The Antics of the Government Shutdown, Oct 2013

AnticsOfTheShutdownOct2013  <– PDF version

So we’ve had another “partial shutdown” of the federal government.  As usual, the administration did what it could to inconvenience the people for political gain; “essential” government employees worked as usual; and “non-essential” government employees received a two-week taxpayer-paid vacation.  Meanwhile, non-government employees who suffered from slowdowns and furloughs went without.  Situation normal: the ruling elite always look out for themselves and their non-essential government colleagues, first and foremost.  Finally the Democratic faction of the ruling elite came up with a temporary fix on 16 Oct 2013 which will cause the same debate to recur in Jan 2014.  In return, the Republican faction received a promise to negotiate spending cuts from the elitist President that would not even talk to them during the partial shutdown.

This shutdown started when the Republican faction attempted to link de-funding of Obamacare to a continuing resolution; they later reduced their demands to a delay in the individual mandate, but failed in the end to achieve even that.  The Democratic faction spent the two weeks busily claiming the shutdown was a conspiracy by the Republican faction, whimpering non-stop that it was unfair to link Obamacare modifications to a continuing resolution.  But, in their never-ending hypocrisy, the Democratic faction ignored the fact that Obamacare was passed originally as part of a budget resolution.  Therefore every budget bill would naturally allow a challenge to Obamacare.  The blame-stream media of course castigated the Republican faction at every turn.  What else should be expected from institutions that behave as if they were entirely owned and operated by the Democratic faction?

But the Republican faction is equally hypocritical when they pretend that they would behave any differently than the Democrats if Obamacare had been their idea.  After all, the main purpose of the law is to transfer power to the government by regulating the distribution of health care services, and the Republican faction desires the expansion of government power just as much as the Democratic faction.  As always, it is the people who lose out; in this case, the people will, in the long run, end up with lower quality or lesser quantity at a higher cost, typical of every one-size-fits-all government program.  If the problems signing up for Obamacare so far are any indication, the law is even worse than the analysts concluded.  Good thing the Democrats didn’t read it before they passed it — now they have plausible deniability.

The ruling elite cannot or will not do their jobs because they do not have the discipline to impose a budget process, hence the need for continuing resolutions.  This is especially true of the Republicans, who control the House of Representatives from whence all funding bills must originate.  In this instance the budget problem was coupled with a need to raise the debt limit because the government would be technically unable to meet all its obligations around the 17th of Oct 2013.  Once again, the hypocrisy of the administration was in full vigor, claiming that the U. S. would have defaulted on Treasury obligations (i.e., to pay interest on the debt) on that date.  But there is sufficient cash flow from the never-ending cascade of federal taxes being paid every month to cover those interest payments.  What Mr. Obama really meant was that the government would not be able to both service the debt and make full payouts on all the social programs, corporate welfare, and excessive regulation which the ruling elite together has imposed on the people.

In reality, both factions wanted a shutdown.  The Republicans wanted it for two reasons: a) to embarrass the President into allowing a cancellation of his signature “achievement”; and 2) draw attention to the excessive government spending (except for the part they voted for).  The Democrats also wanted it for two reasons: a) to distract attention from the scandal-of-the-week; and b) let the blame-stream media paint the Republicans as extremists for political advantage.

Look no further to the ruling elites in Washington for “leadership” or “solutions”.  If it’s not in the Marxist Handbook, the Democrats cannot understand it.  If it requires working together for a sensible objective, the Republicans cannot pull it off.  The good news is that they get to do it all again in a few months.

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Regarding the Policy Toward Syria

