Sunday, December 25, 2005

AUN Thoughts:Christmastide Collect PEC BCP 1939

AlmightyGod who has given us they only-begotten son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regerate and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who livith and reignith with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

Merry Chirstmas to all and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

AUN! News:A Sad Day

Oxford University has given into Blair Government over admissions. No longer will each college admit its own students. Now students will be admitted centrally and distributed among the colleges by the university. The independence of the colleges has added much to the diversity of the University as I have seen it (granted a limited experience). This will now be wiped away in the name of egalitarianism. Sickening! The story is here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Gold Standard a Defense

James Hamilton at Econbrowser wrote a post on the gold standard and the Great Depression, that needs an answer. Since I studied economics in college and am an advocate of commodity money, I’ll take a swing at it.

The first problem with Mr. Hamilton’s argument is that he defines the gold standard in only one of its historical forms, the government run bank note system at the end of the thousands of year long history of commodity money. But most advocates of the gold standard are not in favor of such a system, precisely because of the problems it creates some of which James then goes on to outline. He defines that system as follows.

“Under a pure gold standard, the government would stand ready to trade dollars for gold at a fixed rate.”

But the problem is, this definition leaves unanswered one of the most important questions, does the government have the gold or other commodity to meet all of its obligations. To be technical goes the government run a fractional reserve gold standard or a 100% reserve gold standard. In layman’s terms if the government promises to give an ounce of gold for every thousand dollars does it have gold to pay out one thousandth of an ounce of gold for every dollar in circulation

If it doesn’t have the gold to pay off all its obligations then it is operating a fractional reserve system which is indeed vulnerable to attacks by speculators. This is because the value of the gold the government is willing to pay for its notes is greater than the value of the notes. The government in such a situation is in fact systemically bankrupt, it does not have the gold to meet its obligations and it has no prospect of getting enough gold to pay off its obligations. That such a system is highly unstable goes without saying. The government or other issuer under such a system is in the same position as the government of Argentina under its dollar peg.

If on the other hand, the government or other issuer does have enough gold to meet its obligations and it will not issue additional dollars unless it receives enough gold to fully back the new notes, it is operating a 100% gold reserve standard. Such a system is in no way open to speculative attack. On the contrary all that would happen if people came to the central bank or other issuer and demanded gold is that they would have a sack of gold coin or bullion bars instead of an easier to carry around wad of notes. Under such a situation, the notes would have a value equal to or greater than the gold because of the convenience of the notes for large quantities of money.

As for the question of the country leaving the gold standard that is of course possible, but it applies as an argument against any better system of doing things. (i.e. Person A “I think we should build huts instead of living in a cave.” Person B “But we might stop building huts in which case we would have to go back to living in caves.”) To remove the temptation for the government to steal peoples gold by going off the gold standard, we could just have privately issued notes or electronic currency and the government could just perform its usual and proper function of preventing fraud and enforcing contracts. I personally think this is the better option. In fact, e-gold runs just such a system. You take them gold, silver, platinum or palladium bullion, and they account for the bullion and allow you to transfer it from one account to another to make payments.

Mr. Hamilton’s most important argument is that a gold standard causes instability because investors doubt the ability of the government to meet its obligations and redeem all of its notes. He puts his argument this way.

“I argued in a paper titled, "The Role of the International Gold Standard in Propagating the Great Depression," published in Contemporary Policy Issues in 1988, that counting on a gold standard to enforce monetary and fiscal discipline in an environment in which speculators had great doubts about governments' ability to adhere to that discipline was a recipe for disaster. International capital flows became more erratic, not less, as doubts were raised about whether first the pound would be devalued and then the dollar. Britain gave in to the speculative attacks and abandoned gold in 1931, whereas the U.S. toughed it out by deliberately raising interest rates in 1931 at a time when the economy was already near free fall.”

This is true, but only of a fractional reserve system. The problem is as I have said, a government operating a fractional reserve gold standard is in fact bankrupt, it is promising something it can’t deliver. It is in a state of perpetual crisis. If the Fed were to declare a gold standard today at $525 an ounce I would oppose it. It could be a nothing other than a disaster. For a gold standard to work the issuer must have enough gold to cover its obligations. At present that means a dollar gold price of $2,000 an ounce or greater.

James continues his argument,

“Because of this uncertainty, there was a big increase in demand for gold, the one safe asset in this setting, which meant the relative price of gold must rise. If everybody is trying to hoard more gold, you're going to have to pay more potatoes to get an ounce of gold. Since the U.S. insisted on holding the dollar price of gold fixed, this meant that the dollar price of potatoes had to fall. The longer a country stayed on the gold standard, the more overall deflation it experienced. Many of us are persuaded that this deflation greatly added to the economic difficulties of those countries that insisted on sticking with a fixed value of their currency in terms of gold.”

Again, this is true, but only of fractional reserve systems. Under a 100% system, there would be no reason to hoard money in this way because the system would be highly liquid. If banks and the government had enough gold to pay their demand obligations, the redemption of notes and withdrawal of money from bank accounts could not cause a liquidity crisis.

The real truth is that a fractional reserve gold standard is not really a system of commodity money, it is a system of fiduciary money. As long as the central bank is allowed to create debts in excess of its ability to pay them, the money system will be unstable. Even if there was no crisis, the continued issuance of uncovered obligations would mean that the same amount of gold would back an ever increasing quantity of notes eventually this would mean virtually no gold backing the notes, i.e. no gold standard.

If James is interested in continuing this discussion, I would be willing to write about how I would handle the transition and how such a system would-could work so he could respond to that.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A New York X Mass

Are any of the readers of this blog in the New York area? I am interested in meeting any who are. If you are going to be in the City on Dec. 18, I am planning a little get together and would be interested in having you come. Please e mail me at

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

AUN! News: Commonwealth Update CHOGM

The Heads of State and Government of the commonwealth meet from Nov. 25 to Nov. 27 in Malta. The leaders of the commonwealth produced several statements including, The Malta Declaration for Networking the Commonwealth for Development, here. The also issued the Gozo Statement on Vunerable Small States, here and the Valletta Statement on Multilateral Trade, here. The Queen's opening address is here. Commonwealth Secritary General Don McKinnon suggested that membership standards be tightened, here. The CHOGM Final Communique is here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

AUN! Opinion: The Usurper is Fallen!

The government of Paul Martin sometime Prime Minister of Canada fell today after having lost the confidence of the nation for the second time in less than a year.

Martin and his liberal government, who ruled without the confidence of the nation for nearly a week after he lost control of the House of Commons in May, was decisively defeated on the floor of the house today when a motion of censure passed 171 to 133.

It is believed that Martin will meet with the Queen’s representative, Governor General Michaelle Jean on Tuesday to ask for the dissolution of parliament and a call for elections.

Hopefully the voters will give one of the three other parties, the Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois or New Democratic Party a majority so that Martin’s usurpation in May will not become a precedent.

The NY Times story is here. The Independent’s story is here.

Captain's Quarters has the story here.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

AUN! Thoughs: Monetary Reform 2, Was Decimalization a Mistake

This is a continuation of my thoughts on monetary reform. My first post on the subject is here.

For more than a thousand years the English speaking people used a pound made up of 240 pennies. After the United States gained its independence, the new nation decided to abandon the English system of monetary weights. It its place they adopted the Spanish dollar as a unit and divided it into decimal units of tenths, hundredths, and thousandths. Later Canada and the other dominions adopted a dollar. Great Britain decimalized the pound after World War II though the first step in that direction, the introduction of a tenth pound coin, the florin was taken in the mid 19th Century.

I believe this may have been a error. The idea is that decimal systems are supposed to be easier because we use a base ten number system. Thus the idea seems to go it is easier to think in hundreds than 240s. However, I who have never used the predecimal system in real life, find it as easy to think in as a decimal system and it has some real advantages

Because 240 is the product of 12 and 20 it is more easily divided into fractions than 100.
While the dollar can only be divided evenly by 2, 4, 5,10, 20, 25, 50, and 100. In contrast, 240 can be divided evenly by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 20, 24, 30, 40, 48, 60, 80, 120, and 240. The only advantage to the base 100 system is that it is divided evenly by 100 so that percentages can be used. However there is an answer to one percent of 240, it is 2.4. The use of a tenth penny coin would allow the use of percentages in the 240 penny system and eliminate even that advantage. In contrast there is no answer to what is the third, sixth, or twelfth part of the dollar.

Lest some one say that a 1/10th penny would be worth to little to be practicable, let me point out that with in the last 200 years the British government issued a Quarter Farthing, that is a coin worth one sixteenth of a penny. Further at today’s silver price, a tenth penny would have a value of 4 cents.

