Gun-Control Issue – American Policy

To foreigners who travel to America either for business or sight seeing, it is always a question that how American people can bear guns with themselves and they express their amazement when they become aware that American Constitution itself, has guaranteed the right to bear arms in second amendment that says” A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” But for American people who immigrated to the Wild Land many years ago , it was not odd to carry guns in order to secure themselves and their families in confrontation with Indians who had come and settled there many years before whites arrived at the boarder of New World. In fact the concept of gun has transformed to be the part of the American culture through the history, praised by many American people even nowadays.

But looking at the other side of debate reveals that recently the right to bear arms has been overdone led to the sever problems. For example, all of us can recall the assassination of John F. Kennedy, failed assassination of Ronald Reagan and unfortunately most recently the deaths of some American students who had killed by their friends who had brought gun to their schools.

So as a result of all these incidents the debate over gun control turned to be the “hot button” issue in American politics. Some arguments are for guns and against control and some of them are against guns and for control. For example, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the powerful lobbies which opposes gun control legislation supports American Constitution, second amendment, that has granted the right of carrying arms to American people.

Pro-gun, NRA lobby was founded in 1870s, “as a body which offered training and instruction in how to use firearms-specifically as a response to the poor marksmanship of Union soldiers in the Civil War- and later represented the interests of those using guns in sports and hunting.”(McKay, Et, al.2002.p.95)

However as the pro-gun lobbies, most powerful of them NRA, focus more on fighting against legislation that would limit the citizens’ right to access to gun, the anti-gun lobbies also take more attempts to grow in strength. The incident which led to the call for reform of gun legislation in congress was the failed Ronald Reagan assassination in which Reagan survived but his press secretary, James Brady, was wounded badly. So as a result James Brady’s wife, Sarah Brady, who was extremely against gun legislation, took hard attempts in opposing with the gun legislation in congress” although it took many years to achieve, congress finally passed the Brady Bill in 1993. The bill required a five-day waiting period and background checks on the purchase of a handgun.”(McKay, Et, al.2002, p.95)

Also in the year 1994 congress passed some laws against Gun-bearing which were supported by United States’ President, Bill Clinton including anti-crime legislation, the violent crime control, and Law Enforcement Act.

But regarding to all these attempts, pro-gun lobbies are still more powerful and more organized than anti-gun lobbies, interestingly supported by majority of American people. Although most of the American people insist on their right to own and bear arms but there are also many people who support the Brady Bill and some sort of gun control. For instance, Gallop poll conducted in January 2001 revealed that 54 percent of people in America wanted to make gun-laws stricter and only 14 percent favored weakening the existing laws.

To answer the question that how gun lobby can prevail on the policy-making process, one should focus on the majority of American people who support any form of anti-gun legislation but in a passive mode with no well established organization.

So as a result of the gun-control advocator passivity, Charlton Heston, the president of the National Rifle Association, can claim that “you can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”(McKay, Et, al.2002, p.96)

He as one of the pro-gun advocates argues about the necessity of owing and bearing arms to the American way of life, outlining the major reasons to justify this necessity.

According to Heston, the Founding Fathers who were concerned about the central powerful government, took hard attempts to add Bill of Rights in particular Second Amendment to the American Constitution in order to guarantee the right of citizens to arm themselves against Washington DC if it was needed.” The beauty of the Constitution can be found in the way it takes human nature into consideration. We are not a docile species capable of coexisting within a perfect society under everlasting benevolent rule. We are what we are. Egotistical, corruptible, vengeful, sometimes even a bit power-mad. The Bill of Rights recognizes this and builds the barricades that need to be in place to protect the individual.”(McKay, Et, al.2002.p.97)

Also he believes that the Second Amendment is more important than the First Amendment because without arms one can not defend his/her speeches.

But for anti-gun advocates who hate guns as they kill people, the story runs differently. Those advocates demand people to recall all the Wars in which the America was involved and the numbers of American people killed in those wars such as revolutionary war against England, Civil War, First and Second World Wars, etc. Also they emphasize on all gun-related deaths in recent years.

Anti-gun advocates also criticize the American National Policy by raising a question that why it is so easy for a person to get a handgun license in America than it is to get a driving license.


To answer how a specific issue such as gun control prevails on the decision making process, it is necessary to become familiar with the following factors presented in the process of decision making in Congress:

Information gathering, constituency interests, expert opinion, political ramifications and personal judgments.

To run this process, Congress Members play an important role. They are responsible to vote and decide on a variety of bills, motions, amendments and all the contemporary issues such as abortion rights, school safety, gun control, etc.

Before expressing the final decisions, members provided with the materials on both sides of any issue including letters, emails and phone calls all of them expressing different and controversial opinions. However, in reality there are many members who vote not based on the truth but on the benefit of interest groups and political parties.

To be honest it is really hard to stand indifferently and firmly against all influences which attack the members’ decision.

As mentioned above information gathering is the first step in the process of decision making regarding the contemporary issues such as gun control issue that provides congress members with the main arguments on both sides of the debate.

Members can use the Congressional Research Service, Committee reports, newspaper articles and even information provided by advocacy organizations or groups who are against the issue, in this regard gun control issue, as a material helped them to make their major decisions. Members are required to explain why they have decided so, those explanations are based on the resources that members have cited them.

The second step is a constituency interest which focuses on the Congress members’ responsibility to reflect the viewpoints of the majority of constituents, in members’ own area, who take the issue seriously. Members have to follow this step if they want to be elected for the next election.

