A basketball player like no other in NCAA was key to Toledo’s WNIT championship

Usually when March Madness rolls around, my stomach is tied up in knots, I’m pacing the floor, hoping against hope that my teams will win.

This year, I had a calm feeling. I took it as an omen that, as a fan of both men’s and women’s NCAA basketball, I’d be celebrating a championship this time around.

Lo and behold, it’s the University of Toledo hoisting the championship trophy of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). The Blade has printed a recap of Toledo’s win over the University of Southern California in the title game.

Toledo features a player like no other in the NCAA, Naama Shafir. In the championship game, the junior guard from Israel scored 40 points. Here’s a summary of her basketball feats dating all the way back to high school, but that’s not what sets her apart from all the other players. That information can be found here. She’s a very principled woman, to be sure.

Halfway agreeing with Kucinich on Libya

The rest of the world is wondering when the United States will officially make up its mind on the appeal put to it to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.  I suppose the rest of the world appeals to the U.S. to perform this task because they know full well that we are capable of this task in a way that no other nation is capable of doing.

The Obama Administration has dithered on the issue as time passes and dissenters get crushed by tanks.  The Obama Administration has said that it will not act unilaterally, so it is sending out feelers to see whether the U.S. has a mandate from the international community to take action on the request for the no-fly zone.  The Obama Administration dithers because the international community is divided on the issue.  For some strange reason, the President can’t decide which nations’ opinions count and which ones don’t.  If one were to base a decision upon what other nations think, one would suppose that the opinions of the Arab League, France, and the U.K.  would be more persuasive than the opinions of Russia and Germany, don’t you think?

Umm . . . I think, in one sense, it is OK for the U.S. to act unilaterally.  We don’t  need to ask the international community what the U.S. ought to do.  We never did need to.  Our nation makes up its own mind and then acts accordingly.  The international community is not the entity that is entitled to mandate what the U.S. does.

In another sense, the President should not act unilaterally.  It is the people of the United States of America who are sovereign.  We are the ones who issue mandates, and in the case of war, we do that through our representatives in Congress.  The U.S. Constitution even says so.

Congress moves as slowly as molasses running uphill in January.  Waiting for an act of Congress would cost precious time.  I’m of the opinion, however, that the President has wasted precious time already consulting the international community when he should have been using that time to appeal directly to Congress to affirm, one way or the other, what action is to be taken.  He might have to take a whip to Congress to swiftly draft a resolution and vote upon it, but Congress, as the representatives of We, the People, are the ones who make the binding decision, not the international community.

Legislatures prescribe what the executive branch is to do.  The executive branch is to carry out the directives of the legislative branch.

Some would argue that it is the prerogative of the President to make an executive decision on the matter in his role as Commander-in-Chief.  He does command the armed forces of the United States, true.  He’s directed some armed forces to assist Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.  Assisting Japan, though, is not an act of war.

The President could reasonably take immediate action against Libya if Libya were engaged in an assault upon the U.S., its citizens, or its diplomatic or military institutions abroad.  Libya is not carrying out an assault against the United States.

Under these circumstances, military intervention against the government of Libya, such as imposing a no-fly zone upon it, would require a Declaration of War from the United States Congress.  Upon that point, I readily agree with Dennis Kucinich, who has posted his position on his website.

My question is:  Where is the resolution at?  What I mean is, where is the bill before Congress that would officially declare war if it won passage?

Senator Kerry and Senator McCain have talked about resolutions to authorize implementation of a no-fly zone, but I agree with Dennis Kucinich that such authorization is insufficient because it is not in keeping with the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has vowed to introduce a resolution that stipulates that the President cannot take part in any action in Libya without first being approved by Congress.  Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy, . . . and redundant.  That’s not the resolution that’s needed, since it only repeats the Constitution.  When it comes to foreign policy, when has Ron Paul ever exhibited signs of leadership?  That’s why I can never vote for him in GOP presidential primary elections.  Do you, Ron Paul, want to demonstrate leadership?  Put a war resolution before Congress, even though you’ll obviously vote against it.  Get the matter decided right now and put an end to Obama’s dithering.  Do whatever you want within the rules of Congress to ensure that your side prevails and wins the day, but cease the inaction.

Likewise to Dennis Kucinich.  Urge the Congress to vote on a war resolution, nothing less.  Put the matter to rest once and for all.

Some have said that our Congress should never vote in favor of a declaration of war when it is taking sides in some other nation’s civil war.  They say that a declaration of war should only win passage if the United States is under attack.  I don’t agree with that assessment, and neither does history.  During our Revolutionary War (a civil war within the territory ruled by the British crown) the American army did, in fact, receive valuable assistance from abroad.  Likewise, during our Civil War, some foreign influences aided the North and some foreign influences aided the South.  We did not waive off foreign involvement.  We accepted whatever foreign aid we could lay hold of to support our war efforts.  This precedent was set from the very founding era of our nation, so I reject the notion that we must automatically vote against going to war amidst some other nation’s civil war.  We can consider each proposed war resolution without being bound by such constraints.  I’m not saying we should be hawkish.  I’m not saying we should be dovish, either.  I’m saying we can make such decisions on a case-by-case basis, and whatever decision the Congress makes, yes or no, carries the full weight and force of the Constitution with it.

Having said that, I’d like to review a few specific sentences within Kucinich’s statement.

“A no-fly zone begins with an attack on the air defenses of Libya.  It is an act of war that can only be approved by Congressional action, not by any international body.  There is a civil war in Libya, which must be resolved by Libya.”