RegardingThePolicyTowardSyria   <–  PDF version

The civil war in Syria has been in progress for about 30 months, and an estimated 100,000 people have been killed thus far.  The U. S. government has claimed to have evidence that the national forces in Syria loyal to President Bashar Assad used some form of chemical weapon on 21 Aug 2013 in a suburb of Damascus, resulting in the deaths of 1429 people, of which 426 were children.  This information was detailed in an unclassified document released by an unidentified component of U. S.intelligence services, according to U. S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry on 30 Aug 2013.  Members of Congress and the administration have been given further classified briefings on the subject.  In Mr. Kerry’s address, he cited “clear and compelling” evidence that Mr. Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons, noting America has an “obligation to act”, and that “Assad must be punished for his crime against humanity”.  President Obama stated on 31 Aug 2013 that that America must “hold the Assad regime accountable for the use of chemical weapons” in order to confirm the “writ of the international community” against the use of those weapons.  Although he did not mention it, presumably Mr. Obama was referring to prohibitions on the use of chemical weapons per two treaties, The Geneva Protocol and the Chemical Weapons Convention [1, 2].  The President also claimed that America “can not and will not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus”; that “this menace must be confronted”; and that although he had unilateral authority to attack Syria in response, he would seek authorization from Congress when it returned from summer vacation on 9 Sep 2013.

On 1 Sep 2013, Mr. Kerry further stated that “we do not grant impunity to a ruthless dictator to gas his own people”.  Senator Jack Reed likewise stated that America must “vindicate this principle of international law” against the use of chemical weapons; and former Senator Joseph Lieberman called Mr. Assad a “mass murderer”.

Mr. Obama has clarified the extent of any military action, saying a) it will be of a limited duration, b) it will not cause any U. S troops to be deployed in-country, and c) it will not seek to overturn the government of Mr. Assad.  According to public reports, these limitations imply that any U. S. attack on Syria will involve only cruise missiles, likely targeted at either chemical weapons factories or air bases.  The urgent tone of Mr. Kerry’s 30 Aug address, implying that action was imminent, followed by Mr. Obama’s 31 Aug announcement that he will wait nearly two weeks for a Congressional vote has caused some confusion in the Middle East.  The Syrians and their Iranian allies are celebrating an apparent political victory.  The Israeli’s are angry at Mr. Obama’s timidity and question his sincerity about another ultimatum he previously issued regarding Iran’s development of nuclear technology.  The Syrian rebel forces are disappointed but hopeful that a positive vote by Congress will assure them of consistent aid by the American military.  Meanwhile, the British Parliament has denied Prime Minister David Cameron’s request to pursue military action against Syria. France has announced it is in favor of some action, but has declined to say what they are contemplating.

The focus on chemical weapons by the administration derives from a speech given a year ago by Mr. Obama, in which he referred to the use of any chemical weapons by the Syrian regime as a “red line” that would trigger a response by the U. S.  Given the current confusion over the actual policy, it is clear that Mr. Obama issued a “red line” threat without having a firm approved plan in place to act if the red line were crossed.

There is some confusion among the American ruling elite regarding Mr. Obama’s unilateral powers.  Some, like Senator Rand Paul advise Mr. Obama that he requires authorization from Congress.  But there are many others like Representative Peter King, who claims that Mr. Obama “does not need Congress to authorize a strike on Syria”.

Let us consider some facts outside this jungle of rhetoric.  First, it is important to remember that the population of Syria is Arab.  Nearly all Arabs practice the religion of Islam.  The religion of Islam demands a totalitarian government, preferably a religious one.  But most Arab nations are governed by secular dictators, having succeeded in winning the secular tribal wars and neutralizing the active religious elements.  An Arab dictatorship (or an absolute monarchy) is a good thing for Arab nations: these totalitarian governments maintain some semblance of peace and order; otherwise the Arab race would have exterminated itself several centuries ago in intra-Islamic religious warfare.  History shows that the Arab race requires absolute government for its very existence, whether provided by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Turks, or their own domestic tyrants.  The Arab people, with their long and distinguished history, expect the worst from their governments, as they also expect the worst from each other. If in fact Mr. Assad used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, it is not much of a surprise to them.  On the other hand, it will also be no surprise to them if it is found that the rebel forces or Hezbollah used them.

