Monday, October 30, 2006

John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122)

The same day the Military Commission Act was signed into law by the Commander in Chief, he also, in a private Oval Office meeting signed the above legislation into law which allows the President to declare a "public emergency" and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."

Section 1076 of the massive Authorization Act, which grants the Pentagon another $500-plus-billion for its ill-advised adventures, is entitled, "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies." Section 333, "Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law" states that "the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of ("refuse" or "fail" in) maintaining public order, "in order to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy."

The law also facilitates militarized police round-ups and detention of protesters, so called "illegal aliens," "potential terrorists" and other "undesirables" for detention in facilities already contracted for and under construction by Halliburton. That's right. Under the cover of a trumped-up "immigration emergency" and the frenzied militarization of the southern border, detention camps are being constructed right under our noses, camps designed for anyone who resists the foreign and domestic agenda of the Bush administration.

One wonders how the Posse Commitatus Act fares after the passage of this law? The National Guard will be federalized and we have a standing army potentially being used against U.S. citizens.

I wonder what our President and Congress are thinking?

Inherent Power of the People

"The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves in all cases to which they think themselves competent, or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to John Cartwright, 1824)

Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Lipscomb and Bergh, eds., 16:45.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Orwellian Doublespeak?

I have posted the link to VP Cheney's interview re water boarding which is on the web site of the Whitehouse. Judge for yourself. Apparently, simulated drowning is not a torture technique in the mind of the VP.

What else would not be considered torture if the goal is to "save lives?" This from the man who still owns stock in the Halliburton Corporation and before he "retired" from the Halliburton Corp. to occupy the Vice Presidency was given upwards of $30M by Halliburton for his 4 years of service. Hmmm...I wonder if that act would qualify as buying and interest in the rebuilding of Iraq----only if Halliburton were given contracts to regbuild Iraq, of course. Oh, that's right, they were given contracts by this Administration to rebuild Iraq.

Q: Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the Vice President "for torture." We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in. We live up to our obligations in international treaties that we're party to and so forth. But the fact is, you can have a fairly robust interrogation program without torture, and we need to be able to do that.

And thanks to the leadership of the President now, and the action of the Congress, we have that authority, and we are able to continue to program.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

On the Invasion of Private Rights

"The invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the Constituents."
(-- James Madison (letter to Thomas Jefferson, 17 October 1788)

Reference: The Constitution of Liberty, Hayek (475); original The Complete Madison, Padover (253)

I thought this was quite appropriate. It does take some thought, however, to digest what Madison is saying here.

I am personally amazed that any Christian could countenance legislation like the Military Commissions Act signed into law on October 17, 2006 with the overwhelming support of both Democrats and Republicans.(VP Cheney has stated in the past few days that using torture techniques like "water-boarding" or simulated drowning is a "no brainer." He lovingly supports such hideous techniques, apparently.)

Despite other comments, this administration, and many before it, seek to gain their desired results by the use of fear and manipulation. In the present case, I agree with Vox Day in his recent article: we face demise from within before the "terrorists" without will ever touch us. The acceptance of the use of torture being the latest moral indicator.

In my opinion, defending the use of torture against people, any people, violates the very core of the historic American least the American mind that founded this country. Those great men and women were also the victims of torture and acts unspeakable...and even being "dunked" (water-boarded?) to get them to recant their "heresies." Such acts make us worse than the puported "enemy who is out to destroy us..." And America's hands are clean...and there is nothing we have allowed our government to do overseas and in these "enemy" countries which might be the reason for their animosity...right? Such willfully blind thinking will not pass muster at the judgment seat, I think.

I think the press of circumstance and our acceptance of the propaganda of the "fear machine" have made us non-sensical. We in fact are accepting as legitimate the very acts (torture) which drove our fore fathers to this country.

I believe the prophet Micah' words in Micah 3 are appropriate for the condition of the church in America:

1 And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment?

2 Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones;

3 Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.

4 Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.

5 Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.

6 Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.

7 Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.

8 But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.

9 Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity.

10 They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity.

11 The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us.

12 Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.

As was the case with the nation of Israel, so now today, Zion, in America, is a plowed field.

GOP "Party Of Death," Too by Chuck Baldwin

October 27, 2006

For the sake of those who are unfamiliar with my background: I was raised as a Democrat. I remained a Democrat until 1980, when I registered as a Republican. I observed a demonstrable difference in Ronald Reagan's conservatism and felt proud to not only vote for him twice, but also, as the Florida Moral Majority Executive Director, to actively help register tens of thousands (not an exaggeration) of new voters throughout the state during his 1984 reelection campaign.

I was also very involved in helping to elect Joe Scarborough to Congress back in 1994, when he joined conservatives such as Helen Chenoweth, Bob Barr, and Steve Largent in the House of Representatives. I remained a Republican until 2004, when I became an Independent, choosing to affiliate with the Constitution Party. By 2004, it had become obvious to me that the Republican Party in Washington, D.C., had long abandoned the conservative credentials of Ronald Reagan.

I am amazed at how many of my conservative brethren, especially my Christian conservative brethren, continue to believe that the Republican Party is a conservative party. It's not. Not even in the broadest definition of the term is the GOP conservative.

I often hear Republican apologists referring to the GOP as the "family values" party, or the "pro-life" party, or even "God's" party. I've heard Christians say, "If you don't vote Republican, you are not saved and are going to hell." Is it really possible for Christian people to be that deceived? Apparently so.

Let me give readers an exercise in reality: the GOP (at the national level) cares nothing for "family values" or even the pro-life cause. It has been conning Christian and "family values" voters for decades. It's time Christians awakened to this truth! Just because Ronald Reagan, Joe Scarborough, and perhaps a few dozen other Republicans were (are) conservative, does not mean that the GOP, as a national party, is conservative, because it's not.

Christians will often accuse Democrats of belonging to the "party of death." It is true that the national Democratic platform embraces a pro-choice position. It is also true that there are numerous Democrats, especially at the state and local levels, who are pro-life. We currently have an outspoken pro-life Democrat running for Congress in my home district.

It is also true that the national party platform of the GOP embraces a pro-life position, but it is also true that the Republican platform is just so many words on paper. Can anyone remember when Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole brazenly acknowledged that he had never read the Republican platform and couldn't care less what it said? I do. The fact is, the pro-life plank of the national Republican platform is wholly meaningless and without substance! I'll prove it.

It was a Republican-dominated U.S. Supreme Court that legalized abortion on demand in 1973 with two monumental decisions: Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Dear Christian friend, do you understand that? It was Republicans that authorized the killing of over 40 million innocent, unborn babies. Furthermore, since 1973, Republican-dominated Courts have repeatedly reaffirmed abortion-on-demand, including the current Court.

Republicans have enjoyed a sizeable majority on the Supreme Court for more than 30 years. The current makeup of the Court stands in favor of Republican appointments by a margin of 7-2.

Dear Christian friend, it is the Republican Party, more than the Democrat Party, that, by its action, legalized, augmented, and legitimized abortion-on-demand. How can anyone say that the GOP is the "party of life" with a straight face? It's laughable. Democrats may talk pro-abortion (and do), but it is the Republican Party that actually gave America abortion.

In fact, that's the way it is with a lot of things: Democrats talk liberal, but Republicans govern liberal. What's that old saying, "Your actions talk so loud, I can't hear a word you say"? If anything describes the Republican Party in Washington, D.C., that saying does.

Let me put it another way: there were 4,000 unborn babies aborted every day when George W. Bush became president back in 2001. After nearly six years of the Republican Party in complete control of the entire federal government, including both houses of Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court, there are still 4,000 unborn babies being aborted every day! Between 2000 and 2006 all the GOP has given pro-lifers is rhetoric!

And please, don't bring up the partial-birth abortion ban. The only thing that the bill does is further legitimize the remaining types of abortion (which amount to about 99% of all abortions). It also prompts those mothers who desire to abort their babies to do so earlier in their pregnancies. The partial-birth abortion ban has not saved the life of one unborn child.

It's time Christian conservatives face the fact that the national Republican Party is, along with the Democrat Party, a "party of death." Neither party is a pro-life party.

That is not to say that there are not a few principled pro-life Republicans in Washington, D.C. There are. However, they are a distinct minority. For example, When Rep. Ron Paul proposed H.R. 776, The Sanctity of Life Act of 2005, a bill "to provide that human life shall be deemed to exist from conception," there were only 5 cosponsors: Roscoe Bartlett, Ron Lewis, Charlie Norwood, Scott Garrett, and Jeff Miller. What happened to the rest of the so-called "pro-life" Republicans? What happened to our so-called "pro-life" president, George W. Bush? Did we hear him say one word of support for H.R. 776? No, we did not.

Furthermore, it is standard practice for GOP national party leaders to throw their power and weight (not to mention money) to pro-choice Republicans running against pro-life Republicans in primary races all over America. This happens all the time.