Instead of underscoring the words “It is an act of war” as Kucinich did on his webpage, I have highlighted those words in italics and bold print, since I think, on my blog page, the contrast with the rest of the text stands out more.  I do need to disclose, though, that Kucinich underscored it.

I agree with the first sentence.  It is an attack on Libya.

I would take the second sentence a bit further:  Not only is it an act of war that can only be approved by Congress, I would add that the approval from Congress (should it decide to do so) must come in the form of a declaration of war.  Authorizing a no-fly zone, I believe, would not pass muster.  The Congress declares war, then the Commander-in-Chief determines how to execute the war, whether to include a no-fly zone as part of the strategy, or not.  The chief purpose of the war would be to vanquish the forces of the government of Libya.  If that is accomplished, then a treaty is drafted, then ratified by the Senate, and the war is concluded.

The third sentence jumps to a conclusion.  That conclusion is that it is a civil war that must be resolved by Libya.  Instead, I wouldn’t speak for the rest of the nations of the world whether they are content to let Libya resolve this on its own or not.  Other nations might decide to involve themselves in the war and shape how it is resolved.  We might disagree with the actions of other nations who choose to involve themselves, but even if we disagree with the interference of any and all nations on the principle that Libya, itself, settle the matter as an internal concern, the word “should” needs to replace the word “must.”  We can have an opinion on what should happen, pertaining to the resolution of the Libyan civil war, but we aren’t able to decree what must happen.  In addition to not speaking for the rest of the nations, I don’t believe that Kucinich can speak for our own nation until the votes are tallied on the war resolution.  The Libyan civil war is not a matter that the U.S. should try to resolve if the Congress says “no” to a war resolution.  However, the U.S. will not leave the matter to be resolved by Libya, alone, if the U.S. Congress declares war on Libya.

Here are two more sentences from Kucinich that I want to examine:

“It is time for the Administration to stop looking for someone else to make the decision.  The U.S. must make a firm declaration that it will not intervene in Libya by means of enforcing a no-fly zone or any other aggressive military means.”

Kucinich hits the nail on the head with that first sentence, as the “someone else” refers to someone beyond Congress, and that especially applies to looking for other nations to make our decision.  Congress makes the decision.  Obama has no authority to look to someone else.

As to the second sentence, I would have to say, “Has the Congressional vote been held and tallied already?”  Only if the Congress has already voted against a declaration of war on Libya can the second sentence be binding upon the United States.  As much as Kucinich would like to dictate how all other members of Congress should vote, he can’t tell them how to vote.  If the other side prevails, then Kucinich ought to acknowledge that the United States really is at war with Libya.  The Constitution does not constrain the Congress from voting one way or the other.  What does the Constitution do?  It requires the United States to act upon the will of Congress, whether the vote is yes or no.  Much as Kucinich doesn’t like it, nothing bars a colleague from voting “yes.”

The bottom line here is that the Congress should render a decision on the matter so that President Obama knows what the mandate is.  Don’t tell him he can’t act without a mandate from Congress and then withhold a Congressional decision on what the mandate is, which is what Ron Paul’s proposed resolution amounts to.  Once Congress acts decisively, then Obama can act decisively.  Got it?  Do it!

Japanese store shelves tell the tale: The time to hoard is long before the calamity strikes

I’m hopping back up on my soapbox again.  I’ve been blogging about preparing your family for catastrophes since 2008.  I’ve racked my brain to pinpoint of a number of ways in which your family can prepare, and put those thoughts on my blog, too.  I’m blogging again to remind everyone that the time to prepare for catastrophe is sooner rather than later.

AP business writer Yuri Kageyama produced this report about consumers throughout Japan, not just in the earthquake/tsunami ravaged zone of northeast Honshu island, descending on stores to buy up all products with any shelf life that could have some use in an emergency. (Hint: Just click on the above link and read the AP article. You need to take a look at it. Got that?)

The scarcity of these consumer goods throughout Japan is hampering the humanitarian relief efforts.  How do you ship survival goods, such as food, water, blankets, batteries, flashlights, tents, sleeping bags, etc., to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami when the unaffected population throughout the rest of the nation has siphoned away all those supplies?  Government officials are urging the public not to hoard, but the public is panicked.

Don’t feel vulnerable in a crisis.  You should have what you need for an emergency now.  If you don’t have it now, when will you have it?  In your hour of need?  And if a natural disaster, such as a house fire or tornado, wipes out your own emergency supplies, won’t you be grateful to your neighbors if they’ve got emergency supplies on hand that they can share with you?  Wouldn’t you be glad you could help out a neighbor if the roles are reversed?  And then, when widespread disasters wipe out the emergency supplies of everyone in the community, wouldn’t you be thankful that humanitarian relief efforts aren’t starved of resources because the population beyond the disaster zone has no reason to panic, since they’re already prepared?

One more thing to keep in mind:  The world economy is fragile.  This earthquake/tsunami disaster has sent seismic waves rippling out into the rest of the world.  If our nation’s economy collapsed (and there’s so much that’s straining our economy and threatening our currency right now), what you already have on hand might be all that you can obtain . . . until an economic recovery ensues.  How long would it take before you can rely on economic recovery to lift you out of your emergency?  Who knows?

No community is immune from disaster.  Don’t bet that it won’t be your family that is calamity-stricken next.  If you haven’t already, get your family ready for emergencies ASAP.

. . . And the walls come tumbling down!

Our economy is a house of cards. Our dollar isn’t backed by gold. It’s fiat money. It’s worth is determined by how much confidence the world has in it. If confidence in the dollar is destroyed, so is the dollar. It just becomes worthless paper at that point.

