Taking Back Habeas Corpus

“I’m a little Ron Paulish,” declared bond king Bill Gross to CNBC.

Recall from yesterday’s 5 that in his monthly letter, Gross groused that near-zero interest rates would hamstring developed economies and even “give a rise to commodities and gold as store of value alternatives when there is little value left in paper.”

In a follow-up interview, Gross was asked to pick between Obama and Romney in a hypothetical general election matchup. He begged off the question, and then proceeded to turn the name of the good doctor into an adjective.

His attempt to elaborate was thin on specifics, but interesting: “I think both parties have basically done the same thing… Both parties have followed a policy that hasn’t promoted long-term investment in the United States. And I think, ultimately, we need to produce things, as opposed to paper.”

Say it ain’t so…

From Washington state, we see the emergence of a group of rogue legislators whose activities might be worth watching.

Reps. Matt Shea and Jason Overstreet are sponsoring a bill affirming the legal tender status of gold in the Evergreen State.

That alone isn’t remarkable. Similar moves are afoot in other states, and it’s now the law in Utah… although as we noted at the time the practical effect is limited.

What really got our attention is that Messrs. Shea and Overstreet are among five sponsors of a bill standing up to the National Defense Authorization Act — or as it’s come to be known around our office, the Repeal of Habeas Corpus Act.

The Washington State Preservation of Liberty Act condemns the law’s provision for detention of terrorism suspects indefinitely and without charge. And it goes a step further, prohibiting state and local employees — including Washington National Guardsmen — from cooperating with federal officials enforcing the law.

We have no idea whether the bill will pass or, if it did, what the practical impact would be. But in another strange item getting our attention this morning, we have a good idea what the worst-case scenario would look like.

“In the next couple of years,” writes our friend John Robb at Global Guerrillas, “the number of advances in technology, deployments, use cases and awareness of drones will be intense.

“In five years, they will be part of everyday life. You will see them everywhere. Not just one or two drones. SWARMS of drones.  Tens. Hundreds. Thousands. Millions (potentially if the cost per unit is small enough).”

Mr. Robb then points us to this video of “experiments performed with a team of nano quadrotors at the GRASP Lab, University of Pennsylvania.”

Imagine a swarm of these descending on the Washington state Capitol building…

Using drones, “A small number of people in Washington, D.C.,” writes Mr. Robb, “can control/operate a vast 24/7 killing field for very few $$.

“Even a mildly radical post to a blog, Facebook or Twitter (particularly if it could lead to a flash mob or an Occupy-style protest) would invite inclusion on the drone assassination list (in that case, the occasional flash of a car being blown up by a drone patrolling a highway and IDing a listed driver will become common).”

Bill Gross and the rogue legislators in Washington are on notice.

Addison Wiggin
for The Daily Reckoning