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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Congress wants to spend $6 billion more on healthcare, but here’s a good suggestion for them

Congress wants to spend $6 billion more on healthcare, but here’s a good suggestion for them

November 30, 2016 by 

Congress, you need to stop. Like, really.  Just stop.
With the release of a 1,000-page health care spending bill, the Republican-heavy Congress has proved it has no interest in shrinking the size of the federal government.
Despite spending a majority of the Obama administration criticizing the Affordable Care Act for increasing Washington DC’s footprint, House leaders now appear no different than their Democratic counterparts who crammed the law through without any consideration for the consequences. (Remember, “We have to pass it to see what’s in it?”) Even more concerning is why the GOP is forcing this bill through with a new administration looming; especially one that has promised to repeal Obamacare and its wasteful habits.
And what is the name of this new bill? The 21st Century Cures Act, which is ironic because it’s not going to cure what really ails this country: the fat-cat lobbyists and politicians who will be the primary beneficiaries of such an act.
Daniel Horowitz explains what’s packed in the bill and how they plan to pay for it at Conservative Review:
Despite all the hand-wringing about partisan fighting in Washington, the “21st Century Cures Act” is a quintessential example of the two liberal parties coming together to grow the federal government, increase rather than decrease spending, give handouts to all their respective lobbyists, and sell the bill as the next step to curing cancer. In short, it represents everything wrong with Washington.
The $6.3 billion package contains $4.8 billion in extra funding for the NIH [National Institute of Health] to further research cancer, brain cells, and precision medicine. It also gives the FDA another $500 million to move drugs and medical devices to patients more quickly, and a billion dollars in grants to states to combat the “opioid crisis.”
As is always the case, the bill’s authors have concocted a hodgepodge of notional accounting gimmicks to “pay for” the cost of the bill. Not a single government program is eliminated to offset the cost of this new spending; rather the bill relies on receipts from selling off our Strategic Oil Reserves over ten years to pay for this bill. Using the Strategic Oil Reserves as a private piggybank to pay off lobbyists in order to grow government has become the new go-to source for “spending offsets.”
A similar version of this bill passed in the House just last year, but the new version has grown three times the size of the original. If the new version passes, the Department of Health and Human Resources will have billions of dollars coursing through its veins much like the very opioid addicts the bill vows to cure. It will be a non-stop taxpayer-funded binge, and Washington will never want to come off of that high.
Though the bill contains some reforms to the FDA and Bill Clinton’s 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, it’s canceled out by the billions in new spending. Much like the outgoing liberal administration, Republican leaders are selling the bill with keywords like “health” and “cure” in an effort to make the medicine go down easier. But the American people have spoken, and they elected a new administration which promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. When the “conservatives” in Washington won’t act like conservatives, how can they claim to be the party of small government ever again?
I’ll let Horowitz have the last word:
Rather than canceling the lame duck session and saving this endeavor for a new GOP mandate next year, House Republicans plan to drop this complex, multifaceted bill on the floor on Wednesday.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Why fears of a "runaway convention" can "finally be abandoned"

