Saturday, December 21, 2013

Duck Dynasty A&E dispute proves Civil Rights Act obsolete

Duck_Dynasty_s800x265TAMPA, December 20, 2013 – Immediately after A&E put Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson “on hiatus,” the blogosphere exploded with reactions. Liberals decry Robertson’s alleged bigotry. Conservatives defended his right to free speech and freedom of religion.

99% of the commentary is wrong, of course. First, Robertson’s comments were not bigoted. Robertson merely quotes the Bible on homosexuality. He then says that it is not for humans to judge anyone. That is reserved for God.

You can’t be prejudiced if you don’t judge. He believes homosexuality is a sin, but nowhere does he indicate that anyone should be treated differently, either by the law or by individuals, because they are homosexual.

This has nothing to do with freedom of speech or religion, either. Those principles relate to government suppression of speech and religion. The government hasn’t threatened Robertson.

In fact, A&E’s response was the textbook libertarian answer to this kind of dispute. A&E’s management, representing the stockholders, exercised their own right to freedom of association. They have a right to terminate their business relationship with Robertson for any reason, provided it does not violate the contract they signed with him.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Bible is Pope Francis reading?

popeTAMPA, December 18, 2013 – There has already been a lot said about Pope Francis’ EVANGELII GAUDIUM, in which he is critical of free markets. Reactions by Christian proponents of capitalism have ranged from respectful disagreement to full-on denial that he was critical of the market at all.

The latter group is not facing reality. While having since clarified that he is not Marxist, the pope clearly rejected the laissez faire approach to the market in favor of the highly regulated, redistributionist model promoted by the left. His offering is chock full of the usual sophisms leftists use to justify overriding freedom of choice in exchanges of property.

There is no need to address each of the pope’s arguments against free markets from a purely economic perspective. Tom Woods has already done this thoroughly during his December 6 episode of the Tom Woods Show, “Pope Francis on Capitalism.”

What is more surprising than the pope’s leftist economic ideas is his ability to ignore the overtly pro-capitalist themes in the gospels themselves. Jesus’ teaching consistently holds capitalists up as heroes. He never once even hints that the government should direct economic affairs.

The misconception that Jesus’ message is anti-capitalist probably stems from the same confusion that pervades all leftist thinking: the inability to distinguish voluntary from coerced human action. Jesus often exhorts his followers to voluntarily give to the poor. Nowhere in the gospels does he suggest that the Romans or the vassal Jewish government should be empowered to tax the wealthy to provide for the poor.

Tax collectors are de facto sinners, remember?

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mr. Obama, tear down this data center

datacenterTAMPA, December 17, 2013 – A federal judge’s ruling Monday confirmed what a majority of Americans already knew. The National Security Agency’s indiscriminate gathering of data on every phone call made in the United States is unconstitutional. Calling the government’s data gathering technology “almost Orwellian,” Judge Richard Leon said that James Madison would be “aghast” if he knew the government was encroaching upon liberty in such a way.

According to USA Today, he also pointed out another thing most Americans already knew. The program never has and likely never will prevent a terrorist attack.

“Given the limited record before me at this point in the litigation — most notably the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics — I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism,” the judge said.

The judge limited his ruling to the plaintiffs in the case, leaving constitutionality open for other courts to decide in other cases. The ruling is expected to be the first of many, with an expectation that the issue may eventually find its way into the Supreme Court.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gun statistics are irrelevant to the 2nd Amendment

640px-Weapons_confiscated_from_the_Kosovo_Liberation_Army_(1999)TAMPA, December 13, 2013 – The Washington Post is at it again. Days before the one year anniversary of the murders at Sandy Hook, the Post is running another piece asking readers “What’s your gun number? Share your gun story.”

Citing statistics is a central plank in the liberal war on private gun ownership. CNN host Piers Morgan began several televised “debates” with gun ownership proponents by asking them if they knew statistics on gun violence or gun-related deaths. It was partly just a ploy to try to catch his opponent without an answer and make him seem uninformed. Sometimes he was successful, sometimes not, but nobody gave him the right answer.