The third step, as mentioned above, is the expert opinion. Although Congress members are responsible to work on the particular issue by analyzing many different debates to make their own final decisions, however some issues are such a complex ones that members need to consult with experts in this particular matter and take a benefit of the experts’ advices into the process of decision making.

Political ramification is the fourth step and more influential one in the process of decision making. It is necessary for the Congress members to understand the political ramification of a vote that means members should fully understand the political parties which are for or against the issue. In regard to the major issue it is common to see that two different parties stand on too different positions when they are required to vote for that issue. Also it is common to see that some of the senior members encouraged their colleagues to vote for one side of the issue which preferable to the particular interest groups or political parties, also the influence of the President is a point that must not be ignored in regard to the process of decision making.

And finally the fifth step is the personal judgment that refers to the Congress member’s ideological viewpoint on the particular issue. In fact their beliefs may be based on the religious or political trends.

Texas As a Safe Haven Nation – Magnet For Wealth Preservation

The famous (and very accurate) trend watcher Gerald Celente has written about the concept of Safe Haven Nations (SHNs). A SHN is simply a sovereign nation that has implemented laws that protect the wealth and privacy of individuals, and is a place to which people could relocate.

Wealthy people worldwide are constant prey for rapacious predator governments. They are easy targets, since most everyone wants to be a wealthy individual, but many who are not wealthy resent them. And, with predictable regularity, governments create class warfare and class envy, so the lower class supports the government’s efforts to confiscate the assets of the wealthy class.

Wealthy people worldwide are also on the lookout for venues where they can store their wealth securely. Used to be that Switzerland was the “gold standard” of wealth preservation and privacy for the world. But recently, the US and EU governments went after the Swiss, and Swiss bank UBS agreed to disclose the identities of nearly 5,000 American citizens who have secure bank accounts in Switzerland. My understanding is that this disclosure violates Swiss banking law, but they are doing it anyway.

Wealthy people are often willing to relocate to another nation when they are forced to save their own lives. Sometimes, the wealthy have to leave mansions, bank accounts and other assets behind in a predator nation just to save their own skin. Recall Captain Georg von Trapp and the movie “The Sound of Music.” They did not actually walk out of Austria to escape the Nazis, but fled to Italy by train. But ask others from Vietnam, Iraq, Germany, South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) about leaving with nothing but the clothes you are wearing.

In the event of a complete collapse of the dollar and the financial tsunami that will wash over the world, immigrating to a new country may be quite difficult, perhaps even impossible. Predator nations will do everything that they can do to prevent capital flight and may even prohibit emigration. Borders may seal tight and travel may be severely restricted.

Texas secession and the formation of a New Texas provides an historic opportunity for Texas to become the newest and most secure Safe Haven Nation. The people who will craft the new constitution for a New Texas should look to the banking and privacy laws of the nation of Lichtenstein for a template.

Nations like Panama, which has outstanding Safe Haven laws, are attracting wealth from all over the world. Others are:


Hong Kong


The Bahamas



Cayman Islands

The problem with the list above is expatriation. These are islands and entities of small geographic size. Many have very restrictive immigration laws. So, they are limited on how many people they could allow to emigrate to their shores. Texas, however, is immense. And with an immigration policy based on the free market, could become a worldwide magnet for wealth…and wealthy individuals.

Immigration law will have to be enacted that offers a procedure for an expatriate to either gain dual citizenship or individual citizenship through a fee arrangement.

If a New Texas has no income tax and no inheritance tax, that will be a good start. But it will need to go further to attract wealth from all over the globe as a Safe Haven Nation. Banking law will need to protect the identity of anyone depositing assets in Texas. Texas will also have to refuse to enter into tax treaties with other nations, and then withstand the enormous pressure they bring to bear to comply.

Tax fraud is misleading a taxing entity and should be illegal. Tax evasion is the failure to declare assets, and is open to interpretation these days. Tax avoidance uses lawful means to minimize the amount of tax paid to any taxing entity. Many nations wish to blur the lines between tax evasion and tax avoidance. Texas should promote tax avoidance while offering absolute secrecy for individuals and corporations.

Texas should also create a constitutional law that provides for corporations to have bearer shares and no-par-value shares, as well as to operate with one director, who may also be the secretary, and who may reside outside of Texas. While annual meetings may be held anywhere, a registered office and agent must be in Texas, but no information concerning shareholders or directors needs to be disclosed. The minute book, resolutions, seal and shareholder register must be kept at the registered office. Most SHNs have these laws already.

If you are seeking a Safe Haven nation, you might consider moving your wealth and your family to Texas now. Texas as a US state is the leading economic engine of the USA. Very pro-business, very independent. Lots of wealth already there. If any state of the Union is going to successfully secede, my money’s on Texas.

If you see the writing on the wall in your country (or state), and know that you must expatriate to a new country, the time is NOW to begin preparations. Your plans must be in place and executed before a meltdown in your country or state occurs. After the meltdown, it might be too late. You may become an inmate of Prison Planet.

DumpDC. Six Letters That Can Change History.

