February 28, 2015

Get cops off the streets (unless serving a warrant or responding to a 911 call)

police-role1BUFFALO, December 5, 2014 – Protests erupted in New York City yesterday following a second grand jury decision not to indict a white cop who killed an unarmed black suspect. Unfortunately, all of the attention is focused on the racial aspect of the two tragedies and not on a question that really needs to be asked.

Do we really need armed government agents patrolling the streets, looking for people to cite or arrest for mostly victimless crimes?

Few people propose to abolish police forces entirely, although some small communities have done so. Most believe that police forces are necessary to protect life and property. Whether that’s true or not, many honest police officers will tell you they spend very little of their time actually doing so.

Read the rest of the article…

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

It’s not affordable and Obama doesn’t care

Obama_desk_s640x427TAMPA, January 3, 2014 – Two days ago, Americans rang in the first New Year in its history in which they were required to buy a private company’s product, regardless of their wishes. Predictably, the bloom was already off the rose, even for supporters of this debacle.

The reality that the Affordable Care Act will make insurance premiums go up and eliminate existing health plans whether members liked them or not had already set in. As for those 45 million uninsured we heard so much about four years ago, 44 million of them presumably remain uninsured under the ACA. That the website can’t handle the traffic is likely providing cover for millions of Americans who just aren’t interested in complying.

The lion’s share of blame has been focused on President Obama, but that is really counterproductive. Despite his name being forever attached to “Obamacare,” Obama really had little to do with creating it. He didn’t write the bill. He probably hasn’t even read it.

President Obama’s role in Obamacare was to use the “bully pulpit” of the Oval Office to pitch a tired, old and previously rejected idea that suddenly had new life because of a financial crisis that was largely blamed on the Republican Party, fairly or not.

So where did it come from? The snap answer would be Democrats, who passed the bill without a single Republican vote. That’s good politics for the Republicans, but only because Americans have an extremely short memory.

Even Romneycare in Massachusetts was not the genesis of Obamacare. The individual mandate, subsidies for low income earners and most other attributes of Obamacare were all part of the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993, introduced by Republican U.S. Senator John Conyers and supported by fellow Republicans Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennet and Kit Bond, among others.

Bennet would go on in 2007 to join Democrat Ron Wyden in introducing the Healthy Americans Act, which also featured an individual mandate and “State Help Agencies,” now called “health care exchanges” or “health care marketplaces.”

That Republicans used to introduce this horrible program as an alternative to the even worse single payer proposal by Democrats is no excuse. It is precisely the tyrannical, economically obtuse and grossly unfair program that Republicans have described it as for the past four years – after promoting it for the previous twenty.

It goes to show that given a long enough stay in Washington, D.C., anyone will begin to see govenrment as the only answer to any problem, most of which are created by government in the first place.

More importantly, debacles like Obamacare are rarely the result of presidential elections. Presidents like FDR, LBJ and Obama merely become the face associated with laws that finally pass after resistance has been worn down over decades.

James Madison’s words from the Federalist are instructive:

“But in a representative republic, where the executive magistracy is carefully limited; both in the extent and the duration of its power; and where the legislative power is exercised by an assembly, which is inspired, by a supposed influence over the people, with an intrepid confidence in its own strength; which is sufficiently numerous to feel all the passions which actuate a multitude, yet not so numerous as to be incapable of pursuing the objects of its passions, by means which reason prescribes; it is against the enterprising ambition of this department that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy and exhaust all their precautions.”

Despite the many usurpations of power by the executive branch, it is still “the enterprising ambition” of Congress that causes most of the misery government continues to spread. Given enough time, they will impose their boondoggles, no matter how unwise and unpopular they are.

There are over 100 members of the House of Representatives that have sat in those seats since at least the 1990’s. There are almost 30 members of similar longevity in the Senate.

Who knows what they’ll drag out of the dustbin next? It’s time for voters to do a little sweeping of their own. The letters after representatives’ names should make little difference.

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

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

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

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

Former New Jersey Superior Court Judge and Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explained, “Defunding permits to Congress to exercise the discretion it needs in order preserve tax dollars. By requiring yearly budgets and express appropriations, the Constitution expressly permits Congress to decline to pay for any regulatory scheme that it or a prior Congress has established.”