Let's also not forget that it was our pseudo "pro-life" president, George W. Bush who just recently gave his support to the abortifacient "Plan B" which prodded the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its sale over the counter without a prescription. Therefore, now that millions of people have unrestricted access to "Plan B," the true number of abortions will multiply exponentially. In other words, President George W. Bush has not only done nothing to end abortion on demand, he has actually dramatically increased the numbers of abortions taking place.

By the same token, if grassroots Republicans were themselves truly pro-life, they had the opportunity to support a genuine pro-life candidate when Alan Keyes was seeking the nomination for president. That they chose to elect the phony conservative, George W. Bush, means that Republicans' commitment to the life issue is shallow at best.

It is time for the American people (especially Christian conservatives) to recognize that the two-party system in Washington, D.C., is beyond broke: it is a joke! Pat Buchanan was absolutely right when he said that the two major parties are "two wings of the same bird of prey." One party tends to support Big Business; the other party tends to support Big Labor. However, both parties support Big Government, and neither party supports the U.S. Constitution or conservative principles.

At some point, our national Christian leaders must begin putting principle before party politics and cry out in support of genuine conservative constitutionalists, party label notwithstanding. There are hundreds and thousands of principled conservatives running for elected offices throughout the country. Some are members of my party, the Constitution Party. Some are Libertarians. Some are Republicans. A few are Democrats. If our national Christian leaders would stop playing politics and would begin championing these principled independent candidates, many of them would win election. If that happened, it would not take long for things to drastically change for the better.

However, as long as Christian conservatives remain determined to support the Republican Party under the pathetic "lesser of two evils" mantra, they will continue to elect these neocons who will continue to betray our most basic convictions.

Dear Christian friend, try something radical this November: vote for the most principled constitutionalist you can find, no matter his or her party affiliation, and trust God with the outcome of your vote. As far as the abortion debate is concerned, the GOP has absolutely no right to call itself the "party of life," because it is not.

© Chuck Baldwin

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Shadow of the Torturer by Vox Day

Vox Day has an interesting article in the past few weeks re the use of toruture and the campaign of fear that is stock and trade amongs conservatives these days---:

Posted: September 25, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

Cognitive dissonance and logical contradiction are trusty indicators of inferior thought processes. It is not consistency that is the hobgoblin of small minds, after all, but ''a foolish consistency.'' Those claiming to possess large and superior minds should therefore be capable of consistencies that are not foolish.

But fear exerts a strange influence over the human mind. Fearfulness is a form of foolishness, indeed, it is one of its more powerful forms, capable of overruling reason and wisdom alike. The evil, the lazy and the intellectually corrupt make habitual use of fear in their arguments, because unfortunately, the ease with which fear can be inspired makes it an irresistably tempting instrument for politicians and commentators alike.

It has been disgusting to see the enthusiasm which conservatives supposedly adhering to concepts such as limited government, human liberty and Western civilization have been cheering the Bush administration's attempts to circumvent the limits of the Geneva Convention. Worse, they have urged it to altogether cast off the strictures of human decency and civilized behavior. They argue, with fearful lips aquiver, that if America does not assert the right of the Executive Branch to indiscriminately kill and torture, the Dread Terrorist Osama will rule from the White House as an iron-fisted Islamic dictator.

Or at least ''win,'' although somehow the pro-war brigade never finds the time to define what victory for one side or the other would be. Never mind, for have we not always been at war with Osama?

If the pro-war argument often borders on lunacy, the pro-war plus pro-torture position leaps into mad irony with the ease of undocumented workers crossing the Rio Grande. On the one hand, the hawkish torturists assert, it is cowardly for Americans to refuse to fight back after having been attacked. On the other, they declare it is imperative that we abandon centuries of civilized behavior for fear that there might one day be a bomb ticking somewhere at the same time that the perpetrator of the attack fortuitously happens to be in American custody.

This is an ontological argument for torture and the rational individual will find it less convincing than its kindred case for the existence of space aliens.

Last week in WND, one could almost picture Craig Smith's hands shaking in terror as he wrote the following: ''I would give the interrogators whatever they need to get the info we need. They are the professionals. They face these animals each day knowing that they want us dead. They know the information they hold will allow us to keep these murderers from killing more people. So let's take the gloves off.''

I don't know how Mr. Smith knows the Iranians or Saudi Arabians want us dead any more than the Germans, Japanese or Soviets once did, but I do know that jihad's ability to kill large quantities of Americans is arguably lower than that possessed by any American enemy since the war of 1812.

Rusty Humphries, meanwhile, is so frightened of not only terrorism, but crime as well, that he wishes to provide even your local police with the legal right to torture: ''As for the police who have one of the kidnappers of your daughter, let's be honest. If we do not give them the tools, leeway and permission to do whatever is necessary to prevent her brutal murder, we are a society not worth saving.''

The Apostle Paul writes that we are not given a spirit of fear, but Americans certainly appear to have acquired one from somewhere. And while there are a number of things that one might argue make our society not worth saving, a dearth of torture is seldom numbered among them.

The poverty and contemptible nature of these arguments for torture can be seen by the ease with which they can be as accurately applied to those for rape or cannibalism. After all, a terrorist might be more easily persuaded to inform on the whereabouts of the ubiquitous ''ticking-bomb'' if forced to watch his prepubescent daughters raped by federal agents and a thief might be more prone to confess his theft were his fingers gnawed to the bone by a policeman with a taste for human sashimi.

Why, with a sufficiently enthusiastic application of these post-civilized principles, Americans could not only reduce terrorism and crime, but dispense with that annoying and outdated concept of trial-by-jury altogether!

The reality is that America, like most great powers, is far more likely to fall to internal rot of the sort exhibited here than to external attack. We have far more to fear from these frightened intellectual descendants of Malcolm X and the Marquis de Sade than from a planet full of terrorists.

Vox Day is a novelist and Christian libertarian. He is a member of the SFWA, Mensa and the Southern Baptist church, and has been down with Madden since 1992. Visit his Web log, Vox Popoli, for daily commentary and responses to reader e-mail.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Military Commissions Act 2006: What About Freedom?

On October 17, 2006, President Bush, with the overwhelming approval of the House and Senate, signed into law The Military Commissions Act due largely to the recent Supreme Court ruling which stated that the military was not permitted to conduct tribunals in violation of due process. Prisoners were also guaranteed the right of habeas corpus as a means of redress and to test the legality of the detention and trial.

(Final House vote:

Final Senate vote:

Well, this new law now makes all of the things which the Supreme Court ruled as illegal and in violation of due process legal. It goes further: no habeas corpus options, prisoners may not invoke the Geneva Convention protections, the law does not exclude U.S. citizens as the objects of the moniker "enemy combatant," and the use of torture may even fall into the realm of "acceptable" in this new law. (Ted Kennedy apparently attempted to amend the legislation to exclude certain types of torture. This attempt failed.) (A fair reading of the new law:

If there was ever a question as to the direction of this administration regarding civil rights and liberties, I think this legislation ends the debate. Ron Paul voted against the legislation. Interestingly, our local Congressman, Sanford Bishop, voted for it. Strange as he is a Democrat and purportedly one of the defenders of civil rights.

As I stated in other threads re The Patriot Act and The Homeland Security Act we are headed in a direction which is dangerous and lethal to any kind of dissent or protest, folks. The mindset of the majority our elected officials is bent on domination and limitation in order to maintain "control." So much for conservative, small government Republicans.

A link to provide some background:

And finally, a good warning to our current leaders re the suspension of habeas corpus with some history to be remembered:

If the import of the rammifications of the passage of this law escapes us, we do not deserve to live in a free nation as we do not know what freedom really is...

Lux Lucet in Tenebris.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Coming Fury by Joe Sobran

September 2006
(page 1)
The Coming Fury
by Joe Sobran

As Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez,
cuddled with the ailing Fidel Castro on the occasion of
the latter's eightieth birthday, I found myself thinking
of a name from the past: Manuel Noriega. Remember him? He
was the pocky-faced dictator of Panama toppled by the
first President Bush in 1989, on the pretext that he was
trafficking in drugs, with the usual Hitler analogies
justifying the latest U.S war in Central America. After
he finally surrendered, Noriega was somehow tried under
U.S. law (though he hadn't set foot in this country) and
of course convicted. The last I heard, he was in an
American prison and had converted to Christianity.

This remains the most recent of America's many
little interventions in the region. We tend to forget
them quickly, but those on the receiving end remember
them. This is why rulers like Castro and Chavez are as
popular as they are in Latin America: whatever their
faults, at least they defy the bullying Yanqui.

About all I remember about the Panama war is that it
seemed quite unnecessary to me, while my conservative
friends were all for it. I never understood their
enthusiasm, except that the Cold War was coming to an end
and they relished the chance to exercise American power
abroad against an enemy, any enemy, and Noriega would
serve. I thought it was shameful. Obviously Noriega was
no threat at all to the United States; you might say he
was the Saddam Hussein of the Eighties. And we wonder why
there is so much anti-Americanism around the world.