Statistics are irrelevant to the 2nd Amendment.

The 2nd Amendment protects each individual’s right to keep and bear arms. Even the Supreme Court agrees, its abysmal record protecting individual rights notwithstanding. An individual’s right cannot be infringed as a result of what someone else did. It can only be infringed as a result of what that individual did. That’s why we don’t choose people at random for prosecution when a robbery is committed. An investigation is made to determine the specific individual who committed the crime, so he or she can be tried and sentenced.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Washington's Al Qaeda doesn't exist and never did

al qaedaTAMPA, December 11, 2013 — For twelve years, the Bush and Obama Administrations have promoted a narrative about the War on Terror. It has changed slightly in superficial ways, as when President Obama gave it a new name, but the crux of the narrative has not changed. The United States is fighting a war against a worldwide terrorist organization called al-Qaeda, formerly headed by ├╝ber-terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Americans are led to believe that this organization has a single mission against the United States and is directed by a hierarchy of terrorist leaders, all reporting up to a senior command located somewhere in Afghanistan. Many of the lawmakers and cabinet personnel who promote this narrative likely believe it themselves, at least to some degree.

Washington sees al-Qaeda the way it sees itself, a centralized, top-down hierarchy with a chain of command reporting up from every corner of the earth. It makes for a good story, but it’s not even remotely true. Virtually every incident involving this fictional organization refutes the narrative.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The War on Terror has not made us freer or safer

Enduring FreedomTAMPA, December 5, 2013 — There has been predictable bluster about President Obama signing a deal with five other nations to begin the process of lifting sanctions on Iran in exchange for commitments by Iran not to develop nuclear weapons. Neoconservatives have howled that it abandons U.S. ally Israel and endangers the entire planet.

Regardless, it is a harbinger of things to come. Economic reality is forcing the United States to change its interventionist foreign policy. Normalizing relations with Iran is just one part of that puzzle. Without a realistic political solution to crushing entitlement liabilities, the only place to make meaningful cuts is in military spending.

As the U.S. government comes to grips with the inevitable, Americans should expect to hear quite a bit about the end of a decade of war and of the sacrifices so many have made to “accomplish the mission.”

There’s no doubt about the sacrifice, both in blood and treasure. It’s the accomplishments that should be evaluated with a high degree of skepticism.

Read the rest of the article at Communites@ Washington Times...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Thanksgiving Day deception: Exhibit A against public schools

Embarkation_of_the_Pilgrims (640x419)TAMPA, Fla., November 27, 2013 — Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and millions of schoolchildren couldn’t be happier. Not only will they have a fantastic meal on Thursday, but they get a mini-vacation from school. For at least the past week, they’ve been cutting Pilgrim hats and Native American headdresses out of crepe paper and listening to stories about the Pilgrims’ first few years in Plymouth Plantation.

Little do they know they’ve been lied to.

It’s not that what they’re told isn’t true. The Pilgrims did sail over on the Mayflower. They did face incredible hardship, losing half their numbers during the first winter and half of their supplemented numbers again during the second. The Indians did help them. Squanto really did advise them to put a dead fish under each cornstalk to help it grow in the New England soil.

But that’s not why they stopped starving.

Governor William Bradford was quite explicit in his diary about the real reason the Pilgrims starved during the first two winters. It wasn’t because they were suddenly incompetent after prospering in England and the Netherlands for decades.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Obama violates oath of office with insurance letter

Obama-meets-with-insurance-company-execs_s640x427TAMPA, November 17, 2013 – In a desperate attempt to diffuse criticism of his administration over the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), President Obama has once again broken new constitutional ground.

In a letter dated November 14, Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Gary Cohen informed state insurance commissioners that insurance policies rendered illegal by the legislation “will not be considered to be out of compliance with the market reforms specified below under the conditions specified below.”

