibility, importance and necessity suffer as a result.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Health Care Reform IS Important

In the current debate over health care reform I believe both of the typical sides (left/right, liberal/conservative, statist/statist-lite) are completely missing the mark.

Wednesday night, at the Indianapolis North Side Libertarian MeetUp, I heard the story of a young man who said that repair of his broken arm cost around $4,500. He said when he went to the emergency room they couldn't tell him what treatment would cost. Interestingly, I also was recently looking at a procedure and the surgeon had no idea what the total cost would be, he couldn't tell me. Huh?

Anyway, broken arm guy ended up at a med check place and after some questioning indicated that, including getting a couple of different casts over the healing cycle, he spent no more than 3 or 4 hours with an actual physician and did not require anesthesia.

Let's put this in perspective of other vocations.

A well paid Telecommunications or IT Consultant might make $120 to $220 an hour depending on what they are doing and whether it is 'after hours' work. It would not be unusual for a lawyer to charge $200, $230 or for an experienced partner or specialist (but perhaps not Johnny Cochran or Mark Garagos) up in the $300 or $400 an hour range. So, let's just use $250 an hour as a fair figure.

Four hours of time = $1,000 + materials (orthopedic cast, an x-ray).

So, maybe, worst case this should have cost less than $1,500 and maybe very close to $1,000 even ... CERTAINLY not $4,500.

Now, we know that since Medicare/Medicaid underpay physicians for services so much that it drives up costs on the rest of us by at least fifteen percent and potentially up to one third and that over reliance on "prepaid healthcare" separates consumers from the actual cost of each unit use of services. We also know that a high default rate on (far too high) medical expenses shifts the burden of those bills to those who do not default. We also know that the AMA has leveraged a lot of government protectionism of physician services into the marketplace which limits supply, specialization, innovation and other things that could drive changes in the industry or increase the supply of doctors.

So, when we talk about health care "reform" can we please talk about it outside the scope of just having somebody else (like the government) pay for everything and instead focus on why it costs $7,000 to lay in a hospital bed for two days with a kidney stone (arguably not a good use of the bed) or $4,000 to put a cast on a broken arm? How about $6,000 for an out patient procedure to fix an umbilical hernia? I'll bet, physicians or hospitals who declined to accept insurance or government payments for services could easily drop their costs down to $2,000 or $3,000 for the stone (including the MRI and the IV bags of fluid) and $1,000 or less for the arm.

The point is, libertarians and conservatives are not opposed to health care "reform". But, as is typical in arguments with more left leaning big government folks we just have a much better grasp of the root of the problem and the economics of it rather than just not caring and begging for our woefully inept government to come sweep the problem under the rug.

The cost problem in health care must get resolved before any kind of dialog on how to cover the 8.6 to 12.5 million chronically uninsured people is addressed.

The Government Can

"The government takes, everything we make
They're power hungry and malicious
Their economics are fictitious
Soon we'll have to eat our dishes..."

Friday, August 7, 2009

This gentlemen, is my profound conviction: I believe we are at this moment sleeping on a volcano.

The political dialogue in America is starting to get riotous. But to highlight the justness of those opposing ever larger government, consider the following:

You must first understand that people have a natural right to their life, property and freedom and that this is regardless of the protection of any formal legal framework ... these are inherent rights that you have as a human being. And that no action or inaction on the part of one person should create a liability on the part of any other unless they have voluntarily contracted to be responsible. For example, if my neighbor falls off the roof of his house and breaks his arm, what part of his medical bill should I be forced to pay for? If I am in a car accident and in a wheelchair for life, what part of my lifetime care should YOU be now FORCED to pay for? Would it be okay if I came to your house with a gun and forcibly demanded or took the money? Is it okay if I get someone else to do it on my behalf? Is it okay if they have a badge when they do it?

In any group of ten people, not even six (a majority) or nine has the right to take away any other's life, property or freedom except as just compensation for damages created by someone first violating one's rights. (ie: you can't take somebody's property away except as compensation for some harm they have first done to you and even then only with due process of law). So, even if you mean to do great things with someone else's money, it gives you no right to forcibly extract it from them (taxes, for example, are government force: threat of confiscation of your property, threat of violence, threat of destruction of your life, career, reputation, family or revocation of your freedom.)

The Health Care debate is bringing thousands of people out of the wood work to fight back against ever encroaching government control of our lives and our economy. Most people don't know the difference between Health Insurance or "prepaid Healthcare". Health insurance is typically intended for those things that might happen just like auto insurance is in case you have an accident. Auto insurance doesn't cover keeping the car operating well, replacing the tires or changing the oil. Nor can you get auto insurance to cover an accident AFTER you've had the accident (that is a pre-existing condition).

Prepaid healthcare is just that. You're prepaying ahead of time (generally as part of a collective group who have volunteered to participate in a plan) for your doctor visits, shots, prescriptions, eye glasses or whatever else. A third party typically administers the program and that third party has their own needs to pay staff, have computer systems and offices and earn a profit. Thus, you're paying somebody else to 'take the bet' that you'll, on average, spend less in health care than you are paying them to cover on your behalf.

Very few know the tax preferences to employers, that Democrats regularly and routinely have voted down giving tax incentives for medical savings accounts to citizens or that Congress actually mandated HMOs in the 1970s. Few know that Democrats have blocked attempts for years to increase competition for health insurance which would have lowered costs. Few consider the employer provided health coverage was at one time a "benefit" used to lure the best talent to such employer and the practice generally spread, via the free market competition for labor resources, to the point where now everyone expects somebody else to pick up and cover their medical bills.

Few understand that government provided healthcare currently doesn't pay market rates and this transfers the shortfall and additional administrative expense to the rest of us. Or that when there is less money to be made as a doctor or in inventing some new life saving drug, there will, indeed, be fewer of them to help us. Senator Jim Demint recently commented that this cost transfer increases everyone's health care costs by as much as 33%.

