Saturday, May 10, 2008
While most of the world contemplates how to solve the world food crisis, several world leaders consider creating an OPEC-style rice cartel. That's pretty appropriate, given that World Food Program "internal documents show that the major oil producing nations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) gives almost nothing to the food organization, even as skyrocketing oil prices and swollen oil revenues contribute to the very crisis that the U.N. claims could soon add 100 million more people to the world's starving masses." Folks, the solution seems pretty simple to me. OPEC contributes the entire $775 Million needed to alleviate the crisis, which is then disbursed to the (primarily Western nations) nations who can produce the most food. Why not? We're spending trillions on oil. Why not send some of that money back to those countries, stimulate those recessed economies, and alleviate the hunger problem at the same time? Come on, OPEC, what's your problem? If you don't want to play ball, maybe we charge you as much for food as you charge us for oil... or keep it from you altogether. How much rice can you grow in those deserts?
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Okay, I'm probably going to be very unpopular for my take on this issue, but please bear with me and hear me out. My real concern about this whole drama is regarding civil liberties. To me, this entire incident and the fallout beginning to occur has sounded awfully fishy. I hope that more of us will examine this situation from all angles before we form a quick opinion and file it away. This historical event could very well have ramifications for all of our futures, and the very survival of this country.
For those of you who may not be aware, authorities raided the 1,700 acre Yearning for Zion Ranch in West Texas on April 3rd, allegedly as the result of a call from , a 16 year old girl who claimed to be living in the compound, married to an older man who physically and sexually abused her. Interestingly enough, although police burst in with guns and S.W.A.T. gear, taking 416 children and their mothers captive, no one has been able to locate this caller. Indeed, no one has even been found who knows her or has ever heard of her before.
But let's even look past that. Let's play devil's advocate for a while. Let's assume that this girl does exist and let's assume that her accusations and claims are valid. Wouldn't you send CPS investigators to the home in an effort to determine the facts? Why would a massive police raid ensue, and why would 416 children be forcibly taken away from their mothers in buses? The mothers and children were kept apart, and all cell phones were confiscated, so that no one could contact anyone else.
And this is the point that REALLY bugs me. WHY would you raid the entire community? If CPS received a call from anywhere else, would police raid the entire community of Cedar Park, Plano, Bethesda, or Carmel because of one report from one family? How can even the original family be considered guilty without a proper, formal investigation, much less the entire community?
Additionally, comments from both Representative Harvey Hildebran and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott certainly point to at least the possibility that this was a premeditated set-up, based on fabricated information.
Although officials originally stated that the raid had absolutely nothing to do with polygamy [most notably, Darrell Azar of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS)], Hildebran's statements indicate the exact opposite. "We've been fighting this for awhile, trying to do something about it," Mr. Hildebran said. "But we needed a complaint. You can't just say: 'Golly, I can't get into that ranch, I bet you lots of awful stuff is going on in there.' " Mr. Hildebran said that based on recent conversations with law enforcement officials, they had been poised to respond if and when a cry for help came. "There was some anticipation, at least some preparation," Mr. Hildebran said. Hmmm, do you mean someone might have been a little trigger happy, Mr. Hildebran?
Earlier Thursday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said on CNN's "American Morning" that "the case really doesn't hinge upon that particular 16-year-old." He said once investigators could "in good faith... go into the compound and determine whether or not there was any kind of wrongdoing, the case is on its own after that." But, he said, "It's our belief that these children who are under the age of 17 have engaged in sex with older men, which is a violation of Texas law, which is also a potential violation of the bigamy laws. So yes, we do believe we have information that will be substantiated in court that will show there has been sexual assault as well as bigamy."
So, then, sirs, it really is about polygamy and religious beliefs? But didn't you say that it wasn't? What about following proper procedures? The identity of this person (most articles simply refer to her as a 16 year old, and very few actually even have her name) and her original call aren't even the basis for the case? Well, then, what was your basis for the raid?
Oh, but, wait, it gets so much better. Personal property, such as hard drives from computers, were immediately taken. If your neighbor was accused of child abuse, would it be okay for them to walk over to your house, next door, force themselves in, take your cell phone, take the hard drives from your computers, or anything else of yours, for that matter, and separate you from your children for what has already been two weeks? Oh, but don't let me forget. Your children would also be forced to undergo blood tests, regardless of how you or they might feel about it.
