Alex Jones vs. Piers Morgan

I’m sure many of you know that Alex Jones was invited onto the Piers Morgan Show to debate the Brit over his anti-gun stance.  Alex has started a petition to deport Piers, which I think is a bit ridiculous, all things considered.  I’m obviously pro-gun ownership, but there are better ways to get the message across than by screaming at people.

I enjoy Alex Jones for the entertainment value.  He has some valid points, and he seems to be committed the cause, but yelling in people’s faces isn’t usually the thing that changes their mind.  Rational debate backed up by cold, hard facts is far more likely to change minds, and even then, sometimes people just don’t want to listen.  There’s a great quote about open minds and a good many of them needing to be closed for repairs.

My gut reaction to this is that Alex was invited on to make the rest of us Second Amendment fighters look like utter nutcases.  There is nothing that those who would take our guns away would like better than to convince the public that we’re all dangerous whackjobs who shouldn’t be allowed to have a goldfish, let alone an AK-47.  Anyone who knows anything about the anti-establishment movements knows that Alex Jones is one of its most vocal spokesmen.  Unfortunately, Alex Jones often sounds like he’s a bit off the rails, and he could very well be, honestly.  I find his rants entertaining, but I don’t take everything he says seriously.  He has good guests from time to time, but his propensity to interrupt them, rant, rave, yell, and get off-topic don’t make him sound like an intellectual of any sort; they may him sound like a nutter who figured out how to operate radio broadcasting equipment.

In the eyes of the mainstream American public, this does the liberty movement no favors.  It discredits the lot of us, whether that’s a fair judgment to levy or not.  The fact is that people who don’t have gobs of time to research the liberty movement are going to think that most of us are unhinged, and that is not going to make people feel comfortable about the notion of us having guns.  Frankly, they will probably think that we’re the ones who run up in some public place and start shooting, even though that’s not the case.

Honestly, I’m sort of disappointed that Alex went on that show.  He knows how he is.  Did he really think that he was doing us any favors by getting up in Piers’ face and screaming at him?  It was painful to watch.  My husband and I had to turn it off.  I would really like someone to debate Piers Morgan on this issue, but I’d like it to be someone like Tom Woods, Lew Rockwell, or Ben Swann – someone who can keep their s**t together, make valid points, and not make the lot of us sound like loonies.

As for deporting Piers Morgan, well, who cares?  Everyone in this country, citizen or no, is entitled to his/her opinion.  I think he’s completely wrong, but I don’t think that his opinions are a reason to send him packing back to Old Blighty.  Frankly, he’s just another socialist, anti-gun, pro-fiat money blowhard.  I know that calling him names doesn’t make me right, but the facts are out there.  Britain has five times the amount of violent crime per 100,000 people that the US does.  Lack of guns has not made England safe, believe me.  My husband is English, and he has plenty of gnarly stories about knife crime, chavs, kids on street corners beating up old people, and honor killings.  England is not a safe place, no matter what Piers says.

In any case, I really hope that next time someone from the liberty movement gets invited to speak on a national program, he/she makes a better showing than Alex Jones did.  I don’t necessarily think Alex is dumb, but he sure did play into the hands of anti-gun lobbyists on that one.  We need calm, collected, well read, intelligent folks in the public arena, not loose cannons who are more prone to name calling than straight talk.  I think it’s a valuable lesson to be learned for the rest of us, too.  If someone engages you in debate, or if you choose to engage someone else, for God’s sake, make an intelligent argument instead of just getting angry and losing it.  We aren’t winning any points by allowing emotions to overrun our rational minds.

The Gun Debate

As all of you readers are no doubt aware, since Sandy Hook the news has been alight with pundits and policy makers sounding off about the right to bear arms.  As is generally the case for me, I don’t pay much mind to the media, which isn’t too difficult when you’re living abroad.  My Facebook newsfeed, however, has been rife with commentary about guns and gun ownership, and most of the comments have generally been against.  Granted, most of my friends from university are progressive and have never fired a gun in their lives.  Most of them are totally in favor of the bill that Dianne Feinstein is proposing.  I doubt that I need to tell you this, but I’m against any form of gun control whatsoever.