The president has just violated his oath of office. No investigation is necessary. He’s put it in writing.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why a free market would work for health care

Doctor_655362410569_AP-676x450 (640x426) (2)TAMPA, October 26, 2013 – Conservatives are confused again, rejoicing in Obamacare’s early operational struggles. One would think that their only objection to the legislation has been that the Democrats wouldn’t run it efficiently. Maybe it was. After all, the Republicans ran a candidate against Obama that had implemented virtually the same program in Massachusetts, promising only to “repeal and replace.”

Replace?

Jon Stewart took the opportunity to join conservatives in criticizing the government’s performance during his interview with Kathleen Sebelius because he knew it wasn’t a principled argument. That the government didn’t have its website ready to handle the volume doesn’t address the principle of Obamacare.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

If Congress can defund the 2nd Amendment, it can defund Obamacare

defundobama_s640x427TAMPA, October 28, 2013 – President Obama won a temporary victory in his standoff with House Republicans over funding the government and raising the debt ceiling. He signed a continuing resolution to reopen the government without conceding anything on his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. But continuing resolutions are temporary and this issue is far from settled.

Arguments by Democrats and some media that efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional show their lack of understanding of how government actually works. Their claims that because the legislation was passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court, Congress has a constitutional duty to appropriate funds to execute the law illustrate just how woefully misinformed they are.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Debt ceiling compromise: Cut military, postpone Obamacare

debt ceilingTAMPA, October 8, 2013 — Amidst breathless reporting by the media on the so-called “shutdown,” another supposed crisis looms. The federal government will reach its never-before-enforced debt ceiling on October 17. If Congress doesn’t both agree to raise the debt ceiling and appropriate money to pay the interest, the government would supposedly default on its debt.

Calling it a “ceiling” is a joke. It’s been raised 78 times since 1960. But some House Republican legislators have showed signs of digging in and doing whatever they can to keep the debt ceiling from being raised. This would render the government unable to borrow the approximately $1 trillion it needs to cover its revenue shortfalls. $1 trillion also happens to be roughly equivalent to all “discretionary” spending.

The other $2.5 trillion the government spent in 2012 was considered “mandatory spending.” Most of it goes to entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

House Republicans are expected to continue their quest to defund Obamacare during the debt ceiling fight. They’ve sent several “compromise” proposals to do so in return for passing a continuing resolution, including one to postpone Obamacare for one year. Obama and the Democrats have rejected them all, saying that postponing a law that’s already been duly passed and ruled on by SCOTUS is not a compromise.

So, here is a real compromise: Defund and postpone Obamacare for one year, accompanied by cutting total military spending to $498 billion. That would be $173 billion in cuts over 2012 spending levels, according to the White House budget report.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

9/11 happens every day to victims of U.S. foreign policy

911 happens every dayTAMPA, September 11, 2013 — Twelve years after terrorists perpetrated the most deadly crime ever committed on American soil, Americans still hold vigils and other events to commemorate the tragedy.

The 9/11 attack shocked the nation in a way people outside the western hemisphere probably cannot understand. Unlike most nations, Americans have not seen a war at home in over a century.

For the host nations of hot wars, 9/11 happens every week.

NBC reports that 9-12 civilians were killed by a NATO airstrike in Afghanistan on Saturday. According to Abdul Ghani Mosamam, spokesman for the Governor of Kunar Province, four Taliban insurgents and 12 civilians died. The civilians were four men, four women and four children. NATO denies any civilians were killed, but no one denies that civilians are killed in airstrikes and offensives. Thus the term, “collateral damage.”

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Obama administration makes Putin, Russians look like the good guys

putinTAMPA, September 10, 2013 – Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem said earlier today that his government would accept the proposal to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction by the international community, according to the Associated Press. The proposal was made by the Russian government in an attempt to avoid U.S. airstrikes in reprisal for alleged chemical weapons attacks by its Syrian counterpart against rebels and civilians on Aug. 21.

The Syrian government has consistently denied launching the attacks.
President Obama has now reportedly changed the goal of his meetings today with Congressmen from persuading them to approve his military strikes to participating in the diplomatic solution. This begs an obvious question.

