Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sheep-Shearing Season on the Revenue Ranch

During the most recent Federal Reserve-engineered economic bubble, state and local governments made extravagant promises to their tax-feeder constituencies regarding pensions and other benefits.
Now that the bubble has burst, sales and property taxes -- once a mighty, roaring river of revenue -- have been reduced to a thin, pathetic trickle.

This comes at a time when, as the
New York Times reports, there is "a $1 trillion gap between what all 50 states have promised their workers [sic -- a more accurate description is "employees"] and what they have set aside."

As the economic crisis deepens, how will state and municipal governments continue to provide for their most cherished constituency -- those who live by plundering the productive?

Wendy McElroy highlights one approach being pioneered by the town of Tracey, California: The city will now impose a surcharge on emergency services that have already been paid for through taxes. Residents of that city will be charged $300 for the fire department to respond to a medical emergency; non-residents will be billed $400 for the same service. There is the option of paying an annual $48 fee for "premium" 911 service.

Note carefully that this is
not privatization. Taxes will still be extracted, but tax victims will now have the privilege of paying twice for the same services. If you're a Tracey resident and see someone having a heart attack, McElroy wryly comments, "you should quickly set a trash bin on fire. Otherwise, by calling for help, your monthly budget may not stretch to include mortgage or food." Tracey's political class simpers that the city government is running a $9 million budget deficit. Interestingly, that is exactly the amount spent each year on employee pensions.

Rather than renegotiating those benefits, the city government is putting the screws to economically burdened tax victims, and doing so in a way that is going to cost the lives of some of them.
"Forget that phone bills already include a charge to cover 911," continues McElroy. "Forget that property taxes already assist with those costs. The politicos don't care. They want your money. And they will let people die -- many of them elderly poor -- rather than deliver services for which they have already been paid."

In other jurisdictions, the wealth-devouring class is resorting to other potentially lethal revenue enhancement strategies. Before examining the specifics, two principles should be kept in mind.

First, government -- unlike private entities that offer goods or services in exchange for revenue -- engages in pure consumption. As a result, all sources of government revenue involve destruction of wealth, rather than mutually beneficial commerce that enhances both parties.

Second, everything government does to obtain revenue contains an implicit death threat. Anyone who resists or refuses the demand for revenue with sufficient tenacity will find himself on the receiving end of an explicit threat made by an armed stranger in a government-issued costume.

A gathering of statist shearers: Maryland State Police and personnel from the St. Mary's County assemble before carrying out "Operation Most Wanted Weekend," a 2008 exercise in "taxation by citation."

Those principles provide the proper context to examine the tactics employed by various municipal and state governments to conduct what former Sheriff Richard Mack perceptively describes as "taxation through citation."

To put the matter bluntly, police -- the self-described "Sheepdogs" -- aren't here to protect the flock, but rather to make sure that we're securely penned in when it's sheep-shearing season.

During the penultimate weekend of February, police in Minneapolis-St. Paul Minnesota conducted an elaborate and lucrative sting to enforce the state's primary seat belt law.

Officers disguised as homeless people were dispatched to harass drivers at a busy intersection: The "homeless" people -- most likely in violation of traffic ordinances, certainly in violation of the 4th Amendment and Minnesota's state equivalent -- would peer into cars and then radio ahead to their cohorts in officially sanctioned crime, who would hand each "offender" an extortion note (more commonly called a "traffic ticket").

Dave Kvam, the deputy police chief of Maplewood (a suburb of St. Paul), insists that the multi-departmental racket was a justifiable exercise. After all, he told local reporter Ruben Rosario, "police have received numerous complaints of panhandling, and he believes the seat-belt law is a good one and should be enforced" -- by, among other things, having police violate ordinances against panhandling. That parallel is a bit unfair: Although panhandlers may be obnoxious, even the most tenacious of them couldn't get away with demanding money at gunpoint, as Kvam's fellow street criminals did during the seat-belt ambush.

Each victim would typically be mulcted $25 for declining to wear seat belts, coupled with a $75 "petty misdemeanor surcharge fee" -- which is essentially a tax inflicted on people for refusing to obey a spurious enactment the tax-absorbing class calls a "law" -- plus an additional $8 kickback to the state crime bosses in St. Paul (who had already been given a $3.5 million federal bribe to enact the primary seat-belt "law" in the first place). At least 122 citations were handed out in a space of three and a half hours.

As Rosario points out, the homeless ruse has been used not only in Minnesota but also "in Houston and a few other jurisdictions." (As we will discuss anon, Houston is also the scene of another creative effort to harvest revenue from the plebes.) As the economy sickens and street people become a more visible presence, it's quite likely their numbers will frequently include predatory, revenue-hungry police.

The tax-extracting class afflicting Texas will celebrate the beginning of March with the fourth annual "Warrant Roundup," a yearly event in which police fan out to shakedown or imprison anyone with unpaid citations of any kind. This includes not only traffic tickets, but also fines for violating any of the myriad morally unsupportable but lucrative provisions in state and municipal building, planning, zoning, and safety codes.


The armed revenue farmers presented in this film clip were on their best behavior, of course. They weren't shown banging on the door of some underpaid, overburdened private citizen at or before daybreak, demanding money and dragging away in handcuffs those who couldn't pay. They weren't shown barging into classrooms or workplaces to present the same demands and inflict public humiliation on those not capable of complying with them.

