A Nation In Distress

A Nation In Distress

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FAIR Legislative Update

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FAIR Legislative Update March 28, 2011

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Lee and Chaffetz Stand Strong against Utah Guest Worker Amnesty Bill

Two members of Utah’s delegation, U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R) and U.S. Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R) announced their opposition to Utah’s new guest worker amnesty law last week, declaring their belief that the law is unconstitutional. Under Utah’s new law, H.B. 116, the state may grant illegal aliens who enter the state before May 10, 2011 guest worker permits, allowing them to continue living and working in Utah—in direct violation of federal law. The bill also allows these illegal workers to sponsor their illegal alien relatives (spouses and children) for permits that allow them to accompany the worker. H.B. 116 will go into effect as soon as the State of Utah obtains a waiver from the federal government or July 1, 2013, whichever is sooner.

Rep. Chaffetz, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Immigration Reform Caucus, denounced the bill at a recent town hall meeting. (Salt Lake Tribune, Mar. 22, 2011) “I feel it’s unconstitutional, and I took an oath to uphold the Constitution,” he said. (Id.) Chaffetz pointed out that by issuing guest worker permits, Utah has “come to the point that the state is trying to do something that clearly is the purview of the federal government.” (Id.) Sen. Lee, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, made similar comments during an interview in his home state last week. “It’s just not going to happen,” he said. (Id.) “I know of no process in federal law that suggests that such a waiver could even be granted, nor do I know of any political inclination in Washington to let that happen….It would take a massive shift in federal law for [H.B. 116] to even be considered, and there’s no appetite to transfer that authority over to the states.” (Id.)

There is solid precedent for Chaffetz and Lee to argue Utah’s new law is unconstitutional. In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the federal government's exclusive authority to “regulate immigration.” (De Canas v. Bica, 424 U.S. 351, 354 (1976)) In doing so, the Court narrowly defined “regulation of immigration” as “essentially a determination of who should or should not be admitted into the country, and the conditions under which a legal entrant may remain.” (Id. at 355) Thus, by allowing the State of Utah to determine who receives guest worker permits and under which conditions a guest worker may remain, the Utah Legislature has usurped the federal government’s power to regulate who is admitted into the country and the conditions under which a person may stay.

But despite serious questions about the constitutionality of the law, Utah’s Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff, has been lobbying Department of Justice and White House officials to implement Utah’s new set of immigration laws—referred to as the “Utah Compact”—on a national scale. (Salt Lake Tribune, Mar. 9, 2011) Shurtleff presented the Compact to other state attorneys general at a national meeting earlier this month in Washington, D.C. (Id.) As part of his trip, Shurtleff also met with White House intergovernmental affairs staff as well as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. (Id.) “I think they were really impressed,” Shurtleff said in regards to his meetings. (Id.) “They didn’t commit to anything, but they were really excited about what Utah was able to accomplish.” (Id.)

Regardless of the Justice Department’s reaction, there is no process under federal law that would allow it to unilaterally invalidate the federal statutes that make it unlawful for illegal aliens to reside in the U.S. or for employers to hire illegal aliens. Thus, in granting Utah a waiver to implement its guest worker program, the Obama Administration would be affirmatively invalidating an act of Congress. However, if the Obama Administration refuses to grant Utah a waiver on the grounds that doing so would be unconstitutional, Utah’s guest worker bill will still go into effect on July 1, 2013. At that point, Americans will be watching to see if the Obama Justice Department sues the State of Utah as it sued the State of Arizona.

Congressman Flake Flip-Flops on Amnesty

U.S. Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) changed his position on immigration reform last week, declaring the pursuit of “comprehensive” immigration reform a “dead end.” (Jeff Flake for U.S. Senate, The Arizona Republic, Mar. 23, 2011) The “political realities in Washington are such that a comprehensive solution is not possible, or even desirable given the current leadership,” he said in a statement posted on his website. (Id.)

This statement reverses years of Congressman Flake’s work to promote such amnesty legislation. For example, in 2007, Rep. Flake co-sponsored legislation with Rep. Luis Gutierrez called the STRIVE Act (H.R. 1645). The STRIVE Act included guest worker program and pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. At that time, Rep. Flake argued his legislation was not amnesty because amnesty was an “unconditional pardon,” and the STRIVE Act required illegal aliens to pay fees and fines. (See e.g. FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 4, 2007)

The Congressman credits the continually increasing drug-related violence in Mexico as the reason for his shift to a harder stance on border security and immigration policy. In a statement released two weeks ago, the Congressman stated that if National Guard troops withdraw from the border, there should be a subsequent increase in border patrol agents. (Press Releases, Mar. 16, 2011)

Congressman Flake’s statements come at a time when the race for 2012 candidate positions is heating up. The congressman has indicated he is running for Senator Jon Kyl’s seat next November. (Roll Call, Feb. 10, 2011; KGUN9, Feb. 14, 2011)

Homeland Security Launches E-Verify Self-Check

Early last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Alejandro Mayorkas unveiled an online version of E-verify that allows individuals to verify their own work authorization. (Department of Homeland Security, Mar. 21, 2011) This electronic version is intended to provide workers with an opportunity to verify their own work authorization, thereby allowing them to correct any inaccuracies in their DHS and Social Security Administration (SSA) records before applying for employment. DHS also hopes the self-check program will streamline the verification process for employers. (Id.) The E-Verify self-check program allows workers eight business days to clear up any inaccuracies identified. (Bloomberg, Mar. 21, 2011)

Although the online self-check is currently only available to residents of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Virginia and the District of Columbia, DHS hopes to expand the program nation-wide within the year. (Bloomberg, Mar. 21, 2011)

Secretary Napolitano used last week’s press conference to tout the abilities of E-Verify. “It’s only getting more accurate with each passing day,” she said. “No one who is eligible to work is prevented from doing so.” (Id.) Officials noted they expect almost one million queries within E-Verify self-check’s first year online. (Id.) “This new tool is a tremendous service for employees and employers alike,” said USCIS Director Mayorkas. (Id.)

Congressman Hunter Introduces Key Immigration Bills

Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) introduced two key immigration bills this past month, the “Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act” (H.R. 1134) and the “Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act of 2011” (H.R. 1091).

In an important step in keeping state and local governments from contravening federal immigration law, the “Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act” would amend Section 241(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to prohibit state and local governments with “sanctuary city” policies in place from receiving federal reimbursements for incarcerating illegal aliens. (§2) Under the bill, state and local governments would also be ineligible for SCAAP funds if they prohibit law enforcement officials from “gathering” information regarding the citizenship or immigration status of any individual. (Id.)

Intended to help secure the border, Rep. Hunter’s “Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act of 2011” would grant the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authority to construct reinforced fencing along not less than 350 miles of the southwest border. (§2(a)) Rep. Hunter’s bill is critical because under existing law, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, DHS has no legal authority to build additional infrastructure along the border. (See Public Law 109-367; Oct. 26, 2006) The bill would also require Homeland Security to submit to Congress a plan to gain “operational control” of a specific sector of the southwest border if the Department determines that there has been a 40 percent increase in apprehensions of illegal aliens crossing the border in that sector. (§3(a)) The bill defines “operational control” as the “prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.” (§3(b)) The “Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act of 2011” has bi-partisan support and is co-sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats including: Representatives Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Ed Royce (R-CA), Heath Shuler (D-NC), Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Mike McIntyre (D-NC).

“Despite considerable gains in recent years, the Southwest border is nowhere near secure,” said Rep. Hunter in a statement about his border entry prevention bill. (Rep. Duncan Hunter Press Release, Mar. 15, 2011) “Smuggling corridors remain wide open, providing direct access for drug runners, criminals and illegal immigrants . . . Thousands have died in Mexico due to border violence in the last two years alone,” he added. (Id.) Rep. Brian Bilbray, Chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, also commented on the importance of the bill: “The United States must control our southern border to fight against illegal immigration and improving our national security. This cannot be accomplished unless the Department of Homeland Security has the legal authority to reinforce the border.” (Id.)

Shots Across The Bow

From Personal Liberty Digest:

Shots Across The Bow

March 28, 2011 by Bob Livingston

There are many shots now being fired across the bow of the Federal Reserve.

The latest occurred in Utah where the governor has a bill on his desk that would allow shops to accept gold Buffalo and Eagle coins, and silver Eagle coins as legal tender. The bill also ends State taxes on the transfer of gold.

There are at least 13 other State legislatures that have already begun consideration of or are about to consider similar bills, according to the Constitutional Tender Act website. They are Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. Georgia’s seems to be the one closest to approval.

The Statists don’t like it—and neither does the Fed. They and their liberal mouthpieces in the media are dismissive of anyone desiring to follow the Constitution.