In the first place, crooks are always going to find a way to get guns.  I know that this argument is oft-repeated, but it’s true.  Crazy people will find ways to do crazy things.  To me, it makes zero sense to prevent everyone from having guns because of the actions of a very select minority.  Some people abuse animals.  Does that mean that nobody should have the right to own a dog or cat?  Some people overeat.  Does that mean that we shouldn’t allow anyone the choice of buying super sized McDonald’s meals or 7-Eleven Big Gulps?  Oh, wait…

The point behind this argument is that people who follow the rule of law will continue to follow it.  Most people have no desire to hurt others.  Those few individuals who do have a desire to hurt large groups of people will find a way to do so.  And if memory serves, the biggest school massacre in the US took place in Michigan and involved explosives.  Food for thought.

Pro-gun control advocates are often quick to cite the fact that the US has the highest murder rate in the Western world, and they link this to the fact that we are allowed to own guns.  Interestingly, in the 60s and 70s, Canadians owned twice as many guns per household as the US, and yet the murder rate in the US was over two times that of Canada.  This statistic alone would suggest that perhaps guns themselves are not the problem but, wonder of wonders, it’s a societal problem.  One would expect that, the more firearms present in a country, the higher the murder rate.  This mantra is repeated over and over ad nauseum by those who are in favor of gun control, but history shows us that this simply isn’t true.

Unfortunately, a good number of people in this country don’t fully understand why we have the right to bear arms and what that means in relationship to the Constitution and our rights not only as US citizens but as members of the human race.  I have yet to meet a true libertarian who didn’t believe in natural rights.  If you believe in natural rights, you most likely recognize property ownership as the basis of society, which is also the basis for wanting peace.  If you believe that one person does not have the right to deny another individual of his or her property, this will necessarily extend to their person.  That is, you may not kill or injure another person without just cause, as this deprives that person of the basic thing that they own – their body.

Some will argue that there are other ways to protect oneself, one’s family, and one’s material property.  I argue that if someone is going to come up in my house with an illegally-gotten gun, I damn sure don’t want to be bringing a knife to a gunfight.  I don’t want to be that woman trapped in a dark parking lot with an ill-intentioned assailant on my tail and nothing to defend myself with save my bare hands.  I’m not interested in becoming a statistic.  I am not okay with someone coming into my home with the intent to rob me and kill or injure my family.  I believe that I have the basic right to defend myself by whatever means I see fit, and I don’t believe that the government has the right to tell me that I can’t do that.  Is the government going to come and defend me and mine in the middle of the night?

The other major issue at stake that I have seen a depressing number of people laugh about is the notion that we don’t need guns to protect ourselves from the government.  One of my former professors, for whom I have deep respect and admiration, posted a ridiculous statement that Americans have never needed to use guns to protect themselves from their government and therefore didn’t need guns at all.  There are plenty of examples of the government infringing on the people’s rights, but the honest truth is that a disarmed populace is ripe for tyranny.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at these examples.

The Ottoman Turks disarmed from 1915 to 1917.  After disarming the population, somewhere between one and one and a half million Armenians were slaughtered.

The Soviet Union went through a gun control process from 1929 to 1945.  Afterwards, over 20 million people were killed as a result of Stalinist brutality.

Nazi Germany disarmed the entirety of its occupied territory, and approximately 20 million people were killed.

Nationalist China removed guns from the picture, and approximately 10 million of its people died afterwards.  Red China continued this trend from 1949 on through the 60s, and an additional 20-35 million perished.

Guatemala began disarming its citizens in the 1960s, and anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 Mayan Indians were slaughtered.

Uganda disarmed its citizens beginning in 1971.  Approximately 300,000 Christians were murdered.

Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge killed over 2 million of its citizens from 1975 to 1979.  I have visited Cambodia and been to the Killing Fields and S-21, and I will attest to the fact that the massacre of the Cambodian people is something really horrifying to learn about.

In 1994 in Rwanda, 800,000 Tutsi people were murdered after gun control was introduced.


