March 31, 2009

The Liberal Party of Canada and Canadian Federal MP / Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff


Present, but Not Accounted For

by Rick Mercer

As originally posted on: Rick Mercer.com
March 25, 2009


Michael Ignatieff really wants to be Prime Minister. Of that there is no doubt.

In fact, he is so committed to the idea of running Canada, he moved here to do it. Which I think is a good thing because as a nation I don't think we're completely comfortable with the notion of a Prime Minister living in Massachusetts.

So he's here now, he's fully committed, but I can't help but wonder: does he have any opinions on anything? Because I haven't really heard them. In fact Tory backbenchers have more to say about public policy and most of them have had their tongues removed.

It seems to me the only thing we really know about Iggy is his resume. And if you talk to any Liberals and you ask them any questions about Iggy, that's what they do, they quote his resume. You say, "what does he really think about Afghanistan?" They'll say "he wrote nineteen books."

You say, "what does he think about an auto bailout?" They'll say "he used to teach at Harvard."

You say, "does he have a plan to fight climate change?" And they'll say "he has a class five driver's license." Okay maybe that part's not true. But it might as well be, because when it comes to public policy I don't think the man has any.

And just in case you're wondering if this is just a case of a guy trying to find his feet, it's not. The Liberals have a policy convention coming up in May and they've just announced they won't be revealing any policy. It's a no-policy policy convention. Or what the rest of us might call a night out with the lads.

Michael you might be a very smart guy, but Canadians, we're not that stupid. You think you should be Prime Minister? Fine, but showing up is not good enough. Eventually you're going to have to tell us why.

March 30, 2009

Former New York Lawyer Anne Adams


Adams resigns as lawyer as legal problems mount

by Patrick Lakamp

As originally posted: The Buffalo News
March 16, 2009



Anne E. Adams has resigned from practicing law and now is banned from appearing as an attorney. In a March 6 order, the Appellate Division struck Adams from the state’s roll of attorneys. Two weeks earlier, Adams had pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors for drunken driving and her role in trying to fix the case.

But her legal problems went beyond drunken driving and trying to tamper with evidence.

The Attorney Grievance Committee for the State Supreme Court’s Eighth Judicial District was ready to recommend formal disciplinary charges over the way Adams dealt with a client in a divorce case, according to documents obtained by The Buffalo News.

Adams, of Orchard Park, resigned before the committee’s scheduled March 26 meeting.

“Her resignation has the same effect on her license as a disbarment, and, consequently, no further action will be taken by this office regarding your complaint,” Guy C. Giancarlo, the committee’s associate counsel, wrote Thursday in a letter to the client. “However, in submitting her resignation, Ms. Adams admitted all of the allegations related to your complaint.”

John Elmore, the chairman of the Attorney Grievance Committee, would not comment on Adams’ case.

James P. Harrington, Adams’ attorney, confirmed her resignation but had no other comment.

Among the client’s allegations, Adams:

• Was paid $15,000, but she never provided a bill — despite requests over six years — or an accounting of her time spent on the case.

• Did not deposit separate checks worth $2,000 and $4,000 into a client trust account but cashed the checks through a teller at a local bank.

• Falsely claimed the divorce case file was destroyed in a fire rather than produce the file when the former client pursued formal procedures to get some of her money back.

• Brought forth untrue information when she unsuccessfully appealed to a State Supreme Court judge to overturn an arbitration panel’s decision that she owed the former client a $4,775 refund.

As part of the divorce settlement, the then-client received a $10,000 check from her former husband in August 2000.

But Adams took it and said it would be held in a trust account until another of the client’s minor legal issues was resolved. The woman tried for six years to get some of that money returned.

“That check was meant to be a settlement award to me and not an award of attorney’s fees,” the former client said in her formal complaint to the grievance committee. “I turned to Ms. Adams for counsel and advice during a terrible time in my life — not expecting that a member of the legal profession would further victimize me.”

The former client spoke only on condition of anonymity because she wants her privacy. The News agreed to her request because she has copies of court documents relating to the complaint that would not otherwise be available. The court system keeps them secret.

The former client said she had never sought legal counsel before her divorce.

She was in debt after her divorce and had an income of only about $22,000 a year.

“To take the money that the judge granted me as a settlement only makes her conduct more despicable,” the former client told the grievance committee.

In 2007, the former client won a nearly $5,000 refund from an arbitration panel, which heard the dispute between her and Adams. Adams then filed an appeal.

State Supreme Court Justice Kevin M. Dillon rejected Adams’ appeal and ordered Adams to pay the former client $4,825.

In the end, the former client paid $9,000 in attorney fees for her divorce and slightly more than $1,000 for four to six hours of legal work on related civil matters. She said her former husband paid his divorce lawyer $3,000. She and her former husband did not have children, and she did not seek an interest in her former husband’s business.

The former client also had to spend $1,800 in legal fees to contest Adams’ appeal.

The former client filed her complaint against Adams with the grievance committee after Adams lost the appeal.

“At that point, it wasn’t a matter of money,” the former client told The News. “I pursued it so that vulnerable women like me, in duress, don’t fall victim to her unethical practices.”

The former client said she decided to talk about her case — even after Adams’ resignation — because she does not want the public to think Adams’ legal problems stemmed from just the driving-while-intoxicated arrest last September.

She also praised the work of the grievance committee, whose lawyers “restored my faith in the judicial system.”

Adams pleaded guilty last month before Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio to three misdemeanors: drunken driving, offering a false instrument for filing and attempted tampering with physical evidence.

plakamp@buffnews.com

March 29, 2009

Manitoba Lawyer Paul Walsh




The following disciplinary case summary has been edited in terms of its formatting.


THE LAW SOCIETY OF MANITOBA


DISCIPLINE CASE DIGEST
_____________________

Case 07-02

Member: Paul Victor Walsh, Q.C.

Jurisdiction: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Called to the Bar: June 26, 1968

Particulars of Charges: Professional Misconduct (3 counts)

- Breach of Chapter 16, Commentary 3 of the Code (breach of obligation to treat other lawyers with courtesy and good faith) [x2]
- Breach of Chapter 1 of the Code (failure to act with integrity when dealing with an unrepresented party opposite) and breach of Chapter 16 of the Code (failure to act with courtesy and good faith)

Date of Hearing: March 20, 2007

Panel:

- Joel A. Weinstein, Q.C. (Chair)
- John E. Neufeld, Q.C.
- Lori Ferguson Sain

Disposition:

- 3 month Suspension (concurrent with 6 month suspension that commenced on January 1, 2007)
- Fine of $10,000.00
- Costs of $4,500.00

Counsel:

- Darcia A.C. Senft for The Law Society of Manitoba
- J. Richard Wolson, Q.C. for the Member

________________________

Breach of Undertaking
________________________


Facts

Mr. Walsh was retained by his client with respect to a default on a commercial lease. Mr. Walsh’s client was the landlord of commercial premises operating as a restaurant. The tenant had defaulted on the lease and had abandoned the premises. When Mr. Walsh pursued the restaurant on behalf of his client, he was advised that the lease had been assigned to another corporation and was referred to their in-house counsel. Mr. Walsh wrote to the restaurant’s representative and their counsel regarding the commercial lease matter. Various letters were exchanged between the parties in relation to attempts to sell the commercial property to a third party. While the negotiations on the deal were progressing, Mr. Walsh filed a Statement of Claim on behalf of his client against the tenant and the defendant assignee corporation with respect to the said commercial lease matter.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Walsh received correspondence from the president of a related company regarding a proposed purchase of the commercial property. In the letter, Mr. Walsh was instructed to contact the company’s counsel who was the same in-house counsel that Mr. Walsh had written to previously. That counsel subsequently advised Mr. Walsh that efforts were being made to sell the property to a third party purchaser and thereby settle the commercial lease matter. Mr. Walsh was asked to provide two weeks notice of his intention to proceed with the law suit and the obligation to file a Statement of Defence. Mr. Walsh wrote back and advised that he was not proceeding with the Statement of Claim that had been filed. As requested, he undertook to provide two weeks notice of his intention to proceed with the said claim.