Posted by Rodney Dodsworth on October 11, 2016

Over the course of my three years in support of an Article V State Convention to propose amendments, a regular fear expressed by Article V opponents is that the convention will conduct itself in the same Animal House atmosphere of our sorry US Congress. While no one can predict the future of such things with certainty, recent experience points to a different place, one where ladies and gentlemen firmly, yet decorously, stood to express the will of the state legislatures that commissioned them to restore the American republic.
I wouldn’t have bothered with this post had not 137 commissioners from fifty states convened this past September at Williamsburg in a simulated convention of the states. The great and feared red, blue, and purple divide that threatens to tear our nation asunder was . . . gone! Where was the runaway convention so feared by the John Birch Society and Eagle Forum? State commissioners rose to the occasion and conducted themselves as if the eye of history was actually upon them.
At the risk of being admonished here for posting excerpts from a ratifying convention and drawing comparisons from it to a still-to-happen state convention to propose amendments, I think the analogy is legitimate. Passions run high in any gathering of strong willed people; they must be restrained and directed toward productive work. That is the essence of the often demanding job description of those who lead conventions, their presidents.
Every organization takes on the character and demeanor of its leaders. From the parents of a family, to the CEO of a corporation, to the President of the United States, they all, for better or for worse, have great influence over their institutions. Here, I wish to highlight the psychological environments set up by convention presidents Edmund Pendleton at Virginia's ratifying convention in 1788, and Utah state representative Ken Ivory at Williamsburg in 2016.
Richmond 1788. Sixty-seven-year-old Edmund Pendleton thanked the convention for electing him, despite his known physical infirmities and decline in mental powers. He assured the delegates he would execute his duties to the best of his ability, so as to prevent any dishonor or inconvenience to the convention.
Edmund Pendleton:
“Order and decorum in the deliberations of all public bodies is absolutely necessary, not only to preserve their dignity, but that reason and argument may have their proper effect in decision, and not be lost in confusion and disorder. You have made it my duty to be the centinel over order, and endeavors to preserve it shall not be wanting. But those will be wholly ineffectual, unless assisted by your example and support, which I shall therefore confidently hope for.”
He reminded the delegates that they were trustees for the citizens of Virginia, which required their most serious attention. Since they all had the same end in view, they should calmly reason with one another as friends. Strive to avoid all heats, intemperance, and personal altercations, which always impede and never assist fair investigation.
As the signers to the Declaration of Independence appealed to the “Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of (their) Intentions,” Edmund Pendleton hoped the Virginia Ratifying Convention may reasonably “stand justified in (its) decision, whatever it may be, to those we act for, God and The World.”
Williamsburg 2016. Convention president Ken Ivory of Utah thanked the assembled commissioners for the honor of electing him. Prior to the convention, he visited Monticello and Montpelier. Along with a few other commissioners, they sat in the room where James Madison drafted the Virginia Plan of Government, and took in the enormity of what took place there.
He compared our governing form to a near broken-down bicycle. In previous times, when it was maintained, it operated as designed. Today, the federal tire is so bloated that it may explode at any time, while the state tire is so flat that it’s about the chew the tire from the rim.
He invoked The Federalist #51, in which James Madison stressed separation of powers, structural checks and balances. In the machinery of the Framers’ system, the power of the sovereign people was divided into two spheres, like a bicycle’s two tires. When the machinery of a bicycle or government is near collapse, changing the rider or president is not a solution to the problem.
Representative Ivory said, “I would submit to you that the Founders, knowing like every good bicyclist that goes out for a long ride, you’re going to need a repair kit. You’re going to need tools and patch kits and pumps and a multi-tool, because they knew that there would need to be repair and maintenance on that system the more it was used. George Washington said, ‘We left the door open, we left the constitutional door open.’ And the constitutional tool they left is Article V. Article V of the Constitution is the multi-tool to repair and amend and maintain the system. Not personality, not policy. We have a system problem.”
Citing W. Edwards Deming, Rep Ivory said, “Every system is perfectly designed to achieve the results it gets.” Our system in disrepair is designed to achieve trillion-dollar a year deficits, $20 trillion in debt, 90,000 pages of regulation, 5,000 federal felonies. We also have a system designed to achieve the necessary repairs, and you all swore an oath, as you were intended to be constitutional officers, to work on the system. That’s you. That’s the people you represent. As I was walking from here to grab my binder after breakfast, someone that’s just staying in the hotel said, “What are you all doing here?” I said, “We’re Commissioners from every one of the states, here to exercise our oath to repair and maintain the system.” He said, “I’m so glad. I’m so glad. Please, do that job. We need it so badly.”
President Ivory closed with, “Commissioners, the winds of change are about to blow. You swore an oath, and as James Madison said in introducing the Bill of Rights, ‘The state legislatures will be the sure guardians of the people’s liberty. They will be able to resist the federal encroachments with more effect than any other power on earth can do, because they are the sure guardians of the people’s liberty.’ Today, as we work, please, let’s work diligently, because we are the sure guardians of the people’s liberty. Thank you very much, thank you for being here. I’m honored that there are so many people willing to stand up for the liberty of my children. I know that the nation has its eyes on you. Thank you for being here. Let’s get to work.”
Upon the close of the simulated convention, New Mexico State Representative Yvette Herrell reported, “What I found amazing about the simulated convention was the commissioner’s dedication to the process. It was remarkable to witness the level of participation and the various conversations happening throughout the convention floor. We took our responsibilities as commissioners seriously, as if to collectively exhibit to the nation that Liberty is alive and well, that through the Article V process, state legislators can succeed in amending the Constitution in a way that is safe and meaningful. Above all else, we exemplified that fears of a runaway convention can finally be abandoned.”
We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States. Sign our COS Petition.
Reference: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin. (1990). The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Volume IX Virginia. Madison: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Friday, September 2, 2016

(What’s Left of) Our Economy: Can the U.S. Chamber Put One & One Together on Trade?

(What’s Left of) Our Economy: Can the U.S. Chamber Put One & One Together on Trade?

I’ve long urged trade policy critics (including Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump) to stop questioning the intelligence of globalization cheerleaders. Especially, when we’re talking about offshoring-happy multinational corporations and their hired guns in Washington, I’ve insisted, they’ve known exactly what they’ve been doing – pushing the trade and other international economic policies likeliest to reward the companies with the biggest profits in the shortest time-frame.
True, the longer-term effects have produced losses for many of them – especially since the immense imbalances resulting from these policies helped trigger the financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession, which at least initially hit earnings and stock prices. But charges of stupidity don’t seem valid even in this regard, since most of the American economic system’s incentives discourage long-term thinking.
A new U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, however, could justify a rethink. For it’s a great example of an organization ignoring evidence that’s been staring it in the face for literally decades – and that’s become especially glaring recently. Moreover, it inadvertently validates the claim made by American politicians like Trump that major numbers of manufacturing jobs could be returned to the United States if Washington only mustered the will to do so.
The Chamber, of course, has been one of the most powerful mainstays of the overlapping corporate offshoring and cheap labor lobbies, and this morning released a study bemoaning the worldwide growth of what’s often called “techno-protectionism.” That is, more and more countries have been working harder and harder to promote their own domestic information technology industries through a variety of new regulations that the Chamber rightly notes have cloaked simple beggar-thy-neighbor aims in national security rationales.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Excerpts from American Enterprise Institute’s Panel Discussion on Article V with Panelist Antonin Scalia