These examples are all from the last century.  If someone says, “That’s history, and it can’t happen here,” they’re living in a fantasy.  It can happen, and it does happen.  Firearms are often the only thing keeping a tyrannical government at bay.  In my opinion, the American people are harassed enough as it is.  We are made to go through X-Ray scans at the airport or face invasive pat-downs in airports.  Our president has the authority to essentially issue death warrants.  Thanks to the Patriot Act, there are a number of horrible violations of citizens’ rights, include wiretaps and warrantless searches.  The Constitution legally guaranteed that none of these things would happen, and yet our legislators have chosen time and again to ignore the highest law of this land and run roughshod over it.

Do I really think that the US government would massacre its people?  I say nothing is outside the realm of possibility.  If someone thinks the US government is incapable of such things, well, visit the reservations and talk to the Native American people.  See how disarmament turned out for them.  I think, given the right circumstances, tyranny will run rife, and it doesn’t matter if you think you’re invincible; the fact is that, in this day and age, when the government can decide who political dissidents and terrorists are based on completely arbitrary guidelines, nobody is safe.

My final thought on gun control is that there shouldn’t be any.  Arm every man and woman in the country.  Teach the kids gun safety.  The police shouldn’t be the only ones who have guns.  Look at what happened to the student protestors in California when the police had mace and they didn’t.  Would you really want to be unarmed around armed cops?

The bottom line is that you and I and every other person in America has the right to protect themselves.  We have that right irrespective of where the threat comes from: stranger, neighbor, government, or otherwise.  I will not give up my right to bear arms without a serious fight, and I think if the US government thinks that Americans are just going to hand over their guns and call it a day, they have another thing coming.  I have only one thing to say to someone who tries to come into my house to tell me that I am no longer able to defend my family as I see fit: Molon labe.  


The Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare or; How I Learned to Stop Thinking and Love Totalitarianism

If I wasn’t pregnant, this would definitely be a night or two that involved a glass of whiskey.  The Supreme Court has ruled the individual mandate of Obamacare is constitutional.  I guess five justices bought into the last-minute argument that the $1,900-per-year penalty is a tax.  Because we don’t have enough of those to go around.  I’m sure that a good portion of the progressives I know are going to be throwing a party tonight.

Here’s the issue.  Constitutionally, Congress isn’t allowed to tell you what you will and will not buy.  It’s that simple.  You don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to understand this stuff.  Does that sound like it’s throwing shade at the five justices who voted in favor of the mandate?  It is, and it should be.  They have no more respect for the Constitution than I do for communists.  (That’s very little, not that I needed to tell you.)  To me, it takes nothing less than audacity to think that a penalty “tax” for not purchasing something doesn’t count as regulating individual commerce.  A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and the words “tax” and “penalty” are practically interchangeable to me.

As an expat, what I’m concerned most about right now is the possibility that I will be forced to pay this penalty, in spite of the fact that I’ve lived outside the US for over three years.  I have full coverage health insurance where I am now.  The original version of Obamacare mandated that even expats living outside the US take out a US health insurance policy or face the penalty, as it as called every day prior to the Supreme Court hearings.  Supposedly it was left out of the final draft, but frankly, I haven’t read the final draft, and if the Supreme Court is willing to rule that Congress can effectively tell me what I must and must not buy, then I wouldn’t put it past them to shove the penalty down my throat.

Do you want to know how much $1,900 is to me?  It’s almost a month’s salary, and from that salary, I already pay into my health insurance plan over here, as well as my state pension.  I also have to report my earnings to the IRS, which it doesn’t tax, since I’m obviously not a high earner.  I also pay property taxes to the state of Illinois, which went up this year in the spite of the fact that my property value has plummeted since 2008, and I couldn’t get rid of that land if I wanted to.  And I’d love to.  If anyone wants to buy some prime development land in a nice, upscale subdivision, feel free to email me!  But the point that I’m making is that it goads me – nay, pisses me off – that I am expected to pay rent on my own property, a portion of my earnings to the government as though I have no right to them in the first place, and perhaps even a penalty for being satisfied with my out-of-country health care plan.

I am a sovereign individual, as is everyone else who reads this post and everyone who doesn’t.  You owe the government nothing.  You have the right to keep every penny of what you’ve earned, and they have no right to take it from you.  The very notion of income taxes rests on the idea that the government owns your earnings, and they may redistribute them as they see fit.  This is legalized plunder.  Call it any other name – remember the rose – but it still has the same stench of theft.