This issue is very complex and demands an understanding of history, technological advance, the regulatory environment, economics and human nature. I trust very few of our elected popularity contest winners, who are constantly besieged by lobbyists, special interests or the "rationally greedy" (as my friend Matt Nettleton recently pointed out) to be educated and principled enough to properly put all of these things in perspective. This is not because they are unintelligent; but, perhaps more so because a main reason for keeping government small and unobtrusive is that the free market always works better at absorbing and responding to these things than any one individual could ever possibly orchestrate from on high. Central planning doesn't work, just ask the U.S.S.R ... oh, you can't now. It is unfair to expect our politicians to be 'omniscient experts in everything' and able to foresee and correct for all unintended consequences.

The two things that have skyrocketed in cost over the past few decades are education and health care. Both things that government is deeply involved in not only via policy, but via subsidy. Do you really think a college education could cost what it does today if the government didn't subsidize people mortgaging their future with low interest, guaranteed loans? Do we really think government complexity, regulation and massive reliance on third-party payers has lowered the cost?

My initial thought in going down this path was this. Those who do not wish their rights taken away by out of control government and its elected, appointed or 'hired bureaucrat' representatives are starting to stir, and I am reminded of this great excerpt from a speech given by Alexis De Tocqueville in 1848.

...I am told that there is no danger because there are no riots; I am told that, because there is no visible disorder on the surface of society, there is no revolution at hand.

Gentlemen, permit me to say that I believe you are deceiving yourselves. True, there is no actual disorder; but it has entered deeply into men's minds. See what is passing in the breast of the working classes, who, I grant are at present quiet. No doubt they are not disturbed by political passion, properly so-called, to the same extent that they have been; but can you not see that their passions, instead of political, have become social? Do you not see that there are gradually forming in their breasts opinions and ideas which are destined not only to upset society itself, until it totters upon the foundations on which it rests to-day? Do you not listen to what they say to themselves each day? Do you not hear them repeating unceasingly that all that is above them is incapable and unworthy of governing them ... And do you not realize that when such opinions take root, when they spread in an almost universal manner, when they sink deeply into the masses, they are bound to bring with them sooner or later, I know not when nor how, a most formidable revolution?

This, gentlemen, is my profound conviction: I believe that we are at this moment sleeping on a volcano. I am profoundly convinced of it.


as an addendum - please see the following link to see an example of the increasing tensions:

Monday, July 6, 2009

My post on Wednesday, June 10 regarding the coming explosion in the U.S. Government's cost of borrowing now has company in this article from the UK's Daily Telegraph.

From the article:

In a 2003 paper, Thomas Laubach, the US Federal Reserve’s senior economist, calculated the impact on long-term interest rates of rising fiscal deficits and soaring national debt. Applying his assumptions to the recent spike in the US fiscal deficit and national debt, long-term interests rates will double from their current 3.5pc.
The impact would be devastating by making it punitively expensive to finance national borrowings and leading to what Tim Congdon, founder of Lombard Street Research, called a “debt explosion”.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Voters and the Executive Branch

A lot of people were amused by the Obama Administration selecting someone with absolutely no experience in the automobile industry to run General (Government) Motors.

But, it occurred to me that it's not like voters really check the qualifications, knowledge or experience of the people they vote for... not really, anyway. Most of them just pick the person their preferred "club" (political party) has promoted up the chain and put in front of their nose on the ballot. Most of these people can't tell you about the 1953 Iranian Coup, the 1959 Iraq Coup Attempt, the history of the income tax or Federal Reserve, the difference between Keynesian, Chicago and Austrian schools/theories of economics or what the REAL purpose of "The Law" is supposed to be.

So, if the voters can elect people to Congress who know nothing about (a) the rule of law, (b) the Constitution, (c) economics or (d) history then why can't the President's bozos put some schmo in charge of GM that doesn't know a thing about cars? Not saying I agree, but, just a thought.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Something to Consider - Politicians and Why Voting Isn't Working

This is an excerpt from a Facebook comment I posted after someone lamented the whole "RINO" label when it comes to Republicans who aren't either (a) fiscally conservative enough or (b) theocratic enough to meet some kind of non-existence test or threshold.

I do like to remind people that some of the most supposedly fiscal conservative Republicans often still vote for hundreds of billions of dollars in out of control spending omnibus bills and that if you are a hard core religious conservative, the last thing you probably really want is the government regulating your religious practices (marriage being a religious practice) and should really work to get government out of it completely.

Always remember, you never want to grant to government any power you would not grant your worst enemy. The reasons for this should be self-evident.

Here is the excerpt though:

The fallacy in the whole discussion is that people fail to see how very few people get involved in electoral politics over any kind of ideological bent or passion for the rule of law. It is seen as a career choice, a status symbol or an opportunity to be influential and feel important. This is true of both of the major "clubs".

Those who want most badly to reign over us are typically those we should least allow to do so.

This is why I love Libertarian folks. They truly want things fixed within the confines of free market economics, the Constitution and the rule of law ... not to be in charge of others, wield power or have "status".

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Overwhelmed, Burned Out And Somewhat Encouraged?

Friends, neighbors and patriots -

I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately by so many things not the least of which is all of the bad stuff that is going on with our government and our economy. All of the sudden these past few weeks I've felt a bit burned out and not sure where to focus my thoughts and energies so please excuse as I just ramble for a bit to get some things out of my system.

One thought I've had repeatedly in light of the MIAC and DHS controversies follows. Those controversies of course were where basically anyone of the following characteristics classified as you as a potential enemy of the state to be watched closely for potential extremist tendencies:

(list includes people who are)
Supporters of Third Parties
Supporters or Fans of Ron Paul
Supporters or Fans of Bob Barr
Supporters or Fans of Chuck Baldwin
Ex Military Personnel
[and probably more]

The MIAC situation even suggested law enforcement pay closer attention to people with bumper stickers on their cars in support of the above. Of course, I look at that list and think to myself, "8 out of 9 isn't bad."

But, the point of this is that for all of the people who were so concerned about terrorists, and who mostly still refuse to acknowledge the root causes, that they were not concerned about granting the government all kinds of power via things like the Patriot Act I have the follow questions:

(1) Does it ever occur to you that you should never, ever grant the government power that you would not want your worst enemy to have? Because, at some point (perhaps now?) your enemy will have that power that was so willingly given when the administration seemed less inclined against you.