The Pursuit of Happiness

This article is my take on the recent election of Barack Obama as the first black president of the U.S.A. It reflects my views on his historic election as well as having one party control of government and its potential impacts of the ideals of a free democratic society, the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

First I admit that I was a McCain-Palin supporter. I am not a dyed-in-the wool Republican. In my younger years yes, but age and experience can expand one’s view of the world (yes, the opposite can happen as well). I guess living in a foreign country for several years has expanded my world-view a bit. Even though I believe that McCain was the better man for many reasons (and his status as a “Class Act” increased in his gracious acceptance of defeat), I did get a little teary-eyed watching the news reports of the historic Obama victory. And historic it is! I grew up in the south (the Carolinas) and racism has been part of my life as long as I can remember. In my own family it was present. In my high school years it was rampant. All around me I have experienced it and even been the victim of it when I was the only white person on my high-school basketball team and at one time had a crush on a black cheerleader. You can’t even escape it in Costa Rica. I have always been repelled by the notion that a person can be inferior simply because of the color of his skin. Well now America has somehow been able to rise above its past and for the first time in history has placed a black man in the highest office one can seek. It is a stunning victory for equality and a staggering defeat for racism. I applaud it and it makes me proud.

I am also scared silly by the prospect of one-party control of the United States, especially when control is in the hands of the Democratic Party. I simply believe that the ideals of a free democratic society, those of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are in better hands with a Republican either in the White House, or the Republican Party in control of the Congress (or at least one branch of it). But in this case, the Democrats have all the power and that potentially puts those ideals in jeopardy. I believe the main role of government in a free democratic society is to protect those ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (the ideals upon which the U.S. constitution is based) from threats, both from outside our borders and from within them.

To clarify those ideals let’s go to Webster’s Dictionary for definitions (since that is what it seemed everyone was doing during the campaign). Life, in its most basic form, is defined as the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body. The abortion issue is the political “hot-potato” that candidates always want to avoid (and that was notably true in this election). But Republican ideals are simply more supportive of life, especially the most vulnerable of lives (which makes them in the most need of protection), the life of the unborn. This post is not meant to be a pro-life diatribe, but one cannot seriously contend that life does not begin at conception. Of course it does. If not, then when does it begin? At birth? One month before? Two months before? Of course there are situations where a utilitarian decision must be made, such as when the life of the unborn fetus conflicts with the life of the mother. However, that does not destroy the argument that life at conception must be protected. If a soldier throws himself on a grenade to protect the lives of his fellow soldiers, does that mean his life wasn’t worth protecting? No he made a utilitarian decision and those must be made with respect to abortion as well. But those are exceptions and barring those, life must be protected in a free democratic society. Will it be with complete Democratic control? I seriously doubt it.

How about liberty? Liberty is defined as the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges. With the Wall Street crisis comes the mantra for more regulation, more government. But has expanding government in the past given rise to more liberty, or less? I would argue less. The Democratic Party is the party of big government. Always has been and I guess always will be. Obama’s platform during his campaign certainly did not betray that big government mindset. I believe the Republican ideal of less government and more freedom is more supportive of the ideal of liberty in a free democratic society.

Finally, how about the pursuit of happiness? Happiness is defined as a state of well-being and contentment. Socrates asserted that the highest good for any human being is happiness and this is one of the reasons it plays such an important role as one of the three ideals that underlie the U.S. constitution. What we heard from the Democrats during the Obama campaign was this idea of “spreading the wealth around.” Is that idea consistent with the ideal of “the pursuit of happiness” in a free democratic society? What does “the pursuit of happiness mean” in a free democratic society? In the U.S. we have always believed that the path to happiness is capitalism. And that government’s role in promoting happiness is to vigorously defend capitalism. Capitalism is defined as an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market. I am not going to call Obama’s “spread the wealth” ideas socialism. Don’t want to go there. I do not believe Obama is a “socialist.” However, I will submit that his ideas of “spread the wealth” are not consistent with capitalism. In a capitalistic free democratic society if I am able to achieve wealth I should not have to fear that some part of my wealth will be taken in order to provide more happiness to someone else that has not been able to achieve as much. You see the big fallacy with that idea is that it destroys the motivation (the private decision referenced in the definition) to achieve and it is that motivation, and the protection of it, that has made the U.S.A. a great nation, arguable the greatest in history.

With that said, I realize that capitalism at this moment in history has a black eye. In recent years, as my world view has increased and my once hard-line conservatism has softened, I have come to believe that there is something wrong with American capitalism. I have recently called it “capitalism run amuck.” There is no better symbolism of this notion than the film Wall Street and Gordon Gecko’s admonition that “greed is good.” No, in my opinion greed is not good and it is greed that is at the heart of the reason that capitalism has “run amuck.” But the question is can government change it, or should it even try? I would say no. Of course government has to step in when greed results in actual overreaching and downright criminal behavior. It is then that the pursuit of happiness, wrongly motivated, begins to conflict with the ideals of life and liberty (and yes government also has the role of making sure the pursuit of one ideal doesn’t offend the pursuit of another. For example, in my pursuit of happiness I cannot through force or threat of force take away your happiness). But I believe that the cure for sick capitalism, or capitalism run amuck, must begin in the minds, hearts and souls of the American people. That is, the pursuit of enormous amounts of wealth just for the sake of having more, that is, pure greed, can only be cured by a “heart change” inside the person doing the pursuing. That heart change is the realization that maybe it is not “all about me” and that if I am able to achieve great wealth, then maybe there is a greater purpose for that achievement and maybe I can make the decision to “spread that happiness around.” It is not government’s role to force me into that decision. It is my private decision. It is a decision to invest in the betterment of humankind, rather than simply increase my state of luxury. The U.S.A. will be better off when folks realize that the true value in capitalism is in creating an environment where one can achieve great wealth in order to fulfill the higher purpose of spreading happiness. With that change in mindset, capitalism will start working again. Then we all become “happiness spreaders” as opposed to the government becoming a “wealth spreader.” In the former case, free democratic ideals are supported, whereas in the latter, they are threatened.