Approximately one month later, the other lawyer wrote to Mr. Walsh to advise that attempts to sell the property had failed. Mr. Walsh filed a second Statement of Claim of behalf of his client against the related company with respect to the same commercial lease matter. He effected service of both claims upon the defendant corporations without providing notice to or advising the other lawyer. Mr. Walsh obtained a Notice of Default in respect of the first claim and attempted to obtain default judgment with respect to the second claim without first advising or warning the other lawyer of his intentions and without making an enquiry regarding the filing of a Statement of Defence.

Subsequently, Mr. Walsh received a telephone call from a director of a defendant corporation, which defendant, at that time, was an unrepresented party opposite. During the said telephone conversation with the director, Mr. Walsh discussed whether or not the defendant corporation was the appropriate defendant in the first claim. He did not advise the director that default had been noted already against the defendant corporation in respect of the first claim. Mr. Walsh then wrote to the director and advised, inter alia, that a Statement of Claim had been filed and served upon the defendant corporation. However, in his letter, Mr. Walsh did not advise the director that default had been noted already against the defendant corporation in respect of the first claim for failing to file a Statement of Defence.

The director responded to Mr. Walsh by letter and requested that the defendant corporation be released from the action. Following his receipt of the said letter, Mr. Walsh did not inform the director that default had been noted already against the defendant corporation.

Plea

Mr. Walsh entered a plea of guilty to the charges.

Decision and Comments

The panel found Mr. Walsh guilty of professional misconduct based on his admissions to the charges.

Penalty

Noting that the conduct predated the conduct for which Mr. Walsh recently began serving a period of suspension, the panel accepted a joint recommendation made by the Society and counsel for Mr. Walsh and ordered that:

(a) Mr. Walsh be suspended for a period of 3 months, which suspension will be served concurrently with a 6 month suspension that commenced on January 1, 2007;

(b) Mr. Walsh pay a fine in the amount of $10,000.00; and

(c) Mr. Walsh pay costs to the Society in the amount of $4,500.00 as a contribution towards the costs associated with the investigation, prosecution and hearing of the matter.

March 28, 2009

"Disgraced Professional Losers" and "this Now-Pathetic Company"

The System


United Nations Adopts Anti-Free Speech Resolution

by Curt Hopkins

As originally posted: Committee to Protect Bloggers
March 26, 2009



Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to adopt a resolution to encourage member states to create laws that would punish speech critical of religion.

In case you didn’t catch that, the Human Rights Council is encouraging its members to punish speech critical of religion.

A host of countries around the world already imprison bloggers, and others, for such speech. The most high-profile example is Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, or Kareem Amer, the Egyptian blogger sentenced to four years in prison for criticizing Islam. Perhaps the fact that it took the UN two years to condemn that sentence but two weeks to approve this measure is not coincidental.

The measure “Deplores the use of the print, audio-visual and electronic media, including the Internet, and any other means to incite acts of violence, xenophobia or related intolerance and discrimination towards any religion, as well as targeting of religious symbols and venerated persons.”

Kareem was just the start. The UN is now giving his abusers legal cover and making a mockery of Article XIX.

Free speech is fantastically unpopular around the world. Although countries like Egypt, Iran, Burma and China may be the most egregious and flamboyant punishers of unfettered speech, it is nearly as unpopular in “Western” countries. That is, it is praised right up to the point where it offends someone, as though offense taken could be a sensible benchmark for allowing freedom of expression.

We have come to expect the patent-leather tinhorns and the religious torturers to dish out sentences based on laws like those the United Nations is encouraging, but let’s never forget that the grey little men in places like Brussels and DC, Ottawa and Canberra make them possible.

The Federation of Malaysia


Malaysia: End Ban on Opposition Papers

Two Newspapers Shut Down Ahead of Elections

As originally posted: Human Rights Watch
March 25, 2009



(New York) - Malaysia's Home Ministry should immediately rescind its order suspending publication of two opposition party newspapers, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch also called for repeal of the 1984 Printing Presses and Publications Act.

On March 23, the Home Ministry notified the opposition party Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and its coalition partner Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) that they were prohibited from publishing their respective party newspapers, Suara Keadilan and Harakah, for three months. With three key by-elections scheduled for April 7, 2009, the ban will harm the parties' ability to inform and rally voters. Both parties plan to go ahead with distribution of this week's publications, which are already in print.

No official reason accompanied the ministry's action, although in later reports Home Ministry officials said the papers were banned for publishing reports that contravened the ministry's guidelines and permit conditions. Home Minister Datuk Sri Syed Hamid Albar said that the newspapers "were still publishing untrue stories after they were given warnings." He also said that the stories aimed to "instill hatred for the government and leaders."

"The government may argue it is banning party papers over concern for citizens' welfare, but this is unfair political warfare in disguise," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Malaysia's citizens deserve better from their elected leaders."

Despite constitutional guarantees to freedom of expression, the draconian Printing Presses and Publications Act effectively silences criticism of the Malaysian government by requiring newspapers to renew publishing licenses annually. According to the law, the minister's discretion to grant, revoke, or suspend licenses is "absolute" and not subject to judicial review.

Suara Keadilan has faced government interference since it received its first printing permit less than a year ago, eight years after its initial application. In September 2008, the Home Ministry instructed PKR to "show cause" why its publication license should not be suspended after it reported incorrectly that Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan became paralyzed after heart surgery. In February 2009, the government attempted to limit circulation by confiscating thousands of copies from distributors and warning them against selling the newspaper. It is unclear if Suara Keadilan circulation is limited to PKR party members.

On February 11, the authorities seized copies of Harakah, in print for 22 years without suspension. On February 26, PAS received a letter from the Home Ministry that it was in violation of its permit in part because Harakah reported on non-party matters.

A third member of the opposition coalition, Parti Tindakan Demokratik (DAP), has been trying unsuccessfully to renew the license of Rocket, the party paper, since December 2008.

"Much of Malaysia's mainstream media, with ties to Malaysia's ruling coalition, rarely run into trouble," said Pearson. "But online journals and other ‘new media' that are critical of the government are easy targets for censorship."

Human Rights Watch also expressed concern with the refusal of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the dominant party in the ruling coalition, to grant six members of the "new media," including Malaysiakini and the Malaysian Insider, access to its annual meeting on March 24-28, 2009. An UMNO official cited their "unfriendly" reporting as the reason. The meeting is of particular importance this year as UMNO will be choosing a new leader. With the current leader, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, stepping down, the new UMNO leader will fulfill his unexpired term, which has another four years to run.

On September 12, 2008, in still another attack on a free press, police arrested Raja Petra Kamarudin, founder and editor of Malaysia Today, under the Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite preventive detention without charge or trial (http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/09/12/malaysia-free-journalists-and-parliamentarian). He was accused of demeaning Islam. Although released on technical grounds, the government is appealing the decision. In a separate case, Raja Petra is on trial for sedition on the politically motivated charge of defaming a government leader.

"The Malaysian government needs to allow all voices to be heard," said Pearson. "Freedom of speech is a touchstone of a true democracy."