Lately I've been reading Pat Buchanan's latest book,
STATE OF EMERGENCY, a warning that immigration by
unassimilable aliens now threatens not only America but
Europe. Given our history of absorbing newcomers
peacefully, I was disposed to be skeptical. But after
only a few chapters I found myself, against my will,
shaken and convinced. The new influxes, chiefly Mexican
here and Muslim in Europe, are totally different from
early waves of immigrants -- and far more dangerous. At
present rates, it won't be long until there are no
majority white Christian countries on earth. And the new
nonwhite majorities will be deeply hostile to the

In his brilliant, neglected book, THE MIGHT OF THE
WEST (1964), Lawrence Brown observes that we remember the
nineteenth century as a period of peace only because the
white nations seldom made war on each other. The rest of
the world experienced it differently. The white man's
technology, chiefly gunpowder, enabled him to invade and
conquer red, brown, yellow, and black men around the
world, with enormous attendant slaughter and disruption.
To these peoples it must have seemed as if a strange race
of pale aliens, armed with malevolent magic, had arrived
from another planet to destroy them. They were all but
helpless against the enemy's guns, then a terrible
novelty and mystery to them.

We ruled the world, and it seemed we would go on
ruling it forever. But now -- suddenly, in historical
terms -- the tables are turned, and it is we who seem
helpless against the colored races' explosive
populations. They are driving us out of their world and
moving into ours in huge numbers. And they are in no mood
either to adopt our ways or to forgive us.


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The Reactionary Utopian
September 26, 2006

by Joe Sobran

This year, 2006, is widely described as an "election
year." I think it would be more accurate to call it a
"reelection year." This time the future of our nation
will be at stake, as they say.

The voters are really angry. They are angry at both
parties, at the president, and at Congress. They are sick
and tired of the status quo -- war, high taxes,
corruption, runaway spending, soaring gasoline prices,
and poisoned spinach. They're mad as hell and they're not
going to stand for it anymore. They are demanding change
in Washington. And in a democracy like our own, the
voters are sovereign.

So, this November, the voters, in their awful fury,
are going to rise up and send the incumbents back to
Washington. That's what they always do. This is how a
vibrant democracy works.

Is there any cure for it? Yes. That's why I'm
writing. When the voters have made such a hash of
democracy, the only hope lies with the nonvoters.

Superficially, the nonvoters would appear to be the
brainiest part of the electorate: the elite 50 per cent
or so who are too sensible to bother thinking about
whether to elect Tweedle-Dee or Tweedle-Dum. So they
leave us at the mercy of those who imagine they see
crucial differences between the two candidates -- clones
who pretend they are diametric opposites.

Then Tweedle-Dee gets elected, and then reelected,
and reelected again, per omnia saecula saeculorum. He
becomes what we now call a "career politician," something
that would have horrified the Founding Fathers, who hoped
for frequent "rotation in office."

The obvious solution is for nonvoters to start
voting, or for a few voters to get smart. The rule should
be simply this: Never vote for an incumbent. Always vote
for the challenger, even if he looks worse than the

This would achieve several things. It would put an
end to the career politician, it would nullify the power
of money in elections, and it would weaken both major
parties. "Reelection Day" would be a thing of the past.

If only a tenth of the vote regularly went against
the incumbent, we would have "rotation in office" and the
advantages of incumbency would be wiped out. The ability
of politicians and, especially, their parties to
accumulate power would be severely reduced. This would
also mean that few politicians would be worth bribing,
directly or indirectly.

After all, most elections are decided by less than
10 per cent of the vote. The regular defeat of most
incumbents would be a healthy development. Let
Tweedle-Dum rule -- for one term. Then throw him out too.

Even now, voters are by no means entirely dumb,
though they are usually confused. Many of them realize
instinctively that voting means choosing the lesser evil
and that government is most bearable when neither party
has a monopoly of power. "Gridlock," with both parties
frustrating each other, is the nearest approximation we
have to constitutional government.

An incumbent is a man who already has more power
than he should. As a rule he should be replaced at the
first opportunity. The few exceptions don't matter enough
to modify the rule.

The American political genius has always lain in its
instinct to limit government, to divide and disperse
power. The powers of the Federal Government are listed,
defined, specified; some are denied to it, some are
positively assigned to the states, some are distributed
among the three branches. At the state level, we have
similar divisions, along with county and municipal levels
and their specific jurisdictions. And then there are
courts and juries.

Power can always be abused, tyranny can never be
entirely done away with, and some people will always see
the increase and concentration of political power as
"progressive" or at least advantageous to themselves.
Maybe the best we can do is to cultivate the habit of

And one way to achieve this is to keep reminding
ourselves that keeping a political office is not a sort
of property right. The seat now held by Senator
Tweedle-Dee is not "his" seat. If the people have any
political right, it is the right to change their rulers,
and they should exercise this right as often as they can.

Again: If only a tenth of the eligible voters
determined to vote against every incumbent in every
election, American politics could be peacefully

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Were Evangelicals Played For Suckers?

By Chuck Baldwin
October 17, 2006

No president in American history played the "God card" any better than George W. Bush. Early in his 2000 presidential campaign, Bush convinced fundamentalist/evangelical Christian leaders that he was "their" man. Those Christian leaders went on to promote and support Mr. Bush to the tune of two successful presidential election victories. To this day, they comprise his most loyal base of support.

But was it all a sham? Did G.W. Bush and Karl Rove simply dupe the Religious Right? A Bush insider now says that is exactly what happened: GOP strategists playedevangelical believers for suckers.

David Kuo has a long record of Christian conservatism. His resume includes tenure with such notable Republican leaders as William Bennett, John Ashcroft, Bob Dole, and Congressman J.C. Watts. Most recently, he served as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

In his column, Shooting from the Heart, Kuo wrote that receiving President Bush's invitation to become Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives "was a dream come true for me." Kuo believed he had teamed with a man who sincerely intended to promote Christian conservatism in and through his administration. Now Kuo believes that he (and the entire evangelical community) had been duped.

Kuo has written a new book entitled Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction. He also sat down with CBS reporter Lesley Stahl for a 60 Minutes interview that aired this past Sunday.

Kuo writes in his book that White House staffers would roll their eyes at evangelicals, calling them "nuts" and "goofy." Asked if that was really their attitude, Kuo told Stahl, "Oh, absolutely. You name the important Christian leader and I have heard them mocked by serious people in serious places."

Kuo said that people in the White House referred to Pat Robertson as "insane," Jerry Falwell as "ridiculous," and James Dobson as having "to be controlled."

Kuo believes that GOP strategists successfully convinced Christian leaders "that Jesus came primarily for a political agenda, and recently primarily a right-wing political agenda-as if this culture war is a war for God. And it's not a war for God, it's a war for politics. And that's a huge difference."

Kuo points out that President Bush would use catch-phrases to convince believers. For example, in one speech Bush said, "There's power, wonder-working power in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people."

The phrase "wonder working power" sailed over the heads of the media, but most evangelical Christians recognized it immediately from the great old hymn, Power In The Blood.

Kuo went on to say that "God and politics had become very much fused together into a sort of a single entity. Where, in a way, politics was the fourth part of the trinity. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and God the politician."

Kuo now feels badly for allowing politicians to use Christians (and the issues they embrace) as they did. He said, "I feel like it was more spiritually wrong. You're taking the sacred and you're making it profane. You're taking Jesus and reducing him to some precinct captain, to some get-out-the-vote guy." Kuo added, "[T]he name of God is just being destroyed in the name of politics."

Kuo is calling evangelical Christians to take a "fast" from politics. He said, "People are being manipulated. Good, well-meaning people are being told, 'Send your money to this Christian advocacy group or that.' And that's the answer. It's just not the answer. It's not the answer."

Kuo expects strong attacks from the White House and its supporters. He knows he will be viewed as a betrayer and that they will "go after him." He expects that he will be labeled as a "liberal" or an "idealist." But David Kuo says he is fine with that. He said, "I felt like I had to write this."

David Kuo's book should serve as a wake up call for America's evangelical community. We have been had. It's time to admit it.

From the cover-up of Congressman Mark Foley's debauchery (a cover-up that continues), to federal spending that is out-of-control, to an unprovoked, preemptive invasion against Iraq, to the "No Child Left Behind" education monstrosity, to the Patriot Act's decimation of the Fourth Amendment, to the building of an Orwellian surveillance society, the Bush administration has trampled on virtually every principle upon which America was founded.

No matter how badly evangelical Christians want to believe President Bush, no matter how desperately they want to enjoy access to the White House, no matter how deeply they feel obligated to support the Republican Party, it is time to face the truth that the GOP's only interest has been to use them for the simple purpose of winning elections.

