Mises Institute: Too Much Centralization Is Turning Everything into a Political Crisis

 

Porter Burkett writing at The Mises Institute asks if Too Much Centralization Is Turning Everything into a Political Crisis. When the federal government sticks it fingers into every action of your day, then everything becomes a political battle.

Is American politics reaching a breaking point? A recent study by researchers from Brown and Stanford Universities certainly paints a grim picture of the state of the national discourse. The study attempts to measure “affective polarization,” defined as the extent to which citizens feel more negatively toward other political parties than their own, in nine developed countries, including the United States. The study authors concluded that affective polarization has risen much faster and more drastically in the United States than in any of the other countries they studied (figure 1). They then speculated on possible explanations of increasing polarization, suggesting that changing party composition, increasing racial division, and 24-hour partisan cable news are convincing possible causes. Notably, the research was completed before the coronavirus pandemic or the police killing of George Floyd, two events that have only deepened political division.

While the study is interesting and well written, the authors completely fail to consider a more fundamental potential explanation of increasing polarization, one that is likely to be understood well by libertarians and federalists, who have long railed against the trend toward ever more usurpation of local and state sovereignty in American politics. I propose that the real culprit behind worsening polarization is the gargantuan federal government that has turned the entire country into an unceasing political battleground. When virtually all political issues are settled at the national level, the whole nation becomes a source of potential political opponents. Centralization changes the scale and with it the locus of political debate and conflict. For the average political participant, it is probably true that people with differing ideas live near you, in your city or state, but the mathematical reality is that the vast majority of your political opponents live relatively far away (spread throughout the rest of the country) and thus have no material connection to your life or your community. Political opposition becomes just numbers on a cable news screen: 49 percent for this, 51 percent for that. Sixty-two million votes for one candidate, 65 million for another. These numbers, without names or faces, become simple objects; some are pawns to be moved around, while others are obstacles to be pushed aside. This is not just speculation: previous research has indicated that partisanship is correlated with the use of tactics to dehumanize political opponents. Centralized political decision-making amounts to a systematic dehumanization of anyone who might participate in the political process.

The effects of such a disastrous form of organization are already evident. Political polarization is not confined to academic papers, but has now manifested in the streets of Kenosha and Portland. As the 2020 election approaches, politically charged killings between members of rival factions will only become more likely. What was formerly a central promise of democratic politics—the peaceful transfer of power—has been abandoned in favor of direct action and blood.

If centralization is the cause of our problems, then decentralization is the cure. Pushing decision-making power down to state and local levels as much as possible, closer to the people actually affected by the decisions, is the only way forward. Of course, it will not solve all the problems of political culture today. Policy debates and disagreements could still be just as intense at the local level as at the federal. But it is harder to dehumanize someone who might be a part of your community. Those numbers on the screen are on your local news now, not the national news. Those percentages and vote tallies might include your neighbor down the street, your Uber driver, the person ahead of you in line at the grocery store, or the old man you saw out walking his dog this morning. Technically, this has always been true, and we would do well to remember the humanity of the people we disagree with even while political focus is at the national level. This fact is simply harder to ignore when the primary nexus for political decisions is more immediate and local.

Admittedly, I do not know exactly how decentralization can happen. There is no magic blueprint. Maybe the worst pessimists are right, and we are doomed to fight some sort of second civil war before we remember that those with whom we disagree are people too. I think the future is brighter than that. Perhaps, as Mises Institute president Jeff Deist has pointed out, de facto decentralization has already begun. Fortunately, nobody has to know exactly what the new political structure will look like, and—arguably the best part of decentralization—it does not have to look the same everywhere. Both major parties, and people of all ideological persuasions, will probably have to give up some preferred victory or vanquishing of the “other side.” Many Democrats would love to prevent all abortion laws in the state of Georgia for the rest of time. Some Republicans would love to lock down California’s southern border with an airtight seal. A new era of decentralization means that neither of these things can be accomplished by federal imposition, and their proponents are not going to be happy about that. The task ahead is to demonstrate that whatever the sacrifices required to

Of Two Minds: Isn’t It Obvious We Need a New System?

From Charles Hugh Smith at Of Two Minds, Isn’t It Obvious We Need a New System?

Why do we tolerate such a corrupt, undemocratic, exploitive, elite-dominated system? Because we have no other choice? No, we do have a choice.

Isn’t it obvious that we need an alternative economic system that isn’t controlled by corporations, the government and the central bank for the exclusive benefit of insiders and elites? Isn’t it obvious that the current system has failed the majority of participants, and hence the ubiquitous sensations of:

1) being ignored by the insiders / elites who run the current system to their own benefit

2) being trapped in an economy that’s been stripped of social / upward mobility

3) being stripmined / exploited by domestic and globalized elites

4) disgust / frustration with the self-enriching political class that serves corporate/elite/insider interests above all else.

My 50 years of work have given me a ringside seat in how the economy has changed from inclusive to extractive. My jobs have ranged from agricultural field worker to running my own yard service to hospitality to construction to print media (free-lancer) to financial services (quant shop) to non-profit education to political rabble-rousing (unpaid) and my current profession as marginalized, misfit author-blogger (my specialty appears to be getting shadow-banned by Big Tech monopolist extractors).

My colleague Mark Jeftovic explains how systems can be inclusive or extractive. Systems that automatically bail out the greediest, wealthiest socially-useless speculators via the Federal Reserve are not just extractive, they’re exploitive and predatory. The Reversion Will be Mean.

Extractive systems are also intrinsically fragile in crises as the trapped / exploited behind the oars tend to abandon ship at the first chance, and the real-world sinews of the economy have been weakened by the bailouts and financial engineering. In effect, the fragile, brittle shell doesn’t need much of a shock to implode. (If you want to see this process in real time, look around you.)

Yes, finance was extractive in 1970, but it was a much smaller part of the economy. Back then, finance was less than 5% of the economy. Now, by some measures, it’s a third of the economy.

Yes, corporations bought political influence and exploited everything within reach but their reach wasn’t as global and their rapacity not quite as refined. Sociopathic exploitation such as stock buybacks and Big Pharma advertising directly to consumers were illegal.

The economy was not dependent on endless asset bubbles and bailouts of the most venal speculators. The Federal Reserve whines that it has to bail out the greediest scum of the nation again and again and inflate one asset bubble after another because otherwise this sucker’s going down.

Over the past 50 years, the ladders of upward mobility have splintered. Now making all the sacrifices to follow the conventional script (get a college diploma, etc.) don’t lead to secure employment. The fundamental backdrop of the economy is that labor’s share of the economy is in permanent decline: the value of labor has been in a freefall, a freefall masked by bogus “low inflation” and other trickery. (See chart below)

In 1970, costs for essentials were low and regulatory burdens on small business were modest. You could rent an apartment for a week’s pay or less. (Even in expensive Honolulu I could rent a studio apartment for half a week’s pay.)

Even in the mid-1980s, I could get a building permit for an entire house in one day; now the process takes weeks or even months.

Now costs and regulatory burdens have soared to crushing levels. This plays perfectly to government bureaucracies, which have monopolies on the power to raise junk fees, penalties, etc. at will, and Corporate America, whose core drive is eliminate any and all competition so profits can soar on the basis of monopoly, not on superior products or services.

People feel ignored because they are ignored. People feel trapped because they are trapped. People feel stripmined because they are being stripmined. People feel angry at the political Establishment because they no longer live in a democracy.

Can we be honest for a change and admit that ours is an extractive system in which anything goes for the wealthy and powerful and winners take most?

The few pockets of the economy not under the thumb of corporations, government or the central bank– for example, the cash / informal economy–are still dependent on corporations, government and the Fed for their currency, government subsidies and products/services.

Isn’t it obvious that we need an alternative system that isn’t run for the benefit of elites and insiders? What would such a system look like?

One, it would be voluntary / opt-in. Nobody would be forced to participate. All anyone would need to bring is a willingness to be useful and belong to something doing good work on behalf of the community rather than a bunch of parasitic, predatory billionaires.

Two, it would be self-organizing, meaning there is no ruling body that can be corrupted. Bitcoin is a real-world example of a self-organizing system. There is no cabal at the top who can be corrupted; bitcoin is distributed and decentralized. It is self-organizing, as is Nature.

Three, the operations of the system would be automated so human bias would have few opportunities to carve out unearned privileges. Note that most of the systems you interact with are fully automated. (Try reaching a human being in customer service.) The only difference is these systems are secret “black boxes” designed to maximize the profits of cartel-monopoly corporations, not serve the nation or its communities. They only serve the owners, 2/3rds of whom just so happen to be the top 0.1%.