Professor of History and best-selling author Kevin Gutzman, Ph.D, J.D. says that the ability to defund enacted laws goes all of the way back to the Washington administration. Under President George Washington, James Madison proposed defunding part of the Jay Treaty. Moreover, he explains that delegates who ratified the Constitution were specifically told the House would have this power.

“Although virtually all historians miss this point, I note in James Madison and the Making of America that Madison had said during the Virginia Ratification Convention that the House would have this function in the treaty process, because it had this function in implementation of every law: it could refuse to fund it,” said Gutzman.

In fact, Congress defunds enacted laws all the time. Congress has defunded § 925(c) Exceptions: Relief from disabilities every year since 1992, for example. This is a law passed by Congress and signed by the president, just like the Affordable Care Act. The law provides a mechanism for convicted felons who have served their sentences to override the prohibition against convicted felons possessing firearms.

The Exceptions law helps mitigate the federal government’s war on the 2nd Amendment. Current federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony “in any court” to possess firearms (18 U.S.C. § 922(g). The only felonies excepted are offenses pertaining to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, restraints of trade, or other similar offenses relating to the regulation of business practices.” (18 U.S.C. § 921(a) (20)(A).

The courts interpret that exception very narrowly. In Dreher v. U.S., 115 F.3d 330 (5th Cir. 1997), The U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit found that a conviction for wire or mail fraud does not fall under the exception. Dreher was found guilty of billing clients for services not rendered. He is ineligible to own a firearm. The exception by no means encompasses all non-violent or even all white collar felonies.

In other words, even Martha Stewart is prohibited for life from owning a gun, due to Congress’ defunding of § 925(c). While it is debatable whether lying to a federal agent when not under oath should be a crime at all, no reasonable person would conclude that it should carry a life sentence. Yet this is effectively the case. It applies to people convicted of “crimes” as innocuous as unlocking their cell phones to accept more than one carrier, downloading copyrighted music, or even, in some states, adultery.

Regardless of one’s political positions on the Affordable Care Act or gun ownership, Congress’ is exercising the same power in defunding the health care law as they do when defunding the reinstatement process for firearm possession. The latter has passed Congress every year for over two decades without public outcry from either Republicans or Democrats, despite § 925(c) having been enacted by Congress and signed by the president.

There is a good argument to be made that persons convicted of non-violent felonies should automatically regain the legal right to possess firearms the minute they are released from custody. As soon as a prisoner is released, he is subjected to all of the dangers from violent criminals that justify anyone’s right to bear arms.

Congress’ defunding of § 925(c) makes that danger permanent, while defunding the Affordable Care Act actually safeguards Americans from a government fine that many still consider unjust, regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Liberals are suddenly exasperated that Congress would assert its power over the purse, but the knife cuts both ways. If Congress can defund the 2nd Amendment, it can defund the Affordable Care Act.

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

 

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.

The film doubles as allegory on the illegal immigration issue, with the earth dwellers representing Mexicans and Elysium the United States. Most people on earth appear to be bilingual in English and Spanish, while the elitists in Elysium speak English and French.

It sounds like a typical, leftist Hollywood narrative and in some ways it is. However, it also contains some of what used to be good about the left. Elysium is generally good on criticizing the police state and bad on economic freedom.

The plot revolves around Max, a former petty criminal who has gone straight. Early in the film, Max is harassed and assaulted on his way to work by robot police officers who ask him what is in his bag. Max must then discuss the encounter with his robot parole officer, who extends Max’s parole based upon the incident.

The central conflict is created when Max is ordered by his boss to enter a compartment where a mechanical door has jammed. When Max frees the door, it slams shut on him and the compartment floods with radiation, delivering a lethal dose to Max. His only hope to save his life is to get to Elysium.

When Max learns that his childhood friend has a daughter with terminal leukemia, his quest becomes one to save not only himself but the sick girl. In order to do so, he must make a deal with an outlaw revolutionary to obtain access codes that will open the door to Elysium to whomever possesses them.

The film succeeds in painting a dreary picture of a society that has allowed unchecked government police power to combine with technology. Max’s entire criminal history along with data gleaned from ubiquitous surveillance is instantly available to robot cops and parole officers, who use that data against him despite his being innocent of the current charge. The film also succeeds in conveying the hopelessness that accompanies a society where upward mobility is actively suppressed by an entrenched elite.

The film fails from both an artistic and freedom perspective for several reasons. First, it leaves too many questions unanswered. How did those who build Elysium acquire their wealth? Was it through production and trade or some form of plunder? How do they maintain it? If the earth dwellers are uniformly poor, who does Elysium trade with? Why are the earth dwellers unable to build their own wealth? Why are they unable to develop the same miraculous healthcare technology? The viewer is left to speculate.

Based on the film’s conclusion, one can interpret the film as an indictment of private property itself. The earth dwellers cannot improve their condition because the elite own all of the natural resources and means of production. Their property rights are enforced by the brutal police state, which also suppresses any attempt by “undocumented” earth dwellers to enter Elysium. This leaves them no alternative but to toil away as “wage slaves” for the corporations.

Typical of Hollywood, the film makes no distinction between those who have acquired their wealth in exchange for enormous benefits bestowed on others and those who have acquired it through tax-funded government contracts or privileges. The only private company we are told anything about is Max’s employer, which ironically manufactures the robot policeman who assault Max at the beginning of the film.

That’s a government contract, funded by taxes, which are collected by force. But all government contracts ultimately rely on someone, somewhere creating real wealth, i.e. goods and services that actually improve the lives of consumers enough that they will voluntarily exchange their money for them. Where are these private companies? Where is the justice for them at the conclusion? The film is silent on these questions.

The healthcare issue is treated in an overly simplistic manner that even critics of private, for-profit medicine would be disappointed in. In short, the film removes all economics whatsoever from healthcare. The treatment machines used in Elysium are so miraculous that there is no discernible cost to curing people, outside of manufacturing the machines themselves. It cheapens the healthcare question by characterizing it as cartoonish elitists who simply refuse to allow the rest of society to access care out of contempt for their inferiority.

This allows the film to avoid confronting the real barriers to healthcare access. It doesn’t ask why the price of healthcare constantly rises while the prices of computers and cell phones fall. Perhaps the answers wouldn’t conform with the film’s narrative.

The idea of scarcity in general seems to be lost on the producers. They do not acknowledge that either healthcare or the other riches of Elysium are scarce or confront the way in which wealth is created and exchanged. The conclusion of the film suggests that if all of humanity were simply allowed to divide up society’s products equally among themselves, everyone would live happily ever after.

The immigration motif is equally unrealistic. Depicting Elysium as the United States and the earth as Mexico doesn’t work, because the Elysium and earth of the film together represent the real United States. That seems to be the whole point of the rest of the film. Simply opening the borders wouldn’t change anything. The immigrants would simply find themselves joining the lower class or forming a new, even lower one.

Ultimately, the film fails to face several realities. One is that all property is eventually private property. An apple cannot be owned “collectively” unless no one ever eats it. Once someone does, he has excluded every other human being from eating it. This is true of all goods and services. Even in Soviet Russia property was privately owned. What was different was how it was acquired. How would property be acquired more justly in Elysium? The film is again silent.

The film assumes that private property ownership is a purely artificial concept invented by “exploiters,” which persists only through violent oppression of the exploited. The police state is mischaracterized as an enforcer of property rights instead of a violator of them.

No consideration is given to whether producers have any right to keep the wealth they have produced or whether those who wish to acquire it from them have any obligation to obtain their consent. There is no explanation of why the “have nots” have any more legitimate claim to Elysium’s wealth than the “haves.”

On a more practical level, the film also ignores the question begged by resolution. After the wealth of society is divided up equally among everyone, who will produce what is needed tomorrow to sustain even bare subsistence? What will motivate them to produce it?

The Soviet Union and 20th century China couldn’t answer those questions. Elysium doesn’t even try.

Elysium gets one freedom thumbs up for its ominous depiction of the police state. It gets one freedom thumbs down for its attack on private property and an additional freedom thumbs down for its oversimplification of complex economic problems, even by leftist standards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christie doesn’t understand that the power that legislators may exercise is limited to what was delegated to them in the Constitution. He seems to believe that power changes depending upon how he “feels.”

