Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Regime's Relentless Persecution of Phil Hart

“Mr. Hart, do you contest the legitimacy of the federal government of the United States of America?”

That question was posed to former Idaho State Representative Phil Hart a few minutes into his February 3 federal bankruptcy hearing. By asking that question, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Newman transmuted the proceeding into a heresy trial.

“No, I do not,” replied Hart – a good and sufficient answer that was ignored by the Inquisitor.

 Newman read an excerpt from page 300 of Hart’s book in which the author complained that the political system of the United States, which was “originally intended to be a citizen/public servant relationship,” has degenerated into “a bureaucrat/master or licensee/slave relationship.”

“Do you believe that individuals in the United States are essentially in a slave relationship with the government?” inquired Newman. Unsatisfied with Hart’s reply, Newman proceeded to page 90 of the book, which referred to the New Testament principle that “godly government” was established “to reward good and punish evil.” 

“Our duty to submit to godly authority has a qualifier attached to it,” Hart pointed out in that passage, writing from the perspective of an Evangelical Christian. “When authority ceases to be godly, then we cease to have a duty to submit to it.”

“Does this accurately reflect your views?” asked Newman, prompting an objection from Hart’s defense attorney, Charles MacFarland, that the investigation of Hart’s religious opinions, which to an extent are shared “with a majority of mainstream Americans,” was improper. After Judge Terry Meyers overruled the objection, Newman continued.

“The bottom line of this is that when authority ceases to be godly, we cease to have a duty to submit to it,” the prosecutor asserted. “Does that accurately reflect your view?” More specifically, “As it relates to the IRS or the State of Idaho attempting to collect back taxes by levying or seizing your property or the property held in the name of the Sarah Elizabeth Hart Trust, do you think that the authority of the IRS had ceased to be godly, and that you had no duty to submit to it?”

Newman is a religious man. If he is at all a reflective man it might have occurred to him that he was literally playing the Pharisee by posing to Hart the same question that the Pharisees had presented to Jesus.
Furthermore, Newman belongs to a denomination, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,  whose 19th century leaders deliberately and systematically violated federal anti-bigamy laws out of devotion to a religious practice – “plural marriage” – that I regard as entirely repellent, but that they considered sublime and ennobling. Because of their principled refusal to submit to what they regarded (correctly) as unjust and unconstitutional laws, the corporation over which they presided was taken into receivership, its assets were seized, and the church itself slated for liquidation

In the face of the prohibitive advantage enjoyed by a government determined to do objective evil, the leaders of that church adjusted their convictions and submitted to that government’s putative authority (eventually, following a “decent interval” of continued covert disobedience).
In answering Newman’s question, Hart could honestly have said that the IRS never “ceased to be godly,” because it was a diabolical criminal syndicate from its inception. Instead, he pointed to the uncontested legal record demonstrating that he, like the 19th century leaders of Newman’s church, had complied in the face of the prohibitive destructive power wielded by the Regime that rules us.

“The record in the District Court case, and the record in the bankruptcy court case, really speaks for itself,” Hart pointed out. “I have paid probably close to $200,000 to the IRS in the last ten or twelve years. I have submitted all kinds of records, and complied with all kinds of requests. So I think that record speaks as to the actions that I have taken.”
Inquisitor Newman was not mollified by that response.

“I’m not asking about what you had to pay, but whether you believed that you were excused or somehow no longer obligated,” he persisted, tacitly claiming jurisdiction over Hart’s unspoken thoughts and imputed motives.  

Exploiting unusual leeway offered by Judge Meyers, Newman referred to a passage on page 91 of Hart’s book:

“When the government takes one third or more of a man’s yearly earnings, using as its authority to do so a law that is many thousands of pages long and so complicated that virtually no one can understand it, is government doing good? Or is government doing evil?”

“The point of that sentence was to make the assertion that government was doing evil in relation to taxation – is that correct?” demanded the Inquisitor. Hart replied by pointing out that former Treasury Secretary John Snow had called the tax code “incomprehensible.”

Implacably searching for evidence of thoughtcrime, Inquisitor Newman referred to page 172 of Hart’s book, in which the author quite sensibly observed that “The feudal system has crept back onto our land, but only because of the ignorance of our people. If enough Americans are willing to study the law and take action, we could defeat this feudal system using only paper bullets.”

Asked by Newman to justify this seditious statement, Hart pointed out that the signers of the Declaration of Independence – including his own ancestor, John Hart – believed that they were acting to throw off a feudal system.

“I think I’m infected with his political philosophy,” Hart conceded. 

