April 23, 2014

Duck Dynasty A&E dispute proves Civil Rights Act obsolete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does anyone really believe Assad used chemical weapons in Syria?

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

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

 

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

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

Elysium: One freedom thumbs up, one down

TAMPA, August 25, 2013 – It is 2154. A small, wealthy elite live on Elysium, a floating paradise orbiting the earth with stately mansions, majestic landscapes, clean air and perpetual sunshine. The rest of humanity lives on overpopulated, diseased and polluted earth. The wealthy enjoy 22nd century medicine that can instantly cure any disease or injury, no matter how severe. The earth dwellers have overcrowded hospitals where care is backwards and rationed.

Read the rest at Communities@ Washington Times…

Zimmerman trial could further damage the Bill of Rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NSA out of control: We the people at fault

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When is Taxpayer Day?

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

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

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

There is no disrespect intended towards the families of anyone who has died in one of the government’s wars. The loss of a child, husband, father or mother is a tragedy, regardless of the circumstances.

Moreover, it is hard not to respect the kind of courage it takes to actually go into combat, regardless of the reasons one may have enlisted.

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

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

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

Does excessive noise help cause big government?

Does excessive noise help cause big government?TAMPA, February 24, 2013 ― “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s all the noise, noise, noise, noise!”

There’s not much to like about The Grinch before his sentimental conversion at the top of Mount Crumpet. But it’s hard not to sympathize with him just a little when he utters those words. If quiet was in short supply in 1966 Whoville, it’s completely nonexistent in 2013 America.

I walked into a Jimmy John’s sub shop last week for the first time in two years. They recently began offering all of their subs as lettuce wraps, making them permissible as an occasional treat for primals. I knew I had missed the delicious #9. What I hadn’t missed was the music. At 12:30 in the afternoon, Jimmy John’s plays it at nightclub volume. Ordering and waiting the 1-2 minutes it takes to get your food is bad enough. Eating there is out of the question.

There is scarcely a restaurant anywhere that doesn’t pipe music throughout its dining room and onto its patio. Gas stations now blare music at customers while they pump their gas. Supermarkets, retail stores at the mall, and even public parks have all followed suit.

If it’s not music, then it’s television. Doctor’s office waiting rooms now bombard the ears and the psyche with vapid programming clattering off every uncarpeted surface. So do most auto repair shops.

There is virtually no spot accessible to the public that does not fill the soundscape with music or television. Even libraries are following the trend.

I know I sound like an old guy in baggy gray pants and a Humphrey Bogart hat, but I’m not. I love music. I love loud music. I played in bands for over twenty years and still like to crank up my Marshall amp and let some AC/DC rip on my vintage guitar.

I have nothing against music or television and certainly respect private property owners’ right to play either as loud as they wish to.

I just wonder when and where 21st century Americans ever experience quiet, outside of their jobs. When do they have the kinds of stimulating conversations with friends that are impossible when shouting over a restaurant sound system? When do they just sit and think, reflect or daydream?

It’s possible that the answer is “never.”

The term “noise pollution” is generally associated with the left and its never ending quest to impede commerce and industry. The war on noise fits nicely into the leftist worldview that when humans are left free to pursue their happiness, they naturally destroy the environment, including the sound environment, causing harm to themselves, each other and (gasp!) their furry co-inhabitants.

But does noise pollution also help cause big government?

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

Disarm the police, not the citizens

TAMPA, February 7, 2013 ― First, the good news. The five-year-old boy kidnapped by a deranged man in Alabama has been rescued unharmed. He is with his family and reportedly “seems to be acting normally.”

The bad news is that some media seem to be using this incident to justify the ongoing militarization of domestic police forces.

“Military tactics, equipment helped authorities end Alabama hostage standoff,” reads today’s Fox News headline. The article describes how law enforcement responded to the hostage situation with what has become the new normal in the former land of the free. They mobilized paramilitary forces to deal with the situation just as an occupying army would deal with “counterinsurgency.”

According to the article, “In many ways, the scene resembled more of a wartime situation than a domestic crime scene as civilian law enforcement relied heavily on military tactics and equipment to end the six-day ordeal.”

Yes, every response by law enforcement seems to resemble a wartime situation these days, something one would think that Americans would be concerned about. Yet, for a nation that was born with a suspicion of standing armies and that wouldn’t tolerate the existence of one during peacetime, virtually no one objects to the increasingly aggressive tactics of local, state and federal police, often acting jointly to address routine local crimes.

One can already imagine the response by apologists for the all-powerful state. “If that’s what it takes to keep our children safe, then it’s worth it.”

It’s hard not to assume that the author of the article intends for the reader to draw that preposterous inference. It supposes a cause and effect relationship between the militarization of domestic police and the rescue of the child that does not exist.

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

Libertarian themes pervade The Little Drummer Boy and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Tampa 8 December 2012 – “And it came to pass that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, everyone to his own city, for to disobey the Roman emperor meant certain death.”

The message in the opening lines of The Little Drummer Boy (1968) is as rich and pleasing to the ear as Greer Garson’s euphonious narration.

First, that Bethlehem was so crowded and there was “no room at the inn” for Joseph and Mary was not at all a natural occurrence. It was caused by the government, like virtually all human misery. Second, that all taxation occurs under the threat of violence, for to refuse to pay would result in “certain death.”

This is all within the first 30 seconds of the film. A libertarian couldn’t ask for a better start.

Taxation is repeatedly denounced throughout the story. Garson continues by noting that, “There were good people who could ill afford the cruel tax.” Even the film’s chief villain, Ben Haramad (voice by Jose Ferrer), who kidnaps Aaron in order to compel him to perform in his traveling show, addresses his audience as “fellow taxpayers,” indicating that as bad as he might be, he is one with his audience in suffering under a much more cruel and malicious oppressor.

I couldn’t have been happier that my seven-year-old daughter was exposed to all of this, along with a very age appropriate introduction to the gospel stories. With the central lesson of Thanksgiving – that communism is lethal and that private property is essential to human survival – effectively erased from popular consciousness, it was refreshing to see these foundational libertarian ideas surviving in a classic Christmas special.

Next, we queued up another oldie from the same DVD compilationSanta Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970). This one didn’t disappoint, either.  Again, the general misery within the aptly named “Sombertown” has the same source: government. One cannot help but see the parallels between Burgermeister Meisterburger’s idiotic law against toys and the U.S. government’s War on Drugs. All of the familiar characteristics are there.

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