The politicians in DC and the cheaters on Wall Street and the Chicago Democratic Party machine have brought us to the brink of collapse. The bailouts have done nothing to strengthen the house of cards. Keep mounting card on top of card, and, at some point, the house of cards must fall. It must. So long as there are laws of physics it must fall. Our economy will topple. The only question is when. Which card will be the final one that the other cards can support? Which card will be the one that brings the
walls tumbling down?

Is your family prepared to survive through an economic collapse? I saw a big storm coming back in September 2008, and I think it’s here. Maybe it can be staved off until 2012. I definitely think we cannot get past 2014. But maybe it hits us this month.

Sure, we just elected Republicans to take control of the US House of Representatives, and the two major parties now have checks and balances that will prevent extreme partisan agendas from becoming the law of the land . . . in January, that is. The new Congress takes office in January. But maybe the collapse will occur much sooner than 2014. Maybe much sooner than 2012. It might happen this month. Despite the elections, it’s just too late. The wheels are already in motion. All the Democrats, all the Republicans, even all the Libertarians, all the Greens, all of the Constitution Party, all of the Socialist Party, cannot stop what’s already in motion. It’s a bigger mess than we can handle.

If we suffer a total and complete collapse, all your dollars in your bank accounts become worthless, despite any FDIC guarantees.

Therefore, I hope you have supplies already on hand for your family to depend upon if the worst comes to pass. Right now, you may be holiday shopping, and the sales figures seem to be better than expected, as, perhaps, some consumers have so much pent-up desire to shop that they just can’t keep a lid on it anymore. That’s okay. You might as well shop for tangible items right now if the dollar is going to be worthless later. But while you’re doing that shopping (if you’re one of the fortunate ones who still has an income in this economy), make sure you’ve got at least enough necessities on hand to last your household for at least a month. If you can stash away lots more supplies so that you can be self-sustaining for longer than a month, by all means do so. Preparedness can mitigate your feelings of vulnerability when a crisis arises.

I worry about what predicament our deployed troops might find themselves in if our government becomes insolvent, the financial industry is wiped out, and the currency loses all its value.

There are two things in the news that may possibly cause the dam to break this month. The first is the lame-duck Congress, ramming through the rest of the ill-advised uber-liberal agenda in desperation as the clock ticks down and this session ends.

The second is WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks supposedly has 10,000 pages of documents that they are preparing for posting on the web, and the USA’s financial sector will be the object of the expose.

We saw how WikiLeaks caused a scramble at the Pentagon when documents from the war in Iraq were splashed online. After that, the US Department of State was hit by an earthquake that not only may have irreparably harmed our relations with all other nations, but the field of diplomacy, itself, in every country, is now standing outside naked in a cold winter. If WikiLeaks can derail diplomacy worldwide with just a few documents, what could it do to our financial sector?

I think the documents about the financial sector will be so damaging that all confidence in it will be lost. The collapse here will then cascade all over the globe. The worst hit will be Europe. Europe is already teetering. Africa will be in dire straits because so many of those nations only squeak by because of foreign aid. The Far East owns so much of our national debt, they’ll take a big hit. South America might actually weather the storm the best.

Iceland, the first to become insolvent, and Greece the most recent to become insolvent, are relatively small nations in Europe, but when their governments finally scraped the bottom of the barrel and there was no more money there, it had destabilizing effects on the Euro.

Now it’s Ireland’s turn. Ireland denied for weeks and weeks that they were the next to follow in the footsteps of Iceland and Greece, yet it is coming to pass. The politicians in Ireland who are to blame for it all simply wanted to stay in power as long as they possibly could, thus they tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the Irish as long as they could. Sorry, but the crisis is too big to hide. The European Union is coming up with a plan to put Humpty Dumpty together again with the help of the IMF. It still might not be enough, and Europe will teeter on the brink, the Euro imperiled.

Portugal will likely be next. Their politicians are denying that their government will become insolvent, too. If the rescue of Ireland doesn’t crash Europe, maybe Portugal will.

And after Portugal, Spain is suspect. The politicians of Spain are in denial, also. If Europe managed to hold things together during Portugal’s implosion, that’ll be the end of the line. Once Spain implodes, forget it. The Euro is dead, and the European Union is in a shambles. The more solvent nations will retreat back to within their own borders, because they’ll be hard-pressed to meet the demands of their own public, let alone the demands from elsewhere. When America falls, though, not even the most solvent European nations will be spared the bloodletting.

The IMF won’t be of any help, as its chief backing comes from the United States.

If the United Nations weren’t reeling enough from the WikiLeaks targeting the U.S. State Department, it’s biggest donor, the United States, will no longer be able to fulfill its financial commitments to the U.N. The U.N., itself, hasn’t ever had its financial house in order, so they’ll easily buckle under the weight of the wreckage.

Of course the politicians in Washington DC are just as much in denial about the coming collapse as the politicians in Ireland, Portugal, and Spain are. For one thing, they are complicit in our economy’s troubles, so they really don’t want to believe that it will crash, because then everyone will know it was their fault, and from there, power will slip away from them.

The incoming Congressional Republicans are thinking, “OK, now we can get to work and make things better.” They are naive. It’s already out of their hands. They will be so utterly dumbfounded when everything falls apart. “What? How did it happen so quickly? Just when we were about to make a difference for the better with our best-laid plans, it’s a moot point because we’ve already crashed!”

