Archive for the ‘conservatism’ Category

Why does the US have a problem with insurrectionism?

This is something I have been pondering for a while since the US Constitution and its history make it clear that it does not condone rebellion.  Indeed the document is intended on establishing the rule of law, which runs contrary to the insurrectionist doctrine.

Recap: Shays’ Rebellion was the event which led to the attempt to rework the Articles of Confederation.  Instead the Constitution came out of that movement with its specific intent of “insuring domestic tranquility”.  The militia is supposed to “to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions”:  Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance of the US Constitution.

The Constitution only mentions one crime: Treason. This is found in Article III, Section 3.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

Levying war is defined as:

The assembling of a body of men for the purpose of effecting by force a treasonable object; and all who perform any part however minute, or however remote from the scene of action, and who are leagued in the general conspiracy, are considered as engaged in levying war, within the meaning of the constitution. 4 Cranch R. 473-4; Const. art. 3, s. 3. Vide Treason; Fries’ Trial; Pamphl. This is a technical term, borrowed from the English law, and its meaning is the same as it is when used in stat. 25 Ed. III.; 4 Cranch’s R. 471; U. S. v. Fries, Pamphl. 167; Hall’s Am. Law Jo. 351; Burr’s Trial; 1 East, P. C. 62 to 77; Alis. Cr. Law of Scotl. 606; 9 C. & P. 129.

The Constitution does not itself create the offence; it only restricts the definition (the first paragraph), permits Congress to create the offence, and restricts any punishment for treason to only the convicted (the second paragraph). The crime is prohibited by legislation passed by Congress: 18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason.  Congress has passed laws creating other related offences that punish conduct that undermines the government or the national security (See 18 U.S. Code Chapter 115).

In many nations, it is also often considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aiding or involved by such an endeavour.

it should also be noted that the Declaration of Independence is a historic document with no legal authority under the US Constitution (Article VI).

Which take us back to the quote from Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494 (1951):

“The obvious purpose of the statute is to protect existing Government, not from change by peaceable, lawful and constitutional means, but from change by violence, revolution and terrorism. That it is within the power of the Congress to protect the Government of the United States from armed rebellion is a proposition which requires little discussion. Whatever theoretical merit there may be to the argument that there is a “right” to rebellion against dictatorial governments is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change.”

I would hold that the Bundy family and anyone else who would attempt to recruit for the purpose of starting a civil war has engaged in the act of Treason in accordance with this definition.  18 U.S. Code Chapter 115 – TREASON, SEDITION, AND SUBVERSIVE ACTS has  variety of options if you are not willing to call incitements to rebellion treason.

Additionally Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment states:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Very few people are willing to do anything about the promotion of the belief that people are somehow being patriotic and somehow following the constitution when the insurrectionists act in their seditious manner to the point of actual rebellion. There have been fewer than 40 federal prosecutions for treason and even fewer convictions since the Constitution was ratified. Several men were convicted of treason in connection with the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion but were pardoned by President George Washington.

Which is where the US differs from other countries with a Common Law heritage.  Yes, there have been rebellions in England, Canada, and Australia, yet they do not have the belief that there is somehow a “right” to rebellion (as they do not have a concept of a “right to arms/guns”).  Unlike the US, where the largest rebellion, the Civil War/War Between the States, went without too many of the instigators being hanged, rebellion has been punished severely in other nations with a British heritage.  Only recently has the death penalty been abolished for treason in most Common law countries.

What I find even more bizarre are the people who somehow claim to be “conservative” while spouting seditious nonsense. Especially since the term “conservative” is defined as:

a political and social philosophy promotes retaining traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity.

By that definition, insurrectionism and supporting sedition are hardly conservative qualities, but this gets into the bizarre notion of what is “conservative” in the United States.  If anything, true conservatism believes in the rule of law: not the rule of the gun.

The problem is that like the Second Amendment revisionism, there has been a neglect of the concept of the rule of law in US society. The rule of law is that a nation is ruled by laws rather than the capricious whims of individuals.  It is part of the Constitutional Structure under Article VI.  The rule of law is expressed in these four principles:

  1. The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law.
  2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.
  3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient.
  4. Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

This is also summed up in Article VI of The Declaration of the rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789:

The law is the expression of the general will. All the citizens have the right of contributing personally or through their representatives to its formation. It must be the same for all, either that it protects, or that it punishes.

The bottom line is that the US has moved from the concept of the rule of law and somehow allowed the absurdity that individuals can decide which laws they can follow.  But the reality is as I pointed out in my last post:

Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it is unconstitutional.

How I’m feeling right now…

Andrew Marr is going to be presenting a documentary about her on BBC 1 at 8.30.  I think he’s the only person I can stand to see “honour” her.

