It is fair to say when it comes to politics many people will say or do next to anything to win an election.
In 2007, then-candidate Barack Obama made a public statement denouncing the Bush administration saying, “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” This statement was popularly received by the nation after four years of military involvement in Iraq.
It would seem these words have all but faded away; however, from now-President Obama’s mind after making a public statement Saturday that, “the United States should take military action against Syrian Regime targets.” The President then went on to say that he believes he has the power to launch this strike without specific congressional approval, but that for the good of the nation he’ll seek Congress’ approval.
I cannot help but be troubled by this on a number of levels. First of all, I consider this involvement in Syria yet another example in a growing pattern of US involvement in the internal conflicts of foreign states. In the past, the United States has militarily involved itself only when directly threatened, when the interests of its people are directly threatened, or when an allied state is directly threatened. Now it seems we’ll jump into any dispute where we feel human rights are being violated within a foreign nation.
This leads to involvement in situations which we do not fully understand, against states that had not formally been directly antagonistic to us. Meanwhile we take on the responsibility of propping up a state militarily and economically whilst we ourselves are facing a nearly 17 trillion dollar deficit, a high unemployment rate (especially for young people), and a hunger rate of one in six
The vote on the anti-NSA Amash-Conyers bill was a huge win for the liberty movement.
Sure, we may not have won in the conventional sense of the word, but the establishment is definitely running scared. It wasn’t so long ago that we were all watching Ron Paul stand alone in front of congress advocating for liberty and fighting against the tyrants in Washington. It may not have been all that long ago, but it is remarkable how much of a difference we have made in so short a time.
Justin Amash valiantly stood before congress yesterday to propose an amendment that would block funding provided to the NSA for the collection of phone records from every American Citizen. “Do we oppose the suspicionless collection of every American’s phone records?” Amash asked his fellow House members.
Several representatives who were opposed to the proposed legislation made the argument that “metadata” do not equate with phone records. True, metadata do not give the government access to the content of your actual phone calls, but they are still able to see what numbers you called and when you called them. Regardless of whether or not you have anything to hide, the government has absolutely no business involving itself that far into the personal lives of Americans.
In fact, the concept of privacy rights was so important to the founding of this country that our Founding Fathers decided to include it in our Bill of Rights.
Fortunately, America remains the greatest place in the world to live and call home. We celebrated the essence of that greatness over the weekend for Independence Day — the fabled anniversary of July 4th, 1776, the date that the Founding Fathers declared independence from the tyranny of King George III. It's a celebration of freedom and radicalism, and one that we should take more seriously as a country.
Though it's hard to appreciate the message behind the holiday when actions that subvert our freedom occur every day. Ask yourself: Are we truly free?
Now take this video for example, which went viral this weekend thanks to sites like Reddit:
The nearly 3 million-view video shows 21-year-old Chris Kalbaugh being harassed and constitutionally violated at a DUI checkpoint in Rutherford County, Tennessee by Deputy A.J. Ross and other officers. Despite not having committed a crime nor been charged with one, the officers swarm his car and use a K-9 to issue a "false alert" in order to search it. Kalbaugh ever expressed his rights to the officers, but no such luck. From the video:
Deputy Ross: “Are you an attorney or something? You know what the law is?”
Kalbaugh: “Yes sir, I do."
Deputy Ross: “OK, what is the law?”
Kalbaugh: “The law says at checkpoints I have to stop. And I did. That is all. I’m not required to answer any questions. I have Constitutional freedom to travel without being randomly stopped and questioned."
The officers continued their search unimpeded. When nothing turned up, Deputy Ross says, "He’s perfectly innocent and he knows his rights. He knows what the Constitution says.” Another officer off-camera says, "It wasn't a very good alert."
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. — The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. — Fifth Amendment to the Constitution
One would think that the rules spelled out in the Constitution — simple, easy rules written to restrain the then new, federal government — would be familiar to federal agents. But that might be asking too much, right?
Apparently, the CBP checkpoint I drive through is for "suspicion-less detention;" at least that's what the agent told me. Watch the video:
Federal usurpation of power will continue unabated unless people check that illegitimate power.
Edward Snowden, the famous whistle-blower of the whole "The-NSA-is-spying-on-you" debacle, released a statement on Wikileaks on July 1. It was quite a good, thought-provoking read, and I encourage you all to read it.
I proudly tip my hat to Mr. Snowden. He has done something absolutely incredible just by revealing what should have been revealed from the beginning (Or not done in the first place — I vote that one). But the most awesome part of Mr. Snowden's statement is the marvelous truth he uncovers:The Obama administration doesn't fear Snowden; he fears us, the "informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised."
And what a glorious truth to be presented to us! For we remember Thomas Jefferson's words, "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty."
You probably remember in your high school government class learning about the 17th Amendment, and how it provided for the direct election of senators through popular vote, doing away with the older system of selection through state legislatures. At first glance, the direct election of senators seems like a good thing, for it is more "democratic" in nature. A second look, however, reveals broader and less obviously good ramifications.
In Federalist 62, James Madison is discussing the Senate to the People of New York when he writes:
It is equally unnecessary to dilate [to expand] on the appointment of senators by the State legislatures... It is recommended by the double advantage of favoring a select appointment, and of giving to the State governments such an agency in the formation of the federal government as must secure the authority of the former, and may form a convenient link between the two systems [State and Federal Government].
The state selection of Senators was essential to the Founders' view of proper republican government. They believed that the Senate would shield against improper acts of legislation, for no law could be passed without the concurrence of first the majority of the people (the House of Representatives) and a majority of the representatives of the states (the Senate). Now, with a more "democratic" legislature, states have lost their authority over the federal government.
The jawboning on both sides of this issue is deafening, but since Paula Deen officially made a public apology on Wednesday, her case still begs the question, what happened to the First Amendment and to whom does it apply? If certain comedians, talk show hosts, and even news anchors can freely use derogatory or offensive language in the public domain, why should any celebrity — whether it be a politician or a chef, be chastised for a comment made in the private domain many years ago?
The problem is thus: the first amendment guarantees the right to free speech for all, not just some, Americans. That doesn't mean that all speech has equal merit, of course — if Deen did say what she is rumored to have said, that racism should unquestionably be condemned in the free market of ideas.
However, the bottom line is that free speech can't only apply to a specific demographic group or portion of the population. As Ron Paul has said, “We don’t have freedom of speech to talk about the weather. We have the First Amendment so we can say very controversial things.”
If we are to remain a country devoted to freedom, then we must learn to respect that individual rights and liberties apply to all Americans, starting with the First Amendment.
Next time you go to bed, you might want to say goodnight to Big Brother. Oh, and thank him for doing such an awesome job on protecting you as well! Right now you'll have to either send an e-mail for that, or make a phone call to properly allow him to hear you. 2014 could mark the year where you simply wave at your bedroom ceiling!
A recent Supreme Court decision gutted the Fifth Amendment, requiring anyone who wishes to use the right to remain silent to first state that they are doing so:
Here's what that means.
Basically, if you're ever in any trouble with police (no, we don't condone breaking laws) and want to keep your mouth shut, you will need to announce that you're invoking your Fifth Amendment right instead of, you know, just keeping your mouth shut.
Leaving aside the serious problems this poses for the many Americans who may not be well-informed enough to invoke the Fifth Amendment, the decision creates a dangerous precedent.
After all, what's next? Will we have to announce, "I'm exercising my First Amendment right" before we go to church? Blog? Have a club meeting? And if you post on Facebook, should you make note of your right to free speech in the status itself, or do you say it out to your living room?
Or should we say, "I'm using my Second Amendment right" every time we touch a gun?
Or what about the Third Amendment? If I don't mention it each time I leave my house, should I expect to find soldiers bunking down in my kitchen when I get home?
The point of a right is that it's yours, and it's yours independent of any law, and you don't have to make an announcement about it when you want to exercise it.
As every American schoolchild knows, the newly drafted Constitution was not ratified without an intense political debate between the Federalists (who wanted ratification) and Anti-Federalists (who feared the creation of a stronger central government). Anti-Federalist "Brutus" (believed to be New York judge Robert Yates), argued in 1787 against the newly proposed Congress' tax power. He had this to say:
This power [to tax], exercised without limitation, will introduce itself into every comer of the city, and country — It will wait upon the ladies at their toilett, and will not leave them in any of their domestic concerns; it will accompany them to the ball, the play, and the assembly; it will go with them when they visit, and will, on all occasions, sit beside them in their carriages, nor will it desert them even at church; it will enter the house of every gentleman, watch over his cellar, wait upon his cook in the kitchen, follow the servants into the parlour, preside over the table, and note down all he eats or drinks; it will attend him to his bed-chamber, and watch him while he sleeps; it will take cognizance of the professional man in his office, or his study; it will watch the merchant in the counting-house, or in his store; it will follow the mechanic to his shop, and in his work, and will haunt him in his family, and in his bed; it will be a constant companion of the industrious farmer in all his labour, it will be with him in the house, and in the field, observe the toil of his hands, and the sweat of his brow; it will penetrate into the most obscure cottage; and finally, it will light upon the head of every person in the United States. To all these different classes of people, and in all these circumstances, in which it will attend them, the language in which it will address them, will be GIVE! GIVE!"
Amazing isn't it? This was before the passage of the 16th Amendment and the creation of the IRS. Fast-forward 226 years later, it would appear Brutus' worst fears were realized with the State now spreading its tax tendrils in every possible activity you can think of. Virtually nothing is left untouched.