Well there you have it. As I write this I am proud of my country and optimistic for its future. It is now in the hands of the Democrats to uphold the ideals of a free democratic society, the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I bid them well. We are all depending on them.

Martial Law in America

In the absence of civil government during war or occupations Martial law is imposed. In the occurrence of natural calamities also Martial law is imposed on a state or a country. Many states and countries have been ruled by military for example Japan and Germany were ruled by military after the World War II. And now days, countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh has military rule. But what is a questionable issue in the current scenario is ‘could Martial law happen in America’ even when it’s the most powerful country of the world.

When we talk about America, the first thing that comes to our mind is power and the brand name ‘America’ itself. We consider that in America elections take place and they do have a wonderful constitution which checks and balances and prevents the military rule to take over the state.

But the truth is quiet bitter. The unfortunate part of the wonder story is that America is not the same nation it used to be years ago. Though they have elections but they are no more free elections. The two parties, the republican and democratic have a strong hold on the political system and anyone who is an outsider can’t even vote. So it’s more like one party ruling system something similar to what happens in our fellow countries like Russia. And the great constitution which has not been amended for years has no more power to correct the process.

According to reports in national papers, American military has also been assigned some duties which are illegal. But in order to stop the imposition of Martial Law in America, the people who have the power don’t even turn a finger towards it. In addition to that every sate in America has detention camps. So what are these camps and illegal activities for?

In case terrorists attack the US nation with nuclear bombs and suicide bombers then America would have to open up with rehab camps and seal the border. This would lead to imposition of Martial law in state.

If Martial Law is imposed then Americans should be prepared for curfew before dark. In this case, if someone is seen outside their home after dark, then army would shoot the person at sight. Further, food and supplies would also be rationed by the army.

When Martial Law would be imposed then there won’t be any normal jury and trial systems. The fate of a person would then lie in the hands of a couple of army personnel. They would decide whether a person is guilty or not and what punishment should be given. The worse of all would be army would be allowed to put any non citizen to a detention camp they suspect.

But all these scary things would happen only and only if Martial Law is imposed. And the big question still remains is ‘could Martial law happen in America’. The answer to this debatable question is yes, Martial Law could happen in America but only if things run out of control. Martial Law in America would only be imposed if the terrorists attack some of the major cities together and if America would not be well prepared for it in advance. With increasing expenditure every year on the US army and the security along with the intelligence bureau, it’s very unlikely that America would not be prepared or America is not keeping a track of terrorist activities which may take place in the country. So, if America would be well prepared about all terrorist scenarios, then imposition of Martial Law is unlikely in America.

Republicans and Black America

Blacks have always been republicans. We forget that from the time of Lincoln up to FDR 90% of blacks were republicans; Oh how soon we forget. Today however, if you ask the average black person republican or democrat? You will get a resounding, “I’m a democrat!”

The black community has always gone with the party who was perceived to have their best interest at heart. When President Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation freeing millions of blacks held in bondage, blacks flocked to the republican party like lemmings.

Blacks were devout members of the republican party until Franklin D. Roosevelt offered more hope to millions of Black-Americans looking for a better life and more inclusion in the American dream. During reconstruction (1865-1877) Black America enjoyed a brief respite from the brutal reality of a life in bondage as slaves.

During this period over 1500 Black Americans held elected office though out the south. There were black senators, representatives and judges! When the democrats betrayed newly freed blacks with the “Southern Compromise” all the hope offered during reconstruction came crashing down.

After the ending of reconstruction life for black Americans became a total nightmare. The Ku Klux Klan was running at full throttle and suppressed any possibility of black social change or advancement. Black codes became very draconian and Jim Crow was in full force.

The black community throughout the south would not have any relief from this brutal oppression until the civil rights movement of the 1960′s. Curiously, at the height of the civil rights movement, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As he said famously, with a stroke of a pen, I’m handing the south over to the republican party. As history shows, that was exactly the case. The south as has been solidly republican ever since.

At the same time Black American’s in droves converted to the Democratic Party. Fast forward to the present, we have a black president who is a democrat (Barack Obama) and the recent former head of the RNC, Michael Steele a black man. Ironically, Mr. Steele loses his bid for re-election as the head of the RNC due to mismanagement and a host of other issues. Given the Republicans had their best mid-term election since 1938 under the leadership of Michael Steele you would think he would not get ousted!

The Black Community is taking the rejection of Michael Steele by the republicans as their cue that the Republican party isn’t too chummy with black folks. He served his purpose now it’s on to business as usual. Ironically, black Americans have more in common with Republicans than they do with Democrats.

Black Americans are very religious, social conservatives and anti-abortion. Republicans miss the mark with their perceived anti-black posturing. Ironically, Mr. Steele was out on the stump trying to recruit more blacks to the republican party. He even had an event in Harlem recruiting blacks to the party, yes, I said Harlem. I applaud his efforts. How he managed to keep a straight face will trying to convince black folks to come and join the GOP, I’ll never know.

The Tea party for example show’s no love what so ever to the black community and is perceived as openly hostile to the black community. The over the top negativity leveled against President Obama is not taken lightly by the black community and other progressive groups in the country.

Unless you’re living under a rock, racism is still very much a part of American life. We have yet to reconcile with the “peculiar institution” of slavery much less treat the first black president with civility.

The mid-term elections of this past November was a wake up call for all of us, including President Obama, who exclaimed that the democrats took a “shillacking.” It seems that the president heard the message loud and clear. Ever since the terrible tragedy in Tucson, President Obama has seemed to have recaptured his mojo and his approval ratings in the polls seem to reflect that.