Let it be said that I love my country.  I really do.  I ache for the wilderness and the spread of the North American continent.  The prairie is in my veins, much as the bored, fed up teenager in me hates to admit it.  But I do so very much hate our government right now.  They would take everything from us, if they thought they could get away with it, and we are heading increasingly in that direction.  There is more freedom and prosperity in other nations than in the US, and that is the honest truth.  The ideals of the constitutional republic, much as it saddens me to think this, seem to be alive only in the hearts and minds of a committed few, and some of them are getting the hell out of Dodge.  I think any truly honest libertarian would vow allegiance to himself and the principles of freedom long before he or she would ever vow allegiance to a morally and financially bankrupted government.  I am teetering tonight on that point myself.  As much as it pains me to say this, my mind is turning towards the idea of getting out for good, in spite of the 15% escape tax and wondering where I would go from there.

Times like this, I think of Daniel Day-Lewis in his role as Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans.  He is a man doesn’t consider himself subject to much of anything, and he refuses to live by another’s leave.  He is speaking frankly and yet eloquently about freedom, and if the absence of control by another is true freedom, it is no longer to be found in the US, the land which once so jealously guarded its freedom.  I hope things will change.  I really do.  There are a lot of people out there who are working towards it, but sometimes it seems like one step forward and two steps back.

I hope we will eventually see Obamacare repealed, but the blackguard cynic in me suspects that at least some parts of it will survive in the US tax code and health care Goliath that already give us so much headache.  Maybe I’m wrong.  But I doubt it.

Ron Paul Was Right

I ran across the video while I was trolling through Twitter.  It’s a Ron Paul speech from 2002, the year I graduated high school.  I had no idea who he was back then, but his words sort of hit me like a knuckle sandwich to the nose.  It’s not that I don’t already know about these things, but hearing it condensed into a five-minute speech that was made ten years ago really puts the hook in you, to use a phrase from a favorite film of mine.    Ron Paul may not be the only person in Washington who understands what has been going on, but he’s the only person brave enough to stand up and repeatedly tell us the truth.  Unfortunately, all of his predictions made in this video have come true.  All the more reason we need him to be the last man standing.

The Constitutionality and Morality of the Fed

The constitutionality of the Fed is something that has long been debated by parties on all sides.  It is especially popular with conspiracy theorists, who like to make it sound as though Jekyll Island was more dramatic than it really was.  The reality is that Jekyll Island, while beginning as a secret, didn’t end that way.  In fact, there was a fair bit of open debate surrounding the creation of the Fed – debate that unfortunately ended with the creation of the monster.  That said, there might be still be something left regarding the debate about the constitutionality of the Fed.

The Federal Reserve Act came into being on December 23, 1913, though it was dreamed of long before then.  In fact, our current Federal Reserve was not the first central bank in America.  The subject of central bank creation was hotly debated, even among the Founding Fathers.  In fact, the first central bank, the Bank of North America, was chartered in 1781.  However, the state of Pennsylvania repealed its charter a scant four years later amid complaints of corruption, favoritism for foreigners, and fictitious credit.

The First Bank of the United States, which was signed into being by none other than George Washington in 1791, was essentially a revival by Alexander Hamilton of the Bank of North America.  Hamilton’s plan for a central bank was closely modeled off of the Bank of England.  Thomas Jefferson was no fan of the bank and viewed it as an engine of corruption and speculation, among other things.  In fact, Jefferson, Madison, and others railed against the creation of this bank, stating that is was not included in the enumerated powers of Congress and therefore could not be created.  In any case, despite Hamilton winning the initial debate, Congress didn’t renew its charter in 1811, and it never controlled greater than 20% of the US money supply.  At that point, Congress took control of the US money supply by issuing Treasury Notes.

In 1816, James Madison signed the charter for the Second Bank of the United States in hopes that it might end some of the runaway inflation that had occurred during the previous five years after the dissolution of the First Bank of the US.  Andrew Jackson, eternal enemy of central banks, was responsible for the demise of the Second Bank of the United States.