All of this does occur during warrant roundups, however -- a fact prominently mentioned in official pronouncements, if played down, for propaganda purposes, by government-aligned stenographers in the local media.

At the risk of culpable redundancy, I make the point once again:
All of this is done for the purpose of collecting revenue on behalf of the political class, not to serve or protect the productive public. This is made quite clear by the opening lines of a Houston Chronicle account of a "warrant roundup" conducted last August: "Nearly 2 million warrants worth more than $340 million are outstanding in the Houston area, and in most cases they're not for hard-core criminals. They're for average citizens who haven't settled minor traffic and ordinance citations."

Revenue farmer in the rear-view: No good can come from this.

Of the eight people listed as "Houston's Most Wanted" during the round-up -- people who had at least 100 outstanding warrants -- four were cited for the apparently grievous offense of “failure to securely attach a tax permit to a coin-operated machine.” Other grievous offenses committed by that band of shameless rogues include failure “to conspicuously post at every entrance a sign stating smoking is prohibited,” and “having no hand-washing sign in a bathroom used by employees.”

How can Houstonians sleep peacefully in their beds knowing that such marauders are on the loose? As Barney Fife might exclaim: "It's a regular reign of terror!"

According to the Chronicle, in 2008 the Houston Police Department -- in tacit recognition of the fact that its primary function is to plunder the populace rather than to protect it -- “purchased automated license plate readers that read up to 60 vehicle license plates per minute." This allows the police to identify those with outstanding warrants, including the growing number of people who “have to choose between paying their grocery bill or their tickets.”

What a shameful lack of civic consciousness! How dare such people put food on their tables when there are tax-feeders pining for revenue? And coughing up the money is so much more convenient now that police “have the ability to run credit card payments so people can settle their outstanding warrants on the spot.”

For those who cannot pay off the parasite class and its armed enforcers, debtors’ prison awaits: As the Texas Court of Appeals recently observed, Class C misdemeanors “are still crimes, and … the person charged can be arrested on warrant like any ordinary criminal, forced to travel a long distance to attend the court, [and be] remanded in custody and imprisoned in default of payment of the fine.”

The only things that government makes -- as I've said before -- is criminals out of innocent people, and corpses out of living human beings. A Government's lethality increases the more energetically it criminalizes innocuous behavior.

In light of that relationship, it's reasonable to suspect that the ruling class in the Lone Star State appears determined to precipitate a bloodbath: The Texas Public Policy Foundation points out that 779 Texas statutes identify “misdemeanors,” but “only 64 of those instances are in the Penal Code or Code of Criminal Procedure.”

In the once-free Lone Star State, concludes the Texas Public Policy Foundation, "the criminal law is not just for criminals anymore. The same is true of imprisonment: Half of all Texans behind bars were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.

This trend is not confined to Texas. The state and municipal governments that disfigure our country like pustules on the face of a smallpox victim are relentless in devising new measures intended to justify the extraction of wealth at gunpoint. This aggression will only increase as the depression deepens.

At some point, those presuming to rule us won't be satisfied merely to fleece their increasingly bedraggled flock. That's when the options for the sheep will be clarified into a stark and unmistakable choice between revolt and slaughter.

Be sure to tune in to Pro Libertate Radio for your daily dose of sedition -- weeknights from 6:00-7:00 Mountain Time on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tyrants, Torturers, and Taxmen: Pillars of "Civilization"

Not a scene from a movie: Stormtroopers assault a legitimate, lawful business in Las Vegas at the behest of the criminal terror syndicate called the Internal Revenue Service.

Maxwell Smart (referring to various implements of torture): Are you sure KAOS has all these devices?

CONTROL scientist Carlson: Oh, yes -- it's standard equipment for terrorist organizations.

Max: Well, where did you get these?

Carlson: From the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

"More tax is collected by fear and intimidation than by the law. People are afraid of the IRS."

Given its source -- former IRS District Chief David Patnoe -- that indictment of the Regime's most notorious secret police organ could be considered a confession. What he describes can only be called state terrorism.

The IRS is an agency that uses the threat of lethal violence to terrorize people into surrendering their legitimately earned wealth. In their unguarded moments, officials of that dreaded terror syndicate admit that they are at war with the public they supposedly serve.

"The language of war and the culture of conflict are the only means to prepare us for what is expected of us," recalled former IRS revenue officer Richard Yancey in his invaluable memoir Confessions of a Tax Collector. "How else could they [the commissars whom Yancey and his fellow cadres in the agency] demand what was expected of us? You can't take [the] life savings [of income tax victims], their car, their paycheck, the roof over their head and the heads of their children, without dehumanizing them, without casting yourself in a role that by necessity makes them the enemy."

One of Yancey's supervisors considered taxpayers to be, at best, fodder for the firing squad. That official, Yancey recalls, ended a profanity-infused tirade by describing taxpayers unable to surrender every dime demanded by agents of federal extortion as "Deadbeats ... if it were up to me, I'd line 'em all up against a wall and shoot them."

Yancey's supervisor obviously shared the late Joseph Stack's view that "violence is the only answer" -- whether that violence is implicit or overt.

Perhaps that official will receive one of the sixty Remington Model 870 pump-action shotguns ordered by the Treasury Department for the IRS's
Criminal Investigation Division (in this case, the name refers to investigations conducted by, rather than of, criminals).