For instance, in an article in the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., the bill that would allow North Carolina to issue its own legal tender backed by gold and silver was covered this way:

“Mike Walden, an economics professor at N.C. State University, said the notion of North Carolina reverting to having its own currency is outlandish.

“‘We dealt with this issue about 100 years ago when the Federal Reserve was established,’ Walden said. ‘If North Carolina were to have its own currency, that would put us at an extreme competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis other parts of the country and other parts of the world.’

“State Treasurer Janet Cowell joked that Bradley’s precious metals proposal could increase efficiency in state government by providing a good use for her department’s old basement vault, which is currently used for storage.

“‘I look forward to engaging in an important public policy debate about whose face should be on the gold coin,’ quipped Cowell, a Democrat.”

Never mind that Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution reads: “No State shall… make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in payment of debts.” This means that every State in the Union has made some other “Thing” a tender by accepting Federal Reserve Notes.

Walden considers Constitutional currency outlandish. What is outlandish is what has happened to our wealth since the establishment of the Fed—an institution that is not a part of government and does not hold any reserves.

The Fed is a cartel of big banksters formed to steal the wealth of Americans. Begun under the auspices of stabilizing the economy—at least that is the claim of proponents from the time—it has presided over the crashes of 1921 and 1929, the Great Depression of 1929 to 1939, recessions in 1953, 1957, 1969, 1975, 1981, 1990 and 2008. So much for stabilizing the economy.

They called it the Federal Reserve in order to deceive the people who were opposed to a central bank. The people knew of the dangers of a central bank, but the elites were clever and used double-speak and sleight of hand to fool the masses.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The central bank is an institution of the most deadly hostility existing against the Principles and form of our Constitution. I am an Enemy to all banks discounting bills or notes for anything but Coin. If the American People allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the People of all their Property until their Children will wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered.”

Like all the big banksters and political elites, Fed Chairman helicopter Ben Bernanke loves inflation. He no longer tries to hide this fact. In fact, he said the last round of quantitative easing (QE2), begun last fall, was to spur inflation.

But inflation is a hidden tax on Americans. It is the way wealth is transferred from “us” to “them.” Bernanke believes he can control inflation. He thinks he is smarter than the money creators before him who caused inflation but let it get away from them to become hyperinflation.

It will not end well. Already inflation is getting away from Bernanke, but he doesn’t see it. He also didn’t see the crash coming until it was here. His track record is not good.

The dollar has lost 95 percent of its value since the Fed was formed in 1913. But States are fighting back. More and more people are becoming aware of the scam perpetrated almost 100 years ago.

Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) has led the fight against the Fed. Paul’s followers chanted “End the Fed” at Paul rallies during the last Presidential primary. Now the States are taking up the fight as well.

Isn’t it obvious to all that the Fed has failed its charter? Isn’t it obvious to all the Fed must go?

Monday, March 28, 2011

ACLU Founder: Communism Is The Goal

From Town Hall and Vision to America:

Matt Barber

ACLU: 'Communism is the Goal'

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Sign-Up Irony is defined as "the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning." The term doublespeak means "evasive, ambiguous language that is intended to deceive or confuse."

There is perhaps no greater example of ironic doublespeak than inclusion of the phrase "civil liberties" within the inapt designation: "American Civil Liberties Union."

Indeed, few leftist organizations in existence today can compete with the ACLU in terms of demonstrated hostility toward what the Declaration of Independence describes as "certain unalienable rights" with which Americans are "endowed by their Creator."

Consider the doublespeak inherent throughout the "progressive" Goliath's flowery self-representation:

The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

Now contrast that depiction with ACLU founder Roger Baldwin's candid vision:

I am for socialism, disarmament, and, ultimately, for abolishing the state itself... I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class, and the sole control of those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal.

Ironic, isn't it? So much for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." By combining straightforward segments from each ACLU rendering we arrive with an accurate portrayal. One that cuts through the doublespeak:

The ACLU is...working daily in courts, legislatures and communities. Communism is the goal.

In 1931, just eleven years after the ACLU's inception, the US Congress convened a Special House Committee to Investigate Communist Activities. On the ACLU it reported:

The American Civil Liberties Union is closely affiliated with the communist movement in the United States, and fully 90 percent of its efforts are on behalf of communists who have come into conflict with the law. It claims to stand for free speech, free press and free assembly, but it is quite apparent that the main function of the ACLU is an attempt to protect the communists.

To be sure, the "main function of the ACLU" is entirely counter-constitutional.

A shared objective between both Communism generally, and the ACLU specifically is the suppression of religious liberty; principally, the free exercise of Christianity.

Karl Marx, high priest of the ACLU's beloved cult of Communism, once said: "The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion."

Even the ACLU's own promotional materials overtly advocate religious discrimination: "The message of the Establishment Clause is that religious activities must be treated differently from other activities to ensure against governmental support for religion."

Utter hokum.

The First Amendment's Establishment Clause -- a mere 10 words -- says nothing of the sort. Its message is abundantly clear, requiring severe distortion to stuff within the ACLU's Marxist parameters. It merely states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." That's it.

Now let's break it down. What do you suppose the Framers of the US Constitution -- a document expressly designed to limit the powers of federal government -- intended with the word "Congress"? Did they mean State government? Municipal government? Your local school district? Your third grade teacher?

Of course not. They meant exactly what they said: Congress. As in: The United States Congress! It takes someone with a distinctly disingenuous ulterior motive to derive anything else.

Now what did they mean by "...shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion?"

Well, in a letter to Benjamin Rush, a fellow-signer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson -- often touted by the left as the great church-state separationst -- answered that question. The First Amendment's Establishment Clause was singularly intended to restrict Congress from affirmatively "establishing," through federal legislation, a national Christian denomination (similar to the Anglican Church of England).

Or, as Jefferson put it: "[T]he clause of the Constitution" covering "freedom of religion" was intended to necessarily preclude "an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States."

How far removed we are today from the original intent of our Founding Fathers. The ACLU is largely responsible for creating the gulf between the Constitution's original construction and its modern misapplication.

The ACLU remains one of America's most powerful secular-socialist political pressure groups. It relentlessly tramples underfoot the First Amendment, which guarantees sweeping and absolute liberty for all Americans -- including government employees -- to freely exercise their faith both publicly and privately without fear of reprisal: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Examples of its constitutional abuses are manifold, but one of the most recent involves an ACLU assault against a group of Christians in Santa Rosa County, FL. Liberty Counsel represents those Christians.

An ACLU-crafted Consent Decree has been used as a weapon to threaten school district employees with fines and jail time for merely praying over a meal, and for exercising -- even while away from school -- their sincerely held Christian faith. You read that right. The ACLU is literally seeking to criminalize Christianity.

In August of 2009, Liberty Counsel successfully defended staff member Michelle Winkler from contempt charges brought by the ACLU after her husband, who is not even employed by the district, offered a meal prayer at a privately sponsored event in a neighboring county.

Liberty Counsel also successfully defended Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman against criminal contempt charges, after the ACLU sought to have the men thrown in jail for blessing a lunch meal served to about 20 adult booster club members.

Under the Consent Decree teachers are considered to be acting in their "official capacity" anytime a student is present, even at private functions off campus.

Liberty Counsel describes this unconstitutional decree:

Teachers cannot pray, bow their heads, or fold their hands to show agreement with anyone who does pray. Teachers and staff cannot 'Reply' to an email sent by a parent if the parent's email refers to God or Scripture. Teachers either have to delete such references from the original email or reply by initiating a new email. Teachers and staff are also required to stop students from praying in their own private club meetings.

During witness testimony, Mrs. Winkler sobbed as she described how she and a coworker, who had recently lost a child, literally had to hide in a closet to pray.

Although the case continues, on Monday the ACLU suffered a tremendous setback while freedom took a significant step forward. Federal District Court Judge M. Casey Rodgers granted in part a Preliminary Injunction in favor of Liberty Counsel's twenty-four Christian clients.

Judge Rodgers concluded that even though "a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy," one aspect of the Consent Decree -- its attempt to prohibit school employees from fully participating in private religious events -- is so flawed that it must be immediately halted.

The Court thus enjoined the School Board "from enforcing any school policy that restrains in any way an employee's participation in, or speech or conduct during, a private religious service, including baccalaureate" pending a trial on the merits.

"Progressives" are nothing if not consistent. As they gain confidence, they invariably rush across that bridge too far. They engage wild-eyed efforts to "fundamentally transform America" to reflect their own secular-socialist self-image.