Open-source software runs a great many enterprises and systems and does so without secret “black box” algorithms known only to the exploiters.

Four, it would have its own money, a cryptocurrency that comes into being in only one way: as payment for useful, purposeful labor that benefits the community in some way. All the technology for such a labor-backed cryptocurrency is already in hand.

My 50 years of work in a variety of sectors and jobs has made such a system “obvious” to me, and so I’ve written a book ( A Hacker’s Teleology) to explain how such a system would work and why it’s “obvious.” You can read excerpts of the book in this free PDF and read the story behind the book and the Introduction.

Why do we tolerate such a corrupt, undemocratic, exploitive, elite-dominated system? Because we have no other choice? No, we do have a choice. The first step to outline the values, processes and goals of an alternative system that actually works for everyone and our planet.

I’ve taken a stab at outlining such a system, so why not check it out? If you can come up with a better one, then get it out there for the rest of us to study.

We do have a choice. But we have to take it. If we’re unwilling to make any systemic changes, then we truly are trapped–not by them (whomever they might be) but by our own unwillingness to accept that systemic change is now necessary if we’re to have a future that’s beneficial to all.

 

Rutherford Institute: Since 9/11, the Government’s Answer to Every Problem Has Been More Government

From Constitutional law attorney John Whitehead at The Rutherford Institute, Since 9/11, the Government’s Answer to Every Problem Has Been More Government

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”—Anonymous

Have you noticed that the government’s answer to every problem is more government—at taxpayer expense—and less individual liberty?

The Great Depression. The World Wars. The 9/11 terror attacks. The COVID-19 pandemic.

Every crisis—manufactured or otherwise—since the nation’s early beginnings has become a make-work opportunity for the government to expand its reach and its power at taxpayer expense while limiting our freedoms at every turn.

Indeed, the history of the United States is a testament to the old adage that liberty decreases as government (and government bureaucracy) grows. To put it another way, as government expands, liberty contracts.

To the police state, this COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge boon, like winning the biggest jackpot in the lottery. Certainly, it will prove to be a windfall for those who profit from government expenditures and expansions.

Given the rate at which the government has been devising new ways to spend our money and establish itself as the “solution” to all of our worldly problems, this current crisis will most likely end up ushering in the largest expansion of government power since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

This is how the emergency state operates, after all.

From 9/11 to COVID-19, “we the people” have acted the part of the helpless, gullible victims desperately in need of the government to save us from whatever danger threatens. In turn, the government has been all too accommodating and eager while also expanding its power and authority in the so-called name of national security.

As chief correspondent Dan Balz asks for The Washington Post, “Government is everywhere now. Where does it go next?

When it comes to the power players that call the shots, there is no end to their voracious appetite for more: more money, more power, more control.

This expansion of government power is also increasing our federal debt in unprecedented leaps and bounds. Yet the government isn’t just borrowing outrageous amounts of money to keep the country afloat. It’s also borrowing indecent sums to pay for programs it can’t afford.

The government’s primary response to this COVID-19 pandemic—flooding the market with borrowed money in the amount of trillions of dollars for stimulus payments, unemployment insurance expansions, and loans to prop up small businesses and to keep big companies afloat—has pushed the country even deeper in debt.

By “the country,” I really mean the taxpayers. And by “the taxpayers,” it’s really future generations who will be shackled to debt loads they may never be able to pay back.

This is how you impoverish the future.

Democrats and Republicans alike have done this.

Without fail, every president within the last 50 years has expanded the nation’s debt. When President Trump took office on January 20, 2017, the national debt—the amount the federal government has borrowed over the years and must pay back—was a whopping $19.9 trillion. Despite Trump’s pledge to drain the swamp and eliminate the debt, the federal debt is now approaching $27 trillion and is on track to surpass $78 trillion by 2028.

For many years now, economists have warned that economic collapse would be inevitable if the national debt ever surpassed the size of the U.S. economy. The government passed that point in June 2020 and has yet to put the brakes on its spending.

In fact, the Federal Reserve just keeps printing more money in order to prop up the economy and float the debt.

At some point, something’s got to give.

As it now stands, the U.S. is among the most indebted countries in the world.

Almost a third of the $27 trillion national debt is owed to foreign entities such as Japan and China.

Most of the debt, however, is owed to the public.

How is this even possible? Essentially, it’s a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

First, the government requires taxpayers to pay a portion of their salaries to the Social Security Trust Fund. The government then turns around and borrows from Social Security to cover its spending needs. Then the government raises taxes or prints more money in order to pay out whatever is needed to the retirees.

It’s a form of convoluted economics that only makes sense to government bureaucrats looking to make a profit off the backs of the taxpayers.

According to the U.S. Debt Clock, each taxpayer’s share of the national debt is $214,000 and growing.

That’s almost five times more than the median income for what Americans earn in a year. That’s also almost five times more than the average American has in savings, across savings accounts, checking accounts, money market accounts, call deposit accounts, and prepaid cards. Almost 60% of Americans are so financially strapped that they don’t have even $500 in savings and nothing whatsoever put away for retirement.

Just the interest that must be paid on the national debt every year is $338 billion and growing. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the fastest growing item in the budget over the next decade will be interest on the debt.

As the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reported in 2019, before COVID spending pushed the country over the fiscal cliff, “Interest payments will rise from $325 billion last year to $928 billion by 2029, a nearly threefold increase. If tax cuts and spending increases are extended, interest will exceed $1 trillion and set a new record as a share of the economy. The federal government will spend more on interest than on Medicaid or children by 2020. By 2024, interest will match defense spending.

Bottom line: The U.S. government—and that includes the current administration—is spending money it doesn’t have on programs it can’t afford, and “we the taxpayers” are the ones who will have to pay for it.

As financial analyst Kristin Tate explains, “When the government has its debt bill come due, all of us will be on the hook.”

Despite the tax burden “we the people” are made to bear, we have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but we’re being forced to pay through the nose, anyhow.

We have no real say, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn and forcing us to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.

All the while the government continues to do whatever it wants—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly—with little thought for the plight of its citizens.

This brings me to a curious point: what the future will look like ten years from now, when the federal debt is expected to surpass $78 trillion, an unsustainable level of debt that will result in unprecedented economic hardship for anyone that does not belong to the wealthy elite.

Interestingly enough, that timeline coincides with the government’s vision of the future as depicted in a Pentagon training video created by the Army for U.S. Special Operations Command.

According to the video, the government is anticipating trouble (read: civil unrest), which is code for anything that challenges the government’s authority, wealth and power, and is grooming its armed forces (including its heavily armed federal agents) accordingly to solve future domestic political and social problems.

The training video, titled “Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity,” is only five minutes long, but it provides a chilling glimpse of what the government expects the world to look like in 2030, a world bedeviled by “criminal networks,” “substandard infrastructure,” “religious and ethnic tensions,” “impoverishment, slums,” “open landfills, over-burdened sewers,” a “growing mass of unemployed,” and an urban landscape in which the prosperous economic elite must be protected from the impoverishment of the have nots.

And then comes the kicker.

Three-and-a-half minutes into the Pentagon’s dystopian vision of “a world of Robert Kaplan-esque urban hellscapes — brutal and anarchic supercities filled with gangs of youth-gone-wild, a restive underclass, criminal syndicates, and bands of malicious hackers,” the ominous voice of the narrator speaks of a need to “drain the swamps.”

Drain the swamps.

Surely, we’ve heard that phrase before?

Ah yes.

Emblazoned on t-shirts and signs, shouted at rallies, and used as a rallying cry among Trump supporters, “drain the swamp” became one of Donald Trump’s most-used campaign slogans.

Far from draining the politically corrupt swamps of Washington DC of lobbyists and special interest groups, however, the Trump Administration has further mired us in a sweltering bog of corruption and self-serving tactics.

Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Now the government has adopted its own plans for swamp-draining, only it wants to use the military to drain the swamps of futuristic urban American cities of “noncombatants and engage the remaining adversaries in high intensity conflict within.”

And who are these noncombatants, a military term that refers to civilians who are not engaged in fighting during a war?

They are, according to the Pentagon, “adversaries.”

They are “threats.”

They are the “enemy.”

They are people who don’t support the government, people who live in fast-growing urban communities, people who may be less well-off economically than the government and corporate elite, people who engage in protests, people who are unemployed, people who engage in crime (in keeping with the government’s fast-growing, overly broad definition of what constitutes a crime).

