Friday, October 18, 2013

International Law Meets National Sovereignty

The International Criminal Court based in The Hague, Netherlands plans to try Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta next month on a series of serious offenses including crimes against humanity that involve illegal deporting of a group, murder, rape, and persecution for political purposes.

While the ICC claims jurisdiction, its intended defendant can only be tried if he allows it.  Mr. Kenyatta currently serves as the President of Kenya.  Although the court would like for him to appear at the scheduled date in November, it is likely to defer to an African Union request to postpone the case until Kenyatta leaves office.  AU member Sudan's president also faces criminal charges.

Kenyatta faces accusations over violence in the post 2007 elections against the Orange Democratic Movement.  In turn, he asserts that the ICC's charges come from neo-imperialist mechanisms of manipulation.  Kenyatta called it "a toy of declining imperial powers."

Although 34 of the African Union's 54 nations signed up for the ICC, calls have increased lately for individual African nations and the AU itself to leave the international convention that established it.

Established in 2002, the ICC is meant to prosecute crimes against humanity when national courts and prosecutors refuse to act.

Under Obama, the United States has assisted the ICC, but has not moved to join.  With American military and diplomats operating in controversial fields throughout the world, serious concerns have prevented full US participation. African Union leaders call the US stance hypocritical, ignoring the constitutional divide between presidential action and the near impossibility of Senate assent.

African Union leaders specifically oppose the idea of prosecuting sitting presidents.  They believe that the ICC could be used as a diplomatic weapon to attack sovereign states.  This is similar to American concerns.  The fact that the leaders of Sudan and Kenya are likely guilty does not change the fact.

Another problem is that Kenya plays a key role in regional peacekeeping, disarmament, anti-terrorism, and stability efforts.  Kenya is a front line state fighting Islamicist terrorism. Its rapidly expanding population of Roman Catholic and Pentecostal citizens forms a faith bulwark against the infiltration of radical elements farther south.

Rule of law should be promoted and political rights defended.  On the other hand, pressure on Kenyatta could weaken Kenya's prestige in the region.

In any event, Kenyatta will likely not face trial and prosecution in Europe now, if ever.  The people of Kenya ultimately must make that decision on their own.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Suggesting How to Conduct a "Patriot" Economy

This has been a long time coming, but now it's locked in.  America now has a federal government that not only siphons wealth from the private sector to redistribute to its supporters, it also undermines the ways in which one can obtain and keep wealth.  Friends of the government get special favors and waivers.  Those without connections face the onerous regime of regulation designed to drive them out of business.

The Republican Party tried.  Much as those on the right want to moan that it doesn't represent "We the People," the reality is that "We the People" failed the GOP.  We did not go into neighborhoods where we might be unwelcome.  We did not make the case for our ideals outside of our comfort zones.  We did not take chances.  Campaigns rely on we the people to help them.  We did not do it. We failed.  

But it does not have to end there.

In the 1760s, American patriots found some success in economic pressure.  By finding ways to cut down reliance on the open market, Americans convinced London based trading firms with powerful connections to advocate for them.  Yes, they only wanted their business back.  But for a while it worked.

Resistance brought results.  How can American patriots do the same today?

In general, we can cut back on transactions that produce tax revenues.  That puts pressure on business while reducing the amount of our wealth that goes toward supporting a system built to suck resources from us.

Here are some ways to do this.

First, develop skills, produce goods, or do work that can be exchanged for cash or barter between friends. 

Gardening can serve this purpose admirably.  If a few people are determined to do this for the long haul, they can agree than person A will grow beans, person B grows corn, and so forth.  One can freeze the corn, can beans, make cucumbers into pickles, etc.  Then each person can use the product as a medium of exchange with the other, or pay cash.

Pay people in cash under the table for as many simple services as possible.  Find the people in town willing to do work on your car, odd work on your house or property that you can't do.  Engage them, figure a fair price, and pay under the table.  

Teachers can really benefit from these ideas.  It would be very easy to reach out to home schooling families, establish a price for services, and teach in a person's living room for cash.

Instead of eating out at a restaurant, exchange nights with friends where you go over and eat what they cook.  That is more fun, saves money, and you still get to socialize.

Hunters are in good shape because they can pay in meat.

Farmers can set up their own networks and exchanges of buying and selling to customers, at least in part.

Some transactions may look like this.  A person agrees to pay for a haircut with garden produce or a few pounds of deer meat.  Everyone gets what they want except the government.

Second, look at yard sales for purchases.  You can get decent furniture, almost new electronics, and any number of things more cheaply paying in cash.  And there is really no effective way to tax yard sales.  

Frankly, by cutting out the taxed and regulated market and bringing a true free market back into existence, buyers and sellers of goods and services both stand to gain in the long run.  

This works on a couple of levels.  If enough people do it, it could force a reconsideration of the direction that we are going, which is full tilt toward Eastern Europe.  In fact, this is exactly how people in Communist countries learned to survive beyond the meager resources allowed by their governments.

Individually, however, a person can gain satisfaction from the fact that he or she can accumulate untaxed value while contributing as little as possible to the Leviathan that has been set up.

This is what individuals do when they come to the realization that the government takes too many resources from the people without being accountable.  They conclude that the government has no moral right to their taxes.  Despite this being poorly written and thought out, it is a blueprint by which patriots can opt out while remaining within the law.

Much like our late colonial forefathers.

Benjamin Franklin on Obamacare

Ben Franklin once shared a story about a crazy Frenchman who had an odd way of welcoming English tourists to Paris.  He would speak with effusive correctness to them while holding a fireplace poker with a red hot tip in his right hand.  He'd say Monsieur Anglais, would you kindly allow me to shove the tip of this up your backside.  The Englishman would inevitably say something like "Zounds! (Because that was a word back then) I'll break your head if you come near me with that!"  The Frenchman would then say "Fine, but at the very least you are obligated to pay me for heating it up!"

This was a story originally told in reference to how the Stamp Act worked.  It is much more true when considering Obamacare.

Meanwhile, this is the new reality of healthcare.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Let the Games Begin!

Hillary Clinton opened the 2016 presidential campaign with a powerful first strike aimed at the heart of her presumed to be most important opponent.  At a conference of convenience store owners in Atlanta, the former secretary of state related how she fully supported the decision to kill Bin Laden while the Vice President waffled.

Joe Biden has attended a number of events in Iowa while making the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner rounds elsewhere.

Many, including some presidential aides, say the nomination is Clinton's to lose.  But "experts" said much the same in 2008.

Interestingly, this could reignite the Benghazi scandal.  Besides her general lack of authority in office or accomplishment as secretary of state, the Benghazi raid remains her weak point.  Will Democrats who ignored Republican questions listen to Biden camp arguments?

America could finally get some real answers.

Also, the Bin Laden raid has become in Democratic circles the measure of toughness.  Even those, like Jonah Goldberg, who argued that he should have been captured and questioned, have faced strong attack.  It has hidden the wayward and bizarre foreign policy of Obama.  A pusillanimous policy with the facade of the cowboy that frittered away international respect.

Biden finds himself in the same position as Hubert Humphreys in 1968. Much of his bosses policies deserve criticism.  How far will he go to build credibility by attacking the poor decisions of the man who named him vice president?  Especially since Biden can hang many of those albatrosses around Clinton?

Recent GOP intraparty debates have centered around principle, not personality.  Should be interesting and instructive to see the Democrats fight over Biden versus Clinton