Second, the American people should expect this whole Syrian debate to be a continuing fountain of political hypocrisy by the respective ruling Parties.  If Congress authorizes an attack on Syria, but the President decides not to follow-through, he will be accused of weakness and abandoning Israel.  If Congress authorizes it and he does launch a very limited attack, the President will claim a great moral victory but will in fact accomplish nothing.  If Congress refuses the authorization, and the President attacks anyway, he will justify it as a police action and not an act of war; two weeks later he will claim he went to war to preserve international consensus.  If Congress refuses the authorization and the President abides by it, the ruling elite will have somehow managed by accident to obey the intent of the Constitution (Art. 1, Sec 8).  For any attack upon Syria is an act of war, even if it is limited to cruise missiles.  (If Canada launched cruise missiles against Ft. Drum (Watertown, NY), or Mexico against Ft. Bliss(El Paso TX), both would surely be regarded as acts of war by the entire ruling elite.)  The U. S. Constitution was founded on the notion of just war in the interest of the American people, not the interest of people fighting in foreign civil wars; nor to satisfy the moral conscience or ambition of government officials.  As John Jay wrote in The Federalist #3:

Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their safety seems to be the first.  The safety of the people doubtless has relation to a great variety of circumstances and considerations, and consequently affords great latitude to those who wish to define it precisely and comprehensively.

At present I mean only to consider it as it respects security for the preservation of peace and tranquility, as well as against dangers from foreign arms and influence, as from dangers of the like kind arising from domestic causes.  As the former of these comes first in order, it is proper it should be the first to be discussed.  Let us therefore proceed to examine whether the people are not right in their opinion that a cordial Union, under an efficient national government, affords them the best security that can be devised against hostilities from abroad.

The number of wars which have happened or will happen in the world will always be found to be in proportion to the number and weight of the causes, whether real or pretended, which provoke or invite them.  If this remark be just, it becomes useful to inquire whether so many just causes of war are likely to be given by United America as by disunited America; for if it should turn out that United America will probably give the fewest, then it will follow that in this respect the Union tends most to preserve the people in a state of peace with other nations.

The just causes of war, for the most part, arise either from violations of treaties or from direct violence. America has already formed treaties with no less than six foreign nations, and all of them, except Prussia, are maritime, and therefore able to annoy and injure us.  She has also extensive commerce with Portugal, Spain, and Britain, and, with respect to the two latter, has, in addition, the circumstance of neighborhood to attend to.

It is of high importance to the peace of America that she observe the laws of nations towards all these powers, and to me it appears evident that this will be more perfectly and punctually done by one national government than it could be either by thirteen separate states or by three or four distinct confederacies.

Jay’s main argument is that the thirteen states would be better able to obey treaty provisions, and to negotiate better ones, if united under the Constitution than by entering into treaties individually.  Likewise a united nation will be better prepared to respond appropriately to violations of treaties by foreign powers.  We can discover the meaning of “the law of nations” from the same source as the Founding Fathers did, the eminent English jurist William Blackstone [3]:

If man were to live in a state of nature, unconnected with other individuals, there would be no occasion for any other laws than the law of nature [morality, or the duty towards one's neighbor], and the law of God.  Neither could any other law possibly exist: for a law always supposes some superior who is to make it; and, in a state of nature, we are all equal, without any other superior but Him who is the author of our being.  But man was formed for society; and, as is demonstrated by the writers on this subject, is neither capable of living alone, nor indeed has the courage to do it.  However, as it is impossible for the whole race of mankind to be united in one great society, they must necessarily divide into many, and form separate states, commonwealths, and nations, entirely independent of each other, and yet liable to a mutual intercourse.  Hence arises a third kind of law to regulate this mutual intercourse, called “the law of nations”, which as none of these states will acknowledge a superiority in the other, cannot be dictated by any, but depends entirely upon the rules of natural law, or upon mutual compacts, treaties, leagues, and agreements between these several communities: in the construction also of which compacts we have no other rule to resort to, but the law of nature; being the only one to which all the communities are equally subject …”

These show that committing an act of war against Syria is justifiable under only two circumstances: a) if Syria were to attack the U. S. directly; or b)Syria had violated the terms of a treaty and the violation is either against the U. S. directly, or obligates the U. S.to defend other signatories.  Neither case arises here: a) Syria clearly did not attack the U. S.; and b) secondly, neither of the aforementioned treaties prohibits the use of chemical weapons in a domestic conflict, nor do they obligate any signatory to respond to any use in violation thereof.