Cease and desist

OK, this is pretty hypothetical stuff and is aimed more at the US “Conservatives” who tend to be more moronic and fringy than non-US conservatives.  After all, most of the readers of my blog are referred by a former member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet! I should add that this is why I don’t really look at comments. But here goes…

I am not sure of what you are trying to persuade me about your “point of view”, but basing your argument solely upon an idea’s being “liberal” isn’t really valid, especially if the programme in question happens to have been suggested by the likes of Richard Nixon (e.g., environmental protection and gun control)!  If anything such an argument tend to show is that you are fairly ignorant.

And I don’t give a shit if you are a rocket scientist with patents, because ignorance means being in a state of not knowing.  That means you can be smart as fuck, but you are still an ignorant bastard!

To go a step further, ignorant arguments are just not persuasive–no matter how much you repeat them in the hope that repetition of a lie will make it true.

If you are too lazy to actually look into the topic, I am not interested in wasting my time listening to your repetition of nonsensical propositions.

First off, I actually have a life and things to do that are far more important than listening to you babbling (even if it is on a keyboard).  The fact that you are spending an inordinate amount of time just reading this blog makes me wonder about you.  You are putting far more into what I write than I do (as I just made a long overdue correction of a three year old typo).

And as for your comments, you have been asked not to post them here since they are rude, harassing, and just plain off pointless.  As I said earlier, you are only persuading me that you are a moron.

But, even more importantly, you are a moron who is coming close to breaking the law.  The First Amendment only protects you against government interference with your speech, private entities are under no obligation to you in any way.

And trust me, your “conservative” clowns will sell your arse out when it comes to free speech knowing full well that they would have to allow Unions, Socialists, and others to express their points of view.  They can’t do anything which might cause people to actually think about what it going on--and you are one of the ones they prefer to see not thinking–because people might start to ask questions.

But, that is a digression, what you believe to be free speech can be seen as harassment, threats, and intimidation placing them firmly into the category of being illegal.  That means such things as civil and criminal liability if you don’t get your shit together (although, I seriously doubt you could get your shit together).  You don’t want to loose your right to keep and bear arms, or are you hoping that people who harass and threaten are given a pass to keep their guns until they actually go on shooting sprees?

In short,  you are losing your argument, but are too dim to realise it.  That means you continue a course of conduct which is just downright counterproductive to everything you are hoping to achieve.

I am also going to ask where exactly you get your “facts” as they don’t coincide with reality.  Maybe they do in your universe, but not in the one I am inhabiting.

Is that in simple enough language for you to understand, or do I need to dumb it down further for you?

Margaret Thatcher The Iron Lady

She's taken off the Gloves. Now, someone needs to photoshop some brass knucks on her.

I was lucky enough to catch a preview of the Weinstein Brother’s Film “Iron Lady” about Margaret Thatcher.  One thing I can say about Margaret Thatcher is that I do admire the woman even if I disagree with her politics and the way she ran the country.  That said, the film was a bit of a let down.

Lady Thatcher is well portrayed by Meryl Streep as a senile and demented old dear.  She is haunted by the ghost of Dennis, portrayed by Jim Broadbent. I’m not sure if that is an accurate depiction of Lady Thatcher.  If it is, it is a sad statement.  But, I still feel that between Reagan and Thatcher–Thatcher is far more the person who is the one to be admired and remembered as a real leader. I say real leader, because, like her or hate her, Thatcher was indeed a leader. It’s where she took Britain that is up to debate.

They didn’t get into the dissent which Thatcher caused other than a quick squiz at Michael Heseltine’s (Richard E. Grant) bid for the Tory Leadership.  But, the events were presented in more of a demented stream of consciousness than any chronological order.   But, that was the way the whole film went.

The one thing that really stuck in my mind was Nicholas Farrell’s Airey Neave. I knew of Airey Neave as one of the people who escaped from Colditz and then as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. One Colditz site describes Neave well:

This man needs more than a page, he needs a site. Please click here for our sister site http://www.aireyneave.com – please be patient while it is under construction.

Even though he was a cameo in this film, his importance seemed to be signified in his contribution to Thatcher’s rise. What would the Thatcher regime have been had Neave not been assassinated by the INLA? CIA? It has been hinted that Neave would have shaken up the UK’s security services and that the INLA was not really behind his assassination, but that the CIA was the real culprit.  One can only guess how history would have shaken out if there had been a Neave-Thatcher tory regime!

That might even make me a tory!

Anyway, I think there are a lot better films about Margaret Thatcher’s life such as The Long Walk to Finchley and Margaret. Maybe a real Thatcher fan might want to see this, but I think they would be even more upset by this portrayal of her.

It would be a better idea if the Weinsteins scrapped this film and made something about Airey Neave using Farrell. The only good thing about this film was Meryl Streep’s imitation of Margaret Thatcher, but there have been a lot of those. How much money does one want to put that Streep stands a good chance of an Academy Award when they could just as well give the award to the person who portrayed Thatcher in Spitting Image.