Why was it Russia that proposed a diplomatic solution, while the Nobel Peace Prize-winning U.S. president would consider nothing but war?

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Does anyone really believe Assad used chemical weapons in Syria?

does anyoneTAMPA, September 6, 2013 – Public opinion polls are virtually unanimous. The American people oppose military intervention in Syria, despite poll questions worded in a way that assumes the Syrian government perpetrated chemical weapons attacks against its own people. The Washington Post/ABC News poll asked:

The United States says it has determined that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the civil war there. Given this, do you support or oppose the United States launching missile strikes against the Syrian government?”

Who could imagine the question being put in words more likely to elicit a favorable response? Nevertheless, Americans were resoundingly against military intervention. 59% said they opposed missile strikes. 36% said they favored them. 5% were undecided.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Is every nation on earth besides the United States "isolationist?"

kingTAMPA, September 3, 2013 – Just one day after President Obama requested a debate in Congress on military intervention in Syria, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has already trotted out the usual bludgeon against any call for restraint. Bomb Syria or you are an “isolationist.”

“Right now, I would say, if the vote were today, it would probably be a no vote. I’m hoping by the time next week comes around and hopefully the president can make his case that he will be able to get a majority of the House of Representatives. Right now, it would be very difficult and also we have an increasing isolationist wing in our party, which I think is damaging to the party and to the nation.”

Only in America is the word “isolationist” used to describe reluctance to initiate wars of choice. In every other context, that word has a far different meaning.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why are American taxpayers financially responsible to defend Syrians?

Tax DayTAMPA, September 1, 2013 — One day after President Obama indicated he would seek a vote from Congress on whether to launch missile strikes against Syria, media outlets have already begun reporting on the debate from a number of perspectives. As usual, one perspective is completely ignored: that of the American taxpayer.

The Constitution grants Congress the power to tax U.S. citizens to provide for the common defense of U.S. citizens, not every soul on the planet. The only exception is for citizens in countries with whom the United States has signed a mutual defense treaty. In those situations, it is assumed that American taxpayers get a reasonably equal benefit back in defense provided to them.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Congress is not authorized to start a war with Syria, either

congressTAMPA, August 30, 2013 – Today, the British Parliament is debating the U.K.’s response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government against rebels and civilians.

This prompted Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to tweet a picture juxtaposing the ongoing debate in Parliament with the empty U.S. Congress building.

Cruz and others have expressed the opinion that President Obama cannot take military action against Syria without consulting Congress first.

They’re wrong. Congress doesn’t have the power to start a war with Syria, either, under present circumstances.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Syria: The U.S. has learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan

TAMPA, August 28, 2013 —  “And now we’re back where we started. Here we go round again. Day after day I get up and I say I better do it again.”
Apparently, Ray Davies’ lyric has become the U.S. government’s foreign policy. Unfortunately, they’ve added a line to the chorus that Davies left out: Make sure you learn absolutely nothing from the day before.

Read the rest at Communities@ Washington Times...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Amash amendment only enforced Patriot Act, not Fourth Amendment

Last week, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill. It required the NSA and other government agencies merely to obey the Patriot Act, not the Fourth Amendment. That the data to be collected are "relevant to an ongoing national security investigation" doesn’t mean that there is probable cause that the person whose records are collected has committed a crime.

The NSA and its defenders say that even the Patriot Act doesn't give them enough power. Read my op-ed about it below.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Libertarians to Chris Christie: Is life so dear, or peace so sweet?

TAMPA, July 27, 2013 – Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would have defunded the NSA’s blanket collection of metadata and limited the government’s collection of records to those “relevant to a national security investigation.”

It terrified New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who lashed out at those who supported the bill and libertarianism in general.

“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.

Yes, it is dangerous, but to what? It is dangerous to the bloated national security state, which tramples the liberty and dignity of every American under the pretense of protecting them from what Charles Kenny recently called the “vastly exaggerated” threat of terrorism.