I'm certain that both the bare-knuckle spirit of the American people and Liberty Counsel's enduring 92 percent win record against the ACLU will maintain a durable safeguard - an "impenetrable wall of separation" if you will - between our constitutionally guaranteed liberties and a subversive "progressive" agenda built upon the distinctly un-American creed: "Communism is the goal."

Matt Barber

J. Matt Barber is Director of Cultural Affairs with Liberty Counsel and also serves as Associate Dean with Liberty University School of Law.

Revolutionary Calls For Freedom--Where Are They In America?

From Campaign For Liberty:

Revolutionary Calls for Freedom - Where Are They in America?

By Mary Theroux

Also by Mary Theroux :

TSA Thuggery 02/17/11

Published 03/25/11

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This appeared in the Statesman Journal

As revolts demonstrating humankind's innate yearning to be free erupt around the world, it is deeply ironic that here in the formerly freest nation ever established, Americans are being conditioned to submit to unreasonable searches on top of the warrantless wiretaps and other rights violations that have escalated over the past 10 years.

That such is the most recent outcome of the "War on Terror" was made personally apparent during my recent encounter with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the Oakland, CA airport.

Entering security, I was motioned towards the backscatter screening machine. Having read warnings of potential serious health risks from scientists at the University of California San Francisco and Columbia University, I refused, and told the TSA agents why.

As I then complied with the "enhanced pat-down" procedure, I simultaneously carried on a loud vocal protest of the unreasonableness of the search and the gross violation of my rights. Meanwhile, my adult stepson, who had preceded me through security via the "regular" metal detector, was seated on a bench a few feet away and took out his cell phone to record the proceedings.

A TSA agent stood in front of him and ordered him to stop. When asked on what authority, the agent responded that it was against their "procedures" -- in contradistinction to the TSA's own website stating that such recording is not prohibited. After some further exchange, my stepson complied and put his cell phone away, my "pat-down" was completed, and we went on our way.

We were therefore surprised when, 10 minutes prior to take-off, a uniformed TSA Supervisor, two uniformed TSA agents, and a plain-suited Supervisory Transportation Security Officer (TSO) made their way down the aisle of the fully-loaded plane to where we were seated and ordered us to go with them.

As I protested, the Supervisory TSO told the TSA Supervisor that all they needed were our names and flight information, and I handed him our boarding passes. The TSA Supervisor officiously insisted we had to get off the plane with them, and not wishing to miss the flight, now even nearer take-off, we accompanied them to the jet-way, where another plain-suited man and a baggage handler waited, who left as I continued my verbal protest of the proceedings.

As the TSA Supervisor took down our drivers license information, I recorded their names from their security badges, and we were eventually allowed to re-board.

Yet the entire incident could have served no legitimate purpose -- they had already established beyond a reasonable doubt, utilizing their own "enhanced" screening methods, that we posed no danger, and we had been easily approachable in the boarding area for at least 25 minutes prior to boarding the plane. I could thus only conclude that it had been staged for the sole purpose of demonstrating to the entire captive audience of passengers that those who do not comply quietly will be made examples of.

After returning home, I posted the incident on the Independent Institute's blog, from whence it garnered a remarkable 3,300 socal-network "Shares."

I have subsequently been bombarded with emails detailing experiences ranging from petty humiliations to horrifying, including an inordinate number of women reporting overly intrusive groping of their breasts and pubic areas.

I have thus come to the conclusion that these represent far more than mere anecdotal accounts, and are rather evidence of a pervasive attitude and culture among the TSA of wanton disregard for the dignity and rights of Americans -- especially, apparently, of women.

Yet despite widespread protests, congressional hearings, and proposed legislation to reverse the trend, the thuggery continues unchecked. Will the generation that has allowed the steady erosion of the liberties we claimed in the '60s to hold so dear affect a reversal of this culture of fear, or will we pass on to our children and grandchildren a nation whose citizens are lorded over by power-corrupted government agents?

If so, we will have failed in our stewardship indeed.

Copyright © 2011 The Independent Institute

America's Accelerating Downward Spiral

From The American Spectator:

Print Email The Obama Watch

America's Accelerating Downward Spiral

By Peter Ferrara on 3.23.11 @ 6:09AM

For two years now, I have been arguing in this column and elsewhere that President Obama's economic policies were a throwback to the 1970s, and so were going to produce the same result as the 1970s -- the worsening cycles of inflation and recession known as stagflation. With last week's reports regarding the Producer Price Index and the Consumer Price Index, those results are now here.

But these developments are just several further spins in an accelerating downward spiral for America that leaves our traditional prosperity, high standard of living, and national security extremely vulnerable to three looming disasters, at least two of which are likely to happen within the reasonably near future.

The Inflation Trap

The Producer Price Index rose 1.6% in February, an annual pace of nearly 20%. Over the last 5 months, the index has increased by nearly 5%, an annual pace of over 10%. The index for food increased by nearly 4% in February alone, the largest one month rise since November, 1974. As of February, the Producer Price Index for intermediate goods had increased by 7.8% over the prior 12 months.

This trend is now beginning to show up in the Consumer Price Index as well. The CPI increased by 0.5% in February, an annual pace of over 6% compounded. Over the last 3 months, the CPI has increased by 1.3%, an annual pace of 5.3%. The energy price index rose 3.4% in February alone, and nearly 10% over the last 3 months. The CPI is arguably understating inflation today because 40% of it is now represented by housing, which is still in a recession.

This follows a long-term trend that has been flashing red for inflation for quite some time now. First gold started to rise, eventually to record highs. Then the dollar started to fall, now near record lows. Then commodity prices started to soar, with oil now zooming over $100 a barrel.

Under supply-side economics, the Fed is supposed to tighten monetary policy when these inflation sensitive market prices first start to accelerate. Once the CPI starts spiking at 5-7%, the necessary tightening to stop it will cause sharply rising interest rates, and recession a year or so later. But if the Fed doesn't reverse course, and continues printing money excessively, inflation will just continue to accelerate. To stop the 1970s double-digit inflation, the Fed finally had to impose double-digit interest rates for over a year, which caused the sharp 1982 recession.

In the past four decades in the U.S., every substantial increase in the real price of oil (meaning in excess of general inflation) has been followed within a couple of years by a sharp rise in unemployment. So with oil now surging past $100 a barrel, what does that suggest about unemployment over the next two years? And what does it say about President Obama's economic IQ that the goal of his energy policy has been precisely to raise the price of oil, through cap and trade and restrictions on supply? The man can be well-spoken, as President Obama undoubtedly is, and still not have the slightest idea what he is talking about.

America's accelerating downward spiral advanced on Friday when CBO released a report on President Obama's exploding deficits and debt. Last month, President Obama's own budget admitted that he will more than double the national debt in just one term of office, with an admitted budget deficit this year of $1.645 trillion, the highest anywhere in world history by several times over. Friday's CBO report concluded that federal deficits over the next 10 years under President Obama's budget would soar by nearly a third more than he estimated, totaling nearly $10 trillion over those 10 years, which would nearly double the national debt again to $21 trillion by 2021.

The Fed's policy today is known as QE2, meaning the second round of "quantitative easing" (printing money) under the Obama Administration. That basically involves using the printed money to buy 70% of the Federal bonds issued to finance the deficit, a classic prescription for inflation. This Fed policy, continued from QE1, is the only reason that interest rates have remained so low in the face of the unprecedented trillions in federal deficits.

QE2 is scheduled to continue through June, at which time most commentators expect the Fed to end this reckless policy. But if the Fed suddenly stops this "quantitative easing," who is going to step in to buy the bonds to finance the 70% of the remaining federal deficit of $1.645 trillion for this fiscal year, and the $1.4 trillion deficit the CBO projects for the next fiscal year? Finding real buyers for those bonds is going to require paying soaring interest rates on them, which will only further increase the deficit. And that will cause soaring interest rates across the credit markets as well.

And that will mean another recession about a year later. Which would be in the middle of 2012. Which is why that is not going to happen. Which is why QE2 will be followed by QE3, QE4, and quite possibly QE5, just to make sure no recession or ominous economic clouds darken President Obama's door during his glorious 2012 re-coronation tour, however much this continuing QE parade may rightfully horrify Larry Kudlow.

But this scenario does not involve President Obama dancing on sunbeams through 2012. For with that extended QE overdosing, how high will inflation be by the summer of 2012? But what is the alternative? Mr. Obama, meet Scylla and Charybdis.

Maybe this is why surveys are indicating collapsing consumer confidence over the past 2 ½ months. Whatever the reason, those surveys don't portend a rosy scenario for unemployment in the coming months.