Excerpts from American Enterprise Institute’s Panel Discussion on Article V with Panelist Antonin Scalia

May 23, 1979 
p. 5
MR. DALY: All right. Professor Scalia, Richard Rovere in the New Yorker, suggested that the convention method of amendment might reinstate segregation and even slavery, throw out much or all of the Bill of Rights, eliminate the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause, reverse any Supreme Court decision the members didn't like, and perhaps for good measure, eliminate the Supreme Court, itself. [Laughter.] Now, what would you anticipate from an unlimited convention?
ANTONIN SCALIA, professor of law, University of Chicago: I suppose it might even pass a bill of attainder to hang Richard Rovere. [Laughter.] All those things are possible, I suppose, just as it is possible that the Congress tomorrow might pass a law abolishing social security as of the next day, or eliminating Christmas. Such things are possible, remotely possible. I have no fear that such extreme proposals would come out of a constitutional convention. Surely, whether that risk is sufficient to cause anyone to be opposed to a constitutional convention depends on how high we think the risk is and how necessary we think the convention is. If we thought the Congress were not necessary for any other purpose, the risk that it might abolish social security would probably be enough to tell its members to go home. So, it really comes down to whether we think a constitutional convention is necessary. I think it is necessary for some purposes, and I am willing to accept what seems to me a minimal risk of intemperate action.The founders inserted this alternative method of obtaining constitutional amendments because they knew the Congress would be unwilling to give attention to many issues the people are concerned with, particularly those involving restrictions on the federal government's own power. The founders foresaw that and they provided the convention as a remedy. If the only way to get that convention is to take this minimal risk, then it is a reasonable one.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bitcoin Wins in Court

Bitcoin Wins in Court

On July 25, Miami-Dade Florida circuit judge Teresa Pooler dismissed money-laundering charges against Michell Espinoza, a local bitcoin seller. The decision is a welcome pause on the road to financial serfdom.

It is a small setback for authorities who want to fight crime (victimless or otherwise) by criminalizing and tracking the “laundering” of the proceeds, and who unreasonably want to do the tracking by eliminating citizens’ financial privacy, that is, by unrestricted tracking of their subjects’ financial accounts and activities. The US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is today the headquarters of such efforts.

As an Atlanta Fed primer reminds us, the authorities’ efforts are built upon the Banking Secrecy Act (BSA) of 1970. (A franker label would be the Banking Anti-Secrecy Act). The Act has been supplemented and amended many times by Congress, particularly by Title III of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, and expanded by diktats of the Federal Reserve and FinCEN. The laws and regulations on the books today have “established requirements for recordkeeping and reporting of specific transactions, including the identity of an individual engaged in the transaction by banks and other FIs [financial institutions].”

These requirements are collectively known as Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) rules.
In particular, banks and other financial institutions are required to obey “Customer Identification Program” (CIP) protocols (aka “know your customer”), which require them to verify and record identity documents for all customers, and to “flag suspicious customers’ accounts.” Banks and financial institutions must submit “Currency Transaction Reports” (CTRs) on any customers’ deposits, withdrawals, or transfers of $10,000 or more.

To foreclose the possibility of people using unmonitored non-banks to make transfers, FinCEN today requires non-depository “money service businesses” (MSBs) – which FinCEN defines to include “money transmitters” like Western Union and issuers of prepaid cards like Visa – also to know their customers. Banks and MSBs must file “Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs)” on transactions above $5000 that may be associated with money-laundering or other criminal activity. Individuals must also file reports.

Carrying $10,000 or more into or out of the US triggers a “Currency or Monetary Instrument Report” (CMIR).” Any US citizen who has $10,000 or more in foreign financial accounts, even if it never moves, must annually file “Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Reports (FBARs).”

In addition, state governments license money transmitters and impose various rules on their licensees.

When most of these rules were enacted, before 2009, there were basically only three convenient (non-barter) conduits for making a large-value payment. If Smith wanted to transfer $10,000 to Jones, he could do so in person using cash, which would typically involve a large withdrawal followed by a large deposit, triggering CTRs. He could make the transfer remotely using deposit transfer through the banking system, triggering CTRs or SARs if suspicious. Or he could use a service like Western Union or Moneygram, again potentially triggering SARs.

For the time being, the authorities had the field pretty well covered.

The Bitcoin "Loophole"
Now come Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Cash is of course still a face-to-face option. But today if Smith wants to transfer $10,000 remotely to Jones, he need not go to a bank or Western Union office. He can accomplish the task by (a) purchasing $10,000 in Bitcoin, (b) transferring the BTC online to Jones, and (c) letting Jones sell them for dollars (or not).