Obama’s Chicago White House may have been planning to bring about this disaster. What? Sabotage? Yes. The liberals he hobnobbed with in Chicago weren’t your run-of-the-mill latte-sippers. Remember Bill Ayers? He’s only one person. There are many others who have programmed this President to sail this course. These are people who have always clamored for a revolution to overthrow the American government and the Constitution that upholds it.

Some of the wonks in Obama’s close circles have clamored for such things as:

  1. using the “green energy” push to accomplish Marxist objectives of redistributing wealth (“economic justice”);
  2. zero population growth, or perhaps even phasing in a depopulation of the planet;
  3. having a domestic military force that could perform security policing of our citizenry not unlike that of the policing our Armed Forces do on foreign soil, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan;
  4. writing a Constitution that would spell out what the government can and will do for you rather than the current Constitution, which states what the government cannot do, thus replacing limitations with bold initiatives;
  5. use the urban public schools to groom the urban youth to become the watchdogs of political correctness and become a massive voting bloc that will support progressive causes (Bill Ayers, himself, advocated for such “education reforms.”);
  6. denuclearize America so it can set the example for other nations to denuclearize, be the vanguard of peace, send no one out to foreign battlefields, and drastically reduce our military;
  7. use the persuasion of power in manipulating the American public if the power of persuasion doesn’t yield the desired effect;
  8. collaborate with the arts community and the media to amplify the desired message, and discredit sources of dissent;
  9. workers of the world unite to usher in a world government guided by the proletariat;
  10. never let a crisis go to waste, as each crisis must serve to consolidate power, and carefully and intentionally orchestrating the emergence of crises may be very desirable if doing so serves to make the public feel more vulnerable and, by extension, dependent on leadership;
  11. shape public opinion with astroturf if grassroots support for the desired agenda is weak, since those who dissent will feel powerless and offer less resistance if they are made to believe they are in the minority;
  12. it is acceptable to overthrow the government if it interferes with the propagation of progressive principles and policies.

There are other radical ideas bandied about within the circles of Chicago political power, but these give you some flavor of the voices that influence the White House.

On that last point, about government overthrow: it can be accomplished through a quisling that is able to consolidate power, through a manipulation of public sentiment, through gaming the system, through martial law, through weakening the power of the people, through violence (Bill Ayers, again), or through scrapping the existing system of governance by causing it to collapse.

I believe the Chicago White House is advancing on all of those fronts.

I’d like to credit the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance (SOB Alliance) for raising the red flags of warning back in 2008 before the presidential election took place. Many of those on the SOB Alliance blogroll posted a 13-part series collectively titled HOPE ON (Help Ohio Prevent Electing Obama Now). There were detractors that insisted that the HOPE ON series was over-the-top propaganda, but re-reading those posts now, especially the ones dealing with economics, the HOPE ON series has hit the nail on the head.

HOPE ON part 1 Obama is part of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac problem
HOPE ON part 2 Obama’s reluctance to drill
HOPE ON part 3 Above Obama’s pay grade
HOPE ON part 4 Can the other side of the aisle even be reached from where Obama is?
HOPE ON part 5 Obama requested $740 million in earmarks
HOPE ON part 6 Obama’s stances ill-defined when voting “present”
HOPE ON part 7 Obama not inspiring our trust
HOPE ON part 8 What are Obama’s intentions for the middle class
HOPE ON part 9 Measure Obama and McCain by their character
HOPE ON part 10 Obama will tax us
HOPE ON part 11 What would Ronald Reagan do?
HOPE ON part 12 Obama isn’t just liberal–he’s extremely liberal
HOPE ON part 13 McCain the real deal

Some excerpts that stand out in my mind:

Part 8: Obama has attempted to portray himself as the champion of the middle class, but the windfall profits taxes and the high-bracket income tax increases proposed by Obama will backfire in the form of rising unemployment as the government dampens earning power, not just of individuals, but of employers as well.

Part 10: Obama talk of federal initiatives and taxes make it sound as if the government creates wealth, but the government doesn’t. The people create the wealth of the nation, and tax policy must reflect that, but Obama’s principles don’t even acknowledge that.

Part 12: The Citizens Club for Growth rated Obama tied for last place with a zero rating in Obama’s first year in [U.S. Senate] office.

Part 13:  Obama has revealed himself to be a socialist. We now have the smoking gun. Now that he’s been pinned down, his counter-argument is that McCain’s platform is based on “selfishness,” which is hardly the way I’d describe John McCain when the chips are down.

Also Part 13:  It’s now been shown that Obama’s reluctant shift toward an all-of-the-above approach toward energy was just a sham, as it’s now come out that the regulatory burden to be imposed on the coal industry during an Obama presidency will be prohibitive. How many more industries, not just in the energy sector, could be impacted by regulatory burdens imposed by Obama remains to be seen.

More part 13:  Obama’s views on education reform aren’t directed at learning or achieving academic success. As shown by his work with Bill Ayers, “social justice” is to be the ultimate imperative that the schools are charged with achieving.

What strikes me about the excerpt from Part 8 is that, indeed, we have higher unemployment than anyone had projected, and Obama’s highly complicated tax proposal presented to the Congress ensures that the government’s regulatory burden upon businesses will only increase, plus, of course, he still wants the taxes to be raised on the very people who are more likely to be business owners, and, in turn, businesses are the very entity that hires workers and brings our unemployment rates down.