The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse

But the problem is much bigger than the 1970s style inflation trap that President Obama and his supporting cast of left-wing flower children have worked us into. For America is financially much weaker today, with government spending, deficits and debt dwarfing anything America suffered in the 1970s. And the world is far less stable than then, financially, economically and politically. Moreover, America suffers far more virulent enemies today, at home and abroad, far more focused and determined to bring America down. As a result, America is extremely vulnerable today to three looming disaster scenarios.

First, our soaring national debt is not free. We have to pay interest on all those trillions in debt, every year. The Fed's extremely loose, bordello-style monetary policy has kept interest rates at record low levels throughout the Obama Administration, with short-term rates near zero.

But that can't and won't continue. Accelerating inflation will itself push up interest rates, as investors demand a market real return in excess of inflation. When the Fed finally moves to counter inflation with a tight monetary policy, that will further sharply increase interest rates. The pressure of trillions in federal borrowing further contributes to rising rates, as does continuing economic recovery at home and abroad, though that may be less of a factor in America going forward.

With America's national debt already over $10 trillion this year, and projected by CBO to grow to over $20 trillion by 2021, America is extremely vulnerable to soaring interest rates on that debt, which will produce soaring federal spending for debt interest, resulting in further soaring deficits and debt. Already, assuming only a modest rise in rates over the next 10 years, CBO projects that annual net federal interest spending on the national debt will soar from $214 billion this year to nearly a trillion by 2021. More rapidly rising rates could quite possibly result in federal spending, deficits and debt exploding out of control, beyond our capability to finance. The resulting financial chaos would further cripple our economy, making all the numbers much worse, indeed, completely intractable.

Secondly, with our deficit already at an all time world record by far of $1.645 trillion, what happens if we fall into another recession? How high will the deficit go then? Well over $2 trillion for sure. Will America even be able to borrow that much to keep the federal government functioning? That will be all the more dubious if the Fed has to stop printing money to buy so much of that debt. But if the Fed does not stop, how high will inflation go?

With soaring oil prices, regenerating inflation threatening to force the Fed into tight monetary policies, and all the Obama tax rate increases now scheduled for 2013, due to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and Obamacare, another recession is frankly already on the horizon. That would likely leave America bankrupt just like Greece. The EU provided a trillion dollar bailout to back up Greece. But who would bailout America? Who even could?

Finally, these financial vulnerabilities leave America militarily vulnerable as well. America defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War II by running up the national debt to 109% of GDP. But CBO projects that on our current course the national debt will already be soaring close to 90% of GDP by 2021, exceeding the World War II historical record soon thereafter. With America already so deeply in debt, if we have to fight an extended, serious military conflict in the near future, beyond the limited actions we are already fighting, who will lend us the money to do it? China? Japan? The extra financial burden of military spending will cause federal deficits to soar further. If we have to borrow that much domestically, what will happen to our economy? Does this obvious financial weakness effectively invite war, if not directly against America, against our allies, from Israel to South Korea to Taiwan, even Japan?

Yet, at this moment, serious war drums are beating, even while our media and political establishments so thoroughly ignore them. President Obama got elected in part laughing over how he would solve the Iranian nuclear problem with his brilliant insight of just talking to Iran. Now in the third year of his Administration, none of that has amounted to anything. Obama said himself during the 2008 campaign that nuclear arms in the hands of such madmen would be "unacceptable," but that just turned out to be more boob bait for bubbas, as so much else of Obama's 2008 rhetoric.

Indeed, Mideast developments only further encourage the Iranian march to war. Regime change in Egypt has already allowed Iranian warships through the Suez Canal for the first time. Iranian infiltrators foment revolution among the Shiite majority in Bahrain, where the U.S. Navy maintains its top regional base. With the world distracted by Libya, Iran accelerates arming Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, both committed to mass murder of our Jewish allies in Israel.

What this all adds up to is that America faces an existential crisis today as grave as World War II, the Civil War, and, indeed, the original American Revolution itself. The year 2012 may well be the last chance to save our nation from ruin.

Letter to the Editor

Peter Ferrara is Director of Policy for the Carleson Center for Public Policy and a Senior Fellow for the Heartland Institute. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under the first President Bush. He is the author of America's Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb: How the Looming Debt Crisis Threatens the American Dream, and How to Turn the Tide Before It Is Too Late, forthcoming from HarperCollins.

Defining Coercion Down

From Campaign for Liberty:

Defining Coercion Down

By James Bovard

View all 25 articles by James Bovard

Published 03/24/11

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Coercion is the essence of government in the same way that profit is the essence of private businesses. The state can impose new prohibitions and restrictions, create new penalties, or impose taxes in order to finance benefits. It is misleading to conceive of politicians as offering both carrots and sticks: Government must first use a stick to commandeer the money to pay for the carrot.

Every increase in the size of government means an increase in coercion -- either an increase in the amount of a person's paycheck that government seizes or an increase in the number of types of behavior for which a government can jail, imprison, or fine a citizen. Every increase in government spending means an increase in political power -- and a new pretext to seize private paychecks.

In order to understand the contemporary concept of the state, it is important to recognize the radical changes in the concept of coercion that have occurred over the past century in federal courts. The common use of the word "slavery" in the disputes of the Revolutionary period captured colonists' hatred of the arbitrary coercive power vested in British government officials and Parliament members. Even if that power was not used by every British colonial official on a daily basis, the mere fact that power existed in the statute books fatally compromised the colonists' freedom. In the mid 1800s, Southerners' habit of referring to slavery as "the peculiar institution" indicated their squeamishness about admitting the degree of coercive power that that institution required.

In modern times, we have a new "peculiar institution": government coercion. Many political thinkers' fixation on government benevolence obscures the reality of the growing subjugation of American citizens to government employees. Federal agencies have been able to seize far more power over citizens in part because judges and others have redefined many forms of government coercion out of existence.

Defining coercion

The word "coercion" is not used in the U.S. Constitution. However, the Bill of Rights is a compact to restrict the amount of force that the government may use against the citizenry. As one Pennsylvania writer observed in 1776, a constitution "describes the portions of power with which the people invest the legislative and executive bodies, and the portions which they retain for themselves."

A 1937 Senate report aptly declared that "the Constitution ... is the people's charter of the powers granted those who govern them." The Bill of Rights recognized the rights of American citizens -- it did not bestow those rights on a conquered populace. Americans of the Revolutionary era would permit a national government to come into existence only if the leaders of that government would solemnly pledge to limit their power in perpetuity. The Bill of Rights has never provided perfect protection, but it is an invaluable standard by which to judge the legitimacy of any law or government policy.

The word "coercion" was used in 378 Supreme Court decisions between 1960 and 1998. Many, if not most, of those cases involved convicted criminals who claimed that their confessions had not been fully voluntary or prayer in school and other issues involving religion. Supreme Court Justice William Douglas observed in 1957 that "it was obvious that coercion might be the product of subtlety as well as of violence." In a 1991 case, the Court observed,

Our cases have made clear that a finding of coercion need not depend upon actual violence by a government agent; a credible threat is sufficient.... Coercion can be mental as well as physical, and ... the blood of the accused is not the only hallmark of an unconstitutional inquisition.

Some of the Court's decisions on police procedures have restrained the boundless power of government agents. But, while the Supreme Court and other federal courts were creating intricate rules for questioning of criminal suspects, the Court stuck its head in the ground regarding government agencies' abuse of peaceful citizens.

In the early 1900s, the Supreme Court often vigorously protected citizens' property and contracts against the power grabs of legislatures and government agencies. But after President Franklin Roosevelt's threat to pack the Court in 1937, the Supreme Court wrote one blank check after another to federal agencies in the late 1930s and early 1940s --checks upon which the agencies are still drawing.

Siding with special interests

In the 1938 case U.S. v. Carolene Products Co., the Court upheld a 1923 federal law enacted to benefit dairy producers by banning the interstate shipment of evaporated milk mixed with coconut oil. Geoffrey Miller, the associate dean of the University of Chicago Law School, observed,

The statute upheld in the case was an utterly unprincipled example of special interest legislation. The purported ‘public interest' justifications ... were patently bogus.... The consequences of the decision were to expropriate the property of a lawful and beneficial industry; to deprive working and poor people of a healthful, nutritious, and low-cost food; and to impair the health of the nation's children.

Canned milk mixed with coconut oil (so-called filled milk) was much cheaper than canned whole milk because coconut oil was much cheaper than butterfat. Filled milk was also healthier than fresh whole milk, because filled milk was sterilized at high temperatures while the fresh whole milk of that period often transmitted typhoid fever and tuberculosis. But the dairy industry hated the product because butterfat was the primary source of dairy farmers' profit. (The lobbying campaign against filled milk included racist depictions of Asians who did not consume as much whole milk as Americans.)