The future of the Republican party is in their hands. Unless they overtly become more inclusive they will have no chance what so ever of swaying more blacks to the “big tent.” Boy could we use Jack Kemp right about now. Jack Kemp was the reason this writer initially became a republican.

Jack Kemp was close friends to a prominent black pastor in Los Angeles by the name of E.V. Hill (deceased). He was also an unapologetic Republican. Any time Sen. Jack Kemp was in Los Angeles he attended Rev Hills church and visited with him socially.

That type of compassionate conservatism seems to be DOA on the political scene today. If the Republican party were smart, they might try and revisit that ideal. It worked for the first President Bush. The Republicans seem to have lost their way. Hopefully, with a little forethought and vision they can recapture the magic of Lincoln and compassionate conservatives like Jack Kemp.

Quest for Democracy in Ethiopia

When Dr. Meqdes testified before the House Subcommittee on Africa on March 29, 2006, she was thinking of her father, Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam. Professor Mesfin, a prominent Ethiopian human rights activist, has been incarcerated in Ethiopia since November of 2005. In thinking of her father and his situation, Dr. Meqdes also wondered why the United States is not doing more to help democracy in Ethiopia. As she stated in the hearing, “Honorable Members, for more than three decades, my personal and family life has been impacted by what my father has committed in his faith and belief that Government belongs to the people and that these fundamental freedoms that we all seek are a necessary element in allowing democracy to flourish in an environment where the rule of law is supreme.”

Dr. Meqdes believes that the United States has not exerted enough pressure on the Ethiopian Government to release prisoners of conscience like her father. She and many others like her have been speaking out in support of democracy. Dr. Meqdes has been engaging actively to let the world know about her father’s struggle for democracy. She spoke at several gatherings throughout the nation, wrote papers and led a hunger strike in opposition to the arrest of the political prisoners.

On June 27, 2006, three months after Dr. Meqdes’ testimony, a comprehensive bi-partisan bill, H.R. 5680, the Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006 sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), unanimously passed the International Relations Committee and was forwarded to the full House. The bill is expected to bring freedom, democracy, human rights and economic development to Ethiopia. On its passage, Rep. Smith said, “Violence against dissidents has increased significantly and yet there have been no credible accounts for the slaughter of protestors in the streets of Addis last year.” He added, “We not only call on the Ethiopian Government to unconditionally release all political prisoners, but establish a program to tangibly assist them.”

In his statement, Rep. Smith was referring to hundreds of political prisoners like Professor Mesfin. Professor Mesfin is a 76-year-old retired geography professor and founding member of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO). He is the winner of the 2006 Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights Award and among the 10 nominees for the European Parliament’s 2006 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Prof Mesfin is currently one of the prisoners of conscience and a senior member of the main opposition party, Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP). Along with many others, Professor Mesfin was imprisoned in November 2005 in connection with opposition demonstration against the Ethiopian Government. He is not alone at Kaliti Prison, where many of the political prisoners are jailed including Dr. Berhanu Negga, an economics professor and the newly elected Mayor of Addis Ababa; Ms. Birtukan Mideksa, a former judge and vice chairperson of CUDP; and Dr. Yacob Hailemariam, a former UN prosecutor in the Rwanda genocide trial in Tanzania.

During the years leading up to the election, Ethiopia was feted to be one of the African nations with emerging democratic systems. Under pressure from the United States and the European Union and in exchange for political and economic support, the 14-year-old Government of Ethiopia held a legislative election on May 15, 2005. This election was unparalleled in the country’s history. Many vibrant opposition parties participated, media access was given to the opposition, and international observers were invited for the first time to witness the election. As a result, an astounding ninety percent of eligible voters cast their ballots. Despite some irregularities, the election was conducted peacefully and was commended by the international community. Many people hoped that democracy was finally emerging and bringing a lasting stability to Ethiopia – a prerequisite for social and economic development.

But, the post election period turned out to be tragic. The opposition parties allege that the election was rigged and ballot boxes stolen. The Carter Center, one of the invited international observers, stated in its final report that the handling of the post election results was disappointing. European Union observers, in their final report, also concluded that the election did not meet the international standard.

A critical dispute between the ruling party, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the opposition parties gradually escalated and stalled the election process. In an effort to unlock the stalemate, CUDP issued an eight-point precondition. Several attempts made by donor countries to resolve the impasse failed.

CUDP, the party of Dr. Meqdes’ father, boycotted the Parliament and called for a civil disobedience. Supporters of CUDP demonstrated and accused the ruling party of fraud. The demonstration led to violent confrontation. Over eighty people were shot and killed by the federal police in a series of pro-CUDP demonstrations, first in June and later in November 2005. Children and women were among the dead. Seven policemen were also killed at the riot. The election dispute brought the country to total crisis.

The United States and the European Union, in an effort to resolve the unrest, issued a joint appeal in November 2005, but the ruling Government of Ethiopia immediately turned it down. The U.S. and E.U. called for release of the political prisoners in the joint appeal. Such requests fell on deaf ears. At the time, Former Assistant Secretary for Africa, Herman Cohen said in an interview with the Voice of America, “the Government of Ethiopia,” once considered a symbol of fledgling democracy, “has become authoritarian and even totalitarian”.

A year after the May 2005 election, the crisis took a different turn. The ruling government appointed a new mayor and council members for the capital city administration. They replaced the elected representatives who are languishing in prison. Some elected legislative members of the opposition party, who were not arrested, were coerced to join the Parliament, in an attempt to split CUDP and give misleading image of the opposition’s participation. CUDP formed an international leadership in exile. It also joined alliance with several opposition groups, some of whom have picked up arms against the regime.