Rebel ancestor: John Hart.
Evincing exasperation begotten by the knowledge that the witness was making a fool of him, Inquisitor Newman flung an accusation disguised as a question at Hart, without even pretending to lay a foundation for it:

“Do you believe that federal government employees have the ability, or the right, to murder American citizens as long as that employee has punched the time clock that morning and will stay on duty?”

Once again, if Hart could have honestly answered that question in the affirmative, citing the immunity from prosecution extended to FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi after he murdered Vicki Weaver during a 1992 siege that occurred roughly 70 miles from the courtroom where he was being interrogated. But the purpose of that question, of course, was to accuse, not to solicit an honest answer. 

“Your Honor, I don’t think I understand the question,” objected Hart’s bemused defense attorney.

“Neither do I,” observed Judge Meyers, whose patience with the federal attorney was finally exhausted. 

“Mr. Newman, I’ve already advised defense counsel that I’m going to deal with relevance issues later,” Meyer told the federal prosecutor. “But this has become so attenuated from the issue at hand … that I’m going to need something from you that establishes that I should continue to belabor it this afternoon as opposed to moving on to more material aspects of the case.” 

At this point, Newman tried to convince Judge Meyers that scrutinizing Hart’s political views, and inquiring into his unspoken opinions regarding hypothetical questions, was justified in order to establish his supposed “intent to defraud” the IRS by concealing assets in his bankruptcy. This was an elaborate exercise in question-begging: The federal government was trying to use Hart’s political opinions as evidence that such concealment had occurred, despite a detailed factual record demonstrating that the opposite was true.

“Part of that intent [to conceal] is evidenced by his views that taxation is improper [and] illegal,” Newman declared, “and to the extent he believes that the government is evil, that he is not obligated….”

“As the court that will be the ultimate fact-finder, it seems to me that, as Mr. Hart said, actions speak louder than words,” Judge Meyer pointed out. 

Objecting to Newman’s line of questioning, defense attorney McFarland briefly summarized Hart’s actions in relation to the IRS.

“From 2003 on he has dealt with the IRS forthrightly, and as Mr. Hart will testify, the IRS has not dealt with him forthrightly,” McFarland told the judge. “They disallowed all of his deductions for his business because he wouldn’t reveal who he sold this book to. So this is – excuse the term – I think this is a political witch hunt.”
Newman's professional progenitor Andrey Vyshinsky (center).
Like his philosophical progenitors in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, Newman not only sought to criminalize Hart’s political views, but also to misconstrue them in order to appeal to the prejudices of the ruling class. 

In the book from which Newman (or more likely a federal research drone) scoured up a few supposedly scandalous quotes, Hart makes it very clear that he does not oppose the income tax in principle, nor does he focus exclusively on the manifest iniquity of the IRS. 

“I believe Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was right when he said `Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society,’” wrote Hart two pages into the Introduction of his book, a passage carefully avoided by Newman. “Furthermore, I also believe that a balanced income tax is a desirable tax, and should be a part of the revenue collection apparatus of the federal government…. The original theory behind the income tax is good…. In the vernacular of the day, it was a tax on `accumulated wealth,’” rather than a direct, un-apportioned tax on wages and income. 

Hart even directed criticism away from the agency that was tormenting him even then, and has not relented in the decade-and-a-half since: “Congress has intentionally written the Internal Revenue Code to be deceptive while at the same time refusing to answer our questions on the matter. Don’t blame the IRS, it is Congress that has the power to levy and collect taxes. Congress is the villain.”

People of goodwill might disagree with Hart’s opinions (especially those who understand that taxation of any kind is theft, and correctly perceive the IRS to be an artifact of unalloyed evil). Newman’s encapsulation of Hart’s view – namely, that he regards taxation as “illegal and improper” – was a lie. 

Although the State-aligned media will routinely berate Hart for being a “tax protester” (as if that description is truly pejorative to anyone who understands American history), or a "tax cheat" (an expression that connotes a moral delinquency on the part of someone trying to protect honestly earned wealth from the designs of government-sanctioned robbers), Hart does not refuse to pay taxes, nor does he encourage others to do so. 
Confiscated: Hart's home in Athol, Idaho.
After conducting detailed primary-source research into the origins of the Income Tax amendment, its legislative history, and the early court cases dealing with it, Hart came to the conclusion that it has been deliberately misconstrued as a tax on earnings, rather than “accumulated wealth.” It is true that during the late 1990s, Hart – a registered civil engineer who earned an MBA at the Wharton School – withheld his tax payments while pursuing a constitutional challenge to the federal income tax. This was necessary in order for him to gain standing to sue the government. After the Supreme Court denied him a hearing in 2004, Hart filed the necessary returns.