The excerpt from Part 10 shows that Obama’s government is very heavy-handed and intrusive. We know that government does not create wealth, but that’s exactly what Obama’s meddling with. Government does not make people healthy, but the government is meddling there, too. The rhetoric loftily asserts that we now have a government who will work on your behalf, that will no longer allow problems to be swept under the rug. Aren’t we all just happy that our government will no longer turn a blind eye to anything? Ooh! Big Brother sees what you’re going through and is here to help. Big Brother will interfere (no, not intervene, I chose the right word: interfere) on your behalf. The funny thing is, I don’t think the main motive for transforming our government into Big Brother is to spy on us. I suspect that they are trying to grow the government big enough to collapse the system so that is is scrapped and can then be replaced with a system of their own design.

The Part 12 excerpt about Obama’s voting record during his first year in the U.S. Senate speaks volumes about where we find ourselves today. How far have we come since then? Back then, he stood for zero growth. Now it’s less than zero. His radical philosophy prevents him from wanting to sustain our employment base.

To placate the citizens, of course Obama’s going to say, with his mouth, that he wants to put people back to work. He’s putting obstacle after obstacle in the way of putting people back to work, so we need to wake up and realize there is another agenda afoot. Obama’s agenda is not a jobs agenda.

If Obama’s agenda were a jobs agenda, he wouldn’t:

  • be pushing for Cap and Trade
  • on top of Obamacare
  • on top of a more complicated tax code
  • on top of a tax hike
  • on top of extending unemployment benefits
  • on top of confusion at the Federal Reserve
  • on top of bailouts for America’s least successful most unethical companies
  • on top of subsidies for industries that aren’t sustainable
  • on top of a Dream Act that will add incentives for additional foreign nationals to immigrate here illegally
  • on top of a moratorium on tapping additional oil and coal energy resources
  • on top of compensating government employees better than the private sector does
  • on top of letting SEIU union leaders shape economic policy
  • on top of continued dysfunction at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • on top of a mind-boggling budget deficit
  • on top of an unfathomable national debt.

That’s not how you create jobs. That’s how you collapse the system!

The first excerpt from Part 13 includes a link to the radio interview in which Obama emphasizes “economic justice,” which is a progressive’s euphemistic jargon for the rise of the proletariat A.K.A communism.

On energy, in the 20d excerpt of Part 13, the timing of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was impeccable. We knew that Obama wasn’t sold on the all-of-the-above approach to energy, and now he can smile like a Cheshire cat that he has the most perfect of excuses for continuing our dependence on foreign oil and subsidizing “green” fuel technologies that are money pits because none of them are on the pathway toward self-sustainability. If you want to help Americans, especially during the expensive winter heating season, stop throwing up obstacles to getting the cheapest most reliable domestic sources of energy. The agenda is collapsing the system. Everything points to it.

And from the final excerpt of Part 13, it appears that the Ayers-propelled education reforms will, once implemented, groom the youth for their role in the new system that replaces the collapsed one.

The WikiLeaks website founder is on the run right now. He’s given the ultimatum that if he is taken into custody, all the documents at WikiLeaks will instantly go public. That could happen any day now, and Mr. Assange of WikiLeaks will be the “fall guy” whose infamy will be forever memorialized in history books as the one who precipitated the crash of the world’s economy.

When we reach the “What do we do next?” phase when we’re all shell-shocked and feeling vulnerable, Obama, as President of the United States of America, will set forth a new blueprint, the likes of which we’ve never seen before, and when he does, we will finally come to understand what his meaning of the word “transformation” is.

Guest blog: NY State may be awash in red ink, but a state taxing the indigenous Seneca Nation is unconstitutional

Editor’s note: This blog article was written by James Williamson, one of my younger brothers, who is an Ohio native and, for now, an Alaska resident (his employer, a company owned by Alaskan Natives, soon plans to transfer him to another office in another state).  James married a woman from among the indigenous Otavalo people of Ecuador, so his learning curve pertaining to indigenous American peoples is fairly steep.  James has written three prior guest blog pieces for Buckeye RINO that dealt with recent schisms between states and the federal government.  In the last two guest blog pieces, Imminent Rebellion: The Tar Pit, and Imminent Rebellion: the new Fort Sumter, the federal government and several states, most notably Arizona, do not see eye to eye on the immigration issue.  His initial guest blog piece Imminent Rebellion: States vs the Federal Government spotlighted the rising tide of states reasserting their 10th Amendment rights, such as Texas, with its governor, Rick Perry, openly talking about secession.  The state of New York has not seceded, but they are acting like a nation unto themselves when they ignore treaties between the USA and indigenous tribes, such as the Seneca Nation (counted among the league of Iroquois Nations), with their latest tax grab scheme.  NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, representing a city with a voracious appetite for tax revenues collected beyond the city limits, stated he’d grab a cowboy hat and a shotgun to forcibly seize money from the Senecas on behalf of a fiscally irresponsible New York State.

Don’t Mess with the Natives!

Recently I read an article that caught me by surprise.  The mayor of our nations largest city is calling for the governor of New York to grab “a cowboy hat and a shotgun” and beat the natives into submission.  You can read the text here:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/19/seneca-nation-wants-bloomberg-cowboy-hat-shotgun-comment/

And the follow-up article here:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/21/american-indian-tribe-miffed-bloomberg-remark-sues-block-ny-cigarette-tax/

Of course the natives are not happy…

At first this may seem a trivial dispute, but what caught my attention was that the taxes were being levied upon the Iroquois Nations not by treaty, but by a state legislature.  Why is it that all dealings with American Indians in the early days of our country were by treaty and had to be signed by the president and ratified by the senate, but the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City are able to levy a tax on the Nations of the Iroquois through state legislation?