March 27, 2009

The System


Israel: White Phosphorus Use Evidence of War Crimes

Indiscriminate Attacks Caused Needless Civilian Suffering

As originally posted: Human Rights Watch
March 25, 2009



(Jerusalem) - Israel's repeated firing of white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its recent military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 71-page report, "Rain of Fire: Israel's Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza," provides witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza. Human Rights Watch researchers in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school. The report also presents ballistics evidence, photographs, and satellite imagery, as well as documents from the Israeli military and government.

Militaries use white phosphorus primarily to obscure their operations on the ground by creating thick smoke. It can also be used as an incendiary weapon.

"In Gaza, the Israeli military didn't just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops," said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. "It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren't in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died."

The report documents a pattern or policy of white phosphorus use that Human Rights Watch says must have required the approval of senior military officers.

"For the needless civilian deaths caused by white phosphorus, senior commanders should be held to account," Abrahams said.

On February 1, Human Rights Watch submitted detailed questions to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) about its white phosphorus use in Gaza. The IDF did not provide responses, citing an internal inquiry being conducted by the Southern Command.

In the recent Gaza operations, Israeli forces frequently air-burst white phosphorus in 155mm artillery shells in and near populated areas. Each air-burst shell spreads 116 burning white phosphorus wedges in a radius extending up to 125 meters from the blast point. White phosphorus ignites and burns on contact with oxygen, and continues burning at up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit (816 degrees Celsius) until nothing is left or the oxygen supply is cut. When white phosphorus comes into contact with skin it creates intense and persistent burns.

When used properly in open areas, white phosphorus munitions are not illegal, but the Human Rights Watch report concludes that the IDF repeatedly exploded it unlawfully over populated neighborhoods, killing and wounding civilians and damaging civilian structures, including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse, and a hospital.

Israel at first denied it was using white phosphorus in Gaza but, facing mounting evidence to the contrary, said that it was using all weapons in compliance with international law. Later it announced an internal investigation into possible improper white phosphorus use.

"Past IDF investigations into allegations of wrongdoing suggest that this inquiry will be neither thorough nor impartial," Abrahams said. "That's why an international investigation is required into serious laws of war violations by all parties."

The IDF knew that white phosphorus poses life-threatening dangers to civilians, Human Rights Watch said. A medical report prepared during the recent hostilities by the Israeli ministry of health said that white phosphorus "can cause serious injury and death when it comes into contact with the skin, is inhaled or is swallowed." Burns on less than 10 percent of the body can be fatal because of damage to the liver, kidneys, and heart, the ministry report says. Infection is common and the body's absorption of the chemical can cause serious damage to internal organs, as well as death.

If the IDF intended to use white phosphorus as a smokescreen for its forces, it had a readily available non-lethal alternative to white phosphorus - smoke shells produced by an Israeli company, Human Rights Watch concluded.

All of the white phosphorus shells that Human Rights Watch found were manufactured in the United States in 1989 by Thiokol Aerospace, which was running the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant at the time. On January 4, Reuters photographed IDF artillery units handling projectiles whose markings indicate that they were produced in the United States at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in September 1991.

To explain the high number of civilian casualties in Gaza, Israeli officials have repeatedly blamed Hamas for using civilians as "human shields" and for fighting from civilian sites. In the cases documented in the report, Human Rights Watch found no evidence of Hamas using human shields in the vicinity at the time of the attacks. In some areas Palestinian fighters appear to have been present, but this does not justify the indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in a populated area.

Human Rights Watch said that for multiple reasons it concluded that the IDF had deliberately or recklessly used white phosphorus munitions in violation of the laws of war. First, the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus in populated areas until the last days of the operation reveals a pattern or policy of conduct rather than incidental or accidental usage. Second, the IDF was well aware of the effects of white phosphorus and the dangers it poses to civilians. Third, the IDF failed to use safer available alternatives for smokescreens.

The laws of war obligate states to investigate impartially allegations of war crimes. The evidence available demands that Israel investigate and prosecute as appropriate those who ordered or carried out unlawful attacks using white phosphorus munitions, Human Rights Watch said.

The United States government, which supplied Israel with its white phosphorus munitions, should also conduct an investigation to determine whether Israel used it in violation of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said.

"The General Government"



HCR 6 – AS INTRODUCED

2009 SESSION

09-0274

09/01

HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 6

A RESOLUTION affirming States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles.

SPONSORS: Rep. Itse, Rock 9; Rep. Ingbretson, Graf 5; Rep. Comerford, Rock 9; Sen. Denley, Dist 3

COMMITTEE: State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs

ANALYSIS

This house concurrent resolution affirms States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles.

09-0274

09/01

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nine

A RESOLUTION affirming States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles.

Whereas the Constitution of the State of New Hampshire, Part 1, Article 7 declares that the people of this State have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State; and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right, pertaining thereto, which is not, or may not hereafter be, by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in congress assembled; and

Whereas the Constitution of the State of New Hampshire, Part 2, Article 1 declares that the people inhabiting the territory formerly called the province of New Hampshire, do hereby solemnly and mutually agree with each other, to form themselves into a free, sovereign and independent body-politic, or State, by the name of The State of New Hampshire; and

Whereas the State of New Hampshire when ratifying the Constitution for the United States of America recommended as a change, “First That it be Explicitly declared that all Powers not expressly & particularly Delegated by the aforesaid are reserved to the several States to be, by them Exercised;” and

Whereas the other States that included recommendations, to wit Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia, included an identical or similar recommended change; and

Whereas these recommended changes were incorporated as the ninth amendment, the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people, and the tenth amendment, the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people, to the Constitution for the United States of America; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:

That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes, - delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force; that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress; and

That the Constitution of the United States, having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies, and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations, slavery, and no other crimes whatsoever; and it being true as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” therefore all acts of Congress which assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Constitution are altogether void, and of no force; and that the power to create, define, and punish such other crimes is reserved, and, of right, appertains solely and exclusively to the respective States, each within its own territory; and

That it is true as a general principle, and is also expressly declared by one of the amendments to the Constitution, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people;” and that no power over the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press being delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, all lawful powers respecting the same did of right remain, and were reserved to the States or the people: that thus was manifested their determination to retain to themselves the right of judging how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom, and how far those abuses which cannot be separated from their use should be tolerated, rather than the use be destroyed. And thus also they guarded against all abridgment by the United States of the freedom of religious opinions and exercises, and retained to themselves the right of protecting the same. And that in addition to this general principle and express declaration, another and more special provision has been made by one of the amendments to the Constitution, which expressly declares, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press:” thereby guarding in the same sentence, and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press: insomuch, that whatever violated either, throws down the sanctuary which covers the others, and that libels, falsehood, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religion, are withheld from the cognizance of federal tribunals. That, therefore, all acts of Congress of the United States which do abridge the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, are not law, but are altogether void, and of no force; and

That the construction applied by the General Government (as is evidenced by sundry of their proceedings) to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate to Congress a power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imports, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” and “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof,” goes to the destruction of all limits prescribed to their power by the Constitution: that words meant by the instrument to be subsidiary only to the execution of limited powers, ought not to be so construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument: that the proceedings of the General Government under color of these articles, will be a fit and necessary subject of revisal and correction; and

