July 25, 2016

Dallas Police Chief, Diamond Reynolds and Yale Go Libertarian After Shootings

Black_Lives_Matter_protestAfter the spate of shootings involving police (as both alleged perpetrators and victims) last summer, I suggested limiting the role of the police to responding to emergency calls and serving warrants. A year later, the article is being widely circulated again following a tragically similar series of events.

If the comments or e-mail responses are any indication, this seems to horrify most conservatives in the so-called “land of the free,” even though limiting the government to reactive (rather than proactive) power is the whole idea behind the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments.

But while the White House regurgitates its gun control talking points and conservatives predictably line up with the police, hardcore libertarian ideas are coming from some unlikely sources.

Diamond Reynolds, the grieving partner of Philando Castile, who died after being shot during a routine traffic stop, didn’t demand a government solution for blacks being disproportionately stopped and/or shot by police. She said “the powers of those whose job it is to protect the people need to be curtailed.”

At least one prominent member of the police forces agrees. In the aftermath of the Dallas tragedy, in which five cops and two civilians were killed, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said cops are trying to do too much.

“We’re asking cops to do too much in this country,” Brown said at a briefing Monday. “We are. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cops handle it. Here in Dallas we got a loose dog problem; let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail, let’s give it to the cops. That’s too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems.”

Just a few weeks back, The Atlantic ran a story in which Yale Law professor Stephen L. Carter acknowledged a reality libertarians are often ridiculed for pointing out:

“Every law is violent. We try not to think about this, but we should. On the first day of law school, I tell my Contracts students never to argue for invoking the power of law except in a cause for which they are willing to kill. They are suitably astonished, and often annoyed. But I point out that even a breach of contract requires a judicial remedy; and if the breacher will not pay damages, the sheriff will sequester his house and goods; and if he resists the forced sale of his property, the sheriff might have to shoot him.”

But the most strikingly libertarian view came from none other than Black Lives Matter activist Jessica Drisu:

“Here are the solutions. We need to abolish the police, period. Demilitarize the police, disarm the police, and we need to come up with community solutions for transformative justice,” said Jessica Disu, drawing some shocked reactions.”

Murray Rothbard smiled in his grave.

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly displayed typical establishment tone deafness in response, asking, “How do we protect the community if we abolish the police?”

Disu had just told her how she proposed to protect the community. But Kelly, though highly intelligent and trained in the law, just couldn’t muster enough imagination to even consider that perhaps securing life and property could be handled privately.

For all of the twentieth century, Americans led by establishment media turned to the government during times of crisis. But after several generations of government failure in the wars on drugs, poverty and terrorism, better informed Americans seem to be thinking out of the box. And libertarian ideas are beginning to blossom in the most unlikely places.

It’s no accident that a libertarian presidential candidate is polling in double digits for the first time in the party’s 40-year history. Imagine what would happen if he were allowed into the presidential debates.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The only effective active shooter plan: Shoot back

gun free zonesWednesday’s  Buffalo News print edition features a front page piece by News Staff Reporter Gene Warner entitled, “Everyone should have a personal plan to survive in case of ‘active shooter.” As one might expect from this far left wing, Hillary Clinton mouthpiece, the ‘personal plan’ recommended by Warner’s full-page word blizzard leaves out the most effective, proven plan for dealing with an active shooter: shoot back.

Warner’s advice isn’t necessarily bad, but it only applies in a specific environment: the so-called “gun free zones” where all mass shootings in recent history have taken place. Orlando was no exception. Florida law prohibits firearms to be carried in any establishment serving alcohol.

The News writer trips over himself to avoid dealing with the obvious: active shooters aren’t able to commit mass shootings in places where the right to bear arms is respected because they get shot themselves.

That somewhat invalidates Warner’s assertion that workplaces face “the dilemma” of balancing an open environment with more stringent security measures. It’s only a dilemma when one assumes there is not a third alternative – to allow employees and/or visitors to carry personal firearms if they choose to.

To deny that this would have saved lives in Orlando last weekend is to sever all connection with reality. Certainly, the perpetrator would have killed someone, probably multiple people, even if some of the patrons were armed. One cannot expect even trained professionals to react before a single victim is shot.

But this man shot over 100 people, killing 49. If even 5% of the several hundred people in that nightclub were armed and reasonably proficient civilians, they would have put him down before he reached anywhere near that number.