Give this film a pass to go learn about Airey Neave if you don’t know about him already.

Sir John Rose, the Chairman of Rolls Royce, on the economy

This is a quotation from Sir John Rose, the Chairman of Rolls Royce, which is something that should be considered in light of the US budget debates.

We must be realistic about the state of the UK economy. A rebalancing is necessary and there will be no quick fix to restoring public finances to some sort of sustainable balance.

To draw an analogy, if the UK was a business, the shareholders would be asking serious questions. The current model appears to be that we can grow our business by growing overhead, by applying better terms and conditions to support functions than to wealth creators, and by paying dividends out of borrowings not all of which are recognised on the balance sheet.

We are also asked to believe that service levels will inevitably suffer if the costs of delivery are reduced. This need not be the case. As any business will confirm, service levels will reflect prioritisation, proper definition of desired outcomes, concentration on reducing waste and investment in productivity.

In the UK, the debate needs to focus on how to make the pie bigger, rather than how it is sliced. We must concentrate on creating an environment where the enablers of wealth creation, which government can influence, are world class. In defining the right policies, there are many examples against which we can assess ourselves, but we must measure honestly and then take the necessary actions to be competitive. Importantly, there must be the will to apply policy consistently and over the long term.

If we get wealth creation right, distribution and consumption will follow. It cannot be done in the reverse order.

Koch Brothers, ALEC and Their Corporate Allies Plan to Privatize Government

It was only a day after I learned of the existance of ALEC (the  American Legislative Exchange Council) and made the post Who is ALEC? that I learn about Truthout’s Article  Koch Brothers, ALEC and Their Corporate Allies Plan to Privatize Government.   Unfortunately, the US has the dollar rather than the Pound Sterling or I would refer to what is going on in the same vein as the Genesis Album Selling England by the Pound since that is pretty much what has been going on for the past 30+ years in US Politics (and to some extent the same in Britain).  Unlike England, there is less sympathy for government functions, or at least so it appears in the heavily controlled US media.

The Truthout article explains how ALEC works.  ALEC contends that government agencies have an unfair monopoly on public goods and services. To change that situation, it has created a policy initiative to counter what it calls “Publicopoly.” ALEC’s stated aim is to provide “more effective, efficient government” via privatization—that is, the shifting of government functions to the private sector. Of course, that makes a shift from Publicopoly to either Monopoly or Oligopoly with little or no public control over those new private entities.

ALEC came to the public’s attention in February and March with the culmination of the fight over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill AB 11, which sought to curtail the collective bargaining rights of government employees and thus disempower Wisconsin’s public sector unions. When on February 23 the Buffalo Beast published recordings and transcripts of a prank call to Walker from a Beast reporter posing as billionaire GOP donor David Koch, it became apparent how intimately involved brothers David and Charles Koch were in Walker’s efforts to break public sector unions.

Subsequently, bloggers and editorialists began batting around possible scenarios involving myriad right-wing public policy foundations funded by the Koch brothers and proceeds of Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries (and other Koch-controlled corporations). During such speculation, one name arose as the favorite villain behind the multitude of bills aimed squarely at public employee unions. That name was ALEC.

On February 25, 2011, Florida State Representative Chris Dorworth (R-Lake Mary) introduced HB 1021. The bill sought to curtail the political power of unions by prohibiting public employers from deducting any amount from an employee’s pay for use by an employee organization (i.e., union dues) or for any political activity (i.e., the portion of union dues used for lobbying or for supporting candidates for office). Moreover, HB 1021 stated that, should a union seek to use any portion of dues independently collected from members for political activity, the union must obtain annual written authorization from each member.

In effect, this bill defunds public-sector unions—like AFSCME, SEIU, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association—by making the collection of member dues an onerous, costly task. With public-sector unions denatured, they would no longer be able to stand in the way of radical free marketeers who plan to profit from the privatization of public services.

Given the similarities between HB 1021 and a rash of like-minded bills in states across the country, including Wisconsin, on March 30 a public records request was sent to Dorworth’s office seeking copies of all documents pertaining to the writing of HB 1021, including copies of any pieces of model legislation the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) may have provided.

Within an hour of submitting this request, Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon’s (R-Winter Park) Communications Director Katherine Betta responded: “We received a note from Representative Dorworth’s office regarding your request for records relating to the American Legislative Exchange Council and HB 1021. Please note that Mr. Dorworth’s legislative offices did not receive any materials from ALEC relating to this bill or any ‘model legislation’ from other states.”