“I think what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t,” he said. “And I remember what we felt like on Sept. 12, 2001.”

Ignoring the cheap tactic of trying to paint libertarians as “unfeeling” or not having sympathy for the victims of 9/11, there is a simple answer to Mr. Christie’s question.

“We as a country” decide questions like this through Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment forbids the federal government from running programs like the NSA’s. Only an amendment that revises or repeals it can change that.

Until then, the federal government does not have the power to do what it is currently doing, regardless of any terrorist attacks or how Mr. Christie feels about them.

Amash’s amendment should be unnecessary, but it is preferable at the moment to the remedy offered in the Declaration of Independence for a government that exercises power not given to it by the people.

If history provides any guidance, the people will never give this power to the federal government. Let’s not forget that none of the Soviet-style security measures establishd since 9/11 have prevented a single terrorist attack, other than those the government created itself. Flight 93 on 9/11, the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber were all foiled by private citizens, the latter two after the perpetrator walked right past the government’s garish security apparatus.

The truth is that no security measures will ever be able to make Americans 100% safe from harm. There is absolutely nothing the U.S. government could do right now to prevent Russia or China from launching a nuclear attack on the United States. What makes one unlikely is the ability for the United States to retaliate and the lack of any good reason for either country to do so. The United States doesn’t routinely commit acts of war against Russia or China.

Perhaps that strategy might also be effective in preventing terrorism.

Regardless, the government can’t stop the next terrorist attack any more than it has stopped any previously. What it can do is continue to erode American liberty. This country is already unrecognizable as the same one that ratified the Bill of Rights. The Chris Christies and Michelle Bachmanns (she’s “one of them”) of this world are too busy cowering in fear to be concerned with “esoteric” subjects like the liberty and dignity of the individual.

Their opinions are not important. The people will decide whether a false sense of security is worth their liberty or not.

The first shot in this war has been fired. Amash lost the opening battle, but so did the colonists at Bunker Hill.

The real question that the American people will have to answer is this:

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?

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

Obama race speech confirms Zimmerman trial dangerous to Bill of Rights

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

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

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

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

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

That means that no one ever consented to giving the federal government that power.

To ensure that those who don’t understand this wouldn’t exercise the power anyway, a Bill of Rights was ratified that leaves no room for confusion:

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

The architects of the $4 trillion federal monster have traditionally circumvented this troublesome “obstacle” by claiming that new powers they want to grant the federal government (without amending the Constitution) are actually part and parcel of “regulating interstate commerce,” although the high priests in black robes recently pulled off a novel innovation in ruling Obamacare a tax.

Courts have made some inroads into the reservation of this power to the states or the people when crimes such as kidnapping or murder have included travel across state lines. But so far, murders that do not involve what federal courts liberally interpret as “interstate commerce” have remained within the sole jurisdiction of the state or local governments.

This is more than just a formality. When one is accused of the highest of crimes and presumed innocent until proven guilty, it matters which government is authorized to prosecute. The most local government and a jury of one’s peers have the greatest interest in preserving local justice and keeping the local peace. They are less likely to be motivated by political or other factors. We saw this in the Zimmerman case, where the local prosecutor declined to prosecute based upon lack of evidence.

Then, the president weighed in, prompting the Governor of Florida to override the Sanford District Attorney’s decision not to prosecute. The local police chief was fired for refusing to charge Zimmerman with a crime.

It’s not as if the Sanford police or district attorney are “pro-defendant” or reluctant to prosecute criminals. If there was a shred of credible evidence of Zimmerman’s guilt, they would have indicted him. It’s the exception rather than the rule that the law enforcement community decides not to prosecute. It’s even more unusual for a lead detective to testify that he believes a defendant’s story, but that’s just what eventually happened in the trial.

Zimmerman’s supporters, likely motivated by political correctness, feel an obligation to qualify their support of the verdict with statements indicating that Zimmerman “may have acted irresponsibly” or “made mistakes” like following Martin after the police dispatcher told him not to.

But there is no evidence that Zimmerman did any of these things. No one seems to be considering the possibility that Zimmerman didn’t do anything wrong at all.  Yet, that’s what the evidence seems to suggest. That’s why a police detective, normally biased against believing anyone, made the unusual statement that he believed Zimmerman’s story.

This whole fiasco has been a demonstration of the wisdom of reserving the power of prosecuting most crimes to the states or local governments. They certainly aren’t perfect, but they don’t bring the additional political baggage that the federal government would bring to exercising this power.

The federal government isn’t any less racist in its administration of justice, either. If you need proof, visit a federal prison. If you conclude that blacks make up 13% of the inmates, you need glasses, remedial math lessons, or both. Most are non-violent drug offenders, prosecuted for breaking laws that were originally passed to target specific racial groups.

Mr. Obama has every right to express his opinion on any matter as a private citizen. But when he says “I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws,” alarm bells should immediately ring. Just who is “us” and what does “examine” mean? If he is talking about the federal government having any influence over power reserved to the states or people, he’s just continuing the ongoing assault on the Bill of Rights.

Libertarianism, anyone?

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

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.

Zimmerman might be lying through his teeth, but there is no proof to refute his claim that he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Juries don’t find people innocent. They find an absence of proof of guilt. If media reactions to this case are any indication, popular understanding of that principle is nil. Reporting on the verdict, the USA Today said,

“The not guilty verdict means the jury of six women, after deliberating for more than 15 hours over two days, found that Zimmerman justifiably used deadly force. They determined that he reasonably believed that such force was “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” to himself — Florida’s definition of self-defense.”

No, the verdict doesn’t mean that. It means that the jury found an absence of proof that Zimmerman did not justifiably use deadly force or reasonably believe that such force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.

That’s a crucial distinction that we forget at our peril. If defendants are required to prove their innocence, this nation’s unprecedented prison population of 2.4 million could double or triple.

Already, it has become routine for multiple jurisdictions to prosecute an individual for the same crime. The US DOJ says that it is investigating Zimmerman for a possible hate crime or civil rights violation case. CNN reports,

“Even if the federal charges were identical to the state charges, it would not be double jeopardy for Zimmerman because the federal government is a separate and sovereign entity.”

Really? Where in the 5th Amendment does it say “except by a separate legal entity?” Since it is long established (correctly or not) that the 14th Amendment means the Bill of Rights applies to the states and the federal government, why is this case an exception?

Certainly, the intention of the double jeopardy protection is to prevent governments with virtually unlimited resources from repeatedly prosecuting someone for the same crime until they get lucky with a jury or the defendant runs out of money. But that’s just what the government is doing when they charge a defendant with murder and then charge him with a civil rights violation for the same incident after an acquittal.

It is even conceivable that the right to trial by jury could come under attack. While we haven’t heard calls yet for replacing jury trials with something else, it’s not hard to imagine support for the idea after an unpopular verdict. Trial by jury is the most fundamental protection in the entire Bill of Rights. It means that only the people can authorize the government to punish someone. A jury can nullify any law without consequences, despite misleading instructions by judges.

The only thing that makes the United States a “free country” is its Constitution. It’s not requiring congressman to be 25 years old that makes us free. It is the restrictions on government power over us, especially in the Bill of Rights. When those restrictions are gone, we’re no longer free, regardless of how many songs we sing or speeches we make.

We’ve already dangerously eroded those protections. Don’t let outrage over the Zimmerman verdict make it worse.

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

Thank God the 4th of July is over

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “irony of the flag-waving masses slouching along in airport lines toward their inevitable date with the total state so that they could celebrate their liberty and freedom” was not lost on Daniel McAdams, but likely is on most Americans. Just watch them laugh and joke with government agents who literally bark orders at them before searching them without probable cause or a warrant.

It’s not just the airport. Any clear-thinking person recognizes the various domestic police forces as an army of occupation, complete with body armor, assault weapons and tanks. Yet, most Americans believe there are not enough of these “swarms of officers to harass our people and eat their substance.” This despite the U.S. having the largest prison population in human history, twice the size of present-day China’s, despite China’s population being five times as large.

The Constitution assumes that law enforcement officers cannot even be trusted to arrest the right person after he has committed a crime. They have to go to a judge first and get written permission to do anything. Yet, that concept is completely lost on most Americans, who teach their children that police officers are their friends and that their orders should be obeyed, whether they have been directed by a judge to issue them or not.

The entire paradigm of police officers patrolling the streets and supposedly “preventing crime” is completely antithetical to the principles of 1776. As Anthony Gregory observes, “Although there was plenty to object to in colonial law and law in the early republic, police as we now know them didn’t exist back then.” Nevertheless, conservatives are this institution’s biggest proponents. These are the “small government” people.

The colonists complained that George III’s army was insulated “from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States.” William Grigg’s blog has documented thousands of examples of the very same tyranny in 21st-century America.

The Declaration cited “transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences” and “depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury.” That referred to trying American colonists in public courts in England, sometimes by a judge instead of a jury. Today, the U.S. government transports its subjects to secret prisons all over the world without even bothering to charge them with a crime.

Or, they might just decide to summarily execute you and save the time and trouble.

Modern Americans hold up as heroes the presidents that have helped build this Orwellian nightmare. They revere those who have presided over massive expansions of government power and took their country into hugely destructive and largely unnecessary wars, while dismissing those who presided over relatively free and peaceful periods as “postage stamps.”

Worse yet, they dutifully join the government’s propaganda machine in engaging in the “two minute hate” against Edward Snowden, uncritically parroting the government’s charges of treason, even though no reasonable person could believe that what he did constituted “levying War against them [the United States – plural], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

Charged with the same crime that George III charged Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin with, for resisting substantively the same tyranny, 21st-century Americans side with the government that spies on them, routinely lies to them, plunders their wealth, controls every aspect of their lives and kills hundreds of thousands of civilians in undeclared wars.

As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe observed, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

This has never been truer than in 21st-century America on the 4th of July. Thank God it’s over.

Libertarianism, anyone?

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

We’re all Osama Bin Laden now

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

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

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

First, they came for the terrorists…

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

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

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

The truth regarding that question is stranger than fiction.

Five years earlier, Germany had suffered a spectacular terrorist attack. Someone set fire to the German parliament building, the Reichstag. Joseph Goebbels regarded the first report of the attack as “a tall tale” and hung up on the caller. Only upon receiving a second call did he believe the report and inform Hitler. Tragically, the eerie similarity to Bush’s reaction to 9/11 didn’t end there.

The Nazi’s blamed the communists for the fire, calling it “the most monstrous act of terrorism carried out by Bolshevism in Germany.” The next day, President Hindenburg signed the Reichstag Fire Decree (without a vote by the Reichstag), which suspended most civil liberties in Germany. This was followed later by the “Enabling Act,” which granted dictatorial powers to Hitler.

All of this was done to “fight the terrorists.” We’ve heard plenty about how not invading the next Middle East backwater would be tantamount to appeasing Hitler, but we haven’t heard a single pundit comparing what America has done to itself over the past twelve years to what Germany did to herself following the Reichstag Fire.

Am I the only one that finds that a little strange?

Sadly, neither country’s people resisted or even expressed reluctance at the surrender of their freedom. On the contrary, liberty died in both places “with thunderous applause.”

The Nazis started by setting up communists and Jews as enemies of the state. Civil liberties had to be set aside until this terrible “new threat” was defeated. But victory never came. Instead, the list of enemies got wider and wider and the police state became permanent. The Gestapo was empowered to spy on German citizens. “Papers, please” became the new normal. Kangaroo courts convicted “traitors and insurgents” without due process.

So far, the U.S. government has only executed a Muslim American citizen without a trial. It has only rounded up and indefinitely detained Muslims without a warrant or formal charges. But the definition of “terrorist” and “traitor” is slowly starting to expand. During the Bush Administration, anti-war protestors were viewed as unpatriotic. During Obama’s Administration, “right wing extremists” have been identified as potential threats.

First they came for the Muslims…

This article is published on a nationally known website. It is intended to be read by anyone who is interested in the subject. However, you may express an opinion not so intended to a friend or associate. If you do so by phone or e-mail, the government may examine it to determine if you represent a threat.

Who will speak up for you?

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