The authorities would of course like to plug this “loophole.” But the internet, unlike the interbank clearing system, is not a limited-access conduit whose users can be commandeered to track and report on its traffic. No financial institution is involved in a peer-to-peer bitcoin transfer. Granted, Smith will have a hard time purchasing $10,000 worth of Bitcoins without using a bank deposit transfer to pay for them, which pings the authorities, but in principle he could quietly buy them in person with cash.

Accordingly, “attempting to fit the sale of Bitcoin into a statutory scheme regulating money services businesses is like fitting a square peg in a round hole.”

In the recent legal case, it appears that this possibility for unmonitored transfers was noticed by Detective Ricardo Arias of the Miami Beach Police Department, who “became intrigued” and presumably alarmed upon learning about Bitcoin at a meeting with the US Secret Service’s Miami Electronic Crimes Task Force.

Detective Arias and Special Agent Gregory Ponzi decided to investigate cash-for-Bitcoin sales in South Florida. (I take details about the case from Judge Pooler’s decision in State of Florida v. Michell Abner Espinoza (2016).) Arias and Ponzi went to localbitcoins.com to find a seller willing to make a cash sale face-to-face. Acting undercover, Arias contacted one Michell Espinoza, apparently chosen because his hours were flexible.

Arias purchased $500 worth of Bitcoin at their first meeting in a Miami Beach coffee shop, and later purchased $1000 worth at a meeting in a Haagen-Daaz ice cream shop in Miami. Arias tried to make a third purchase for $30,000 in a hotel room where surveillance cameras had been set up, but Espinoza rightly suspected that the currency offered was counterfeit, and refused it.

At that meeting, immediately after the failed purchase, Espinoza was arrested. He was charged with one count of unlawfully operating a money services business without a State of Florida license, and two counts of money laundering under Florida law.

Bitcoin vs Money Laundering Rules
Judge Pooler threw out all three charges. Evaluating her arguments as a monetary economist, I find that some are insightful, while others are beside the point or confused. On the charge that Espinoza illegally operated an unlicensed money services business, she correctly noted that Bitcoin is not widely accepted in exchange for goods and thus “has a long way to go before it is the equivalent of money.”

Accordingly, “attempting to fit the sale of Bitcoin into a statutory scheme regulating money services businesses is like fitting a square peg in a round hole.” However she also offered less compelling reasons for concluding that Bitcoin is not money, namely that it is not “backed by anything” and is “certainly not tangible wealth and cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars.” Federal Reserve notes are money without being backed by anything, and bank deposits are money despite being intangible. Gold bars are today not money (commonly accepted as a medium of exchange).

Judge Pooler further correctly noted that Espinoza did not receive currency for the purpose of transmitting it (or its value) to any third party on his customer’s behalf, as Western Union does. He received cash only as a seller of Bitcoin. Nor, she held, does Bitcoin fall into any of the categories under Florida’s statutory definition of a “payment instrument,” so Espinoza was not operating a money services business as defined by the statute.

Bitcoin is indeed not a payment instrument as defined by the statue because it is not a fixed sum of “monetary value” in dollars like the categories of instruments that are listed by the statute. It is an asset with a floating dollar price, like a share of stock.

If even casual individual Bitcoin sellers like Espinoza must also register as MSBs, that will spell the end to legal local Bitcoin-for-cash trades.

Here Judge Pooler accepted a key defense argument (basically, “the defendant was not transmitting money, but only selling a good for money”) that was rejected by Judge Collyer in U.S. v. E-Gold (2008). In the e-gold system, Smith could purchase and readily transfer to Jones claims to units of gold held at e-gold’s warehouse. Federal officials successfully busted e-gold for “transmitting money” without the proper licenses.

Judge Collyer accepted the prosecution’s argument that selling gold to Smith, providing a vehicle for him to transfer it to Jones, and buying it back from Jones is tantamount to transmitting money from Smith to Jones. Of course the Espinoza case is different in that Espinoza did not provide a vehicle for transmitting Bitcoin to a third party, nor did he buy Bitcoin from any third party.

On the charge of money laundering, Judge Pooler found that there was no evidence that Espinoza acted with the intent to promote illicit activity or disguise its proceeds. Further, Florida law is too vague to know whether it applies to Bitcoin transactions.

Thus: “This court is unwilling to punish a man for selling his property to another, when his actions fall under a statute that is so vaguely written that even legal professionals have difficulty finding a singular meaning.”

Larry WhiteI expect that FinCEN will now want to work with the State of Florida, and other states, to rewrite their statutory definitions of money services businesses and money laundering to reinforce their 2013 directive according to which Bitcoin exchanges must register as MSBs and so submit to “know your customer” and “file reports on your customer” rules. If even casual individual Bitcoin sellers like Espinoza must also register as MSBs, that will spell the end to legal local Bitcoin-for-cash trades.

Reprinted from Alt-M and Cato.org.