Let’s start with the U.S. Constitution, specifically Article 1 Section 2, which reads, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”  This of course was later modified by the 14th Amendment.  You will note a striking similarity between the previous sentence and the following sentence from the 14th Amendment.  “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.’

This may appear to be trivial but I assure you it is not.  Why were the Indians (Native American tribes) not taxed?  Could it be that they were considered sovereign nations?  If they were not considered sovereign then why was it necessary to sign treaties with them and have them ratified by congress in the same manner as any other sovereign nation?   The answer of course is that they were recognized as sovereign then.  Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states that “Congress shall have the power to regulate Commerce with foreign nations and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes”.  Sorry Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Paterson, you are not allowed by the constitution to regulate commerce with the Indian tribes.  Congress is.

Interestingly enough American Indians in their entirety were not considered citizens until 1924 with the passage of the Native American Citizenship Act.  (Everyone else got it in 1868 with the 14th Amendment.)  Even so, the first state to guarantee the right to vote was Utah in 1957.  Yes, that’s right it took longer for them than women or blacks.   But I digress…

Returning to the question of sovereignty and citizenship the 14th Amendment of the Constitution states:  “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”  Hmm… If the American Indian nations are sovereign then are they subject to the jurisdiction of the US and therefore citizens?  If the child of an ambassador is born in the US, the child may not be considered a citizen because an ambassador is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.  They are subject to the jurisdiction of the country of their parents because they are on U.S. soil for diplomatic purposes and, as such, granted immunity (at least in theory) from U.S. laws.   So what conclusions can we draw?  Well, it would appear to me that an American Indian is only a citizen and bound by the laws of the United States if he so chooses.  Otherwise he is a citizen of, and subject to the laws of, the tribe or nation to which he belongs and not subject to the federal government of the United States or to any of the states.

Interestingly enough, the Iroquois nations are the only tribes that issue their own passports.  Yes, the very nations that are balking at this unconstitutional taxation of the Indians.  Why would they issue their own passports and refuse to travel on U.S. passports if they wanted to be counted as U.S. citizens and be subject to its laws?  See the link below for the story:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/17/sports/17lacrosse.html

Now it’s understandable the Mr. Paterson and Mr. Bloomberg would want to tax the Iroquois nations.  Their governments are bleeding red ink and they want revenue wherever they can get it.  Since they have already been squeezing the life out of everyone else, the relatively tax-free Iroquois Nations probably look like a popsicle in the middle of the fires of hell…

I would have to question the wisdom in this policy.  Is it wise to antagonize a group of people who don’t consider themselves part of your culture, race, or nation when you have already removed them from their ancestral lands, decimated their population, destroyed their culture, and deprived them of liberty?   You have taken their coat and cloak already and now you want the sandals, staff, and undergarments as well?  Why not beat up a kid for his shoes and then take his lunch money too?  Why not chase a bear into its den to take the food right out of its mouth?  What Mr. Bloomberg fails to understand is that, in the mind of the Seneca Nation, he is the bully that has been stealing their lunch for a very, very long time.  He better pray that the kid getting his lunch money taken neither finds bigger, meaner friends, nor suddenly experiences a growth spurt and gains some more muscle mass…

Next time Mr. Bloomberg pick on someone your own size.  Try riding through downtown New York City with your cowboy hat and shotgun and get the mafia bosses to comply with the law and let’s see how you fare…

An open letter to the political leaders of the newly emerging Afghanistan: Try religious tolerance to defeat the Taliban

To Hamid Karzai and all the other political leaders in the newly emerging modern Afghanistan:

You are in the process of setting up your government.  You are in the process of winning the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan people to win their allegiance to the government you are setting up.  You are in the process of framing your constitution and laws by which the Afghan nation will be governed.

I wish to offer a suggestion that at least a small measure of religious tolerance be incorporated into the legal framework of the new Afghan nation that you are working to establish.  I wish to explain how it could benefit your government.

The United States of America, while not perfectly exercising religious tolerance, has pioneered incorporating religious freedom into a nation’s constitution.  Since the founding of our nation, other nations have seen wisdom in some of the provisions of our Constitution, and have used some of them in writing their own body of laws.

I am not aware of any nation, however, that has granted to their people the same or greater magnitude of religious freedom that our Constitution affords us, the people of the United States.  Even many of the nations of the supposedly “more enlightened” Europe still, nominally, have state religions.  As a result, no non-Muslim nation is more accommodating to the Muslim faith than the United States of America.

Sure, a national debate in the U.S. has arisen surrounding plans to erect a mosque in New York City near Ground Zero, where terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center by flying airplanes into them.  Public opinion polls show that the decision to build a mosque there is an unpopular one.  Certainly much public pressure will be exerted in an effort to dissuade from proceeding with those plans.  President Obama has said that he has made no pronouncements on whether or not there is wisdom in the decision to build a mosque there.  But, at the end of the day, there is the Constitution of the United States, and if anything were to stave off the abandonment of the plans to build a mosque there, it is the Constitution that will do so.  President Obama has affirmed this.

Meanwhile, there are other non-Muslim nations, such as Australia, which has no Bill of Rights, that have experienced violent strife between non-Muslims and Muslims.  The Australian government seems to have little effect in eliminating the occurrence of such vigilante mob riots.  Also, there are non-Muslim nations, such as many in Europe, that seek to regulate how Muslims within their borders dress themselves, and even regulate against the erection of minarets on mosque properties.  Despite the public opinion polls showing the unpopularity of the plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero, I am of the firm opinion that no non-Muslim nation is a greater friend to the Muslim faith than the United States of America.  Muslims within our borders thus derive benefits from a Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion.