Thus I conclude that decimalization was a mistake.

Writing this made me go and comb through the collection of coins our family has accumulated from foreign travel. Among the interesting numismatic items I found are:

British: a 1907 Edward VII Shilling, Florins (two shilling coins) and Half Crowns (eighth pound) of George V and Elisabeth II, six pence of Elizabeth II, three pence of Elisabeth II, Pennies (not new pennies) of George V, George VI, and Elisabeth II, and a Half Penny Elizabeth II.

Canada: a 1907 Edward VII Cent, 1916 and 1920 George V Cents, a 1901 Victoria Half Dime, two Half Dimes of George V, a 1908 Edward VII Quarter Dollar, and a 1919 George V Quarter.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

AUN! News: Commonwealth Update

The 2005 commonwealth heads of government meeting is fast approching. A who's who of the participents of this years meeting which begins Nov. 25 is here. News about the Commonwealth Youth Forum is here. The report of the Tanzania election observer group is here.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

AUN! Thoughts: Constitutionalism

There has been a good bit of discussion recently about Anglosphere legal and constitutional thought and its connections to the middle ages and even earlier. A good site for documents and treatises on anglosphere constitutionalism is among the things to be found there are: the Constitutions of Clarendon, the Assize of Clarendon, Magna Carta, the Declaration of Arbroath, Smith’s de Republica Anglorum, the Mayflower Compact, Frances Bacon's Elements of the Common Law of England, selected works of Edward Coke, the Petition of Right, the English Bill of Rights, Algernon Sidney’s Discourses Concerning Government, and many other works.

Friday, November 11, 2005

AUN! Thoughts: In Peace and Quietness

I have spent a good part of the day thinking what to write about Armistice Day, then I remembered an admonition by a high school English teacher who was himself recycling a war time propaganda slogan. “It is better to remain silent and appear ignorant than to open ones mouth and remove all doubt.”

So I will content myself with the text of my favorite prayer, one that is of great significance for the history of our people.

“O Eternal Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens and rulest the raging of the sea; who hast compassed the waters with bounds until the day and night come to an end; Be pleased to receive into thy Almighty and most gracious protection the persons of us thy servants and the Fleet in which we serve. Preserve us from the dangers of the sea and from the violence of the enemy; that we may be a safeguard unto our most gracious Sovereign Lord, Queen Elizabeth and her Dominions and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of our Island may in peace and quietness serve thee our God and that we may return in safety to enjoy the blessings of the land, with the fruits of our labours and with a thankful remembrance of thy mercies to praise and glorify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”

AUN! Thoughts: Armistice Day

It is now about three hours after the 87th anniversary of the armistice. Let us honor in memory those who gave their lives in the service of the cause of freedom during the Great War Aug. 3 1914 – Nov. 11 1918, may they rest in peace.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

AUN! News: US Ambassidor Speaks Truth to Mugabe

U.S. Ambassidor Christopher Dell is under attack by the Mugabe regeme for speaking the truth about that country's economic plight. Dell told students at a university in Zimbabwe that Mugabe's government was responsible for the downturn in the african country's economic fortunes. The Mugabe regeme has responded by claiming Dell is a sexual pervert. The story is here.

AUN! News: Commonwealth Update

Commonwealth representatives are converging on Malta for the head's of government meeting and other related events, story here. Monitoring for the Sri Lanka presidential election is discussed here.

AUN! News: "Anti Terrorism" Bill defeated in UK

Blair's anti-terrorism bill which would have allowed the government to detain persons for up to 90 days without charging them with a crime was defeated 322-291. Unfortunatly a version allowing detention for 28 days without charge was passed 323-290. Story here

Thursday, November 03, 2005

AUN! News: Comonwealth Update

A statement on the recent Zanzibar elections by the Commonwealth observer group, here. An interesting publication for educators was released today, here. The Secritary General is in the solomon islands, story here.

Monday, October 31, 2005

AUN! Thoughts: Subscription, A New and Better Way to Chose Legislators

In my post on choosing government officials, I mentioned one method of choosing representatives that has a great deal of potential.

It would eliminate the need for campaign financing and the pressure for laws that restrict free speech in the name of cleaner elections. It would mean that no one would have to be represented by a member of a different party. I call this system, subscription.

Under this system, instead of having an election to chose one legislator, people contract with a like minded citizen to represent them. Unlike most legislatures, where each member has an equal vote, under subscription each member has a number of votes equal to the number of people who have chosen him as their representative. Likewise the order and time for debate of each member would be determined by the number of people who had chosen the member.

Some may object that this would result in an unmanageably large legislature. However under subscription, the citizens not only chose their legislator, they pay him. The contract which each constituent signed would have a compensation clause committing each constituent to pay the representative X amount per month. The result of this would be a tendency for constituents and representative to want each representative to have a large number of constituents. To illustrate this point a representative with a million constituents could charge a cent per month and have a salary of $10,000, where as a representative with 50,000 constituents would have to charge 20 cents to have the same salary.

In addition to eliminating the problems of campaign finance and representation by a person you voted against, subscription would be much more responsive to the demands of the voters. They could contractually bind their representative to vote in accordance to their wishes or they could simply withdraw their vote from their current representative and give it to one they thought would better represent them.

Subscription also has the virtue that unlike systems requiring elections the plethora of polling places, poll workers and poll watchers would not be necessary. Instead a credentialing committee could check to make sure that the people contracting with the representative really exist and that they have contracted with the representative. This makes subscription especially valuable in instances where a formal organization is not already in place.

In sum, subscription is democratic, is more responsive than systems based on election, doesn’t have the campaign finance problems of elections, and allows everyone to be represented by a person of their choice.

Friday, October 28, 2005

AUN! News Exclusive: Rudi Giuliani On Leadership

NEW YORK — The Hon. Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York, addressed the eighth grade at St. David’s School on leadership in the school assembly hall Thursday evening.

The program which included remarks by the school Headmaster David O’Halloran and an introduction by his Giuliani’s law partner Daniel Connolly, was part of the school’s Alumni Parent Council annual lecture program. Giuliani’s son Andrew attended the school as a boy.

About 350 students, parents, and alumni packed the venue to hear the former mayor, who was widely praised for his leadership after the attacks of September 11, 2001, speak about the principals of leadership.

Giuliani said that a clear vision was the indispensable first principal of leadership.

“You have to know what you believe,” he said. “If you don’t know what you believe, you can’t lead people anywhere.”

The former mayor pointed to Ronald Regan’s belief that state socialism was an international evil and that a government grown too large was sapping the strength and vitality of the American people as an example of this.

“Whether or not you agree with him,” Giuliani said. “Regan knew what he believed. He had reflected on his own experience and drawn conclusions about what needed to be done.”

This meant that Regan knew where he wanted to go and was able to keep in perspective the occasional disagreement of the majority of the populace and forge ahead, he said.

The second principal of leadership is optimism, the former mayor said.

“To be a leader you have to be an optimist,” he said. “You can’t say, ‘things are bad, they are going to get worse, and there is no hope, Follow me!’”

While acknowledging that demagogues often abused the optimistic principal of leadership, Giuliani said it was an important aspect of the art of leadership. He pointed to Sir. Winston L. S. Churchill’s war time speeches a positive example of optimistic leadership.

“The British and French armies had been defeated, the nation was under threat of invasion, and the cities were being bombed every night,” he said. “Every night was like September 11th. People went to bed and didn’t know whether they would wake up in the morning or if their neighbor’s house would be blown up when they did.”

“Churchill was able to be optimistic when there wasn’t much to be optimistic about,” he said. “He spoke of the special ability of a free people to preserver.”

The third principal of leadership, Giuliani said is Courage.

“Courage doesn’t mean not being afraid,” he said. “We often think of courageous people as being supper human, but that’s wrong.”

The former mayor recalled a heroic police officer who had risked his life in the line of duty, but had been almost paralyzed with fear during a press conference after meeting with the mayor. That event, Giuliani said was a revelation for him.

“Courage is dealing with fear,” he said. “It is training to meet the feared responsibilities that you have undertaken.”

That leads to the fourth principal, relentless preparation, the former mayor said.

“It is relentless preparation which allows you to over come your fears,” he said.

Giuliani related how that though New York had no plans for terrorists using air plains as missiles to destroy buildings, the fact that the city did have plans to deal with suicide bombings, sky scrapper fires, and major medical emergencies, meant that he and his senior advisors were able to meet the crisis.

He was able to activate part of the plan for dealing with suicide bombers to order police to guard possible secondary terrorist targets, while the parts of plans for major medical emergencies was activated to triage casualties at near by hospitals and then transfer people to hospitals further uptown, the former mayor said.