(2) Do people ever stop to think that at some point, all of this surveillance, wire-tapping, invasions of privacy, no fly lists and other things could be used against the most pro-American, pro-Constitution patriots? Power is granted to reign in the threat of "terrorism" but how many stop to consider that someday, THEY could be the terrorist the government is worried about?

As I've stated many times in the past, I am far more afraid of Congress than I am of "terrorists". Granted, I have the benefit of living in Indiana, not in New York or L.A. but, if the migration of people out of those states is any indication, their people are increasingly feeling a need to escape their own governments and move to more tax friendly and less restrictive environs themselves.

I have been encouraged by the recent surge in activists with the "Tea Party" people. Apparently some of their leadership was concerned that "Libertarians" were against them somehow because of the comments of one person. Why do people try to assign group think to libertarians? I mean, if some Republican or Democrat goes around saying "9/11 was an inside job" I don't assume they ALL think that, even if one of their elected officials were to do so. Everyone does realize that with libertarians running things we wouldn't have had terrorist attacks on our soil, massive FED induced market bubbles and collapses (2 in a decade now folks), massive government debt and a near monopoly stranglehold on a failing education system by government? Right? People do understand this I hope.

Some thoughts on the Tea Party groups and their seemingly growing batch of awesome supporters and volunteers, many of whom seem very sharp.

(1) Remember that most libertarians who have been paying attention and active for many years are pretty much past the point of mild protest. Been there, done those, what's next? When 95% of calls to Congress are adamantly opposing things like bailouts or stimulus packages and they vote for them anyway, waving signs with eloquent speech seems to likely be just as ineffective.

(2) A lot of libertarians and even fiscal conservative Democrats are concerned about things becoming a "social conservative" movement because of a lack of a true understanding of liberty or the philosophical underpinnings. Especially when, in Indianapolis, one of the more visible pro-NeoCon voices is one of the speakers at the Tea Party and laments that, as people wave "boot out all incumbents" signs, some good ones (the Republican ones he's friends with) got tossed in the last couple of elections. Yeah, I'm sure NONE of those guys EVER voted for a large omnibus spending bill. So much for non-partisan but I think the organizers are sincere even though they will likely fall into the two-party system trap and have their eyes opened when things like slating, slating fees, campaign war chests and primaries start getting in the way of getting their candidates on the ballot. Again, we'll just have to see how things go.

(3) It was definitely odd, or maybe it was just perception, that with so many libertarians, Ron Paul supporters, Campaign for Liberty folks, the Republican Liberty Caucus, the Democrat Freedom Caucus (anyone in Indiana?), the John Birch Society and others who have well established lists of pro-liberty and pro-Constitution activists, educators and talent that those resources weren't better included in some of the Tea Party recruiting and planning. But, the fact that all of those factions exists maybe speaks more to the "divided we fail" principle and helps explain some of the lack of progress. Certainly, those groups have been warning us for years, if not decades, about the very things that are becoming crisis now. But now, it seems, being one of those issuing the warning is enough to put you on the DHS "watch list".

(4) A lot of folks are starting to realize that voting isn't working when it comes to protecting the rule of law, our country and our economy. That is exactly why we are supposed to be a Republic (rule of law) not a Democracy (rule of men [aka: mob rule]). Always remember that in a room of ten people, no six should be able to violate the rights or lives of the other four just because a majority decided so. This is a concept called "Tyranny of the Masses" or "Tyranny of the Majority".

One last thought on all of the recent "secession" talk. I've heard the word "secession" in the media and even from elected officials more in the past year than in my whole life combined. It is a fair topic for discussion and debate and just because Lincoln had ego and tax collection concerns with the South seceding doesn't mean that the States don't have that option legitimately. (and please remember the rest of the world ended slavery peacefully and not with the deaths of 640,000 people and tearing their countries apart). I mean, seriously, can you imagine the United States Government going to war with Texas or any other state that desires MORE FREEDOM instead of less?

What a mess.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Forgot How To Make The Bomb? Just Ask China.

In speaking with my good friend Travis Cross recently the topic of the United States forgetting how to make a material related to nuclear weapons came up.

To quote the Fox News article:

The Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration had to wait more than a year to refurbish aging nuclear warheads — partly because they had forgotten how to make a crucial component, a government report states.

Regarding a classified material codenamed "Fogbank," a Government Accountability Office report released this month states that "NNSA had lost knowledge of how to manufacture the material because it had kept few records of the process when the material was made in the 1980s and almost all staff with expertise on production had retired or left the agency."

So the effort to refurbish and upgrade W76 warheads, which top the U.S. Navy's (and the British Royal Navy's) submarine-launched Trident missiles, had to be put on hold while experts scoured old records and finally figured out how to manufacture the stuff once again.

Travis humorously asked, "Couldn't we just ask the Chinese?"

After all, remember this scandal?

A scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has provided information that seriously contradicts Clinton administration claims that nuclear secrets obtained by China were solely the result of espionage during the late 1980's.

It's also been speculated that since the material is believed to be either very toxic or very hazardous to make, subjecting the government to potential lawsuits from anyone exposed to it, they may have "intentionally misplaced" the formula to minimize the likelihood of it being used against them or maybe even just declassified in a trial.

So, there we go. Next time we have difficulty remembering how to build our weapons, we can just ask the foreign nations that we've sold the secrets to or just ask their spies for our plans back.

If you're wanting to keep up on news related to government encroachment of our freedoms or the continued erosion of our economy please consider visiting The Liberty File and visiting every day or subscribing to the RSS Feed!

Monday, March 9, 2009

South Dakota Passes HCR 1013 - 10th Amendment "Sovereignty" Resolution - Goes To Governor

On March 2 the South Dakota State House introduced what is now commonly referred to a "Sovereignty Resolution" whereby, if passed, a state would take whatever action or notification are spelled out in the resolution to reassert 10th Amendment States Rights.