Larry White
Lawrence H. White is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, and professor of economics at George Mason University since 2009. An expert on banking and monetary policy, he is the author of The Clash of Economic Ideas (Cambridge University Press, 2012), The Theory of Monetary Institutions (Basil Blackwell, 1999), Free Banking in Britain (2nd ed., Institute of Economic Affairs, 1995), and Competition and Currency (NYU Press, 1989).
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Informational link: https://www.cloudwards.net/what-is-bitcoin/

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The ‘Pseudo-Ethics’ Of Social Justice In Economics, Politics And Religion



“Social Justice” is a phrase that you see everywhere today. Global Warming is all about social justice. The United Nations sponsors an annual World Day of Social Justice.  The Peaceful Uprising  website states that Climate Change Is A Social Justice Issue.
The U.N.’s own website states,
“For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice.” [emphasis added]
One Christian blogger recently wrote,
“As we strive for social justice and attempt to love our neighbors, are we relying on Christ, or are we relying on the military, political leaders, the government, church authorities, institutions, and abusive ideologies?” [emphasis added]
Social justice is a slippery bar of soap, but it surely sounds important, doesn’t it?
The term has a long history, definitive philosophy and uniformly disastrous results to any society who dared to embrace it. Plus, others have written extensively about it.

Spoiler ahead. According to famed Austrian economist F.A. Hayek, social justice nothing more than “pseudo-ethics” that “fails every test which a system of moral rules must satisfy in order to secure a peace and voluntary co-operation of free men.”1



Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Good Jurors Nullify Bad Laws

Good Jurors Nullify Bad Laws: Reclaiming the Right of Every Juror

Today’s juries serve with their hands tied and eyes closed, a fact that serves no one but overzealous prosecutors. The huge knowledge gap among American jurors in every state is patent and dangerous, as it not only supports the massive incarceration of Americans, but undergirds the explosion of legally and morally suspect laws and statutes that feed citizens into cycles of imprisonment.

Jury nullification is not some privilege proffered by a magnanimous prosecution; it is the jury’s right to know and to use. Jury nullification is the constitutionally guaranteed right of every juror and jury to vote and issue any verdict they see fit without fear of punishment. This freedom from penalty frees the jurors to vote according to their conscience and not be bound to unjust or extraneous laws and punishments. The jury, therefore, has the right not only to judge the facts in a trial, but the very law itself — a right that undergirds the efficacy and basis of the jury system as a check on government power.

Jury nullification was the defense that saved John Peter Zenger and helped establish the foundation of the First Amendment. It was the defense that saved many abolitionists from the Fugitive Slave Act. And today it saves individuals facing life in prison from mandatory minimums and three-strike systems for exceedingly minor crimes.   

This is not to say that jury nullification, like any other tool, has not been abused and misapplied or will never be. However, the simple fact is that jurors intent on rendering “bad” verdicts will do so regardless of knowing their right to nullify. It does not require jury nullification for abuse to occur. However, it does require education about jury nullification to prevent rule-abiding citizens from being forced to render verdicts simply because they believe they have no other choice.

Jury nullification is not some privilege proffered by a magnanimous prosecution; it is the jury’s right to know and to use. The very notion that jury nullification is too dangerous for jurors to be informed of, as prosecutors’ motions in limine often argue, flies in the face of the Founders, American legal history, and centuries of common law.

Withholding this knowledge is not wrong simply because it prevents “good” verdicts or because it establishes a slippery slope ending in neutered juries, but because the very act of withholding knowledge itself is unacceptable. The current system of deliberately leaving juries in the dark, defendants gagged, and the prosecution at an advantage, is not only plain wrong but incredibly damaging.

A striking example is the 2013 case of Kyler Carriker in Kansas. Kyler facilitated a drug deal between two acquaintances in which the buyer brought his fellow gang members, shot Kyler, and killed the dealer. Under the Kansas Felony Murder Law, Kyler faced a mandatory 20 years in prison for being ambushed during a deal he set up. The prosecution immediately petitioned to and succeeded in keeping the jury unaware of its right to nullify.

As a juror later explained, they felt bound to find Kyler guilty according to the letter of the law until, while leaving the courthouse, he saw protestors advocating jury nullification. He petitioned the judge to explain the concept, after which the jury unanimously found Kyler guilty according to the law but issued a not guilty verdict according to their conscious.

Jury nullification is not a privilege. It is a right of the jury to know and it is a duty of the judiciary to inform — a duty that must not be skirted in favor of the prosecution. Lives and futures are saved and lost according to the whims of the judge and legal maneuvering of the prosecution. That is not an acceptable system. By cementing in state and federal law the right of every juror to know their right, we can begin to address America’s ever-growing web of laws that causes our governments to convict more of its population than any other nation.