The Court swallowed Congress's assertion that filled milk encouraged consumer fraud, although the main evidence offered was that recent immigrants who could not read English might buy the product by mistake. Congress also claimed that filled milk "threatened the public health," but the only "threat" occurred because filled milk lacked the vitamin A that butterfat contained. There was no evidence that drinking filled milk deterred people from consuming vitamin A from other sources. By this same standard, Congress could have banned the vast majority of items sold in American groceries. Besides, for many consumers, it was not a choice of filled milk or whole milk, but of filled milk or no milk at all.

Justice Harlan Stone wrote, "Regulatory legislation affecting ordinary commercial transactions is not to be pronounced unconstitutional unless ... it is of such a character as to preclude the assumption that it rests upon some rational basis within the knowledge and experience of the legislators." And how much evidence was necessary to presume a "rational basis" for legislation? "Any state of facts either known or which could reasonably be assumed" would suffice, Stone announced. Thus, as long as government only destroyed people's freedom to contract, or their freedom to work, or their freedom to use their own land, or their freedom to buy and sell, such coercion was almost always unworthy of judges' notice.

Carolene Products enshrined the notion that the edicts of politicians have far more credibility than the voluntary decisions of private persons -- that politicians are more trustworthy when seizing power over citizens' property than citizens are when using their own property.

"Beautification" and the general welfare

In 1954, in Berman v. Parker, the Supreme Court blessed confiscation in the name of beautification. The Court heard a challenge to a federal urban renewal program operating in the District of Columbia. The previous year, a federal district court had struck down the program, observing, "There is no more subtle means of transforming the basic concepts of our government, or shifting from the preeminence of individual rights, to the preeminence of government wishes, than is afforded by redefinition of ‘general welfare,' as that term is used to define the Government's power of seizures." But the Supreme Court overturned the lower-court decision and gave government officials almost unlimited power to confiscate and redistribute land.

Justice William Douglas, writing for the Court, declared, "The concept of the public welfare is broad and inclusive. The values it represents are spiritual as well as physical, aesthetic as well as monetary. It is within the power of the legislature to determine that the community should be beautiful as well as healthy, spacious as well as clean, well-balanced as well as carefully patrolled." Douglas concluded, "Once the object is within the authority of Congress, the right to realize it through the exercise of eminent domain is clear." Catholic University professor of politics Dennis Coyle characterized this decision: "The implicit message of the Court was that in land use regulation, the king can do no wrong."

The resulting waves of urban destruction did long-term damage to the health of American cities; a 1998 Washington Post report cited the massive slum destruction campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s and the resulting dislocations as a major cause of the skyrocketing homicide rates in subsequent decades.

Douglas also stated in that decision, "When the legislature has spoken, the public interest has been declared in terms well-nigh conclusive." Almost 30 years later, in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, the Court awarded sweeping discretion to federal agencies to interpret federal laws as they chose -- and thus, in many cases, to decree the limits of their own power. Lawyer Michael Greve, the director of the Center for Individual Rights, observed that the Supreme Court now relies on an "insanity test -- if an agency's interpretation of a federal statute is not clinically insane, then it stands." The combination of the Court's acceptance of legislatures' definition of the public interest and its deference toward government agencies' interpretations of laws creates an overwhelming bias against citizens who are seeking relief from government oppression.

Since the 1930s, Supreme Court decisions routinely rested on a blanket assumption that whatever any legislature does is "to promote the general welfare." In a 1955 case upholding an Oklahoma law that severely restricted the practice of opticians, Justice Douglas declared, "It is enough that there is an evil at hand for correction, and that it might be thought that the particular legislative measure was a rational way to correct it." Merely alleging that private evil exists becomes sufficient to sanctify practically any political seizure of power. (The Court does not show such naivete towards politicians' motives in First Amendment cases involving freedom of the press or speech.)

The State is specific officials, specific penalties, and specific jails and prisons. The coercive power is the reality and the political rhetoric is the illusion. No number of speeches by politicians can counterweigh the vast expansion of the federal statute book. There is no rhetorical or metaphysical trick by which government can transcend its coercive nature.

This article originally appeared in the December 2010 edition of Freedom Daily. Subscribe to the print or email version of Freedom Daily. Copyright © 2011 Future of Freedom Foundation

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Illegal Immigrants In U.S. Marine Uniforms Arrested

From FOX News:
Via Terry

Illegal immigrants in US Marine uniforms arrested

– 2 hrs 14 mins ago

SAN DIEGO – Border Patrol agents caught 13 illegal immigrants wearing U.S. Marine uniforms at a border patrol checkpoint east of San Diego, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.

The immigrants were in a white van that was stopped March 14 along Interstate 8, Border Patrol spokesman Michael Jimenez said. The van had a U.S. government license plate with an altered number, Jimenez said. He did not know where the group obtained the military uniforms.

The immigrants all had Marine-style haircuts and the name tag "Perez" on their camouflage uniforms, U.S. Marine Corps officials told the Los Angeles Times.

The van driver and another man, both U.S. citizens, were arrested on suspicion of alien smuggling, the Border Patrol said. Three of the immigrants were being held in federal custody as witnesses and the others were returned to Mexico, their country of origin, Jimenez said.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Border Patrol were conducting a joint investigation of the incident. NCIS spokesman Ed Buice said he couldn't discuss details, but "there are several obvious questions that need to be answered."

It's not known if the two U.S. citizens who were arrested have been in the military, the Border Patrol said.


SEIU Involved In Clear Case Of Economic Terrorism

From Glenn Beck:

UPDATED – Beck: “Clear case of economic terrorism”

Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011 at 2:38 PM EDT

See the full video and read analysis from The Blaze here. Business Insider has posted a full transcript and their analysis here.


On radio this morning, Glenn broke a story that he called a “clear case of economic terrorism”. In shocking audio Glenn received over the weekend, former SEIU leader Steven Lerner lays out a plan to attack JP Morgan Chase.

“Yesterday afternoon in my office, Scott Baker came in from The Blaze and he said here is the tape I said I want the unedited tape. He said it’s 25 minutes. This is the unedited tape. We listened to it,” Glenn described.

“I called in all of the producers. I called in all the heads of my company, and we sat in a room and we listened to Americans describe how they were going to take down a major U.S. bank in May and how they were going to collapse the stock market and bring on a second economic collapse, how this could not appear to be coordinated and could not appear to be coordinated or union‑backed, how the unions were dead and the only way to really restart the unions is to collapse the system.”

“When you hear this tape, you will recognize some of the things that we have been warning about. You will recognize what I believe the Pentagon was warning people about.”

Stu gave the context on who exactly Steven Lerner is, “The entire time [Glenn was] speaking about SEIU, this guy, by his own description, was the director of SEIU’s banking and finance campaign. He’s not just some guy in some little group. He is a big figure in SEIU until very recently and the entire time you were talking about SEIU, this is the guy heading up the banking.”

You can listen to the full audio below (story continues after the clip):

“So you know, this tape is now being delivered to the bank in question, J.P. Morgan Chase. It is also being delivered to the justice department and this is the clearest case of economic terrorism I think I have seen,” Glenn said.

Why would this group pick JP Morgan Chase as their primary target? Glenn’s believes that it’s because they are one of the strongest banks out there. “Because if they can bring down J.P. Morgan Chase, that’s the strongest of the bunch. If they can bring down J.P. Morgan Chase, who can’t they bring down?”

Lerner also said that leftist leaders must convince their followers that the country is not broke, but that the wealth is all in the hands of the rich.

Glenn said, “You must alert all of your friends. Whenever you hear someone say there’s plenty of money, it’s just in the wrong hands or it’s just in the hands of these greedy bankers, you know they’re part of this strategy. Have you heard anyone say we have plenty of money? Think to the discussions that you heard in the last four weeks in Wisconsin.”

Glenn explained that the only way for this plan and ones like it to be stopped is for listeners, readers, and viewers to spread the evidence to their friends and family members. “I’d rather be laughed at, called a conspiracy freak, et cetera, et cetera and save the country. The way the country is saved is not by us, but by you. You must spread this information and know that people are trying to play you.”

“You can call it a conspiracy theory, but the language that he uses is already being used by labor leaders and those who are whipping people up into a frenzy in Wisconsin and wait until you see how they are going to use the state and county and local labor unions to do exactly what they did to the housing market. It’s the same tactic, gang. The same tactic. And it ends with the destruction of the economic system of the United States of America. They are bringing it on through chaos and bringing down of Wall Street and the stock market.”