Because he and many other city employees had prepared for other crises, they were able to improvise to meet the September 11th attacks, Giuliani said. He said the relentless preparation for other crises, was his main source of confidence on the day of the attacks.

He said, the fifth principal of leadership is understanding your weaknesses. Giuliani said that when he became mayor, he knew that improving the economy and fighting crime where his two most important tasks. He said he knew how to fight crime from his years as a prosecuting attorney, but that he knew he would need help with economic matters. Because he knew his weakness, he was able to get the advice he needed, the former mayor said.

The sixth principal of leadership, he said is communication. However he said that if you followed the first five principals, all you had to do was be strait with people and you would communicate your vision.

Caring about people, Giuliani said is the seventh principal of leadership. However, he emphasized this did not mean doing what people want.

The former mayor related who he was vilified for his workfare program under which able bodied welfare recipients were made to do 18 hours of work for the city to receive their benefits. He said he believed it was not helping the recipients to let them lose their work ethic and pride in working.

Above all, he said caring about people means that, “when things go wrong, you need to be their.”

In answering questions after his talk, Giuliani said that one of the pieces of advice that helped him most on September 11, was something his father had told him as a child. In time of danger and panic it is best remain calm or pretend to remain calm, because that is most likely going to result in seeing a way out of the problem, he said.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

AUN! Opinion: Great Posts on Albion's Seedlings

A group of three posts on Albion's Seedlings regarding the Danish Prime Minister's response to pressure to impose Islamic law on the Danish' press and the medieval roots of constitutionalism and liberty are here, here, and here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

AUN! Note: Changing Titles

In the future all titles on this blog will clearly distiguish between fact and opinion pieces. All posts that are news comentary will be labled AUN! Opinion:. All posts with my thoughts on this or that issue will be labled AUN! Thoughts:. All posts that are simply factual links to news stories or original reporting by me will be labled AUN! News:. All notes to readers like this one will be labled AUN! Note:. I am going to try and go back a retitle posts but that may take some time.

AUN! News: Commonwealth Update

The Secritary General is in Malaysia discussing plans for the up coming heads of government meeting, story here. The Commonwealth is helping to organize private investment in the Pacific Islands, story here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

AUN! Thoughts: On Choosing Government Officials

There is an idea, unspoken often unconscious, that the only way a democratic society can chose officials is by election. That even in democratic societies this not the way all officials are chosen does not occur to people. In this essay I want to explore the various alternatives to elections and the various forms of election.

The most obvious alternative to election is sortition, choosing officials by lot. This method has the advantages of being democratic since every one has an equal chance to be chosen, it is traditional since juries are chosen by lot, and is non partisan in as far as parties can’t influence the choice. The problems with this method is that since everyone has an equal chance of being chosen, it can lead to very unqualified persons being chosen for the office. However for cases such as the jury where the responsibility is divided among 12 people, sortition can provided a useful method of choosing officials.

Another widely used method is indirect election, where a group of elected representatives elect an official. This is fairly democratic since the people chose the representatives, though less so than direct election or sortition. It has the advantage of allowing the electors to chose men in whom they have confidence to chose among candidates they know less well. This was the rational for the electoral college that elects the president. It also is useful in federations because it allows the member governments to choose some or all of the federal officials.

A third method that could be used is examination, where officials are chosen by a test open to all. This was the method by which the Indian Civil Service was chosen and many civil services use this method. It is perhaps not as democratic as election or sortition, because people are not equal in talent. One way examination could be used is in combination with sortition to eliminate the incompetent.

A method that is often used to choose judges is appointment, where one elected official appoints a person to fill a post. This is less democratic since the people have no direct say in who is chosen, though they can get rid of the person who appointed the official. The advantage is that it can make the process less political.

Rotation, citizens filling offices in turn is another democratic method of filling offices. This method would have the same problems of sortition of having incompetent people chosen for important offices.

A method of choosing legislators which I favor is subscription, choosing representatives by contract. This is the system I used in the modified version of Dan’s constitution. In essence, under this system each representative has a number of votes equal to the number of people who chose him as their representative. The advantages of this system is that it is very democratic, it allows people to have representative of their choice with no one excluded because “their candidate” didn’t win the election. This allows all points of view to be heard in the legislature without over representing minority view points. This frankly is my preferred system of choosing the lower house of the legislature.

Election is of course the way most democratic societies today chose their officials. There are a number of variations on this system. There is the single member district system, the multiple member district system, proportional representation and the German cross of PR and single districts.

Single districts have the advantage of there being a direct relation between the elected and the constituent, but have the disadvantage that those who don’t vote for the winning candidate are left without a voice in the legislature.

Multiple member districts can, depending how they are set up, fix some of the problems of single districts. If all the members are elected on the same ballot then a more ideologically diverse group of people that more closely reflects the ideas of the constituents will selected.

Proportional representation is very popular with some academics, because they believe it best represents the people. It does have the advantage of reflecting the ideological beliefs of the people, but it has the serious disadvantage of not allowing the voters to get rid of candidates they don’t like. This system cedes vast powers to private political parties.

The German mixed version retains the advantage close relationship between representative and constituent of single districts while better reflecting the ideological views the electorate. However it retains the problems of the proportional representation system.

Since a republic doesn’t have to be perfectly democratic, I think it helpful to look at other methods used by more aristocratic forms of government.

The classic aristocratic method of choosing office holders is inheritance. This has the benefit of choosing officeholders without the undignified process that characterizes an election and allows the office holder to be educated from birth to fulfill the responsibilities of his office. The problem is that the inherited officeholder may have little interest in the well being of the people as a whole, instead having a narrow class interest. This is not always bad, it can be made to serve a republic, but it must be taken into account.

Another aristocratic form of choosing office holders is by Cooption, where the members of a body, a legislative, judicial, or executive chose new members of the body. This method is could in theory allow those competent to rule to choose like minded successors. The problem is there is no method of correction for a system of pure cooption. If the council becomes corrupt, there is no way to remove the members and start over.

A third aristocratic method of choosing officials is sale. This involves selling the office. Titles of nobility were sold by kings and emperors. At one time commissions in the royal army were sold. While it sounds like corruption, as long as the sales price goes into the state treasury, sale is a legitimate way of choosing officials, though it has disadvantages. The advantage of selling offices is that it takes a potential source of corruption, rich people wanting to influence policy, and turns it into a source of state revenue. The disadvantage is that it gives the rich disproportionate power over the state.

Another method which could be democratic or aristocratic is seniority. Strictly speaking seniority is the system for geriarchy, rule of the old. However this could be used with other methods of selection democratic or aristocratic.

In looking at various methods, I have tried to rank the systems in accordance with how democratic or aristocratic they are. Here is my list from most democratic to most aristocratic.

Rotation or Subscription
Election – Multiple Member Districts
Election – Single Member Districts
Election – German System
Election – Proportional Representation
Indirect Election

As we discuss the Union of the English Speaking People, the question of political arrangements is sure to rear its head. I hope this essay will help people organize their thoughts so that such discussions can be more fruitful.

AUN! Opinion: Constitution Monarchy in Australia

I have a new post on referendums and the constitutional monarchy in Australia at The Monarchist. The text of that post is repeated here.

Referendums are in the news, and the question of why a defeated referendum against the monarchy is not considered binding has been raised and I want to weigh in on the issue.If the Australian Constitutional Monarchists are serious about preserving the monarchy, and more importantly the Anglo Saxon tradition of government, then they need to be proactive.

First they need to take the war of language to their enemies. The word republic is a proud one with a long history among our people. But it is not a word that belongs to the anti monarchists alone and they should not be allowed to steal it. Australia IS a republic. It has always been a republic.

The English speaking people have been ruled by republics for almost the entire history of our nation. Since Magna Charta at the latest, England has been a republic. The UK has always been a republic. If that is you mean a system that is not an absolute monarchy, an absolute aristocracy, or an absolute democracy.

In fact, the word Commonwealth as in “the Commonwealth of Australia” means republic. Commonwealth is a calque, a word for word translation, of the Latin res publica which means “the public things” or “the public matters.”

The question is not weather Australia should be a republic, that question was settled centuries ago. The question is weather the Head or State should be Elizabeth, by the grace of God of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her other realms and territories Queen, Defender of the Faith, or some political hack who can get two thirds of parliament to vote for him.

Second, imply quite rightly that the reason the anti monarchists don’t know that Australia is and has always been a republic, albeit a crowned one, is because they don’t give a hoot for the history and traditions of the people of Australia or the larger English speaking nation to which they belong.