Interestingly, each of those shotguns has a barrel fourteen inches long, much shorter than the "illegally" modified shotguns sold by
Randy Weaver to an undercover ATF agent who carefully entrapped Weaver in the hope of forcing him to become an informant for that detestable outfit.

When Weaver -- displaying admirable character -- refused to become a
stukach, the same Regime that entrapped him laid siege to his family, murdering his wife and only son. Weaver had never had any trouble with the "law" prior to his encounter with a street-level thug employed by the ATF -- an agency that could be considered the clumsier, more overtly thuggish sibling of the IRS. Despite the fact that he had done no harm to anybody, Randy Weaver and his family like the "deadbeats" denigrated by Yancey's IRS supervisor, were seen as suitable targets for extermination.

The term "deadbeats," of course, is properly applied to people who refuse to carry out legitimate contractual obligations by making timely payments. Since nobody has the moral right to claim the property of another through force, there is nothing legitimate about the supposed "obligations" the IRS enforces through terrorism.

Those who cannot or will not pay what the IRS demands are not deadbeats in any sense. They are "criminals" in exactly the same sense that the term could be applied to escaped slaves in the antebellum South, or those who abetted their escape in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Act.

Those who refuse to pay taxes are making a prudential calculation with which I do not agree, but one that neither harms nor threatens me in any way. The same cannot be said of the means used by the IRS to enforce the spurious enactments its functionaries call the "law" -- a usage that illustrates that not even the language is safe from the violence employed by that abhorrent agency.

The outpouring of statist sanctimony following Joseph Stack's despairing murder-suicide attack against the IRS was predictable -- and as malodorous -- as the consequences of drinking untreated water in Mexico. The effects of that onslaught are most unpleasant in the immediate vicinity of the main emunctory orifice, which in the present case is the fraudulent outfit called the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"This morning's attack by Joseph Andrew Stack against an IRS building in Austin, Tex., is a reminder again of how extreme hatred of government can morph into violence," oozed SPLC commissarina Heidi Berich.

Neither she nor anyone else at the SPLC deigned to prescribe the proper attitude toward a government that can ruin a man's career and financial prospects through a small change in the vast and all-but-inscrutable tax code. Nor has the SPLC or other self-anointed arbiters of acceptable political attitudes evinced concern over the hatred toward tax victims that can be found suppurating from the IRS, or the violence that frequently results from it.

In 1997 congressional testimony,
Houston IRS agent Jennifer Long explained that the agency teaches its agents to use "tactics -- which appear nowhere in the IRS manual ... to extract unfairly assessed taxes from taxpayers, literally ruining families, lives, and businesses -- all unnecessarily and sometimes illegally."

"The IRS will often pursue a taxpayer who is viewed to be vulnerable," testified Long. "To the IRS, vulnerability can be based on a perception that the taxpayer has limited formal education, has suffered a personal tragedy, is having a financial crisis, or may not necessarily have a solid grasp of their legal rights. Please understand, many agents are encouraged by management to pursue tax assessments that have no basis in tax law from individuals who simply can't fight back. However, it that taxpayer does object or complain, every effort will be made by the IRS to run up their tax assessment, despite their financial resources and force them to capitulate to IRS demands."

In many cases, Long continued, "IRS Management can determine that a particular taxpayer is simply someone `to get.'... Management will go about fabricating evidence against that taxpayer to demonstrate that he, or she, owes [sic] more taxes than was originally claimed."

"In certain instances, the IRS Management has even employed its authority [sic -- the IRS exercises power, not authority] to intimidate the actual taxpayers into fabricating evidence against its own IRS employees," Long disclosed. This is done to retaliate against any IRS agent who objects to the agency's illegal and immoral tactics. Sometimes the threats are mingled with offers of reduced or vacated tax judgments or even cash awards to those willing to perjure themselves.

Those disclosures, remember, were made by an active duty employee of the IRS. To her considerable credit, Long eschewed the long-established practice of other defectors from crime syndicates by declining to concealing her identity. Not surprisingly, Long's genuinely patriotic act of public truth-telling provoked severe and undisguised retaliation from the agency's ruling oligarchy.

A year prior to Long's testimony, a videotaped training lecture by an IRS agent for the Arkansas-Oklahoma district was leaked to the public. In that record (described and documented in James Bovard's 2000 book Feeling your Pain) the instructor is seen catechizing the trainees about the supposed virtues of arrogant, sadistic cruelty:

"Make them cry. We don't give points around here for being good scouts. The word is `enforced.' If that's not tattooed on your forehead, or somewhere else, then you need to get it. Enforcement. Seizure and sales. That's our mind-set.... You're not out there to take any prisoners. Prisoners are like an installment agreement. They [prisoners] have to be fed and clothed and housed. All that stuff. They're expensive. We're not here to do that. If you've got an assessment, enforce collection until they come to their knees."

The SPLC and its allies, who play to prurient interests by diligently documenting and publicizing vituperative utterances by repulsive but obscure and powerless Klansmen and neo-Nazis, have never bestirred themselves to object to violent rhetoric of this kind issuing from the tax-devouring pie-hole of someone who actually carries out such terroristic threats against helpless people. (It's worth remembering that many of those professional racists are federal assets paid with funds extorted from the taxpayers by the IRS.)

In his memoir, Yancey recalls a similar training session in which he and other future revenue agents were told by the instructor that the IRS had no use for "those who anguished over each closure, as if their decisions meant life or death for the taxpayer."

One trainee, in whom the light of human decency had yet to be extinguished, objected that the decision to confiscate a tax victim's money and property very often are matters of life and death. Oh, pish, retorted the supervisor: The IRS's mission has nothing at all to do with "doing the right thing for the taxpayer"; your mission is that of "protecting the government's interest."

"But what if the government's interest is wrong?" persisted the trainee.

"Our interest is never wrong or right," rejoined the supervisor in a reply worthy of his kindred spirits in the service of other totalitarian enforcement organs. "It just is."

From that perspective, the State -- like Jehovah Himself -- is a self-existing, morally autonomous entity, and its consecrated agents are likewise above accountability to any power under heaven.

Former IRS Revenue Officer David Patnoe offers a parallel account to that of Yancey. In his congressional testimony, Patnoe -- who became a representative of tax victims before the IRS's Collection Division in California -- described, in detail, the "outright illegal and highly behavior of IRS officials he encountered in his new profession.

In one case, an IRS functionary placed an illegal levy on $21,000 on an account belonging to one of his customers, a small businessman who owed no taxes but paid $7,000 in what can only be described as ransom in the hope of appeasing the IRS.

"I informed the Revenue Officer that ... her actions were not just abusive, but blatantly illegal," Patnoe recalled. "The Revenue Officer responded with one word: `AND?'"

That single, contemptuous syllable -- like so many other lawless actions undertaken by IRS functionaries -- offers an echo of Vladimir Lenin's 1920 definition of "scientific dictatorship": "Power without limit, resting directly on force, restrained by no laws, absolutely unrestricted by rules." (Emphasis added.)

In the days that have passed since Joseph Stack made the tragic and unsupportable decision to end his life in an act of aggressive violence (taking the life of another man, a father and grandfather, in the process), the organs of approved opinion have barraged the public with potted platitudes denouncing Stack's lawless behavior.

During that same period, the Regime served by the IRS killed at least dozens -- more likely scores, or even hundreds -- of innocent people in an illegal war of aggression against a distant, impoverished land.

The branch of the central government wittily called the department of "Justice" announced that its lengthy investigation of the Bush Regime's torture policies would result in no criminal, civil, or professional penalties against the apparatchiks who had devised "legal" rationales for those crimes.

The official report of that investigation revealed that one of the architects of the torture state, John C. Yoo, was committed to the principle that it is a suitable and proper use of presidential "authority" to order the wanton slaughter of civilians, if mass murder comports with his "tactical" judgment.

All of this provided the coda to a week that began -- as if by way of depraved overture -- with former Vice President Dick Cheney smugly confessing to the crime of abetting torture during his reign.

Yet we are ordered to believe, or at least pretend to believe, that all of this was eclipsed by Joseph Stack's self-destructive act of criminal violence.

The unduly revered Oliver Wendell Holmes, a belligerent statist (albeit one more akin to Maistre and Mussolini, rather than Marx and Lenin), memorably described taxes as the price we're compelled to pay for "civilization."

After all, absent the key confiscatory role played by the tax collector, how could torturers and other agents of state-sanctified violence perform their vital civilizing functions?

Civilization is built on the foundation of peaceful cooperation, rather than official coercion. It won't be restored through cathartic but morally unsound and strategically counter-productive acts of retaliatory aggressive violence.

The least we can do -- perhaps all we can do -- is exercise the liberty to call things by their proper names
(e.g., "taxpayers" are more properly called "tax victims"; one doesn't "owe" taxes, but has them "extorted" from him), and use whatever peaceful means are at our disposal to cultivate contemptuous disrespect for anyone employed by the Regime's apparatus of wealth confiscation.

Each gesture of this sort, taken individually, seems as evanescent as a snowflake. But an avalanche begins as nothing more than a particularly large gathering of individual snowflakes that somehow found their way to the high ground.

Be sure to tune in each weeknight (6:00-7:00 Mountain Time) for Pro Libertate Radio on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who's Afraid of "Interposition"?

Those who are mystified by the political concept called "interposition" can find a very compelling tutorial in a vignette from Larry McMurtry's novel
Lonesome Dove.

Led by former Texas Rangers Augustus McRae and Woodrow Call, the men of the Hat Creek Cattle Company left their village of Lonesome Dove, Texas to drive a herd of cattle to Montana. During a brief stop to replenish supplies and give their horses a rest, the cowboys encounter a small party of soldiers. Their commander, one Captain Weaver, approaches a Hat Creek Co. employee named Dish Boggett and explains that he seeks to "requisition" Boggett's horse, along with any others the soldiers find suitable.

After Boggett replies that his horse isn't for sale, Weaver tries to intimidate the man and his friends by saying that defying the U.S. Army is "treason" and that they could be hung. Once again, Weaver demands the animal, and once again Boggett refuses to sell it.

At this point, Weaver lets Dixon, his Army Scout, off the leash. The malodorous wretch beats Boggett to the ground and moves to steal his horse. This prompts young Newt -- a teenager who more than carried his weight in the company -- to intervene, grabbing the reins of Boggett's horse and reminding the scout that the animal, an item of private property, was not for sale and not the government's to take by force.

Newt's act is a form of peaceful interposition in defense of his friend's property rights. His reward is to be assaulted by the infuriated scout, who repeatedly lashes the young man with a quirt.
From across the plaza, Woodrow Call - who had been shopping at a dry goods store -- spies the assault on Newt, his only son (a fact not known to the young man).

After quickly saddling up and dashing on horseback the length of the town, Newt's infuriated father knocks Dixon from his horse.
Woodrow dismounts, kicks Dixon in the teeth -- and then he gets rude.

A blacksmith's shop nearby yields a branding iron that Woodrow wields as a club. His anger not abated, Woodrow then grabs the scout by collar and belt and hurls him, face-first, into an anvil. A pair of tongs then finds its way into Woodrow's hands. He is approaching the battered and bloodied bully with lethal intent when he is lassoed by his best friend, Augustus, who drags Woodrow away to let his fury dissipate.

"I can't stand rude behavior in a man," Woodrow politely explains to a group of stunned settlers who had witnessed the incident. "I won't tolerate it."


In addition to being the most beautiful scene in American literature, this episode illustrates several applications of the principle of interposition -- the lawful, necessary intervention by one person in defense of the rights of another.

Good company: Augustus McRae (Robert Duvall) and Newt (Rick Schroeder) in the miniseries adaptation of Larry McMurtry's novel Lonesome Dove.

Newt interposed to protect his friend's horse; Woodrow intervened with righteous violence to protect Newt from the Army scout's criminal assault.

It could also be said that Augustus interposed on behalf of the scout by preventing his friend Woodrow from exceeding his moral authority: Yes, Dixon deserved a stout beating, but killing him outright would have been disproportionate.

By threatening the use of lethal violence against those who refused to surrender their property, the fictional Captain Weaver made explicit the implicit threat made every day by his analogues in real life. In terms of both morality and the law, Boggett's refusal to sell or surrender his horse ended the matter. The violence that ensued was an entirely credible dramatization of what happens when agents of the state's killing apparatus refuse to take "no" as the final answer to a demand for the legal property of a law-abiding man.

By using the term "law" we are not referring to the positivist enactments through which governments plunder the productive on behalf of the parasitical, and inflict criminal violence on anyone who objects; rather, we are referring to what Frederic Bastiat described as "
the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense."

While providing for that common defense is supposedly the purpose of government, it is government that most consistently threatens individual rights and property.
Interposition could be considered a form of "citizen's arrest" -- that is, an action taken to arrest criminal aggression by government. The most basic form of interposition is defensive physical action, whether through peaceful non-cooperation or lawful exercise of defensive violence.

In political terms, interposition is an organized effort to accomplish the same end by way of deputized representatives. In the U.S. constitutional system, interposition can take the form of nullification of unconstitutional federal acts by a state government, or of the application of an unjust "law" by a jury (as in "jury nullification").

Critics of the concept treat it as either an invention of fringe-dwelling conspiracists or the disreputable refuge of race-fixated segregationists. Typical of such people is
self-styled "expert" on extremism David Neiwert (the author of a deeply silly and incurably dishonest book on "hate politics"), who -- exhibiting his proprietary blend of ignorance and mendacity -- refers to interposition and nullification as concepts supposedly created by the "militia movement" in the 1990s.

The truth, which is readily available to anyone with a library card (or access to Google) and a mind not shackled by statist prejudices, is that those concepts were first propounded centuries ago in England, and that they are part of the warp and weave of the U.S. constitutional system.
The Magna Carta is the product of interposition. The pseudonymously published 17th Century Puritan tract Vindiciae contra Tyrannos (elements of which clearly anticipate the Declaration of Independence), describes interposition by legislative bodies as a critical means of restraining a lawless king's corrupt ambitions.

The most systematic and compelling exposition of interposition and nullification was provided by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison -- neither of whom was among the living during the much-hyped "militia" scare of the mid-1990s -- in their 1798
Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which were enacted by the legislatures of those states in opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts.

The December 1798 Virginia Resolution condemned the Alien and Sedition Acts as an exercise of a power "no where delegated to the federal government" and subversive of "the general principles of free government," including "the Liberty of Conscience and of the Press." In the face of such usurpation, the states that created the federal government as their agent "have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil [represented by those Acts], and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them."

Kentucky's Resolution, which had been passed earlier, addressed the same concerns described in Virginia's measure and focused particularly on the Alien Act, which provided for the deportation of non-citizens arbitrarily deemed to be threats to the "peace and safety of the United States." The Kentucky measure declared that "alien friends are under the jurisdiction and protection of the laws of the State wherein they are [and] that no power over them has been delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the individual States, distinct from the power over citizens."

In 1814, shortly before the end of a disastrous war with Great Britain,
delegates from New England States met in Hartford, Connecticut. Using the same constitutional reasoning Madison himself had invoked in 1798, the Hartford delegates discussed the possibility of seceding from the Union as a way of interposing on behalf of constituents whose livelihoods and liberties were imperiled by "Mr. Madison's war."

Among the possible actions contemplated by the delegates was enactment of state measures nullifying federal laws "which shall contain [any] provision subjecting the militia or other citizens to forcible drafts, conscriptions, or impressments...."

From this we see that the concepts of nullification and interposition were not created by southern politicians seeking to preserve Jim Crow, as we're told by Neiwert and other self-ordained pontiffs of "progressivism." In fact, they were most forcefully articulated in opposition to war and conscription, and in defense of civil liberties and the rights of unpopular minorities.

Either out of deliberate deceit, incurable ignorance, or some alloy of the same, Neiwert acts as if this history is of no relevance to the current controversy over nullification.

In fact, when former federal judge Andrew Napolitano observed that state legislatures have the authority to enact health freedom measures intended to nullify Obama's proposed "health care" legislation,
Neiwert's reflexive response was to traduce the judge as a proto-Klansman, rather than to engage his argument in the fashion of a practicing adult. (In a moderated debate with Judge Napolitano, Neiwert would be whipped more thoroughly than a pint of heavy cream in a French pastry shop.)

If so much as a particle of honesty resided within Neiwert he would acknowledge that many of George W. Bush's left-leaning critics, to their credit, re-discovered the merits of the "states' rights" perspective during his reign. Some of them eagerly practiced nullification and interposition ala carte,
particularly with respect to the so-called USA PATRIOT act.

In early 2002, the municipal government of Ann Arbor claimed the honor of being the first to enact a resolution urging outright nullification of key sections of that odious act; by 2005, hundreds of other municipal, county, and state governments had passed similar resolutions of their own.

Somehow those entirely commendable acts of nullification and interposition were spared the indignant condemnation of Neiwert and other anti-"hate" activists, who now insist that invocation of those principles is a rhetorical
"dog whistle" -- a type of political code used by cunning racists seeking a PR-friendly way to rile up their vast and stealthy constituency.

Likewise, during the late, unlamented Bush era, some 30 major U.S. cities enacted "sanctuary city" measures forbidding local police to enforce federal immigration laws. Unlike opposition to the PATRIOT (sic) act during the Bush era, and to much of the Obama administration's agenda today, the "Sanctuary City" movement was obviously and undeniably rooted in racial politics, as practiced by foundation-funded (and often federally supported) ethnic lobbies such as MALDEF and La Raza. Yet those racially tinged acts of nullification and interposition -- a form of city-by-city secession from a national immigration policy -- escaped censure by Neiwert and other self-appointed titans of tolerance.

The desire for power frequently begets petty hypocrisy, which
is among the world's most tragically abundant resources. Just as many of yesterday's leftist dissidents now treat political nonconformity as a species of treason, many of those who denounce the current president as a domestic enemy would have considered such rhetoric a Gitmo-worthy offense just a few years ago.

Many of yesterday's most strident "peace" activists are either deferentially silent, or dutifully supportive, as their president slays thousands of innocent foreigners via remote control. Likewise, many (by no means all) of those who condemn Obama's orgy of federal spending are recent converts to the church of public austerity, having endured eight years under the reign of the equally profligate Bush without audible complaint.

The problem here, of course, is that
both sides in this manufactured conflict are manipulated by power-obsessed people into defining the enemy in "horizontal" rather than "vertical" terms; that is, the real threat consists of "those people" over there, rather than those who presume to exercise power over all of us. Rather than seeking an end to the Leviathan State, each side seeks to control its coercive appendages while protecting its own interests in the cynical and entirely misplaced confidence that the powers they surrender to the state today won't be pitilessly deployed against them tomorrow.

There are at least a few campaigns that offer some modest cause for optimism:

*Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, who insists that the only legitimate function of peace officers is the protection of person and property (he denounces most "law enforcement" as "taxation by citation") has finding at least some traction in his campaign to educate county sheriffs regarding their duty to interpose on behalf of constituents threatened by federal agencies, including -- no, especially -- the IRS.

*New Hampshire's Free State Project is seeking to cultivate an agorist society through both electoral politics and creative acts of peaceful non-cooperation with the state.

*South Carolina state representative Mike Pitts, who obviously has absorbed some of the lessons taught by the Ron Paul "End the Fed" movement, has proposed legislation to forbid the use of the Regime's fraudulent script (Federal Reserve Notes, commonly called "dollars") as legal tender in the Palmetto State. Although it is entirely symbolic at present, that measure may acquire substance as the collapse of the Regime's fiat currency accelerates.

*The Second Vermont Republic has not confined itself to symbolic repudiation of the Regime's currency. That movement, which promotes peaceful withdrawal from Washington's empire, has minted a silver token with a face value of $25. Last month, the movement announced that it would field nine candidates for state-wide office, including gubernatorial candidate Dennis Steele.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Steele reduces his political program to the essentials: The bastards who are running things are not getting his sons.

"I see my kids going off to fight in wars for empire 10, 15, 20 years from now," Steele told Time magazine. Think of Captain Woodrow Call racing to rescue his son Newt, and you've got a good picture of Steele's motivations.

That's interposition in its most elemental form. In what sense is this difficult to understand?

An Entirely Inadequate "Thank You"

I am profoundly thankful for the incredibly generous help my family has received during the last week -- not just the donations of any size (all of which are tremendously helpful), but also the kind notes, prayers, and very useful advice. While I intend to express thanks individually, I wanted to acknowledge your kindness in public. On behalf of Korrin and our kids -- thank you.

Be sure to listen to Pro Libertate Radio each weeknight from 6:00-7:00 Mountain Time on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Most Liberating Word

"Let your `yes' be `yes,' and your `no' be `no'; anything more than this comes from the evil one."

Jesus of Nazareth, as quoted in Matthew 5:37

Years ago, somebody coined the aphorism, "`No' is a complete sentence." While some grammarians might disagree with that conclusion, "no" is incontrovertibly the most powerful word that a freedom-focused individual can utter -- assuming, of course, that he has the fortitude to let it be his final answer.

To say "no" in reply to an offer, suggestion, or demand is to assert authority. The same can be said of "yes," but only when it is said in particular circumstances. "Yes" can signify either honorable agreement or craven submission. Saying "no," on the other hand, is a way of claiming one's sovereignty and demanding that it be respected.

Refusing consent is an assertion of the most elemental property right. Saying "no" during a business negotiation may abort a transaction, or it may facilitate a mutually agreeable arrangement on slightly different terms.
In either case, parties involved in such a conversation understand and respect the sovereignty of each other, and agreement doesn't occur until and unless both sovereign actors are satisfied with the terms.

When "yes" is said in this context, the rights and interests of both parties are protected, assuming that both follow the admonition from the Sermon on the Mount that they will make good on the promises they freely made.

We are routinely told that the government ruling us rests on the "consent" of the governed. "Submission" is a more appropriate term.

Think of it for a second: How often does the State recognize our right to withhold consent? Are those in the State's employ generally willing to accept "no" as a final answer, or do they generally treat it as an act of criminal rebellion?

In myriad ways, from the smallest imposition to the most grotesque mass murder, agents of the State treat non-compliance as justification for the use of potentially lethal force.
If an armed stranger in a state-issued costume demands that you submit to an abduction called an "arrest" despite the fact that you've done nothing to injure anybody, what will happen to you if you refuse to cooperate?

Consider the Census drone who just materialized on your doorstep. He may appear to be a harmless and inoffensive guy who's just overjoyed to be getting (not "earning," mind you) a paycheck as the economy implodes. But if you assert your independence by turning him away outright, or even by supplying him with no more than the minimal information he's "legally" permitted to acquire, the State that employs him may seek to steal up to $5,000 from you as punishment for your refusal to consent.

Today, as it was in the days of Caesar Augustus, the census is intimately connected to the State's practice of official theft via taxation. The IRS, with a brazen dishonesty appropriate to any totalitarian enforcement agency, insists that collection of the income tax depends on the "voluntary compliance" of tax slaves. This is true in exactly the same sense that the consummation of any other extortion demand depends on the "voluntary compliance" of the victims.

The otherwise charming western Idaho town in which my family lives is home to a tax accounting firm claiming the perfectly Orwellian name "Liberty Tax Service."
The "service" offered by firms of that kind is a bit like what we could expect from a "dating" service catering to rapists. A sign displayed near the firm's storefront office proclaims, "Satisfaction guaranteed" -- as if satisfaction should be the victim's appropriate response to being efficiently and professionally robbed by an insatiable assailant.

To maintain the illusion of consent, the State promotes the fiction of "representative government." In such a system some people can supposedly "consent" to the theft of property belonging to other people, and sanctify the plunder as an act of "mutual" consent. Exactly the same claim can be made by any other robber band. Of course, this comparison is unfair, since private criminals rarely treat their victims to sanctimonious lectures about their lack of "public-spiritedness." This is one reason, among many, why democracy is the most insidious form of tyranny.

Few, if any, have penetrated to the heart of the evil pretense of "representative government" more incisively than Chief Joseph during the U.S. Government's campaign to expropriate the heroic Nez Perce Indians.

Like many other Indian communities, the Nez Perce had no central governing authority. This complicated matters when Washington sought out an individual leader, or ruling oligarchy, whom it could seduce or intimidate into "consenting" to the theft of Nez Perce lands.

Washington solved that problem by creating a central government and appointing a Quisling "leader" -- named, quite suitably, Lawyer -- who promptly signed over the Wallowa Valley in the name of the entire tribe. (This would become a model for the dispossession of Indians across the continent, and it continues today wherever hapless people enjoy the blessings of U.S.-imposed "liberation"; think of the U.S.-created puppet "governments" in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

In 1877, General Oliver O. Howard summoned Joseph and other Nez Perce chiefs to a meeting at which it was announced that they would be evicted from lands they had not sold. Neither Joseph nor his compatriots had consented to the 1863 treaty signed by Lawyer. Howard had repeatedly acknowledged that there was no legal or moral justification for the seizure of the Wallowa Valley and the confinement of the Nez Perce to a reservation. Yet when required to do so Howard was willing to carry out his orders to "occupy the Wallowa Valley in the interest of peace."

Displaying a patience transcending that of most Christian saints, Joseph made one final appeal to Howard's conscience in the form of a property rights parable every bit as lucid and cogent as anything given birth by Frederic Bastiat's capable pen.

"Suppose a white man should come to me and say, `Joseph, I like your horses. I want to buy them,'" Joseph stated. "I say to him, `No, my horses suit me; I will not sell them.' Then he goes to my neighbor and says, `Pay me money, and I will sell you Joseph’s horses.' The white man returns to me and says, `Joseph, I have bought your horses and you must let me have them.'"

"If we sold our lands to the government," Joseph concluded, "this is the way they bought them."

This mattered not at all to Howard, who -- despite his oft-repeated claim to be a Christian believer -- was content to act as an instrument of official corruption.