That a committee of conference and correspondence be appointed, which shall have as its charge to communicate the preceding resolutions to the Legislatures of the several States; to assure them that this State continues in the same esteem of their friendship and union which it has manifested from that moment at which a common danger first suggested a common union: that it considers union, for specified national purposes, and particularly to those specified in their federal compact, to be friendly to the peace, happiness and prosperity of all the States: that faithful to that compact, according to the plain intent and meaning in which it was understood and acceded to by the several parties, it is sincerely anxious for its preservation: that it does also believe, that to take from the States all the powers of self-government and transfer them to a general and consolidated government, without regard to the special delegations and reservations solemnly agreed to in that compact, is not for the peace, happiness or prosperity of these States; and that therefore this State is determined, as it doubts not its co-States are, to submit to undelegated, and consequently unlimited powers in no man, or body of men on earth: that in cases of an abuse of the delegated powers, the members of the General Government, being chosen by the people, a change by the people would be the constitutional remedy; but, where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non foederis), to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them: that nevertheless, this State, from motives of regard and respect for its co-States, has wished to communicate with them on the subject: that with them alone it is proper to communicate, they alone being parties to the compact, and solely authorized to judge in the last resort of the powers exercised under it, Congress being not a party, but merely the creature of the compact, and subject as to its assumptions of power to the final judgment of those by whom, and for whose use itself and its powers were all created and modified: that if the acts before specified should stand, these conclusions would flow from them: that it would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights: that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism - free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power: that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go. 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. That this State does therefore call on its co-States for an expression of their sentiments on acts not authorized by the federal compact. And it doubts not that their sense will be so announced as to prove their attachment unaltered to limited government, whether general or particular. And that the rights and liberties of their co-States will be exposed to no dangers by remaining embarked in a common bottom with their own. That they will concur with this State in considering acts as so palpably against the Constitution as to amount to an undisguised declaration that that compact is not meant to be the measure of the powers of the General Government, but that it will proceed in the exercise over these States, of all powers whatsoever: that they will view this as seizing the rights of the States, and consolidating them in the hands of the General Government, with a power assumed to bind the States, not merely as the cases made federal, (casus foederis,) but in all cases whatsoever, by laws made, not with their consent, but by others against their consent: that this would be to surrender the form of government we have chosen, and live under one deriving its powers from its own will, and not from our authority; and that the co-States, recurring to their natural right in cases not made federal, will concur in declaring these acts void, and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories; and

That the said committee be authorized to communicate by writing or personal conferences, at any times or places whatever, with any person or person who may be appointed by any one or more co-States to correspond or confer with them; and that they lay their proceedings before the next session of the General Court; and

That any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America. Acts which would cause such a nullification include, but are not limited to:

I. Establishing martial law or a state of emergency within one of the States comprising the United States of America without the consent of the legislature of that State.

II. Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

III. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

IV. Surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government.

V. Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press.

VI. Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition; and

That should any such act of Congress become law or Executive Order or Judicial Order be put into force, all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually. Any future government of the United States of America shall require ratification of three quarters of the States seeking to form a government of the United States of America and shall not be binding upon any State not seeking to form such a government; and

That copies of this resolution be transmitted by the house clerk to the President of the United States, each member of the United States Congress, and the presiding officers of each State’s legislature.

March 26, 2009

Manitoba Provincial Legislative Assembly Opposition Leader / Progressive Conservative Party Leader Hugh McFadyen


Still proving he hasn't got it

by Brian Oakely

As originally posted on: Just Damn Stupid
March 24, 2009


I love this dude!

Here's Hughie commenting on today's NDP victories in the Elmwood and The Pas byelections:

"The NDP have won more than 60 per cent of the vote in the constituency for at least the past three elections until its "dramatic slide" to just above 50 per cent Tuesday night, he said.

"Clearly there’s a pretty dramatic shift against the NDP, certainly in Elmwood, and it’s consistent with what we’re seeing across the city of Winnipeg," McFadyen said."

Uh, Hugh. The margin is down primarily because you weren't a factor.

In the last election, you were a factor...this time, no Hugh, hence better odds for the Tory.

Let's see, in 2007 the Tory dude got 1,323 of the 6,358 votes cast and tonight the Tory dude got 913 of the 4,325 votes cast. So, in 2007 with Hughies mug plastered all over the place, the Tory dude got 20.8% of the vote, and tonight sans Hughie, the poor bastard got 21.1% of the vote. That's an increase of 0.3% for those that are arthimatically challenged.

Trying to play that into a "dramatic shift" is a bigger stretch than the marks on Nadya Sulman's belly.

Keep up the good work Hugh!

March 25, 2009

"Security Forces" and the People's Republic of China


China blocks YouTube

by Tania Branigan

As originally posted on: guardian.co.uk
March 25, 2009


China has blocked the video-sharing network YouTube after Beijing denounced footage appearing to show security forces beating Tibetans in Lhasa last year as "a lie".

The authorities have blocked the service on previous occasions and, more frequently, have prevented access to specific videos.

Google, which owns YouTube, confirmed that Beijing halted access to the site this week but said it did not know why.

"We are looking into it and working to ensure that the service is restored as soon as possible," spokesman Scott Rubin said in an email to the Associated Press.

It is not clear why China has blocked it now. But the state news agency, Xinhua, yesterday condemned a video released by the Tibetan government-in-exile, which was posted on YouTube recently .

The government-in-exile said the video showed the brutal beating of Tibetan protesters and the wounds of a young man called Tendar. It allegeed he was detained for attempting to stop police beating a monk, and later died of his injuries.

But Xinhua, citing an unidentified official with China's Tibetan regional government, said that the video was a lie.

"Technology experts found that video and audio was edited to piece together different places, times and people," said the official.

He said that an officer had "defeated" a man named Tendar, but acted in self-defence after the man slashed him with a knife and ignored several warnings to stop. He added that Tendar "died from a disease at home awaiting court trial"; that the person shown in the video was not Tendar; and that the wounds shown were in any case fake.

"The Dalai Lama group is used to fabricating lies to deceive the international community and the aim of this video is to hide the truth of the March 14th riot," he said.

Tibet is a particularly sensitive issue at the moment because this month marks one year since fatal riots in Lhasa sparked wider unrest across Tibetan areas, and 50 years since a failed uprising against Chinese rule. Large parts of western China are still under heavy security.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, told reporters yesterday that he did not know about the block, adding: "Many people have a false impression that the Chinese government fears the internet. In fact, it is just the opposite."

Citing the country's 300 million internet users - the world's largest online population - and 100m blogs, he added: "China's internet is open enough, but also needs to be regulated by law in order to prevent the spread of harmful information and for national security."

One blogger commented wryly that Qin had spoken accurately, because "it has always been that the internet fears the Chinese government".

In January, the authorities launched a crackdown on "vulgar" content which led to the closure of hundreds of sites, including a popular blog hosting site. Critics argue that the campaign is designed to intimidate bloggers and discourage dissent. Several other countries have blocked YouTube in the past.

"The American Empire"


How Much Does It Cost Vermont to Remain in the Union?

by Thomas Naylor

As posted: Second Vermont Republic
March 4, 2009



On 4 March 1791, 218 years ago, Vermont surrendered its sovereignty as an independent republic and became the fourteenth state of the American Empire, the largest, most powerful, most militaristic, most materialistic empire of all time. Today Vermont finds itself emasculated by a nation which is owned, operated, and controlled by Corporate America and the Wall Street Mafia. Not only does the United States government engage in illegal wars with Afghanistan and Iraq, but it also condones a convoluted war on terrorism, corporate greed, pandering to the rich and powerful, a culture of deceit, and a foreign policy based on full spectrum dominance, imperial overstretch, and unconditional support for the terrorist state of Israel.