Yet, there is an even greater lesson that evangelical Christians need to learn, and that is the lesson taught us in our own history. America's founders fought this battle more than 200 years ago and found that the greatest protection for religious liberty and principle was the implementation of, and loyalty to, the U.S. Constitution.

As Thomas Jefferson said, "In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

Christians need to be less enamored with the religious professions and promises of politicians and much more committed to making sure that their elected representatives uphold their oaths of office to the Constitution. Fidelity to the Constitution will successfully address most of the issues evangelical Christians care about. It will even address the ones they don't care about, but should. It's not a "fast" from politics that Christians need, it's a rededication to constitutional government.

(c) Chuck Baldwin

Taxes, Spending, and Debt are the Real Issues

Texas Straight Talk
by Congressman Ron Paul

October 16, 2006

In Washington we hear a lot of talk about tax cuts, but the rhetoric does not always match the reality. For most Americans, taxes remain too complex and too high. After the tumult of the upcoming midterm election, it is imperative that Congress gets back to basics and addresses our terrible tax system.

Lower taxes benefit all Americans by increasing economic growth and encouraging wealth creation. I’m in favor of cutting everybody’s taxes – rich, poor, and otherwise. Whether a tax cut reduces a single mother’s payroll taxes by forty dollars a month, or allows a business owner to save thousands in capital gains and hire more employees, the net effect is beneficial. Both either spend, save, or invest the extra dollars, which helps all of us more than if those dollars were sent to the black hole known as the federal Treasury.

Many conservatives have touted the Fair Tax proposal as an issue in the upcoming election. A pure consumption tax like the Fair Tax would be better than the current system only if we truly did away with the income tax by repealing the 16th amendment. Otherwise, we could end up with both the income tax and a national sales tax. A consumption tax also provides more transparency and less complexity. But the real issue is total spending by government, not tax reform. In other words, why change the tax structure if spending stays the same? Once we accept that the federal government needs $2.7 trillion from us-- and more each year-- the only question left is from whom it will be collected. Until the federal government is held to its proper constitutionally limited functions, tax reform will remain a mirage.

I apply a very simple test to any proposal to overhaul the tax code: Does it reduce or eliminate an existing tax? If not, then it amounts to nothing more than a political shell game that pits taxpayers against each other in a lobbying scramble to make sure the other guy pays. True tax reform is as simple as cutting or eliminating taxes. No studies, panels, committees, or hearings are needed. When reform proposals seem complicated, they almost certainly don’t cut taxes. Congress should simply focus on cutting existing taxes and reducing spending, instead of complicated overhauls of the system.

The question to ask yourself is this: What would I do with the money withheld from my paycheck each month? The answer is simple: you would spend, save, or invest the money, all of which do more for the economy and society than sending it to Washington. Thanks to the deception of income tax withholding, however, some people actually look forward to tax time and a much-anticipated refund. Imagine how quickly Americans would demand lower taxes and spending if they had to write the federal government a check each month!

Tax relief is important, but members of Congress need to back up tax cuts with spending cuts- and they need to vote NO on every wasteful appropriations bill until we start over with the federal budget. True fiscal conservatism combines both low taxes and low spending.

Cutting spending would not be hard if Congress simply showed the political will to tackle the problem. I’m not talking about cutting the rate at which government spending grows, but cutting the actual amount of money spent by the federal government in a single year.

If federal spending grows at 5% rather than 7% one year, that’s hardly a great achievement on the part of Congress. The current federal budget of around $2.7 trillion could be cut to $2.5 trillion quite easily. The vast majority of Americans would not even notice. But we must begin chipping away at the federal budget if we hope to address the underlying problem of government debt.

Monday, October 16, 2006

On the Invasion of Private Rights

"The invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the Constituents."

-- James Madison (letter to Thomas Jefferson, 17 October 1788)

Reference: The Constitution of Liberty, Hayek (475); original The Complete Madison, Padover (253)

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Brief Tax History of America

by Charles Adams

This address was delivered at the National Archives on April 12, 1994.

It is more than a pleasure to be here in this great edifice that holds the original documents upon which our Republic was founded. Of all the buildings in Washington – the memorials, the federal offices, the Supreme Court, the White House, the Congress – only the National Archives strike me as a sacred sanctuary. For it is here, above and beyond the world of politics, that the original documents are kept that founded not only our nation, but which have spread throughout the free world as the ideals upon which all free governments are based. The Declaration of Independence belongs to the world as much as it does to us. It marked the death-knell for the divine right of kings everywhere in its day, and in our day it sounds a similar death-knell for tyrants and dictatorships of every kind that seek to rule.

The first thing I did this morning upon entering this great sanctuary was to see the Declaration of Independence. Close observation was not possible because of the barrier that separates the viewer from the green case that houses the Declaration, but I could see "John Hancock" standing out above all the other signatures. He signed the Declaration in large script so the British authorities would not, no, could not, miss his signature. Why did he want to stick his neck out like that? Especially, when one member of the Cabinet, upon reading the Declaration, charged, "They are a race of convicts and ought to be thankful for anything we give them short of a hanging!"

John Hancock was probably the leading tax evader in Boston. He was apparently wanted for evading what today would be hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. He was a very successful merchant and importer, his merchant ships arrived almost daily with goods from abroad, and he hadn’t paid H.M.S. Customs its full tax for decades. Today, we would call him a tax protestor and he would have had a red flag on his tax file. Hancock’s bold signature is a clear reminder that America was founded by tax rebels, and their rebellion eventually gave birth to the United States of America.

If you read British history you get a different slant on American history, even today. In my book, For Good and Evil, after I’d read British writers, I said, "Did the mother country, meaning Britain, have a bunch of spoiled brats on her hands who didn’t realize just how well-off they were?" This was perhaps the choicest land on earth. Their sons were not conscripted to fight wars in far away places; they had the protection of the British nation, which was becoming the superpower of that age. They had all the rights of Englishmen. Their colonial charters guaranteed them those rights. They had just about everything going for them; there were jobs for everyone; there was prosperity throughout the land. All the British government wanted from them was to pay a portion of the costs of maintaining the 10,000 British troops stationed in America to protect them from French imperialism. Just recently, the French had been defeated on the Plains of Abraham (in Canada) and driven from the shores of the Atlantic. George Washington fought for the British in those battles and the threat of French imperialism still existed to the West and along the Gulf. So it didn’t seem unreasonable to expect the American colonies to pay for some of the costs for their protection.

This British view justifying taxation upon moral grounds is difficult to refute, and the leading writer of British letters, Samuel Johnson, wrote a small tract, Taxation No Tyranny, which has never been very successfully refuted. The sovereign power of every community, argued Johnson, "has the right of requiring from all its subjects such contributions as are necessary to the public safety and public prosperity."

One British civil servant wrote home that if you talk to an American about providing funds to help defray the costs of British troops stationed in America, he will respond by giving a lengthy lecture on his rights. The chances are that lecture would have been too reasonable.

The British government had serious tax problems at this time. The prolonged war with France had been costly, as all wars are, and to increase taxes at home, in 1764, taxes were introduced on hard cider, the beverage of the common man. Riots erupted in London, excise houses were burned, and the tax was repealed. The Crown then turned to the untaxed colonies. In the House of Commons the question was asked, "Do you think the Americans will resent paying their mite for the protection of the colonies?" No one objected. The Crown then passed the Sugar Act with no dissents.

There were protests from the importers and merchants, arguing that a duty for revenue was illegal, but a duty for regulation was not, such as a heavy prohibitive duty. Thus the higher the tax, the more lawful it was. This kind of bizarre logic didn’t do their cause much good.

The Sugar Act put a tax on non-British goods coming into the colonies, primarily goods from France and The Netherlands. It gave British importers a clear monopoly on trade and, at the same time, would provide some needed revenue. The bad part was the provision that took tax cases away from local courts and transferred them to the Admiralty Courts in Nova Scotia. Local courts had been decidedly pro-taxpayer and had impaired tax collection and smuggling prosecutions. Angry Yankee traders cried "foul," but outside of these smugglers, most of the rest of the colonies didn’t find much fault with the Act.

Revenue was not anywhere near what was expected, so the Crown tried again with stamp taxes that would apply to all kinds of documents, newspapers, etc. No opposition was expected as there had been nothing of much significance to the protest over the Sugar Act. But this was a different kind of tax – it hit everyone, not just the smugglers in New England. Stamp taxes were in use in the colonies as a local revenue measure. They were popular most everywhere in Europe, having been invented at the beginning of the 18th century. It was this tax that prompted Adam Smith’s comment, "There is no act which one nation sooner learns from another than how to drain money from the pockets of the people."

To the surprise and shock of British tax authorities, and even local governors, the colonists reacted with a fury. Even Ben Franklin, at first, applied for the job of stamp tax collector, not anticipating a major rebellion. The colonists called for a meeting of protest, which met in New York, and called itself "the Stamp Act Congress," which was the real birthplace of the United States. Most of the colonies showed up. This congress brought together the squabbling colonies for the first time with a common goal – defeat British efforts to tax the colonies internally.