After the death of the Second Bank, there was a period in which there was no real central bank.  There were state banks and lenders of last resort.  Perhaps the most famous of these was the Suffolk Bank of Boston, which acted as a clearinghouse for other banks.  The Suffolk Bank was quite successful for some time, in fact.

After the panic of 1907, the subject of a central bank was again brought to the table for discussion.  The issue of constitutionality, so far as I know, was not raised.  The matter was more or less settled in the 1819 ruling of McCulloch vs. Maryland, when the Supreme Court ruled that the creation of a central bank fell under the implied powers clause.  So if we look only to legal precedent, it would seem that the case is won by the Fed, since the Supreme Court has never changed its ruling and doesn’t seem likely to do so any time soon.

But what of the original intent?  Well, as usual, not everyone agreed on the issue.  However, Jefferson, Madison, and Randolph adhered always to the strictest of constitutional views, meaning that if it was not specifically laid out in the powers enumerated in the Constitution, the government lacked the authority to do it, and the power rested with the states alone.  There will be libertarians on both sides of this argument, but I have yet to meet a follower of Austrian economics who thinks that the Fed is a good idea.  In any case, the constitutionality of the Fed seems, for all practical purposes, a settled issue, even though some (many) of us would like to see it reopened for debate in the federal government.

So what exactly does the Fed do, anyway?  Without going into a long, boring explanation, the Fed controls the expansion of the money supply (M3) and interest rates.  How does it control the money supply?  It buys or sells various securities, which can include Treasury securities issued by the US government.  It also alters the reserve requirements that commercial banks must hold in reserve against deposits.  Finally, it can adjust the discount rate – that is, the interest rate charged to commercial banks.  When the Fed wants to shrink the money supply – it’s been a long time since that happened! – it sells securities and raises the reserve limit on the banks.  Raising interest rates will also help control inflation.

What is inflation?  Simply stated, inflation is the increase in the money supply.  No more, no less.  If the Fed is inflating the money supply, inflation is happening.  Period.

Why might this be a bad thing?  Well, when the Fed is increasing the money supply, as it has been doing for some time now, it tends to lead towards higher government debt.  The Fed will continue buying up Treasury securities, which basically means that the government has a blank check to spend whatever it wants.  While it allows the US to continue overseas expenditures and programs that might otherwise have to be cut during economic hard times, this expansion of money and credit simultaneously devalues the currency.  As the money supply increases, prices go up, up, up.  In fact, we’re seeing it at the gas pump now.  Wonder why those gas prices are going higher?  It’s because oil is primarily traded in US dollars, and more and more of them are needed to purchase a barrel of oil.

Unfortunately, the problem with printing money out of literally nothing has the result of creating more money out of thin air.  Suppose we have a bank called “Liberty Bank.”  Liberty Bank deals US government securities, kind of like Goldman-Sachs or J.P. Morgan.  The Fed has decided to buy $1 billion in US securities from Liberty Bank.  Liberty Bank happily skips home with its free money, cashes the check, and then unleashes the money on the market.  Within a relatively short period of time – a matter of weeks or even less – that bank will have further expanded the credit to the tune of about $9 billion more dollars.  In other words, what begins as a comparatively paltry sum quickly grows to the size of an elephant.  Using that knowledge, think about how much the Fed as expanded the money supply since 2008.

So what happens if the money supply gets inflated too far?  Well, several things could happen.  If the Fed raises interest rates to avoid hyperinflation, it will make the US debt instantly unmanageable.  We will no longer be able to meet our minimum payments.  In other words, the US government is going to be getting a lot of angry phone calls from debtors and collection agencies.  The result in this case may be the government admitting insolvency.  In other words, the government would be bankrupt and unable to meet the burden of its debt.  Debt would have to be written off, government programs would likely be scaled back en masse, and government agencies would be be cut.

Think this is an unlikely scenario?  Think again.  According to a report in 2010 by Bloomberg, the IMF has already said, in not so many words, that the US is already bankrupt.  At the time the article was written two years ago, the author calculated the actual indebtedness of the US government to be somewhere around $202 trillion, including off-balance sheet liabilities.  The IMF made the claim that the debt-to-GDP ratio was too high, and that in order to stabilize that fiscal gap, the US government would have to make a permanent adjustment equal to 14% of the GDP.  At that time, 14% of the GDP was how much the government was taking in with tax revenues.  In other words, taxes would have to double their current rate for the government to get into the IMF-determined “safety zone.”