Chris Christie shamelessly invoked the image of “widows and orphans” of 9/11 in an attempt to discredit any resistance to the federal government’s complete disregard for the Bill of Rights. He then echoed former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani in claiming some imagined authority on the matter because he is the governor of the state “that lost the second-most people on 9/11.”

Newsflash to Governor Christie: You have no more moral authority on this subject than the U.S. Congress had legislative authority to pass the Patriot Act.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Obama race speech confirms Zimmerman trial dangerous to Bill of Rights

TAMPA, July 21, 2013 — President Obama made a speech on Friday that liberals are calling courageous and conservatives are criticizing as race-baiting and divisive. Whether it was prudent from a political perspective or not remains to be seen. How it makes conservatives or liberals feel is irrelevant.

The important and ominous part came near the end, where Obama floated his ideas on what the government should do.

First, Obama recognized what big government supporters would see as “the problem.”

“Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government. The criminal code and law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.”

No, Mr. President, the prosecution of murder and theft isn’t done at the state and local levels because of “tradition.” It’s done at the state and local levels because the U.S. Constitution does not delegate any power to the federal government that could remotely be interpreted to allow it to prosecute someone for murder or theft.

That means that no one ever consented to giving the federal government that power.
To ensure that those who don’t understand this wouldn’t exercise the power anyway, a Bill of Rights was ratified that leaves no room for confusion:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Zimmerman trial could further damage the Bill of Rights

TAMPA, July 16, 2013 – For over a year, we’ve heard that the George Zimmerman case is significant as a barometer of equal protection under the law for blacks. Some argued that the delay in charging George Zimmerman with murder was due to racial bias in the justice system. A “white man” is less likely to be prosecuted for killing a black man than if the races of the killer or victim were different.

The problem is that there is zero proof in this case of any of that. Prosecutors initially decided not to press charges because they didn’t have a case. The only account of the confrontation that led to Trayvon Martin’s death is Zimmerman’s. There are no witnesses to refute it. The call to the non-emergency police dispatcher does not provide any proof that Zimmerman “pursued or confronted” Martin after being told by the dispatcher “we don’t need you to do that,” despite widespread media misinformation to that effect.

Setting aside credibility issues with Rachel Jeantel’s testimony, even her account provides no evidence refuting Zimmerman’s account of how he and Martin ended up face to face.

This case does not represent racial bias in the system. The real danger inherent in this case is the danger to all of us, of all races, if due process protections in the Bill of Rights are eroded further.

The War on Terror has already gutted the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments. The requirements that the government have probable cause before searching us or our communications, that its warrants are specific to the places to be searched and items to be seized, that no one be imprisoned unless indicted by a Grand Jury are part of what defines the United States as “a free country.”

However well-intentioned, the Patriot Act, 2012 NDAA, and the NSA surveillance programs have virtually nullified those basic protections of individual freedom.

Now, good intentions on ensuring equal protection under the law for all races could lead to further attacks on the right to trial by jury, the prohibition on double jeopardy and the presumption of innocence, the first two explicit and the last implicit in the Bill of Rights.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thank God the 4th of July is over

TAMPA, July 5, 2013 – Thank goodness the 4th of July is over. For those who believe in freedom, it has become unbearable.

On July 4th, 1776, a written document codifying the resolution passed two days earlier was approved by Congress. It declared to the whole world that thirteen of Great Britain’s colonies were seceding from the union. The document stated the Lockean principles upon which the decision was based and then listed the reasons why secession was necessary.

The modern U.S. government is far worse than George III’s. Today’s Americans not only fail to object, but celebrate its depravity.

Unqualified worship of the military is the most obvious example. Throughout human history, standing armies in times of peace have been the most recognizable characteristic of tyranny.

The 21st-century U.S. government and media invites Americans to thank the military for what little freedom they have left. Despite the complete absence of any cause-effect relationship between U.S. military adventures and what little freedom Americans retain, they enthusiastically comply.

And where is this freedom that the government supposedly secured by invading Korea or Afghanistan?