Benjamin Franklin was sent to London to argue for the repeal of the Stamp Act, as a representative for Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Georgia. He told the Commons that prior to Stamp Act, the colonies loved the Crown and gave obedience to all its laws, and will continue to do so except for any internal taxes, like the Stamp Act. External taxes, like customs, would be accepted, said Franklin.

The Stamp Act rebellion brought trade to a standstill. British exporters went broke; merchant vessels were idle in the harbors in England. Opposition to the tax came from the merchants in Britain, and with that local opposition, plus the rebellion in America, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act. There were celebrations everywhere and soon it was business as usual. The Crown, however, wasn’t going to let go of the tax issue, and in their repeal bill they asserted their right to tax in the future, should they so desire.

The British prime minister thought the distinction between internal and external taxes was "perfect nonsense," and frankly, he was right. He then proposed a new tax putting a duty on a number of goods coming into the colonies, since this was, "perfectly consistent with Dr. Franklin’s views when he argued for the repeal of the Stamp Act." In a somewhat divided House of Commons, the Crown adopted some duties on a number of items, including tea. Edmund Burke argued against the duties. He said the Americans wouldn’t accept the tax despite what they had said to repeal the Stamp Act. Burke obviously knew the Americans better than they knew themselves. The Americans had, in effect, left the door open for further taxation and the Crown was quick to seize upon their folly. Talk about putting your foot in your mouth; this was a critical error that would eventually lead to the Revolution.

The Americans immediately started to boycott the goods that carried the new taxes. The Crown had no choice but to repeal these duties, except for tea. This gave rise to the trigger for the Revolution, the Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party was not the noble deed childhood history books try to depict. Benjamin Franklin acknowledged that this was a wanton destruction of private property and the tea owners should be compensated. It was much more than a tax protest.

British tea had been boycotted since the tax was first introduced. The Americans were big tea drinkers, so a brisk trade in smuggled Dutch tea was rampant throughout the colonies. British tea was nowhere to be purchased. The Crown decided to be clever, they repealed the tax on tea coming into Britain, and put a very small tax on tea coming into the colonies. The result was that the British tea would undersell the smuggled Dutch tea. American housewives would then buy the British tea causing economic ruin to those American merchants caught up in the tea smuggling trade. To make matters even more outrageous, the low-priced British tea was only sold to loyal British merchants. This was the last straw, so to speak.

Seven merchant ships sailed for America loaded with the low-priced tea. When news hit the colonies, threats of violence were passed along to the importing merchants. Four of the vessels returned to England, those for New York and Charleston. But three of the vessels, bound for Boston, entered the harbor, expecting the protection of the British fleet and military forces. The rest is well-known history. The merchants and their supporters, probably not more than a hundred, disguised as Indians, boarded the ships, and tossed the tea in the harbor. The British government reacted with a fury. They closed Boston’s harbor; they adopted a number of oppressive measures that set off the Revolution. The tax rebellion became a full-fledged Revolution, which, historically, was not a rare phenomenon. The French Revolution and the British Civil War are stark reminders of what can happen when tax revolts get out of control, or when governments crack-down on defiant taxpayers.

Edmund Burke, a member of the House of Commons, tried to heal the breach between the mother country and the colonies. In April 1775 he spoke for two or three hours in the Commons to try and make the Crown understand the American point-of-view. He argued that the "fierce spirit of Liberty is stronger in the English Colonies" than any place on earth, but that they are devoted to Liberty according to English ideas, and that Liberty, like in England, is centered in taxes more than anything else. His speech failed, as we know, but not even the colonists expressed themselves and their views as well as did this great writer and statesman.

The Revolution started shortly thereafter, and it was a hard and bitter struggle. It was said that in the winter you could find the American army by the blood in the snow from inadequate shoes and clothing. The Americans lost most of the battles, but won the war. They had logistics on their side being 3000 miles from England in a day of only sailing ships.

The war was carried on by the Continental Congress, which gave to the world the Declaration of Independence. They had no reliable source of revenue so they issued paper money called a "continental," which soon became worthless. They did draft a kind of constitution, eventually approved by all the states, called the Articles of Confederation. It was an impressive document. This government could even conduct wars, but it couldn’t tax – that would defeat the very purpose of the Revolution. When money was needed, as it always was, they would ask the states to supply the funds, apportioned among the states by the value of real property. By using real property as a measure of value, they avoided the slave problem. This requisition procedure was copied from the Netherlands. It worked with the United Provinces of the Netherlands, but it didn’t work well with the United States in Congress Assembled. Robert Morris the chief financial officer for the Confederation, summed up the problem with these words: The Congress had the privilege of requisitioning everything and the states had the prerogative of granting nothing. What money the states would grant, and when they would do so, was "known only to Him who knoweth all things."

The government was fast in decline, already bankrupt. In Madison’s writings we sense the urgency of doing something to save the Confederation. Without adequate revenues it was only a matter of time before the nation fell apart, and may even have reverted back to the mother country or ended up like Europe. But an interesting thing happened. Fate stepped in or you could even say Providence. There was a minor rebellion in Massachusetts – the Shays' Rebellion. It wasn’t much more than a riot by hard-pressed veterans and poor farmers wanting to get the attention of the state government about taxes and hard times. Daniel Shays led a group of these dissidents who marched on a federal arsenal. A volley of cannon was fired, the rebels dispersed, and the rebellion was over. But the press picked up the fray and blew it all out of proportion, and even suggested that the national government, if you could call it that, could easily be defeated by the military forces of the City of Genoa. In haste, the states sent delegates to Philadelphia to attend a convention to amend the Articles – a convention that had previously been called, but which was about to die from lack of any attendance. Shay’s Rebellion not only saved the convention, but probably saved the United States of America as well.

When Patrick Henry heard about the meeting in Philadelphia, he commented, "I smell a rat." Many of the Founders did not want any kind of a national government. What they envisioned was a common defence league, like in Switzerland among the Cantons. They greatly feared a central government, and the anemic Congress under the Confederation was just fine with them.

The convention usurped its authority and soon abandoned the idea of amending the Articles. What the Americans really needed was a new form of government, with limited powers to be sure, but with those enumerated powers, to be supreme over the states. There was to be no general endowment of police powers. The United States could only do what it was expressly authorized to do. Even taxing and spending powers were specifically defined.

A British writer some years ago said that never in the course of civilization had there been assembled at one time, in one place, so many men skilled in the art of statecraft. The Constitution they drafted was not a matter of luck. It did involve many compromises, as all government action does. But they were well educated; they knew the classics; and they studied the great political writers of the Enlightenment: John Locke and Baron du Montesquieu were their favorites. William Blackstone's monumental Commentaries were constantly being cited. Even Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations was popular among the Founders.

Benjamin Franklin was the senior statesman at the Convention. He didn’t participate in the debates as much as you might expect, but when it was over, he is reputed to have made a very sober observation, with tears in his eyes he said "its complexion was doubtful, that it might last for ages, involve one quarter of the globe, and probably end in despotism."

The main reason for the convention in the first place was to give the Congress the power to tax, and it was generally believed this should be limited to duties on imports. The right to tax without limitation was repudiated by even the most ardent nationalists, like Noah Webster and Hamilton. Hamilton argued successfully against limiting taxes to a single form. If great revenues were needed, as they may be at times, then a single form of tax would be excessive, fostering evasion and hurting commerce. Let Congress have the power to select many different forms of taxation and spread the burdens more equitably. So as you might expect, the first power granted to Congress was to tax.

One thing they didn’t want was a tax system like the one that existed in France at that time. One writer called it the Devil’s tax system, primarily because of all the exemptions and tax immunities that so many classes in France enjoyed. To prevent this, the Framers first put in the condition that taxes had to be "common to all." No one was to be let off the tax hook, French style. This was later changed to require taxes to be "uniform and equal throughout the United States," and that was approved by the delegates. When the approved draft was sent to a Committee on Style, this condition was dropped completely, and we have no explanation for this, especially since it was a committee on style only. Madison then wrote in the draft from this committee, "uniform throughout the United States," and that’s the way it still reads today.

Direct taxes were of serious concern to the Framers. Their great mentor, Montesquieu, copying from Greek and Roman thinkers, wrote that direct taxes were likely to lead to slavery. With almost 3,000 years of history to back this up, the Framers cautiously gave Congress direct taxing powers, but restricted the power to require an apportionment among the states by population. Slaves were a problem, so they compromised and considered every slave 3/5th of a person. When the matter of ratification came up in the many state legislatures, concern about direct taxing powers was expressed by the representatives. Without exception, it was almost axiomatic that direct taxation would only occur during an extraordinary emergency (Madison). A delegate to the Maryland state convention, noted that the federal government must hold the power of direct taxation in reserve, "nothing but some unforeseen disaster will ever drive them [federal government] to such ineligible expedients." At the Convention, Luther Martin seemed to express the universal view that direct taxation "should not be used but in cases of absolute necessity." James Wilson, whom many believe was the primary architect of the Constitution, even eclipsing Madison, said that direct taxes were for emergencies only.

