Thursday, April 19, 2012

Time to Eliminate the Internal Revenue Service

Nixon used it against his enemies. It currently targets Tea Party groups and apparently cannot keep conservative tax returns private.

The Internal Revenue Service has too much power over the lives of individuals, businesses, and non-profits. It can interpret laws selectively, subjectively, or not at all depending on who they want to go after.

But there is a simple remedy, one that I have kind of resisted in the past. That is to eliminate revenue based taxation entirely and replace it with consumption taxes. This would take a very specific constitutional amendment that wiped away old taxes and set strict limits on new ones.

Consumption based taxation is much less subjective. It does not require sifting through complicated rules and regulations. The federal government can charge x% on every item purchased. No need for audits or selective enforcement on educational non profits.

It is quite obvious that government cannot be trusted with many of the vast powers that it has assumed. Take the IRS off the list of agencies that can ruin our lives and harass us. Go to consumption based taxation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

House of Representatives Fights Indefinite Detention Provisions

The National Defense Authorization Act has returned to the halls of public debate. Some House Republicans seek to amend away powers that enable the executive branch and the military to possibly indefinitely detain US citizens.

Historical and legal precedent are quite clear on the topic of indefinite detention of citizens. British law, from which American law derives its basic principles, placed suspension of habeas corpus (tantamount to indefinite detention) into the hands of the legislative branch. This followed many decades of kings arbitrarily jailing their political opposition, or extortion victims.

The problematic example is the Civil War. At its beginning, Abraham Lincoln unilaterally and illegally suspended the writ of habeas corpus and was slapped down by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney for doing so. Confederate combatants, however, upon capture were held until war's end.

Additionally, at the request of the state of California and against his intelligence team of J. Edgar Hoover and William Donovan, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the indefinite detention of Japanese-America citizens during World War II.

Obama admitted that he signed the bill with reservations, but faced severe criticism from the Left. Forbes magazine quoted Mother Jones and the ACLU in the following:

“Obama’s signing statement seems to suggest he already believe he has the authority to indefinitely detain Americans—he just never intends to use it,” Adam Serwer writes at Mother Jones. “Left unsaid, perhaps deliberately, is the distinction that has dominated the debate over the defense bill: the difference between detaining an American captured domestically or abroad. This is why ACLU Director Anthony Romero released a statement shortly after Obama’s arguing the authority in the defense bill could “be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.”

The NDAA Makes the Status Quo Worse

Glenn Greenwald makes a compelling case that the law gives the government truly frightening powers. He notes that section 1022 exempts US citizens from the requirement of military detention but still leaves the option open to the state.

“The only provision from which U.S. citizens are exempted here is the“requirement” of military detention,” Greenwald writes. “For foreign nationals accused of being members of Al Qaeda, military detention is mandatory; for U.S. citizens, it is optional. This section does not exempt U.S citizens from the presidential power of military detention: only from the requirement of military detention.”

Terrorism is a threat to American security, this is true. But not as threatening as the Japanese or the Confederacy. As the country moves into its second decade since 9/11, there is little justification for these provisions. In fact, they are legally void since they contradict the Constitution’s stance on habeas corpus.

If there is an emergency, Congress can come together quickly and suspend the writ if needed. For now, it needs to eliminate these troublesome phrases from federal law.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Another Nail In the Coffin, Driven In By Hillary Clinton

The Secretary of State's excellent adventure in Colombia is an internet hit. It even outshines Obama making a foolish comment about vacations on the heels of being unable to answer questions about his vacations.

Pictures of her dancing, chugging beer on a couch, and generally feeling very tipsy have flooded the internet, reminding Americans that no responsible adult is minding the store.

Hillary was supposed to be the responsible one!

Why can't she cut loose? Why can't she party? Because her image is our image. We yearn for the days of taciturn statesmen and women taken seriously on the world stage. Now we have ham handed fools churning out one liners and getting plastered. Even the Praetorian Guard gets to chase hookers.

After hours, according to the practice of Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, Prince Otto von Bismarck, and others is when the real diplomacy takes place. Intimate discussions over wine, or whatever, that cut to the heart of issues and lay the groundwork for the official sessions, that is what you do at night. You don't send the old woman to the bar to get her liquored up in public.

We are officially the laughing stock of the world.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gregory Kane Declares Baltimore Unsafe For White Tourists

A courthouse should occupy a certain place in the public mind. A place of safety and sanctuary where a person can expect the protection of the rule of law.

Very rarely is this violated. Most West Virginians are aware of the assassination of Sid "Two Gun" Hatfield on the Mingo County Courthouse steps many decades ago. Last month, a tourist visiting Baltimore found himself severely assaulted and humiliated almost on the steps of the court house. Here is the videotape:

Washington Examiner columnist Gregory Kane, a Baltimore native, flat out declared this morning that white tourists should avoid Baltimore. (Kane is black.)

Kane goes on to imply that there is a pattern of black mob violence on white individuals that has failed to excite a community response. And there have been no arrests.

He says:

There, I've said it. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake won't be happy with that assessment. Nor, probably, will Baltimore City Council President Bernard Young and other elected officials.

But I'm not the one they have to sell on how safe Baltimore is for white tourists. That poor white guy in the now-notorious video that's gone viral is.

His name isn't known. Police have only identified him as a tourist from Arlington. According to news reports based on what the man told Baltimore police, he had left a downtown nightclub after drinking and found himself standing in front of the Mitchell Courthouse.

There's a certain, cruel irony in the site of this incident. The courthouse is named after Clarence Mitchell Jr., a Baltimore civil rights icon who was very influential in the civil rights movement. His work as an NAACP lobbyist on civil rights legislation earned him the nickname "the 101st Senator."

Mitchell was one of the most dignified people who ever lived. The white tourist who found himself in front of Mitchell Courthouse in the early hours of March 18 soon found himself surrounded by a most undignified group of black people.

I have a saying about my hometown: Baltimore is a place where 90 percent of the population is in bed by 11 p.m., but the remaining 10 percent who aren't, you wish the hell were...

Any second now, you know that Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Benjamin Todd Jealous will descend on Baltimore demanding "justice" for this white tourist, right?

Just kidding. I live in this city, and I haven't seen this trio yet. I'm especially disappointed that I haven't heard from Jealous, since the NAACP's national headquarters are located right here in Baltimore.

Jealous managed to make his way down to Sanford, Fla., to protest the lack of charges against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin slaying. He has yet to make the 20-minute drive from NAACP national headquarters down to the site of where the tourist was attacked.

Remember, it was in front of the Mitchell Courthouse, named for an NAACP giant. You'd think Jealous would be incensed that the tourist's attackers so callously shamed the name of Clarence Mitchell Jr., if not about the attack itself.

Jealous talked long and loud about racial profiling in the Trayvon Martin case. But wasn't this poor tourist racially profiled? Was he not singled out, beaten, robbed, humiliated and degraded because of his race?

And he wasn't the first one. There have been several incidents of black hoodlums victimizing white tourists in downtown Baltimore. They just haven't received the news coverage Trayvon Martin's killing has. I wonder why that is?