In the midst of his legal challenge, Hart published his research findings in his much-discussed book, which immediately came to the attention of the Regime’s extortion specialists. 

"I read your book `Constitutional Income: Do You Have Any?'" Hart was notified in a letter from IRS agent Barbara Parks announcing that the terrorist clique employing her was beginning an "investigation" of the book. The purpose of that inquiry, she continued, was "to determine whether or not your statements are commercial speech and whether this activity causes harm to the government." 

With the help of the Center for Individual Rights, Hart successfully sued the IRS to interdict the agency's demand that he turn over the names of everybody who had purchased his book. Four years later, the IRS retaliated against Hart by issuing a final audit report denying all of his business deductions for eight years, hitting him with an additional tax liability of roughly $125,000. When he protested his treatment to the IRS, an official with the agency gloatingly explained: "When you don't give us everything we ask for, you get all of your deductions denied." 

"During [my] four year audit, I provided the IRS with all my canceled checks, receipts, invoices and so on -- boxes worth," Hart recounted to me. "Yet these deductions were denied solely for political reasons." 

The late Paul J. Desfosses, a Certified Public Accountant and retired U.S. Treasury Agent, confirmed and elaborated upon Hart's conclusion that he has been targeted forretaliation by the IRS "for failing to `snitch' on and provide the names of those citizens who might have dared to buy and read [his] book with its critical history and assessment of Federal Income Tax Law."

"While assigned to the Internal Revenue Service Idaho District, I was a National Treasury Employees Union Official and I routinely acted as the Union Steward in situations involving IRS employees who had been ordered to commit reprehensible and often felony criminal actions by their IRS managers or other IRS top officials," Desfosses testified. The agency "collected and compiled huge lists of citizens who were then targeted for audit and harassment for having bought and read a book such as Representative Hart's," or because they were perceived to be "a `threat' to the Federal Government's power" by IRS supervisors.

Despite the fact that Hart’s book was not a contested asset in the bankruptcy, or materially relevant to any controversy involving such assets, the US government did its formidable best to make it the centerpiece of its case. For at least six hours on the first day of his trial, and more than two hours on the second, Hart was interrogated not only about his financial affairs but his political and religious views. Three attorneys who had represented him in his dealings with the IRS were subpoenaed to testify against their client. 

Hart has conceded that roughly sixty percent of the contrived $586,000 tax liability imposed by the IRS cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. The purpose of the federal government’s spurious lawsuit against Hart was three-fold. First, the IRS wants to make it impossible for him to discharge any of the remaining “debt.” The second objective was to deprive him of the ability to find a home to replace the one that was seized through a tax auction conducted by the IRS’s Property Appraisal and Liquidation Specialists (PALS), a section of that organ of state terrorism devoted strictly to acts of dispossession. 

The third, and most insidious, objective being pursued by Newman on behalf of the people who slop his trough and hold his leash, was to create a legal record that could be used in a future criminal case – most likely for “perjury” and “obstruction.” This was made clear by the repeated and specific questions about perjury posed by the prosecutor in interrogating Hart’s defense attorneys. None of them offered any evidence of perjury on the part of the defendant, but as the IRS’s behavior demonstrates – and Newman’s courtroom tactics confirm – the Regime is quite capable of prolonging its pursuit of Hart despite the absence of evidence that he has committed an actual offense. 
Modern torture is more subtle. Somewhat.
Resolution of the government’s vindictive bankruptcy fraud suit remains elusive. Final arguments before U.S. Judge Myers will be submitted in writing after the trial transcript becomes available, which means a verdict won’t be rendered for several months.

“This has been going on for a decade and a half now,” Hart pointed out to me. “According to the best estimate I’ve seen, the government has probably spent about four million dollars by dragging me through the courts.”

Given that the resources of the Regime are as bottomless as its reservoir of malice, it’s likely that Hart will never see an end to official persecution while he remains within his mortal coil.

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast also deals with the continuing persecution of Phil Hart -- and the mysterious death of the IRS whistleblower who defended him:

Dum spiro, pugno!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Take Pity on Officer "Safe Space"

Blue Privilege isn't enough: Now cops want to be a "specially protected class."

Makaela Zabael-Gravatt was shot and nearly killed in her own backyard in Meridian, Idaho last September. The man arrested in that attack, Christopher Wirfs, had a violent criminal history. Prior to the attempted murder, Wirfs had spent several weeks stalking and harassing his victim, on multiple occasions explicitly threatening to shoot her.

Zabael-Gravatt twice requested, and was denied, an order of protection against the man who eventually tried to kill her. Media inquiries about those denials were deflected by the Meridian Police Department to the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office, which simply refused to comment on the matter. 

At the time, the Meridian PD and the Ada County DA were preoccupied with a much more urgent matter than protecting a desperate, frightened mother who faced an immediate threat on her life from a violent criminal. They were sheltering a Meridian police officer whose feelings had been hurt by a confrontational Facebook post.
Undefended: Zabael-Gravatt.
In March of last year, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office requested, and immediately received, a no-contact order banning Meridian resident Matthew Townsend from coming within 100 feet of the paling, timid creature known as Corporal Richard Brockbank of the Meridian PD. Townsend had been arrested by Brockbank a few weeks earlier without legal cause and justification. 

On the eve of his preliminary hearing on a spurious charge of “resisting and obstructing” (he was not under arrest, nor had a charge been made against him, at the time of his supposed resistance), Townsend published a brusque but inoffensive post on Facebook

In that cyber-missive, Townsend said, in essence: 

If, in defiance of all reasonable expectations, Officer Brockbank testifies truthfully, the charge against me should be dismissed. If this doesn’t happen, I will exercise my constitutionally protected right to protest the abusive actions of the Meridian municipal government and its agents, including Officer Brockbank.

When he showed up at the hearing the following day, Townsend learned that the Meridian City Prosecutor intended to have him arrested on a felony charge of  “witness intimidation.” District Judge James Cawthon, after examining the Facebook post in question, concluded that Townsend’s statement did not constitute a threat but offered the prosecution a chance to convince him otherwise in a hearing scheduled to take place place eleven days later.

Illegally defying Judge Cawthon’s court order, the Ada County Prosecutor’s office soughtan arrest warrant from another judge on the following day – carefully withholding the fact that Cawthon had already made a finding of fact and had scheduled an adversary proceeding on the matter. Townsend was arrested late that night -- a Friday – and would have spent the weekend in jail had his mother not arranged, on sacrificial terms, to pay his bond.

Overt threats: Wirfs in custody post-shooting.
Unlike Wirfs, who made specific and repeated threats against Mrs. Zabael-Gravatt, Townsend explicitly and repeatedly foreswore violent or criminal behavior and never threatened anybody in any fashion. According to domestic violence counselor Jeannie Strohmeyer, the likeliest explanation for the denial of Zabael-Gravatt’s request for a protective order was that there was no “domestic relationship” between her and the aggressor, and she wasn’t able to cite an incident of physical harm – including “false imprisonment.”

Ironically, while it is certainly true that Townsend was not in a domestic relationship with Officer Brockbank, there was a history of violence between them, specifically false imprisonment. In this case, however, it was the perpetrator of the criminal violence who immediately received an order of protection, owing entirely to his privileged status under what we are supposed to pretend is the law.

In the service of the official fiction that Townsend’s rhetoric victimized a member of the state’s punitive priesthood, Ada County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney James Vogt composed two motions that suppurate sophistry. In one, an objection to a defense motion to dismiss, Vogt insisted that by criticizing Officer Brockbank on Facebook, Townsend had committed an act directly comparable to a cross-burning carried out by the Ku Klux Klan.
Vogt’s other exercise in Olympic-caliber dishonesty was an objection to a defense Motion in Limine. Since Townsend’s statement was a form of political dissent, that motion contended, it is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be construed as a criminal act, so it shouldn’t even be entered into evidence. 

Proving that it is possible to simper in print, Vogt wrote that Townsend’s statement that he was prepared to conduct non-violent, legal protests in Brockbank’s neighborhood constituted a “true threat” – owing to the alleged “war on police.” The fact that the post tagged several of the officer’s family members (in addition to scores of other people – including your present correspondent and every media outlet in the Treasure Valley) was artfully misrepresented as a collateral threat to Brockbank’s family. Through the alchemy of Orwellian inversion, Townsend’s acknowledgement that everything government does contains an implied threat of lethal violence was repurposed into a supposed threat to use violence against the State and its agents.

