All posts by Marcy

About Marcy

Advocate of Constitutional guarantees to individual liberty.

Green Deals and Watermelons

WatermelonThere is a saying among “climate deniers” that “climate alarmists” are like watermelons – green on the outside and red in the inside. The watermelon people might not be entirely red, at least not yet. However, with all their talk of democratic socialism, social justice, income inequality, and 70% taxation, they are certainly getting there.

Whether the Earth is getting warmer or not is irrelevant for the purposes of discussing the watermelon people. They have been implementing their plans across the globe since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and have not decreased greenhouse gasses in any meaningful way. But their strategy is to keep ratcheting up what has not worked so far.

What has not worked so far is the reduction of greenhouse gasses in a meaningful way – the green part. What has worked quite beautifully is what critics call the real motives behind the actions of the watermelon people – the red part: raising revenue for social programs, redistributing wealth, and herding people into controllable zones.

The plans of the watermelon people are all handled pretty much in the same way; they are enabled by legislatures and implemented by regional planning agencies. For an example of a powerful regional planning agency, read about Priority Development Areas implemented by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the San Francisco Bay Area.  MTC administers transportation and housing through “Plan Bay Area.”

Whether you are convinced that climate action and wealth redistribution in the name of social justice are essential for our survival, or you are still a bit dubious, you might enjoy the transcript of a 2010 interview with Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the United Nations working group Mitigation of Climate Change from 2008 to 2015. This passage is especially interesting:

Edenhofer: First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.  The Daily Signal, Nov. 19, 2010

Loss of Liberty and Who is to Blame

Here is an article worth reading:

The State of the Union: These Are Dangerous Times, and the Government Is To Blame, by John W. Whitehead, published on the Rutherford Institute website on February 4, 2019.

The article is worth reading, especially if you still believe all is well with our nation. Sure, the economy looks good at present, we can still vote for candidates and laws of our choice, we still move relatively freely within our nation and in and out of our nation. However, there are areas of concern. The article in question lists a few of these concerns, such as,

* The tendency to consider all citizens suspect – guilty until proven innocent.

* Invasive strip searches, forceful drawing of blood, intimate probes.

* Militarization of our city police.

* A constitutional right to bear arms that applies to government officials only.

* Spying by government and commerce into private lives of citizens.

* Courts more interested in advancing government’s agenda than seeking justice.

The concerns are serious and the events listed above real. However, is the government to blame, as the title of the article indicates? The subtitle of the website on which the article appears is “It’s our job to make the government play by the rules of the constitution.”

That indeed is the job not only of The Rutherford Institute but of every voter and resident of this nation. If we the people choose to vote for candidates and laws that place security above liberty, we are to blame. If we obediently submit to walking without our shoes on airport floors, we are to blame. If we aid the surveillance state by choosing all manner of “smart” gadgets, we are to blame.

The list of sins we commit against ourselves by far outweigh those committed by government against us.  Government robs our liberties by our own consent.

Democracy - CopyAlexis de Tocqueville signaled how a nation descends into soft despotism in his book Democracy in America.  At the end of the devolution are a childlike populace and a “tutelary” government.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild …

Alexis de Tocqueville 1805-1859, Democracy in America

European Union: No Way A Country

eu flagThe press is all atwitter over the U.S. State Department’s decision made late in 2017 (nobody knows when) to return the European Union to its pre-President Obama status of international organization – a downgrading from “state” (i.e., country). Nobody seems to know whether this downgrade is an error, deliberate, temporary, permanent, etc.
The press is emphasizing that the U.S. did not advise the E.U. powers that be that this downgrade had taken place. Maybe the emphasis should be on what constitutes a state, that is, a sovereign country. Maybe this is a good time to think about what is a legitimate jurisdiction and what is not.

In the view of the Just Vote No Blog, the E.U. is a bureaucracy, not a country, and therefore should be treated as a bureaucracy. Putting lipstick on this little ducky is not going to help make it a swan.