In other words, in the eyes of the U.S. military, noncombatants are American citizens a.k.a. domestic extremists a.k.a. enemy combatants who must be identified, targeted, detained, contained and, if necessary, eliminated…(continues)

Dr. Samuel Langdon Preaches “Government Corrupted by Vice”

This is an excerpt from a sermon from Dr. Samuel Langdon in 1775 after being named president of Harvard College and given before the Congress of the colony of Massachusetts Bay.

And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy Counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called the City of Righteousness, the faithful City. – Isaiah 1:26

We have lived to see the time when British Liberty is just ready to expire;—when that constitution of government which has so long been the glory and strength of the English nation, is deeply undermined and ready to tumble into ruins;—when America is threatened with cruel oppression, and the arm of power is stretched out against New-England, and especially against this Colony, to compel us to submit to the arbitrary acts of legislators who are not our representatives, and who will not themselves bear the least part of the burdens which, without mercy, they are laying upon us. The most formal and solemn grants of Kings to our ancestors are deemed by our oppressors as of little value; and they have mutilated the Charter of this Colony in the most essential parts, upon false representations▪ and new invented maxims of policy, without the least regard to any legal process. We are no longer permitted to fix our eyes on the faithful of the land, and trust in the wisdom of their counsels, and the equity of their judgment; but men in whom we can have no confidence,—whose principles are subversive of our liberties,—whose aim is to exercise lordship over us, and share among themselves the public wealth:—men who are ready to serve any master, and execute the most unrighteous decrees for high wages,—whose faces we never saw before, and whose interests and connexions may be far divided from us by the wide atlantick,—are to be set over us as counsellors and judges, at the pleasure of those who have the riches and power of the nation in their hands, and whose noblest plan is to subjugate the Colonies first, and then the whole nation to their will.

That we might not have it in our power to refuse the most absolute submission to their unlimited claims of authority, they have not only endeavored to terrify us with fleets and armies sent to our Capital, and distressed and put an end to our trade, particularly that important branch of it, the fishery; but at length attempted, by a sudden march of a body of troops in the night, to seize and destroy one of our magazines, formed by the people merely for their own security; if, after such formidable military preparations on the other side, matters should be pushed to an extremity. By this, as might well be expected, a skirmish was brought on; and it is most evident, from a variety of concurring circumstances, as well as numerous depositions both of the prisoners taken by us at that time, and our own men then on the spot only as spectators, that the fire began first on the side of the King’s troops. At least five or six of our inhabitants were murderously kill’d by the Regulars at Lexington, before any man attempted to return the fire, and when they were actually complying with the command to disperse: and two more of our brethren were likewise kill’d at Concord-Bridge by a fire from the King’s soldiers, before the engagement began on our side. But whatever credit falsehoods transmited to Great-Britain, from the other side, may gain, the matter may be rested entirely on this,— that he that arms himself to commit a robbery, and demands the traveller’s purse, by the terror of Instant death, is the first aggressor, though the other should take the advantage of discharging his pistol first and killing the robber.

The alarm was sudden; but in a very short time spread far and wide: the nearest neighbours in haste ran together, to assist their brethren, and save their country. Not more than three or four hundred met in season and bravely attacked and repulsed the enemies of liberty, who retreated with great precipitation. But by the help of a strong reinforcement, notwithstanding a close pur|suit, and continual loss on their side, they acted the part of Robbers and Savages, by burning, plundering, and damaging almost every house in their way, to the utmost of their power, murdering the unarmed and helpless, and not regarding the weaknesses of the tender sex▪ until they had secured themselves beyond the reach of our terrifying arms…

We have used our utmost endeavors, by repeated humble petitions and remonstrances,— by a series of unanswerable reasonings published from the Press, in which the dispute has been fairly stated, and the justice of our opposition clearly demonstrated,—and by the mediation of some of the noblest and most faithful friends of the British constitution, who have powerfully plead our cause in Parliament,—to prevent such measures as may soon reduce the body politic to a miserable, dismembred, dying trunk, though lately the terror of all Europe. But our King, as if impelled by some strange fatality, is resolved to reason with us only by the roar of his Cannon, and the pointed arguments of musquets and bayonets. Because we refuse submission to the despotic power of a ministerial Parliament, our own Sovereign, to whom we have been always ready to swear true allegiance,—whose authority we never meant to cast off,—who might have continued happy in the cheerful obedience of as faithful subjects as any in his dominions,—has given us up to the rage of his Ministers, to be seized at sea by the rapacious commanders of every little sloop of war and piratical cutter, and to be plundered and massacred by land by mercenary troops, who know no distinction betwixt an enemy and a brother, between right and wrong; but only, like brutal pursuers, to hunt and seize the prey pointed out by their masters.

We must keep our eyes fixed on the supreme government of the ETERNAL KING, as directing all events, setting up or pulling down the Kings of the earth at his pleasure, suffering the best forms of human government to degenerate and go to ruin by corruption; or restoring the decayed constitutions of kingdoms and states, by reviving public virtue and religion, and granting the favorable interpositions of his providence. To this our text leads us; and though I hope to be excused on this occasion from a formal dis|course on the words in a doctrinal way, yet I must not wholly pass over the religious instruction contained in them.

Let us consider—That for the sins of a people God may suffer the best government to be corrupted, or entirely dissolved; and that nothing but a general reformation can give good ground to hope that the public happiness will be restored, by the recovery of the strength and perfection of the state, and that divine providence will interpose to fill every department with wise and good men.

Isaiah prophesied about the time of the captivity of the ten tribes of Israel, and about a century before the captivity of Judah. The kingdom of Israel was brought to destruction, because its iniquities were full; its counsellors and judges were wholly taken away, because there remained no hope of reformation. But the sceptre did not entirely depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till the Messiah came: yet greater and greater changes took place in their political affairs; their government degenerated in proportion as their vices increased, till few faithful men were left in any public offices; and at length, when they were delivered up for seventy years into the hands of the king of Babylon, scarce any remains of their original excellent civil polity appeared among them.

The Jewish government, according to the original constitution which was divinely established, if considered merely in a civil view, was a perfect Republic. The heads of their tribes, and elders of their cities, were their counsellors and judges. They called the people together in more general or particular assemblies, took their opinions, gave advice, and managed the public affairs according to the general voice. Counsellors and judges comprehend all the powers of that government; for there was no such thing as legislative authority belonging to it, their complete code of laws being given immediately from God by the hand of Moses. And let them who cry up the divine right of Kings consider, that the only form of government which had a proper claim to a divine establishment was so far from including the idea of a King, that it was a high crime for Israel to ask to be in this respect like other nations; and when they were gratified, it was rather as a just punishment of their folly, that they might feel the burdens of court pageantry, of which they were warned by a very striking description, than as a divine recommendation of kingly authority.

Every nation, when able and agreed, has a right to set up over themselves any form of government which to them may appear most conducive to their common welfare. The civil Polity of Israel is doubtless an excellent general model, allowing for some peculiarities; at least some principal laws and orders of it may be copied, to great advantage, in more modern establishments.

When a government is in it’s prime, the public good engages the attention of the whole; the strictest regard is paid to the qualifications of those who hold the offices of the state; virtue prevails; every thing is managed with justice, prudence, and frugality; the laws are founded on principles of equity rather than mere policy; and all the people are happy. But vice will increase with the riches and glory of an empire; and this gradually tends to corrupt the constitution, and in time bring on it’s dissolution. This may be considered not only as the natural effect of vice, but a righteous judgment of heaven, especially upon a nation which has been favor’d with the blessings of religion and liberty, and is guilty of undervaluing them, and eagerly going into the gratification of every lust.

In this chapter the prophet describes the very corrupt state of Judah in his day, both as to religion and common morality; and looks forward to that increase of wickedness which would bring on their desolation and captivity. They were a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that were corrupters, who had forsaken the Lord, and provoked the holy One of Israel to anger. The whole body of the nation, from head to foot, was full of moral and political disorders without any remaining soundness. Their religion was all mere ceremony and hypocrisy, and even the laws of common justice and humanity were disregarded in their public courts. They had Counsellors and Judges, but very different from those at the beginning of the common wealth. Their Princes were rebellious against God, and the constitution of their country, and companions of thieves, giving countenance to every artifice for seizing the property of the subjects into their own hands, and robbing the public treasury. Every one loved gifts and followed after rewards; they regarded the perquisites more than the duties of their office; the general aim was at profitable places and pensions; they were influenced in every thing by bribery; and their avarice and luxury were never satisfied, but hurried them on to all kinds of oppression and violence, so that they even justified and encouraged the murder of innocent persons to support their lawless power, and increase their wealth. And God in righteous judgment left them to run into all this excess of vice to their own destruction, because they had forsaken him, and were guilty of wilful inattention to the most essential parts of that religion which had been given them by a well attested Revelation from heaven.

The Jewish nation could not but see and feel the unhappy consequences of so great corruption of the state. Doubtless they complained much of men in power, and very heartily and liberally reproached them for their notorious misconduct. The public greatly suffered and the people groan|ed, and wished for better rulers and better management. But in vain they hoped for a change of men and measures and better times, when the spirit of religion was gone, and the infection of vice was become universal. The whole body being so corrupted, there could be no rational prospect of any great reformation in the state, but rather of its ruin; which accordingly came on in Jeremiah’s time. Yet if a general reformation of religion and morals had taken place, and they had turned to God from all their sins; if they had again re|covered the true spirit of their religion; God, by the gracious interpositions of his providence, would soon have found out methods to restore the former virtue of the state, and again have given them men of wisdom and integrity, according to their utmost wish, to be Counsellors and Judges. This was verified in fact, after the nation had been purged by a long captivity, and returned to their own land humbled, and filled with zeal for God and his law.

By all this we may be led to consider the true cause of the present remarkable troubles which are come upon Great-Britain and these Colonies; and the only effectual remedy.

We have rebelled against God. We have lost the true spirit of christianity, tho’ we retain the outward profession and form of it. We have neglected and let light by the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy commands and institutions. The worship of many is but meer compliment to the Deity, while their hearts are far from him. By many the gospel is corrupted into a superficial system of moral philosophy, little better than ancient Platonism. And after all the pretended refinements of Moderns in the theory of christianity, very little of the pure practice of it is to be found among those who once stood fore|most in the profession of the Gospel. In a gene|ral view of the present moral state of Great Britain it may be said—There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and commiting adultery, their wickedness breaks out; and one murder after another is committed, under the connivance and encouragement even of that authority by which such crimes ought to be punished, that the purposes of oppression and despotism may be answered. As they have increased, so have they sinned; therefore God is changing their glory into shame. The general prevalence of vice has changed the whole face of things in the British government.

The excellency of the constitution has been the boast of Great-Britain, and the envy of neighbouring nations. In former times the great departments of the state, and the various places of trust and authority, were filled with men of wisdom, honestly, and religion, who employed all their powers, and were ready to risque their for|tunes, and their lives for the public good. They were faithful counsellors to Kings; directed their authority and majesty to the happiness of the nation; and opposed every step by which despotism endeavoured to advance. They were Fathers of the people, and sought the welfare and prosperity of the whole body. They did not exhaust the national wealth by luxury and bribery, or convert it to their own private benefit, or the maintenance of idle useless officers and dependents; but im|proved it faithfully for the proper purposes, for the necessary support of government, and defence of the kingdom. Their laws was dictated by wisdom and equity; and justice was administred with impartiality. Religion discover’d it’s general influence among all ranks, and kept out great corruptions from places of power.

But in what does the British nation now glory?—In a meer shadow of it’s ancient political system?—In titles of dignity without virtue?—In vast public treasures continually lavished in corruption, till every fund is exhausted, notwithstanding the mighty streams perpetually flowing in?—In the many artifices to stretch the prerogatives of the crown beyond all constitutional bounds, and make the king an absolute monarch, while the people are deluded with a meer phantom of liberty? What idea must we entertain of that government, if such an one can be found, which pretends to have made an exact counterbalance of power between the sovereign, the nobles and the commons, so that the three branches shall be an effectual check upon each other, and the united wisdom of the whole shall conspire to promote the national felicity; but which, in reality, is reduced to such a situation that it may be managed at the sole will of one court favorite? What difference is there betwixt one man’s choosing, at his own pleasure, by his single vote, the majority of those who are to represent the people; and his purchasing in such a majority, according to his own nomination, with money out of the public treasury, or other effectual methods of influencing elections?—And what shall we say, if in the same manner, by places, pensions, and other bribes, a minister of state can at any time gain over a nobler majority likewise, to be intirely subservient to his purposes; and moreover persuade his royal master to resign himself up wholly to the direction of his counsels? If this should be the case of any nation from one seven years end to another, the bargain and sale being made sure for such a period, would they still have reason to boast of their excellent constitution?— Ought they not rather to think it high time to restore the corrupted dying state to its original perfection?—I will apply this to the Roman senate under Julius Caesar, which retained all its ancient formalities, but voted always only as Caesar dictated. If the decrees of such a senate were urged on the Romans as fraught with all the blessings of Roman liberty, we must suppose them strangely deluded, if they were persuaded to believe it…

Into what fatal policy has the nation been impelled by its public vices! To wage a cruel war with its own children in these colonies, only to gratify the lust of power, and the demands of extravagance! May God, in his great mercy recover Great Britain from this fatal infatuation; shew them their errors; and give them a spirit of re|formation, before it is too late to avert impending destruction. May the eyes of the King be opened to see the ruinous tendency of the measures into which he has been led, and his heart inclined to treat his American Subjects with justice and clemency, instead of forcing them still farther to the last extremities! God grant some method may be found out to effect a happy reconciliation, so that the colonies may again enjoy the protection of their Sovereign, with perfect security of all their natural rights, and civil and religious liberties.

But, alas! have not the sins of America, and of New-England in particular, had a hand in bringing down upon us the righteous judgments of heaven? Wherefore is all this evil come upon us? Is it not because we have forsaken the Lord?…

Mises Institute: Mises and Rothbard on Democracy and Revolution

In this piece from the Mises Institute, David Gordon examines von Mises’ statement that the only convincing argument for democracy is that it allows for a peaceful change of power. Then he discusses Murray Rothbard’s critique which says that if that is true, then the democratic government that results must exactly resemble the government that would have resulted from a violent revolution and why that doesn’t happen. Another argument comes in when a government like the US is full of un-elected bureaucrats with great power who are protected from change from an election. In that case also, you end up with a government which does not reflect what might have been obtained by violent revolution.

Ludwig von Mises rejects the standard arguments for democracy. Not for him are the alleged virtues of public deliberation. For him, there is only one argument for democracy that is convincing. He says that only democracy allows for a peaceful change of power. Every government, he thinks, rests on popular consent. If a sufficient number of people find the government no longer tolerable, it won’t be able to maintain itself in power. In a democracy, people in this situation can peacefully replace the government with an opposition party more to its liking. Without democracy, there is liable to be a violent revolution, because those in power and their supporters are likely to cling to power, even if their position is in the long run unsustainable.

Mises puts the argument in this way in Liberalism:

Government by a handful of people—and the rulers are always as much in the minority as against those ruled as the producers of shoes are as against the consumers of shoes—depends on the consent of the governed, i.e., on their acceptance of the existing administration. They may see it only as the lesser evil, or as an unavoidable evil, yet they must be of the opinion that a change in the existing, situation would have no purpose. But once the majority of the governed becomes convinced that it is necessary and possible to change the form of government and to replace the old regime and the old personnel with a new regime and new personnel, the days of the former are numbered. The majority will have the power to carry out its wishes by force even against the will of the old regime. In the long run no government can maintain itself in power if it does not have public opinion behind it, i.e., if those governed are not convinced that the government is good. The force to which the government resorts in order to make refractory spirits compliant can be successfully applied only as long as the majority does not stand solidly in opposition.

There is, therefore, in every form of polity a means for making the government at least ultimately dependent on the will of the governed, viz, civil war, revolution, insurrection. But it is just this expedient that liberalism wants to avoid. There can be no lasting economic improvement if the peaceful course of affairs is continually interrupted by internal struggles….

Here is where the social function performed by democracy finds its point of application. Democracy is that form of political constitution which makes possible the adaptation of the government to the wishes of the governed without violent struggles. If in a democratic state the government is no longer being conducted as the majority of the population would have it, no civil war is necessary to put into office those who are willing to work to suit the majority. By means of elections and parliamentary arrangements, the change of government is executed smoothly and without friction, violence, or bloodshed.

There are various points at which you can challenge this argument. For example, what if the majority of people oppose the government, but there isn’t a consensus backing a particular opposition group? (I don’t mean that the party in power won’t let popular opposition groups run. Mises when he talks about democracy assumes that elections are fair.) But even if the argument can be challenged, it seems to have much in its favor.

Murray Rothbard raises a remarkable objection to this argument that hasn’t received the attention it deserves. His book Power and Market contains a profusion of arguments, one right after the other, and this one has escaped much notice.

His argument, in brief, is that if democracy is supposed to be a substitute for violent revolution, then the democratic government must exactly resemble the government that would have won out in a violent revolution. It is most unlikely that this will happen. If so, Mises’s argument fails.

Rothbard explains what he has in mind in this passage:

There is, moreover, another flaw in the “peaceful-change” argument for democracy, this one being a grave self-contradiction that has been universally overlooked. Those who have adopted this argument have simply used it to give a seal of approval to all democracies and have then moved on quickly to other matters. They have not realized that the “peaceful-change” argument establishes a criterion for government before which any given democracy must pass muster. For the argument that ballots are to substitute for bullets must be taken in a precise way: that a democratic election will yield the same result as would have occurred if the majority had had to battle the minority in violent combat. In short, the argument implies that the election results are simply and precisely a substitute for a test of physical combat. Here we have a criterion for democracy: Does it really yield the results that would have been obtained through civil combat? If we find that democracy, or a certain form of democracy, leads systematically to results that are very wide of this “bullet-substitute” mark, then we must either reject democracy or give up the argument.

How, then, does democracy, either generally or in specific countries, fare when we test it against its own criterion? One of the essential attributes of democracy, as we have seen, is that each man has one vote. But the “peaceful-change” argument implies that each man would have counted equally in any combat test. But is this true? In the first place, it is clear that physical power is not equally distributed. In any test of combat, women, old people, sick people, and 4F’s would fare very badly. On the basis of the “peaceful-change” argument, therefore, there is no justification whatever for giving these physically feeble groups the vote. So, barred from voting would be all citizens who could not pass a test, not for literacy (which is largely irrelevant to combat prowess), but for physical fitness. Furthermore, it clearly would be necessary to give plural votes to all men who have been militarily trained (such as soldiers and policemen), for it is obvious that a group of highly trained fighters could easily defeat a far more numerous group of equally robust amateurs.

Could Mises respond to this argument? He might have said that even if Rothbard is right that democracy isn’t a perfect substitute for the results of a violent revolution, it’s close enough to merit our support, given the costs of violence. But I’m sure Rothbard would have had a counter for that as well. Murray had an amazing ability to counter any argument against him, and I’ve never met his match in this.

National Review: Ninth Circuit Affirms 2016 Dismissal of Bundy Case

Federal law enforcement officers block a road during protests

From the National Review, Government Misconduct Frees Cliven Bundy as the 9th Circuit affirms the dismissal with prejudice of the case against the Bundys over cattle grazing, land use fees, and the resulting standoff in Nevada.

Politically charged prosecutions — even ones that are thoroughly justified — often end badly for the justice system. So it appears with the federal prosecutions of Cliven Bundy and his sons. The government blew its case against Bundy’s sons by overcharging them, resulting in a jury acquittal in 2016. Today, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Bundy’s own federal indictment (as well as that of several of his co-defendants) on the grounds that the government had waited until the middle of trial to disclose information that would have helped Bundy’s case, in violation of Brady v. Maryland. The misconduct was so severe and prejudicial to the Bundy clan’s case that the court barred the government from bringing the same charges again. The opinion was written by Jay Bybee, a George W. Bush appointee, but joined by judges appointed by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

The Bundy indictment charged extortion, threats to federal officers, and a variety of related crimes due to the armed standoff around the Bundy ranch arising from a longstanding dispute over unpaid grazing fees claimed by the Bureau of Land Management. The trial court rejected the Bundy clan’s self-defense theory, but, as the court wrote, “A central pillar of the government’s case was the allegation that the defendants recruited armed followers by intentionally deceiving those followers into believing that the Bundys feared for their lives because government snipers surrounded their ranch,” a charge that was touted in the government’s opening statement to the jury.

The Bundys asked for video shot by a camera they said the FBI had trained on them; the government called it a “fantastical fishing expedition,” but the camera’s existence and its live feed to the BLM command center was confirmed four days into the trial. The resulting hearing disclosed as well federal patrols “armed with AR-15 rifles” around the compound. The trial court gave the prosecution the benefit of the doubt that withholding this information was a good-faith decision, but several days later, more FBI interviews (form 302s) were disclosed discussing agents in full tactical gear watching the compound and the insertion of agents the FBI itself described as “snipers.” This only came to light after the trial judge had excluded evidence based on the government’s repeated insistence that there were no snipers. The Ninth Circuit summarized why withholding this evidence was so harmful to the Bundys’ ability to present a defense:

The defendants claim that the Bundys feared they were surrounded by heavily armed snipers. Keeping the defense from gathering as much evidence as possible to show that there was a reasonable basis to fear that snipers surrounded the property was itself harmful. Moreover, the Felix 302 actually refers to the BLM agent in the overwatch position as a “sniper.” Indeed, the Felix 302 uses both “tactical over watch position” and “sniper” to refer to the same agent. This was tangible documentation showing that the government’s own officials understood agents in overwatch positions to be equivalent to “snipers.” Even if the defendants had some other evidence of agents taking “overwatch” positions around the Bundy property, the Felix 302 supported their theory in ways that [documents provided earlier] did not. The Felix 302, therefore, adds credibility to the Bundys’ claims that they feared the presence of “snipers” and it should have been disclosed prior to trial. In sum, like the evidence regarding the camera, these documents could have helped the defense show that the defendants genuinely feared the presence of snipers—contradicting the allegations that the defendants intentionally lied about being surrounded by snipers to inflame supporters.

In the Ninth Circuit’s view, it was “preposterous and reckless” for the government to withhold this evidence:

Of particular concern is the government’s handling of evidence related to the presence of snipers. This was a hot-button issue. The term is evocative, rhetorically charged, and would have been a dog whistle for summoning members of private militias in ways that screaming “surveillance cameras!” would not. The government said the Bundys’ claim of “snipers” was “false” and “deceitful,” yet the government’s own documents referred to its agents as “snipers.” The government disputed the relevance of this information, fixating on the question of whether the officers in the “overwatch” were technically “snipers.” The district court had to remind the government that these were questions for the jury.

The failure to produce evidence regarding “snipers” was particularly troubling for the district court because, during the Tier 3 trial of other co-defendants, the district court prohibited testimony regarding the presence of snipers, based on the government’s assurances that there were no snipers involved in the impound operation. The district court even removed a testifying defendant from the stand in that trial because the defendant kept stating that snipers were present. The district court was understandably exasperated when evidence came to light in this trial, showing that the government referred to its agents as “snipers.”

In short, the government had to know the import that any evidence regarding snipers, or agents who looked and functioned like snipers, would have in this case. Nevertheless, it withheld a slate of information bolstering the claim that the defendants could have had a reasonable basis for believing there were snipers in the area.

The court also found that the government improperly made “a conscious choice” to withhold a series of “threat assessments” that had downgraded earlier concerns about the threat posed by Bundy, which the defense could have used to challenge the necessity for a “militarized” response. The Ninth Circuit concluded that the trial judge had acted reasonably by dismissing the case rather than just ordering a new trial, given the “need to impose a sanction that will serve to deter future prosecutions from engaging in the same misconduct as occurred here”:

We note the government’s failure to acknowledge and confess any wrongdoing during the course of this case—especially as to material misrepresentations to the district court about the presence of snipers. Rather than accepting responsibility, the government blamed the defense for not requesting more specific information. Even in its motion for reconsideration, the government continued to maintain that it never had an obligation to turn these documents over and that any omission on the government’s part was the fault of the defendants for not doing a better job of showing why this information was relevant. Only on appeal has the government admitted that it should have turned these documents over.

Rutherford Institute: The Building Blocks of Tyranny from A to Z

Consitutional law attorney and author John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute writes about much that is wrong in the USA in P Is for Predator State: The Building Blocks of Tyranny from A to Z

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.” — Professor Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Discourse in the Age of Show Business

While America continues to fixate on the drama-filled reality show scripted by the powers-that-be, directed from the nation’s capital, and played out in high definition across the country, the American Police State has moved steadily forward.

Nothing has changed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a convenient, traumatic, devastating distraction.

The American people, the permanent underclass in America, have allowed themselves to be so distracted and divided that they have failed to notice the building blocks of tyranny being laid down right under their noses by the architects of the Deep State.

Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton: they have all been complicit in carrying out the Deep State’s agenda. Unless something changes to restore the balance of power, the next president—the new boss—will be the same as the old boss.

Frankly, it really doesn’t matter what you call the old/new boss—the Deep State, the Controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the corporate elite, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex—so long as you understand that no matter who occupies the White House, it is a profit-driven, an unelected bureaucracy that is actually calling the shots.

If our losses are mounting with every passing day—and they are—it is a calculated siege intended to ensure our defeat at the hands of a totalitarian regime.

Free speech, the right to protest, the right to challenge government wrongdoing, due process, a presumption of innocence, the right to self-defense, accountability and transparency in government, privacy, media, sovereignty, assembly, bodily integrity, representative government: all of these and more are casualties in the government’s war on the American people.

Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized federal police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, and the like—all of which have been sanctioned by Congress, the White House and the courts—our constitutional freedoms are being steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded.

As a result, the American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, and denied due process.

None of these dangers have dissipated in any way.

They have merely disappeared from our televised news streams.

It’s time to get educated on what’s really going on. Thus, in the interest of liberty and truth, here’s an A-to-Z primer that spells out the grim realities of life in the American Police State that no one seems to be talking about anymore.

A is for the AMERICAN POLICE STATE. A police state “is characterized by bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.”

B is for our battered BILL OF RIGHTS. In the militarized police culture that is America today, where you can be kicked, punched, tasered, shot, intimidated, harassed, stripped, searched, brutalized, terrorized, wrongfully arrested, and even killed by a police officer, and that officer is rarely held accountable for violating your rights, the Bill of Rights doesn’t amount to much.

C is for CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE. This governmental scheme to deprive Americans of their liberties—namely, the right to property—is being carried out under the guise of civil asset forfeiture, a government practice wherein government agents (usually the police and now TSA agents) seize private property they “suspect” may be connected to criminal activity. Then, whether or not any crime is actually proven to have taken place, the government keeps the citizen’s property and it’s virtually impossible to get it back.

D is for DRONES. It was estimated that at least 30,000 drones would be airborne in American airspace by 2020, part of an $80 billion industry. Although some drones will be used for benevolent purposes, many will also be equipped with lasers, tasers and scanning devices, among other weapons—all aimed at “we the people.”

E is for EMERGENCY STATE. From 9/11 to COVID-19, we have been the subjected to an “emergency state” that justifies all manner of government tyranny and power grabs in the so-called name of national security. The government’s ongoing attempts to declare so-called national emergencies in order to circumvent the Constitution’s system of checks and balances constitutes yet another expansion of presidential power that exposes the nation to further constitutional peril.

F is for FASCISM. A study conducted by Princeton and Northwestern University concluded that the U.S. government does not represent the majority of American citizens. Instead, the study found that the government is ruled by the rich and powerful, or the so-called “economic elite.” Moreover, the researchers concluded that policies enacted by this governmental elite nearly always favor special interests and lobbying groups. In other words, we are being ruled by an oligarchy disguised as a democracy, and arguably on our way towards fascism—a form of government where private corporate interests rule, money calls the shots, and the people are seen as mere economic units or databits.

G is for GRENADE LAUNCHERS and GLOBAL POLICE. The federal government has distributed more than $18 billion worth of battlefield-appropriate military weapons, vehicles and equipment such as drones, tanks, and grenade launchers to domestic police departments across the country. As a result, most small-town police forces now have enough firepower to render any citizen resistance futile. Now take those small-town police forces, train them to look and act like the military, and then enlist them to be part of the United Nations’ Strong Cities Network program, and you not only have a standing army that operates beyond the reach of the Constitution but one that is part of a global police force.

H is for HOLLOW-POINT BULLETS. The government’s efforts to militarize and weaponize its agencies and employees is reaching epic proportions, with federal agencies as varied as the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration stockpiling millions of lethal hollow-point bullets, which violate international law. Ironically, while the government continues to push for stricter gun laws for the general populace, the U.S. military’s arsenal of weapons makes the average American’s handgun look like a Tinker Toy.

I is for the INTERNET OF THINGS, in which internet-connected “things” monitor your home, your health and your habits in order to keep your pantry stocked, your utilities regulated and your life under control and relatively worry-free. The key word here, however, is control. This “connected” industry propels us closer to a future where police agencies apprehend virtually anyone if the government “thinks” they may commit a crime, driverless cars populate the highways, and a person’s biometrics are constantly scanned and used to track their movements, target them for advertising, and keep them under perpetual surveillance…(continues)

Click here to continue reading at the Rutherford Institute.

Alt-Market: Martial Law Is Unacceptable Regardless Of The Circumstances

This article is a reminder from Brandon Smith at Alt-Market that Martial Law Is Unacceptable Regardless Of The Circumstances

Back in 2014, hundreds if not thousands of conservatives and liberty movement activists converged on a farm in rural Clark County, Nevada. The purpose was to protest the incursion of federal government agents onto the property of the Bundy family, who had defied pressure from the Bureau of Land Management to stop allowing their cattle to feed on “federal land” in a form of free ranging. It was a practice that had been going on for decades and one that was required for the Bundy farm to survive, ended abruptly by environmental laws protecting a tortoise.

The Bundy family had been improving on the area with water sources and other measures for generations without interference. The claim by the BLM and other agencies was that the farmers were destroying wildlife habitat with their cattle, yet the Bundy’s land improvements had actually allowed wildlife to THRIVE in areas where animals would find life difficult or impossible otherwise.

The federal government became fixated on the Bundy’s, and decided to make an example out of them. Their defiance of the crackdown on their use of the land was met with extreme measures, including their cattle impounded, their farm being surrounded and sniper teams placed in the hills nearby. The liberty movement saw this as the last straw, and so reacted at a grassroots level. The concern was that Bundy Ranch could become another Waco. They locked and loaded and went to defend the Bundy’s.

I completely agreed at the time with the efforts surrounding Bundy Ranch and I still agree with them today. The federal government had overstepped its bounds on multiple occasions when it came to rural farmers in sagebrush country and everyone had finally had enough. The feds were faced with a group of armed liberty movement members and eventually ran away. They even gave the Bundy’s back the cattle the feds had initially tried to confiscate. This event showcased the power of the people to repel tyranny when necessary.

The claim that the public is impotent against government force was summarily trounced.  The action was not perfect, and there were many internal disputes and a plethora of mistakes, but overall it had achieved its goal.  It sent a message to the establishment that if you try to assert unconstitutional force against the citizenry there is a chance a Bundy Ranch scenario might happen again, and next time it might not simply be a defensive measure.

I mention Bundy Ranch because I want to remind conservatives of their roots. We are a constitutional movement. We are a small government movement. We believe in individual rights, states rights and the 10th Amendment, as well as strict limitations placed on the federal government and state governments when they try to violate the Bill of Rights.  If you don’t believe in these things, you are not a conservative or a constitutionalist.

No government, whether state or federal, supersedes the boundaries placed upon them by the constitution. Once they violate those boundaries, they must be put in check by the citizenry, for the constitution is merely an object that represents an ideal. It can’t defend itself. If a government undermines constitutional protections, it is not a failure of the constitution, it is a failure by the public to act.

Sadly, there are “conservatives” out there who supported the efforts at Bundy Ranch in 2014, but are now calling for federal overreach and martial law today. The very same people who argued vehemently against unconstitutional actions back then are arguing for bending or breaking the rules of the constitution now. This is something I have been warning about for years…

The greatest threat to freedom is not the government, extreme leftists or the globalist cabal; the greatest threat is when freedom fighters foresake their own principles and start rationalizing tyranny because it happens to benefit them in the moment. If freedom fighters stop fighting for freedom, who remains pick up the mantle? No one. And thus, the globalists and collectivists win the long game.

Right now there are two sides calling for martial law-like restrictions on the public, and both sides think they are doing what is best for society at large. They both believe they are morally justified and that totalitarian actions are necessary for “the greater good”. Both sides are wrong.

The Pandemic Puritans

On one side, we have a group made up primarily of political leftists but also some conservatives who say that the coronavius pandemic creates a scenario in which medical tyranny must be established to protect the public from itself. Leftists enjoy control in general and the pandemic simply offers an opportunity for them to act out their totalitarian fantasies in real life.

These are the people who wag their fingers at others on the street or in the park or at the beach for not “social distancing” properly. These are the people that inform on their neighbors, or inform on local businesses for not following strict guidelines. These are the people that get a thrill from forcing other people to conform.

This is not to say that precautions are not warranted, they certainly are. However, these precautions MUST be up to individuals, not enforced by bureaucracy. The moment you hand government ultimate power to dictate people’s health decisions, personal daily activities, freedom of assembly and their ability to participate in the economy, you have given the government ultimate power to destroy our very culture. No government should be allowed to have that kind of influence.

The issue here is one of the greater EVIL, not the greater good. What is the greater evil? To avoid unconstitutional measures, avoid violating individual rights and allow the virus to spread faster than it normally would? Or, to completely throw out the Bill of Rights, individual liberty and economic security in the name of a brand of “safety” that is ambiguous and undefined?

As I write this, the state of New Jersey among others is implementing a draconian response against businesses that defy lockdown orders. NJ just arrested the owners of a gymnasium in Bellmawr who refused to close down. Even though they used social distancing measures and applied their own guidelines, the state has decided that citizens are children that must be controlled rather than adults that can make their own choices. This sets a dangerous precedence for the whole country.

Understand that small businesses that are not deemed “essential” by arbitrary decree from the state are on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse. Millions of people are having their livelihoods threatened by the lockdowns. Millions of jobs are at risk. Is the coronavirus really worth destroying our own economic system? Because that is EXACTLY what is happening right now. The US economy was already suffering from destabilization, and now the pandemic response is putting the final nail in the coffin.

If the economy tanks far more people will die from the resulting crisis of poverty, crime and civil unrest than will EVER die from the coronavirus pandemic. When you look at the big picture, how can anyone justify medical tyranny and martial law measures? There is simply no logical explanation for violating the economic and personal freedom of Americans in response to a disease. If some people die from the virus, so be it. Its a small price to pay to keep our freedoms intact.  Furthermore, I would stand by that argument even if I get sick from the virus.

Sock Puppet Conservatives

There are people out there that like constitutional rights and civil liberties “in theory”, but in practice they view these rights as inconvenient to their goals.  For these so-called “conservatives”, the Bill of Rights is only for peacetime. When war or domestic conflict rolls around, our rights are suddenly forfeit.

I use this particular metaphor often but I really can’t find a better one:

Government power is like the “one ring” in Lord Of The Rings. Everyone desperately wants control of it. The side of evil thirsts for it. The side of good thinks that if only they had it they could use it for honorable ends; they think they can use it to defeat evil. They are wrong.

The “one ring” (government power) corrupts ALL. It cannot be controlled. It cannot be used for good. Eventually, it warps the minds of those who hold it, twisting them into something grotesque. Good people who exploit the ring end up becoming the very monsters they were trying to defeat, and evil wins.

Right now through the Trump Administration conservatives are being tempted with the “one ring”. We are being tempted with ultimate government power. The leftist hordes and their actions are egregious. They act irrationally and foolishly. Their communist ideology and mindless zealotry is destructive and they openly seek the collapse of western civilization. But in the end this doesn’t matter.  They are nothing more than useful idiots for a greater agenda.

It’s interesting that the only solution I see being presented in conservative circles lately is the use of federal power to crush the protests and riots. Again, this might seem like a reasonable action in the face of so much lawlessness, but if taken too far the implications are horrifying.

Some conservative groups are cheering the deployment of federal agencies to cities like Portland in the name of stopping civil unrest, but there is a fine line between law enforcement and martial law. And by martial law, I mean ANY government force that is designed to suppress or break civil protections. This does not only include a military presence, it can also include federal agencies overstepping their bounds, just as they did at Bundy Ranch.

In Portland and other cities like New York, federal agents and police have been snatching protesters off the street in unmarked vans without identifying themselves.  Essentially, they are black-bagging people. This is the kind of behavior which real conservatives traditionally despise.

Yes, some of these protesters did in fact loot or participate in property damage; and some of them did absolutely nothing.  This is being done under 40 US Code 1315 which was signed into law by Neo-con president George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks as part of the tidal wave of unconstitutional Patriot Act measures that were railroaded through during mass fear and panic.

Conservatives have been warning for years about the potential for misuse of these laws to violate people’s rights. Will we now support them because they are being enforced against people we don’t like? I will say this: If an unmarked van with unidentified armed people tried to grab me off the street, I would do everything in my power to put a bullet in each and every one of them.  And, I would not hold it against any person who did the same, even if they were my ideological opponent.

Some conservatives are calling for much more, including the deployment of the National Guard or a standing military presence. The use of such tactics opens the door to serious consequences, and I believe if we allow the federal government to bend the rules now, we set the stage for expansive martial law in the near future. By extension, labeling looters or rioters as “terrorists” also has dangerous implications.  Those of us that were activists during the Obama years know how freely that label is thrown around by government and the media.

We might feel righteous in violating the civil liberties of social justice Marxists because of their insane behavior and the threat they pose to the stability of the country, but, what happens when the roles are reversed? During Bundy Ranch, conservatives were also being labeled “terrorists”, and who is to say we won’t find ourselves in that position again?   Would defying the pandemic lockdowns also be considered an existential threat to the country?

Uncomfortable Questions

There are some questions in all of this that are either not being asked or are being deliberately avoided.  For example:

1) Why is it that the Trump Administration has not bothered to go after the elites and globalists FUNDING Antifa and BLM groups behind the unrest?  Why does George Soros and his Open Society Foundation get to operate in the US with impunity?  And what about the Ford Foundation?  Members of that institution openly admit that they have been funding and organizing the social justice cult for decades.  Shouldn’t the men behind the curtain paying for the entire thing be targeted first, instead of going after the useful idiots?  Perhaps the fact that Trump is surrounded by those very same elites in his cabinet has something to do with it…

2) If we support martial law measures, WHO are we giving that power to?  Is it Trump, or the deep state ghouls that advise him daily?  People like Wilber Ross, a New York Rothschild banking agent, Mike Pompeo, a long time Neo-con warmonger and promoter of mass surveillance, Robert Lightheizer, a member of the globalist Council On Foreign Relations, Steve Mnuchin, former Goldman Sachs banker, Larry Kudlow, former Federal Reserve, etc.  Even if you think Trump has the best of intentions, can anyone honestly say the same for his cabinet?

3) When the left is “defeated” and the riots stop, will martial law simply fade away, or, is it a Pandora’s Box that can never be closed again?  And if it doesn’t end, will supporters justify fighting against not just leftists, but also conservatives who will not tolerate it?  I for one will be among the people that will not tolerate it.

Real Solutions

There are other much better solutions than martial law when confronting the leftist riots or the pandemic.

For the pandemic, stop trying to dictate public behavior.  If individuals feel they are at risk from the virus, then they can take their own precautions.  The only other option is to continue on the path of shutdowns and an informant society that will destroy this nation in a matter of months.

Foe the leftists, communities that stage an armed presence in the face of protests have ALL escaped riots and property damage. Sometimes Antifa and BLM decide to not even show up. We DON’T NEED a federal presence or a military presence to get the job done. We can do it ourselves. We already have proof that this strategy works.

And, if the lefties want to burn down their own neighborhoods and cities and local governments don’t want to stop them, then I say let it happen. It’s sad for the people in these places that had no dog in the fight, but maybe this will teach the locals to speak out against BLM or Antifa instead of remaining silent or virtue signaling their support in the hopes that their businesses won’t be attacked.  Maybe they should look for better government officials as well.

Finally, it’s far past time to go after the elites that fund and engineer such groups.  Remove their influence and I suspect many people will be shocked at how fast all this unrest and chaos suddenly disappears.  Isn’t this what people wanted Trump to do from the very beginning?  And yet, nothing happens to the vampires at the top.

Only cowards demand everyone else give up their freedoms just so they can feel safe.  The establishment is trying to pit the American people against each other as a means to pave a path to tyranny. I believe what the elites want more than anything else is to trick conservatives into forsaking their own principles. If we do, we become hypocrites that can no longer sustain a movement for freedom. By becoming the monster to fight the monster we hand our enemies victory. This is unacceptable.

Tenth Amendment Center: Gov’t Worried that Mask Use Thwarts Gov’t Facial Recognition

From the Tenth Amendment Center, DHS Worried Widespread Mask Use Will Thwart Government Facial Recognition.

There has been a lot of controversy over masks, but no matter what you think about the efficacy of face coverings in preventing the spread of COVID-19, there is one advantage to masking up. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed concern that widespread use of masks will thwart facial recognition.

A DHS “intelligence note” dated May 22 came to light in the BlueLeaks trove of law enforcement documents. The DHS Intelligence Enterprise Counterterrorism Mission Center in conjunction with a variety of other agencies, including Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement drafted the note. It “examines the potential impacts that widespread use of protective masks could have on security operations that incorporate face recognition systems — such as video cameras, image processing hardware and software, and image recognition algorithms — to monitor public spaces during the ongoing Covid-19 public health emergency and in the months after the pandemic subsides.”

According to The Intercept, the Minnesota Fusion Center distributed the notice on May 26, as protests over the killing of George Floyd were ramping up. “Email logs included in the BlueLeaks archive show that the note was also sent to city and state government officials and private security officers in Colorado and, inexplicably, to a hospital and a community college.”

