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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

More on Domestic Terrorism: Who Will Be the Target? — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on June 26, 2021

What to do about the numerous white ethnic societies that exist in the United States to celebrate their heritage? Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans and German-Americans watch out!

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2021/06/24/more-on-domestic-terrorism-who-will-be-the-target/

Philip Giraldi

We have been taught undesired and quite frankly hypocritical lessons by four presidents in a row and perhaps it is now time that we be left alone!

When the so-called war on domestic terrorism was declared quite early on in the Joe Biden Administration it provoked a wave of dissent from those who recognized that it would inevitably be used to stifle free speech and target constituencies that do not agree with the White House’s plans for sweeping changes in how the country is governed. Some rightly pointed out that every time the Federal government declares war on anyone or anything, to include drugs, poverty, or even Afghanistan, the results are generally counter-productive. But others noted that once fundamental liberties are taken away they will likely never return.

At first there were reports that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were increasing their investigations, many centered on the so-called U.S. Capitol “insurrection” of January 6th, which it now appears might have been in part incited by the FBI itself. The scope of the inquiries into how perfectly legal opposition groups operate and proliferate in the U.S. soon broadened to include opponents of much of the social engineering that the Democrats have brought with them to change the face of America. “Hate” or “extremist” groups and individuals became the targets with “hate” and “extremism” liberally defined as anyone whose identity or agenda did not coincide with that of the Democratic Party.

This effort to root out “domestic terrorism” needed a focus and that came with what was claimed to be an intelligence community joint assessment in March which labeled “white supremacists” and “anti-government extremists” as “the two most lethal elements of today’s domestic terrorism threat.”

See the rest here

Also by this author Philip Giraldi Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

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The Overlapping Infrastructure of Urban Surveillance, and How to Fix It – Activist Post

Posted by M. C. on June 26, 2021

How do we stop the United States government from tapping into the internet’s main arteries? Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows for the collection and use of digital communications of people abroad, but often scoops up communications of U.S. persons when they talk to friends or family in other countries. EFF continues to fight Section 702 in the court in hopes of securing communications that travel through these essential cables.

https://www.activistpost.com/2021/06/the-overlapping-infrastructure-of-urban-surveillance-and-how-to-fix-it.html

By Matthew Guariglia

Between the increasing capabilities of local and state police, the creep of federal law enforcement into domestic policing, the use of aerial surveillance such as spy planes and drones, and mounting cooperation between private technology companies and the government, it can be hard to understand and visualize what all this overlapping surveillance can mean for your daily life. We often think of these problems as siloed issues. Local police deploy automated license plate readers or acoustic gunshot detection. Federal authorities monitor you when you travel internationally.

But if you could take a cross-section of the average city block, you would see the ways that the built environment of surveillance—its physical presence in, over, and under our cities—makes this an entwined problem that must be combated through entwined solutions.

Thus, we decided to create a graphic to show how—from overhead to underground—these technologies and legal authorities overlap, how they disproportionately impact the lives of marginalized communities, and the tools we have at our disposal to halt or mitigate their harms.

A cityscape showing 13 types of common surveillance

Going from Top to Bottom:

1. Satellite Surveillance:

Satellite photography has been a reality since the 1950s, and at any given moment there are over 5,000 satellites in orbit over the Earth—some of which have advanced photographic capabilities. While many are intended for scientific purposes, some satellites are used for reconnaissance by intelligence agencies and militaries. There are certainly some satellites that may identify a building or a car from its roof, but it’s unlikely that we could ever reach the point where pictures taken from a satellite would be clear enough or could even be the correct angle to run through face recognition technology or through an automated license plate reader.

Satellites can also enable surveillance by allowing governments to intercept or listen in on data transmitted internationally.

2. Internet Traffic Surveillance

Government surveillance of internet traffic can happen in many ways. Through programs like PRISM and XKEYSCORE, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) can monitor emails as they move across the internet, browser and search history, and even keystrokes as they happen in real time. Much of this information can come directly from the internet and telecommunications companies that consumers use, through agreements between these companies and government agencies (like the one the NSA shares with AT&T) or through warrants or orders granted by a judge, including those that preside over the Foriegn Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

Internet surveillance isn’t just the domain of the NSA and international intelligence organizations; local law enforcement are just as likely to approach big companies in an attempt to get information about how some people use the internet. In one 2020 case, police sent a search warrant to Google to see who had searched the address of an arson victim to try to identify a suspect. Using the IP addresses Google furnished of users who conducted that search, police identified a suspect and arrested him for the arson.

See the rest here

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The Only Privacy the Feds Protect is Their Own – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on June 17, 2021

Can the DOJ engage in a fishing expedition looking for leaks? Can it obtain personal records of members of Congress? Can it silence those who know about this? In a word: No, no and no.

The feds who did this violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. But lack of fidelity in government to the Constitution is nothing new.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/06/andrew-p-napolitano/the-only-privacy-the-feds-protect-is-their-own/

By Andrew P. Napolitano

Last week, The New York Times revealed that in late 2017 and early 2018, prosecutors in the Department of Justice persuaded a federal grand jury to subpoena the telephone, email and texting records of about 20 people, including two members of Congress and their families, staffs and investigators, and one of the minor children of a staff member. Also subpoenaed were the records of Donald F. McGahn II, then the White House chief counsel, and his wife.

In all, the government sought data on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses. The subpoenas identified the targets only by telephone number and computer identification number.

The subpoenas were served on Apple, the custodian of these records. Also served upon Apple was a gag order signed by a federal judge instructing Apple not to tell anyone it had received the subpoenas. The government sought and obtained three annual extensions of the gag order. Such an order should have been challenged, as it is unconstitutional on its face.