Hard-line Keynesian economists like Paul Krugman have repeatedly made the claim that adding more and more money to the economy isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, every time I read an article from that guy, he’s railing on about how we should be spending more.  Well, he’s wrong.  According to Bloomberg and, frankly, common sense, it’s all a matter of arithmetic.  Basically, whatever isn’t paid at the end of the year (14% of the GDP, for example) will be added to the government “credit card bill,” which will roll over on the next year’s balance.  In short, the debt will continue to grow, and it will eventually reach the point of being too big to even meet the minimum payment, if allowed to snowball indefinitely.

At the same time, the possibility of hyperinflation looms.  Think hyperinflation can’t happen?  Think again.  In the 20th century, hyperinflation happened multiple times: Weimar Germany, Argentina in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Russia in 1992, China in 1949-50, Brazil in 1989-90, Zimbabwe in 2006-09, etc.  Yes, it can happen.  Before it was all said and done in Weimar Germany, it was something like $1 billion marks to $1.  Argentinians woke up one morning unable to withdraw money from savings.  When they were finally able to get their money out, they discovered that it had only half of its original value.  Life savings were wiped out.

How might this happen?  Two years ago, Thorsten Polleit contributed an article to the Mises Institute that suggested we may experience a crack-up boom – that is, people finally come to the conclusion that the Fed will continue to print money at an unrelenting rate.  They begin buying things for which they actually have no need, if only to get rid of the paper money, which is quickly becoming worthless scrap.

He also suggests that another credit crisis is possible when creditors are no longer willing to roll over maturing debt at prevailing interest rates.  Borrowers can neither meet their obligations nor afford the increased borrowing rates.  They go bankrupt and collapse.  This will set off a chain of similar events that will finally result in the collapse of the credit structure.  He goes on to note that, should investors expect more bailouts financed through money creation, the demand for money will dry up.  The central bank will extend more and more money in an attempt to stop the wildfire spread of bankruptcies, and thus the crack-up boom will come home to roost.  Scary, huh?

At this point, I might highlight the reason I included the word “morality” in the title of this post.  When all is said and done, which people really lose the most in these scenarios?  The people who receive the money last, the poor and middle classes, lose the most.  Those receiving the money first, namely the bankers and so on, are having more and more wealth transferred into their hands.  Those on the bottom lose the most as their purchasing power evaporates and their savings become more and more worthless.  The question of the desirability of such a transfer of wealth is not economical, but ethical: is it right to take people’s money away in this manner?  Ask the folks at Occupy what they think about the rich getting richer and get back to me!

The moral hazards of the fiat money created by the Fed also include the ability to prolong war (see Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya…), the slow decline of the financial system, the expansion of an irresponsible state, and many others.  I think it would be hard to deny, at this point, that we are not experiencing at least one, if not all, of these things.

So the question now is do we really want the Fed?  Are they really doing more good than harm?  We are now four years into this recession, and there don’t appear to be many signs that things are getting better.  If anything, it seems that the Western world is in a state of financial decline that is getting worse by the month.  Krugman says that we haven’t done enough, that we haven’t pumped enough money into the economy.  Is that the case, or could it be that the Fed’s policy of fast and easy money is causing a slow, painful death of the US economy?  Are we only prolonging what may now be inevitable?

I don’t want to seem doom-and-gloom about this.  I really don’t.  Unfortunately, I don’t see a situation that is improving.  That said, I don’t want to leave my readers without hope.  Is it too late?  I don’t know, and that is the honest truth.  But here’s what you can do.  Educate yourself about the Fed and Austrian economics.  Hell, educate yourself about Keynesianism.  If you believe as I do that the Fed is at the very heart of this “evil empire,” write some angry (but cordial) letters to your representatives and tell them to support HR 459 or S 202, which are the current incarnations of the Audit the Fed bills.  The Fed has never received a full audit that would include off-balance sheet transactions and tell us where the money is going.  (Aren’t you interested in knowing if there might be some conflicts of interest or primary beneficiaries of that money?)  Sign the Audit the Fed petition online; it only takes about two minutes of your time.