I do not expect the new Afghan nation to mirror the United States in this regard.  I know that the people of Afghanistan are not prepared nor predisposed to allow such a degree of religious freedom.  But I would like to suggest some “baby steps” that can be written into Afghan law that would be of benefit to the new Afghan government.

The more a government wishes to enforce adherence to the tenets of religion, the more it will resemble the Taliban.  In a world where global communication takes place ever more frequently, populations are more exposed to philosophies outside that religion, and the temptations that accompany such exposure.  It can’t be helped.  A government can’t stop communications from beyond the borders from reaching its citizens to the extent that it once was, when travel occurred at a much slower pace, and communications from outsiders much less frequent.  To ensure adherence to religious tenets, such as Sharia law, governments must resort to more and more oppressive measures if they wish to counteract the influence of outside philosophies.

Behold the nations that do, in fact, desire to counteract outside influences.  The measures they take become increasingly more invasive into the daily lives of private citizens.  In the West, we might call it Big Brother.  The origins of that term “Big Brother” are contained within writings that are not permitted by Islam, but I don’t know what corresponding term is that’s used among Muslims to convey the same meaning.  Perhaps it suffices to say that governments wishing to counteract such influences will seek to spy on every citizen’s life to guard against any departure from the tenets of Islam, such as banning Blackberry devices until the means of decoding the encryption is disclosed to the government.

Another more oppressive way to counteract outside influences is through fear, with harshly severe penalties meted out against citizens and their families for increasingly smaller infractions of Islamic tenets.  Fear is the means adopted by the Taliban to counteract outside influences.

The grip of government over citizens must grow ever more tightly over time in order to maintain compliance.  Citizens are chafed by such measures, and voluntary allegiance to such a government may be compromised.  Will dealing with citizens much more harshly counteract the waning voluntary allegiance of citizens?  I suggest that there are more underpinnings of the Muslim exodus to the West, particularly to America, than just economic opportunities or the desire to spread the Muslim faith among infidel nations.  I suggest that many Muslims that have migrated to America do so, in part, because they do not choose to live in fear.

If you want to win allegiance away from the Taliban, you must not only provide greater economic opportunities, you must also grant citizens a relief from fear.  To do so, the new Afghan government must relax the grip upon the citizens to regulate every aspect of life.  They must trust the conscience of the citizens.  The government must trust that citizens will make decisions compliant with Islam of their own volition.  On the occasions where citizens deviate from the tenets of Islam, the penalty must not be so severe that citizens feel a lesser allegiance to the government.  If the government is to mete out much milder penalties, then the ultimate aim and desire of the government must not be to strictly enforce adherence to the tenets of Islam.

Instead, peace that mitigates against the rivalries that always exist among diverse populations should be paramount.

That peace, through the laws that you design and through the order that you exercise in your administration, yields a more stable government and a more stable society.  As volatility decreases, outside investments in Afghanistan will increase.  As investment increases, economic opportunities and prosperity will increase.  As prosperity increases, loyalty to the government will increase.  This has been the experience of the United States.

Allegiance to the Taliban will dissipate, and the new Afghan government will have no tendency to evolve into a regime that resembles the one under Taliban rule.

When the foreign troops withdraw, more than military and policing measures must be put in place to prevent the overthrow of your new government by the Taliban.  A population that will not tolerate nor cooperate with the Taliban is also essential to such resistance against the Taliban.

Relaxing the grip on the citizenry can only coincide with a small measure of tolerance toward deviation from Islam.  If you do not permit any deviation, then your government must become like the harsh regime under the Taliban, or the harassing and increasingly invasive regime governing neighboring Iran.  Those are the choices.  Make your decision about what kind of a government you want to be.

I spoke of “baby steps” incorporated into the legal framework of the newly emerging Afghanistan, and now that I’ve explained some of the reasons why and some of the benefits that will accrue, let me suggest what those “baby steps” might be.

There must be freedom of conscience.  This means freedom to believe the philosophy that one wishes to believe.  Acting on those beliefs, or practicing the tenets of those beliefs, however, would be subject to law.  In essence, one would not be penalized for beliefs, only for actions proscribed by law.  Therefore, an infidel, such as a Christian, would be permitted Afghan citizenship, with all that is entailed by citizenship, such as the right to vote and the ability to apply for and receive a passport, without being punished for merely believing what the infidel believes.   In the past, Afghan citizens discovered to be Christians might face execution.  For those who are discovered, by whatever means, to be infidels, such as Christians, no legal penalty would apply so long as their actions were within the parameters allowed by law.

Beyond beliefs, infidels ought to have a right to act upon those beliefs in a small measure.  Such actions permitted under the law, and the prohibitions subject to penalty under the law, might be as follows:

Infidels may assemble and worship together under the following circumstances:  They must not worship outdoors or in any place that is designed to make their worship conspicuous to passers-by.  The infidels cannot purchase property on which to build an edifice for worship, as such an edifice would be construed as advertising a religion other than Islam.  The infidels cannot assemble for worship in public buildings or businesses.  The infidels must assemble in tents and private homes unadorned by any images incompatible with Islam.  The infidels must not advertise.  The infidels must not solicit more followers, such as carrying out missionary, evangelizing, or any other ministries designed for recruitment.  The infidels shall not operate schools.  Any instruction must only be given clandestinely in private homes or during the course of the worship assemblies.

Infidels shall not speak ill of Islam, even in private conversation, even when assembled privately for worship, nor by writing or drawing.