Seeking to protect his people from a war with a vastly more powerful and utterly amoral enemy, Joseph relented to the demand that the Nez Perce relocate to the Lapwai reservation. This didn't end the matter, however, as hostilities between Indians and settlers led to bloodshed.

On this land, Americans won a battle for freedom: Idaho's White Bird Canyon, where heroic Nez Perce Indians soundly defeated the U.S. Army.

Matters came to a head when a group of irregular troops -- defying a truce flag -- fired on a Nez Perce encampment at White Bird Canyon, leading to an engagement in which the U.S. Army endured an unambiguous, and richly deserved, ass-thrashing. Joseph would later lead his 700-member band -- most of whom were non-combatants -- on a 1,500-mile strategic retreat, repeatedly winning hit-and-run engagements against the U.S. Army.

Eventually Joseph and his band were cut off by a force commanded by Colonel Nelson Miles near Montana's Bear Paw Mountains, just forty miles shy of freedom in Canada.

If the objective was to force the Nez Perce to remove themselves from the Wallowa Valley, why did Washington insist on capturing them, rather than allowing them to leave the country? The answer is obvious to anyone who understands the malignant logic of government: Joseph and his colleagues had ultimately refused to submit. Yes, they agreed, in the face of prohibitively superior force, to go on the reservation. But when they came under criminal assault, the Nez Perce acquitted themselves as men, rather than serfs. They reclaimed the right to say "no," and they stuck with that answer.

To those who presumed to be their masters, it was impermissible for the Nez Perce to leave the United States on their own terms.
Sitting Bull, who had fled to Canada with his Sioux band, received similar treatment for exactly the same "offense."

In 1875, when he was informed by a federal emissary that Washington wanted to purchase the Black Hills, Sitting Bull clutched a pinch of earth and, releasing it to the wind, replied: "
I do not want to sell any land to the government – not even as much as this.”

The following year, Sitting Bull and his allies annihilated Custer's force at the Battle of Greasy Grass, an engagement the losers refer to as the Battle of the Little Bighorn. That Sioux triumph is the last victory won by any Americans in an armed struggle for freedom prior to the Branch Davidians' successful defense of their home against the ATF's criminal assault in February 1993. Alas, both of those triumphs proved to be tragically reversible.

Amid mounting retaliation by Washington, Sitting Bull and his band withdrew to Canada. In July 1881, facing the specter of death by starvation, they returned to the United States. After being illegally imprisoned at Fort Randall, Sitting Bull was forced to endure a totalitarian homily preached by Republican Senator John Logan of Illinois.

"You are not a great chief of this country,” Logan declared. “You have no following, no power, no control, and no right to any control. You are on an Indian reservation merely at the sufferance of the government. You are fed by the government, clothed by the government, your children are educated by the government, and all that you have and are today is because of the government…. The government feeds and clothes and educates your children now, and desires to teach you to become farmers, and to civilize you, and make you as white men.”

In the interests of brevity, Logan could have stated the same case in a single austere phrase: From now on, you are not permitted to say "no."

The Leviathan State slaughtered, persecuted, and dispossessed Indians in order to compel them to live "as white men." That same State is now reducing Americans of all descriptions to a status akin to that of the conquered Indians: Helpless, dispossessed, subject to whatever our rulers see fit to impose on us.

Sitting Bull was murdered by police on the morning of December 15, 1890: The unarmed chief was shot in the chest after refusing to submit to an unlawful arrest. In death, however, he claimed a small but priceless victory by reclaiming his right to say "no."

The all-pervasive influence of our enemy, the State, offers us an ironic blessing in the form of myriad opportunities to win similar victories -- if we have the fortitude to say "no" and mean it. If enough of those victories accumulate, eventually the state will be undone.

Obiter Dicta

Tomorrow (February 13) I will be speaking at a "Tea Party" event at the Asotin County Fair Grounds in Asotin, Washington. The event will begin at 1:00 PM.

I really hate to bring this up....

I greatly appreciate the exceptionally generous help many of you have sent to us, and I've been criminally negligent in expressing individual thanks. Right now, this blog is the only means I have to earn the money necessary to support a family of eight.

Owing to my wife's circumstances, it is difficult for me to seek a "day job" outside our home, even if they were easily found, which they're not. (For reasons of conscience, I've resisted repeated suggestions that I apply for employment as a prison guard.)

There's no lack of work for me to do; I'm constantly writing, hosting a daily radio show, recording broadcast commentaries, doing speaking engagements, and so forth. I'm very much in demand, but that demand has yet to coalesce into a steady paycheck. As a result, we're facing the prospect of being completely broke within the next two months unless I can find an immediate source of income.

I plan to publish another book very soon. In the immediate term, I would be immensely grateful for any help anyone can offer in the form of job referrals or other employment leads. (I've applied for jobs in mines and warehouses as well as newspapers, magazines, and webzines.)

I desperately want to continue writing, and will continue to do so as circumstances permit -- but I have to keep my family fed and sheltered and will do whatever I honorably can to provide for them.

Many of you have made generous donations by way of my PayPal account; thank you. If we were to receive, consistently, a large number of small donations, this would be sufficient to keep this blog in business at least long enough for me to find some way to keep my family afloat.

Thanks again, and God bless.

Be sure to listen to Pro Libertate Radio each weeknight from 6:00-7:00 Mountain Time on the Liberty News Radio Network. And be sure to visit the archives for any installments you've missed.

Dum spiro, pugno!