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

We're all Osama Bin Laden now

TAMPA, June 25, 2013 – Twelve years ago, the U.S. government demanded that the Taliban extradite Osama Bin Laden to stand trial for the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. The Taliban responded similarly to how they had in the past to the same demand. They asked the U.S. government to obey the principles enshrined in its own Fourth Amendment and produce evidence of Bin Laden’s guilt.

The Bush Administration responded with carpet bombing, followed by an invasion.

Most Americans didn’t lose much sleep over Bin Laden’s rights being violated. He was the world’s most infamous terrorist. Had the U.S. been able to pinpoint his location and take him out with a missile or drone attack, there would have been no pundit debate about the constitutionality of the execution (and no, the constitution doesn’t apply only to U.S. citizens).

First, they came for the terrorists…

Flash forward twelve years and quite a few people are losing sleep. Not only has the government’s disregard for the Fourth Amendment “come home” to apply to every American, but all due process protections have been completely abolished. The government claims the right to search, spy on, arrest and detain you without probable cause or warrant. It even claims the right to kill you without charging you with a crime.

For war hawks, the year is perpetually 1939 and every tin pot dictator is Hitler, even if originally installed and supported by the U.S. government. We have been forced to pay for two completely useless wars over the past twelve years, with the specter of Nazi Germany and another Holocaust thrown in the faces of anyone who objected. Anything other than full commitment constitutes “appeasing a dictator,” the fatal mistake that led to WWII.

Yet, the abridged world history textbook that every neoconservative seems to have read apparently contains nothing else about Nazi Germany. It doesn’t seem to tell them anything about why Hitler was a dictator in the first place, long before the Holocaust got under way.

The truth regarding that question is stranger than fiction.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tom Mullen reunites with The Skeptics for new CD, concert

Everyone needs a break from politics once in a while. Check out the new, 4-song CD Reloaded, recorded with my band from the 90's, The Skeptics

It features two songs written and sung by yours truly and two by lead guitarist Dave Levin. 

Mark Buckley and Dan Komanski returned to play bass and drums, respectively.

We're doing a 20th Anniversary Reunion CD Release Show in Buffalo, NY on Sat. June 29. We hope to see you there!

General information on Tom Mullen music can be found at the Skepticsongs website.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Jury Nullification, not a pardon for Edward Snowden

TAMPA, June 10, 2013 – The whistleblower who has risked his life and his freedom to expose the NSA’s domestic spying program has fled to Hong Kong. Caught red-handed violating one of the most fundamental limits on its power, codified in the Fourth Amendment, the federal government has responded predictably. It wants to prosecute its accuser.

While mainstream conservatives call for Hong Kong to extradite Snowden for trial, libertarian and civil libertarian groups have started a petition to get him pardoned. That’s the wrong solution.

Pardons are for people who have already been convicted. No jury with any sense of justice should allow that to happen.

Yes, there are plenty of laws that Edward Snowden probably broke, but as Thomas Jefferson famously said, “The law is often but the tyrant’s will.” Never was that more true than now.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

NSA out of control: We the people at fault

TAMPA, June 6, 2013 – You can’t say the mainstream media went to sleep. Today, the front page of every major national news website is featuring reactions to Glenn Greenwald’s explosive report on the FISA court order that “requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.”

That means that the government is collecting information on every call made on Verizon’s service, regardless of probable cause or any suspicion that the parties have committed a crime. The Fourth Amendment was written specifically to prohibit this activity by the government. But they’re doing it, unapologetically.

The question is, what will this disturbingly subservient group called “We the People’ do about it?

It’s really time to stop making excuses. This has been duly reported by the media and it’s not like the people are powerless to do anything. When Congress first attempted to pass the infamous Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (a.k.a. the “Wall Street bailout”), angry calls from voters caused the bill to be defeated in Congress. For one, brief, shining moment, there was real fear of the people on the faces of our so-called “representatives.”

After President Bush emerged from weeks of virtual silence to deliver his “support this bailout or the world will end” speech, the tone of the calls moderated and Congress felt sufficiently comfortable to pass the bill the second time around (bluffed by George W. Bush – now that’s embarrassing).