If the U. S. does attack Syria, it will do so only because our ruling elite has arrogated to itself the power to regulate the internal affairs of other nations.  The President has claimed that such an attack, if accomplished, will not involve an actual invasion.  But these so-called minor military adventures sometimes expand in scope as recent history has proved.  We should also remember that if a great power like the U. S. attacks a minor power like Syria to interfere in a civil war, the U. S.will end up with imputed responsibility for the outcome.  A previous paper [4] provided a crude means to estimate the cost and duration of full-scale wars as fought in Iraq and Afghanistan; for such a war in Syria, the cost would come to about $ 179 billion, and the duration would be about 2.7 years.

[1]        The Geneva Protocol, formally known as the “Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare”, was signed 7 Sep 1925.  The U. S. abided by the provisions of the Protocol, but was not formally ratified by the U. S. Senate until 16 Dec 1974.

[2]        The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits production and use of chemical weapons, provides for scheduled destruction of chemical weapons, but contains no provision for punishment of violators.  It was signed 13 Jan 1993 and ratified by the U. S. Senate ratified 24 Apr 1997.

[3]        Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1765, Vol. I, p. 43; the sections in square brackets are summaries of Blackstone’s footnotes.

[4]        Edward D. Duvall, Formulas for Estimating the Costs of War, 24 Mar 2012.  For Syria, the value of f is 4, and g is 6.25.  Syria’s area is 186.4 sq. km and its population is 22.53 million.  See archives for Mar 2012 at http://edduvall.com, or directly at  http://0336a2b.netsolhost.com/WordPress/?m=201203

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The Prospects for Immigration Reform

TheProspectsForImmigrationReform   <– PDF version

The Congress of the United States is currently considering a bill to “reform” our immigration system.  The “reform” bill is based on a set of recommendations made by eight Senators (Democrats Bennet (CO), Durbin (IL), Menendez (FL), and Schumer (NY); Republicans Flake (AZ), Graham (SC), McCain (AZ), and Rubio (FL)).  These illustrious gentlemen have assured us many times that they desire only to fix our broken immigration system, provide legal standing to everyone, and enhance our future prosperity.  The core of the problem, which has existed since at least the Carter administration (1977 – 1981) and probably before that, is that a great many foreigners have either entered the U. S. in violation of the immigration laws, or have entered legally but remained in the U. S. after their visas have expired.  So the appropriate answer to this problem, as the honorable gentlemen propose, is to change the law to accommodate the lawbreakers; all 10, 20, 30, or 40 million of them, depending on whose number you believe.  (No one knows the real number except the ruling elite, and they aren’t saying.)

Let’s consider the provisions of the proposed legislation.  It sets up an administrative system which is tasked with implementing the following changes:

1.  Persons in the country illegally shall be required to:

a. Register their presence with the federal government;

b. undergo a background check; and

c. obtain a work permit.

When these are accomplished, they may remain in the U. S. and continue working and collecting social welfare benefits.

2.  After registration and obtaining the work permit, persons now here illegally shall:

a. Pay a fine;

b. be required to pay income taxes;

c. be required to learn English;

d. be required to wait ten years before applying for a green card (which would grant them permanent legal residence, in addition to the permanent legal residence conferred by the work permit).

3.  After “going to the back of the line” and waiting for everyone else that came to this country legally has been served, the persons now here illegally, having gone through the above process, shall be eligible to apply for citizenship.

4.  A nationwide e-verify employment system shall be implemented (such that only persons in the country legally can be employed).

5.  750 miles of fencing along the border shall be constructed;

6.  20,000 new Border Patrol agents are to be hired;

7.  Surveillance of the border with Mexico shall be increased.

8.  These reforms are to be fully funded, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shall not be able to change the provisions thereof.

We all know that the opinions of regular Americans do not matter.  Even casting aside what the American people want, there are two big problem areas with this legislation.  First, the vast majority of persons now here illegally probably will not sign up for it on the grounds that it would deprive them of advantages they already enjoy.  Secondly, our foremost Hispanic hate group, the National Council of Ku Klux La Raza “The Race” will do everything they can to prevent people from signing up for it on the grounds that it offers too little.