Further point to the fact that the anti monarchists real goal is not equality before the law, but the replacement of the monarch who is a symbol of the whole people with a either a political hack who can compromise his way to power or a partisan politician who will be beholden to one party or the other.

Thirdly, if as looks likely, another referendum is going to happen anyway, then the monarchists need to get out in front and demand one and demand the wording that they want.

The goal of this should be two fold, first, to get a wording that will likely uphold the monarchy, and secondly, to insert wording that will preclude another referendum for a full generation.

If I were writing the referendum it would read something like the following:

That the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Australian Territories relying on the blessings of divine providence do proclaim their continuing allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth of Australia, Queen and the free and equal system of laws of the English speaking people and their desire that after the aforementioned Elizabeth her heirs and successors according to law shall be King or Queen of Australia. They proclaim their desire that the King or Queen of Australia shall in the future reside within the Commonwealth of Australia during one year in ten and that during that time there shall not be a Governor General. They do further proclaim their desire that henceforth the Governor General shall be chosen, if the monarch does not desire to appoint one of her children or siblings to that post, as follows. All subjects of the Australian crown who: have won the Nobel Prize, have won the gold medal at the Olympic Games, have earned the rank of brigadier, commodore, or air commodore or above in the Royal Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force respectively, or have served as governor of one of the states, shall be candidates and the people of Australia shall elect one of them as Governor General using a single transferable ballot. The people of Australia do further proclaim that they do desire that this question be closed for the next 25 years and that no amendment affecting the monarchy be brought before them during that time.

Then, the supporters of the monarchy have to get out there and fight, not to defeat their opponents measure, but win passage of their own. They have to immerse themselves in the great political tradition of our people, the monarchists and the anti monarchists. Locke, Sidney, Blackstone and yes John Adams. A great place to start this research, though it is an explicitly republican site is here.

I don’t say this course of action will necessarily be successful, but if the monarchy is going to be preserved for future generations it has to be fought for. If the supporters of the Constitutional Monarchy are to win, they need to deserve to win and that means being willing to dare.

Monday, October 24, 2005

AUN! Opinion: A Victory for Human Rights

The people of Brazil struck a blow for individual rights when they rejected a national gun ban by an overwhelming majority this weekend. Story here, here, and here.

An international cabal of organizations determined to deny people the right to own the tools necessary for self defense poured into Brazil, hoping to set a precedent that could be used to further restrict the rights of the people to resist aggression.

Fortunately a coalition of groups dedicated to the preservation of the right to own arms helped local citizens to defend their rights. This was a major human rights victory.

In the battle over human rights few issues are a contentious or as important as the battle over the right to own weapons.

Because of the widespread use of arms to oppress and kill, many international organizations have drawn the totally erroneous conclusion that only governments should have arms. The problem is that many of the victims are killed by arms in the hands of the government or quasi government organizations. The 20th century is notorious for, above all, the massive scale of Democide, government killings of their own citizens, committed by totalitarian governments.

The use of arms by criminals is also pointed to as a reason to ban arms. This ignores the obvious fact that criminals by definition don’t obey the law. Guns are likely used more often to deter crimes than to commit them.

Murderers either dictators or garden variety criminals, do not have a right to disarmed victims. On the contrary, people have an absolute right to defend themselves.

Of course the international press has as usual let itself act like an arm of the gun ban cabal, repeating their arguments. The most obvious case is the use of the phrase “manipulating people’s fears” in several of the stories. The AP story doesn't even pretend to be objective, taking the motives of the anti gun groups to be true without arguement.

Thankfuly, the people of Brazil struck a blow for human rights and gave the government power movement a resounding defeat.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

AUN! News: Commonwealth Update

The Secritary General will be in Malaysia next week to discuss preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, story here. Commonwealth Observers will be on hand in the United Republic of Tanzania for the elections on 30 October 2005, details here.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fisking the AP

The AP has a story that while interesting is full serious problems.

The story begins quite fine with the following

"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's election commission announced Monday that officials were investigating "unusually high" numbers of "yes" votes in about a dozen provinces during Iraq's landmark referendum on a new constitution, raising questions about irregularities in the balloting."

"The Electoral Commission made no mention of fraud, and an official with knowledge of the election process cautioned that it was too early to say whether the unusual numbers were incorrect or if they would affect the outcome."

Then comes some BS.

"But questions about the numbers raised tensions over Saturday's referendum, which has already sharply divided Iraqis. Most of the Shiite majority and the Kurds — the coalition which controls the government — support the charter, while most Sunni Arabs sharply opposed a document they fear will tear Iraq to pieces and leave them weak and out of power."

The last part of the second sentence has a problem. While Sunni's may fear that "the constitution will tear Iraqi to pieces and leave them week and out of power", it in fact can't do both. If it tears the country to pieces, it will leave the sunni's in power in the sunni triangle. Granted it won't be fun being in charge of just the sunni triangle, but the sunni's have no right to imperialize their neighbors. If on the contrary the sunni's are left weak and out of power, then the country won't have been torn to pieces. One or the other boys but not both. In the west we call this the law of non-contradictionon. A thing can't both have and not have the same property in the same respect.

The rest of the article was unobjectionable except for the following.

"Many Sunnis fear the new decentralized government outlined in the constitution will deprive them of their fair share of the country's vast oil wealth by creating virtually independent mini-states of Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south, while leaving Sunnis isolated in central and western Iraq. "

I want to know what is the sunni's "fair share" of the oil. Is this even knowable? If not why is it reportable as a fact. Now I grant the reporter is just relaying the sunni's view in both instances. But when in one case the view is self contradictory and in the other not disprovable, are these senseable claims?

AUN! News: Commonwealth Update

The Commonwealth Deputy General Secritary Florence Mugasha is in Ghana for the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting story here, here, here, and here. A story on the Commonwealth's efforts for earthquake victims is here. Donald McKinnon, Secretary General, of the Commonwealth was in Cameroon recently story here.

Dan's Constitution Revised

Constitution of the Anglosphere Commonwealth

Article 1: The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth of Australia, the Republic of Ireland, The United Kingdom, and The United States of America,
in order to secure the prosperity and security of their people,
in order to more fully realize democracy and the rule of law,
in order to break down the barriers that divide nations from their common heritage,
do freely enter into this Commonwealth.

The organs of the Commonwealth are the Common House of the Anglosphere and the Network Organisations of the Anglosphere.

Article 2: Ancient Liberties the Foundation

1. The foundation of this commonwealth is the ancient Liberties of the English Speaking People which we understand to be at the minimum as follows.
· That no subject, citizen, or person lawfully resident within a state shall be deprived of life, liberty or property by the government there of without due process of law.
o That no one shall be deprived of their life unless they are convicted of treason, murder, rape or involvement in the slave trade.
§ But treason shall consists only in levying war against the government, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort.
o That no person shall be guilty of a felony unless pronounced so by the unanimous verdict of a jury of 12 chosen by lot from among the subjects or citizens of the district where in the crime shall have been committed.
· That no state shall levy any tax without the consent of the representatives of the people
· The state shall make no law abridging the right of free speech or press, but may by law punish incitement or conspiracy to commit a crime, incitement to false panic, or libel where libel is understood to mean the uttering or printing of falsehoods which damage another person’s reputation.
· No state shall make a law abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble to petition for the redress of grievances.
· The state shall not take private property for public use without the payment of just compensation.
o To be just compensation must be more than the price last paid for the property or more than the tax assessment for the property, unless the property has been subsequently significantly damaged..
o Public use means use by the state for fortifications, roads or necessary public buildings.
· The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures not to be violated. Warrants shall be issued only on probable cause upon oath or affirmation naming the place to be searched and persons or things to be seized.
· No state shall make a law violating the freedoms of association or contract.
· The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind. A government violating the rights of the people or violating its constitution has no authority and the people there of have the right to overthrow it or to distrain and distress the officials there of until such time as they content themselves with their lawfully given authority.
2. By joining this commonwealth, the executive and legislative officials of a nation agree to abide by the ancient liberties of our people.
3. Nations joining this commonwealth recognize that persistent and willful violations of the liberties enumerated above shall be cause for expulsion.

Article 3: Membership of the Commonwealth

Membership of the Commonwealth is open to all nations upon application.

Membership may be denied by a majority vote of the Council of State.

Members may be expelled by a 2/3 vote of the Council of State.

Members found by a commission of inquiry to have persistently and willfully violated the ancient liberties of our people maybe expelled by a majority vote of the Council of State.

The founding members of the Anglosphere Commonwealth are the Commonwealth of Australia, The United Kingdom, The United States of America and the Republic of Ireland.

Article 4: The Common House of the Anglosphere

All members of the Commonwealth are members of the Common House.