Regardless, the episode clearly demonstrated that if even a significant minority of the population cares enough to at least make a call to their representatives, they can affect the behavior of the beast on the Potomac.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Monday, May 27, 2013

When is Taxpayer Day?

TAMPA, May 27, 2013 ― Today is the tenth day since Armed Forces Day. Ten straight days of “thanking the troops,” supposedly for the freedom we enjoy because of the sacrifices they’ve made.

Something needs to be said. It probably won’t be popular, but I have a sinking feeling there are more than a few people who have entertained the same heretical thought that I have:

I’m sick and tired of being invited to “thank the troops,” especially for my “freedom.”

There is no disrespect intended towards the families of anyone who has died in one of the government’s wars. The loss of a child, husband, father or mother is a tragedy, regardless of the circumstances.
Moreover, it is hard not to respect the kind of courage it takes to actually go into combat, regardless of the reasons one may have enlisted.

But thanks is quite another matter. Thanks assumes that we have enjoyed some benefit as a result. We’re told that “freedom isn’t free” and the benefit we enjoy is our liberty. That begs an obvious question.

What is the cause and effect relationship between any war the U.S. government has prosecuted, at least since WWII, and whatever relative freedom Americans have left? Are we freer because our government invaded Iraq? Viet Nam? Afghanistan? How?

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

IRS scandal nothing new: Targeting dissenters is bipartisan


TAMPA, May 16, 2013 ― The IRS targeting conservative groups for audits and enforcement actions is the latest scandal for a federal government that is so out of control that even the lapdog media are starting to sound libertarian while covering it. But targeting dissenters is nothing new and certainly not an innovation by the Obama administration. It is old as the federal government itself.

One does not have to go back as far as the Alien and Sedition Acts or Abraham Lincoln’s imprisonment of northern journalists who opposed the Civil War. One doesn’t even have to go outside the IRS. Just nine years ago, they were doing the exact same thing under Bush, going so far as to investigate a church because of an anti-war sermon which the agency said it “considered … to have been illegal.”

Ironically, for all of their talk about “small government” and “balanced budgets,” the tea party and patriot groups most recently victimized by the IRS are for the most part rabid supporters of American militarism. So, whether you’re pro-war or anti-war, you’re a candidate for predation, so long as you oppose any aspect of the federal monster.

Conservatives are obviously making this about Obama and Obama is doing his best to deflect blame, pointing out that the activity occurred while a Bush appointee was still IRS Commissioner. Sadly, most of the American public will likely jump on one bandwagon or the other and miss what is really important here.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had right to remain silent only after he confessed


TAMPA, April 24, 2013 – Civil libertarians seemed to have cause for relief on Monday as reports were released that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been formally charged with the crime, given a Miranda warning and assigned counsel.

Some prominent officials, including U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, had called for Tsarnaev to be treated as an enemy combatant. The Obama administration indicated that it would prosecute the U.S. citizen in civilian court, but would invoke the public safety exception to the Fifth Amendment in questioning Tsarnaev before reading him his rights.

It appeared that justice had prevailed. Major news outlets reported that a bedside hearing had taken place, presided over by a judge, with counsel for the defense present. A transcript of the hearing is available online or in pdf above.

The bedrock legal principles that make America the “land of the free” had been preserved. Tsarnaev would be presumed innocent until proven guilty. He would have the benefit of counsel to challenge the government’s case against him, examine the evidence and cross examine any witnesses.
He would not be subject to punishment until he had been proven guilty in an adversarial proceeding, rather than merely accused.

There was only one problem. We now know that Tsarnaev had already confessed to the crime.
So, Tsarnaev had the right to remain silent only after there was no longer any reason to remain silent. That defeats the whole purpose of the Fifth Amendment. One of the reasons it was established was the routine use of torture in obtaining confessions in the Middle Ages.

So, how did federal authorities obtain Tsarnaev’s confession? Was he tortured? All we know is he was alone with federal authorities and helpless in his hospital bed.

Read the rest of the article at Communties@ Washington Times...