Dr. Meqdes thinks that the US Government has acted in an inconsistent manner in attempting to resolve the impasse. Although the U.S. called for peaceful solution to the crisis, it has not exerted enough pressure on the Ethiopian Government to meet the appeal it issued jointly with European Union.

For many Ethiopians it seems that the US has put aside its democratic principles and seeks closer ties with the autocratic Government of Ethiopia. Dr. Meqdes believes promotion of democracy in Ethiopia has been limited and weakened by U.S. security interests in the Horn of Africa. The U.S. Administration has employed lenient policies on democracy promotion not to disappoint its Horn of Africa main ally in the war against terrorism – the main imperative of U.S. foreign policy post 9/11.

Dr. Meqdes would like Ethiopia to remain an ally. But, she does not want to see the United States security interest in the horn of Africa trump its stated commitment in supporting liberty and democracy. President Bush has tied the promotion of democracy to U.S. national security interests and indicated that the U.S. would not pay for stability at the price of liberty and democracy. It is her wish to see the United States stand with the people of Ethiopia and support free press, an independent judiciary, a sound financial system, strong labor unions, as well as a vibrant opposition parties, things that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice calls the “essential components of decent society”.

It is Dr. Meqdes’ strong belief that lack of democracy in a country like Ethiopia breeds extremism and provokes radicalism. She hopes the U.S. Administration will reconsider its policies and get tough on the authoritarian Government of Ethiopia. Dr. Meqdes strongly believes that failure to act timely may lead to a growing support for the rise of radical elements and risk constant instability in a country that is vital to U.S. strategic interest in the region.

Citing the lack of democracy as their main concern, more and more Ethiopians who worked with the Prime Minister Meles’ Government are fleeing. In the last few months alone, over sixty diplomats left the Government and defected in Europe and the United States. According to several media reports, in early September, a prominent prosecutor, who said the Ethiopian government forced him to pursue opposition leaders has also requested asylum in the United States. “I have been ordered by the Government to institute charges on CUDP leaders,” said Alemayehu Zemedkun, referring to Ethiopia’s opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party. “I have tried to show them the legal impediments. There is not enough evidence … but they insisted.”

Members of the Ethiopian military were not immune to defection. A high-ranking army General, Kemal Gelchu, defected to neighboring Eritrea, along with several ranking officers and over hundred soldiers. In an interview with the BBC news agency, the General said his hopes of peace had been dashed after last year’s turmoil that followed disputed elections. He indicated that he would join the Oromo Liberation Front, OLF, a rebel group fighting for the right of the Oromo people, and fight with force in a language Meles’ regime understands. Few weeks after General Kemal’s defection, two more senior army officers followed him in a series of defection.

In few days, H.R. 5680 is expected to be brought to the House floor, unless the Ethiopian Government highly paid lobbyists successfully lobby for its delay. Dr. Meqdes calls all democracy-loving individuals to contact their elected representatives and urge them to support H.R. 5680. When H.R. 5680 becomes public law, she hopes it will contribute to the development of a political environment that will actively seek the institutionalization of human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Ethiopia. For now, Dr. Meqdes’ primary wish is to see her ailing father secure his freedom and return to what he loves to do –fight for democracy.

A War Within?

An acquaintance of mine asked me if I would read Bob Woodward’s book The War Within, and I told him that I would if he would do me the favor of reading my rebuttal. He also said that he would do so.

I had meant to provide a rebuttal after I had read the book. However, the gentleman pressed me to provide a rebuttal. The following is my reply to this good gentleman:

I have not actually read The War Within, yet; however, I do know a bit of what it is about.

The fact that there has been — or even continues to be — in-fighting in the Bush administration’s White House certainly does not come as a surprise to me. While I have not studied all of the presidential administrations that existed during times of war, I know of some. All of those of which I am aware certainly had their share of in-fighting and even skullduggery. Wars wreak havoc in the world of politics. No one likes war. Outstanding leadership — both military and civilian — is difficult to come by. Even more difficult to obtain (in the realm of politics) are quality individuals who remain steadfast and unwilling to sell out themselves and our nation, if necessary, in exchange for short-term political gain.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest U.S. presidents of all time. Yet, within his own cabinet there was nearly constant dissension — most of it driven by the political expediency of wanting what today would be defined as “better numbers in the polls.”

William H. Seward, who early did not value Lincoln’s abilities as a leader, even tried what amounted to a ‘coup’, attempting to shame Lincoln into essentially turning the administration over to him (Seward) while permitting Lincoln to remain as a ‘figurehead’ in the office of the President. Lincoln did not dismiss Seward for this, as would many faced with the same situation. Instead, he showed both his great grace toward all men (especially Seward), demonstrated his own leadership in a quiet and non-public way, and allowed Seward to remain at his cabinet post. However, Lincoln did make it very clear to Mr. Seward that the decisions would remain in Lincoln’s own hands and would be Lincoln’s own responsibility.

I’m not sure that George W. Bush’s poll numbers have ever reached the extreme low that Abe Lincoln’s numbers reached. It’s hard to make a precise comparison, but when you consider that ALL of the Confederate states’ population probably rated him near zero and probably less than 35% of the Union population approved of his administration at some points, it would be difficult to imagine that Lincoln’s poll numbers would not have been worse than George W.’s at their lowest ebb.