One World Government Obama

From The American Spectator:

The Obama Watch

One World Government Obama

By Ben Stein on 3.22.11 @ 6:09AM

Maybe I missed something, but wasn't that The Constitution of the United States of America that we just laid to rest this weekend?

It was buried in a private ceremony by Mr. Barack Obama of Chicago as he silently signed America on to the One World Government some of us have been worried about for decades.

Look at it this way: Where did Mr. Obama get the authority to commit United States forces to war in Libya? There was no declaration of war. There was no authorizing resolution by Congress allowing money to be spent on a war against Col. Gaddafi. As far as I know, there was no meeting of Mr. Obama and top leaders of Congress to discuss the subject in even rough form, let alone detail. There was no lengthy buildup in which the Congress was "allowed" to express the people's opinion on whether we want to be in a third concurrent war.

There was just a vote by the United Nations Security Council, a very far from unanimous vote, and suddenly, the President's Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, solemnly announced that we were at war.

But, when did we amend the Constitution to declare that the United Nations had control over our military? When did we abolish the part of the Constitution that said Congress had the right to declare war? Now, I well know that in recent postwar conflicts, we don't have declarations of war. But we have Congressional debates. We have funding votes. We have a sense of the Congress or some kind of resolution.

This time, zip. Nada. Nothing. Just France and the U.K. and Norway saying that it's time to go to war, and off America goes to war. And off Mr. and Mrs. Obama go to a South American "fact finding" trip for the POTUS and a fun sightseeing junket for the Obama girls.

(I wonder if there has ever before in history been a national leader who sent his country to war -- and the same day went off on vacation. Has that ever happened before? )

Something's missing here. Libya and Col. Gaddafi were and are no threat to the United States. It is sad and cruel that the Gaddafi regime was murdering its own civilians, but so do many governments all across the world, including North Korea, Iran, the Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, and Cuba. Are we going to war with all of them, now?

Meanwhile, again, what the heck happened to the Constitution? Is this Mr. Obama's legacy to our children? The junking of the Constitution in the middle of the night and the turnover of our sovereignty to the United Nations? (By the way, this is the same UN where Libya until recently sat on the Commission on Human Rights.) Why aren't any questions being asked? Is the Constitution that meaningless to us? Are we that pitiful now? Are we willing to toss overboard the Constitution for the writ of the United Nations? I guess so. Sad days.

Letter to the Editor

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.

On The Fed[eral Reserve] And Inflation

From Campaign for Liberty:

Fed and Inflation

By Ron Paul

View all 116 articles by Ron Paul

Published 03/22/11

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Last week, the subcommittee which I chair held a hearing on monetary policy and rising prices. Whether we consider food, gasoline, or clothing, the cost of living is increasing significantly. True inflation is defined as an increase in the money supply. All other things being equal, an increase in the money supply leads to a rise in prices. Inflation’s destructive effects have ruined societies from the Roman Empire to Weimar Germany to modern-day Zimbabwe.

Blame for the most recent round of price increases has been laid at the feet of the Federal Reserve's program of credit expansion for the past three years. The current program, known as QE2, sought to purchase a total of $900 billion in US Treasury debt over a period of 8 months. Roughly $110 billion of newly created money is flooding into commodity markets each month.

The price of cotton is up more than 170% over the past year, oil is up over 40%, and many categories of food staples are seeing double-digit price growth. This means that food, clothing, and gasoline will become increasingly expensive over the coming year. American families, many of whom already live paycheck to paycheck, increasingly will be forced by these rising prices into unwilling tradeoffs: purchasing ground beef rather than steak, drinking water rather than milk, and choosing canned vegetables over fresh in order to keep food on the table and pay the heating bill. Frugality can be a good thing, but only when it is by choice and not forced upon the citizenry by the Fed's ruinous monetary policy.

While the Fed takes credit for the increase in the stock markets, it claims no responsibility for the increases in food and commodity prices. Most economists fail to understand that inflation is at its root a monetary phenomenon. There may be other factors that contribute to price increases, such as famine, flooding, or global unrest, but those effects are transient. Consistently citing only these factors, while never acknowledging the effects of monetary policy, is a cop-out.

The unelected policymakers at the Fed are also the last to feel the effects of inflation. In fact, they benefit from it, as does the government as a whole. Those who receive this new money first, such as government employees, contractors, and bankers are able to use it before price increases occur, while those further down the totem pole suffer price increases before they see any wage increases. By continually reducing the purchasing power of the dollar, the Fed's monetary policy also punishes savings and thrift. After all, why save rapidly depreciating dollars?

Unfortunately, those policymakers who exercise the most power over the economy are also the least likely to understand the effects of their policies. Chairman Bernanke and other members of the Federal Open Market Committee were convinced in mid-2008 that the economy would rebound and continue to grow through 2009, even though it was clear to many observers that we were in the midst of a severe economic crisis. Even Greenspan was known for downplaying the importance of the growing housing bubble just as it was reaching its zenith. It remains impossible for even the brilliant minds at the Fed to achieve both the depth and breadth of knowledge necessary to enact central economic planning without eventually bringing the country to economic ruin. Our witnesses delved deeply into these issues and explained this phenomenon in very logical, simple terms. The American people increasingly understand what is going on with our money. I only hope the Fed is listening.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

FAIR Legislative Update

From FAIR:

FAIR Legislative Update March 21, 2011

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Maryland Senate Gives Tuition Breaks to Illegal Aliens

Early last week, the Maryland state Senate passed a measure to provide in-state tuition to illegal aliens. (SB 167; Washington Post, Mar. 15, 2011) The bill, which was approved by a vote of 27-20, allows illegal aliens to attend Maryland colleges at the reduced in-state tuition rate, which averages $10,000 less than tuition for non-residents, thus giving illegal aliens a significant financial benefit over U.S. citizens who reside in neighboring states.

The bill also allows illegal aliens who have graduated from Maryland high schools to quality for tuition breaks at community colleges. (SB 167) After attaining an associate’s degree, the alien may then proceed to a four-year institution at the in-state tuition rate. (Id.) “It’s going to be so much easier for me,” a Prince George County high school student from Guatemala said on Monday night after the senate’s vote. (Washington Post, Mar. 15, 2011) The bill is currently in committee in the Maryland House of Representatives. (HB 470)

If the bill becomes law, Maryland would join ten other states who currently allow in-state tuition for illegal aliens. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Feb. 28, 2011) Several months ago, the California Supreme Court upheld its own in-state tuition law against a lawsuit claiming the statute violated federal law. (Martinez v. Regents of the University of California, 50 Cal. 4th 1277) According to 8 U.S.C. § 1623, “[a]n alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State … for any post-secondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible … without regard to [residence].” The California Supreme Court determined that the tuition break was in fact not based on residency, and thus was not preempted by federal law. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Nov. 22, 2010) Plaintiffs in California hope to take this case to the Supreme Court.

Business Lobby Kills Arizona Immigration Bills

Under heavy lobbying from business interests, the Arizona state senate defeated five bills last week that would have created additional deterrence to illegal aliens. (New York Times, Mar. 17, 2011) Republican state senators were split over the bills, which included two bills designed to eventually force the United States Supreme Court to restore proper applications of the birthright citizenship provisions in the 14th Amendment. (Id.; SB 1308; SB 1309; See FAIR Legislative Update, Jan. 31, 2011) Three additional bills would have required hospitals to notify authorities of aliens suspected of being in the country illegally; restricted illegal aliens from attending state universities and collecting federal benefits; and required public schools to record how many children of illegal aliens attend classes.

The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and other business executives lobbied hard against the measures. (Abc15, Mar. 18, 2011) Along with the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, executive officers of over 60 businesses wrote to the state representatives urging the to stop the legislation, saying it would hurt the economy. (Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Mar. 15, 2011) Todd Sanders, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, said the state’s borders need to be better protected, but argued that Arizona legislators need to push President Obama and federal legislators to “implement meaningful changes to our antiquated immigration system.” (Id.) Republican state Senator John McComish agreed, saying. “It’s time for us to take a time out. It’s something the people don’t want us focusing on.” (Id.)

After the votes, Arizona state Senator and sponsor of the immigration legislation Ron Gould stated that there were some legislators who were “bought and paid for by the Chamber of Commerce.” (Abc15, Mar. 18, 2011) The bills are not expected to be brought up again during this year’s legislative session, but could be placed on the ballot for a vote. (Politico, Mar. 18, 2011)

Florida Legislature Kicks Off Immigration Debate

Florida lawmakers have filed several immigration enforcement bills since the beginning of the state’s 60-day legislative session that began on March 8. Two of the bills stirring the most debate are SPB 7066 in the Senate and HB 7089 in the House.