A country has a governing body that reflects choices – beneficial or not — of its residents. The residents’ choices might result in a republic such as the United States, a socialist democracy such as Venezuela, or a theocracy such as Iran. Conversely, a bureaucracy has a governing body that reflects the choices of those who appoint the bureaucracy’s leaders; a bureaucracy does not stand directly accountable to anyone.

The current U.S. Administration could ignore the question whether the E.U. is a country, and that would certainly be a good way to maintain amicable relations and not upset any apple carts. However, the results of ignoring the question of what constitutes a real jurisdiction would bring collateral damage, such as a proliferation of unaccountable bureaucracies at the international, national, and local levels (if you are not familiar with your regions’ Metropolitan Planning Organization, google it, and see how much power over your local land use it has).

One must not underestimate the tenacity of bureaucrats.

January Should be MTC Awareness Month

The San Francisco Bay Area is ground zero for tech companies, astronomical housing costs, and homelessness.  Those who are priced out of the housing market or their own homes often blame the influx of high-earning techies into the Bay Area particularly within the last 5 years or so.  Few are aware of the powerful trio micromanaging Bay Area residents’ lives, and how in-spite enormous power, the trio has not been successful in making the Bay Area “affordable.”  To the contrary, the trio might have made matters worse.

The trio in question consists of Plan Bay Area, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).  Enabled by California’s state legislators, the MTC and ABAG determine how much land will be available for building homes (not much:  about 90% of the Bay Area is “protected” from development in one way or another), how many people must be accommodated within each county (too many according to those who prefer tranquility over GDP growth), how dense cities and counties need to be (pretty dense:  remember the 90% under protection?), and how many residents must have access to subsidized housing.  All the plans, mandates, and ever-intensifying goals are spelled out in Plan Bay Area.

The lion’s share of the trio’s power rests in the hands of one MTC Executive Director and 21 opaquely-selected MTC Commissioners.  MTC’s Executive Director will retire at the end of February 2019, and MTC is searching for a replacement.  Commissioner’s term expires in the middle of February 2019, and cities/counties must select new ones or re-appoints old ones.

Given MTC’s enormous power, its significant effect on the lives of Bay Area residents, and the opportunity for activism presented by MTC’s changing of its guard in February, the Nine-County Coalition — an organization dedicated to fighting the growth of entities run by unelected bureaucrats — has decided to unilaterally declare January 2019 “MTC Awareness Month.” 

Just Vote No joins them in their effort to make the voting public aware of MTC, its track record, and its obscurely-picked Commissioners.

Pictured below is MTC’s latest effort: the Bay Area’s multibillion-dollar Transbay Center, which opened with much fanfare August 2018, and closed for structural failures six weeks later.

transbay terminal opening 3

A Government by Tweets and Marches

We have a government by Tweets and marches; which is fine, since the right to Tweet and march is absolutely guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It says right there in Amendment I,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Marches have brought about profound changes to our nation. Suffragette marches forced in 1920 the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. The Vietnam War protests were instrumental in ending in 1975 the U.S. “quagmire.” Tweets are a principal arena in which the political and cultural battles for the heart and soul of voters take place – the Tweet platform is free, accessible, and effective.

Just Vote No is wondering if any such profound changes will result from this year’s (2019) Tweets and marches. Let’s arbitrarily look at one particular march coming up this month, the Blexit Rally in Los Angeles on January 20.

Change vs. Profound Change

Candace Owens

The leader of the Blexit Rally is Candace Owens, originally a liberal, who morphed into a conservative in 2017. She is currently Communications Director of Turning Point, a student organization established in 2012 to “promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.”

The Blexit announcement says that, “The black community will no longer be patronized; there is no virtue in victimhood and we should no longer buy into the myth that we are somehow separate from the American Dream.”