And today, April 17th, the latest chapter has started to unfold: the issue of the legal proceedings themselves. We appear to have completely ignored and violated due process during the haste of separating these families and rushing the children off to foster homes. Because each of the children are being represented by a different attorney (many of them volunteers, at that) and because of the small size of the courthouse, much of this has been viewed by live video feed. And it appears as though possibly many of the lawyers, children, and parents are in different rooms. I am a little unclear on this detail, however. According to the NY Times, "Because more than 350 lawyers are involved in the case, many of them on a voluntary basis, the county courthouse was too small to accommodate them and the members of the church who wanted to attend the hearing. That is why the live video feed was set up at the nearby city hall." Although Judge Barbara Walther of Tom Green County apparently easily justified signing an emergency order to give the state custody of the children, she apparently isn't very concerned about the rights of the children or their families, or to determine probably cause, or to find time to let each case be reviewed individually. According to CNN, "Of Thursday's hearing, [attorney Damiane Banieh] said, 'I found it to be laborious. They were unable to get down to the real issue as to whether or not they had probable cause to go in and get these kids. Attorneys were objecting to everything, and rightfully so. There were lots of motions filed,' Banieh said. 'We didn't have an opportunity, one by one, to look at them and have an opportunity to file written responses. The other thing I had a serious problem with is... no parents, to my knowledge, received a copy of the original petition for emergency removal. You are supposed to know why your children are removed; and if you don't know why your children were removed, how are you supposed to prepare your lawyer to come in 14 days [later] and defend you?' " As per the New York Times, "because of the numbers of the children, parents, lawyers, and state officials involved, some lawyers said they expect all sides to make group arguments, rather than individual ones. While this may sound convenient, and expedient, that is really an insidious illusion. Why should the cases of individual families be potentially compromised simply because lawmakers decided to abuse their authority, arrogantly opting to springboard from one very questionable allegation into a massive illegal search and seizure against an entire community?
As I said, as a starting point, I was willing to play devil's advocate and give the benefit of the doubt that the allegations might be true. But what if I'm wrong, and my concern that this was a staged set-up by certain lawmakers is actually true? The members of the religious community confide that the remote ranch, with its log cabin-style houses and white temple, is simply a refuge from a hostile and sinful world.
This appears to have been corroborated by at least some of the attorneys and members of the police force who participated in the raid. "Two Houston, Texas, attorneys representing children removed from the Eldorado ranch visited it Thursday afternoon, saying they wanted to see whether it was a clean and safe environment, because the state had alleged it was not. 'It was a very clean place,' said attorney Jason Castraneda, who represents a 5-year-old. Members make their own milk and cheese, he said, and the ranch is "almost like a little city.' Attorney Damiane Banieh, who represents a 2-year-old, said she did not see evidence that the children were in an unhealthy environment. She described the men at the ranch as cordial, despite the circumstances."
I want to be clear that I am in no way saying that I have a grasp on the compound's way of life and that I am not sweeping the possibility of child abuse or sex abuse under the rug. If that call was legitimate (Google, is there even a recording of it in existence? Apparently not...) and not a prank call from a 33-year-old Colorado Springs woman, (ARREST UPDATE!) then the crimes need to be addressed and the problems need to be solved. But from everything that I have witnessed, the real crimes are by the State of Texas and the local Eldorado and Green County officials. Officials said the community was unclean and unsafe. That appears to not be true. Officials claim to have received a call alleging child sex abuse. That caller is nowhere to be found. Officials claimed the investigations and hearings would be fair. Yet, the violent raid, seizure of property, and abandonment of due process appear to contradict that promise.
When I think of attorney Jason Castraneda's observation that this is a tight community in which neighbors are making milk and cheese, it again reminds me of my earlier reactions. What if the local, state, or federal government decides that they don't like the Amish way of life? This country was born out of a desire and a need to escape religious persecution. But we appear to be experiencing just that. Representatve Harvey Hildebran is quoted as having had issues with this particular community since 2005, and proudly announced how he had been working to change laws in order to "fight this" and "do something about it". That hardly seems like an impartial lawmaker to me. What happens when the government decides that the Amish religion is not conducive to "democracy" or that their way of life is essentially "tax evasion"? Do we invade those "dangerous communities" with our SWAT gear and attack vehicles, as well? What if the government decides that it doesn't like your religion, or mine? Heck, lawmakers and citizens can't even come to terms on whether or not The Ten Commandments can be displayed at public facilities, such as courthouses.