SPB 7066, introduced by Florida State Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) just one day into the session, has already been stripped of its mandatory E-Verify requirement. As introduced, Sen. Flores’ bill, SPB 7066, would have required all employers in Florida to verify the employment eligibility status of new hires using the E-Verify program beginning January 1, 2012. (See SPB 7066 as introduced § 3, Mar. 9, 2011) However, Sen. Flores, who serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, struck that provision when her bill reached the Committee. As watered down, SPB 7066 now exempts employers from using E-Verify if the new hire presents one of the following identifying documents as part of the Form I-9 process:

1) A U.S. passport or passport card;

2) A driver’s license from any state or outlying possession of the U.S. containing a photograph;

3) A foreign passport containing a visa evidencing work authorization and accompanying Form I-94; or

4) A secure national identification card or similar document.

(See SPB 7066 as amended § 3(2), Mar. 14, 2011) The amended bill also revises the title of the legislation from “Unauthorized Aliens” to “Unauthorized Immigrants,” but maintains key provisions that would require the State to participate in 287(g) and Secure Communities, and require police to make a reasonable effort to determine the immigration status of those arrested and confined in a jail, prison, or other criminal detention facility. (Id. at §§ 1, 4(2), §4(3)(b), (§4(3)(a))

Florida Senate President, Mike Haridopolos (R), told reporters during a weekly press briefing that he wanted mandatory E-Verify back in the bill. (Orlando Sentinel, Mar. 16, 2011) “That’s where I believe the consensus or the strength of the Senate is on E-Verify,” he said. (Id.) On the other hand, the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), an organization that refers to itself as “The Voice of Florida Business,” supports the amendment. A statement on its website read: “As amended, SB 7066 is certainly a more reasonable approach to the immigration issue and AIF looks forward to working with Chair Flores and staff on finding a common-sense solution, ‘Florida-based’ solution to the issue of immigration in our state.” (AIF Daily Legislative Brief, Mar. 14, 2011)

The other key piece of enforcement legislation making its way through the Florida legislature is HB 7089, introduced by state Rep. William Snyder (R-Stuart). The bill, titled the “Florida Immigration Enforcement Act,” contains several critical enforcement-first provisions, such as requiring all private employers to use E-Verify, and mirrors federal law by stating that local governments may not be prohibited or restricted from exchanging immigration information with federal authorities. (HB 7089 at §§4, 5) However, the provision garnering the most attention is Section 1(2)(a), which provides that if law enforcement officials have reasonable suspicion an individual is unlawfully present in the U.S., they must attempt to determine the immigration status of those they arrest.

The open-borders lobby has already launched protests against HB7089 at the state Capitol. The protest, organized by the Florida Immigrant Coalition, and backed by the AFL-CIO, reportedly had over 300 protestors who identified themselves as “immigrants” shouting “Somos Florida” (“We are Florida”)! (Sunshine News, Mar. 18, 2011) “We're here to fight!” said Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) in support of the protest. (Id.) “If I can pick your oranges and strawberries, why is it I cannot be included in the population of this great state?" she questioned. (Id.)

Florida Governor Rick Scott has already voiced his support for immigration enforcement measures. For example, Gov. Scott stated during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign that he supported Arizona-style legislation in Florida as well as making E-Verify mandatory for all employers. (See FAIR’s 2010 Election Report) Gov. Scott has already made good on some of these pledges by issuing an executive order making E-Verify mandatory for all state agencies under his control. (Executive Order 11-02, Jan. 4, 2011; See also FAIR’s Legislative Update, Jan. 10, 2011) However, it remains to be seen whether Governor Scott would sign one or both of these measures if passed by the Florida Legislature.

School Leaders Testify On The Burden Of Federal Intervention

From The Heritage Foundation:

School Leaders Testify on the Burden of Federal Intervention

Rachel Sheffield

At a House hearing on the burden of federal intervention into American schools last Tuesday, Representative Mike Kelly (R–PA) referred to federal officials as “the people that are … making the rules but have never played the game.” Washington has continued to send burdensome mandates and regulations to local schools, Kelly noted, yet politicians are not the ones who have to deal with the consequences.

Kelly and other members of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education heard testimony from three school administrators who do have to face the consequences of federal overregulation—and from Heritage Director of Domestic Policy Jennifer Marshall.

As Marshall testified, since the federal government got into the business of regulating schools in the 1960s, the number of federal education programs has increased massively, bringing with them increasingly complex compliance burdens and red tape for schools to handle. Instead of using resources to focus on students, schools are forced to throw time, money, and manpower toward Washington’s demands. She noted:

"The proliferation of federal programs and the ever-increasing prescription of federally driven systemic reform distract school-level personnel and local and state leaders from serving their primary customers: students, parents, and taxpayers."

Likewise, Robert Grimesey, superintendent of Orange County (Virginia) Public Schools, noted that the “culture of compliance” created by federal regulation “makes federal compliance an end in itself.” As a result, “it becomes very difficult to maintain … focus on the achievement and welfare of our children.”

It’s no surprise, then, that while federal education spending has tripled over the last four decades, student achievement and graduation rates have flatlined.

James Willcox, chief executive officer of Aspire Public Schools, gave an example of what he referred to as “overly burdensome” regulation. He noted that for schools “to qualify for or renew Title I funding requires copious amounts of paperwork,” requiring each employee to “fill out a personnel activity sheet each month.” Additionally, they must “outline their salary for that month and describe how much of that is from Title I.” On top of that, “each staff member and his/her principal have to sign these forms on a monthly basis.” They are also asked to submit two 30-page reports annually and carry out a “rigorous … auditing process.”

Beyond this, No Child Left Behind has “cost states an additional 7 million hours in paperwork at a cost of $141 million,” Marshall noted.

As Kelly succinctly concluded:

"We have overregulated and overburdened you so much with unneeded information and continue to do it. … My personal opinion is you need to have less government telling you what the rules should be: they don’t know, they’ve never done it."

Instead of saddling states and districts with more federal regulations and red tape, the federal government needs to get out of the way of what works in schools. Otherwise we’ll be stuck with an education system that caters to Washington bureaucrats more than to parents and taxpayers.

Liberty Dollar Creator Convicted In Federal Court

The sad thing about this is that those in Washington who are daily destroying our currency will never be punished for what amounts to robbery on a grand scale--stealing from each and every citizen by de-valuing his savings.

From The Asheville Citizen-Times and Vision to America:

Liberty Dollar creator convicted in federal court

8:58 AM, Mar. 19, 2011


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Asheville man charged in alleged Liberty Dollar fraud scheme

The leader of a group that marketed a fake currency called Liberty Dollars in the Asheville area and elsewhere has been found guilty by a federal jury of conspiracy against the government in a case of “domestic terrorism.”

Bernard von NotHaus was convicted Friday at the conclusion of an eight-day trial in U.S. District Court in Statesville. The jury deliberated less than two hours, according to the Department of Justice.

Charges remain pending against William Kevin Innes, an Asheville man who authorities said recruited merchants in Western North Carolina willing to accept the “barter” currency, according to court records. Innes was indicted along with von NotHaus in 2009.

“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said. “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Secret Service with help from the U.S. Mint.

“We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government,” Tompkins said.

Von NotHaus, 67, faces up to 25 years in prison during sentencing, which hasn’t been scheduled. The government also is seeking the forfeiture of about 16,000 pounds of Liberty Dollar coins and precious metals valued at nearly $7 million.

According to court documents, von NotHaus founded the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code in Evansville, Ind., in 1998, and developed the Liberty Dollar. He touted the silver medallions as an inflation-proof alternative to official currency.

The coins were marked with the dollar sign, the words “dollar,” “USA,” “Liberty,” “Trust in God” (instead of “In God We Trust”) and other features associated with legitimate U.S. coins.

(Page 2 of 2)

A 2007 affidavit said more than 70 businesses in the Asheville area agreed to accept the Liberty Dollar. Innes held the title of North Carolina regional currency officer and was one of three members of the group’s executive committee, an indictment states.

The charges against Innes include passing coins resembling genuine U.S. coins and intended for use as money, mail fraud and possession Liberty Dollar coins with intent to defraud. Authorities said when he was arrested that he faces up to 45 years in prison.

Despite warnings from the federal government, Innes told the Citizen-Times in 2006 that Liberty Dollars were legal.

“One of the first things I did when I started this in Asheville was to go to the police and tell them what I was doing,” he said.

Federal agents raided von NotHaus’ company headquarters in 2007 and seized documents and precious metals. A private mint in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, that produced the coins was raided the same day.

Congress has exclusive power to coin money in the U.S. and to regulate its value, according to the Treasury Department.