Blexit, as well as Owens’ current mission, can be viewed on two levels: level 1 – bring voters into the Republican Party, and level 2 – encourage Black Americans to look forwards, not backwards. Level 1 is the kind of party-growing effort practiced by every political party. But level 2 could eventually fall into the category of profound change, change that could lead people to abandon what Owens calls “the plantation.” The plantation is a state of mind, not a physical place.

One important caveat, though, is that the point Just Vote No is making with this article is not Republicans good/Democrats bad. The point is to emphasize the harmful results of any, repeat any, politically-created mantra that aims to indoctrinate rather than enlighten, that aims to restrict thought rather than encourage open discussion, and that aims to keep people trapped in dependence.

The Owens Message

There are many articles on the Internet about Candace Owens. However, the best way to understand her message is to listen to what she has to say first hand. Here are a couple of YouTube links:

In her video blog How to Escape the Democrat Plantation, Owens provided some background information on who were the Klansmen, the segregationists, the ones that set the dogs on the civil rights marchers – their political identities forgotten in favor of remembering forever Lyndon Johnson and his Great Society.

At an American Experiment meeging in Minnesota, Owens discussed the breakup of the American family encouraged by the Great Society and the poor results such event entailed, she mentioned that politics flows from culture not the other way around, and she talked about informed individualism as defense against being trapped into a controlled group or being imbued with a culture of victimhood.

The Liberal Culture

Today, especially in progressive enclaves, culture is dominated by supporters of a Great Society type of world. It all starts with indoctrination in government schools, it continues with the profitable divide-and-conquer drumbeat emanating from the media, and it is perpetrated by legislators at all levels of government who pass laws that curb personal initiative in the name of helping an underclass (the poor) that they themselves helped create.

If Candace Owens succeeds in helping the nation to move away from such a culture, we will all benefit.  However, crucial benefit will come to those who at present find themselves trapped in a politically-created plantation.

Loving The Border Wall – In Spite of Frost

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”

Mending Wall by Robert Frost is often quoted in disapproval of walls that separate people. It would not be surprising if that poem helped topple the Berlin Wall and end the Cold War.

“The gaps I mean, No one has seen them made or heard them made”

We build walls when we want to keep entities out or keep them in – even when we know walls on their own do not work for such purposes. Walls slow unwanted entry or egress, provide places for “checkpoints,” and act as powerful symbols of regime sovereignty. It is possible to abhor force – sometimes deadly force – inherent at checkpoints, while insisting on preserving regime sovereignty.  It is possible to dislike regime sovereignty while needing to protest against some aspect of the status quo.

Thus, according to the GoFundMe website, as of Thursday, December 20, 2018, 5:47 pm,  151,413 individuals have donated $9,189,073 to a GoFundMe campaign that started 3 days ago by a triple-amputee war veteran to fund a U.S./Mexico border wall with private donations.

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out”

There are no doubt an infinite number of reasons why 151,413 individuals would donate nearly $10 million dollars to build a border wall. Among those reasons might be the following:

* The rise of regional “governments” at various levels of jurisdictions, led by unelected officials perceived as responding more readily to the United Nations than to residents – witness the current Yellow Vest protests in France – is not universally welcomed. A border wall is a symbol of sovereignty. Donating to build a border wall might be an expression of support for that symbol.

* Calls for open borders that do not take into account economic consequences, inefficient rules regarding asylum seekers, and refusal of legislators to craft workable bipartisan immigration rules are situations displeasing to some. The “Cliftivism” offered by this GoFundMe campaign is a relatively painless call attention to these situations.

* Populous left-leaning states like California and New York have succeeded in establishing a national narrative that Donald Trump is an unwanted President insisting on an unwanted border wall. A substantial volume of voluntary donations to build such a wall would place that narrative in question.

“Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” – Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No

Trump Wall Go Fund Me 2

If you are a Trump supporter, or if you are not a Trump supporter but fall into one or more of the categories listed above, you might want to consider the campaign.

Fund the Trump Wall GoFundMe Campaign.
https://www.gofundme.com/TheTrumpWall


Challenge “Free Speech Zones!”