Numerous states have had these resolutions introduced and Oklahoma has passed, I believe, a different version in each of their State Legislative Bodies but it appears that South Dakota has, in very short order, passed a resolution that now may just need the Governor's signature.  Their House passed the resolution on March 3 by a vote of 51 to 18 and on March 5 it looks like their Senate voted 20 to 14 to concur

Text of the Resolution follows:

         A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION,  Reasserting sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over certain powers and serving notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain mandates. 
     WHEREAS,  the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:
     "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."; and
     WHEREAS,  the Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that specifically granted by the Constitution of the United States and no more and the scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states; and
     WHEREAS,  today, in 2009, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government and many federal mandates are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and
     WHEREAS,  the United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v. United States, 112 S. Ct. 2408 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states; and
     WHEREAS,  any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America, or Judicial Order by the judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of the United States of America by the Constitution of the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of any of the several states or their citizens constitutes a nullification of the Constitution of the United States of America by the government of the United States of America; and
     WHEREAS,  a number of proposals from previous administrations and some now pending from the present administration and from Congress may further violate the Constitution of the United States:
     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED,  by the House of Representatives of the Eighty-fourth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the State of South Dakota hereby reasserts sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States; and
     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,  that all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed; and
     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,  that this concurrent resolution serve as Notice and Demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.

If you're wanting to keep up on news related to government encroachment of our freedoms or the continued erosion of our economy please consider visiting The Liberty File and visiting every day or subscribing to the RSS Feed!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Collection of All Newborn DNA By Federal Government Without Consent (S.1858)

A lot of people are unaware that in 2007 a bill (S.1858) was passed by Congress that requires DNA samples of all newborn children to be sent to the Federal Government, warehoused, databased and tagged to note any genetic anomalies. This law does not require notification, much less consent, from the parents.

Every newborn child is now having samples of their DNA sent to the government for screening and indexing. The title of the bill was "Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007" but probably should have been titled "Stealing Your Kid'S DNA for Databasing and Tracking Without Telling You."

Beyond establishing a list of genetic conditions for which newborns would be tested, the bill also establishes guidelines for sharing test results nationwide, creating systems for surveillance and tracking of the status of anyone diagnosed at birth with any kind of defect, tracking genetic traits and defects within families and to subject people to genetic research without getting their consent or even having to inform them. The DNA is taken and then becomes the property of the government.

Now, I know a lot of people aren't really too concerned with what powers the Federal Government has granted to it by our Constitution, but I'm pretty sure nowhere in there does it authorize the quiet theft of our genetic material for purposes of research, tracking and whatever else they decide to do with it once they have it. And, of course, they always eventually choose to expand uses of information once collected. Besides all of that, isn't it a bit creepy to suddenly become, as World Net Daily suggested in 2008, a population of "guinea pigs."

For those who have some historical perspective on the 'eugenics' movement in the early 20th Century, you will be familiar with the name Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who advocated eugenics as a way to eliminate traits from the population that were considered 'unfit'. In fact, a large part of this movement and the advocation of abortion to be more widely accepted had outright racial motives associated with one of the project names and who knows what she meant when she criticized, "the ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born."

This massive violation of everything from privacy to medical ethics was introduced by Senator Christopher Dodd [D-CT], ultimately passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Bush on April 24, 2008. Yeah, let me say that again and note I didn't say "vetoed". SIGNED by President Bush into law. There were 21 co-sponsors and while you might expect Hillary Clinton [D-NY], Bernie Sanders [I-VT] or Ted Kennedy [D-MA] to be among them (they were) there were a few surprises. Those included embattled Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman [R] and Senator Richard Lugar [R-IN], Orrin Hatch [R-UT] and the recent stimulus bill sellout Susan Collins [R-ME]. These Senators didn't just vote for it, they CO-SPONSORED it.

And the story gets better. This bill was passed in the Senate by "unanimous consent". In other words, no recorded vote was taken. This is what cowardly legislators do on controversial bills when they don't want a record of how they voted to be used against them later. Sure enough, the House of Representatives did the same thing.

Hey isn't this great! You don't have to be accused of a crime to get your fingerprints taken, the government will already have your DNA. Convenient. And hey, somewhere in a lab somewhere they could be doing medical research ... ON YOU.

If you're wanting to keep up on news related to government encroachment of our freedoms or the continued erosion of our economy please consider visiting The Liberty File and visiting every day or subscribing to the RSS Feed!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Californians Plan Tax Protests - Work For Recall Of Elected Officials

The following information is from the "Tax Revolt 2009" web site. An event is also planned in Indianapolis, Indiana for March 25, 2009 that is being dubbed The "Revolt at the State House." Voters and taxpayers are expected to speak out against various abuses, insider dealings and lack of property tax reform after massive increases in 2007. There is an increasing tone of outrage around the country and while the masses may not jump on board, the tireless efforts of those that demand the rule of law, fairness, accountability, transparency and competency in their government will increasingly draw attention.

Regarding the California Event:

The Revolution is now! Tax Revolt 2009 is here! Politicians in Sacramento and Washington have plundered California and the nation. It is time for taxpayers to rise up and take back your state and your nation.

News! Attend Saturday’s Tax Revolt Rally!

Attend Saturday’s Tax Revolt Rally!

Spread the word (print out and distribute the flyer to your friends and neighbors)!

The Slidebar Café
122 East Commonwealth Ave.,
Fullerton CA 92832 (map)
Saturday, March 7, 2009, 3-6 PM
Hold Lawmakers Accountable

You must Sacramento lawmakers accountable:

Recall Arnold Schwarznegger
Recall Jeff Miller
Recall Jim Silva
Hold Sacramento Accountable

Sacramento has betrayed taxpayers by passing the largest state tax increase in the nation’s history. Californians pay the highest income and sales taxes in the nation - while we suffer job losses, pay cuts, and dwindling 401k’s. Hold Sacramento accountable.