Nathan Tschepik Nathan Tschepik
Nathan Tschepik is a double major in history and government at Georgetown University.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

More to Fear Than Fear Itself

Hillary Clinton gives us more to fear than fear

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2016 - Dressed in white and descending on her convention like an angel of light, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton told Americans they have nothing to fear but fear itself. We heard Donald Trump's answer last week at his convention. He wants to divide us from the rest of the world, and from…

War on Western Religion

By killing a priest in France, terrorists have clearly stated they're waging a war on Western religion

What was last week's Islamist horror? Was it when a gunman lured people to a McDonald's in Munich, Germany, and opened fire on children? Was that before or after the self-proclaimed jihadist ran a truck through a crowd of revellers in Nice, France? There are so many of these nowadays, it's getting difficult to keep the…

Friday, July 29, 2016


By Professor Steven Yates | July 29, 2016 | NewsWithViews.com

Almost 50 years ago, Professor Carroll Quigley of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Services wrote the following, which I regard as the most significant political quote of the last century:
"The chief problem of American political life for a long time has been how to make the two Congressional parties more national and international. The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can 'throw the rascals out' at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.... [E]ither party in office becomes in time corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of those things but will still pursue, with a new vigor, approximately the same basic policies." ~Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, pp. 1247-48.
It sounds like a cliché to say that Election 2016 is turning out to be the most important election in over 50 years! But for the past half century, every election without exception has fit Quigley’s pattern – except this one!

Election 2016 threatens to upend globalism at its core!

Donald J. Trump is proving to be the mouthpiece of a rebellion that has been brewing ever since millions of ordinary people began to participate in the Internet Reformation, some call it, going online, reading uncensored news, and realized that much of the official history and economics they have been fed is a tissue of lies, and have voted to support the one person who promises to change the country’s direction before globalism and political correctness finish running it completely into the ground.

I have gone from being skeptical of the Trump revolution to realizing that Trump really is the last hope of turning the U.S. back from the cliff it is rapidly approaching.
That will mean breaking Anglo-European power elite control over the political process (the “rigged system,” both Trump and Bernie Sanders call it), over U.S. foreign policy, and over the economy.

It will mean putting an end to the situation Professor Quigley, an Insider’s Insider, described in the opening quote.

This is thus the first election in my adult life where Americans have a real choice between competing political and economic philosophies! (I am more than happy, incidentally, to have had my fears of a last-minute anti-Trump coup at the GOP Convention proven groundless – !) although the danger is far from over

A vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton is a vote for the Establishment – for globalism and all its trappings – because as Trump noted in his speech, the Anglo-European power elite (my phrase, not his) owns her. When Goldman Sachs, one of the power elite’s main financial corporations, pays her over half a million dollars per speech, common sense informs us that the globalists have an enormous investment in her.

Ed.: Please read the rest of this essay at the source. This learned writer expresses an optimistic vision for our Republic that we are not hearing elsewhere.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

FEE: The Tax Army Is Three Times Larger than the US Army

The Tax Army Is Three Times Larger than the US Army

The Office of Management and Budget has released new data on the amount of time Americans spend complying with the federal tax code. Tax Foundation summarizes the data here.

Individuals and businesses spend 8.9 billion hours a year on federal tax paperwork, which is equivalent to 4.3 million people working full-time and year-round on this unproductive activity. That “tax army” is three times larger than our uniformed military of 1.4 million active duty service members.

The burden of tax paperwork can be expressed in dollars. Based on the average earnings of U.S. workers, Tax Foundation finds that federal tax paperwork imposes a $409 billion annual cost on the economy.

The main reason to overhaul the tax code is to increase incentives for working, investing, and other productive activities. But you can appreciate how wasteful the tax code is by considering the paperwork burden of particular provisions. For example, the federal estate tax imposes $20 billion a year in paperwork costs, but the tax only raises $21 billion a year for the government. It clearly makes no sense to impose a tax if it costs as much to collect as the money raised.

The largest paperwork costs stem from the income tax. Tax Foundation has found that replacing the federal income tax with a simple flat tax would reduce the paperwork burden by about 90 percent. With that reform, Americans would be at peace with the tax code, and we could demobilize the tax army.

Chris Edwards
Chris EdwardsChris Edwards is the director of tax policy studies at Cato and editor of DownsizingGovernment.org.

This article was originally published on FEE.org.

Read the original article.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mike Pence’s Hillsdale College Speech on the Presidency

September 21, 2010, 12:08 am
President and Mrs. Arnn, Mr. John Cervini, Mr. David Bobb, Elliot Gaiser, College Republicans and each and every one of the faculty and students of Hillsdale College here today.… As I am sure you know, honor is what allows us to do what is right despite the cost. Even greater honor is required to do what is right in the face of superior power. And the greatest honor is to stand strong even if it means standing alone.
The long fight of Hillsdale College, standing alone — then and now for the proposition that all men are created equal, then with Frederick Douglass, now with Clarence Thomas; then and now in the conviction that, as Americans are not horses, we were not born to have saddles placed on our backs, by anyone, at any time, and for any reason…. This long fight, you have fought for love of ideas that did not come in dreams, or as Reagan said, did not “spring full bloom” from your brow, but “came from the heart of a great nation,” rose in a time of unprecedented stress and genius, and since the founding kept this country whole, prosperous, safe, just, free and good.
It is therefore a high honor for me to stand before you in this place so closely associated with the founding of the Republican Party in opposition to the unforgivable sin of slavery; this place where statesmanship is taught as an art, and where right conduct is seen as its own reward. I thank you, and may God bless you for your bravery and courage.
I rise to pay a debt of honor and a debt to history. My subject today is the presidency, and my hope is that you see that institution in a new light and never despair of the republic.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Religious Conscience in the Scrap Heap

Religious Conscience in the Scrap Heap

Who Pays the Piper? Everyone.