Even before there was a President of the United States, the Continental Congress and General George Washington were all put through the grist mill of negative public opinion when things went badly during the American Revolution.

And, of course, if World War II had been treated by the mainstream press like the Vietnam War or the Second Gulf War has been treated, it is highly likely that we’d all be speaking German today. For sure, France would still be speaking German and there’d be a lot fewer Jews dotting the landscape of the world, I would venture to say. The total losses in the Second Gulf War hardly bear comparison with the lives we spent on D-Day alone in our efforts to turn the tide in Europe.

Even Democrat Lyndon Baines Johnson took his hits in the polls and, while LBJ ruled his White House with an iron fist and little was heard outside its confines about dissension, I don’t believe for one minute that there was not some controversy under those circumstances.

Unfortunately, most of my generation has not carried on the grand tradition of “the greatest generation.” Most of my generation have lost sight of America’s greatness. No other nation in the history of the world has spent more of the blood of its finest men (and women) to obtain peace and liberty for others — asking nothing in return. The men and women reporting and writing in today’s mainstream press are, for the most part, ignorant of history (American history to be certain, and for the history of the world — forget it, they know virtually nothing). As a result they have ‘facts’ without ‘theory,’ and facts without theory beget no ‘knowledge’. Thus, though they are full of ‘facts’ they ‘know’ nothing as it really is.

Do not mistake me: I say that America is “great”, but I do NOT say that America is “perfect.” As long as there are flesh-and-blood men in government, there will be no lack of faults and defects. Abe Lincoln was one who confessed this with frequency in his letters, papers, and speaking.

There are many that think things could have been done in a better way in our war with Iraq? Certainly! There is no doubt and Monday-morning quarterbacking is easier (and more certain) than coaching the game in real time. But consider how many generals Lincoln went through before he found General Ulysses S. Grant — and how much anguish he went through with the lives of young men lost, and the grief he suffered at the hands of his detractors. Should this present war be any different of necessity?

And, even after Lincoln found Grant, and Grant proved himself successful, still Lincoln’s opposers complained that Grant “drank too much whiskey.” Lincoln’s wise answer was (to the effect): “If I knew what kind of whiskey he drank, I’d send a case to every general in the Army.”

No, indeed, I do not doubt Bob Woodward’s accounts (not having read them) of a “war within”, but history teaches me that this is not the critical factor nor the matter by which an administration is to be judged by the longer view of history. In fact, the man that has the courage of his convictions, the one that does not sway in the winds of public opinion, the one that is most like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and even John Kennedy (who the Democrat party would barely recognize as a Democrat today) will inevitably be troubled in their administration by those who would cater more gladly to the winds of political opinion or those who covet “good press” rather than true virtue.

(c)2008 Richard D. Cushing

Kick The Bums Out

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian or a Green Party member; you are being swindled by the politicos in Washington, DC because they don’t represent you. To use the vernacular, you’re being screwed and ripped off by the beltway Establishment because they are only concerned about staying in office. Individuals spend between $3 and 5 million running for a seat in Congress, whose annual salary is $169,400.  A clear indication of how corrupt our political system has become.

Office holders are faced with a conflict of interest the moment that they run for re-election; they are conflicted between serving their country and serving themselves. Unfortunately, self always prevails and citizen representation has been lost. Career politicians, obsessed with the fame and fortune of being members of Congress, prostitute themselves to stay in office. Their efforts to stay in office are ruining this nation. Many of these corrupt careerists have served in Congress for 20, 30, even 40 years. How many tricks have they turned during those many years in office? Don’t be misled, politicians seeking to continue their careers are insensitive to the needs of the nation and its people. The Congressional seniority system is another motivator for incumbents to retain their seats. Seniority determines membership in the most important committees, the best offices, and the size of staffs.

Congress has a 14% approval rate, which means that 86% of Americans disapprove of its performance. How do office holders of both houses stay in office? Simple, they blame the members of the opposing political party. Actually, the legislators of both parties are the cause of our difficulties. Filter out the fractious rhetoric and their devious strategy for polarizing the country becomes quite apparent. The media is complicit in exacerbating and perpetuating this contentious power struggle because they earn their living preaching to either the conservatives or the liberals.

Citizens, fighting amongst themselves, vote for the incumbents year after year. We are so brainwashed that when a controversial issue is reported, our conditioned response is to blame the other side, forgetting all of the breaches of these unscrupulous legislators. Breaches such as unpaid taxes, sweetheart mortgages, home purchases dramatically below market value, noncompetitive federal contracts for spouses, cash stored in a legislator’s refrigerator, legislative favors for special interests, wasteful earmarks, ad infinitum.

Career politicians have capitalized on the fact that the Constitution doesn’t prescribe term limits for government offices. This loop hole exists because our forefathers didn’t anticipate individuals would make a career of public office. In their day, being a legislator was a real sacrifice. These pioneers faced long, strenuous, dangerous round trips to Philadelphia on horseback or horse and buggy. Letters took three or four weeks, lack of housing forced them to double up in beds with strangers, and enduring harsh weather conditions with inadequate heating and no cooling.    

 There’s no need to hold rallies and be subjected to media attacks, just use your vote to solve this problem. In the next election, you can exert your will in a simple, effective, non confrontational way by casting your ballot in the privacy of an election booth against the Congressional incumbents. Our crusade can be successful as the 1978 California Proposition 13 campaign. Messrs Jarvis and Gann led this populace movement that capped excessive property taxation. When we triumphantly “kick the bums out,” legislators will be hesitant to run for re-election and will responsively serve their constituents.