Hold Republicans and Democrats Accountable

State spending has grown 40 percent in the past five years because of deal-making and political corruption by special interests. Lawmakers of both parties are not protecting taxpayers because lawmakers put their power, prestige, and lifestyles first. Hold Republicans and Democrats accountable.

And don't forget to visit The Liberty File for your daily dose of liberty impacting news and information.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dow 6,760 Means $1,452 Loss After Inflation

If you bought into the Dow Jones Industrial Average the last time it was at 6,760, the approximate close from today, after inflation you would have lost approximately $1,452 even though the price is the same.

This basically means that the Dow would need to be at 8,100 or so just to break even, but that excludes the fact that you would be paying taxes on the inflation portion of your earnings.  So that means you'd need to be at 9,180 or so, assuming the top federal tax rate and some reasonable allowance for state income taxes. Considering that inflation is the result the government printing too much money (inflating the money supply) which results in price increases, meaning it is basically a 'hidden tax', you essentially pay taxes on your taxes.

Now, an adjustment could clearly be made to the above figures to use a capital gains tax rate, but keep in mind that the reduced capital gains rates are not long for this world.  BUT, does this not highlight why capital gains taxes should essentially be zero?  Should you pay taxes on inflation?

No wonder people try and shelter their money elsewhere. 

Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN 5th) Joins Ron Paul on FED Transparency Act

Indiana's 5th District representative to the U.S. Congress, Dan Burton, has signed on, along with ten other representatives, to Ron Paul's Federal Reserve Transparency Act (HR 1207).  The bill's summary says:

To amend title 31, United States Code, to reform the manner in which the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is audited by the Comptroller General of the United States and the manner in which such audits are reported, and for other purposes.

Out of the ten other co-sponsors, there are three Democrats which is an encouraging sign that there may some bipartisan support for finally getting an audit of the Federal Reserve.  Oddly, I became aware of this when a friend in Florida let me know that 61 year old freshman representative Dan Posey, (R-FL 15th) had signed onto the bill.  

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Update On Indiana Federalism Resolution SCR 37 - Sen. Mike Delph Added As Second Author

The on-line information for Indiana's 10th Amendment (aka: Federalism) Resolution has been updated to represent that State Senator Mike Delph (district 29) was indeed one of the co-authors (now listed as "second author") and initiators of this legislation along with Senators Greg Walker and Dennis Kruse. Not only that, but the list of Senators now listed along with them on this bill has grown to FOURTEEN (14).

In addition to the previously mentioned Walker, Delph, Kruse and Stutzman the following have all been added: Boots, Buck, Holdman, Leising, Nugent, Paul, Steele, Waltz, Waterman, Young.

This sort of measure would always be difficult to support and pass and that is even more so in an environment where massive government (anti)stimulus billions are being offered to the states. It will prove difficult to pass a resolution that tells the out-of-control Federal Government to 'back off' while at the same time having your Governor accept billions of federal dollars.

To step up and put their name on this kind of legislation shows their commitment to the form of government (a Democratic Republic) and the limitations that were placed upon the Federal representation of that in our founding documents. As for this author (using the term loosely), I appreciate their bold commitment to make a statement.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Indiana Federalism Resolution Filed As Senate Concurrent Resolution 37

Although it was made public late last week, the text of SCR 37 which would propose, if passed, to reassert Indiana's rights under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was posted on-line today.

Despite early suspicions that Senator Mike Delph (29th District) might join Senator Greg Walker (41st) and Senator Dennis Kruse (14th) on introducing the resolution, it appears that Senator Marlin Stutzman (13th) completed the trio.

It has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure.

This resolution is very similar to ones introduced in somewhere around twenty different states including Arizona, Oklahoma and New Hampshire. Oklahoma's resolution was introduced last year and passed their state house 98-2 before getting stalled out in their senate. This year, the resolution passed 83 to 13. New Hampshire's HCR 6 has thus far been considered to have the strongest language, many suggesting it was close to a threat to secede if the Federal Government encroached any further. HCR 6 was defeated in a committee 11 to 7 but still goes to a full vote.

Text of the Indiana Resolution follows:

Introduced Version



A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION urging the honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress assembled, and the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives of each State's legislature of the United States of America to cease and desist, effective immediately, any and all mandates that are beyond the scope of their constitutionally delegated power.


, read first time and referred to Committee on


First Regular Session 116th General Assembly (2009)


A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION urging the honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress assembled, and the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives of each State's legislature of the United States of America to cease and desist, effective immediately, any and all mandates that are beyond the scope of their constitutionally delegated power.

Whereas , The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States specifically provides 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 ”;

Whereas , The Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being those powers specifically granted to it by the Constitution of the United States and no more;

Whereas , Federalism is the constitutional division of powers between the national and state governments and is widely regarded as one of America 's most valuable contributions to political science;

Whereas , James Madison, “the father of the Constitution, ” said, “The powers delegated to the federal
government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people ”;

Whereas , Thomas Jefferson emphasized that the states are not “subordinate ” to the national government, but rather the two are “coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole. The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government ”;

Whereas , Alexander Hamilton expressed his hope that “the people will always take care to preserve the constitutional equilibrium between the general and the state governments. ” He believed that “this balance between the national and state governments forms a double security to the people. If one [government] encroaches on their rights, they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits by [the] certain rivalship which will ever subsist between them ”;

Whereas , The scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be limited in its powers relative to those of the various states;

Whereas , Today, in 2009, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government;

Whereas , Many federal mandates are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States;

Whereas , The United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v. United States , 112 S. Ct. 2408 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states; and

Whereas , A number of proposals from previous administrations and some now being considered by the present administration and from Congress may further violate the Constitution of the United States; Therefore,

Be it resolved by the Senate of the General Assembly

of the State of Indiana, the House of Representatives concurring:

SECTION 1: That the State of Indiana hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.

SECTION 2: That this Resolution serve as a Notice and Demand to the federal g overnment to maintain the balance of powers where the Constitution of the United States established it and to cease and desist, effective immediately, any and all mandates that are beyond the scope of its constitutionally delegated powers.

SECTION 3: That the Secretary of the Senate immediately transmit copies of this Resolution to the Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of each state's legislature of the United States of America, and each member of Congress from the State of Indiana.

Don't forget to check daily at The Liberty File for regularly updated news and information related to the economy and your freedom.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Response To Foreign Money Scam E-Mail

Below, I am posting the full text of the message I received from one of those "help me get a gazillion dollars out of my country" messages.  It follows my response.  

Mr. Han,

Your message finds me at the most opportune time as I think I can help you.

As you are aware, our country recently elected the Communist Barack Obama to be President.  President Obama is quickly moving upon an agenda which would have significant negative implications to the holding or creation of any wealth in America.  Just this week he has suggested drastic increases in taxes on anyone who might be economically prosperous, through their hard work, intelligence and effort, to actually provide capital to business and investment or hire people and create jobs.

I fear that should we, as you have so generously offered, try to move any significant assets to America, their value would quickly be eroded by the new Communist leader and the massive, out of control inflation we are expecting to appear as our bankrupt government tries to give money no one in our country has to bankrupt private companies and their bumbling, anti free market, hat-in-hand wealthy principals.

I suggest instead that you work towards getting your assets into some country that is far less socialist, like perhaps Russia.  I hear Lichtenstein and the Bahamas can also make fine places to put financial assets to help protect them although the oppressive, interventionist regime here is actively engaged in 'foreign blackmail' upon the Swiss to pry open such private dealings and destroy the honored business practices of another country.  I will not blame them if they now hate us like much of the rest of the world has learned to do over the past few decades.  Our country was once so great, but now it is in decline and has lost its beloved status in the world as we arrogantly spent our treasure dictating our way of life and our business interests to them.

Soon they will be coming for the weapons to which we cling and force government service onto us.   I must go now, I hear knocking at my door, they no doubt are still using the George Bush surveillance systems and know of the grave warning I am preparing to send you. They will demand to see my Real ID card (aka: my 'papers'). 

I urge you, for your own protection, to find a safer country to transfer your funds to so that they are not stolen by out of control politicians.

Sincere regards and may God bless you sir,

Sean Shepard
United States of America

On Sat, Feb 21, 2009 at 11:11 PM, Mr. Paul Han  wrote:
Mr.Paul Han,

Compliments of the Day,

I want to make a proposal of business transaction which value sum is £52,559,000 GBP(Fifty Two Million, Five Hundred And Fifty Nine Thousand British Pounds Sterling) to you, of which I believe will be of much interest to you and also a mutual benefit for both of us.
I need your co-operation to transfer the above mentioned sum out of England to any part of the world. And I am confident that you will give your consideration to this proposal and response positively within a short period of time. I am available to discuss this proposal with you and to answer any questions you may have in regard to this fund.
As soon as you give your positive response to this proposal, I will not hesitate in sending you the details and procedures of the transaction. 
Look forward to discussing this opportunity further with you in more detail shortly. 

Mr.Paul Han,
Chartered Accountant
Lloyds Banking Group Plc

Don't forget to get your economic and pro-liberty news at The Liberty File!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The "UnFairness" Doctrine

There is considerable chatter right now suggesting that the Democrats plan to reintroduce what is tragically referred to as "The Fairness Doctrine". The idea is that they can use the force of government to restrict, mold, guide or punish media outlets that do not offer programming that espouses opinions counter to those of, what the market has determined represents, mainstream America.

Think of the following example.

You decide to open a store. You incorporate, file for a retail sales certificate, rent retail space and start hiring people, buying products and stocking your shelves. Things are going really well and you continue to put products on the shelf that people like to buy. Then, one day, a government representative shows up and tells you that you have hired too many people who 'think the wrong way'. They make you throw away half of the stuff on your shelves and replace it with products that don't sell well, some of them you may have even tried to sell in the past but lost money on. They tell you that if you put the wrong products back on your shelves they will fine you a lot of money or even use the massive power of government to put you out of business.

This is what the Democrats want to do to media outlets because those outlets, and their listeners, have determined that they really want to listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Medved, Bill O'Reilly, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham and others.

Famously, the more socialist / fascist elements of the media attempted to start their own talk radio empire called "Air America" and it failed almost immediately despite having minor celebrity Al Franken (because he's good enough, smart enough and doggone it... people like him - NOT) involved. These people supposedly got some big money backing but couldn't make a go of it. Nobody wanted to listen!

In an attempt to intervene in the free market and the freedom of people to choose what to listen to, or perhaps more nefariously, to try and manipulate public opinion and thought the Democrats are seeking to destroy talk radio by forcing stations to carry products that far fewer people would listen to, making it hard to sell advertising and destroying the business model. We are a nation that has as its most important founding principal the freedom of speech. To have a whole political movement aligned with the idea of using the power of government to shut people up if there is disagreement is anathema to our way of thinking.

Here is a topic that I think is worthy of discussion. Has it ever occurred to anyone that the people who actually pay attention to their government, want to know what is really going on, have an appreciation for staying informed or even involved just happen to be more conservative, or even libertarian, people who will turn off the latest pop music channel; self-promoting, mind numbing and juvenile 'shock jocks'; sports radio or morning shows in exchange for something intelligent to listen to? A lot of these same people are avid readers too as near as I can tell.

I just don't know that I believe nearly as many on what is traditionally, but not necessarily accurately, described as "the left" are really following logic and paying attention to the nuance in our policy. I believe they are indeed far more likely to want to shut someone up at gunpoint or shout them down instead of having to make reasoned arguments and find their own audience. This is always the case with "the left". They don't want to earn it on the merits, they want to use the guns of government to FORCE IT upon people. Doesn't matter if it's charity programs, retirement savings, restricting educational choices, having your newborns DNA stolen and filed in a national database, taking care of your own health care decisions - they know what is best for you and will decide for you.

Well, if they are so damn smart why can't they figure out to assemble, market and advertise successful radio programs instead of having to use government force to coerce us into listening to what THEY want us to? Maybe, just maybe, it's because they really don't know everything after all. Good luck convincing them of that.

Note: Don't forget to keep up to date on news that impacts the economy and your freedoms at The Liberty File.

Friday, February 6, 2009


I was sitting here taking a few moments to privately celebrate Ronald Reagan's birthday when my daughter, Elizabeth, joined me and watched some of it.  She is not unfamilar with Ronald Reagan (or Thomas Jefferson and Ron Paul for that matter).  

She laughed at the letter he got, after being shot, from a young boy warning him to get well before he might have to give a speech in his pajamas.  She watched a snippet of his Challenger and "tear down this wall" speeches.  And when we got to the end of one of the clips and it showed parts of President Reagan's funeral, she got very quiet and I realized she was crying.

Sometimes there are little things that give you hope for the next generation.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Helio Castroneves Got 'em, How About Handcuffs For Daschle, Geithner, Killefer, Solis and Rangel?

Whatever you're opinions of the tax code, it's thousands of pages of complexity and massive sucking sound it places on our economy, everyone should be able to agree that the law should apply equally.

So why is it that one of the nicest guys in motor sports racing, two-time Indy 500 champion and "Dancing with the Stars Winner" Helio Castroneves gets arrested, handcuffed, put in an orange jumpsuit and dragged through the court system under penalty of jail, a ruined career and destroyed reputation?  Helio is accused of, if I understand correctly, an effort by his staff to, not escape, but defer taxes by using a system whereby large lump sum payments get doled out over time as royalties.

New York Congressman Charlie Rangel gets caught with tax problems, former Congressman Tom Daschle caught having just flat not paid $120,000 in taxes.  Treasury nominee Tim Geithner was way behind on his taxes, and Obama's Chief Performance Officer nominee, Nancy Killefer, had a lien on a house over $300 or so in unpaid taxes.  These aren't the first or only elected officials that have, intentionally or otherwise, run afoul of the tax code.

Today, Rep. Hilda Solis, nominated to be labor secretary is being looked at more closely because her husband had to pay off $6,400 in tax liens, some of them 16 years old?

I understand maybe better than most.  There is nothing more frustrating than spending more money one year getting tax work prepared and filed for a business than you actually were able to take home from it.  The system needs to be simplified.  Even the Washington Post put the call out for tax simplification a month or so ago.  When a Washington newspaper is saying, "you need to simplify the tax code", well, "YOU NEED TO SIMPLIFY THE TAX CODE."

Think about every individual or businessperson who, at minimum is spending $30 or $40 on Turbotax or, for a large company, spending millions of dollars on tax and legal work.  Let's save the discussion for ditching the system completely for The FairTax (HR 25) or, even better, replacing it with nothing.   How about we either let Helio Castroneves off the hook if he agrees to fix whatever problem the IRS says is there?  The other option is to have federal agents go and arrest Tom, Charlie and Tim and put them in handcuffs and orange jumpsuits, parade them in front of cameras, demonize them in the media, destroy their reputations and make them spend a few hours in the pokey?

I vote for letting Helio fix whatever it is just like these other high profile folks are apparently being allowed to do.  Anything else is unequal application of the law for benefit of the political class and for purposes of making examples out of others so that the rest of us can see what they'll do to us if we act like the elected officials who make the rules.  Apparently, they make them for us, not themselves.

crossposted to circlecitypundit

Monday, January 19, 2009


On January 14th I made a non-political post regarding the loss of actor Ricardo Montalban. This was personal to me as he was a fixture on 1980s television and the nemesis of Captain Kirk in The Wrath of Khan, my favorite movie (along with a couple of Star Wars films). I made mention of how much it sucks to watch your heroes pass away as you grow older. Two days later, it got a lot worse than that, I lost my biggest hero of all.

On the morning of January 16th, I received a call from my step-mother, Denise, that she believed my father had passed overnight and that paramedics were on their way. I jumped in the car and joined them there less than 20 minutes later to find word that, indeed, he had passed away.

Although my mother thought he was crazy to do so, my father took a tremendous leap of faith and great risk when he left his job as manager of the printing company he worked for and with his friend and colleague Robert Poorman founded Shepard & Poorman Printing Company in a 20,000 square foot building in Speedway Industrial Park across from Allison's plant on 10th Street. They hoped to do $100,000 in sales the first year and instead they did $200,000. That was 1978 and in 1983 they built and moved into new facilities in Park 100 on the Northwest side of Indianapolis where they would remain headquartered until he and his partners sold the company to a large Fortune 500 company. By then they were doing many tens of millions of dollars in sales and providing more than a few hundred jobs in Indianapolis, many of those positions held by people that would become like part of an extended family and I am better off for having grow up in their midst.

He loved the work that he did.  His commitment to quality was exceeded only by his commitments to fairness and ethics. He trusted people, treated everyone with respect and, perhaps knowing the wise lesson from Benjamin Franklin, spoke ill of no one.

He took good care of his family, often at great personal sacrifice. Most recently, one of the things I enjoyed most was seeing him light up when in the presence of his grandchildren whom he loved very much. I only hope he realized how much all six of his own children loved and respected him. Our lives were better than they might otherwise have been because of the risks he took, his tremendous hard work and many sacrifices.

Below is the photo and obituary that appeared in the Indianapolis Star on Monday, January 19. Next week we'll get back to trying to save the Country from itself, in the meantime ... Thanks Dad, we'll miss you lots.


Robert Earl Shepard, 64, passed unexpectedly on Friday, January 16, 2009. Bob was born July 28, 1944 in Franklin, Kentucky to his late parents Earl Wayne and Mary Evelyn (Sherron) Shepard. Bob, the oldest of three children moved to Indiana with his family when he was in first grade. He graduated from Whiteland High School in 1962.

Upon completing his service to our country in the U. S. Army, he entered the print communications industry working for Collins Printing Company. In 1978, he co-founded what became Shepard Poorman Communications Corporation and grew it to be the largest commercial print communications company in Indiana and one of the most respected in the nation at that time.

Most recently he had returned to the industry from early retirement to join Priority Group, Inc. and his long time friend, Jay Straka, as the company’s General Manager.