Kevin Shaw was not happy when he was told by a school administrator to stop distributing pocket Constitutions outside the campus free speech zone or risk being led out. So, he sued, and won.

On December 12, 2018, the Los Angeles Community College District Board agreed to open the main areas of Los Angeles Pierce College to student expression, revoke a district-wide policy that declared all property on its nine campuses to be “non-public forums,” and pay $225,000 in attorneys’ fees.

The LACCD’s actions did not come about as a result of their suddenly being “woke” to the fact that ensuring free exchange of ideas should be a principal function of an educational institution, judging by an announcement on the LACCD’s website,

In settling the lawsuit, the LACCD agreed to make the designated free speech zone at Pierce College much larger and to make sure all of the nine colleges have similar processes to allow student free speech activities.

No, the LACCD’s actions were the result of a lawsuit that Judge Otis Wright of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California refused to dismiss. The lawsuit moving forward, media picking up the story, and Jeff Sessions (in the days he was still U.S. Attorney General) filing a Statement of Interest in the case put the LACCD in a precarious condition worthy of a fast retreat.

The Lawsuit

The lawsuit in question is Shaw v. Burke (the Burke party refers to Kathleen F. Burke, then president of Pierce College). In November 2016, Kevin Shaw, a member of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) and student at Pierce College, was distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution outside of the college’s tiny free speech zone (the campus occupies 426 acres, and the free speech zone was 616 square feet). A college administrator warned him that he needed to file a “free-speech permit” and restrict his activities to the college’s free speech zone, or be asked to leave the campus.

In March 2017, Shaw filed the law suit with the sponsorship of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). In January 2018, Judge Wright rejected a motion by Pierce College for dismissal of the case. On December 12, 2018, the Los Angeles Community College District settled.

In light of the District’s attitude towards free speech, the $225,000 in taxpayer money the LACCD paid as attorneys’ fees as part of the settlement was probably the best use of taxes the college made in a while.

The Victory in Shaw vs. Burke is Only a Beginning

Judge Otis Wright’s Order rejecting Pierce’s motion for dismissal of the case lists the strengths and weaknesses of Shaw’s complaint and of Pierce’s response based on prior cases. As a result, the Order denies Pierce’s motion to dismiss the case and grants an injunction in LACCD’s practice of approving (or denying) permits, but cites prior decisions that say exercising one’s First Amendment rights in areas where one is disrupting foot traffic or otherwise interfering with the activities of others is not permissible.

Therefore, the LACCD can say it has made the free speech zones on campuses “much larger,” as opposed to it has eliminated them. But who decides how large such zones need to be, and based on what criteria?

Maybe the next step is for liberty-leaning individuals and/or groups to file lawsuits in an attempt to overturn court decisions that allow for restraints by government agencies imposed prior to a free speech event.  Actually obstructing traffic, interfering with other people’s activities, disrupting the main purpose of education facilities – learning, or engaging in any kind of violence should be the reason for restrictive responses, not the prospect of someone stepping outside a designated zone!

The Bigger Picture

Shaw vs. Burke was filed in the state of California, where the populous coastal cities are epicenters of progressive politics, political correctness, safe spaces, and the “Resistance.” It would not be far-fetched, therefore, to surmise that folks living in these epicenters would prefer restrictive speech rater than open discussion that might disturb the accepted wisdom.

John Stuart Mill, in his epic tome On Freedom, goes beyond laws and formal bills of rights, and observes that government’s restriction of free exchange of ideas is unacceptable, even when done with the full consent and agreement of the populace.

Let us suppose, therefore, that the government is entirely at one with the people, and never thinks of exerting any power of coercion unless in agreement with what it conceives to be their voice. But I deny the right of the people to exercise such coercion, either by themselves or by their government. The power itself is illegitimate. The best government has no more title to it than the worst.

[T]he peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.  John Stuart Mill, On Freedom, Chapter II: Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion.