September 15, 2019

Jury nullification, not a pardon for Edward Snowden

TAMPA, June 10, 2013 – The whistleblower who has risked his life and his freedom to expose the NSA’s domestic spying program has fled to Hong Kong. Caught red-handed violating one of the most fundamental limits on its power, codified in the Fourth Amendment, the federal government has responded predictably. It wants to prosecute its accuser.

While mainstream conservatives call for Hong Kong to extradite Snowden for trial, libertarian and civil libertarian groups have started a petition to get him pardoned. That’s the wrong solution.

Pardons are for people who have already been convicted. No jury with any sense of justice should allow that to happen.

Yes, there are plenty of laws that Edward Snowden probably broke, but as Thomas Jefferson famously said, “The law is often but the tyrant’s will.” Never was that truer than it is now.

You could also argue that Snowden broke a contract he entered into when accepting this employment and the security clearances that go with it. That’s probably true, but so did the federal government. It broke the contract known as the U.S. Constitution.

If the so-called “Justice Department” is successful in having Snowden extradited to the United States, he will have a jury trial. The jury will be instructed by a federal judge that their one and only responsibility is to weigh the facts and to determine whether there is sufficient proof that Snowden committed the acts alleged in the indictment. They will be instructed to consider nothing else in reaching a verdict. That leaves one question.

Who cares what the judge says?

Everyone on that jury will know why Snowden is being persecuted. It’s not like he sold defense secrets to a foreign enemy during a time of war. He told the American people about how their own government was spying on them. The juror who renders a guilty verdict in this case is betraying his country, not Edward Snowden.

At one time, juries were informed of their right to consider the justice of the law itself in addition to the facts of the case. If they believed they were being asked to convict a defendant of an unjust law, they were free to acquit the defendant.

They still are. They just aren’t told so by state or federal judges any more. That doesn’t change the fact that if a jury acquits Edward Snowden, there is absolutely nothing that the government can do about it. They can’t appeal a not guilty verdict. They can’t charge him again for the same crimes. The case is over and the people trump the government. That’s how it is supposed to work.

It’s equally important that there is no recourse against the jury, either. It’s not as if they can be prosecuted for rendering a verdict the government doesn’t like. Acquittal by a jury is as final as it gets. The government may try to drum up some other charges against the defendant, but they usually take their best shot first and the next jury could nullify as well.

The only question left is this: Are Americans so devoid of any sense of personal liberty, so completely brainwashed to obey authority without question that they would convict a man who has risked everything to defend their freedom?

I am calling on every eligible juror in America to take a stand right now. If you are called to serve on a jury for the trial of Edward Snowden, do not convict. I don’t care if he’s broken a thousand laws. We know what he did and why he did it. It is his accuser that needs to be put on trial, whether at the ballot box, in state assemblies or by other constitutional means. Let this government know that those who defend the U.S. Constitution against a government that violates it are safe in this country.

The line must be drawn here.

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

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.

Unfortunately, they usually don’t. In fact, anyone concerned about the size, power or cost of the federal government who thinks that it is somehow acting “unconstitutionally” really needs a reality check.

True, most of what the federal government does today isn’t authorized by the powers delegated to it in the yellow piece of parchment. In theory, that means that the people never consented to the government exercising the power and therefore it is illegitimate, even illegal. But that’s not really what “constitutional” has meant for most of human history or even what it has meant in practice for most of U.S. history.

Aristotle wrote about “constitutional government” long before any written constitution was attempted. Thomas Paine began his famous treatise with “Concise Remarks on the English Constitution.” He was not referring to a written document that specifically delegated which powers the English government could exercise (Magna Carta did not do this). There was no written English constitution.

So what did these writers mean by “constitution?” They meant the general understanding of most people in those countries about what powers the government had and how they were allocated between the various branches.

That is what “constitution” and “constitutional” has meant for most of human history and it is really the only practical definition. The attempt to codify limits on the government’s power in a written document has been a complete failure. The government simply interprets the words however outlandishly necessary to do what they want and get their high priests in black robes to pronounce their scheme “constitutional.”

And it is constitutional if no one objects. That’s reality.

Using this definition, the historical growth of the $4 trillion federal monster has been completely constitutional. Not only has there been little objection by the people, but they have for the most part overwhelmingly supported each new usurpation. The Federal Reserve was passed with overwhelming public support, as was the Income Tax. FDR was elected four times, three after his technically unconstitutional “New Deal” was clearly promulgated and understood by the people.

Just watch your fellow Americans laugh and joke with TSA agents while having their persons and property searched without a warrant or probable cause, even while the government puts its hands on their children. That makes it “constitutional” in the true sense of the word, the Fourth Amendment notwithstanding.

Even the Patriot Act enjoyed popular support, for the most part. Yes, there was some noise about it from liberals, but for the most part only because a Republican Congress and president passed it. Want proof? Count the number of liberals besides Greenwald presently objecting to Obama doing the very same thing they wanted Bush impeached for. You can keep one hand in your pocket.

Those few libertarians, Old Right conservatives and civil libertarian progressives who are still concerned about freedom here in the “land of the free” have to face the reality of what we’re up against. It is not a government acting against the wishes of the people. It is the people themselves, who have traded liberty for security, whether personal or economic, at every opportunity.

As James Madison said, “Democracy is the most vile form of government.”

Libertarianism, anyone?

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

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 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?

Asking those same questions in reverse reveals the absurdity of the whole mantra. Obviously, we would not be less free if the government didn’t invade Korea. There is no chain of events that would have followed resulting in you and I being less free to express our opinions or practice our religion. In fact, exactly the opposite is true.

In every war the U.S. has fought, Americans have become less free, especially while the war was going on. Every war president has persecuted war protesters, from John Adams to George W. Bush. Wars have brought taxes, rationing and conscription. Worst of all, American society has become permanently more militarized and socialist (but I repeat myself) with each new war.

Some argue the U.S. government has fought wars for justice, liberating people in other countries or protecting them from evildoers. That may or may not be true, but it begs two more obvious questions:

How did the American taxpayer become financially responsible for the liberty and security of every soul on the planet? When will this responsibility end?

The answer to the first question is a mystery this writer has been unable to solve. The answer to the second is obvious: When all resources are exhausted and all productive capability has been eliminated. That is the end of all military empires.

The American people have truly forgotten what a free country looks like. Worst of all are “small government” Tea Partiers who literally worship the military. Despite all of their talk about the Constitution, one has to wonder if they have ever actually read it’s authors. James Madison wrote,

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Free people do not worship the military establishment. They are suspicious of it. At one time the average American would not tolerate the existence of a standing army in peacetime. At the conclusion of Shay’s rebellion, John Adams and the U.S. Congress tripped over each other trying to take credit for disbanding the army.

How times have changed.

This is not a utopian vision. We live in a world of nation states, many of which could pose a threat to our liberty and security. There is a need for the means to defend ourselves if another nation besides the United States actually did show aggression. However, the present military establishment is orders of magnitude larger than any free country could possibly need or should tolerate.

The U.S. military employs approximately 1.4 million people. There is a reasonable argument to be made that all ground troops could be eliminated, given our air, naval, missile and nuclear capabilities. But let’s say for argument that 10% should be kept to train others if war broke out.

The rest are just on another government program that gives them free college, free housing, a guaranteed job and a guaranteed pension.

Meanwhile, the Forgotten Man (or woman), the one who pays for all of this, is reviled. He is never thanked. He is only ever told that he does not pay enough. Yet, it is he who actually makes us free, not by paying taxes, but by producing the wealth from which taxes are confiscated. He makes us free by allowing us to pursue our happiness, thanks to the goods and services he provides that we would otherwise have to produce ourselves. It is he who makes “society in every state a blessing.”

When is Taxpayer Day?

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.

IRS scandal nothing new: Targeting dissenters is bipartisan

TAMPA, May 16, 2013 ― The IRS targeting conservative groups for audits and enforcement actions is the latest scandal for a federal government that is so out of control that even the lapdog media are starting to sound libertarian while covering it. But targeting dissenters is nothing new and certainly not an innovation by the Obama administration. It is old as the federal government itself.

One does not have to go back as far as the Alien and Sedition Acts or Abraham Lincoln’s imprisonment of northern journalists who opposed the Civil War. One doesn’t even have to go outside the IRS. Just nine years ago, they were doing the exact same thing under Bush, going so far as to investigate a church because of an anti-war sermon which the agency said it “considered … to have been illegal.”

Ironically, for all of their talk about “small government” and “balanced budgets,” the tea party and patriot groups most recently victimized by the IRS are for the most part rabid supporters of American militarism. So, whether you’re pro-war or anti-war, you’re a candidate for predation, so long as you oppose any aspect of the federal monster.

Conservatives are obviously making this about Obama and Obama is doing his best to deflect blame, pointing out that the activity occurred while a Bush appointee was still IRS Commissioner. Sadly, most of the American public will likely jump on one bandwagon or the other and miss what is really important here.

This is the inevitable outcome of giving any government the kind of power that the federal government has, particularly the powers granted to the IRS. You cannot enforce an income tax without inviting the government into virtually every aspect of your life. Once there, it is going to defend itself against any attack, whether related to your tax liability or not.

Let’s not forget that one of the pillars of conservative attacks on Obamacare was the thousands of new IRS agents that would be necessary to enforce its individual mandate. Tea Party and Patriot groups were largely formed around opposition to this law.

That’s what pro-war conservatives in 2012 had in common with anti-war liberals in 2004. They opposed the growth of government: the addition of new government jobs and the increase in funding. Whether for a war or a healthcare program is really immaterial. The beast just wants to grow and when it encounters opposition it defends itself like any other organism.

If the American public wants to stop the federal government from laying waste to the entire country the way it did the City of Detroit, it has to stop taking the left/right, liberal/conservative bait. There are two sides to this struggle, but they are not liberal and conservative.

They are those who benefit from the parasitical federal government and those who are victimized by it. Both groups are populated by liberals and conservatives. Let’s not forget that the majority of the military establishment is just a right wing welfare program, for individuals and large corporations alike. And it’s not like there are no liberals among that 5% of the population that pays most of the taxes.

The federal government can’t be fixed by throwing the current bums out and replacing them with new ones. It is not a job for a monkey wrench or a surgeon’s scalpel. It is a job for a motivated public armed with sledgehammers.

Libertarianism, anyone?

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

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had right to remain silent only after he confessed

TAMPA, April 24, 2013 – Civil libertarians seemed to have cause for relief on Monday as reports were released that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been formally charged with the crime, given a Miranda warning and assigned counsel.

Some prominent officials, including U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, had called for Tsarnaev to be treated as an enemy combatant. The Obama administration indicated that it would prosecute the U.S. citizen in civilian court, but would invoke the public safety exception to the Fifth Amendment in questioning Tsarnaev before reading him his rights.

It appeared that justice had prevailed. Major news outlets reported that a bedside hearing had taken place, presided over by a judge, with counsel for the defense present. A transcript of the hearing is available online or in pdf above.

The bedrock legal principles that make America the “land of the free” had been preserved. Tsarnaev would be presumed innocent until proven guilty. He would have the benefit of counsel to challenge the government’s case against him, examine the evidence and cross examine any witnesses.

He would not be subject to punishment until he had been proven guilty in an adversarial proceeding, rather than merely accused.

There was only one problem. We now know that Tsarnaev had already confessed to the crime.

So, Tsarnaev had the right to remain silent only after there was no longer any reason to remain silent. That defeats the whole purpose of the Fifth Amendment. One of the reasons it was established was the routine use of torture in obtaining confessions in the Middle Ages.

So, how did federal authorities obtain Tsarnaev’s confession? Was he tortured? All we know is he was alone with federal authorities and helpless in his hospital bed.

It’s not like this is some paranoid inquiry into impossible circumstances. This is a government that has already admitted to employing “enhanced interrogation techniques” many times in the past. It has tortured U.S. citizens. Now, it is finding ways around due process. This is another step in the destruction of American liberty.

This government had already claimed the authority to declare someone an enemy combatant and, based solely on that accusation by the executive branch, to indefinitely detain that person without charges, without access to a lawyer or the opportunity to petition a judge for a writ of habeas corpus. There is no substantive difference between this and being “black bagged” by the KGB in the former Soviet Union.

Now, you don’t even have to be an “enemy combatant.” Even the kangaroo procedure the Obama administration employs to so designate someone is no longer necessary. The precedent is now set that a non-enemy combatant suspect can be treated the same way.

There is no evidence so far that Tsarnaev’s confession was compelled by torture and no reasonable cause to suspect it was. It’s hard to imagine him being waterboarded in his hospital bed with nurses and other patients nearby. On the contrary, he seems to have been treated humanely, perhaps because he was already severely injured when taken into custody.

That doesn’t change the fact that this government claims the authority to do so under an ever-widening set of circumstances. Any suggestion that this may be dangerous is met with the obtuse reply that “terrorists don’t deserve due process.” That begs what should be an obvious question.

If due process is the way we find out that someone is a terrorist, how can we deny a person due process because he’s a terrorist?

It’s not as if no one has ever been wrongly accused of terrorism. As Glenn Greenwald observes,

“As so many cases have proven – from accused (but exonerated) anthrax attacker Stephen Hatfill to accused (but exonerated) Atlanta Olympic bomber Richard Jewell to dozens if not hundreds of Guantanamo detainees accused of being the “worst of the worst” but who were guilty of nothing – people who appear to be guilty based on government accusations and trials-by-media are often completely innocent. Media-presented evidence is no substitute for due process and an adversarial trial.”

The idea that torture and denial of due process are acceptable merely because a suspect is accused of “terrorism” turns the entire foundation of American freedom on its head. If the United States is truly freer than other nations, it is not because of its representative government. It is because of what that representative government is not allowed to do.

Americans once understood that the federal government was not allowed to exercise any power that was not delegated to it in the Constitution. Over time, the government has increasingly behaved as if it may exercise any power not strictly prohibited to it by the Constitution or subsequent amendments.

Now, it claims the authority to exercise even those powers strictly prohibited by the Bill of Rights. Today it does so against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tomorrow it might be you.

Libertarianism, anyone?

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

How do we know Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a witch?

TAMPA, April 22, 2013 – Predictably, neoconservative politicians have already called for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to be treated as an enemy combatant, meaning that he would not enjoy the constitutional protections afforded criminal defendants in civilian courts. Pundits and blog commenters have echoed the sentiment that “terrorists don’t deserve due process” or other constitutional protections. According to this argument, they forfeited them when they decided to wage war against Americans.

This begs an obvious question. How do we know Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed the crime and therefore doesn’t deserve due process, when due process is the means by which we make that determination?

Neoconservative logic isn’t much better than Sir Bedevere’s in the witch scenein Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Sadly, many Americans are acting every bit the mob depicted in that satire.

Read the rest of the article at Liberty Pulse…

The Bill of Rights was written for Dzhokar Tsarnaev

TAMPA, April 20, 2013 – 19-year-old Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev is in custody. Assuming that Tsarnaev is indeed guilty of these crimes, a very real threat to public safety has been taken off the streets. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the Tsarnaev brothers have taken the last vestiges of a free society in America down with them.

The Bill of Rights was already on life support before this tragedy. Before the dust settled after 9/11, the 4th Amendment had been nullified by the Patriot Act. The 5th and 6th Amendments were similarly abolished with the Military Commission Act of 2006 and the 2012 NDAA resolution, which contained a clause allowing the president to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil without due process of law.

Americans had already grown accustomed to having their persons and papers searched at the airport without probable cause and without a warrant supported by oath or affirmation. After a brief, politically-motivated backlash against the Bush Administration, Americans similarly resigned themselves to the government tapping their phones, reading their e-mails and generally spying on them wherever they went. Things were already very, very bad.

They just got a lot worse.

Not only did the militarized domestic law enforcement complex put the City of Boston under martial law, but nobody seems to have found it out of the ordinary, much less outrageous. Yes, a few journalists like libertarian Anthony Gregory raised a finger. But, for the most part, nobody seemed to mind that the entire city was under military siege, complete with paramilitary units in full battle gear, battlefield ordinance and tanks. Tanks!

How did we get here? 238 years ago to the day, the inhabitants of the very same city started a war and seceded from their union over a mere infantry brigade attempting to disarm them. Now they cheer those who violate their rights much worse than the British ever did.

When Lee Harvey Oswald was similarly suspected of killing a police officer after assassinating the President of the United States, Dallas was not put under martial law. No tanks rolled through the streets. Oswald was armed at the time of his arrest and attempted to shoot the arresting officer, whose thumb stopped the hammer of Oswald’s pistol from discharging the weapon at point blank range.

It is noteworthy that the military siege was called off several hours before Tsarnaev was captured. In the end, he was found and taken into custody by the same methods that any other criminal has been for most of U.S. history.

So, there was no cause and effect relationship between the state show of power and the apprehension of the suspect.

Now, the DOJ has announced that Tsarnaev will not be read his Miranda rights, citing the “public danger” exception in the 5th Amendment. But the language in the amendment doesn’t remotely apply to this situation, nor is it even related to the protection against being a witness against oneself. It reads,

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

First of all, Tsarnaev is not in the Army, Navy or militia. Even if he were, the language would only have applied if Tsarnaev had been observed with the bomb in his hands just before committing the crime. The exception gives law enforcement the power to arrest him without first getting a Grand Jury indictment under those circumstances. It doesn’t release the government from the prohibition against compelling Tsarnaev to be a witness against himself after his arrest, which is the basis for Miranda.

If Tsarnaev is guilty, then the public danger was over once he was arrested. The government has no authority to waive any of its obligations for due process. He should be read his rights and allowed to remain silent without molestation. He should have an arraignment where he is given the opportunity to hear the charges against him and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If he is unable to afford a lawyer, one should be assigned to him at public expense. His guilt should be decided by a jury of his peers, not the government or the media.

The Bill of Rights was written for Dzhokar Tsarnaev. It wasn’t written for those suspected of violating minor violations.

The Boston Marathon bombing was a particularly heinous crime. No one with a pulse could help but feel deeply for the parents of an eight-year-old boy killed by this senseless act or the others killed or permanently maimed. Most red-blooded men would have liked nothing better than to have been the one who found Dzhokar Tsarnaev, praying he’d resist arrest.

Those are perfectly healthy feelings, but the awful power of the state is not supposed to be set loose based upon feelings. It is supposed to be restrained by reason. God help us if we forget.

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

Even libertarians wrong on Monsanto Protection Act

TAMPA, April 3, 2013 ― While the high priests in black robes were hearing arguments on gay marriage, President Obama quietly signed the continuing resolutions act that keeps the federal government operating in the absence of a budget. Buried inside the bill was language that has become notoriously known as “the Monsanto Protection Act.” The blogosphere exploded with cries of conspiracy, crony capitalism and corruption.

Liberals oppose the provision for the usual reasons: It lets a big corporation “run wild” without appropriate government oversight, free to (gasp!) make bigger profits on food. More thoughtful liberal arguments have suggested it may threaten the separation of powers by allowing the executive branch to override a decision by the judicial.

The lunatic fringe believes that Monsanto will control the world’s food supply through intellectual property laws and enslave us all, like the evil corporation did with oxygen in Total Recall. Of course, let’s not forget that old saying. “Just because I’m paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”

The liberal reaction to this bill and Monsanto’s activities in general is not surprising. It’s the libertarian reaction that’s surprising and disappointing. Even the Ron Paul crowd sounds like New Deal Democrats when it comes to this corporate farming giant.

They say that regardless of how much he supports the free market, everyone has that one issue that he is hopelessly socialist on. For some, it’s roads and so-called “infrastructure.” For others, it’s intellectual property. For Thomas Jefferson, it was education. Apparently, for libertarians it’s farming.

Now, if libertarians want to argue that corporations shouldn’t exist at all, that the privilege of limited liability violates individual rights and leads to market distortions, that regulating the markets only insulates large corporations from competition, that’s one thing. I’ve been there, written that.

But that’s not what libertarians are suggesting. Believe it or not, even supporters of Ron Paul are suggesting that new government regulations be passed requiring Monsanto to label its packaging to indicate whether there are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) among the contents. This is as unlibertarian as it gets.

There are legitimate concerns about whether GMOs represent a danger to the public. Certainly, each person has a right to refuse to consume them, but they don’t have a right to force Monsanto’s shareholders to label their own property. Neither do they have a right to interfere with consumers who voluntarily purchase that property from Monsanto without a label on it.

The libertarian answer is for those concerned about GMOs to refuse to purchase food that is not labeled to their satisfaction. The market already provides those alternatives. There is no substantive difference between the possible safety risks in Monsanto’s GMO food and those inherent in any other technology that legitimizes government regulation of voluntary activity. Either libertarians believe in the market or they don’t.

We’ve been told that the “Monsanto Protection Act” allows the executive branch to set aside court rulings, with the implication that the president or his Secretary of Agriculture can allow growers like Monsanto to keep growing and selling a particular product even after a judge orders them to stop. We’re led to believe that this would apply in a scenario where GMOs have been ruled to have caused death or illness and a court has ordered the grower to cease and desist to protect the public. But that’s not what the language says.

“SEC. 735. In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements …”

Section 411 of the Plant Protection Act deals with the regulation of “plant pests,” which are widely defined in the bill to include protozoans, bacteria, fungi, animals, and generic categories like “infectious agent or other pathogen.”

So, what are we really talking about here? A court case to determine if a regulation that shouldn’t even exist can be used to disrupt the otherwise legal operations of a company whose product has been identified by someone as a “plant pest.” Who would bring such a charge? Most likely a competitor or a left wing group that opposes and seeks to disrupt all for-profit activity. It’s Standard Oil and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act all over again.

Libertarians are usually good at separating their opposition to crony capitalism from their support of the free market. That’s why you’ll find them attacking large corporations one day and defending them the next.

That means that when corporations use the government for illegitimate advantages, as Monsanto has in seeking intellectual property rights in its GMOs, the libertarian response is to oppose intellectual property rights. It is not to empower the government to further regulate the market and violate property rights. If it is, then why was FDR and the New Deal wrong?

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

 

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…

Chris Dorner: A real life Frankenstein monster

TAMPA, February 13, 2013 – “Are you to be happy, while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast my other passions; but revenge remains, – revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food! I may die; but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful. I will watch with the willingness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict.”

While far more eloquent, one cannot help but see the parallels between the declaration of war upon Victor Frankenstein by the monster he created and Chris Dorner’s erratic “manifesto.” Dorner’s entire story parallels Mary Shelley’s classic, with tragic results and ominous foreboding.

Like the monster, Dorner was “created” by the military-police complex. They may not have endowed him with life, but they made him into the trained killing machine that was both willing and able wage war upon them. Dorner felt wronged by his creator and swore to avenge himself, willing to exact that revenge both upon those he had self-pronounced “guilty” and upon innocents whose suffering or death would cause the guilty pain. Like Shelley’s demon, Dorner’s life ended in fiery death (more like the movie than the novel).

Shelley’s characters are more sympathetic than those of Dorner’s tragic story. The monster suffers years of real torment before resorting to the murder of Frankenstein’s loved ones, including his brother, an innocent child, and his young wife. The reader still doesn’t condone the murders, but at least sympathizes somewhat with the murderer. Not so with Dorner. Although some or all of his accusations against the LAPD may have been true, it is impossible to either understand or condone his disproportionate response.

The government falls short of Shelley’s title character as well. Unlike the targeted members of the LAPD, Victor Frankenstein does not cower in his house under paramilitary protection. He hunts the monster he created alone, unafraid to confront him, without endangering innocent bystanders. He also understands and admits that he was wrong to create the monster in the first place. In contrast, the military-police complex shot three innocent people in its panicky response and will likely push to be even more dangerously armed and empowered as a result of this tragedy.


READ MORE: The cops are a dangerous replacement for private gun ownership 


If the parallel to Shelley’s story stopped with the LAPD or even the law enforcement community in general, it would not be so ominous. But this little morality play is not simply a warning to law enforcement to “be careful who you train and what you train them to do.” It is a metaphor for our entire society.

As Anthony Gregory reminds us, “We are all Branch Davidians Now.” We are all subject to being monitored and hunted by drones, searched without warrant, kidnapped and detained without appeal to a judge for a writ of habeas corpus, and even summarily executed without a guilty verdict or even a jury trial. As Emma Hernandez and Margie Carranza can tell you, we may not even be the subject of the monster’s wrath but still be destroyed by its fury.

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