Notwithstanding the effects on Vermont of the collapse of the U.S. economy, how much does it cost Vermont to stay in the Union? According to a recent study by retired UVM physics professor Hans Ohanian, for every dollar paid by Vermonters for federal taxes, Vermont gets back only 75 cents in federal expenditures. The study also shows that a family of three earning $50,000 per year would save $6,330 annually, if Vermont were an independent republic ($750 in income taxes and $5,580 in its pro rata share of the federal deficit). Stated alternatively, it costs the family $6,330 each year Vermont remains a part of the Empire.

Unfortunately, these figures significantly understate the negative impact which the failing U.S. economy is having on Vermont. Currently the economy is in a state of free fall. We are in completely unchartered territory. Both the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board are printing money as though it were going out of style. No one knows how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

The federal government could easily become insolvent by year end, if either China or Japan pulls the plug on government bonds. The value of the dollar would plunge and prices and interest rates would soar.

The Titanic is going down, and Vermont is being pulled under with it. The idea that the U.S. government will bail out Vermont is pure fantasy. The cost of Vermont remaining in the Union could become prohibitive. Isn't it high time Vermont took control of its own economic and political destiny?

March 24, 2009

"The Disgraced Lawmaker" and "One of Fumo’s Top Aides"


Senator Guilty Of 137 Corruption Charges

As originally posted on: Corruption Chronicles: A Judicial Watch Blog
March 2009



One of the most powerful figures in Pennsylvania politics has been convicted of so many corruption counts that the federal jury forewoman had to break twice for water to complete today’s marathon verdict announcement.

State Senator Vincent Fumo, a 30-year veteran and longtime ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, has been convicted of 137 counts of corruption for defrauding taxpayers out of more than $3.5 million to help pay for his extravagant lifestyle.

The veteran politician had beaten two previous indictments in his lengthy career but this time federal prosecutors were armed with piles of evidence presented during a five-month trial that culminated with six days of jury deliberations. Fumo was found guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and filing false tax returns.

In August, one of Fumo’s top aides pleaded guilty to 28 counts of obstruction of justice for following his powerful boss’s orders to destroy incriminating electronic mail sought by federal agents conducting the corruption probe.

The disgraced lawmaker took more than $2 million in Senate resources and another $1.5 million from a nonprofit he established to improve neighborhoods in Philadelphia to help pay for personal items, including a $5.5 mansion in downtown Philadelphia, a farm near Harrisburg and vacation homes in the New Jersey shore and Florida waterfront.

An array of Senate staffers testified in the trial that they regularly did personal work for Fumo on taxpayer time, including running his farm, handling his personal finances, overseeing mansion renovations and even spying on his ex-lover. Fumo faces up to a decade in prison.

March 23, 2009

Wall Street and "the Canadian Plutocracy"


With Wall Street exposed, will Bay Street get the message?

by Jeffrey Simpson

As originally published in: The Globe and Mail
March 20, 2009



The justified humbling of Wall Street and its shameful greed will have, one hopes, a salutary effect in Canada, especially on Toronto's business community.

For years, when Wall Street rolled in money and hedge funds appeared to rule the world, Toronto looked on enviously and modified its practices to compete. In certain ways, it became a mini-New York in expectations of corporate remuneration, legal recruiting and role models.

The stratospheric salaries and bonuses that Wall Street executives paid themselves widened the gap, of course, between what they made and what everyone else made. And in the George W. Bush era of greed, capital gains taxes were cut, inheritance taxes were lightened and personal income taxes on the very rich went down, so that the rich got richer, and the very rich floated out of sight, except as people on the covers of lifestyle and business magazines.

The commanders and plutocrats of Canada's private sector looked at these developments with envy and some concern, and with a certain satisfaction, it should be said, because what happened in New York helped line their pockets, too.

Canadian law firms began to offer positions to law students after their first year, lest they think of flying away to the big New York firms. Law schools such as McGill and Osgoode were turning out some graduates whose abiding ambition was to head for New York's law factories to earn big bucks immediately and even bigger ones later.

The University of Toronto law school, then led by a dean who soon himself departed for the United States, drove up its fees with the argument, among others, that some of its best professors might head to U.S. schools. The U.S., not Canada, was the gold standard for those who changed the U of T's approach.

The vast salaries of Wall Street skewed business school rankings. Depending on the survey, as much as a third of a school's score came from how much students earned in their first years after graduation. Imagine, for a so-called academic discipline.

Since no country paid people as much as the U.S., and since so many graduates headed to Wall Street's towers of gold, U.S. schools automatically had a rankings advantage over all the others - but for the wrong reason.

In corporate Canada, how many times did we see U.S. remuneration used to explain and justify huge salaries in this country? We were told that a North American market existed for top talent and that, if Canadian firms did not offer large salaries, bonuses, stock options and the like, executives would flock south like geese in the fall. So, too, would young graduates, so Canada would suffer a "brain drain."

Now, of course, Wall Street's practices, the complicity of the Bush administration (now mercifully consigned to history's dustbin), a slack regulatory environment and an adoring business media have all been exposed as somewhere between inadequate and fraudulent.

The size of the financial sector's collapse has been stunning, the exposed avarice of many of its leaders staggering, and the disconnectedness of so many leaders with the realities and perceptions of ordinary people, including those who worked for them, so shocking that it will be some time before any kind of confidence is restored in the citadels of capitalism.

Canada's financial services sector, of course, was better regulated, and the laws governing its practices were sound. It turned out, after all, that the public sector, much maligned, was on the job here.

It would still be nice, morally if nothing else, if one or two bank presidents in this time of lowered value for bank shareholders and pain for so many fellow citizens to agree to work for, say, $1, for a year, the way executives did during the Second World War.

As a public relations gesture, it would be brilliant; as a recognition of some social solidarity, it would be exemplary. But no one should wait for this to happen because the Canadian plutocracy, although much less extravagant than the U.S. one, still seems removed from the preoccupations of ordinary people.

At least now, however, plutocrats must be careful in framing their demands and justifying their remuneration by comparing it with the doings of Wall Street.

March 22, 2009

"Certain TARP Recipients"



111th CONGRESS
1st Session

H. R. 1586



AN ACT

To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. BONUSES RECEIVED FROM CERTAIN TARP RECIPIENTS.

(a) IN GENERAL. - In the case of an employee or former employee of a covered TARP recipient, the tax imposed by chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for any taxable year shall not be less than the sum of -

(1) the tax that would be determined under such chapter if the taxable income of the taxpayer for such taxable year were reduced (but not below zero) by the TARP bonus received by the taxpayer during such taxable year, plus

(2) 90 percent of the TARP bonus received by the taxpayer during such taxable year.

(b) TARP BONUS. - For purposes of this section -

(1) IN GENERAL. - The term "TARP bonus" means, with respect to any individual for any taxable year, the lesser of -

(A) the aggregate disqualified bonus payments received from covered TARP recipients during such taxable year, or

(B) the excess of -

(i) the adjusted gross income of the taxpayer for such taxable year, over

(ii) $250,000 ($125,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return).

(2) DISQUALIFIED BONUS PAYMENT. -

(A) IN GENERAL. - The term "disqualified bonus payment" means any retention payment, incentive payment, or other bonus which is in addition to any amount payable to such individual for service performed by such individual at a regular hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or similar periodic rate.

(B) EXCEPTIONS. - Such term shall not include commissions, welfare or fringe benefits, or expense reimbursements.

(C) WAIVER OR RETURN OF PAYMENTS. - Such term shall not include any amount if the employee irrevocably waives the employee's entitlement to such payment, or the employee returns such payment to the employer, before the close of the taxable year in which such payment is due. The preceding sentence shall not apply if the employee receives any benefit from the employer in connection with the waiver or return of such payment.

(3) REIMBURSEMENT OF TAX TREATED AS TARP BONUS. - Any reimbursement by a covered TARP recipient of the tax imposed under subsection (a) shall be treated as a disqualified bonus payment to the taxpayer liable for such tax.

(c) COVERED TARP RECIPIENT. - For purposes of this section -

(1) IN GENERAL. - The term "covered TARP recipient" means -

(A) any person who receives after December 31, 2007, capital infusions under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 which, in the aggregate, exceed $5,000,000,000,

(B) the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation,

(C) any person who is a member of the same affiliated group (as defined in section 1504 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, determined without regard to paragraphs (2) and (3) of subsection (b)) as a person described in subparagraph (A) or (B), and

(D) any partnership if more than 50 percent of the capital or profits interests of such partnership are owned directly or indirectly by one or more persons described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).

(2) EXCEPTION FOR TARP RECIPIENTS WHO REPAY ASSISTANCE - A person shall be treated as described in paragraph (1)(A) for any period only if -

(A) the excess of the aggregate amount of capital infusions described in paragraph (1)(A) with respect to such person over the amounts repaid by such person to the Federal Government with respect to such capital infusions, exceeds

(B) $5,000,000,000.

(d) OTHER DEFINITIONS. - Terms used in this section which are also used in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 shall have the same meaning when used in this section as when used in such Code.

(e) COORDINATION WITH INTERNAL REVENUE CODE OF 1986. - Any increase in the tax imposed under chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by reason of subsection (a) shall not be treated as a tax imposed by such chapter for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under such chapter or for purposes of section 55 of such Code.

(f) REGULATIONS. - The Secretary of the Treasury, or the Secretary's delegate, shall prescribe such regulations or other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this section.

(g) EFFECTIVE DATE. - This section shall apply to disqualified bonus payments received after December 31, 2008, in taxable years ending after such date.

Passed the House of Representatives March 19, 2009.

Attest:




Clerk.

March 21, 2009

Chrysler, LLC


CHRY$LER: symbol of what is wrong in American business

by Peter Stern

As originally posted on: pstern's blog
March 21, 2009



Enough is enough!

Chrysler is the epitome of greed prevalent in the corporate sector and it should be recognized as the symbol for much our economic woes.

The auto company received $4 BILLION in government loans from U.S. taxpayers in a bail-out provision, but that's still not enough for Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, who continues to hold his palm up to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner requesting more money "to save" Chrysler from going under.

In the last few days Mr. Nardelli even had the audacity to request Chrysler dealers to contact Sec. Geithner to ask for more money in a company lobbying maneuver to get millions more.

It is obvious that under its current leadership Chrysler just won't give it up. In the worst case scenario, the company should be forced to declare bankruptcy and its workers provided transfers to jobs at other companies in the auto industry. In addition, those in charge of Chrysler, including Mr. Nardelli, should be forced to retire without a super-bonus or mega-retirement package.

Furthermore, if Chrysler plans on rebuilding its business and image, more ethical and responsible executives should lead that company towards a better future.

On the lighter side, Ford did NOT want any bail-out or stimulus money. So, get out there and buy Ford products! lol

The Natuashish Detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Newfoundland and Labrador


RCMP out to get me, former Innu chief says

CBC NEWS
March 20, 2009



Just days after the Crown dropped assault charges against him, a former Innu band chief in northern Labrador says he is a target of the local RCMP officers.

The Crown dropped its case against former Natuashish chief Simeon Tshakapesh on Wednesday, on grounds that there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction. The RCMP announced the decision on Thursday.

Tshakapesh told CBC News on Friday that he believes he has been wronged.

"I was publicly humiliated by the RCMP and by the system," said Tshakapesh, adding that he believes this was intentional.

Tshakapesh was charged last month in what the police described as a domestic dispute. The charges included assault, assault with a weapon and breach of an undertaking.

Tshakapesh said RCMP told him his wife made a complaint that he hurt her and their son, although he said the police never showed him the statement.

Tshakapesh suspects payback for his advocacy over the years.

"I was [a] very outspoken person about the Innu people, about how they've been treated by the RCMP," he said.

"Not just the RCMP, the whole system. The justice system. The education [system]."

Tshakapesh, who admits he has had past troubles with alcohol and drugs, said that he has changed, and that the charges have hurt his reputation.

"The general public thinks still today that I commit those crimes, which I [have] never done," he said.

But RCMP Sgt. Wayne Newell said the allegations against the force are not true.

"The determination to charge him originally was done solely on reasonable and probable grounds and was done objectively, and in no way based on his position on anything," Newell told CBC News.

Tshakapesh said he will take his concerns to the police complaints commission.

March 20, 2009

"Congress, the States, and Ultimately the American Citizens Themselves" and the United States of America (USA)


A Presidency Fit for a King

by Patrick Krey

As originally posted: The New American
March 20, 2009



It is said that on the final day of deliberation at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a female passerby asked an exiting Ben Franklin, "Well Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?" He replied, "A Republic, if you can keep it." But if Ben Franklin were alive today to witness the unlimited, king-like power of President Barack Obama, he would answer that we are definitely living under an elected monarch.

The Honorable John V. Denson, a Circuit Court judge from Alabama and editor of Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom, explains that "the Founders intended for the legislative branch of Congress, composed of both the House and Senate, to be the dominant branch of the federal government, which was then very limited in scope and power. Today the executive has become, by far, the dominant branch of government, even to the point that it is the main threat to the liberty and freedom of American citizens." (Emphasis added.)

It must be stressed that the aggrandizement of power within the executive branch certainly did not start under the current occupant of the White House. President Barack Obama is simply the latest in a long line of presidents who is all too happy to wield expansive presidential power that would have horrified the Founding Fathers. Obama's "progressive" agenda and his actions after being in office for a little over a month illustrate that he plans to build upon that legacy of centralization and control by leaps and bounds.

Obama's Imperial Presidency

When writing in the Declaration of Independence about the "long train of abuses and usurpations" committed on the colonists by the tyrannical king of Great Britain, Thomas Jefferson identified a series of such abuses, including "[the king] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance." The description of this abuse has eerie similarities to the growing list of executive departments collectively referred to as "the administrative state." Defenders of liberty have much to worry about as unelected bureaucrats based out of D.C. exercise powers that were once solely reserved to Congress, the states, or the people themselves.

What is the administrative state? Attorney and researcher Donald S. Dobkin explains: "Most of the real lawmaking in modern-day America occurs in bureaucracies. The Federal Register alone comprises some 70,000 pages annually. Any attempt at congressional oversight of these bureaucracies is impossible; the sheer size of the Administrative State is as incomprehensible as it is unconstitutional. Scholars will tell you that we no longer live under the Constitution and its three branches of government. Rather, we live under the administrative law of an administrative state, a de facto fourth branch of government. This fourth branch of government is one that James Madison in The Federalist would have deemed 'the very essence of tyranny.'" These bureaucracies are all under the control of the president and allow him to have far-reaching control acting as America's administrator. It is through this administrative state that the president wields much of his power. Obama can simply direct an agency to change policy, which will allow him to impact state laws across the country.

How does Obama plan to use the power of the administrative state to enact his agenda? Obama has boasted that his administration plans to enact massive regulatory "reform" (create more obstacles for free enterprise), create a lending fund to provide loans for multiple purposes (furthering the U.S. debt spiral), directly intervene in bank lending practices including mortgage agreements facing foreclosure (to pump more fiat money into the economy and give the government more control over banking), nationalize healthcare, enact a national service program, and impose stricter standards for auto emissions. Obama might try to go through Congress to get some of the initiatives passed but if that fails, he can just use the new fourth branch of government as he sees fit.