The records sought and obtained were “metadata.” Metadata is not content; yet it is everything but. Thus, the records that Apple surrendered showed who spoke to whom and when, who emailed whom and when, and who texted whom and when, but it did not show what was actually communicated.

Can the DOJ engage in a fishing expedition looking for leaks? Can it obtain personal records of members of Congress? Can it silence those who know about this? In a word: No, no and no.

Here is the backstory.

Governments have been seeking records in criminal cases since the beginning of the American republic. Until 1986, if the government served a subpoena for your records on your telephone provider, financial institution, physician or lawyer, the custodian would normally tell you of the subpoena, thereby giving you an opportunity to challenge it. Some sophisticated custodians — like Apple, though not in this case — have filed the challenge in behalf of their clients.

In the litigation over such a challenge, the owner of the records would become aware of the government’s wish to seize them and would find out why it sought them. There is no threat to the records themselves, as they are in the hands of the custodian, not the target. This was a fair system that worked well for 200 years.

All this changed in 1986 with the congressional enactment of the highly misnamed Electronic Communications Privacy Act. This law permits the feds to obtain metadata — but not content — and to obtain a court order prohibiting the custodian from telling its client.

Stated differently, under the common law, and long-standing, 200-year-old federal practice, the target could challenge the subpoena. But since 1986, that has not been the case. This so-called Privacy Act, in reality, is a pathway to invade privacy. The only privacy this statute protects is the government’s.

Notwithstanding the 1986 law, federal grand juries can only issue subpoenas when they are investigating crimes. And subpoenas can only be issued when federal prosecutors persuade the grand jury both that a crime has been committed and that the subpoenaed materials more likely than not — this is “probable cause” — contain evidence of the crime being investigated.

We know these subpoenas were served at the height of the Robert Mueller investigation of then-President Donald Trump. And we know that much was leaked during that investigation that was politically harmful to the president. We also know that no charges were ever filed against Trump, and he survived the Mueller investigation legally unscathed.

What crime could the feds have been looking for, and what did they tell a federal judge in order to get the gag order, and why didn’t they just ask the judge for an order to seize the content of these communications?

There is no judge present during grand jury proceedings, nor are the target or his lawyers there. Prosecutors can say almost whatever they want to persuade the grand jury to issue a subpoena, but what they say is recorded. Might a review of what they said show that there was no evidence of a crime?

Leaks are not criminal unless the leaker has a legal duty to keep silent. Federal law only imposes that duty on grand jurors and on others if the materials that could be leaked are classified. Short of that, there was no crime for a grand jury to investigate, and no federal judge would have issued a search warrant.

Moreover, the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution insulates members of Congress from any governmental acts against them — including surveillance — due to their use of words in furtherance of their congressional work. This is bolstered by the separation of powers — baked into the Constitution — which makes the legislative branch and the executive branch equals.

The First and Fourth Amendments are intentional obstacles to the government. The Supreme Court has ruled that the First lets you say whatever you wish about the government, come what may.

The Fourth provides that all persons shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects. If the government pierced this protection without a demonstrable showing to a grand jury of crime, plus probable cause on each person whose records it sought, then it engaged in the very fishing expeditions that the amendment was written to prevent, and the government itself committed the crime of computer hacking.

It is unlikely that this mass surveillance found evidence of a crime in 2018, as no one has been indicted. My guess? Trump was furious over the leaks and ordered federal prosecutors to shake the trees and see who falls out. This is the tip of an unconstitutional, privacy-invading iceberg.

The feds who did this violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. But lack of fidelity in government to the Constitution is nothing new.

Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written nine books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.

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The GOP Is Not Your Savior | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on June 17, 2021

Unfortunately, the answer is that the Republicans would not have saved us, and for two reasons, one historical and the other philosophical: (1) Republicans have never saved us from the bad policies and programs of Democrats, regardless of whether they had partial or total control of the government and could have done something, and (2) Republicans are philosophically not much different from Democrats, regardless of how often and how loud they recite their conservative mantra about the Constitution, the free market, limited government, federalism, traditional values, free enterprise, a balanced budget, individual freedom, free trade, and property rights.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/the-gop-is-not-your-savior/

by Laurence Vance

If Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) had not gotten sick and resigned his Senate seat, then the title of this article would have been “Will the Republicans Save Us?”

After serving in the Georgia state house and senate, Isakson served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He was re-elected in 2010 and 2016. Although his Senate term did not expire until January 2023, in August 2019 he announced that because of his Parkinson’s disease and other health challenges, he was resigning his Senate seat effective at the end of 2019. Under Georgia law, the governor—Brian Kemp, a Republican—was allowed to make an appointment to fill the unexpired term until the next regularly scheduled statewide election (November 3, 2020). He selected Republican Kelly Loeffler, the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), who had never held political office. She assumed office in January 2020.

Under Georgia election law, all candidates for a special election, regardless of their political party, compete in a “jungle primary” where every name is on the November general election ballot. If no candidate in what is usually a crowded field receives more than 50 percent of the vote, then a runoff election is conducted in January. All told, there were twenty-one candidates—including a write-in candidate who received seven votes—most of whom received less than 1 percent of the vote. Loeffler finished second in the special election with 25.9 percent of the vote. That is why she was in the January 5 runoff election for the Senate seat she held at the time. But although Loeffler claimed to be the most conservative Republican in the Senate, and was considered to be the richest member of the Senate, she lost in the runoff election to the Democrat Raphael Warnock by the slim margin of 50.8 to 49.2 percent.