But two weeks later Dorworth’s office delivered 87 pages of documents, mostly bill drafts and emails, detailing the evolution of what was to become HB 1021. Buried at the bottom of the stack was an 11-page bundle of neatly typed material, labeled “Paycheck Protection,” which consisted of three pieces of model legislation, with the words “Copyright, ALEC” at the end of each.

Dorworth legislative assistant Carolyn Johnson claims that, although Dorworth is an ALEC member, neither she nor her boss have any idea how the ALEC model legislation found its way into Dorworth’s office. Dorworth could not be reached for comment.

Though the specifics are secret and “restricted to members,” ALEC openly advocates privatizing public education, transportation and the regulation of public health, consumer safety and environmental quality including bringing in corporations to administer:

• Foster care, adoption services and child support payment processing.

• School support services such as cafeteria meals, custodial staff and transportation.

• Highway systems, with toll roads presented as a shining example.

• Surveiling and detaining convicted criminals.

• Ensuring the quality of wastewater treatment, drinking water, and solid waste services and facilities.

Of course, there are myriads of horror stories regarding the privatisation of the Penal System. such as Luzerne County, PA’s Kids for cash scandal and Googling Private Prisons Scam will net loads of stories like this one: What did Torrey Westrom think he was saving with private prison proposal? or Private Prison Promises Leave Texas Towns In Trouble.  The prison priavtisations should serve as a large glaring warning of the minefield which privatising governmental functions will bring.

Giving these corporations regulatory powers over environmental quality is also puting the fox in charge of the Chicken coop.  The Koch companies have a notorious environmental record. And is the US public so damaged as far as short term memory goes to have forgotten the BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill. That in and of itself should be even more of a warning than the prison privatisations.

Quite frankly, there are certain functions that governments do a whole lot better than private enterprise, yet the US public is being sold a duff bill of goods that privatising government.  The worst part of it is that the people won’t realise how badly they have been shafted until after the damage has been done.

Additionally, there is the usual US historic ignorance that the panic of 1837 was caused in part by the selling of government assets.  This message from that time should be heeded by today’s US Citizens:

Although the excitement of 1839 did not equal that of 1837, there was a duller and completer despondency. It was at last known that the recuperative power of even our own proud and bounding country had limits. Years were yet necessary to a recovery.

Even more importantly, the US public should be asking who is controlling the message that they hear from the corporately controlled MSM (which includes Public Broadcasting which is beholden by underwriting, or commercials by any other name). The US is heading down a very dangerous path, yet few people are doing anything about it.

Who is ALEC?

Few have ever heard of it, but the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is the ultimate smoke filled back room.

On the surface, ALEC’s membership is mostly comprised of thousands of state legislators. Each pays a nominal membership fee in order to attend ALEC retreats and receive model legislation. ALEC’s corporate contributors, on the other hand, pay a king’s ransom to gain access to legislators and distribute their corporate-crafted legislation.

So, while the membership appears to be public sector, the bankroll is almost entirely private sector, including the usual suspects–the Koch Brothers. In fact, public sector membership dues account for only around one percent of ALEC’s annual revenues. ALEC claims to be nonpartisan, but in fact its free-market, pro-business mission is clear.

The result has been a consistent pipeline of special interest legislation being funneled into state capitols. Thanks to ALEC, 826 bills were introduced in the states in 2009 and 115 were enacted into law.

Behind the scenes at ALEC, the nuts and bolts of lobbying and crafting legislation is done by large corporate defense firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon. A law firm with strong ties to the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, it has long used ALEC’s ability to get a wide swath of state laws enacted to further the interests of its corporate clients.

ALEC’s campaigns and model legislation have run the gamut of issues, but all have either protected or promoted a corporate revenue stream, often at the expense of consumers. For example, ALEC has worked on behalf of:

  • Oil companies to undermine climate change proponents;
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturers, arguing that states should be banned from importing prescription drugs;
  • Telecom firms to block local authorities from offering cheap or free municipally-owned broadband;
  • Insurance companies to prevent state insurance commissioners from requiring insurers to meet strengthened accounting and auditing rules;
  • Big banks, recommending that seniors be forced to give up their homes via reverse mortgages in order to receive Medicaid;
  • The asbestos industry, trying to shut the courthouse door to Americans suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases; and,
  • Enron to deregulate the utility industries, which eventually caused the U.S. to lose what the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) estimated as $5 trillion in market value.

The Koch Brothers, big tobacco, insurance companies, and the drug industry: all behind the shadowy corporate front group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). On the surface, ALEC is mostly comprised of thousands of state legislators, each paying a nominal fee to attend ALEC retreats and receive model legislation. In reality, corporations pay ALEC a king’s ransom to access legislators to distribute radical legislation that puts corporate interests over American workers and consumers.

See also:

ALEC Exposed: Rigging Elections

ALECWatch
Koch Brothers, ALEC and Their Corporate Allies Plan to Privatize Government