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Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties is a 2004 documentary produced by Robert Greenwald and sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after the wake of 9/11 and the ensuing passage of the so-called Patriot Act in October 2011. Ned Martel of the New York Times wrote the following:

In “Unconstitutional,” for example, a Syrian asylum-seeker named Safouh Hamoui, who started a market and raised his family in Seattle, is awakened by gun-toting law officers. Immigration officials detain his wife and several adult children and then keep him captive for nearly a year. The narrator skims over the fact that Mr. Hamoui had been awaiting deportation because of his lawyer’s carelessness (not that such an offense should be punishable in this way).

Imagine the signals the Hamoui file must have sent to security officials: this man could fly planes and had flouted some unspecified immigration procedures. But his demeanor and the embraces of his children upon his return suggest injustice inflicted by pursuers of justice, and that’s really all we have to go on. There are more than 1,000 other detentions, the film asserts, with less happy endings and even murkier facts presented. Still, the on-camera complaints of civil liberties advocates are echoed by some staunch Republican lawmakers, and the Patriot Act’s authors thus appear unapologetic in deporting some good guys along with the bad.1

In 2011, President Barak Obama signed a four-year extension to key components of the Patriot Act though Federal courts have ruled that a number of provisions are unconstitutional.


  1. “Attempts to Sort Out and Make Sense of History”. New York Times. 1-Oct-04.

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These past few weeks I’ve been reading Denver Snuffer’s series of posts on the remnant of Israel.1 It has been both refreshing and enlightening. There are many prophecies about the remnant of Jacob or Israel in the Bible, Book of Mormon and other scriptures and texts.

Josephs garment which represents his remnant The story of the remnant apparently starts with Joseph of Egypt and his “coat of many colours.” Genesis 37 records the story of conspiracy2 in which Jacob’s other sons stole Joseph’s coat, cast him in a pit, and then sold him to some merchantmen for 20 pieces of silver. Donna Nielsen recently pointed out,

The Eastern text reads: cotina di-pidyatha, “the coat with long sleeves.” These coats or abayas are generally worn by princes, noblemen, and learned men. The sleeves and front parts of the garments are embroidered with silk of diverse colors. Thus, the color is in the embroidery of the garment and not in the material itself. The princes and noblemen never work; therefore, they are attired with a garment with long sleeves. This is a token of honor, dignity, and the position they occupy in society. . . Joseph was trained by his father, Jacob, to succeed him as the head of the tribe–in other words, Joseph was elevated to the rank of a crown prince and a scholar. The rightful heir, Reuben, had defiled his father’s bed, committing adultery with one of his concubines. Jacob’s other sons were not intelligent enough to be trained for this high office, the office of the chief of the tribe, which was political, religious, and judicial.3

This coat holds a special significance. In the Book of Mormon during a political crisis in the Nephite civilization, Moroni was appointed to be “chief captain over the Nephites” as a group of common citizens known as the “freemen” sought to uphold their “free government” against a group of people who sought to establish a monarchy. This latter group became known as king-men.4 In mustering support for this cause, Moroni rent his garment, wrote upon it the “title of liberty”, placed it upon a pole, and made a covenant with those who supported the principles upon which the government was founded.

He also made special reference to the two portions of the coat of Joseph – one which was preserved and the other which perished.5 On this point, Hugh W. Nibley wrote:

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  1. Remnant.
  2. See verse 18.
  3. The Long-Sleeved Coat”. 27 Sep 2010. Connections. 29 Sep 2010. Quoting Lamsa, George M. Old Testament Light. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1964. 82-83.
  4. Alma 43:16-17; see also Nibley, Hugh W. “Freemen and King-men in the Book of Mormon”. Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. 29 Sep 2010. Originally published in The Prophetic Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989.
  5. Alma 46.

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Below is an intriguing excerpt from a book written by Hyrum Andrus about a Mormon concept of social justice and the need for the regenerating powers of the gospel in order to achieve that ideal. After quoting the last half of Doctrine and Covenants 78:14, he wrote the following:

Social Justice It should be stressed that to be independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world the Saints must, among other things, be independent above the state-sponsored welfare measures. Latter-day Saints cannot consistently advocate the socialization of the state. For them true economic independence must be achieved through the gospel and its socio-economic law. Under this program the individual may be enlightened and regenerated by the Holy Spirit1 to where he becomes an independent agent under God and is enabled to act freely, intelligently, and in enlightened union with others to establish a program of true security and economic independence. By contrast, man-made systems that attempt to establish social justice lack these enlightening and regenerating spiritual powers. Consequently, to achieve union they must be manipulated like puppets, by various artificial devices. Such regimentation results in a loss of freedom for the individual. The creative powers of man are also stifled and initiative suppressed in such systems; and like lifeless bodies they are subject to forces of deterioration, so that greed, graft, and corruption are perennial problems among them. Finally, the security which men seek through such systems is but a fleeting and evasive substitute for that which may be obtained within the kingdom of God.2

Recently, Carl Youngblood tweeted that the “political tone” of this blog no longer fit the title of it and stated that the blog “unnecessarily link[s] politics with faith, negating any benefit to be had from either.”3 In order to remedy this situation Carl suggested that two blogs be set up – one on faith and the other on politics – in order for readers to obtain benefit.