Debra Rae | 12 July 2016

A biblical imperative,[i] the exercise of religious conscience is likewise a constitutionally protected, legal right. The second clause of the First Amendment guarantees free exercise of deeply held religious convictions.[ii] Be sure principled religionists who exercise right of conscience are driven, not by superficial “feelings,” subject to changing winds. Nor is religious conscience to be confused with feeling guilt for indulging a second scoop of ice cream, or skipping a workout at the gym.[iii] Conscience speaks to an internal witness to what God commands and forbids, or to what is legitimately deduced from explicit biblical principle.[iv] This, our Founders protected.[v]

Since 1997 the First Amendment Center has conducted an annual national survey of American attitudes toward the First Amendment.[vi] Sadly, nearly one-third of those surveyed in 2014 could not name even one of five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.[vii] While right to conscience matters little to the uninformed, principled pharmacists and pharmacy owners in Washington State treasure this right[viii] not only for themselves, but also for all lawful Americans. Mindful that human life begins at the moment of fertilization, and that abortifacients operate by destroying a fertilized egg, or embryo, these professionals cannot in good conscience dispense Plan B or Ella.[ix] Nor will they.

Arbitrary Stocking Rules
Rationally, pharmacies are not expected to stock every FDA-approved drug. In the industry, a repeat customer’s prescription triggers the “stocking rule requirement,” but the rule has no teeth and is never enforced. Moreover, the state establishes no stocking standards for low-demand drugs, nor are pharmacies required to stock diabetics’ syringes, Schedules 2 and 5 nonprescription meds, or narcotics feared to invite armed robberies.

Clearly, the stocking rule allows ample wriggle room. For most, there’s no quantitative formula of patient demand signaling need to stock a drug, nor are there rules for how long the pharmacy must carry a given drug, once demand for it wanes. In fact, niche pharmacies systematically limit drugs they stock to specified healthcare categories such as pediatrics, cancer, or long-term care.

While Washington offers no definition for “good faith compliance,” Federal Appellate Judge Susan Graber (9th Circuit Court of Appeals) applies this overly permissive (and otherwise vague) rule sternly. In her world, pharmacies with religious objection must stock and dispense specific, time-sensitive abortifacients. For no particular reason, she exempts equally time-sensitive diabetic syringes.[x]

Arbitrary Referral Rules
A patient’s need for timely delivery is met effectively by alternative, facilitated referral. For most, referral to nearby pharmacies is but a minor inconvenience.[xi] If pharmacists can refer patients elsewhere when a drug is unprofitable, or out of stock, why not allow Plan B referrals to nearby pharmacies? It can’t be emphasized enough that, with or without referrals, there’s no documented access problem for Plan B in our state, nor any drug for that matter.

One, and only one, category of drug is under fire. Special interest activists demand immediate product and service from a targeted pharmacist with religious convictions against a specific drug’s safe, ethical use. Strong-armed to forfeit right to conscience, career, or privately owned business, a conscience-sensitive pharmacist is bullied to forgo his First Amendment right in deference to someone else’s perceived, but nonexistent “right” to convenience.

What’s more, whenever special interest politics shut down Christian businessmen and women—e.g., photographers, florists, caterers, bakers, and pharmacists—timely access to specific goods and services is limited all the more (at least in the short term). Jobs and services within the community are needlessly lost; and, over time, principled gynecologists, obstetricians, certificated master teachers, pharmacists, and more are forced out of their professions for refusing to be bullied out of their religious beliefs.

First Amendment Rights Scrapped
Deputy National Litigation Director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Luke Goodrich rightly argues, “No individual should be forced out of her profession solely because of her religious beliefs. For a pharmacist to maintain personally held, religiously motivated moral objections is fully within her constitutional rights; however, the United States Supreme Court recently declined to address a critical First Amendment rights case.[xii]

Plaintiffs are Christian pharmacists and pharmacy owners being coerced to fill prescriptions to which they object on the basis of religious conscience. In this singular case, the standard practice of referral (unless within the same store) is deemed unacceptable.  Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson lauds the high court’s decision that, despite a pharmacist’s moral convictions, or better judgment, a patient cannot be refused.[xiii] So what’s to stop an activist from storming a church-affiliated senior care facility demanding Plan B? Must she be served—here and now, no excuses—even when said demand violates the pharmacist’s conscience while, at the same time, it sidesteps the clientele’s pharmacological needs? Think, people.

My Way or the Highway
Syndicated columnist Joel Mathis argues that pharmacists provide a highly regulated public service that cannot be denied.[xiv] Really? Everyday Washington pharmacies make choices about which of more than six thousand FDA-approved drugs they’ll stock (or decline from stocking, as the case may be). Should a patient violate pharmacy dress- and/or behavior- codes—e.g., no shirt or shoes—or should he be identified as a known shoplifter, he need not be served. To the contrary, crows Mathis,If you don’t want to be a pharmacist who dispenses birth control, perhaps you shouldn’t be a pharmacist.” Huh?