It is because of this special election that Georgia was the only state to hold two Senate elections in 2020. In the Senate, the 100 senators are divided into three classes with staggered terms. Thus, only one-third of the Senate seats are contested at any election, and never more than one Senate seat in a state. In the regular Senate race in Georgia, the incumbent Republican David Perdue—the cousin of former Georgia governor and Trump administration Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue—was seeking a second term. But as he received only 49.7 percent of the vote (47.9 percent went for Democrat Jon Ossoff and 2.3 percent went for Libertarian Shane Hazel), Georgia law required a runoff election between the top two candidates. But in the January 5 runoff election, Ossoff defeated Perdue by a margin of 50.4 to 49.6 percent.

Winning these two Georgia Senate seats is how the Democrats wrested control of the Senate from the Republicans, who had controlled the Senate since January 2015. Prior to the Georgia runoff election, there were 50 Republicans in the Senate and 48 Democrats (including the two independent members of the Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, who caucus with the Democrats). So now that the Senate is tied 50-50, the Democratic vice president, the former senator Kamala Harris, gets to cast the tie-breaking vote, effectively giving Democrats control of the Senate.

The Democrats

One-party control of the government is dangerous. Gridlock in the Congress helps prevent one party — whether Democrats or Republicans — from exercising unbridled power. Thus, even if one Georgia Senate seat had been won by a Republican, it could have stopped bad legislation proposed by Democrats from passing (assuming that all of the Senate Republicans voted together). But the reality is that life under Democratic rule will be especially dangerous to privacy, liberty, and property.

Now, we know that the Democratic Party for many years has been the party of liberalism, progressivism, collectivism, socialism, paternalism, statism, environmentalism, “social justice,” economic egalitarianism, organized labor, taxpayer-funded abortion, public education, climate change, affirmative action, welfare, higher taxes on the “rich,” universal single-payer health care, increased government regulation of the economy and society, increased government spending, larger and more-intrusive government, and assorted income-transfer programs and wealth-redistribution schemes. The Democratic solution to every problem, injustice, or crisis — real, imaginary, or contrived—is invariably more government, more government intervention, or more government money.

The Democratic Party is not just going to pick up where it left off at the end of the Obama administration. Democrats in Congress will stop at nothing to achieve their agenda. The Democratic Party of today is even more radical than it was twelve years ago during the first two years of Obama’s first term, which was the last time that Democrats had total control of the federal government (House, Senate, presidency).

What’s On the Table

In an episode of “The Libertarian Angle” recorded just two days after the Electoral College vote was certified, Future of Freedom Foundation president Jacob Hornberger and Citadel professor Richard Ebeling examined the question of life under Democratic control and it was not a pretty picture they painted. According to Hornberger and Ebeling, we are going to see massive increases in federal spending, and the debt ceiling rendered totally irrelevant; massive foreign intervention, since Biden is essentially owned by the national-security state; increased focus on official enemies, expansion of the role of the military in American life, expansion of the welfare state, the revitalization of Obamacare, the attempt to implement a full-fledged government health-care system, and the expansion of the war on drugs (a war that Biden supported when he was vice president and Harris supported as a prosecutor); increased federal regulations, massive welfare-state socialism, a more centrally planned economy, massive debauchery of the currency, tax increases, increased anti-trust enforcement, a national increase in the minimum wage, elements of the “green new deal,” and emphasis on equality of outcomes and proportional representation of minorities in all groups; and more money creation by the Fed, increased inflation, wage and price controls to combat inflation, and a more interventionist foreign policy. They concluded that under a Biden administration, everything is on the table that could be a danger to our liberty, privacy, income, wealth, property, and freedom in the marketplace.

To this we can certainly add increased deficit spending, further increases in the national debt, unrestricted funding for Planned Parenthood, loosened restrictions on taxpayer-funded abortions, increased enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, expanded gun-control laws, a federal family-leave policy, government-funded child care, increased resources devoted to fighting climate change, increased violation of privacy and civil liberties in response to the coronavirus, fewer welfare-work requirements, and increased promotion of the transgender movement.

On the basis of statements in the 2020 Democratic Party platform, the recommendations in the “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations,” and statements from Biden himself, we can also look forward to extended unemployment benefits, a $15 per hour minimum wage, and more-generous refundable tax credits that give even more Americans tax refunds of money that they never paid in; increased funding for food stamps, WIC, and school-meal programs; greater “investment” in mass transit and transportation public-works projects, “fair” trade policies and deals, expanded farm and housing subsidies, a national goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings and vehicles, and “environmental justice”; increases in corporate tax rates, aggressive attempts to increase the supply of “affordable” housing, increased government efforts to close the racial wealth gap, increased spending on K-12 education, tuition-free college, increased federal education grants, extended student-loan payment suspension, and student-debt relief; and making Washington, D.C., the 51st state, an increased push for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, the ending of cash bail, the passing of an Equal Rights Amendment, increased condemnation of “hate speech,” the reauthorization and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act, the securing of equal pay for women, and increased funding for arts and culture.

The Republicans

Read the rest here

This article was originally featured at the Future of Freedom Foundation

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The Case of Joe Rogan: Vaccine Policy and Freedom of Speech – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on June 7, 2021

For politically “sensitive” subjects, authorities do not accept deviations from their official story. This deleterious situation has existed since long before the pandemic. Today, it is about vaccine policy, but yesterday, about the war on terrorism, about Russiagate, about the corruption of Joe Biden, and many other topics. Greenwald explains:

When it comes to censorship of politically adverse content, sometimes explicit censorship demands are unnecessary. Where a climate of censorship prevails, companies anticipate what those in power want them to do by anticipatorily self-censoring to avoid official retaliation. Speech is chilled without direct censorship orders being required.

https://mises.org/wire/case-joe-rogan-vaccine-policy-and-freedom-speech

Finn Andreen

Recently, Joe Rogan, one of the largest podcast hosts in the United States (10.6 million YouTube subscribers), expressed the following opinion about the vaccination of young adults:

If you are 21 and ask me if you should get the vaccine, I would say “no”. If you are a healthy person and exercise all the time, and are young and eat well, I don’t think you have to worry about this.

This comment created a furor in the United States, where the government’s target is vaccination of the entire adult population. For these few sentences he received a sharp reprimand from the White House and Dr. Fauci, who accused Rogan of being selfish and endangering vulnerable members of society. 

Given the very low covid risk for this age group, Rogan’s comments seem to make some sense. Wouldn’t it be more altruistic, rather than selfish, to let a vaccine dose first go to someone who needs it more? Either way, such criticism is ludicrous when it comes from a government that so often acts contrary to the interests of society.

Additionally, considering the way in which the covid vaccines were launched, some skepticism on the part of Joe Rogan, and the general population, seems warranted. Indeed, these vaccines have become available so quickly that their Phase II and the Phase III development has been conducted in parallel and is not yet completed. In the US, the covid vaccines are currently approved only as emergency measures by the FDA, though nearly 260 million Americans have already been vaccinated.

In the case of AstraZeneca, the pressure to get a vaccine out as quickly as possible caused an issue in the dosage during the first distributions. In many European countries this vaccine has not been recommended to young people because of a perceived risk of blood clots. In Russia, an antibody test is recommended before vaccination to ensure that the patient is not already immune, in order to avoid wasting doses and to avoid overloading the body with antibodies.

In this context, it does not certainly seem shocking to suggest, like Joe Rogan, that healthy young adults may not really need to get vaccinated.

Government Agents Attacking the Opinions of Private Citizens

In reality, the real question is not whether Joe Rogan was right or wrong in saying what he said. Criticism of a citizen by the US government is disturbing regardless of the comments that were made. What about freedom of speech when the state criticizes an individual’s speech? 

The protection of freedom of speech and of the press in the USA is among the strongest that exists. The First Amendment to the Constitution in theory offers extremely robust protection with its famous words: “Congress will not make any law curtailing freedom of speech, or of the press.”

But this implies that it is not unconstitutional for the authorities to publicly judge the speech of its citizens, such as Rogan. As reported by Glenn Greenwald, this represents in practice a government control of speech. He quotes a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner who notes that:

Politicians have realized that they can silence the speech of those with different political viewpoints by public bullying.

For politically “sensitive” subjects, authorities do not accept deviations from their official story. This deleterious situation has existed since long before the pandemic. Today, it is about vaccine policy, but yesterday, about the war on terrorism, about Russiagate, about the corruption of Joe Biden, and many other topics. Greenwald explains:

When it comes to censorship of politically adverse content, sometimes explicit censorship demands are unnecessary. Where a climate of censorship prevails, companies anticipate what those in power want them to do by anticipatorily self-censoring to avoid official retaliation. Speech is chilled without direct censorship orders being required.

Concretely, this means that when Joe Rogan is publicly criticized by the authorities, countless other content is never published. This process of media self-censorship, without open and direct coercion from the state, is of course part of the propaganda system that Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky famously called “manufacturing consent.”

For intrepid journalists who still take the risk of publicly challenging the official consensus, the lucrative and prestigious positions in mainstream media are no longer accessible. As shown by Greenwald, the risk to their reputation that they incur is real, because they are also then systematically victims of unscrupulous practices, such as being accused of being a conspiracy theorist or of inciting terrorism. These accusations, usually completely unfounded, can destroy careers in the toxic politically correct environment that exists in the United States. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. The authorities go much further than these mafia methods of intimidation. The main social networks in the US are now filled with reliable servants of the state, who filter and deplatform persons or publications at the request of various state institutions, the same way that mainstream media has behaved for ages.

With respect to covid vaccine policy, for example, Facebook and YouTube today systematically expunge comments and videos that are not in line with the official version of governments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO). The fact that these institutions have often changed their opinion about which health policy to recommend does not seem to be a problem.

A Constitution Is Not Sufficient Protection

This situation with Joe Rogan should remind everyone that the fight for individual freedoms, including freedom of speech and of the press, is a permanent struggle. No document, be it the US Constitution or the Declaration of Human Rights, gives an absolute guarantee against the violations of these freedoms by the state, as shown by many historical examples.

The authoritarian tendencies of nominally democratic governments are nothing new. Indeed, these governments have a natural interest in trying to influence—not to say shape—public opinion. Recent history shows that in collaboration with traditional mainstream media and now social networks, the government is willing to do almost anything to prevent the electorate from understanding its real behavior. The fame of Joe Rogan will at least have contributed a little to exposing this truth. Author:

Finn Andreen

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Milley Misfires – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on May 11, 2021

Two key questions we’d ask at the Pentagon upon hearing of a promotion to Flag officer was either “when did he or she get the lobotomy” or “When is the lobotomy scheduled?”  If it wasn’t a battlefield promotion, and none of them are, we observed that all Generals go to finishing school, and most come out intellectually and morally finished.  This has little to do with the US as we like to think of it, nothing to do with race or gender, and everything to do with the empire and power.

Milley also spoke of how the oath to defend the Constitution will be your “moral center.”  This is not only laughable, but also tragic.  Many of our military people who succeed inside the real system (not Hollywood’s version of the military) are those most morally flexible, or most ignorant, of the US Constitution and the nature of the US “Republic” in the 21st century.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/05/karen-kwiatkowski/milley-misfires/

By Karen Kwiatkowski

General Milley, Chief of the Joint Chiefs, addressed the 21 ROTC commissionees out of the Howard University Class of 2021.

As with most politicians, his words can be revealing, if you know where to look.

Speaking at the HCBU Howard, he asks “Where are the African American Generals?” He might have asked where the Black generals were, but the media corrected him on that. As part of the Biden administration, he is allowed no evil or untoward intention.  Milley’s point that 2% of the pilots forty years ago were Black, and that this percentage persists today, and that only 2 of 41 (20%) four star generals are Black, might actually speak to different challenge – a challenge of perspective, as this 2019 demographic fact sheet illustrates.

If Black Americans are 16% of the military, and yet currently 20% of the flag officers, we probably don’t have a performance or a promotion problem at all.  Focusing on low pilot numbers could indeed speak to an overall national statistic of minority pilots in the commercial arena, where we find 3% Black commercial pilots.  A trend that is improving daily, and for which “improvement” in the trend is somewhat irrelevant, as piloting an airplane remains a field where performance is still a primary focus, and poor performance tends to eliminate poor performers of all creeds, colors and genders.

See the rest here

Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, farmer and aspiring anarcho-capitalist. She ran for Congress in Virginia’s 6th district in 2012.

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State Legislators Are Working To Reign in the Empire | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on April 7, 2021

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/state-legislators-are-working-to-reign-in-the-empire/

by Brian P McGlinchey

Fed up after years of relentless National Guard deployments in undeclared wars, state lawmakers across the country are pushing legislation that would prohibit the use of Guard units in combat zones without a formal declaration of war by Congress.

The bills are being promoted by BringOurTroopsHome.US, a self-described organization of “right-of-center” veterans working to end American involvement in “endless wars” and restore congressional authority over war-making. The libertarian 10th Amendment Center is also backing the cause.

The proposed laws would require governors to determine the constitutionality of orders that place Guard units on federal active duty; where they’re deemed unconstitutional, the governor is required to take action to prevent the unit from being surrendered to federal control and sent into harm’s way.

The first “Defend the Guard” bill was conceived and introduced by Air Force veteran and West Virginia state legislator Pat McGeehan. While no state has enacted the law yet, interest is spreading widely, with legislators now pushing the measure in 31 states.

Conservative Veterans Taking Point

BringOurTroopsHome.US is led by Dan McKnight, a 13-year veteran of the Marine Corps Reserve, active duty Army and Idaho Army National Guard whose military service ended after he was injured in Afghanistan.

McKnight and many other veterans leading the drive against the War on Terror are from the right side of the political spectrum. That’s a sharp contrast to the typical antiwar veteran of the Vietnam era, but McKnight says vets from both wars share a common experience.

Today’s veterans “are coming home and saying the same thing (Vietnam vets did): ‘What was the point of that? What was our mission? We have no mission, we have no definition of success, we have no clear path to victory, we have no idea what victory means and we’re there without a constitutional authority to send us there’,” he says.

“Every one of us raised our hands and swore an oath to the Constitution…and when it says Congress shall be the only body to declare war, we take that to heart. And when Congress doesn’t do it, we understand bad things can happen: long, endless foreign misadventures,” says McKnight.

In a 2019 Pew Research poll, 64% of veterans said the war in Iraq wasn’t worth fighting; 58% said the same of Afghanistan. A January Concerned Veterans for America/YouGov poll found two-thirds or more of veterans support full withdrawals from both countries.

“The right-of-center veterans are now echoing the message of left-of-center veterans, and it’s hard to ignore when veterans from the entire political spectrum are saying the same thing: Enough already—if you want us to go and bleed and die and spend our lives and your treasure in a foreign land, then Congress should put their name on the line before we put our boots on the ground,” McKnight says.

That’s what the Constitution demands. In an impassioned speech at the West Virginia legislature last month, McGeehan quoted James Madison: “The Constitution supposes what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war and most prone to it. It has accordingly, with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature.”

Deployments’ Steep Toll

The National Guard has played a major role in America’s post-9/11 militarism: As recently as December, more than 57,000 Guard members were deployed around the world.

The federal government’s reliance on the National Guard makes state legislatures an intriguing second front in the drive to curtail the War on Terror. “Defend the Guard” laws also give state lawmakers a rare chance to influence foreign policy—and to impose consequences for the executive branch’s usurpation of war powers.

The heavy reliance on the Guard takes a toll on soldiers, families, neighborhoods and states. The intense pace of National Guard deployments was underscored at a recent Defend the Guard hearing in South Dakota: While opposing “Defend the Guard,” the state adjutant general acknowledged that, during the entire Global War on Terrorism to date, the state has had all its troops home for just 42 days.

McKnight has friends who’ve done a staggering 12 or 13 overseas National Guard deployments. Beyond the risk to life and limb, and the hardships imposed on individuals, families and marriages, he says communities also pay a price.

Guard members “are police officers, tradesmen, mechanics, schoolteachers, attorneys. (When) they have to leave that job behind, it puts a burden on the community,” says McKnight. Upon their return, Guard members are generally guaranteed the option to reclaim their jobs—but that sometimes means displacing those who filled their positions while they were away, compounding the disruptive effect.

Deployments also prevent National Guard units from responding to crises at home—their primary reason for existing. For example:

  • When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005, thousands of the states’ National Guard soldiers were deployed to Iraq. Mississippi’s 223rd Engineer Battalion returned to repair hurricane damage—but was ordered to leave its equipment in Iraq for use by other units.
  • In 2020, as Oregon endured some of its worst wildfires ever, half the state’s National Guard helicopters were in Afghanistan, including all its CH-47 Chinooks—dual-rotor choppers capable of carrying 26,000-pound payloads and ideal for use in firefighting. The Oregon Guard did what it could with Blackhawk helicopters that have one tenth the lifting power.

The Empire Strikes Back

When Defend the Guard measures are introduced in state legislatures, the national security establishment and its allies emerge to defend the status quo—by hook or by crook.

In South Dakota, McKnight says, “the military-industrial complex…sent a two-star general to testify…and made all kinds of threats, and insinuated the state would lose their National Guard if they passed this bill, which is simply not true.”

Weeks ago, Republican Idaho Representative Joe Palmer, who chairs the state’s Transportation & Defense Committee, seemed to resort to underhanded tactics to kill a Defend the Guard bill.

He put the measure to an initial procedural vote in the committee, and declared it to have failed by voice vote. Video of the proceedings, however, shows the result of the voice vote to be unclear at best, and McKnight says his group’s post-vote polling of members suggests the measure would have advanced had Palmer taken a recorded vote.

If Palmer didn’t already know he should play fair with veterans who are trying to prevent fellow citizen-soldiers from dying in unconstitutional wars, he may be learning that lesson now: McKnight says his group facilitated an emergency meeting of the GOP committee in Palmer’s home town, which is now considering a resolution censuring Palmer for his conduct.

“If you want to play parliamentary tricks and the price of your tricks is the blood of my brothers and sisters who (deploy) over and over again, then we’re going to take some blood of our own, and we’re going to do that the way politicians understand, and that’s with voters in the primary and the general election,” says McKnight.

Sometimes, the establishment’s machinations are done away from cameras. In a 2015 interview, West Virginia’s McGeehan said he was summoned to a meeting in the Speaker’s office with the commander of the state National Guard. The general said he’d received a call from the Pentagon, threatening that, if Defend the Guard became law, West Virginia bases would find their way onto the list of installations targeted for closure.

Liz Cheney Intervenes to Thwart Wyoming Bill

McKnight says “the most offensive opposition that we’ve faced” came from U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney.

“When we pushed the Defend the Guard bill in Wyoming last year, she or her staff contacted members of the Wyoming legislature and said, ‘If this passes in Wyoming, I will personally see to it that two C-130 aircraft are stripped from Wyoming and sent to Texas’,” says McKnight, who was in Cheyenne to support the bill, along with U.S. Senator Rand Paul.

Bethany Baldes, Wyoming state director of BringOurTroopsHome.US, was also on hand. She too says lawmakers told her they received calls from Cheney’s office that included threats to send new C-130 cargo planes to Texas. (Cheney’s communications director has not replied to an invitation to comment on this story.)

The measure failed, 35-22. A statement signed by a group of Wyoming senators opposing the measure seemed to turn logic on its head by claiming the bill “calls into question Wyoming’s support for our soldiers and airmen in the National Guard.”

That episode was McKnight’s second jarring encounter with Cheney, whom he describes as a “warmonger heiress of a military-industrial fortune.” Months before, he and other veterans met with Cheney in Washington to urge her to support the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

“We went into Liz Cheney’s office and we asked her, ‘What conditions must be met on the ground for you to support ending the war in Afghanistan and bringing our troops home?’ And she said, ‘I don’t think I could ever support that position’.”

Pressing the issue, the veterans asked Cheney how long troops should remain. “She looked us stone-faced in the eye and said, ‘Forever. American troops will be in Afghanistan forever’,” says McKnight. “That’s when we decided it was time to step away from the swamp and work in the states, and force the states to force Congress’s hand.”

This article was originally featured at Stark Realities

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Who Owns Your Face? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 25, 2021

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/02/andrew-p-napolitano/who-owns-your-face/

By Andrew P. Napolitano

After listening to Dr. Anthony Fauci suggest last weekend that we should expect to be wearing two masks on our faces everywhere we go until the end of 2022, I began thinking again about first principles.

Fauci is entitled to express his opinions. Yet, because he is the president’s chief adviser on COVID-related medical matters, I cringed when I heard what he said. Was this a trial balloon or did he mean it literally? Are these suggestions or will they become commands with the purported force of law?

Because the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, it governs the government wherever it goes and whatever it does. The original purpose of the Constitution was twofold: to establish the federal government and to limit its regulatory and taxing powers to the 17 discrete powers articulated in Article I.

The former took place in 1789 when the Constitution was ratified. The latter has been a dismal failure.

The federal government recognizes next to no limits to its powers, no matter which political party controls Congress and the White House. The feds believe that they can right any wrong, tax any event and regulate any behavior — subject only to the express prohibitions in the Constitution. Even when there is a prohibition, such as, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” Congress has found ways around it. To the federal government, “no law” does not mean “no law.” Just ask the folks who have been prosecuted for their speech.

This is known as the Wilsonian model, named after President Woodrow Wilson, who advanced it shamelessly. All of his presidential successors have done the same.

Before Wilson, for the most part, and except for the Civil War years, the federal government recognized the limitations imposed upon it by the Constitution and, for the most part, stayed within their confines. This is known as the Madisonian model, named after President James Madison who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The first eight amendments in the Bill of Rights articulate negative rights. That is, the amendments don’t grant rights; they restrain the government from interfering with rights that already existed when the amendments were ratified. The Fifth and the 14th Amendments expressly require that the government prove fault and harm at a jury trial before it can interfere with property rights.

See the rest here

Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written nine books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.

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A Note on the Second Amendment – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 17, 2021

And neither does the federal government have any authority whatsoever under the Constitution to establish or mandate gun-free zones, background checks, psychological evaluations, training courses, waiting periods, trigger locks, gun purchase limits and age restrictions, gun-barrel lengths, concealed weapons laws, licensing of gun dealers, gun-owner databases, gun licensing, gun registration, or gun insurance.

Too bad that Republicans in Congress support most of these things, otherwise most federal gun laws would have been repealed when Republicans had absolute control of the government for over four years under George W. Bush and for two years under Donald Trump.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/02/laurence-m-vance/a-note-on-the-second-amendment/

By Laurence M. Vance

On January 4, 2020, on just the second day of the 117th Congress, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), introduced the Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act (H.R.127) “to provide for the licensing of firearm and ammunition possession and the registration of firearms, and to prohibit the possession of certain ammunition.” The bill is named after a Pakistani Muslim exchange student who was shot to death in a Santa Fe, Texas, high school in 2018, although seven other students and two teachers were murdered as well.

So far the bill has no cosponsors. That’s a good thing because this is one of the most evil bills ever introduced in Congress (and members of Congress have introduced some utterly evil bills over the years).

Under this bill, “the Attorney General, through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, shall establish a system for licensing the possession of firearms or ammunition in the United States, and for the registration with the Bureau of each firearm present in the United States.”

Here is the registration provision:

Under the firearm registration system, the owner of a firearm shall transmit to the Bureau—(A) the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, the identity of the owner of the firearm, the date the firearm was acquired by the owner, and where the firearm is or will be stored; and (B) a notice specifying the identity of any person to whom, and any period of time during which, the firearm will be loaned to the person.

The Attorney General shall establish and maintain a database of all firearms registered pursuant to this subsection. The Attorney General shall make the contents of the database accessible to all members of the public, all Federal, State, and local law enforcement authorities, all branches of the United States Armed Forces, and all State and local governments, as defined by the Bureau.

Here is the licensing provision:

Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the Attorney General shall issue to an individual a license to possess a firearm and ammunition if the individual—(i) has attained 21 years of age; (ii) after applying for the license—

(I) undergoes a criminal background check conducted by the national instant criminal background check system established under section 103 of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, and the check does not indicate that possession of a firearm by the individual would violate subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 or State law;

(II) undergoes a psychological evaluation conducted in accordance with paragraph (2), and the evaluation does not indicate that the individual is psychologically unsuited to possess a firearm; and

(III) successfully completes a training course, certified by the Attorney General, in the use, safety, and storage of firearms, that includes at least 24 hours of training; and

(iii) demonstrates that, on issuance of the license, the individual will have in effect an insurance policy issued under subsection (d).

The insurance policy is issued by the Attorney General and costs $800.

It is surprising that Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) didn’t mention this bill during his appearance on the Laura Ingraham show late last month. According to his congressional website:

A strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Congressman Scalise has sponsored and cosponsored legislation protecting citizens’ right to keep and bear arms. The ability of law abiding citizens to bear arms and the right to self-defense is a fundamental constitutional right of every law-abiding American. Congressman Scalise supports law-abiding citizens’ ability to purchase firearms and national reciprocity for concealed carry permit holders. Congressman Scalise’s pro-gun stance has earned him an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. A member of the Congressional Second Amendment Task Force, Congressman Scalise will continue fighting to protect every citizen’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Likewise, there is no mention of this bill Scalise’s website, not under press releases, and not even under the Second Amendment section.

In his appearance on Ingraham’s show just hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a news conference where she engaged in “deliberately scaring people to distract from Biden’s leftist, job-killing agenda—and to set the stage for a Democrat gun grab,” Scalise said:

Look, in the last eight days, president Biden’s probably killed over a million American jobs with these executive orders he did on everything from banning leases—we see that in South Louisiana, the damage it will do to hardworking jobs, to Keystone, to the Paris accord that’s going to kill manufacturing in America.

That’s what they’ve done in the policy, and so look, if there was a real, credible threat that she knew of, no matter who it is, a member of Congress or somebody else, go to the authorities with that. And she didn’t do that. She goes to the press, which tells you what she is really trying to do is scare people, create distractions.

Another thing they’re trying to do, Laura, is take away our Second Amendment rights. Make no doubt—they’re going to be coming sometime this year with a bill to take away our second amendment rights. So they’re building this predicate that, “Oh, my God, everybody better be afraid of somebody with a gun,” and that’s going to be their attempt to then go take away the guns.

As pointed out above, that bill has already been introduced.

I note also that Scalise twice used the expression “Second Amendment rights.” Scalise, like the vast majority of Democrats, Republicans, liberals, and conservatives in Congress, the media, and the general public, misconstrue the nature of the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment was added to the Constitution as part of the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution), which the requisite number of states approved on December 15, 1791. The twenty-seven words of the Second Amendment read: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” It does not read: “The people shall have the right to keep and bear arms.”

The Second Amendment confers no positive right. It recognizes a pre-existing right. It is an additional limitation on federal power to infringe upon the right of the people to bear arms aside from the fact that no authority is granted to the federal government in its limited, enumerated powers to infringe upon this right in the first place.

Even if the Second Amendment only applied to the states’ ability to maintain militias—as many liberals and progressives say—or as subject to some other interpretation that limits its language to militias, that would still not affect Americans’ natural right to keep and bear arms. And even if the Second Amendment didn’t exist, Americans would still have the natural right to keep and bear arms.

This is because there is no authority granted to the federal government by the Constitution to ban, regulate, or otherwise infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Therefore, the federal government has no authority whatsoever under the Constitution to ban or regulate any type of handgun, shotgun, or rifle; large-capacity magazine; bump stock; ammunition; assault weapon; automatic weapon; machine gun, grenade, or bazooka.

And neither does the federal government have any authority whatsoever under the Constitution to establish or mandate gun-free zones, background checks, psychological evaluations, training courses, waiting periods, trigger locks, gun purchase limits and age restrictions, gun-barrel lengths, concealed weapons laws, licensing of gun dealers, gun-owner databases, gun licensing, gun registration, or gun insurance.

Too bad that Republicans in Congress support most of these things, otherwise most federal gun laws would have been repealed when Republicans had absolute control of the government for over four years under George W. Bush and for two years under Donald Trump.

The Best of Laurence M. Vance Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom; War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism; War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy; King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, and many other books. His newest books are Free Trade or Protectionism? and The Free Society.

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Pennsylvanians May Amend Constitution to Stop Endless Lockdowns | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on February 16, 2021

While covid has allowed the executive branch to run wild, PA is actually structured in a way that makes the decentralization of power easier. PA has the second-largest state legislature, surpassed only by New Hampshire. Critics who have been trying to reduce the size of the legislature state openly that with a smaller legislature those in power would be able to more quickly and easily enact their will with less resistance. PA also has the third-highest number of local governments in the country, which, as I pointed out in 2020, facilitates the stymieing of the state government’s efforts to exert centralized control. Removing the governor’s ability to unilaterally declare perpetual emergencies will help continue this tradition of decentralizing power and authority in the commonwealth.

https://mises.org/wire/pennsylvanians-may-amend-constitution-stop-endless-lockdowns

Zachary Yost

On Friday, February 6, the Pennsylvania (PA) state legislature gave the final approval to put three state constitutional amendments on the ballot for a popular referendum scheduled for May 18. Two of these amendments address the power of the state governor to declare and renew emergency declarations and are both a direct result of conflict between the Republican-controlled legislature and the Democrat governor, Tom Wolf.

The first amendment, titled the Pennsylvania Emergency Declaration Amendment (2021), would add a section to the state constitution that would limit any disaster emergency declaration to a maximum of twenty-one days unless the state legislature voted to extend the order. Additionally, the legislature would be required to pass laws related to each class of emergency enumerated in the amendment and the governor would be forbidden from declaring another emergency based on “the same or substantially similar facts” without a resolution from the state legislature granting that power.

The second amendment, titled the Pennsylvania Legislative Resolution to Extend or Terminate Emergency Declaration Amendment (2021), would grant the state legislature the authority to extend or terminate an emergency declaration by a simple majority vote that is not subject to veto by the governor. This amendment is the direct result of a confusing conflict that took place in June 2020 after the state assembly passed a concurrent resolution to end the coronavirus disaster declaration. Supporters of the resolution argued that it was not necessary for the governor to sign it, while the governor obviously vehemently disagreed. The case went to the Democrat-controlled state supreme court (state supreme court justices are elected in PA) where it was ruled that the governor did have the authority to veto the resolution and prevent it from going into effect. This amendment would explicitly change that and allow the disaster emergency declaration to be ended unilaterally by the legislature.

Only time will tell if these amendments will be enacted into law, but it is worth noting that all ten of the constitutional amendments that have made it to the referendum stage since 1995 have been approved by voters. In fact, a constitutional amendment hasn’t been rejected since 1981. It is yet to be seen whether or not that track record will hold.

Whether they are enacted or not, some way to curtail the governor’s emergency power is urgently needed in the face of the egregious and seemingly unending violations of the traditional rights and liberties of Pennsylvanians in the face of the government’s coronavirus response. In September 2020, a federal judge, William Strickland, ruled that PA’s coronavirus restrictions were unconstitutional and egregious in numerous ways. Strickland noted that the rule-making procedure for the emergency was essentially compiled by an opaque committee with no public accountability, stating that “the manner in which Defendants, through their policy team, designed, implemented, and administered the business closures is shockingly arbitrary.”

Furthermore, the emergency rules were written in such a way that there is no way to end them. Even when the state authorities loosened lockdown restrictions, it was not a “return to normal” but a suspension of the lockdowns, as if those restrictions were the default state of legal existence in the commonwealth for the indefinite future. Strickland stated that in times of emergency some legal deference is due to authorities but “that deference cannot go on forever” and that “the record makes clear that Defendants have no anticipated end-date to their emergency interventions.”

As Ryan McMaken noted at the time, “So, what we have in Pennsylvania is basically a small secret ruling committee which fancies itself the new permanent ruling authority of Pennsylvania indefinitely. There is no end date, no public rule-making process, and no transparency at all.” 

Unfortunately, the appeals court granted the state’s request for a stay of Stickman’s ruling while the government appeals the ruling, and the state’s authority has remained unchanged.

What is even more unfortunate, the Wolf administration has argued for months that its powers to put the millions of inhabitants of PA under veritable house arrest and to close businesses at its capricious whim do not even stem from the emergency declaration but from the Disease Prevention and Control Act. So even if both amendments are added to the Pennsylvania Constitution, the reality is that the governor’s restrictions will likely once again end up in front of the state supreme court that has continually deferred to Wolf’s ukases since the pandemic began.

Even though these amendments may not be silver bullets, they will help to reduce the use of emergency declarations. PA has actually been in a constant “state of emergency” since January 10, 2018, when Wolf declared a state of emergency due to the abuse of opioid medications. The state of emergency has been extended twelve times since then. While it is obvious that opioid abuse is a major problem here in PA, it is grossly inappropriate to have a perpetual state of emergency over the issue. If it truly were an “emergency,” then three years would have been more than enough time to enact legislation to make the necessary changes that are currently in effect only as a result of the governor’s unilateral action.

Not only will these amendments reduce the abuse of emergency declarations, but they will also help to decentralize power within PA. While covid has allowed the executive branch to run wild, PA is actually structured in a way that makes the decentralization of power easier. PA has the second-largest state legislature, surpassed only by New Hampshire. Critics who have been trying to reduce the size of the legislature state openly that with a smaller legislature those in power would be able to more quickly and easily enact their will with less resistance. PA also has the third-highest number of local governments in the country, which, as I pointed out in 2020, facilitates the stymieing of the state government’s efforts to exert centralized control. Removing the governor’s ability to unilaterally declare perpetual emergencies will help continue this tradition of decentralizing power and authority in the commonwealth. Author:

Zachary Yost

Zachary Yost is a freelance writer and Mises U alum. You can subscribe to his newsletter here.

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