In this recession, banks are getting rid of their toxic mortgages, let’s get rid of our toxic legislators, they don’t deserve to represent us. You can get more information about “kick the bums out” in the book, “Election Hangover,” which you can purchase for only one dollar by using this link:

Please pass this blog on, so that we can build a populace movement to restore our Constitutional rights.

Thailand History

It is difficult to determine the type of culture which existed in Thailand before the Christian era, since no written records or chronologies exist but archeological excavations in the area north of Nakorn Ratchasima indicate that there were people living here over 4000 years ago. Thailand (previously known as Siam) has been populated ever since the dawn of civilization in Asia. There are conflicting opinions of the origins of the Thais. It presumed that about 4,500 years the Thais originated in northwestern Szechuan in China and later migrated down to Thailand along the southern part of China. They split into two main groups. One settled down in the North and became the kingdom of “Lan Na” and the other one is in further south, which afterward was defeated by the Khmers and became the kingdom of “Sukhothai”.

In the early 16th century, the European visited Ayutthaya, and a Portuguese embassy was established in 1511. Portugal’s powerful neighbor Spain was the next European nation to arrive in Ayutthaya forward the end of the 16th century. In the early 17th century they saw the arrival of two northern European, the Dutch and the British, and France in 1662.

In the mid-16th century, Ayutthaya and the independent kingdom in Chiang Mai was put under the control of the Burmese, but Thais could regain both of the capitals by the end of the century.

The Burmese invaded Ayutthaya again in 1765. This time Burmese caused much fear to Thais. Burmase soldiers destroyed everything, including temples, manuscripts, and religious sculpture. After the capital fell in their hands for two years, the Burmese effectiveness could not further hold the kingdom. Phaya Taksin, a Thai general, promoted himself to be the king in 1769. He ruled the new capital of Thonburi on the bank of Chao Phraya River, opposite Bangkok. Thais regained control of their country and thus scattered themselves to the provinces in the north and central part of Thailand. Taksin eventually turn himself to be the next Buddha and was dismissed and executed by his ministers who did not approve his religious values.The British gained a colonial foothold in the region in 1824, but by 1896 an Anglo-French accord guaranteed the independence of Thailand. A coup in 1932 demoted the monarchy to titular status and established representative government with universal suffrage. At the outbreak of World War II, Japanese forces attacked Thailand. After five hours of token resistance Thailand yielded to Japan on Dec. 8, 1941, subsequently becoming a staging area for the Japanese campaign against Malaya. Following the demise of a pro-Japanese puppet government in July 1944, Thailand repudiated the declaration of war it had been forced to make in 1942 against Britain and the U.S.

The politics of Thailand took some significant turn on 24 June 1932 when a group of young intellectuals, educated abroad and imbued with the concept of Western democracy, staged a bloodless coup, demanding a change form absolute to a constitutional monarchy, Determined to avoid any bloodshed, His Majesty King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) agreed to the abolition of absolute monarchy and the transfer of power to the constitution-based system of government as demanded. On 10 December 1932, His Majesty King Prajadhipok signed Thailand first constitution and thus ended 700 years of Thailand absolute monarchy. Despite the number of successive constitutions that followed in the span of just over half a century, the basic concepts of constitutional government and monarchy laid down in the 1932 constitution have remained unaltered.

Today Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, the present king. The King has reigned for more than half a century, making him the longest reigning Thai monarch. Thailand embraces a rich diversity of cultures and traditions. With its proud history, tropical climate and renowned hospitality, the Kingdom is a never-ending source of fascination and pleasure for international visitors and Thailand property investors. With the incredible number of visitors who simply fall in love with this mesmeric paradise of a country who find themselves returning year after year, its hardly surprising to hear of the high rental opportunities offered to any investor with a Thailand property and real estate. Combined with the fact that globally attractive Thailand boasts 1 of the worlds most empowered and foreign investment boosting economies. Contemporary apartment’s flats and villas that are each ideal for property in Thailand investment or recreational purposes can be found in abundance within the country borders. With the country’s infrastructure developing at a remarkable pace, land prices are on notably on the increase too which, for property owners, is nothing but reassuringly good news.

The Independent Party of America

The Independent Party was established in September 2007 as a national party by activists from the Independence Party of New York. Most state independent parties have joined this national movement. It is the fastest growing political party in the country. Both disgruntled democrates and republicans are leaving their party to join this new organization.

This organization is a grass roots party with members from all walks of life. Its members believe in a non-bipartisan democracy which is a no party democracy. They believe that elections should held without party affiliations but rather with candidates who are “independent” individuals. The party is a populist organization that represents ordinary people’s wishes and their needs. They are against an elitists lead government and an intrusive government.

The beliefs of the party are backed by a strong spiritual connection to God and country. The right to life and liberty and all the freedoms afforded us by the Declaration of Independence is a God given right. They believe in the Constitution of the United States as the written law of the land. They feel that our present government is in violation of the 10th Amendment of the Constitution that guarantees a limited government. They hold the importance of family values as it relates to our liberty, responsibility to our country and the mutual respect for all persons citizens and visitors.

This new party is against gay marriage, is for Pro-Life, opposes illegal immigration and supports a more secure border to stem the onslaught of illegals in our country. They feel that the government should be run by public servants and not professional politicians, or elitist groups.

Unlike the Democratic and Republican parties who have underlying factions within their organizations, the Independents have a clear and direct view how they perceive the government’s rights and lawful duties and responsibilities to each and every citizen.

They hold their convictions to God and country, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution of the U.S. and the Declaration of Independence.

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