Let’s look at it from the standpoint of a typical person here illegally.  How many persons in this category are subjected to a background check?  None — they can live and work freely undetected and have been doing so for upwards of 25 years.  How many persons in this category are being audited by the IRS?  None — they do not pay income taxes nor do they file any forms.  How many persons in this category are standing in line at the Motor Vehicle Bureau?  None — they are not required to register their cars, nor get licenses, nor are they inconvenienced by the expense of obtaining car insurance.  How many in this category are deprived of health care?  None — they are not inconvenienced by the expense of health insurance, yet obtain free health care at every hospital.  How many persons in this category have to stand idly by while their children grow up deprived of an education?  None — all children are eligible for public education regardless of their legal status or that of their parents.  Why would a person in this category volunteer to learn English, which is to them a foreign language?  Why would they sign up to be investigated?  Why would they sign up to pay a fine they currently do not have to pay?  Why would they sign up to pay taxes from which they are currently exempt?  Why would they volunteer to stand in line at the Motor Vehicle Bureau?  Should this offer become law, I believe the vast majority of the people now here illegally will view it as nothing more than a series of unwarranted demands.  Our ruling elite seem to have forgotten that most of the people here illegally are proud of their heritage and are proud to be citizens of their native countries.  They may not be willing to trade that in for a promise of a future green card; they likely will become resentful about being pressured to Americanize.  They have demonstrated their preference by failing generally to assimilate into American society.

Let’s look at it from the standpoint of the National Council of Ku Klux la Raza “The Race” (working motto: “Por la Raza, todo.  Por los otros, nada”, which in translation means: “For us, everything.  For the lying cheating contemptible racist lowlife yankee gringos, nothing”).  While this proposed legislation caves in to a great many of the Council’s traditional demands, the Council probably has four main issues with it.  First, it does not grant automatic first-class citizenship status (with preferential voting and candidacy rights) to persons now here illegally.  Second, it does not require Americans to learn Spanish.  Third, it does not grant the Council any legal regulatory powers over American citizens.  Fourth, it does not directly cede any territory to Mexico.  The first and second will certainly come to pass in due time, but not fast enough for the Council.  The third will probably occur as part of the implementing regulations, but it is not guaranteed.  The fourth is unlikely to occur, since no federal government official wants to preside over a loss of territory, and thus a loss of power.  Bottom line, this proposal simply does not give the Council enough.

Why would our ruling elite put forth a proposal contrary to the wishes of most Americans in such a way that it is likely to be rejected even by the very people it is intended to benefit?  It turns out that the two factions of the ruling elite have different motives.  The Democratic faction has four objectives. First, it is desperate to obtain greater tax revenue.  Second, it wants a steady supply of uneducated people that can be cheaply employed as maids and servants in their mansions, as well as a healthy supply of cheap labor for their corporate friends.  Third, they expect to find a way to confer citizenship quickly, and expect that the new citizens will vote Democratic as have most new citizens of the past.  Fourth, they desire these new residents/citizens to apply for more social welfare benefits, thus transferring control of their lives to the government.  The Republican faction has more modest goals.  It too wants to expand the tax base.  It also wants cheap labor for its corporate cronies.  But it also hopes that the newly minted citizens, being largely of the Catholic faith, will side with them on the abortion debate.  It also expects (contrary to the Marxist view held by the Democrats) that the new residents will use their new-found property rights as Americans to establish independent small businesses and help the economy grow.

The important point for us Americans to remember is that we should not blame the people now here illegally as if this situation were entirely their fault.  We were born in America with all its benefits.  Most of the people now here illegally were born in countries that are pathologically corrupt wastelands; lorded over by a merciless armed Marxist plutocracy; the common person having no prospect of obtaining any type of civil or property rights.  Second, the traditional peasant farmer was once able to support his family with his relatively primitive agricultural methods.  But no matter how uneducated he may be, he is still smart enough (smarter than our ruling elite) to recognize that he cannot compete with American and Canadian mechanized agriculture; he was in essence forced off his land because the former customers for his small surplus can buy much cheaper now due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Illegal immigration increased dramatically after the passage of NAFTA.  This immigration-reform proposal is nothing more than a big-government/big-corporation band-aid that pretends to fix an immigration problem caused by NAFTA, another big-government/big-corporation idea.  So the ruling elite parties on.