Infidels may possess books of scripture so long as they are only viewed or used in private homes or at worship assemblies.  They must be stored in an enclosed space that conceals them from view to visitors to the home (in a closed box or trunk or wrapped in an opaque material would be okay, but not on a bookshelf, nor resting, uncovered, upon the floor).  They must be concealed when carrying them outdoors, such as to another private home or to a worship assembly.  The book cover can only label its title in words.  It cannot be adorned with religious symbols.  No sales of such scriptures can be transacted entirely within Afghanistan.  They must be purchased from beyond the nation’s borders, whether purchased in person and conveyed back to Afghanistan concealed in the buyer’s luggage, or purchased by orders placed inconspicuously by mail, phone, internet, or some other third party, to be shipped to the buyer by mail or other parcel courier.  If shipped to Afghanistan, the book should be wrapped to conceal the book completely, and the packaging can only display the name and address of the buyer, and the return address, with no name, of the distributor or seller, along with any postage stamps, bar codes, or other markings that couriers need for routing the packages to their destinations.  If foreign sellers balk at complying with such shipping requirements, do they want to do business with Afghan citizens, or not?  If they do, they’ll meet the requirements.

Only when assembled, or alone in private, so as not to have the intent of being heard by passers-by, may infidels utter prayers or speeches that are not in keeping with the Muslim faith.

In any week, the holy day used for religious observances by the infidels shall be the same as the holy day used by Muslims.  Saturday or Sunday assembly for worship, such as is customary in non-Muslim nations, will, instead, take place on Friday.

Apparel worn by infidels must be apparel that is also acceptable for Muslims to wear.  The same applies to hairstyles, makeup, jewelry, purses, wallets, and body markings.

There must also be some kind of legal penalty against Muslims who harass infidels on the basis of religion when the infidels are compliant with all Afghan laws, with the penalties meted out on a sliding scale commensurate with however egregious the harassment was proven to be.

With these minimal “baby steps,” Afghan exiles who left the Muslim faith might consider being repatriated, further strengthening the population’s resolve not to tolerate nor cooperate with the Taliban.  Those who are repatriated might also benefit the nation by bringing back whatever skills or wealth they may have acquired abroad.  Foreigners may feel less endangered by guarantees of these minimal religious protections, whether conducting business or performing volunteer service.

I believe when Afghan citizens sense the difference between the new Afghan government and the old Taliban regime, they’ll prefer rule under the new government over rule under the Taliban.  I believe the citizens will favor more freedom over more fear.

Perhaps Afghans will be able to tolerate more than these “baby steps,” and maybe religious freedom can be expanded a little bit more.  Yes, there is a risk of more exposure to Western ways, and all the perceived negatives entailed with it, but Western ways will be increasingly exposed, anyway, by virtue of the shrinking global village we all live in.  Helping Muslims to withstand the temptations of Western ways little bit by little bit by peacefully living with infidels in their midst is more useful than not building up the strength of one’s convictions, and becoming easy prey to temptations when the Western world, inevitably, bursts upon them with full force.  When that day comes, isolation from infidels will not have prepared them.

The American experience with religious freedom has been a good one.  Even “baby steps” in that direction will reap some benefits.  If you step in that direction, don’t fear the future.  It will be better than the past.

15th Annual Hispanic Leadership Conference

Hosted by the Coalition for Hispanic/Latino Issues and Progress (CHIP), one of the County’s oldest Hispanic advocacy organizations the conference invites expert speakers and professionals to inform attendees on the major issues affecting Latinos and the at-large community throughout the United States and beyond. It serves as a forum where civic leaders, educators, students, social workers, non-profit organizations, Union and corporate representatives, Hispanic-Latino advocacy groups and concerned citizens, can exchange views, network, and review information provided by national, state, and local presenters, enabling us all to better address the major issues facing the Hispanic-Latino and greater community. Additionally, we promise all an atmosphere of friendship, rejuvenation, and inspiration through out the Friday Speaker /Media/Sponsor reception, Saturday conference and Saturday Evening Formal Gala.

Editor’s note:  The date of the event is May 1st.  Please act quickly if you wish to register (by Friday of this week).  I received a registration form by email, but don’t have the tools to post it here. $70 for all the activities of the conference, $35 for just the Gala (fiesta!), or $35 for just the daytime speeches and workshop presentations.  For registration, you may contact Michael or Dina Ferrer by email (mf777df@msn.com) or by phone (440-989-1178).  I have attended some of these conferences in the past, whenever my calendar permits.  I highly recommend it.  For those of Hispanic-Latino heritage, this is tailored to you.  For those not of Hispanic-Latino heritage, like myself, this is fun, highly informative, and an is excellent chance to mingle & network.  From my own experience, I would estimate that 98% to 99% of what is spoken by the presenters is in English, so there is no reason for anxiety if you don’t know the Spanish language.  There’s nothing else like this in all of Ohio! More information continued below:

15th Annual Hispanic Leadership Conference

Scheduled for May 1, 2010

The 15th Annual Hispanic Leadership Conference hosted by the Coalition for Hispanic Issues & Progress (CHIP) will be held at Lorain County Community College’s Spitzer Conference Center and Stocker Theater on May 1, 2010 from 8:00am-4:00pm followed by the Saturday Evening Formal Gala, a celebration of culture, entertainment, fellowship and dancing from 6:00pm to midnight at the Lorain Party Center. Tickets are $70 for Conference and Gala, $35 each for the conference or Gala Only tickets, and $15 for dance only tickets after 9:00pm on Saturday. College students are ½ priced and limited scholarships are available for high school students. Conference and Gala tickets include a continental breakfast, lunch and dinner. Read the rest of this entry »