Please take some time and read the following material.  It helped me write this article, and some of it is invaluable reading.  I encourage you to download the (free!!) PDF file of Murray Rothbard’s The Case Against the Fed.  It isn’t very long, and it explains things rather concisely.  I will also freely admit that I used his billion-dollar credit expansion example.  Given how Rothbard and most folks at Mises felt/feel about “copyright infringement,” somehow I doubt that he’d mind.

Read and do more!

Sign the Audit the Fed Petition

US is Bankrupt and We Don’t Even Know It – Lawrence Kotlikoff via Bloomberg

The Federal Reserve vs. the Constitution – Ron Paul

Hyperinflation, Money Demand, and the Crack-Up Boom – Thorsten Polleit via The Mises Institute

For and Against Paper Money – MisesWiki

The Case Against the Fed – Murray Rothbard (PDF available for free download courtesy of the Mises Institute)

Visit Campaign for Liberty, as they do a lot towards auditing the Fed.

More suggested reading: End the Fed by Ron Paul, Gold, Peace, and Prosperity: The Birth of a New Currency by Ron Paul, America’s Great Depression by Murray Rothbard, The Case for Gold by Ron Paul and Lew Lehrman (free PDF available from Mises)

Natural Born Citizens: The Birfer Post

I have been contemplating whether or not to go ahead with this post all evening.  For one thing, this issue is highly charged and, let’s face it, rife with nutters from all walks of the political spectrum.  For another thing, it’s an old subject that has been beaten to death with a two by four.  For that reason, I’ve never been particularly interested in it.  I try to stay away from reporting on things like conspiracy theories, because if I can’t prove it, I don’t really want to send it to press.  I’m ready to admit though, that the Obama birth certificate mystery officially has me a bit stumped.

Hey, hey, hey!  Stop right there!  Don’t close your browser or email on me in mid-post!  I have always been extremely skeptical of the “birfer” movement, as many call it.  I am still skeptical of it, although I must at this point concede that I can’t explain away all of the circumstantial issues that surround the strange case of Barack Obama’s citizenship – or at least his birth certificate.

The first time I ever really heard anything about the birther movement was on Alex Jones.  Yeah, yeah, I’ve admitted that I watch him sometimes.  Alex Jones is my political equivalent of celebrity gossip: I love it, it’s my thing, let it go.  I know that he’s not always right about everything, but he serves his purpose for me, and that’s entertainment, and sometimes I’ll get a good article lead off of his site.  Take that for what you will.  I enjoy watching people rail against bankers and Justin Bieber.

In any case, I never really heard it mentioned until I was sitting in the GM garage in my hometown on afternoon getting my car fixed.  An old gent sat down next to me and, in typical Midwestern fashion, started talking to me about life, the universe, and everything.  During the course of the conversation, he somehow managed to sneak it in that he didn’t think Obama was really an American citizen.  I smiled and nodded politely, but I didn’t really want to encourage a birther that I’d inadvertently rooted out.  Frankly, I wasn’t interested in hearing some conspiracy theory about how our president isn’t really supposed to be our president.

Fast forward about two and a half years, and here I am, sitting in my chair on a Tuesday night, perusing the Internet for articles to write about and post to Twitter.  I ran across an article about two weeks old concerning Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix/Scottsdale, etc.).  My uncle lives in Scottsdale and used to know Sheriff Joe, way back before he was known for putting inmates in pink underwear and rounding up immigrants for deportation.  Back then, he used to occasionally courier tickets and such for his wife’s travel agency.  He also once asked my uncle if he would like to join a “posse,” which Joe was going to create, should be elected sheriff.  My uncle politely declined, but the posses became a reality.  The point is that I feel a mild, mostly senseless personal connection to Sheriff Joe, and I get a kick out of reading about his freaks and foibles.