Bob received numerous honors, awards and recognitions both in business and in the community. He was a long-time attendee of College Park Church in Indianapolis and a member of The Country Club of Indianapolis.

He is survived by his wife; Denise (Wilusz) Shepard, his brother; Gary (Cindy) Shepard, his sister Judy (Rick) Allen; six children; Sean (Michele), Justin (Christy), Jason, Robert Jr., Michael, Brandon; and three grandchildren; Elizabeth, Alexander and Hayden; his father and mother-in-law Edward (Wilma) Wilusz of West Chester, Ohio and brother-in-law Steve Wilusz of Tampa, Florida. He is further survived by his nephew, three nieces and many friends and colleagues. In addition to his parents he was preceded in passing by one niece.

Calling will be on Tuesday, January 20th from 4 until 9 PM at Flanner and Buchanan, Washington Park North Funeral Center, 2706 Kessler Blvd, West Drive in Indianapolis. The funeral, officiated by Pastor Don Bartemus will be held Wednesday, January 21st, 11 AM at College Park Church, 2606 West 96th Street, Indianapolis.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


He has left Seti Alpha Six and will not be returning. He has left the island and cannot come back.

Those who know me well enough know that The Wrath of Khan (Star Trek II) is tied with two other films for my favorite movie of all time. In the past few years we have lost DeForest Kelly (Bones McCoy) and James Doohan (Scotty). George Takei came out of the closet and Gene Roddenberry's widow, Majel (aka: Nurse Chapel) passed just a few weeks ago.

Today, we lost Ricardo Montalban. Known to most as Mr. Rourke from Fantasy Island but also as Captain Kirk's nemesis Khan Noonien Singh. It sucks growing older and watching your childhood heroes and villains pass from this Earth. In memoriam I offer one of the my favorite all time movie scenes below, fans of Cheers will notice a beautiful, elegant pre-Cheers Kirstie Alley at the helm/navigator's console.

From 1982:

Thursday, January 8, 2009


According to the headline at and the respective article at the New York Times, UBS is closing approximately 19,000 accounts owned by United States' citizens.

This action is being taken under pressure by the United States Government. For those that haven't been paying attention, last year legislation was passed that allows the IRS to levy a 51% tax on all assets over $600,000, including unrealized gains, for anyone attempting to expatriate from the United States.


Under pressure from federal authorities, the Swiss bank UBS is closing the hidden offshore accounts of its well-heeled American clients, potentially allowing their secrets to spill into the open.
The clients now face stark choices: they can cash their checks, and thereby alert the authorities to any potential wrongdoing, or not cash them, effectively losing their money. Or they can transfer the money to new banks, a procedure which, in the case of foreign banks, requires depositors of more than $10,000 to report the new account to the Treasury Department.

UPDATE: Some speculation is coming out via discussions at Free Republic (h/t: Mike Jezierski) and other places that this might have been the price of accepting TARP funds.


There is a move affoot by the Mayor to increase restrictions on panhandling. I like the Mayor quite a bit, but am going to offer a dissenting opinion on this topic. I'll start by referencing the Indianapolis Star article and then the Indiana Barrister BLOG of my good friend and local radio radio show host and reporter of all things politic Abdul Hakim-Shabazz of Abdul in the Morning on WXNT 1430 AM (6 AM till 10 AM each weekday morning).

These are my thoughts posted to Abdul's Comments Section. I would hope the Mayor and City County Council would take them into consideration. The premise here is that just because a bunch of people desire it or think it sounds like a good idea, does it make not make it okay to violate someone else's rights.

This is not much different in principle than holding a position on freedom of speech that says, "I may disagree completely with what you say, but I will defend [perhaps even unto death] your right to say it."

I am going to agree completely with Patriot Paul and Shorebreak here. Those disagreeing maybe need to consider the nuance in what is being said.

I completely support the right of any individual to be out in public marketing their desire to get paid for nothing. I completely support people opting to give directly to charities that support worthy individuals and causes and often have safeguards or qualifications to make sure the money is put to proper use.

To the extent that anyone impedes someones progress or harasses someone though, then they have violated the rights of another individual and that should be actionable as a legitimate role of “the state” is to protect the rights of individuals (from violation by others, including the state [a collection of 'others']).

Obviously, the issue here is that there is money to be made doing this so it is a profitable endeavor [especially given the, presumably, tax 'unreported' status of the earnings]. This income being unreported, also means they likely are qualifying for government assistance/welfare programs as well.

Several things fix this problem right away. (A) don’t give them money and (B) tax consumption instead of income and (C) enforce any existing laws, especially repeat offenses, when they impede the progress of individuals or cause some other problem and (D) scale back the welfare state. Item B would reduce the benefit to operating outside of the mainstream economy. Remember $15 an hour tax free is like making $20 or $25 fully taxable.

States or cities with better (or longer lasting) welfare benefits can become a magnet for people working the system [which not everyone is doing - but some]. Reduce the strength of the magnet and the pull to other places becomes greater.

I hate being bothered by panhandlers as well, but to the extent they do not violate my rights I can make no argument against their activities. One thought, perhaps, is a law barring someone self-employed in the panhandling business from receiving welfare benefits… that might be easier to get behind.

And, regarding a comment regarding frequency of panhandler interaction at gas stations:

Melyssa, when you go out in public it can be argued that you consent to encountering other people. Other people, however, have no right to accost you, impede your progress or intimidate someone.

A gas station owner (or its empowered management) has a right to request someone leave their property. The state has no right to dictate who that property may or may not allow there so long as no one’s rights are being violated.

So, private land owners obviously have a right to restrict who does or doesn't come on their property or what activities those people undertake. The Government; however, must respect everyone's rights equally including the right to use of public places.

Just quit making panhandling a profitable endeavor and it will no longer be so. There are lots of worthy charities and other organizations that help people in need. I'll start by mentioning Wheeler Men's Mission reachable at (317) 687-6795 and various women's shelters throughout the state (click for list). Don't hesitate to share this idea with your friends and colleagues or to even make any panhandlers aware that you contribute to these organizations instead of directly to individuals.