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  1. Ed. – See for example, Titus 3:5.
  2. Liberalism, Conservatism, and Mormonism. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1965. 30.
  3. Dated 20 Aug 2010.

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Joseph R. Peden’s article Inflation and the Fall of the Roman Empire is a fascinating read as it recounts the inflationary policies of Roman emperors over a series of centuries.1 He started this lecture by stating:

Map of Roman Empire I’ve been asked to speak on the theme of Roman history, particularly the problem of inflation and its impact. My analysis is based on the premise that monetary policy cannot be studied, or understood, in isolation from the overall policies of the state. Monetary, fiscal, military, political and economic issues are all very much intertwined. And the reason they are all so intertwined is, in part, due to the fact that the state, any state, normally seeks to monopolize the supply of money within its own territory.

Monetary policy therefore always serves, even if it serves badly, the perceived needs of the rulers of the state. If it also happens to enhance the prosperity and progress of the masses of the people, that is a secondary benefit; but its first aim is to serve the needs of the rulers, not the ruled. And this point is central, I believe, to an understanding of the course of monetary policy in the late Roman Empire.

He then went on to explain some of the various causes of inflation:

What were the causes of this inflation? First of all, war; the soldiers’ pay rose from 225 denarii during the time of Augustus to 300 denarii in the time of Domitian, about a hundred years later. A century after Domitian, in the time of Septimius, it had gone from 300 to 500 denarii; and in the time of Caracalla, about 10 years later, it had gone to 750 denarii. In other words, the cost of the army was also rising in the terms of the coinage; so, as the coinage became more worthless, the cost of the army had to be increased. The advance in the soldier’s pay in the rest of the 3rd century and into the 4th century is not known, we don’t have figures. And one reason is that the soldiers were increasingly paid in terms of requisitions of supplies and goods in kind. They were literally given food, clothing, shelter and other commodities in lieu of pay – and this applied also to the civil service.

When one Roman emperor refused to pay a donative on his accession – this was a bonus given to the soldiers on the accession of the emperor – he was simply murdered by his troops. The Romans had had this kind of problem even in the days of the Republic: if the soldiers don’t get paid they rather resent it. What we find is that the donatives had been given on the accession of a new emperor from the time of Augustus on; then they began to be given in the 3rd century every five years. By the time of Diocletian, donatives were given every year, so that the soldiers’ donatives had in fact become part of their basic salary.

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  1. Mr. Peden was one of the founding figures of the modern libertarian movement. A close confidant of Murray Rothbard and member of his inner circle (the Circle Bastiat), Peden went on to publish the Libertarian Forum from 1969-1982. His writing has appeared in the Libertarian Forum the Journal of Libertarian Studies, and he served on the editorial staff of Literature of Liberty. A Ph. D. in Roman/Christian and Medieval History, Peden studied medieval money and medieval institutions, as well as opposition to government education in US and Europe. He taught European history at Baruch College (City University of New York) for almost 30 years. He died on February 12, 1996.

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Tea Parties

Recently, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin spoke to the “tea-party movement’s rank and file” in Arkansas. According to CBS,

Modern_Tea_Party_protestors. Asked what her advice would be to conservatives as the November elections approach, Palin first lavished praise on the Tea Party movement, calling it “a grand movement” and adding, “I love it because it’s all about the people.”

But she quickly pivoted to the broader question of whether the Tea Party movement might successfully field its own candidates in national elections, and on that point she sounded far from convinced.

“Now the smart thing will be for independents who are such a part of this Tea Party movement to, I guess, kind of start picking a party,” Palin said. “Which party reflects how that smaller, smarter government steps to be taken? Which party will best fit you? And then because the Tea Party movement is not a party, and we have a two-party system, they’re going to have to pick a party and run one or the other: ‘R’ or ‘D’.”1

Of course the first tea party – the Boston Tea Party – was not organized along political parties. It was formed as a consequence of a series of actions by King George III and the British government to recoup war costs of the French and Indian War that concluded in 1763. These actions included the Stamp Act of 1765, the Townsend Acts of 1767, and the Boston Massacre of 1770, all of which strained relations between the colonists and the Crown and eventually led to The Boston Tea Party of 1773.

Though the modern “Tea Party movement is working to halt the creation of dangerous precedents” such as the “’ratchet effect’ – that is, once government expands its power and new bureaucracies are in place, it’s difficult to undo them”, some have noted troubling differences. For example,

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  1. Conroy, Scott. “Palin: Tea Partiers ‘Have to Pick a Party’”. 17 Feb 2010. CBS News. 21 Feb 2010.

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