No argument against this scenario holds water. Would the environment have been more dangerous with 8 or 10 people returning fire in a crowded club? No. Certainly, they may have hit innocent bystanders while shooting at the perp. But we’re talking about a body count of 49 with an unarmed clientele. Do the math.

The politicians and media currently demanding the government “do something” about Orlando would like to make the entire nation, including your home and all public spaces, “gun free zones.” In other words, they want to create the same conditions everywhere that allowed a single shooter to open fire on hundreds of people with no expectation of resistance.

The right to bear arms is not just some academic principle to be debated in an auditorium by professors. The right to bear arms is inextricably tied to the right to life itself, which is not the right not to die under any circumstances, but specifically the right not to be killed by another person. The only way to exercise the right to life here in the real world is by defending yourself against someone trying to kill you.

Denying individuals the right to bear arms eliminates their ability to exercise their right to life in a world where bad people are going to get guns, even when the law prohibits them from doing so.

In the wake of the tragedy in Orlando, we’ll hear much about a “national conversation” that “we” have to have about “sensible gun control.”

Allow this writer to translate that sentence. “We” means politicians and their media mouthpieces. “National conversation” means a nonstop, multi-media attack on the right to bear arms. “Sensible gun control” is about increasing the restrictions on gun ownership as part of the long, incremental march towards banning them entirely.

The Buffalo News is just the local affiliate of this massive political force which wants to control all aspects of your life, from the way you educate your children to the way your run your business to the people you choose to associate with to the amount of water in your toilet. Since many Buffalonians innocently rely on this left wing propagandist for all of their news, let me pose a few questions it’s safe to assume the Buffalo Pravda won’t:

  1. How many lives would have been saved if guns weren’t banned in Florida bars and at least a dozen or so (possibly more) patrons of Pulse were armed?
  2. How do the actions of less than a dozen “active shooters” justify infringing the rights of 315 million other people who haven’t shot anyone?
  3. If an individual is legally denied the right to own a gun and is subsequently killed by a home invader or even a criminal in a public space, do those who prohibited his or her gun ownership have some responsibility in the wrongful death?
  4. Why don’t the lives saved in Philadelphia, Plymouth, Spartanburg and Atlanta by civilians carrying guns matter? Why are “we” willing to sacrifice their lives in the name of “gun control?”
  5. Why are all of these shootings occurring in “gun free zones?”

The writers at The Buffalo News don’t have to agree with gun proponents, but the failure to even acknowledge the existence of another point of view is further proof that what this publication is selling isn’t news; it’s propaganda. Maybe it’s time they had some healthy competition. Take the survey the below to let us know what you think.

 

Does Buffalo need another voice on politics besides the Buffalo News?

Yes
No
I don’t know

Survey Maker

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Trump Protesters, Free Speech and Property Rights

Protestors rally outside the Plaza Hotel on December 11, 2015 in New York, where Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump was speaking at a fund-raising luncheon for the Pennsylvania Republican Party. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump had another big night on Tuesday, winning at least three states, including winner-take-all Florida and its 99 delegates. This despite protesters disrupting Trump rallies in Ohio and Kansas and shutting Trump down in Chicago.

The protests have both pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions invoking the First Amendment. Pro-Trumpers say the protesters are violating Trump’s and their own right to free speech. Anti-Trumpers say they are exercising their own. The media are all over the road. The worst assertion is that some sort of “balance” or “compromise” between the two groups’ rights is necessary. It isn’t.

First, let’s get the First Amendment out of the way. There is no way any private citizen can violate the First Amendment. The First Amendment doesn’t govern the citizens. It governs the government. It begins, “Congress shall make no law…”

Originally, this restriction applied only to the federal government. Since a 1947 Supreme Court decision, the courts have considered the First Amendment applicable to state governments as well. But in no case does it apply to private citizens. So, let’s please dispense with statements that include “violating their First Amendment rights,” in relation to Trump, his supporters or their opponents.

The right of free speech doesn’t come from the First Amendment. The right preexists the government. The First Amendment merely guarantees the government won’t violate it, in keeping with the purpose of government itself, according to the Declaration of Independence: to secure these (natural, preexistent) rights.” The First Amendment recognizes the right preexists government explicitly when it says “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.”

We don’t talk enough about natural, inalienable rights. “Inalienable” means they can’t be taken away, not even by majority vote. So how do we know where one person’s rights end and another person’s begin? The answer can be summed up in two words: property rights.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The encryption court order to Apple is conscription

Tim_Cook_WWDC_2012Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have weighed in on the controversy over a government court order requiring Apple, Inc. to develop software enabling the FBI to hack into an iPhone recovered in the home of the San Bernardino shooters. The iPhone’s security system is encrypted and automatically erases data after a certain number of unsuccessful attempts to enter a correct password to unlock the phone’s home screen.

CEO Tim Cook has issued an open letter explaining why he is resisting the order.

Cruz said the government “had the better argument” and its request was “consistent with the Fourth Amendment” because the phone was obtained pursuant to a legitimate search warrant that was specific to the place to be searched and the items to be seized.

Trump based his support of the government on the same foundation he based most of his positions: nothing.

No one is disputing the government has a right to the phone. But that doesn’t mean it has the power to force Apple to create a new product to help them.

Cook’s letter and much of the commentary by civil liberties defenders have concentrated on the potential security risk to the millions of other iPhone users, both from government intelligence agents and criminals (but I repeat myself). While these concerns are serious and relevant, they seem to concede the answer to several previous questions:

Can the government issue a writ compelling a private company to commit significant time, labor and other company resources to assist in a criminal investigation? Why does this not violate the 13th Amendment? If the government can compel Apple to work for it when it is unable to do its job alone, who is immune from being conscripted in the name of national security?

The government claims access to the phone is crucial to gather evidence, including the possible involvement of others, including overseas terrorists, who may have directed or otherwise been involved in the attack. But given what the government already knows about this crime and its perpetrators, that seems unlikely.

It’s more likely this is just the excuse the government has been looking for to pick a legal fight over encryption in general. That there is any information anywhere that is beyond its reach is intolerable to the intelligence and law enforcement communities. They prefer the populace figuratively and (sometimes) literally naked before them.

Contrary to the mantra you’ll hear repeated ad nauseum over the course of this battle, there is no question of “balancing liberty and security” here. The government has a perfect record of failure in never preventing a single terrorist attack it hadn’t fabricated itself to entrap would-be terrorists, despite access to metadata on every phone call and e-mail made to or from anyone in this country. Allowing them even greater access into the personal information of millions of innocent people isn’t going to help them improve.

The government isn’t supposed to be trying to prevent anything. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments assume the government can only act after a crime has been committed. This does not leave the citizenry exposed like sitting ducks. The Second Amendment assumes individuals can and will defend themselves.

It’s time to stop attacking the Bill of Rights to double down on what doesn’t work. We’ll all be safer and freer if we make the government more strictly obey all ten of those amendments.

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

McConnell and Obama Both Wrong on Scalia Replacement

220px-Obama_and_Mitch_McConnellOne of the dumber debates in recent history has broken out in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that President Obama shouldn’t nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia because Obama is in the last year of his final term.

Opponents, including the president himself, have responded that the Senate has a constitutional duty to bring Obama’s appointments to a vote and to confirm one, if qualified.

Both sides are completely wrong. The President has the legitimate authority to nominate a successor on every day of his presidency, up to and including the very last day. That precedent was set by no less than the second president of the United States. As Elizabeth Warren astutely observed,

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can’t find a clause that says “…except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic President.

But neither can be found the words “shall bring to an up or down vote” or anything to the effect that the Senate is required to take action on the President’s nominees. The Constitution was deliberately constructed so that inaction would be the starting point in all matters. The reason for the separation of powers was to ensure that things didn’t get done efficiently within the federal government, because efficient government is a threat to liberty.

Read the rest on The Huffington Post…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

No Hillary, Donald et al, The President’s First Job is Not to Keep Americans Safe

n-CONSTITUTION-large570The Democratic debate on Saturday proved one thing: powerful interests that transcend the political parties have an agenda. That’s the only explanation for the talking point mindlessly repeated by virtually all of the presidential candidates in both parties: “It is the first job of the president to keep Americans safe.”

Maybe it’s a slogan that’s been thrown around in Council on Foreign Relations meetings or some other gathering of the wonderful people who make all the decisions for us rubes. But wherever it came from, it was certainly no coincidence Americans heard it from virtually every candidate, Democrat or Republican, during the past two debates. It would have been only slightly spookier if they heaped effusive praise on Raymond Shaw.

More important than it being creepy and patronizing is that it’s completely wrong. The first job of the president is not to keep Americans safe. It is to defend their liberty.