A perfect example of how a president can avoid Congress and instead use an executive department is how Bush created the auto bailout. When Congress failed to pass the auto bailout, Bush simply diverted funds from the earlier financial bailout to the auto industry while Congress sat on the sidelines. Presidents have learned by example that if Congress won't do as they're told, they simply make it work through the gargantuan administrative state. The concepts of separation of powers and checks and balances are mere afterthoughts.

The king used to appoint governors to see out his agenda, and a similar method is employed today by Obama in the appointment of "czars." Czar is a popular term for an individual who will act like a top-level deputy administrator for the president in governmental departments but who doesn't have to go through the constitutional requirements for filling that role. Joe Biden boasts that he coined the term "drug czar," and there was talk of a "car czar" that was abandoned after it was met with some ridicule by the public. Czars are regarded by the mainstream press as seemingly all-knowing experts who are above our traditional constitutional restraints.

Fellow Democrat Senator Robert Byrd even criticized the president for his contemplated use of czars to oversee energy and climate policy. In a letter written to Obama, Senator Byrd warned: "The rapid and easy accumulation of power by White House staff can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances.... At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials."

Absolute Power of the President's Pen

As Lord Acton famously said, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." Perhaps no presidential action evidences the king-like power of our president more than the issuance of an executive order. Much like the "king's decree" of old, executive orders are a law unto themselves. In today's world of executive power, the president can accomplish with a swipe of the pen what used to take an act of Congress.

Among the now 17 executive orders issued by Obama was a rescission of the "Mexico City" policy prohibiting foreign aid being used to fund abortion worldwide. Because of a letter containing 416 words signed by Obama, the U.S. government will resume its role in globally funding abortions. The religious right who support so-called "humanitarian" foreign aid should pause to consider how it is that the United States has become one of the world's biggest financiers of abortion on demand. Another order directed the secretary of Transportation to increase fuel-emission standards by 2011. The president can impact what kind of car you may purchase by simply signing his name.

President Obama also plans to "rescind a Bush Administration rule that granted protection to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care workers who refuse to perform or assist in abortions, sterilizations, and other contraceptive procedures on moral grounds" if their organizations receive federal funds. The pro-life groups who supported the Bush administration's unconstitutional forays into areas reserved to the states, such as sumptuary laws, are now witnessing the inherent dangers of an Imperial Presidency when the pendulum swings the other way. Obama has also vowed to continue Bush's faith-based initiatives but to add stringent secular mandates to the funding. None of the above-stated goals included any mention of oversight by Congress or constitutional authorization. It will simply come about because Obama says so.

A dangerous second cousin to executive orders is signing statements. A signing statement is a written statement by the president that accompanies the signing of a bill into law. Todd F. Gaziano, director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies for the Heritage Foundation, explains: "Presidential signing statements are themselves a type of directive, but they can incorporate language similar to that in an executive order or a presidential proclamation. For example, some signing statements identify a provision of the bill that the President believes is unconstitutional and instruct executive branch officials not to enforce the provision."

George W. Bush enthusiastically adopted the concept of using signing statements as a pseudo line-item veto. Bush only had the constitutional authority to sign the bill or veto it, not to play "pick and choose" with it. By openly declaring not to enforce the laws as passed or to enforce them in a unique way desired by the president himself, he circumvented the legislative process. Obama has not renounced this use of signing statements, and it remains to be seen if he will adopt them as well. This highlights another means of centralizing authority in the presidency. Each president usually takes it a step further than his predecessor. Obama already has adopted many of Bush's unique interpretations of presidential powers.

Obama on Civil Liberties

President Obama has continued on the worst abuses of the Bush administration claims Bruce Fein, associate deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan and constitutional scholar. Fein was one of the fiercest critics of the Bush administration's violations of our Constitution. He is especially disgusted about the Obama administration's willingness to continue on these abuses despite all of his proclamations about "change."

In an article for the Washington Times, Fein assailed Obama for his "betrayal [concerning] the imperial powers of his office, which he inherited from the Bush-Cheney duumvirate. He has either embraced or acquiesced in every one of their usurpations or abuses." Fein reminds readers about how Senator Obama criticized numerous Bush administration methods but has now adopted all of them. One of these methods was the use of the "state secrets" legal defense to prevent trials against those who may have participated in torture. Now Obama has asserted that very same defense. "In other words, individual constitutional rights of the highest order should be sacrificed on the altar of national security." Obama also used the state-secrets defense to stop challenges to the Bush "Terrorist Surveillance Program" (TSP) that he had attacked as a senator. Perhaps having the ability to now control the massive wire-tapping program has lessened the president's disdain for its violations of privacy.

Fein summarizes how Obama has incorporated the Bush abuses into his administration: "President Obama has left undisturbed the bulwark of other Bush-Cheney usurpations or constitutional excesses: the Military Commissions Act of 2006; the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act of 2008, which eviscerates the Fourth Amendment; the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq concluded by Bush-Cheney as an executive agreement (despite its placement of U.S. troops under foreign command) to evade Senate scrutiny as a treaty requiring a two-thirds majority; and, President Bush's hundreds of signing statements. If the American people and Congress do not wake up from their Obama infatuation, presidential powers will soon be indistinguishable from King George III's that provoked the 1776 Declaration of Independence." This means that Obama can wiretap and listen to Americans at random and detain people indefinitely as "enemy combatants," denying them the right of habeas corpus (to challenge their detention in court). Are these really powers we want one individual holding? Should Americans feel safe keeping these powers imbued in our Imperial Presidency just because Obama seems like a nice person?

Shortly after his inauguration, Obama signed executive orders closing Guantanamo Bay in an effort to end torture, but civil libertarians question the effectiveness of these measures. Ivan Eland, author of Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, has warned that Obama's show-boating gestures on torture obscure the fact that he is continuing the Bush policies. "Politicians love symbolic acts and Obama's rapid pledge to shutter the high profile prison at Guantanamo and secret CIA prisons was widely praised. But if civil liberties continue to be violated elsewhere, have we made much progress? Obama's nominees have said the administration will continue the CIA's policy of 'extraordinary rendition' of terrorism suspects — a euphemism for secret kidnapping without the legal nicety of extradition or any other procedural due process rights." The publicity over the executive order closing Guantanamo Bay omitted that the administration kept the Bush administration tactic of holding "enemy combatants" without trial at the Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan.

Economist Paul Craig Roberts, who served as assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, is another former Bush critic who is getting a sense of déjà vu from the new Obama administration. "Now we have the Democrats, and the assault on civil liberty continues. President Obama doesn't want to hold Bush accountable for his crimes and violations of the Constitution, because Obama wants to retain the powers that Bush asserted.... The civil liberties that Bush stole from us are now in Obama's pocket. Will it turn out that we enjoyed more liberty under Bush than we will under Obama? At least the Republicans left us the Second Amendment. The Obama Democrats are not going to return our other purloined civil liberties, and they are already attacking the Second Amendment." Attorney General Eric Holder has already voiced support for reinstituting the so-called assault weapon ban, which banned certain guns based solely on whether they "looked like a military weapon." One can only imagine that the Obama administration is just getting warmed up.

Obama also inherited two wars from President Bush, and Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is quoted as saying, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste." Obama is dead-set on escalating the Afghanistan quagmire while maintaining a long-term commitment with Iraq. As commander-in-chief, Obama should be able to decide how to best deploy troops during war. However, neither war (Afghanistan or Iraq) was declared by Congress, so now Obama is able to use the U.S. armed forces without any regard for our founding document. His recent decision to increase the conflict in the Afghanistan war by sending 17,000 more troops into the battlefield barely raised a peep from Congress. His announcement to keep up to 50,000 troops in Iraq past 2011, which even was endorsed by war hawk John McCain, has already been accepted as a reality.