The Framers’ final control on taxation was to control all spending. In this, they showed their genius and realism. Taxes, said the Constitution could be used "to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States." Debts, Defence, and Welfare all began with capital letters. Hamilton, undoubtedly the leading advocate for a strong national government, in The Federalist, 34, said, the Constitution tied up the hands of government and prevented using taxes for any, "offensive war founded on reasons of state." Tax moneys could only be used for Defence, at least that’s what the Framers put in the Constitution. General Welfare meant the opposite of special welfare – but that restriction, like the common Defence restriction has been tossed out the window by national government.

Whiskey Rebellion #1

It is interesting that "white lightning," or "moonshine" has played such an important role in our tax history. I have identified two Whiskey Rebellions, not just one. The first is well known, but not well understood. Hamilton as the Secretary of the Treasury, persuaded the first Congress to adopt a tax on whiskey to help pay for the huge war debt as well as to run the country along with import duties. At that time, there was no tax more hated than excises by both the Americans and the British. It was an extremely unpopular form of taxation, as the ruling Federalist Party was to learn the hard way. A revolt immediately erupted in Western Pennsylvania where whiskey was used as money, more than as drink. Any farmer who paid the tax, had his still shot full of holes by "Tommy Tinker," the name used by the rebels against the tax. Tax collectors were tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail, as some of the fascinating etchings from this period show.

Eventually the rebels capitulated and signed an amnesty agreement, promising to pay the tax. President Washington pardoned the few who led the uprising. Historians now know the military force called out to put down the rebellion was unnecessary as the rebels had capitulated beforehand. It was Hamilton’s idea of showing force to strengthen the support for the new national government. In the end, however, when Jefferson came to power, the tax was repealed and the Federalist Party disappeared from history – its demise, undoubtedly caused by its unpopular taxes.

Fries Rebellion

When President Adams replaced Washington, he too as a strong Federalist, introduced the first direct tax, and like the Whiskey tax, it set off another tax revolt, this time in Eastern Pennsylvania. When tax assessors showed up in the various counties, an armed uprising followed. Some of the rebels were put in jail, and an auctioneer named John Fries showed up with a mob and got the men released. Adams called out the militia, Fries was arrested and tried for treason. His conviction and subsequent sentence to be hanged, was overturned by a pardon given by President Adams, against the unanimous advise of his cabinet. Adams felt it was not treason, but just a riot. That unpopular tax, along with the whiskey tax, added to the popular contempt for the Federalist Party.

Hamilton was behind this tax as well as the whiskey tax. Historians have often called him the right man, at the right time, in the right place, in American history. His firm policy to make the country fiscally strong, with sound credit and a sound currency, no doubt justify that observation. But to the Federalist Party, his taxes brought about the total destruction of our first political party, for after the election of Jefferson and the repeal of Hamilton’s taxes, his party vanished forever. Lobbying a tax law through the Congress, as he did so ably, was not the same as taxation by consent, as the Declaration of Independence demanded.

The Tax Road to the War of the Rebellion

The tariff became the primary tool to raise revenue for the federal government, and finally, in 1834, the national debt was paid off. It was long struggle, but with a frugal government, and only one short war, the finances of the federal government were slowly being put in good order.

The tariff had been used for some protectionist purposes in the beginning, but in 1828, northern industrialists pushed through a high tariff, greatly resented by the South. They called it the "tariff of abomination," a biblical term meaning the highest evil. In 1832, when this high tariff continued, South Carolina nullified the tariff as unconstitutional. There was a brief threat of war by President Jackson, but cool heads prevailed, the tariff was to be reduced, and the nullification ordinance passed away.

The hatred for the tariff was universal throughout the South. It made Southerners vassals of the North, being just a sophisticated form of tribute. The argument went like this: The tariff prevented competition from Europe, which meant that Northern industrialists could charge excessive prices for their goods sold in the South, thus shifting a large part of Southern wealth to Northern interests. If the South should chose to buy foreign goods with the high tax, this put Southern moneys into the federal coffers to be spent on Northern projects, in effect another form of tribute from the South to the North. Either way it was an injustice upon the Southern people and their economy.

Compromise, however, prevailed up until 1860 when the new Republican Party held its convention in Chicago which nominated Abraham Lincoln as the Republican candidate for President. The platform of the party included a demand for a high tariff, and when the tariff issue came up before the delegates for approval, there was so much yelling and hoopla, it was "as if a herd of buffalo had stampeded through the conventional hall." The noise of that stampede must have been heard all the way to the Southern States. The Southerners got the message, and while the new Republican nominee for president, reassured the South, time and time again, that slavery was in no danger, no doubt their economy was – with the proposed high tariff. The first thing the Republicans did when they arrived in Washington in March of 1861, was to push through a high tariff, called the Morrill Tariff, the highest in history, with rates of over 50% on many items. This tax, more than anything else, probably made any reconciliation with the seceding states impossible.

In Lincoln’s first inaugural address, he made a clear demand on the seceding states of "taxes or war." With slavery he was conciliatory, never even mentioning the Republican demand to end slavery in the territories. He went so far as the state that he had no personal inclination to interfere with slavery. He even said he supported a constitutional amendment (ironically #13) to protect slavery forever in the states where it existed, and that would have included New Jersey, Delaware, and the border states. But on taxes he was committed – there would be no invasion of the South he said, except to collect taxes and recover any federal property. Many Southern newspaper editorials saw this and correctly interpreted this as an appeasement to slavery, but a call for aggression to collect the high tariff on imports to the South. Lincoln and his party had resurrected the old animosity with a new and more severe "tariff of abomination." To the South this came as no surprise considering the platform of the Republican Party adopted in the summer of 1860.

The war, however, got started over another tax matter – the free trade zone in the Confederacy. Lincoln, even if he had been a strong advocate for abolition in the nation, never would have received the support, especially the financial support he got from the banks, Wall Street, and the commercial powers of the North. Abolitionists were a small minority that had been repudiated in all the elections in the North. This war, like so many wars, had economic factors that overpowered all other considerations. What was at stake for the North, was not freedom for the slave, but the prosperity and commerce of the North.

At first, few Northerners saw the danger of a free trade zone in the South. The New York Times, for example, its editorials up until March 20th, proclaimed that the confederacy was no threat to Northern prosperity and commerce. On the 21st of March, after months of taking the opposite view, the economic editor changed his tune dramatically. He argued that the South would destroy the commerce and prosperity of the North with its free trade zone vis-à-vis the high Morrill Tariff. Trade from New York, Boston, and Philadelphia would shift to Southern ports, and it already was doing so, as New York importers saw their trade contracts cancelled and rebooked to New Orleans. The President has got to blockade all Southern ports and bring utter ruin to the confederacy, wrote the chief economic editor of the New York Times. At the same time the leading newspaper in Philadelphia expressed the same view as did newspapers in Boston and elsewhere. The demand for war replaced demands of "letting the South go."

Shortly thereafter, in only a week, Lincoln called his cabinet for advice on reinforcing Fort Sumter. It was almost unanimous that any such show of force would provoke war, and Lincoln then made the decision to do so. As expected, he did provoke a foolish assault on the Fort. The North rallied around the President’s call for 75,000 troops for four months to put down the South. Little did he or anyone know what horrible carnage would be unleashed on the United States, with consequences that have lasted to this day.

In December of 1861, Charles Dickens, who gave us the Mr. Scrooge and scores of marvelous novels and writing still in print today, saw through the Civil War, and wrote this in a weekly London paper, All the Year Round:

So the case stands, and under all the passion of the parties and the cries of battle lie the two chief moving causes of the struggle. Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means the loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this as of many many other evils.

We can say that the trigger for the Civil War was the press, just as it triggered the war with Spain in 1898 with its cry of "Remember the Maine" In 1861, it was remember Fort Sumter, and remember your prosperity, and what Southern freeports will do to it. What makes the start of the Civil War of especial interest to the economic historian, is not just a single tax factor, like so many other revolutions and revolts, but two tax factors in conflict with each other. It apparently took the two of them – the Morrill Tariff and the free trade zone – to act as the fuse that set off this terrible war and the suffering, carnage, and destruction it brought to the nation, including tragic moral and spiritual tosses as well.

Whiskey Rebellion #2

Few historians take note of Whiskey Rebellion #2 which began as the Civil War ended and raged for almost 40 years, in Appalachia – from West Virginia south to Georgia and Alabama. The heart of the rebellion was probably in North Carolina. To support the war, the North adopted a tax on whiskey, eventually up to $2 a gallon. When the war ended, the tax naturally spread throughout the South and federal tax men, call revenuers, scoured this mountain region to collect the tax. Open war erupted and hundreds were killed, on both sides, as the IRB (Internal Revenue Bureau) came into existence and enforced this hated tax on what was a poverty area of the nation. As one moonshiner said, being led off to jail for tax evasion, "What did my granddaddy fit in the Revolution if it wasn’t to make a little corn licker." Others argued it was an assault on their liberties; they had just as much right to grind corn into mash as they did to grind it into flour to make bread.

The spirit of the assault on these mountain people, and the numerous death that resulted from trying to serve arrest warrants, indicates a kind of savage enforcement of a tax law that has survived to this day. The violence we see from time to time in enforcing federal laws, even misdemeanors, may well be traced to the spirit of enforcement of the whiskey tax in the South among the moonshiners. The Internal Revenue Bureau grew from this small paramilitary operation to enforce the income tax that came some 30 years later, eventually becoming the I.R.S. in our day. The spirit of tax enforcement that characterized that early IRE seems to have infected not only the IRS, but other federal agencies with similar endowments of powers of enforcement. Resistance to the service of any federal warrant justifies deadly force today, as it did during the days of the moonshiners. Waco, Texas, is proof enough of this policy of violence to the disobedient, and Waco is not a rare exception to official policy.

Digging a Ditch for the Rich to Fall Into

The Civil War brought forth the first incomes taxes as both the North and South introduced these forms of war taxation. The modern income tax was invented by the British and it has been quite properly called "The tax that beat Napoleon." But it was a war tax only and as soon as the war ended the British Parliament, against the wishes of the Crown, repealed the tax and ordered all the records to be destroyed. They hated it, but were willing to tolerate the tax as a war – time measure. So in keeping with the British view, these first American income taxes ended shortly after the war. Collections apparently weren’t too successful, at least some writers report that anyone who paid the tax was the laughing stock of his neighbors.

A populist movement developed in the late 19th Century and one of its demands was a tax on the rich via income taxation. In 1894 they had sufficient votes in the Congress plus a Democratic president to put through a peacetime income tax to essentially have the rich pick up the whole tab of running the government. Some excises (like whiskey) remained along with import duties. This first income tax was a low 2%, but it exempted 98% of the nation, which immediately reminds me of President Clinton’s increased income taxes which were also targetted for the rich, the top 2%.

My wife many years ago told me about a Russian proverb she had learned as a young girl which said: "If you dig a ditch for someone to fall into, you will probably fall in yourself." The first income taxes after the Civil War were undoubtedly class legislation against the rich – they were a ditch for the rich to fall into. The rich fought back immediately, challenging the tax on a number of constitutional grounds, two of which stuck. First, it was a direct tax and had to be apportioned among the states; second, it violated the command of uniformity by exempting 98% of the population. There was a dissenting view by Justice John Harlan who gave us the dissent in the segregation case of that era, "The Constitution is color-blind." He argued that the income tax was an excise on earnings, not a direct tax; it did exempt 98% of the people, but that was tolerable; however, if any tax became legislative plunder, under the guise of taxation, the Court would look into that. Exemptions, said Harlan, were most liable to objection.

In the next two decades the proponents for income taxes pushed the 16th Amendment through the state legislatures and by 1916 another income tax law was passed. It was also class legislation against the rich, with progressive rates from 1% to 7%. Most people were exempt and many paid the 1% rate even if not required to do so, believing all citizens have a duty to pay something toward the expenses of maintaining the government.

The problem with trying to soak the rich, from an historian’s perspective, is, it doesn’t work as planned. The rich, going all the way back to the Romans, have had the means to control and evade taxes that got out of line. Howard Hughes paid no income taxes, and his tax planning was quite legal. In the final analysis, the middle class is the only dependable source of tax revenue – and that is a truism tax makers should not forget when they seriously need more revenue. As any tax practitioner will tell you, the richer you are, the easier it is to control taxable income. Going back to Mr. Hughes, in his final years of madness, he neglected to plan for death taxes. He didn't even have a will. So, the tax man had the last laugh as death taxes made up for the income taxes he avoided.

So, in 1916, off we go with the income tax. It’s supposed to solve all our fiscal ills, and it’s supposed to make the rich pick up most of the tab. Of course, as might be expected it didn’t quite do that, and the more the rates were increased, collections didn’t go up for the rich, although they did go up for everyone else. In 1916, with a top rate of 7% the treasury reported 206 people with incomes over one million dollars. Five years later, when the tax rate went up 1100 percent, from 7% to 77%, there were only 21 people with an income of a million dollars or more. What happened? Simple arithmetic shows that 9 out of 10 million-dollar earners had vanished, as if by magic. Well, maybe they moved to some low tax country. We don’t know, but they obviously rearranged their lives or finances so they no longer had million dollar earnings that were taxable. As for a 77% tax rate, I think that’s just plain plunder, or you can call it stealing. It is certainly not in keeping with the ideals of the Framers that taxes had to be "common to all."

You may wonder about progressive tax rates. How are such rates possible when the Constitution commands uniformity in taxation? That issue faced the Court at the turn of the century in an inheritance tax case to raise funds for the Spanish-American War. The Court felt that for inheritance purposes you could have graduated rates based on one’s relationship, like children as opposed to strangers or cousins. But the Court also noted that in other areas, such discrimination could not stand. That was what lawyers call dicta – side comments that are not really part of the issues. But in that case, one Justice spoke out strongly against any tax that was deliberately and intentionally made unequal: Progressive rates violated the command of uniformity and equality in the Constitution. This Justice, David Brewer, is hardly known, even by scholars. In my book you will find his picture. The story behind that picture is interesting. When I called the Curator of the Supreme Court for his picture, they first said, no problem. But after checking their archives, they had never had a request for his picture and all they had was an extremely old negative that had never been developed. So I had them develop it, and there in my book is the only picture of this remarkable justice who stood up for uniformity and equality in taxation.

When the 1916 income tax came before the high Court with a challenge to its progressive rates, Justice Brewer had passed away and the Court dismissed the challenge with not much more than a one liner, even though the leading legal scholars and Law Reviews had zeroed in on this issue as the most important tax issue in the Constitutional history of the United States.

The tolerance for discrimination in taxation by the Courts, contrasts with Chief Justice Warren’s lack of tolerance for discrimination in racial matters. He ruled in the famous Brown case that overruled all racial segregation, that such laws, though supposed to be "separate but equal," were inherently unequal despite all appearances. Yet, with discrimination in taxation, we have a much stronger case. The tax laws are not just "inherently" unequal, they are intentionally made that way, like a few centuries ago when Jews paid four times the tax rates as Christians, and in Protestant countries, Catholics paid twice the rate. The Supreme Court retreated immediately from its unconstitutional ruling in the 1894 income tax case, to the position today, that no challenge to a federal tax law will be taken seriously. Like Pontius Pilate, they have taken "water and washed their hands before the multitude."

From the Rosetta Stone to the US Code: The History of Taxation (CD)
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The history of the income tax is an old story, a perfect example of a good tax going bad. In fact, one of the universal factors in tax history is that most all good taxes go bad. The income tax certainly followed that course, especially in the last 30 years. It was initially a tax supported primarily by the duty and honor of all citizens – in short, the income tax was an honor system, which is the only way it will work in a free society. Today, the honor part is gone. Over the past two decades, especially in the Reagan years, the intrusions and spying on citizen taxpayers has reached alarming levels. Thirty years ago nothing was reported to the tax man except the W-2 which allowed a worker to claim a refund. Today, everything of any possible tax nature is reported. Banks photograph everything going through your bank account and hold those photos for Big Brother to see. We have evolved from a nation with a tax system based on honor to one based on espionage against all citizens. But there is hope. President Ulysses S. Grant said that the best way to get rid of a bad law is to strictly enforce it. If that is true, then the Congress has been digging a grave unwittingly for the income tax law over the past 20 years. Let us hope President Grant’s observation comes true.

You could interpret this mass of tax surveillance legislation as the sure sign of a decadent society as compared to our recent ancestors. But the more likely cause is a major cold war type tax rebellion against a tax that is tyrannical and corrupt. Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations made some surprising arguments against making tax evasion a crime. He said that the evader is ordinarily an excellent citizen had not the state made a crime which nature never meant to be. He concluded by noting that when there is much unnecessary expense by government and misapplication of the public revenue, the laws that protect it will not be respected.

When popular support for a law, especially a tax law, disappears, the state has to fall back on what the great sage of the Enlightenment, Montesquieu called, "extraordinary means of oppression." That seems to be what we have experienced and are likely to experience in the decades ahead. The likelihood of a major tax change in our society may depend on just how fed-up the people are with the income tax system. With the "evil empire" now gone, tolerance for a bad tax law may completely disappear and a powerful democratic force for change may bring us a new and better tax law. But beware, don’t expect too much, unless someone comes up with a much better mousetrap. And even then, we should remember this poetic couplet of Alexander Pope, written 250 years ago:

Who ever hopes a faultless tax to see,
Hopes what ne’er was, is not, and ne’er will be.

October 7, 2006

Attorney Charles Adams is the author of When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession, and Those Dirty Rotten Taxes: The Tax Revolts That Built America. Much of this material and more on this subject can be found in his book, For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization.

Copyright © 1994 by Charles Adams

The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer


The Self-sufficiency of God

Teach us, O God, that nothing is necessary to Thee. Were anything necessary to Thee that thing would be the measure of Thine imperfection: and how could we worship one who is imperfect? If nothing is necessary to Thee, then no one is necessary, and if no one, then not we. Thou dost seek us though Thou does not need us. We seek Thee because we need Thee, for in Thee we live and move and have our being. Amen

“The Father hath life in himself,” said our Lord, and it is characteristic of His teaching that He thus in a brief sentence sets forth truth so lofty as to the transcend the highest reaches of human thought. God, He said, is self-sufficient; He is what He is in Himself, in the final meaning of those words.

Whatever God is, and all that God is, He is in Himself. All life is in and from God, whether it be the lowest form of unconscious life or the highly self-conscious, intelligent life of a seraph. No creature has life in itself; all life is a gift from God.

The life of God, conversely, is not a gift from another. Were there another from whom God could receive the gift of life, or indeed any gift whatever, that other would be God in fact. An elementary but correct way to think of God is as the One who contains all, who gives all that is given, but who Himself can receive nothing that He has not first given.

To admit the existence of a need in God is to admit incompleteness in the divine Being. Need is a creature-word and cannot be spoken of the Creator. God has a voluntary relation to everything He has made, but He has no necessary relation to anything outside of Himself. His interest in His creatures arises from His sovereign good pleasure, not from any need those creatures can supply nor from any completeness they can bring to Him who is complete in Himself.

Again we must reverse the familiar flow of our thoughts and try to understand that which is unique, that which stands alone as being true in this situation and nowhere else. Our common habits of thought allow for the existence of need among created things. Nothing is complete in itself but requires something outside itself in order to exist. All breathing things need air; every organism needs food and water. Take air and water from the earth and all life would perish instantly. It may be stated as all axiom that to stay alive every created thing needs some other created thing and all things need God. To God alone nothing is necessary.

The river grows larger by its tributaries, but where is the tributary that can enlarge the One out of whom came everything and to whose infinite fullness all creation owes its being?

Unfathomable Sea: all life is out of Thee,
And Thy life is Thy blissful Unity.
Frederick W. Faber

The problem of why God created the universe still troubles thinking men; but if we cannot know why, we can at least know that He did not bring His worlds into being to meet some unfulfilled need in Himself, as a man might build a house to shelter him against the winter cold or plant a field of corn to provide him with necessary food. The word necessary is wholly foreign to God.

Since He is the Being supreme over all, it follows that God cannot be elevated. Nothing is above Him, nothing beyond Him. Any motion in His direction is elevation for the creature; away from Him, descent. He holds His position out of Himself and by leave of none. As no one can promote Him, so no one can degrade Him. It is written that He upholds all things by the word of His power. How can He be raised or supported by the things He upholds?

Were all human beings suddenly to become blind, still the sun would shine by day and the stars by night, for these owe nothing to the millions who benefit from their light. So, were every man on earth to become atheist, it could not affect God in any way. He is what He is in Himself without regard to any other. To believe in Him adds nothing to His perfections; to doubt Him takes nothing away.
Almighty God, just because He is almighty, needs no support. The picture of a nervous, ingratiating God fawning over men to win their favor is not a pleasant one; yet if we look at the popular conception of God that is precisely what we see. Twentieth century Christianity has put God on charity. So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, not to say enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God. But the truth is that God is not greater for our being, nor would He be less if we did not exist. That we do exist is altogether of God’s free determination, not by our desert nor by divine necessity.

Probably the hardest thought of all for our natural egotism to entertain is that God does not need our help. We commonly represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father hurrying about seeking help to carry out His benevolent plan to bring peace and salvation to the world, but, as said the Lady Julian, “I saw truly that God doeth all-thing, be it never so little.” The God who worketh all things surely needs no help and no helpers.

Too many missionary appeals are based upon this fancied frustration of Almighty God. An effective speaker can easily excite pity in his listeners, not only for the heathen but for the God who has tried so hard and so long to save them and has failed for want of support. I fear that thousands of younger persons enter Christian service from no higher motive than to help deliver God from the embarrassing situation His love has gotten Him into and His limited abilities seem unable to get Him out of. Add to this a certain degree of commendable idealism and a fair amount of compassion for the underprivileged and you have the true drive behind much Christian activity today.

Again, God needs no defenders. He is the eternal Undefended. To communicate with us in all idiom we can understand, God in the Scriptures makes full use of military terms; but surely it was never intended that we should think of the throne of the Majesty on high as being under siege, with Michael and his hosts or some other heavenly beings defending it from stormy overthrow. So to think is to misunderstand everything the Bible would tell us about God. Neither Judaism nor Christianity could approve such puerile notions. A God who must be defended is one who can help us only while someone is helping Him. We may count upon Him only if He wins in the cosmic seesaw battle between right and wrong. Such a God could not command the respect of intelligent men; He could only excite their pity.

To be right we must think worthily of God. It is morally imperative that we purge from our minds all ignoble concepts of the Deity and let Him be the God in our minds that He is in His universe. The Christian religion has to do with God and man, but its focal point is God, not man. Man’s only claim to importance is that he was created in the divine image; in himself he is nothing. The psalmists and prophets of the Scriptures refer sad scorn to weak man whose breath is in his nostrils, who grows up like the grass in the morning only to be cut down and wither before the setting of the sun. That God exists for himself and man for the glory of God is the emphatic teaching of the Bible. The high honor of God is first in heaven as it must yet be in earth.

From all this we may begin to understand why the Holy Scriptures have so much to say about the vital place of faith and why they brand unbelief as a deadly sin. Among all created beings, not one dare trust it itself. God alone trusts in himself; all other beings must trust in Him. Unbelief is actually perverted faith, for it puts its trust not in the living God but in dying men. The unbeliever denies the self-sufficiency of God and usurps attributes that are not his. This dual sin dishonors God and ultimately destroys the soul of the man.

In His love and pity God came to us as Christ. This has been the consistent position of the Church from the days of the apostles. It is fixed for Christian belief in the doctrine of the incarnation of the Eternal Son. In recent times, however, this has come to mean something different from, and less than, what it meant to the early church. The Man Jesus as He appeared in the flesh has been equated with the Godhead and all His human weaknesses and limitations attributed to the Deity. The truth is that the Man who walked among us was a demonstration, not of unveiled deity but of perfect humanity. The awful majesty of the Godhead was mercifully sheathed in the soft envelope of Human nature to protect mankind. “Go down,” God told Moses on the mountain, ”charge the people, less they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish”; and later, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.”

Christians today appear to know Christ only after the flesh. They try to achieve communion with Him by divesting Him of His burning holiness and unapproachable majesty, the very attributes He veiled while on earth but assumed in fullness of glory upon His ascension to the Father’s right hand. The Christ of popular Christianity has a weak smile and a halo. He has become Someone-up-There who likes people, at least some people, and these are grateful but not too impressed. If they need Him, He also needs them.

Let us not imagine that the truth of the divine self-sufficiency will paralyse Christian activity. Rather it will stimulate all holy endeavor. This truth, while a needed rebuke to human self-confidence, will when viewed in its Biblical perspective lift from our minds the exhausting load of mortality and encourage us to take the easy yoke of Christ and spend ourselves in Spirit-inspired toil for the honor of God and the good of mankind. For the blessed news is that the God who needs no one has in sovereign condescension set Himself to work by and in and through His obedient children.

If all this appears self-contradictory - Amen, be it so. The various elements of truth stand in perpetual antithesis, sometimes requiring us to believe apparent opposites while we wait for the moment when we shall know as we are known. Then truth which now appears to be in conflict with itself will arise in shining unity and it will be seen that the conflict has not been in the truth but in our sin-damaged minds.

In the meanwhile our inner fulfilment lies in loving obedience to the commandments of Christ and the inspired admonitions of His apostles. “It is God which worketh in you.” He needs no one, but when faith is present He works through anyone. Two statements are in this sentence and a healthy spiritual life requires that we accept both. For a full generation the first has been in almost total eclipse, and that to our deep spiritual injury.

Fountain of good, all blessing flows
From Thee; no want Thy fulness knows;
What but Thyself canst Thou desire?
Yet, self-sufficient as Thou art,
Thou dost desire my worthless heart.
This, only this, dost Thou require.
Johann Scheffler