Additionally, it appears that at least one 5 year old handicapped child might have been removed improperly, his special needs ignored, and that children are being told it is child abuse to have your mother hold your hand. Wow. It doesn't really sound as though the authorities who claim to be protecting all of these children actually have taken the needs of the children to heart, does it?
I hope that everyone considers these travesties and these frightening trends for what they are. Undoubtedly, the courts will go above and beyond in their efforts to illustrate any real or imagined crimes emanating from inside the compound. So let's try to look at the other side of the coin, the emerging police state and this violation of civil liberties. Heck, with incidents like this, maybe Bush didn't need the Patriot Act to treat all of us as criminals, guilty until proven innocent?
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Okay, from my perspective, it's only too bad that the robber wasn't killed. With him alive, he's going to cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. And, yes, I'm sure the author of this article is right. There will be lawsuit upon lawsuit upon countersuit upon countersuit. Of course, the only one who won't get sued is the robber. He'll probably end up making out like a bandit. The driver, James Spiers, did everything right. Shot the guy. Got his gun. Called the police. Got on his knees and told the police both guns were in his own pockets. James Spiers for Governor!
Saturday, March 29, 2008
"The US economy is going up in flames... Free market capitalism is being tortured and the federal regulators are holding all of the killing devices. Now they want more. [Friday] Treasury Secretary Paulson unveiled a plan that would give the Federal Reserve the power to regulate every aspect of the US economy. They would have authority over the entire banking sector as well as the entire securities industry. Once again... creating more problems and bureaucracy." -- by marc Published in Big Government, March 29th, 2008, 8:14 am (Liberty Maven)
"Albert Einstein once said, 'You cannot solve the problems with same thinking and people who created the problems in the first place.' Unfortunately, John McCain has already vowed to continue the disastrous policies of the Bush and Cheney administration. If he wins, prepare for things to keep getting worse on the same course.
"It feels very hopeless, listening to polished speeches, half truths, lies and false promises. The only one I've discovered who has integrity, wisdom and guts enough to get to the root of our problems and honor our Constitution is Ron Paul.
Although eliminating the IRS and substituting it with a National Sales Tax SOUNDS like a great idea, it would be one of the biggest con jobs on the United States citizens in history. It would be even bigger than the unlawful creation of the IRS, the Federal Reserve, and the little-known truth that the Federal Reserve actually CREATED The Great Depression.
To begin with, the IRS was deemed by The Supreme Court to be unconstitutional. Not just once, but twice. Second, the Constitution does not allow for a tax on personal income -- only on corporate profits... and even those have to be uniform, across the board, for all companies, regardless of size or revenue. Yet, the IRS has created a complex tax code, much longer than the Constitution, but defying it at every turn, creating opportunities for abuse by those who have the means to take advantage of it, and room for error by those who don't... which, by the way, according to the IRS, constitutes criminal charges of fraud and is punishable by imprisonment and theft of assets.
So, in essence, we would be volunteering for a tax that would be Constitutional, thinking that we were lucky because we had eliminated another tax... but that tax is ALREADY illegal!
Even worse, a National Sales Tax could equal anywhere from 18 - 32 %. And that is ON TOP OF any local or state sales tax, any hotel tax, any luxury tax, any "punitive" tax, such as those on cigarettes, and, of course, on top of any gasoline tax.
Not to mention that the Senate and Congress can come back and raise it.
This is the ugly truth of the REAL ID. Most Americans drooling through their day jobs have no idea their way of life is being threatened. Patriots like Ron Paul try to wipe up the drool and shake people into reality. Unfortunately, few are listening now, but those that are listening are slowly spreading the word. The goal of terrorism is to change behavior due to the fear it breeds. Going down the list of liberty sacrificing legislation passed after 9/11 in the name of patriotism, more aptly termed nationalism, demonstrates which side is really winning the war on terror. -- by marc Published in Activism, March 28th, 2008 7:11 am See the full article here.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The Eleven Posts immediately below this one represent my eleven most passionate hopes for our country and for the restructuring of our government. Folks, we don't have to take our abusive, duplicitous, thieving government anymore. Our government constantly strives to limit our freedoms and police our moralities, all while they take more and more of our hard-earned dollars... and with no true accountability and even less responsibility. Please... agree with me, discuss with me, disagree with me, argue with me, or even get mad at me... as long as you care. Please do not get apathetic about the issues or simply resolve to merely "vote for the lesser of two evils".
The IRS was never legally created, and actually violates the principles of taxation set forth in the Constitution. The Constitution defines personal income and wages for labor as both non-taxable and personal property. The IRS persists with fear-based tactics, violating our basic rights and stealing from us, all with no legal authority whatsoever. Let's put an end to this illegal institution and this despotic practice.
The Federal Reserve was created underhandedly, without proper authorization. The Federal Reserve dangerously puts the financial structure and (in)stability of our country solely in the hands of a private, unregulated corporation. Its creation and very existence instantaneously caused our country an obligatory and irrevocable state of indebtedness. Little known fact: The members of the Federal Reserve Bank actually caused The Great Depression. Do we really want to allow them to lead us into another one?
Abolish Congress and, instead, allow the people to vote directly on a fixed number of issues every quarter. This eliminates our current "corrupt Republic" and allows true, direct Democracy. People's votes will actually matter, and we won't have to worry about Bills being changed, amended, or killed through the Congressional process.
With the exceptions of Drunken Driving, Vehicular Manslaughter, and possible other related Offenses, traffic and parking violations should be relegated to their appropriate venue, the Civil Arena. Law-abiding citizens should not be treated as criminals simply to justify raising State and Local revenue. Killing people is a crime, yes, but having an expired Driver's License or a miniscule malfunctioning light bulb on your license plate hardly puts a citizen in the criminal bracket. Criminalizing civil misdemeanors simply puts us further down the road toward a permanent Police State.
Property Taxes, particularly School Taxes, require a complete restructuring. In Texas, Robin Hood should be abolished. It represents true Socialism. Additionally, families should have the ability to opt out of School Taxes entirely, for reasons such as private schooling, home schooling, being a senior citizen, and other similar criteria.
In the 1980's, we raised the drinking age twice. Yet, more than 20 years later, we have a record number of minors being arrested for drunk driving and public intoxication. What did raising the legal drinking age to 21 do? It created yet another source of government revenue, yet with dire consequences to our youth and to our society. The real answer is to teach our youth how to drink responsibly, and not make alcohol taboo, which simply increases consumption as a form of rebellion.
Eliminate all Estate and Inheritance Taxes. These taxes are simply created to redistribute the wealth. However, very few ultra-wealthy individuals suffer, as they are able to take advantage of a complicated tax code, allowing them to sidestep the very taxes which were supposedly designed to affect them. Typically, the middle-class farmers, ranchers, long-time homeowners, and small family businesses are redefined as wealthy by these tax definitions and end up losing the fruits of their labor and lifetime sacrifices.
Repeal all gun control laws, as they violate our Second Amendment Rights and go against the basic ideals of the Founding Fathers, who passionately strived to protect future generations from criminals, foreign invaders, and the tyranny of government. The most reasonable and safe approach is to only prohibit violent criminals and sex offenders from owning, using, or being near them.
Repeal the Patriot Act; eliminate the Department of Homeland Security and the CIA; while, at the same time, massively reduce and restrict the FBI's ability to intrude into our homes and into our lives. The justification for the Department of Homeland Security's creation was to facilitate communication between different United States branches of Intelligence. Well, guess what? That was also the purpose of the CIA, and if that had been done correctly, we wouldn't have needed the Department of Homeland Security.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
"While our central government contends that we are taxed with "our consent" since those we elect to represent us, the simple reality is...
...when legislators are allowed to accept bribes from lobbyists for special interest groups it is not us they represent, but the special interest groups."
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
If federal, state, and local government is so concerned about our dependence on oil, the gas shortage, the price at the pump, and maintaining the current tax rate, then why are H3's, Tahoes, and Dodge Chargers rapidly emerging within the fleets of our local police forces?
I don't know about any of you, but I don't particularly enjoy working for free 4 months out of the year just to pay Income Tax. And that's before we start adding in Sales Tax, Fuel Taxes, Property Taxes...
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Can everyone see this and respond to it? Yes, you can! So, now fill in the blanks of your "Other" Survey Answers, Cheer on your favorite team, express your political viewpoints, tell a joke, or just bitch about anything and everything!