The Common House consists of four elements:
The Mediator of the Commonwealth
The Speaker of the Assembly,
The Council of State,
The Assembly of the Commonw House.

Article 5: The Assembly of the Common House

The Assembly of the Common House shall be composed of delegates who are subjects or citizens of member states who have an agreement of representation signed by at least 100 other subjects or citizens of member states.

Any delegate may make a motion before the Assembly, upon any subject without limitation.

Any delegate may make a joint assertion before the Assembly, upon any subject without limitation.

Debate on any motion or joint assertion shall be without limit unless the motion or joint assertion shall itself limit the time for debate or the Assembly shall pass a motion to limit debate, except that debate on a motion to limit debate shall not exceed 24 hours and debate on a motion to limit debate may be closed by a motion to end debate passed by the vote of 2/3rds of the Assembly, but this is the only instance were a motion to end debate may be made.

A motion to limit debate shall take the following form: “Resolved that the Assembly shall limit debate on _______ to ______.” Where the first blank shall be filled with the name of the motion or joint assertion in question and the second black shall be filled with times proposed as follows. If the motion to limit debate is adopted, the Speaker of the Assembly shall state that it is the will of the assembly that debate be limited and shall put to a vote one after the other to fill the second blank: one month, three weeks, two weeks, a week, five days, three days, two days, 36 hours, 24 hours, 18 hours, 12 hours. The first period to win a majority shall fill the blank, but if none of them win a majority then the blank shall be filled with: six hours.

Delegates shall speak on any motion or joint assertion in the order of the number of signers they have to their agreement of representation, the delegate with the most signers having the right to speak first or to reserve his right to speak in which case he and all others reserving their right to speak shall speak in inverse order. However the person making the motion or joint assertion shall have the right to speak to his motion or joint assertion for five minutes at the time he makes it. If a number of delegates have equal numbers of signers they shall speak with in the limits of the forgoing at the discretion of the Speaker of the Assembly. Any member of the Council of State may speak on any motion or joint assertion ether before or after the regular order of debate. The Mediator of the Commonwealth may speak on any motion or joint assertion at the point in the order of debate of her own choosing.

The time for debate shall be apportioned among the delegates wishing to speak in proportion to the number of signers they have to their agreement of representation. Delegates may pool their time so that one of their number may speak for a longer time. If a member of the Council of State chooses to speak he shall be granted time equal to half the time as the delegate with the largest number of signers. If the Mediator of the Commonwealth chooses to speak she shall be granted the same about of time as the delegate with the largest number of signers and the house may by unanimous consent grant her additional time.

On all votes in the Assembly, each delegate shall have a number of votes equal to the number of signers they have to their agreement of representation.

Any set of delegates may establish working committees of the Assembly of the People, which shall be supported by those nations with participatory delegates.

Every two years the Assembly shall elect the Speaker of the Assembly.

An agreement of representation is contract between a delegate and the people he represents. The agreement of representation states that the delegate will represent the people who sign the agreement before the assembly and states what if any compensation the represented will pay to the delegate. It may also bind the delegate to vote in certain ways. Such clauses are binding, but they like any clause may be changed by the delegate as long as he gives the represented 30 days notice. The any of the signers may terminate the agreement as for himself on 10 days notice. Delegates shall have one agreement of representation that is the same for all people represented.

A delegate shall receive no compensation for his service other than the money paid to him under the agreement of representation and any gifts or donations given to him by those who have signed his agreement of representation.

Article 6: The Council of State

The Council of State shall be composed of one representative from each member state of the Commonwealth, the Speaker of the Assembly and the Mediator of the Commonwealth.

The Mediator of the Commonwealth shall be President of the Council of State, but shall have no vote unless they be equally divided.

The Council of State shall by simple majority of votes:
vote upon membership applications for the Commonwealth,
lay down rules for the procedures of itself,
lay down rules for the procedures of the Assembly of the Common House not inconsistent with this constitution,
expel any member Commonwealth found by a commission of inquiry to have persistently and willfully violated the ancient liberties of our people.

The Council of State may by a two-thirds majority of votes:
Amend this Constitution if supported by two or more founding members and a majority of the votes in the Assembly of the People,
Expel a member state for any reason.

Any member of the Council of State may:
commit their support to motions or joint assertions of the Assembly,
require a vote from the Council upon the continued membership of a member of the Commonwealth.
Each member of the Council shall have an office and a staff, supported by their own Nations contributions.

Dan's Constitution (rev) part 2

Article 7: The Speaker of the Assembly

1. The Speaker shall chair meetings of the Assembly, according to the rules laid down by the Council of State and this Constitution.

2. The Speaker shall chair all commissions of inquiry.

3. The Speaker shall have an office and a staff, supported by the contributions of all Member Nations.

Article 8: The Mediator of the Commonwealth

1. The Mediator of the Commonwealth shall be Elizabeth Windsor and Her Heirs and Successors in accordance with the Act of Settlement of 1701.

2. The Mediator shall be President of the Council of State.

3. The Mediator shall have the right to address the Assembly of the Common House

4. Any subject or citizen of a members state, who having exhausted his legal remedies under the laws of his government, shall have the right to appeal to the Mediator on the grounds that his state is denying him the ancient liberties outlined in Article 2.

5. When a subject or citizen appeals to the Mediator of the Commonwealth, she shall appoint a panel of inquiry composed of three subjects or citizens of member states one of whom shall be a member of the assembly. The panel of inquiry shall investigate and make a report to the Mediator of the Commonwealth who shall make the report a matter of public record.

6. If a member nation has been found by a panel of inquiry to have violated the rights of its citizens more than 10 times in 5 years, then upon receiving a request by motion of either the Council of State or the Assembly, the Mediator shall appoint a commission of inquiry which shall investigate weather the member is persistently violating the ancient liberties of our people. If the commission finds that the member is persistently violating the ancient liberties of our people they shall report this fact along with suggested steps the member can take to remedy the problem to the Mediator of the Commonwealth who shall inform the representative of that member to the Council of State. The commission of inquiry shall continue to meet for the next three years or until it determines that the problem has been corrected. If at the end of three years, the member is still persistently violating the ancient liberties of our people, the commission shall determine that the violations are persistent and willful.

7. A commission of inquiry shall be chaired by the speaker of the assembly and shall include, two members of the Council of State, four members of the Assembly, two judges from member counties other than the one under investigation, and four other members. All members shall with in the limits of the forgoing be appointed at the discretion of the Mediator.

Article 9: Anglosphere Network Organisations

Any group of Member Nations, that includes at least one founding member, may form a Network Organisation within the Commonwealth by,
submitting through delegates a joint assertion by the Assembly,
committing through their representatives on the Council of State.

To qualify as an Commonwealth Network the organisation must:
have one or more founding members as a member or have a majority of members and the support of the Mediator,
base its headquarters within the Offices of the Common House.

All network organisations must:
report regularly and honestly to the Council of State and Assembly of the Common House, according to the rules of those Houses.

All network organisations may:
set more binding conditions on membership rules than that of the Commonwealth
require sovereign action of states according to the constitution of the organisation
have whatever powers over their own member nations as are granted to them by those member nations

All network organisations must not:
accept or at any time have as members nations not members of the Commonwealth.

Article 10. Powers of the Common House

The Common House will levy no financial or other obligations on its member nations or citizens other than contributions for the administration of the Common House.

The Common House has no power to make binding law or regulation over it's member nations.

The Common House may not require or forbid action of its members

The Common House may not delay, or submit requirements to complete, the withdrawal of membership of any member state.

The Council of State of the Common House may compel representatives of any Organisation to appear before it and speak honestly, though they may not force disclosure.

Article 11. Joint Responsibility

The Common House will take no responsibility for the actions of the Member Nations or the Network Organisations

The Member Nations will not be required to respect, take responsibility for or support the actions of other Member Nations or Network Organisations of which they are not a member.

Joint responsibility may feature in the Constitutions of the Network Organisations.

Article 12: Founding Networks

The founding networks of the Commonwealth are the following organisations:
Anglosphere Treaty Organisation (ATO) The members of ATO shall, according to the constitution of ATO,
commit to mutual defence.
conclude defence cooperation agreements.