“Given the current political/cultural climate, Mr. Townsend’s message … [serves] as a real and true threat,” oozed Vogt in his objection. “His words are more threatening in an era where [sic] the police are under attack from civilians, battered, and killed in the line of duty.”
Goforth's colleagues at a press conference.
That sample of special pleading was supplemented by a footnote citing four news accounts of police being injured or killed. Two of them described minor injuries suffered by officers in the course of their not-exceptionally-dangerous jobs. Two others were high-profile stories of supposed martyrs in the so-called “war on police”: Lt. Joe Gliniewicz of Fox Lake, Illinois, and Deputy Darren Goforth of Harris County, Texas. Both died as a result of what the public was told were anti-police assassinations, and honored with the familiar Soviet-grade state funeral and saturation media coverage.

Both of them, as it happens, were degenerate frauds.

Gliniewicz committed suicide after embezzling from a Police Explorer unit he led – and inquiring into the possibility of a contract hit on a local official who was investigating the theft. His corruption and long record of abusive behavior (including death threats against a civilian female employee of the department) were well-known by the officers and administrators who presided over a funeral that beatified him as a saintly defender of the public weal. 

After Deputy Goforth was gunned down by a mentally ill man at a gas station last August 28, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman – speaking without a particle of evidence to sustain his conclusions – blamed the crime on critics of law enforcement: “This rhetoric has gotten out of control, to the point where calculated, cold-blooded assassination of police officers happens.”

Shannon Miles, the thirty-one-year-old African-American man who shot Deputy Goforth fifteen times, has been repeatedly hospitalized for severe mental illness. His derangement is so severe that his defense attorneys cannot hold a coherent conversation with him. The only “rhetoric” that played a role in his eruption of criminal violence would be the voices in his head, not any he may have heard in the media.

Just as importantly, Deputy Goforth wasn’t engaged in official duties when he was fatally shot: He was en route to a motel with his mistress, a “Badge Bunny” who had been used as a pass-around toy by at least three members of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Goforth found himself in the path of Miles’s lethal derangement because he was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong company, with the wrong intentions. He wasn’t upholding the law, but engaged in the ongoing betrayal of his wife and children.

Granted, the details about those cases weren’t widely known when Vogt cited them in his motion. If they had been, the truth wouldn’t have mattered. In its persecution of Matthew Townsend, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office has proven itself an infinitely self-replenishing Artesian well of falsehoods. They know that the case is without merit, and that if they are able (with the eager help of a deeply prejudiced trial judge) to wring a conviction out of a jury, their victory wouldn’t survive an appeal. Their strategy, from the moment this case began, was the same as that of every other prosecutor in our increasingly Sovietesque system: Extort a plea bargain in order to inflict punishment without winning the case on its merits.

An FOP-supported bill in Maryland that would likely serve as a model for federal legislation would make resisting arrest a “hate crime” owing to the identity of the supposed victim. State legislatures elsewhere are considering similar measures, and some municipal governments are enacting resolutions endorsing the FOP’s demand to swaddle police officers in federal “specially protected” status.

In a letter to President Obama, Chuck Canterbury, National President of the armed tax-feeders’ union, demanded that “the current Federal hate crimes law be expanded to include law enforcement officers. This call has gone unanswered and our nation’s law enforcement officers continue to die in the streets.”
Head FOP Canterbury lobbying for anti-free speech legislation.
Canterbury, like most in his chosen profession, thrives in a falsehood-rich environment, so his lie of omission – namely, that on-duty violent deaths of police officers were down in 2015 – was predictable, but duly noted for the record nonetheless.

Apparently without giving thought to what it says about the supposed valor of police officers, Canterbury demanded that cops be designated a “specially protected” group who are “hunted and targeted just because of the uniform they wear.”

Canterbury’s tales of insurgent criminals and intimidated cops segued into a demand that “hate speech” be treated as a federal offense.

“Elected officials are quick to console the families of the fallen and praise us for the difficult and dangerous work that we do every day,” sniffles the FOP commissar. “Yet, too many are silent when the hate speech floods the media with calls for violence against police or demands that police stand down and give them” – Canterbury never defines “them,” interestingly – “`room to destroy.’ The violence will not end until the rhetoric does which is why I have called on Congress and your Administration to work with us to address the surge of violence against police by expanding the Federal hate crimes law to protect police.” (Emphasis added.)

The objective here, once again, is to penalize rhetoric as a criminal act against a member of a specially protected class.  Ada County’s depraved, vindictive pursuit of Matthew Townsend demonstrates that this is possible even without the benefit of federal legislation. The “war on cops” is a malignant fiction, but the Matthew Townsend case is one of many portents of a national war by the police against their critics.

                                Video Extra: The Ballad of Corporal Richard Brockbank

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast examines what happens when the local police become social justice warriors:

Dum spiro, pugno!