Goose v Gander Inequities[xv]
What’s good for the goose should be equally good for the gander, but secular pharmacists may do with impunity what religious pharmacists may not. Incredibly, pharmacists may refuse medications for all sorts of secular reasons—i.e., if a pharmacy doesn’t accept a patient’s insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare or if shelf space is limited and a medication has a short life. If it’s exceptionally expensive (and the patient can’t afford it)—or if stocking it requires additional, burdensome paperwork or unit dosages—no worries. When bulk purchase is necessary (beyond what the patient can consume), or if a drug requires monitoring or special preparation (e.g., compounding processes that require related equipment)—again, not to worry. No need to stock.

But an abortifacient is somehow different. The adequate, though not ideal compromise is for a pharmacist to “step away,” but not “in the way.” That policy no longer flies (in this one case only). A secular pharmacist may refer a client elsewhere for any number of reasons, but a pharmacist who objects on the basis of conscience may not.[xvi]

I am reminded of a prominent Protestant pastor, best remembered for this quotation as it reads in the United States Holocaust Museum:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

To their credit, our Founders honored equal-handedness. As the Free Exercise Clause protects my right to conscience as a Christian, the Establishment Clause protects secularists from forced compliance to my religious convictions. Respecting the Supreme Court’s recent laissez-faire decision,[xvii]Justice Samuel Alito warned, “If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern.”

My rights as a believer are at stake, true; but so are yours as a secularist. For whatever reason, self-appointed elitists may come snarling and yapping at your heels next.[xviii] Whenever special interest politics prevail over one’s constitutional right to “free exercise of religion,” then all core rights (including speech, press, assembling, petitioning) are “up for grabs.” Make no mistake. Everyone pays the piper.

Won’t you please join me in prayerfully speaking out for protection of our inalienable, God-given rights?

[i] Acts 24:16—"And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward
man." See: http://www.gotquestions.org/conscience.html (Accessed 11July 2016).
[ii]  “Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong.” (O’Connell) Albert Einstein likewise cautioned, “Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.”
[iii] Sexual health and wellbeing of young women are not at issue. For many principled Christians, birth control practices constitute personal choices decided between marriage partners, their God, and a physician. In their view, abortifacient drugs cross the line.
[iv] In free society, each citizen gives account to God, fair law, societal norms, family, etc. Christians may not demand universal compliance with the Bible. Nor may secularists stiff-arm religionists to conform to their ethical grid.
[v] Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Government has a responsibility under the First Amendment to take claims of conscience seriously when laws place a substantial burden on religious practice.
[vii] The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, ratified effective 15 December 1791, follows: “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; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

[viii] Stormans v. Selecky, a landmark case handled by the Becket Fund, a non-profit, non-partisan law firm that protects the religious liberty of all faiths. Also on the legal team are lawyers Kristen Waggoner and Steve O’Ban with Seattle-based law firm Ellis, Li & McKinstry. Plaintiffs challenge the Washington State Pharmacy Board ruling that, despite religious objections, pharmacies must forfeit their prerogative to facilitated referral and stock/dispense early abortifacient drugs, as Plan B and Ella. Read: http://www.newswithviews.com/Rae/debra211.htm & http://www.newswithviews.com/Rae/debra215.htm (Accessed 11 July 2016)
[ix] Stormans Inc. v. Wiesman, 15-862.
[x] If all are not enforced, it’s only fair that none should be (Judge Ronald Leighton, December 9, 2011).
[xi] A survey initiated by the Washington State Pharmacy Board revealed that 85% of the responding pharmacies knew of others within a five-mile radius of their own. Were hospitals and other delivery options listed on that survey, the percentage would be even higher.
[xii] Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas would have heard the appeal.
[xiii] Title VII protection from discrimination is trumped by a woman’s demand for emergency contraception.
[xiv] Ben Boychuk (Syndicated Columnist). “Should Pharmacists Have Religious Freedom in America?” (Seattle: The Seattle Times, July 1, 2016) A13.
[xv] This Court’s unanimous decision in Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah was crystal clear. Laws may not exempt nonreligious conduct while targeting religious conduct for negative treatment. Secular pharmacists are free to refer. But now, the Supreme Court upheld the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last year, which found that a pharmacist may not refer a woman elsewhere to procure abortifacients to which that pharmacist morally objects.
[xvi] Discrimination includes demotion, layoff, transfer, failure to promote, discharge, harassment, intimidation, or threat of the same. Gregory S. Sarno, Harassment or Termination of Employee Due to Religious Beliefs or Practices, 35 P.O.F.2d 209, 222 (1983) (hereinafter “Harassment”); EEOC v. Townley Eng’g and Mfg., 859F.2d 610, 614n.5 (4th Cir. 1988), cert den., 489 U.S. 1077 (1989).
[xvii] Rachael Corte (The Associated Press). “High Court Rejects Pharmacists’ Religious-Rights Appeal” (Seattle: The Seattle Times, June 29, 2016) B5.
[xviii] Listen to TRUTHTalk Radio with Debra Rae: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sharonhughes/2012/02/07/a-matter-of-conscience.