 

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Edward Snowden Is Still a Hero, Regardless of ISIS, San Bernardino and Paris

APTOPIX France SnowdenIt’s official. The terrorists are winning. They have achieved the one and only goal of terrorism itself: to achieve a political outcome based on the “terror” caused by highly publicized attacks on civilians.

Just days after Dagen McDowell of Fox Business blamed the San Bernardino shooting on Edward Snowden and the USA Freedom Act, Joe Scarborough called for “post-Edward Snowden legislation that stops this person-to-person encrypted messaging” on Morning Joe. He also said, “We’re going to have to give the CIA powers to interrogate these terrorists to see where the next attack’s going to come from.”

As the CIA has always had the power to interrogate anyone it wishes to, this can only be code for “torture.” Lest this be written off as the ravings of MSNBC’s token Republican, his Democratic guest agreed wholeheartedly. Scarborough had either the audacity or the cluelessness (it’s always hard to tell) to end the segment by riffing on a Bush/Cheney mantra, saying: “The world changed after Paris.”

Anything both Fox and MSNBC are trumpeting in unison can reasonably be assumed to be completely wrong.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

We Need to Really Gut the Military

cracked-american-flag-jpgU.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told the Harvard Kennedy School Tuesday that Americans will be grappling with violent extremism for generations to come. If that feels like déjà vu, you’re not imagining things. Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark O. Schisslersaid the same thing – in 2006.

Schissler was expressing concern at the time over wavering public support for a war that had already lasted longer than WWII. His concern was warranted. The Republican Party had just suffered a shellacking in the mid-term elections, largely due to public dissatisfaction with “neoconservative” foreign policy. They would lose the White House two years later for largely the same reasons.

American voters may have believed they “threw the bums out,” as Carroll Quigley might put it, but the foreign policy never changed. The Obama administration may have used different tactics, but it’s been even more interventionist than Bush’s. It’s certainly intervened in more countries.

Bush and the 2000s Republicans were called neoconservatives, but they weren’t. Their way of seeing the world is classic conservatism, straight out of Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes not only saw all individuals, but all nations, in a de facto state of war with each other, in the absence of some overwhelming external force “keeping them in awe.”

This was the inspiration for the British Empire, which sought to “civilize” the world by force of arms. It eventually bled itself dry, its biggest failures occurring on precisely the same ground the United States is bleeding on now.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Thought for the day: Why can’t the U.S. imitate Switzerland?

shutterstock_181475261-643x419Thought for the day: Here’s a compromise I’d be willing to make with the left on the USA imitating a European welfare state: We’d imitate Switzerland. That means:

  1. An extremely limited central government with very low central government taxation (about 11% of GDP)
  2. Each canton/state decides how generous its welfare benefits will be and taxes its citizens accordingly. There is no national health care or centrally-mandated benefits.
  3. Firearms are not only considered a right, but a responsibility (although we wouldn’t mandate militia service – we have plenty who would volunteer)
  4. Nonintervention in foreign affairs in the proud Swiss tradition that even WWII was unnecessary (which it was)

I think that’s fair. How about it, lefties?

*Photo by Orbex

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

A Practical Solution: Run Police Departments Like Fire Departments

n-COP-GUN-large570Do you lie awake at night in constant fear a fire will break out and nothing will be done to put it out?

For the 99% of the population not suffering from pyrophobia or a similar neurosis, the answer to that question is “no,” even though firefighters aren’t patrolling the streets in their big red trucks. They still manage to arrive at the scene of a fire within minutes of an emergency call.

Why can’t police departments be run the same way?

If they were, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and Sandra Bland would be alive today. All three encountered police doing what would be considered outlandish for any other institution charged with public safety: roaming the streets, looking for trouble.

No one had called 911 asking for protection from Scott, Gray or Bland. No judges had issued warrants for their arrests. All three were, at least at the time of their arrests, just walking or driving down the street, minding their own business. They were detained in what are generally considered “routine” but are in reality wholly unnecessary encounters with police.

There has been a lot of digital ink and warm air expended on whether these victims of tragedy were treated differently because of their race. There are compelling arguments on both sides of that question, but no practical solutions offered by anyone. At the end of these discussions there is invariably some vague reference to “more training” or bland platitudes. Everyone knows nothing will change.

I’m going to suggest a solution that will sound radical, even in a country that styles itself “the land of free.” Let’s get cops off the streets, unless responding to a 911 call or serving a warrant issued by a judge. Everyone would be freer and safer, including the police officers themselves.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.