There are some voices in the wilderness expressing outrage as Obama, the "peace candidate," follows the Bush-McCain plan for Iraq. Writing for CounterPunch.com, Chris Floyd was incredulous. "But the hypocrisy — the literally murderous hypocrisy — of claiming that this plan 'leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war,' as Obama asserted in his State of the Union speech, is sickening. It does no such thing, and he knows it. Instead, it entrenches the United States more and more deeply in a 'counter-insurgency' war on behalf of whichever clique or faction of sectarian parties [is in control].... But what it won't do is 'end this war' - 'responsibly' or otherwise. When Obama says it will ... he is, quite simply, and very deliberately, lying." Too bad members of Congress do not have Floyd's courage.

All the President's Enablers

What can't Obama do? It would appear that President Obama has very little that limits his ability in office. So who is to blame for the constant centralization of power in the president? Of course, the presidents themselves, but they wouldn't be able to accomplish this without some very powerful enablers. Namely Congress, the states, and ultimately the American citizens themselves have allowed, and even encouraged, the wild power grab by the executive.

Congress gives up power to avoid blame for failures. When things go bad, members of Congress can shrug their shoulders and blame it all on the president. Both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq not in a constitutional declaration of war but rather in a six-page "Authorization for use of military force against Iraq resolution of 2002." This resolution effectively (and unconstitutionally) transferred to the president the decision of whether or not to go to war based on UN resolutions. Both Clinton and Kerry defended their vote for the resolution as merely trying to give the president more bargaining power at the UN Security Council. They stressed that they didn't actually vote for the war but rather it was the president himself who decided to enter that conflict. Clinton and Kerry are actually correct when they say they did not actually vote to go to war, but they did vote for the president to be able to make the decision to go to war, and in so doing they turned their back on their own responsibilities under the Constitution. Such tortured reasoning and job-shirking go hand in hand with an empowered president.

The states have also sold their souls to the executive in order to receive federal funding. Control from D.C. always accompanies federal funding, and now that state governments are dependent on federal funds, they have to march to the beat of the president's drum. An article entitled Federal Interference with Checks and Balances in State Government: A Constitutional Limit on the Spending Power in the University of Pennsylvania law review explained that the "contribution of federal grant money to state budgets has so increased in amount and changed in form that state legislatures increasingly find themselves with little real control over substantial portions" of what were typically state matters.

The American people have also been willing accomplices in the president's power grab. Voters allow themselves to be enamored with partisanship and leader-worship by focusing all their energy on the president. David Theroux, founder of the Independent Institute, wrote the following about the media circus surrounding Obama's inauguration. "For most Americans, the Presidency has become their sovereign king and father figure who stands above and beyond us mere citizens in order to oversee our lives and our well-being and assuage our fears." As such the Imperial Presidency is really a secular religious "divinity," an earthly "messiah" who many believe will save them from all forms of harm by wielding government power against others, even if this means trampling on their lives, liberties and property. If you have any doubts about the celebrity of the president, ask yourself, "How many magazine covers has Obama been on?" From People to US Weekly to Vogue, Obama has graced enough covers to make even the most successful Hollywood agent jealous.

A Post-constitutional Presidency

Anyone thinking that this problem can be solved by simply hoping the next commander-in-chief has an (R) after his name is seriously deluding themselves. This is a problem that has grown over time and will require a sea change in the widely held view that the president "runs the country."

So where do we go from here? The first step should be to identify and expose all the unconstitutional excesses of the modern presidency. Daniel McCarthy, in an article entitled Our Enemy, The President, writes, "Right-wing presidentialism failed spectacularly under Bush and has now yielded to what may be the strongest expression of left-wing presidentialism since Franklin Roosevelt. Conservatives have an important lesson to learn here. They must not only oppose Obama as they once opposed FDR, they must recognize the threat that presidential power represents to an ordered Republic no matter which party occupies the Oval Office." That is, grass-roots activists who want to restore constitutional liberty to the "land of the free" should work to strip the president of powers he was never intended to have.

Change will require a national movement to remind both Congress and the president of their constitutional roles. President Obama might be the latest wielder of unconstitutional executive power, and he certainly plans to use it like no one before, but the problem is bigger than Obama. America needs to return to the role for the federal government designed by the attendees of the Constitutional Convention.

Patrick Krey, M.B.A., J.D., L.L.M., is a lawyer and freelance writer from New York.

March 19, 2009

"The Military or the Elite" and "the North"


North Korea rejects U.S. food aid

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
March 18, 2009



WASHINGTON: North Korea has rejected American food shipments and asked aid groups to leave the country by the end of the month, the United States and a leading aid agency said, in another sign of tensions as Pyongyang plans a rocket launching that Washington sees as cover for a long-range missile test.

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Robert Wood, said in Washington on Tuesday that the North gave no reason for refusing U.S. food aid. North Korea faces chronic food shortages and has relied on outside aid to help feed its 24 million people since famine reportedly killed as many as two million in the 1990s.

The five aid groups working in North Korea to distribute U.S. food were asked to leave by the end of March, said Joy Portella, a spokeswoman for the international aid agency Mercy Corps. Their distribution program had been scheduled to run until June.

The announcements came during a North Korean nuclear standoff with the international community, and as the United States and others were warning that a rocket launching would trigger international sanctions. The launching is seen as a bid for President Barack Obama's attention as six-nation nuclear disarmament talks remain stalled.

The South Korean unification minister, Hyun In-taek, said on Wednesday in Seoul that he saw North Korea's rejection of U.S. food aid as "an answer" to international opposition to its plans to launch a rocket and as a protest against joint U.S.-South Korean military drills taking place now across South Korea. Mr. Hyun is the cabinet official in charge of relations with North Korea.

Last May, the United States said it would provide 500,000 tons of food to North Korea, although Washington said the assistance was not related to the nuclear issue.

As part of that agreement, the United States delivered 169,000 metric tons to North Korea, with the most recent shipment of 5,000 tons of vegetable oil and corn soy blend arriving in January, Mr. Wood said.

"We're obviously disappointed," he told reporters at the U.S. State Department. "Clearly, this is food assistance that the North Korean people need. That's why we're concerned."

"The food situation in North Korea is not a good one."

North Korea is among the world's poorest countries, with an average per capita income of $1,150 in 2007, the last year for which figures are available, according to South Korea's central bank.

Ms. Portella said the United States had been scheduled to provide 400,000 metric tons of food aid to North Korea through the UN World Food Program, and 100,000 metric tons through the five aid groups, of which her group, Mercy Corps, was the lead distributor.

The aid groups, she said, had distributed 50,000 metric tons of food; another approximately 20,000 tons were in the country but had yet to be handed out.

Previous U.S. food aid to the North stopped after a dispute over a U.S. demand for close involvement in how the aid got distributed. Washington wants assurances that the food is not diverted to the military or the elite.

Mr. Wood said that U.S. humanitarian assistance had nothing to do with deadlocked six-nation negotiations meant to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons. Those talks have stalled over the North's refusal to agree to a process to verify its nuclear weapons program.

Under a 2007 deal, North Korea agreed to disable its main nuclear complex — a step toward its ultimate dismantlement — in return for 1 million tons of fuel oil and other concessions from international negotiators.

More than 70 percent of the promised energy aid has been provided, but Pyongyang has complained that the pace of energy shipments does not match that of its disabling work.