There are other shortcomings in the bill as well, considered from the American viewpoint.  Most of the people now here illegally overstayed their visa, which the Border Patrol does not enforce.  There is no provision for expanding the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which does have jurisdiction over visas.  The 750 miles of fence is but a small fraction of the border with Mexico, and there is no guarantee that even these 750 miles will be contiguous, or will be constructed in high-traffic crossing areas, or will be monitored.

The nationwide e-verify program is a nullity on its face.  It is already illegal to hire people who are not legal residents; they simply make day-to-day contracts for cash.  Nothing will change with a nationwide e-verify, except it will be an exceedingly useful tool for the IRS to use against American citizens.  Last but not least, Congress can restrict the legal discretion of DHS all they want, but DHS will ignore the law as they please — what will Congress do about it, de-fund DHS?

The proper legislative course of action is:

a. Repeal NAFTA

b. Grant permanent legal status to all persons now here illegally without prejudice (since they aren’t leaving anyway, regardless of the law)

c. Militarize the border with Mexico commensurate with border infractions

d. Fully fund ICE to enforce the visa laws

e. Prohibit permanently application for U. S. citizenship to all persons now here illegally

f. Reduce annual immigration quotas from all nations commensurate with the number of persons now here illegally holding citizenship of that respective nation; increase immigration quotas from nations whose citizens have thus far obeyed our immigration laws.  This policy shall continue for 100 years.

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Toward a Progressive America: IRS Reform

TowardAProgressiveAmericaIRSReform   <– PDF version

We have all heard by now of the infamous Internal Revenue Service Inspector General’s (IG) report, in which the IRS routinely targeted Christians, TEA Party organizations, and non-progressives in general. The cause of the targeting was allegedly to prevent or delay tax-exempt status to those opposed to the current progressive regime, and to harass contributors to those organizations through IRS audits.  It appeared at first that it may have been limited to “one or two rogue agents in Cincinnati”, but to our relief it has recently become apparent that this progressive policy was enacted throughout the IRS.  But the media attention has gotten so bad that some people are actually making derogatory comments about the IRS.  This is not a good situation.  It is very important in a progressive society that the regulatory employees of government institutions be perceived as trusted servants of the people.  After all, if the people can’t trust an organization with absolute arbitrary power like the IRS, who can they trust?  As one of the most successful progressives of the 20th century said [1, 2]:

All our cadres, whatever their rank, are servants of the people, and whatever we do is to serve the people.  How then can we be reluctant to discard any of our bad traits?

Our duty is to hold ourselves responsible to the people.  Every word, every act, and every policy must conform to the people’s interests, and if mistakes occur, they must be corrected — that is what being responsible to the people means.

The blind unwavering trust in government, so necessary in progressive societies, has been compromised by these recent rumors of misconduct within the IRS.  We must hold the IRS responsible in a progressive way.  It is evident that the IG (Mr. J. Russell George) has failed in his duty to uphold the prestige of the IRS, whose primary goal is to promote freedom among the American people.  If we are going to have a progressive society, this is the thing that must be corrected.  I believe a small organizational change will suffice.

The core of the problem is that the IRS is a very large organization.  It is simply not possible even for senior managers and leaders to know about and control all the activities that may be the subject of a complaint by reactionary taxpayers.  When these problems do occur, or when the exceedingly rare mistake is actually made, they should be handled privately outside the hearing of non-progressive reactionaries and their media accomplices.  It should be a simple matter for the IRS to simply abolish the Office of Inspector General; but the least that should be done is to centralize the handling of all complaints in a single department capable of coordinating a unified defensive response among the various divisions of the IRS.  Its main function would be to give the people confidence that the IRS is performing its duties with the utmost integrity.  It is the most efficient way consistent with progressive principles to correct “mistakes” and be “responsible to the people”.  Another benefit is that the FBI will not have to be inconvenienced by “investigating” the alleged abuses of power in the IRS.  After all, there will be no need for investigations once the IRS has taken the above steps to eradicate all of its “bad traits”.

[1]        Mao Tse-Tung, “The Tasks for 1945″, 15 Dec 1944

[2]        Mao Tse-Tung, “The Situation and Our Policy After the Victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan”, Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 16 (13 Aug 1945)

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