Anglosphere Free Trade Area (AFTA) The members of AFTA shall not, according to the constitution of AFTA,
impose tariffs, or quotas or restrictions of any kind upon the movement of goods and capital, save those aimed at lawbreakers

Anglosphere Common Law Area (ACLA) The members of ACLA shall, according to the constitution of ACLA,
develop protocols for interaction of contract law, financial law, credit law between themselves,
establish courts of arbitration for the resolution of disputes between citizens of different Nations.
empower ACLA to advise lawmakers on framing laws and regulations to ease interaction and trade.
not grant ACLA the power to set binding law or regulation

Anglosphere Free Residence Organisation (AFRO) The members of AFRO shall, according to the constitution of AFRO,
allow free residence and unlimited work permits to nationals of AFRO nations passing minimal conditions.
empower AFRO to advise on law and regulation to make this possible.
empower AFRO to provide "service passports" allowing equivalent government services to cross borders, or to be replaced by local services where appropriate.

Anglosphere Space Science Agency (ASSA).The members of ASSA shall, according to the constitution of ASSA,
merge their civilian space programs into the ASSA space program

Upon the establishment of the Commonwealth, Working committees of the Floor of the House will be established by the founding members to draft constitutions for each of the Founding Networks.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Lady Thatcher 80

One of the greatest women of our time turns 80. With President Reagan she saved the free world from throwing in the towel when the game was almost won. She will live in the hearts of her countrymen with Churchill and Pitt. Good post at the Monarchist

On Dan's Constitution

I think Dan has made a fine start on a constitution for a network commonwealth.

I want to make two suggestions in relation to nomenclature. I suggest that what dan is calling the board of the house be call the council of state, since that is what it is. What dan calls the floor of the house might be called the assembly.

Now some questions for dan about the floor of the house. How are delegates chosen? Is it open to anyone who wants to come? If it has no power but to talk and propose action, this would make sense. Modern technology makes this even more possible since tip jars and other grass roots forms of financing would allow large numbers of people to support a delegate to voice their point of view. Why should the board or council of state elect the speaker instead of the floor of the house or assembly?

I know this is my monarchist streak coming out (shocking in a republican but there it is), but I think we should find a role for the Queen. She is the titular head of state of many of the states involved and in my opinion is the titular head of our people. I am for a title like first citizen and moderator of the confederation. I propose that she be president of the council of state with no vote unless they be equally divided. I also propose that the moderator may at her sole discretion take the place of one of the founding members for the purpose of founding a Network Organization as long as there are a majority of members of the council of state in favor.

I think it also needs a bill of rights that a state would have to abide by to be a member. The protection of individual and civil rights is IMHO one of the core attributes of the Anglosphere.

Individual Rights

A) no one deprived of life, liberty or property with out due process.
- no one deprived of life unless convicted of murder, treason, rape or involvement in the slave trade.
- due process in criminal trials to include trial by a jury of 12 chosen by lot with unanimity for conviction.

B) No prior restraint on speech, no speech crimes except incitement to commit a crime, incitement to panic, or libel where this means saying things about others that are not true.

C) No taking of property for public use without just compensation.
- just compensation must be more than the tax assessment for the property.
- public use means use by the state for fortifications, roads or neccissary public buildings

D) The right of association and contract.

Civic-Individual Rights

A) no taxation without representation

B) The right of the people to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

C) The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures not to be violated. Warrants issued only on probable cause upon oath naming the place to be searched and persons or things to be seized.

D) Treason consists only in levying war against the government, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

E) Right of revolution.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


I want to thank optimates for being one of the few blogs (the only as far as I can tell) to comment on my proposed constitution.

Dan makes a number of comments that I want to respond to. He says that giving the Federal government the power to tax and raise armed forces is unrealistic. Why? I don’t say it is realistic, but why is it not realistic.
Under this constitution the states are all protected in raising their own land forces and the federal government is restricted to a peace time land forces establishment of less than 150,000 men. To have a large peace time ground forces, the federal government must require the states to maintain the forces and the feds can only get control of the state forces without state permission by a declaration of war.
The taxing power I agree should be further limited. That passage obviously comes straight from the U.S. constitution and I neglected to modify it.
On the question of nuclear weapons, if there is to be a true union, even a federal one, I would think that nukes would be under its control.
As for the power of the monarch, I don’t think my proposal is unreasonable, after all she has power to withhold assent now. It is just that with holding assent now would cause a constitutional crisis. The proposal allows for the monarch to withhold assent and sets up a method for that veto to be overridden by the people.

I look forward to hearing more comments on the proposed constitution.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Song proposal

Here are two verses of an anglosphere patriotic song to be sung to the tune of God Save the Queen.

Sons of Britain the free
Unite in liberty
and rule of law!

To her traditions hold
In freedom’s cause be bold
As we have been of old
And will be again.


England mother Country
of our community
both strong and free

Mother of parliaments,
jury trials, and free comment
cause of tyrant’s laments
your legacy

Also don't miss my old post on Anglosphere Patriotic and Folk Songs

Thursday, October 06, 2005

On The Right to Trial by Jury

One of the founding principals of the governments of the English Speaking People is the right to Trial by Jury.

First mentioned in Magna Charta article 38 “No freeman shall be seized, or imprisoned, or dispossessed, or outlawed, or in any way destroyed; nor will we condemn him, nor will we commit him to prison, excepting by the legal judgement of his peers, or by the laws of the land.”

The right to be tried by a jury of ones peers, is one of the most precious liberties of our people because it protects in three ways from the abuse of government power.

First the jury as the sole judge of the facts prevents the state from bringing groundless cases before judges it itself pays, who might be tempted to see the facts as his pay master likes.

Second the jury as co judge of the law is able to prevent the misapplication of law in specific cases. For example, it is usually considered unlawful to shoot a person who is fleeing from the commission of a crime in the back, this is because the necessity of such action is questionable and in the absence of necessity, self defense could be claimed by murders. A jury is able to prevent a miscarage of justice by tailoring the law to the facts of a particular case and unlike judges, they do not have to worry about setting a precident.

Thirdly the jury as co judge of the law is able to block the enforcement of unconstitutional or unjust laws. By refusing to convict persons of “crimes” that are either unconstitutional or contrary to natural justice.

Lest anyone doubt the right of the jury to judge that law as well as fact, John Jay the First Chief Justice of the United States instructed the jury in State of Georgia v. Brailsford, one of the few jury trials held before that court, “ is presumed, that the juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that the courts are the best judges of law. But still, both objects are within your power of decision. You have a right to take upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy.”

In England the same position was established even earlier, in 1665 Lord Chief Justice Mathew Hale wrote “ is the conscience of the jury that must pronounce the prisoner guilty or not guilty.” In 1670 Lord Chief Justice Sir John Vaughan wrote, “...without a fact agreed, it is impossible for a judge or any other to know the law relating to the fact nor to direct [a verdict] concerning it. Hence it follows that the judge can never direct what the law is in any matter controverted.”

Sadly over time Trial by Jury, a pillar of the freedom of the English speaking people, has been eroded by the precedents of judges and the enactments of some legislatures.

In most of the Anglosphere the doctrine of Lord Justice Mansfield that juries are judges of fact only has been widely accepted by judges even if it has not been written into the statute book.
In the United States while it is impossible for a judge to direct a verdict in a criminal case and a verdict of not guilty can not be set aside, judges routinely lie to jurors and tell them that they must follow the judges instructions as to the law, judging only the facts. Worse jurors who know their rights are routinely excluded from juries if the judge finds out. Citizens of my acquaintance have had to lie during voir dire so as not to be struck from the jury.

I am informed by people in Great Britain, that the right to trial by jury has been seriously eroded there by pretended acts of Parliament. Though I also understand voir dire questioning is not allowed in Great Britain.

However this slow erosion of the right to trial by jury does not have to be the last word on the subject. The English Speaking People have it with in their power to reverse this tragic trend.
We can and should organize to protect this precious liberty of our people from the highhanded pronouncements of judges and the irresponsible acts of legislatures that don’t understand the limits of their own authority.

In the United States, where many state judges are elected the issue of jury nullification should be raised in elections. Judges and Legislators should be asked for their promises to uphold the system of trial by jury in its full form including the right of the jury to decide both law and fact. A pan Anglosphere organization should be set up to help protect our right of trial by jury.

Friday, September 30, 2005

The Commonwealth at the U.N.

I was thinking to myself today about how to find something to write for this blog and it occurred to me that the Commonwealth probably had something on at the United Nations which is about 2 miles from were I live.

So I called the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations reasoning that they could put me in touch with who ever represents the Commonwealth at the UN. I spoke to a nice young man who was for some reason unable to help me. He suggested that I, (this is a paraphrase though it is in quotes) “call the embassy of a commonwealth country (pause) which you have obviously done (pause) I mean call another one.” He really was very nice and tried to help, I just couldn’t resist relating the story and I hope this doesn’t cause him any trouble.

Being the intrepid soul that I am, I was not deterred by this spot of confusion. I hopped on a bus and headed down to the United Nations were I figured the person at the information desk could help. It turned out I was right, but first I had to explain to the nice lady that I didn’t want the Commonwealth of Independent States, which I explained used to be the USSR, but rather the Commonwealth of Nations, which I explained used to be the British Empire. After digging around her computer for a while she asked if I meant the Commonwealth Secretariat, which I told her yes was indeed what I wanted.

(The weirdest part of that is that the term Commonwealth Secretariat had confused the nice man at the British Mission)

The information lady then carefully wrote down the address and phone number of the office I wanted. (She also told be where to apply for UN press credentials which I plan to do)

So I headed over to 800 Second Avenue Suit 400A which is not only home to the Commonwealth Secretariat representative to the UN, but is the location of the Joint Office for Commonwealth Permanent Missions to the United Nations. (Evidently some of the smaller commonwealth countries have decided rather intelligently to share office space to keep costs down.) Here I meet Janet G. John who is the front person for the whole operation. She was very nice and gave me a nice stack of brochures most of which dealt with the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality, but also included an interesting brochure on the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation, an interesting pamphlet titled “About the Commonwealth Foundation,” and smallest of all a leaflet on the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Program on the Harare Declaration of 1995.

Ms. John also told me that there are Commonwealth Caucus meetings that are open to the public and told me to use the Secretariat Web sit to get information on this. It seems the Caucus tries to promote democracy, good government, and the rule of law. I am hopping to start covering the Caucus meetings regularly as I think it would be interesting for everyone.

I want to thank Ms. John for her help, she was a gem.

Are Juror’s Oath’s which Require Jurors to Follow the Judge’s Instructions Unconstitutional?

In a recent piece for on Mansfieldism, Jon Roland raised an interesting point. He points out that Article VI of the Constitution of the United States requires “all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this constitution.”
The oath currently prescribed by congress is the following, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
Roland then asks are not jurors judicial officers of the state or federal government which impanels them. If they are judicial officers shouldn’t they take the oath to uphold the constitution? If they should take an oath to uphold the constitution would that not then preclude them from taking an oath to follow the judges directions? After all what if they think the judge is instructing them to follow an unconstitutional law, would they not then be required by their oath to uphold the constitution, to disregard the judges instructions.
I admit that I maybe prejudiced, because I am a believer in jury nullification, but I find this argument convincing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sheehan Strikes Again

As a general rule I don’t like comment to much on current political events, but I think something has to be said about Cindy Sheehan who has managed to make a spectacle of herself once more.

First, someone needs to tell Ms. Sheehan, since her actions seem to show rather shockingly that she has forgotten it, that it was her son who died in the service of the republic, not she.

Second, while Ms. Sheehan is to be pitied for her loss, assuming she feels it, it does not give her any special powers of knowledge, understanding or moral judgment as to the rightness or wrongness of the foreign policy of the republic.

Some people will say I am being harsh and cruel in asking if she remembers that her son is dead and questioning if she really feels that loss, but the facts tend to indicate that she does not and that brings me to my third point.

If she really loved her son why is she shamelessly exploiting the death of her son for a cause that he presumably would disavow. Since he was a volunteer in the service of the republic and since he reenlisted after it was clear we were going to be invading Iraq, one must assume that he supported this course of action.

Would a person, with any sense of decency what so ever, exploit the death of someone who they loved to defeat the cause they died for?

It is one thing for Ms. Sheehan to draw motivation from her son’s death to the more fervorently support the anti war cause. Everyone uses the impact of political decisions on their life to motivate themselves and there is no reason Ms. Sheehan should not do so, but to pervert the death of her son is another thing altogether.

The fact is that Casey Sheehan died a hero in the cause of freedom, it is to bad that his mother doesn’t appreciate that.

Monday, September 12, 2005


As is all to usual for me, I am writing this memorial post a day late if not a dollar short. What can I say, it has all been said before and in any event, my mind goes blank when I think of 9/11. Not that I don’t remember, but that I can’t remember fully or my rage would overwhelm my judgment.

Who can forget the images of people jumping to their death to escape the heat and lack of air.
Who can forget, the towers, a monument to human ability and the human spirit, falling to the ground, smashed by those could never have built them, could never have harmed them except for the knowledge given to them by their betters.

I remember stepping from the shower to answer the phone not knowing that the call would change my world. It was my mother, “Steph, I’m just calling to tell you that Carlynn and I are all right,” she said. “Your all right what,” I replied stupidly. “A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center and one of the towers has collapsed,” she said. “I have to go, they’ll need me at work,” I replied, since I was working as a reporter at the time.

How can I forget the image of the towers, never this New York native’s favorite buildings, but none the less a great achievement and a land mark, crashing to the ground. The more shocking because those who worked in those buildings were for the most part those who had dedicated their lives to bettering the human condition through the promotion of trade, the symbol and mechanism of peaceful co-existence.

How can I forget the three pints of beer and two shots of Jim Beam that constituted my lunch that day, consumed at The Pub, our local watering whole across from the paper, as I watched tower 7 collapse. The drinks didn’t have the slightest effect on me, I wrote four solid stories on the atrocity that day.

How can I forget interviewing one of my parent’s neighbors, who had escaped from one of the buildings. From my observation since, he can’t forget.

How can I forget muttering to myself for weeks afterwards, like a sadistic mantra, Robert Oppenheimer’s shocked exclamation when he saw the reality of his mind’s child during the Trinity Test. In that moment, he expressed his terror and awe at his creation with a quotation from the Bhagavad-Gita, “I am become death,” he said, “the shatter of worlds.”

How can I forget returning to the city of my birth 10 days after the attack. I was the only person on the bus from Buffalo to New York. It was the only time I was able to stretch out and sleep on that route which I took many times over the years to visit my family. I wasn’t able to get a press pass, but I walked as far downtown as I could. The grit could still be seen under your feet and tasted on your teeth.

How can I forget and how can I convey to you, the shock of realizing that the dusty taste in my mouth undoubtedly included among its components, atoms and molecules that had once been a part of the victims.

But of course 9/11/01 isn’t about me. It is about the 3,000 people who were slaughtered by a bunch of religious fanatics.

Some say that the president of the United States is a cowboy, a fanatic, a Hitler, but the Middle East is not today radioactive glass. That George Bush, and the people of our nation, did not turn to blind fear and hatred after September 11, 2001 is a testament to him and to us.

We did not meet terror with terror. If we had, the Middle East would not exist aside from a few oil fields.

Instead we determined to destroy the backward political systems that nurtured the fanatics who planned and carried out the atrocities of Nine Eleven. That the people of Afghanistan and Iraq today have democratically elected leaders is a tribute to the president and the people of the United States and our allies.

As for the road forward, Sir W.L.S. Churchill said, “Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

Long Live the Republic!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Blogger makes me crazy

It often takes several days for my blog to show new posts.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Is FEMA Unconstitutional

There is an interesting post on the blog Legal Fiction asking if FEMA is constitutional from an “originalist” perspective. I’m not sure whether I am an “originalist” or not, but I certainly believe that a fair reading of the constitution would be much more restrictive of the federal government, so I’ll take a swing at the question.

To answer the question is FEMA constitutional one must answer three questions, A) what is FEMA, what functions does it carry out; B) does the function violate the bill or rights; and C) are these functions among the enumerated powers of congress, the president, or the judiciary.

Question A

What is the function of FEMA?

According to a FEMA document, “Since its founding in 1979, the mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been clear: to prepare for, mitigate against, respond to, and help individuals and communities recover from natural and man-made disasters.” Thus the function of FEMA is to provide disaster relief.

Question B

Does providing disaster relief INHEREENTLY violate a provision of the bill of rights?

Providing disaster relief does not seem to inherently establish or prohibit the free exercise of religion or abridge freedom of speech or press or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble to petition the government.

This function does not seem to inherently interfere with the individual right to own arms or the right of the states to organize a militia.

It does not seem to inherently require the quartering of soldiers in homes in time of peace.

This function does not seem to inherently involve unreasonable searches and seizures, unless rescue searches are used to find evidence for criminal prosecution, but that is not inherent. FEMA does not issue warrants so that does not seem to apply.

Disaster relief does not seem to inherently require trial without indictment, double jeopardy, forced self incrimination, a lack of due process, or the seizure of property without compensation.

It does not seem to inherently require: slow or closed trial, the suspension of trial by jury, the suspension of informing the accused of the charges against him and allowing him to confront the witnesses against him, the suspension of compulsory process for obtaining of witnesses in his favor, or the suspension of the provision of council.

This function does not seem to inherently involve suspending trial by jury in civil cases or require courts to overturn jury verdicts.

It does not seem to inherently require excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishment.

Government disaster relief, being a species of forced charity, may violate the right to property which was an accepted right under the natural law framework and thus may violate the ninth amendment. However I admit that this is a quasi political judgment based, on exactly how you understand the right to property, that should to the largest possible extent, be worked out through the legislative process.

This function does not violate the 10th Amendment unless it exceeds the enumerated powers of congress, the president, or the judiciary, which brings us to the third question.

Question C

Is disaster relief an enumerated power of congress, the president, or the judiciary?

Article I

The first of the powers (Art. I, Sec. 1) is the legislative power of congress, but since it is limited to “powers herein granted” it is not a general grant of authority, but a restriction on the authority of the executive and judicial branches.

The first enumerated power of Congress (Art. I, Sec. 2) is the power (the exercise of which is required) to conduct a census. Disaster relief does not seem to be authorized by this provision. Nor does the election of a Speaker of the house or the other officers thereof seem to authorize disaster relief.

The Senate’s power to elect its officers and a President Pro Tempore (Art. I, Sec. 3) does not seem to grant power to provide federal disaster relief. The power to try impeachments seems far removed from a power to provide disaster relief.

Congress’s power to regulate elections and set the day for there first session of the year (Art. I, Sec. 4) does not seem to give authority to provide disaster relief.

The power of each house to judge the election of its members, compel attendance, make its own rules, punish its members, keep a journal of its proceedings and publish it, and to require the other house to hold near simultaneous meetings at a place agreed upon by both houses (Art. I, Sec. 5) does not seem to authorize disaster relief.

The power of Congress to set its own salary (Art. I, Sec. 6) does not seem to authorize disaster relief.

The House’s power to originate revenue bills, the president’s power of veto, and the power of congress to override such veto by a 2/3rds majority (Art. I, Sec. 7)does not seem to grant any legislative power over and beyond the other “powers herein granted.”

Section 8

Article I, Section 8, lists most of the powers of Congress.

Congress’s power to lay and collect taxes for “to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.” is the one most often cited by those who want to expand the powers of the federal government to reach such objects as disaster relief. However this interpretation is almost certainly mistaken because, A) such interpretation is specifically disavowed by James Madison the father of the constitution, B) it is contrary to the doctrine of enumerated powers which has been held since the earliest days of the republic, C) if taken seriously, it along with the necessary and proper clause would make the rest of article 8 meaningless, and most importantly D) because it is contrary to the grant of general legislative authority over federal enclaves. However I think there it a proper interpretation that may allow some federal disaster relief which I will explain at the end of this essay.

The powers to borrow money, regulate commerce, establish uniform rules of naturalization, establish uniform rules for bankruptcy, coin money, regulate the value of foreign coin, fix standards of weights and measures, punish counterfeiting, establish post offices and post roads, grant patents and copyrights, establish courts inferior to the supreme court, to codify international law as it applies to the United States, to declare war, commission privateers, raise armies, provide a navy, set standards for the militia, and to exercise general legislative authority over federal enclaves does not seem to include a power to provide federal disaster relief outside of federal enclaves.

Article I, Sec. 9 and 10

Section nine mostly limits the power of Congress to take certain actions. The only grants of power are to end the importation of slaves after the year 1808 (though that may have been granted in the commerce clause) and to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in time of invasion or insurrection, neither of which would seem to grant a disaster relief power.

Section 10 mostly limits the power of the states. However four powers are granted to Congress, the power to regulate state tariffs, the power to regulate and abolish the active duty armed forces of the states, the power to control the foreign policy of the states, and the power to allow or forbid agreements among the states. The first three clearly do not grant the federal government the power to provide disaster relief. The fourth power may have an interpretation that could allow some federal disaster relief which I will explain at the end of this essay.

Article II

The executive power granted to the President (Art. II, Sec.1) is to execute the laws made by congress, this is no increase in federal authority. Congress’s power to regulate the election of electors and to break a tie does not seem to authorize a federal disaster relief power.

As commander in chief, (Art. II, Sec.2) the president can order the military around. This would seem to allow the president to use the armed forces for disaster relief when needed, but it is questionable if this allows the establishment of a disaster relief organization separate from the armed forces in general. The Presidents powers to make treaties, appoint ambassadors and other public officials with the consent of the senate does not seem to grant additional federal authority for disaster relief.

The president’s power to prorogue, convene, and adjourn congress, settle disputes between the houses, receive ambassadors, and commission officers (Art. II, Sec.3) would not seem to include a federal disaster relief power.

Section 4 relates to the removal of officers of the government by impeachment and hardly seems relevant to this discussion.

Article III

Section 1 grants no powers.

The power to try all cases arising in law and equity under the constitution (Art. III, Sec.2) does not seem relevant. The power to try ambassadors would not seem relevant. The power to hear cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction could only be relevant by way of a sick joke. The power to hear controversies between the states and between the states and the federal government could be relevant, but I will return to this point at the end of my essay.

Section 3 simply defines treason and is in general a limitation on federal power.

Article VI

The powers granted by this article are to harmonize state law (Art. IV, Sec.1), make states grant extradition to other states (Art. IV, Sec.2), admit new states to the union and govern the territories (Art. IV, Sec.3), and the power to make every state be a republic (Art. IV, Sec.4). None of this seems relevant to disaster relief.

Article V

The congress has the power to propose amendments to the constitution by a vote of 2/3rds of its members. This would be relevant if those who want federal disaster relief would chose it

Article VI

This article grants federal supremacy in areas of concurrent legislative authority.

Article VII

The article grants no powers, but sets the conditions of ratification.

Amendments XI-XIII

Amendment XI reduces federal authority. Amendment XII relates to choosing the president and grants no new authority. Amendment XII grants congress the power to enforce the abolition of slavery, but this hardly seems relevant.

Amendment XIV

This amendment gives congress broad authority to protect individual rights against state action. It disallows the holding of state or federal office of those involved in past insurrection against the federal government. It hardly seems relevant to disaster relief.

Amendments XV – XXVII

Amendment XV grants the federal government the right to enforce equal voting rights between the members of all races. Amendment XVI allows the federal government to levy an income tax. Amendment XVII establishes the direct election of senators. Amendment XVIII has been repealed. Amendment XIX grants congress power to enforce equal voting rights between men and women. Amendment XX regards the election of the president and the presidential succession . Amendment XXI grants the states limited powers to interfere in the interstate commerce in alcohol. Amendment XXII limits the president to two terms of office. Amendment XXIII allows the Dirstrict of Columbia to chose presidential electors. Article XXVI forbids pole taxes. Amendment XXV relates to the presidential succession and the issue of presidential incapacity. Article XXVI reduces the voting age to 18. Article XXVII restricts congress’s power to increase its own salary. None of this is a grant of disaster relief authority.

My Conclusion as to Question C

The federal government has no specific grant of disaster relief authority.

General Conclusion

FEMA as currently organized is beyond the enumerated powers of the federal government and thus violates the 10th Amendment and is unconstitutional. It may also be a violation of the ninth amendment but that is less certain.

However, if congress wanted to authorize a logistics corps far in excess of the needs of the armed forces of the republic so that it would be there for the president to use for disaster relief, this would be marginally constitutional.

Further there is another option for a nation wide government disaster relief organization. As I mentioned earlier, Article I, Section 10, allows the states to make compacts or agreement with one another. It seems to me that if the states got together and made an agreement to create an agency to provide disaster relief, congress could ok this. Such an agency could stockpile emergency equipment, allocate financial aid and organize the deployment of national guardsmen to effected states in the event of a natural disaster. This would have to be paid for by the states, but it is certainly possible. If all of the states joined the compact, then I think one might agree that it was ok for congress to help fund the agency under its Article 8 powers. This would be so because an agency created by the unanimous 50 states would be an agency of the United States (i.e. of the union) and it would not expand federal power without limit. In the event of a disaster, the president could coordinate his use of the armed forces for relief with such an agency. The federal courts counld enforce the agreement under their power hear cases between the states.

Lastly, congress could propose an amendment with the following words, “Congress shall have the power to create an emergency relief organization to provide disaster relief.” I have a feeling that this would probably get the consent of ¾ of the state legislatures fairly easily.

The government can address disaster relief, but not though the current FEMA framework, at least not if we are going to take the constitution seriously.

Last Thoughts

What I severely object to is the belief that the constitution doesn’t matter. It does, it is the law of the land. If we don’t like it, we can change it, but why even bother having a written constitution if we aren’t going to follow it. A written constitution was the great innovation of the American Revolution, but a lot of people on both the left and the right and for that matter in the center don’t seem to value the constitution. That thought frankly saddens me. Did the founders live in vain?