A 2007 affidavit said more than 70 businesses in the Asheville area agreed to accept the Liberty Dollar. Innes held the title of North Carolina regional currency officer and was one of three members of the group’s executive committee, an indictment states.

The charges against Innes include passing coins resembling genuine U.S. coins and intended for use as money, mail fraud and possession Liberty Dollar coins with intent to defraud. Authorities said when he was arrested that he faces up to 45 years in prison.

Despite warnings from the federal government, Innes told the Citizen-Times in 2006 that Liberty Dollars were legal.

“One of the first things I did when I started this in Asheville was to go to the police and tell them what I was doing,” he said.

Federal agents raided von NotHaus’ company headquarters in 2007 and seized documents and precious metals. A private mint in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, that produced the coins was raided the same day.

Congress has exclusive power to coin money in the U.S. and to regulate its value, according to the Treasury Department.

And this, related, from the FBI:
Department of Justice Press Release

For Immediate Release

March 18, 2011 United States Attorney's Office

Western District of North Carolina

Contact: (704) 344-6222

Defendant Convicted of Minting His Own Currency

STATESVILLE, NC—Bernard von NotHaus, 67, was convicted today by a federal jury of making, possessing, and selling his own coins, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Following an eight-day trial and less than two hours of deliberation, von NotHaus, the founder and monetary architect of a currency known as the Liberty Dollar, was found guilty by a jury in Statesville, North Carolina, of making coins resembling and similar to United States coins; of issuing, passing, selling, and possessing Liberty Dollar coins; of issuing and passing Liberty Dollar coins intended for use as current money; and of conspiracy against the United States. The guilty verdict concluded an investigation which began in 2005 and involved the minting of Liberty Dollar coins with a current value of approximately $7 million. Joining the U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins in making today’s announcement are Edward J. Montooth, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Charlotte Division; Russell F. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Division; and Sheriff Van Duncan of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the evidence introduced during the trial, von NotHaus was the founder of an organization called the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code, commonly known as NORFED and also known as Liberty Services. Von NotHaus was the president of NORFED and the executive director of Liberty Dollar Services, Inc. until on or about September 30, 2008.

Von NotHaus designed the Liberty Dollar currency in 1998 and the Liberty coins were marked with the dollar sign ($); the words dollar, USA, Liberty, Trust in God (instead of In God We Trust); and other features associated with legitimate U.S. coinage. Since 1998, NORFED has been issuing, disseminating, and placing into circulation the Liberty Dollar in all its forms throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. NORFED’s purpose was to mix Liberty Dollars into the current money of the United States. NORFED intended for the Liberty Dollar to be used as current money in order to limit reliance on, and to compete with, United States currency.

In coordination with the Department of Justice, on September 14, 2006, the United States Mint issued a press release and warning to American citizens that the Liberty Dollar was “not legal tender.” The U.S. Mint press release and public service announcement stated that the Department of Justice had determined that the use of Liberty Dollars as circulating money was a federal crime.

Article I, section 8, clause 5 of the United States Constitution delegates to Congress the power to coin money and to regulate the value thereof. This power was delegated to Congress in order to establish and preserve a uniform standard of value and to insure a singular monetary system for all purchases and debts in the United States, public and private. Along with the power to coin money, Congress has the concurrent power to restrain the circulation of money which is not issued under its own authority in order to protect and preserve the constitutional currency for the benefit of all citizens of the nation. It is a violation of federal law for individuals, such as von NotHaus, or organizations, such as NORFED, to create private coin or currency systems to compete with the official coinage and currency of the United States.

Von NotHaus, who remains free on bond, faces a sentence of up to 15 years’ imprisonment on count two of the indictment and a fine of not more than $250,000. Von NotHaus faces a prison sentence of five years and fines of $250,000 on both counts one and three. In addition, the United States is seeking the forfeiture of approximately 16,000 pounds of Liberty Dollar coins and precious metals, currently valued at nearly $7 million. The forfeiture trial, which began today before United States District Court Judge Richard Voorhees, will resume on April 4, 2011 in the federal courthouse in Statesville. Judge Voorhees has not yet set a date for the sentencing of von NotHaus.

“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Tompkins said in announcing the verdict. “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country,” she added. “We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption, and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department, and the U.S. Secret Service, in cooperation with and invaluable assistance of the United States Mint. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jill Westmoreland Rose and Craig D. Randall, and the forfeiture trial is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tom Ascik and Ben Bain Creed.

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The Chevy Volt: The Car From Atlas Shrugged Motors

From The CATO Institute:

Chevy Volt: The Car from Atlas Shrugged Motors

by Patrick J. Michaels

Patrick Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of Climate Coup: Global Warming's Invasion of our Government and our Lives, which comes out April 22.

Added to cato.org on March 18, 2011

This article appeared in Forbes on March 16, 2011.

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The Chevrolet Volt is beginning to look like it was manufactured by Atlas Shrugged Motors, where the government mandates everything politically correct, rewards its cronies and produces junk steel.

This is the car that subsidies built. General Motors lobbied for a $7,500 tax refund for all buyers, under the shaky (if not false) promise that it was producing the first all-electric mass-production vehicle.

At least that's what we were once told. Sitting in a Volt that would not start at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, a GM engineer swore to me that the internal combustion engine in the machine only served as a generator, kicking in when the overnight-charged lithium-ion batteries began to run down. GM has continually revised downward its estimates of how far the machine would go before the gas engine fired, and now says 25 to 50 miles.

Patrick Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of Climate Coup: Global Warming's Invasion of our Government and our Lives, which comes out April 22.

More by Patrick J. Michaels

It turns out that the premium-fuel fired engine does drive the wheels — when the battery is very low or when the vehicle is at most freeway speeds. So the Volt really isn't a pure electric car after all. I'm sure that the people who designed the car knew how it ran, and so did their managers.

Why then the need to keep this so quiet? It's doubtful that GM would have gotten such a subsidy if it had been revealed that the car would do much of its freeway cruising with a gas engine powering the wheels. While the Volt is more complicated than the Prius, and has a longer battery-only range, a hybrid is a hybrid, and the Prius no longer qualifies for a tax credit.

In other words, GM was desperate for customers for what they perceived would be an unpopular vehicle before one even hit the road. It had hoped to lure more if buyers subtracted the $7,500 from the $41,000 sticker price. Instead, as Consumer Reports found out, the car was very pricey. The version they tested cost $43,700 plus a $5,000 dealer markup ("Don't worry," I can hear the salesperson saying, "you'll get more than that back in your tax credit!"), or a whopping $48,700 minus the credit.

This is one reason that Volt sales are anemic: 326 in December, 321 in January, and 281 in February. GM announced a production run of 100,000 in the first two years. Who is going to buy all these cars?

Another reason they aren't exactly flying off the lots is because, well, they have some problems. In a telling attempt to preserve battery power, the heater is exceedingly weak. Consumer Reports averaged a paltry 25 miles of electric-only running, in part because it was testing in cold Connecticut. (My engineer at the Auto Show said cold weather would have little effect.)

It will be interesting to see what the range is on a hot, traffic-jammed summer day, when the air conditioner will really tax the batteries. When the gas engine came on, Consumer Reports got about 30 miles to the gallon of premium fuel; which, in terms of additional cost of high-test gas, drives the effective mileage closer to 27 mpg. A conventional Honda Accord, which seats 5 (instead of the Volt's 4), gets 34 mpg on the highway, and costs less than half of what CR paid, even with the tax break.

Recently, President Obama selected General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to chair his Economic Advisory Board. GE is awash in windmills waiting to be subsidized so they can provide unreliable, expensive power.

Consequently, and soon after his appointment, Immelt announced that GE will buy 50,000 Volts in the next two years, or half the total produced. Assuming the corporation qualifies for the same tax credit, we (you and me) just shelled out $375,000,000 to a company to buy cars that no one else wants so that GM will not tank and produce even more cars that no one wants. And this guy is the chair of Obama's Economic Advisory Board?

It really is enough to get you to say Atlas Shrugged. For those who do not know, or who are only vaguely familiar with, the Ayn Rand classic, it is a story of a society in decay, where politically favored technologies and jobs are foisted on the nation, where innovations that might threaten existing corporatist cartels are financially or physically sabotaged as unemployment mounts and the nation spirals into a malaise that makes the Carter years look like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

Atlas Shrugged is about to come out as a surprisingly good and entertaining movie (which will be destroyed by Hollywood and New York Critics) on — you guessed it — April 15. Maybe the government could put in an ad before the show with Immelt exhorting Americans to care about "the environment and green jobs." All must buy Volts.