I came upon an article about Sheriff Joe saying that he had had his forensics team run an investigation on Obama’s long form birth certificate, which was released last year.  The team also did an analysis on his selective service card.  Sheriff Joe called a press conference to release the findings which were… Well, frankly, I watched the shortened videos, and the conclusion seemed to be that the documents themselves were forgeries.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I don’t exactly have gobs of faith in the Maricopa County sheriff’s office.  Joe Arpaio is a character, and you can take that in a good way or a bad way.  It has worked both directions for him.  He is a highly controversial figure who no doubt has/had good intentions in a lot of respects.  I don’t support all of his methods, but I find him interesting.  I also think that he revels in attention.  He is facing some lawsuits right now, too, and I think this might have been a way to draw media fire away from the lawsuits, since election time is pending in Maricopa County.  Sheriff Arpaio has denied this, but you know, it’s Sheriff Joe.

I read through one of the articles and watched the videos, and it got my curiosity up.  I know virtually nothing about Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop or any of those other digital picture-fixing programs, so don’t take anything I say to be professional analysis.   I barely know one from the other, and God knows I never use them.  Occasionally I will use Adobe to reverse one of my webcam photos so that I can post it on here, and I’m frankly amazed that I figured out how to do that.

The videos point out several interesting features of the birth certificate, as well as a “control” copy that was created as a basis for comparison.  Many of the arguments made about the birth certificate are quite clearly debunked.  The video explains Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and optimization techniques, which some have used to explain the anomalies in the birth certificate.  However, these explanations fall flat, if you take the sheriff’s department analysis as truthful.

I looked up some of the debunking claims that have been posted on sites like Snopes, but I honestly didn’t find any explanations that lived up to my expectations.  I like very thorough, in-depth answers, and I have yet to find an answer that I really like that explains the anomalies on these paperwork items.

My ultimate conclusion is this: someone is lying.  Either the forensics team in Maricopa is lying (quite possible), or Team Obama is lying (again, quite possible).  Something doesn’t smell right here, but it doesn’t just have to do with what’s being said; a lot of it has to do with what’s not being said.

Let’s assume for a moment that the sheriff’s deputies and everyone else who have taken to the Internet are either half-baked or just flat-out lying about the anomalies in this birth certificate.  If that is the case, they are distracting from truly important issues and attempting to destroy the president’s character.  I’m more concerned about the distraction from other issues, like auditing the Fed, the bailouts, the unjust wars, etc.

When it all comes down to it, however, I think that most of the “birthers” have really missed the boat.  They spend all this time fussing about the birth certificates and such, and the answer is in plain view.  According to various legal precedents, Obama technically doesn’t qualify as a “natural born citizen.”

What is a natural born citizen?  According to the traditional ideas of the Framers and natural law, citizenship is inherited from the father, regardless of where that child is born.  Today, we might better view this in that if one parent is not a citizen of the United States, neither is the child.  My husband and I would be a good example of this, as he is a “loyal subject of the Crown” while I am a US citizen.  Our children, according to this rule, would be exempt from ever holding the office of the president.

I guess at the end of the day, I ultimately feel that all of this jibber-jabber and rhetoric about the birth certificate and all is just extraneous.  The real argument is a relatively cut-and-dried legal one, and it stems from the fact that citizenship devolves from the parents.  Stated simply, our Constitution includes the natural birth clause so that individuals seeking office will not have conflicting allegiances.  At the end of the day, considering only the traditional, established definition of natural born citizen, Barack Obama isn’t one.

Am I implying that President Obama has conflicting allegiances?  No.  Just because I don’t think that he legally fits the criterion for holding the office to which he has been elected doesn’t mean that I think he’s out to sell us to Russia or something silly like that.  However, I do think that the respect for our supreme law, the Constitution, has gone completely and utterly out the window.

How is it that a movement can at once be so right and so wrong?  Instead of focusing on the legal precedent, which is easily provable and extremely pertinent, there is a whole movement of people who seem to be focused on turning this thing into a sideshow.  There needs to be a movement towards reason and logic, or the libertarian movement is going to be forever plagued by accusations of lunacy, paranoia, and getting bad reception via those tinfoil hats.

If you want to learn more, check out the links below!

“Natural Born Citizen Defined” – The Federalist Blog

Sheriff Joe’s Full Investigation results, including video

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