The note warned, “We assess violent extremists and other criminals who have historically maintained an interest in avoiding face recognition are likely to opportunistically seize upon public safety measures recommending the wearing of face masks to hinder the effectiveness of face recognition systems in public spaces by security partners.”

The note also expresses more general concern about mask-wearing. One header reads, “Face Recognition Systems Likely to be Less Effective as Widespread Wear of Face Coverings for Public Safety Purposes Continue,”

“We assess face recognition systems used to support security operations in public spaces will be less effective while widespread public use of facemasks, including partial and full face covering, is practiced by the public to limit the spread of Covid-19.”

The debate on masking aside, thwarting facial recognition is a good thing because the federal government is aggressively pushing the expansion of its vast and increasingly intrusive facial recognition network.

THE GROWING FEDERAL PROGRAM

recent report revealed that the federal government has turned state drivers’ license photos into a giant facial recognition database, putting virtually every driver in America in a perpetual electronic police lineup. The revelations generated widespread outrage, but this story isn’t new. The federal government has been developing a massive, nationwide facial recognition system for years.

The FBI rolled out a nationwide facial-recognition program in the fall of 2014, with the goal of building a giant biometric database with pictures provided by the states and corporate friends.

In 2016, the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law released “The Perpetual Lineup,” a massive report on law enforcement use of facial recognition technology in the U.S. You can read the complete report at perpetuallineup.org. The organization conducted a year-long investigation and collected more than 15,000 pages of documents through more than 100 public records requests. The report paints a disturbing picture of intense cooperation between the federal government, and state and local law enforcement to develop a massive facial recognition database.

“Face recognition is a powerful technology that requires strict oversight. But those controls, by and large, don’t exist today,” report co-author Clare Garvie said. “With only a few exceptions, there are no laws governing police use of the technology, no standards ensuring its accuracy, and no systems checking for bias. It’s a wild west.”

There are many technical and legal problems with facial recognition, including significant concerns about the accuracy of the technology, particularly when reading the facial features of minority populations. During a test run by the ACLU of Northern California, facial recognition misidentified 26 members of the California legislature as people in a database of arrest photos.

With facial recognition technology, police and other government officials have the capability to track individuals in real-time. These systems allow law enforcement agents to use video cameras and continually scan everybody who walks by. According to the report, several major police departments have expressed an interest in this type of real-time tracking. Documents revealed agencies in at least five major cities, including Los Angeles, either claimed to run real-time face recognition off of street cameras, bought technology with the capability, or expressed written interest in buying it.

In all likelihood, the federal government heavily involves itself in helping state and local agencies obtain this technology. The feds provide grant money to local law enforcement agencies for a vast array of surveillance gear, including ALPRs, stingray devices and drones. The federal government essentially encourages and funds a giant nationwide surveillance net and then taps into the information via fusion centers and the Information Sharing Environment (ISE).

Fusion centers were sold as a tool to combat terrorism, but that is not how they are being used. The ACLU pointed to a bipartisan congressional report to demonstrate the true nature of government fusion centers: “They haven’t contributed anything meaningful to counterterrorism efforts. Instead, they have largely served as police surveillance and information sharing nodes for law enforcement efforts targeting the frequent subjects of police attention: Black and brown people, immigrants, dissidents, and the poor.”

Fusion centers operate within the broader ISE. According to its website, the ISE “provides analysts, operators, and investigators with information needed to enhance national security. These analysts, operators, and investigators…have mission needs to collaborate and share information with each other and with private sector partners and our foreign allies.” In other words, ISE serves as a conduit for the sharing of information gathered without a warrant. Known ISE partners include the Office of Director of National Intelligence which oversees 17 federal agencies and organizations, including the NSA. ISE utilizes these partnerships to collect and share data on the millions of unwitting people they track.

Reports that the Berkeley Police Department in cooperation with a federal fusion center deployed cameras equipped to surveil a “free speech” rally and Antifa counterprotests provided the first solid link between the federal government and local authorities in facial recognition surveillance.

See also EFF’s San Francisco Police Accessed Business District Camera Network to Spy on Protestors

 

AIER: Government, Govern Thyself

Michael Munger is a Professor of Political Science, Economics, and Public Policy at Duke University and Senior Fellow of the American Institute for Economic Research. In the article Government, Govern Thyself, he argues that the state is always either too weak to do what we want, or so strong it can do whatever it wants.

leviathan

In January 2014 then-President Barack Obama made a speech in Washington, D.C. In that informal speech, just before a cabinet meeting, he explained he found it necessary to ignore the U.S. Constitution and unilaterally impose his vision of the good society on the nation:

We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone…

And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.

Many people on the right complained (I thought correctly) that this was Presidential overreach. To be fair, even the New York Times called the overzealous suppression of information and prosecution of whistleblowers “a stain on Obama’s legacy.”

Now, of course, all my friends on the left are appalled by the actions of the overreach of the Republican administration. Many who were fine with Obama ordering states around on the environment have recently taken a strong interest in the 10th Amendment, worrying about immigration enforcement and sending federal police to Portland and other cities. Understand: this is no partisan disagreement, but an irredeemable flaw in the nature of the state. The modern state is either too weak to do what we want, or so strong it can do whatever it wants.

The problem is often stated recursively. In Luke 4:23, Jesus mocked his skeptical listeners, “Physician, heal thyself.” The audience doubted Jesus’ claim that he was the messiah, because “Is not this Joseph’s son?” Just some local kid putting on airs and getting above his raisin’. Jesus’ taunting response was, in effect, “Nobody wants a sick physician, or a skinny cook, right?”

There are other observations in this vein; perhaps the most famous is that of the Roman satirist Juvenal. Around 100 C.E. he wrote about a problem of making sure someone does the right thing, even if the boss isn’t watching. His example (it was a satire) focused on ensuring the sexual fidelity of wives:

I know well the advice and warnings of my old friends: “Put on a lock and keep your wife indoors.” Yes, and who will ward the warders? They get paid in kind for holding their tongues as to their young lady’s escapades; participation seals their lips. The wily wife arranges accordingly, and begins with them…. (Satire #6)

Juvenal’s question, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (I’ve seen it translated “Who will ward the warders/guard the guardians?”), and Jesus’ parable, both illustrate the problem with the dual nature of the state. The usual social contract myth endows the state with the duty to enforce all agreements. But who then is to enforce the agreement between citizens and the state? Can the state be both enforcer and a party in the dispute? Physician, heal thyself.

There is of course a long history of just this kind of critique among libertarians, particularly those of us with some anarchist sympathies. One of the most interesting, important, but (to my mind) underrated of these was the late Anthony de Jasay. The origins of government are supposed by our inability to enforce contracts. So we create an entity that specializes in violence, to force everyone to obey their contracts. In Hobbes’ terms, “Covenants, without the sword, are but words.” Of course, once “we” “consent” to this universal contract enforcer, we have some problems. Who is this “we?” It all happened a long time ago. And very few people actually “consented;” all that happened is that we didn’t leave the country. And who will enforce our contract with the violent contract enforcer? Somehow, the government has to govern itself.

According to Jasay, there are two fatal flaws with the “social contract” idea. The first is the “enforceable contracts” justification, and the second is the “limiting Leviathan” problem of self-governance.

If contracts are unenforceable, then who governs the government? If we can’t enforce contracts with equals, how can we trust Leviathan? Jasay compares this magical thinking to “jumping over your own shadow.” As he puts it, “[I]t takes courage to affirm that rational people could unanimously wish to have a sovereign contract enforcer [itself] bound by no contract.” And by “courage” he intends no encomium. Either (1) those who make this claim are contradicting themselves: since we can’t have contracts, we’ll use a contract to solve the problem; or (2) the argument is simply circular: cooperation requires enforceable contracts, but these require a norm of cooperation that makes the state obey the contract. Of course, if there is a norm of cooperation then other contracts are enforceable without the state.

We are on the horns of a dilemma: either the former claim—contracts cannot be enforced—is true, and we cannot conjure enforceable contracts out of a shadow; or the latter claim—people naturally cooperate on their own—is true, and then no state was necessary in the first place. Robert Nozick (1974) put it well: “Tacit consent isn’t worth the paper it’s not written on.”

The second problem highlighted by Jasay is “limiting Leviathan.” Let’s assume the best: state officials genuinely intend to do good. We might make the standard Public Choice claim that officials use power to benefit themselves, but let us put that aside; instead, suppose officials genuinely want to improve the lives of their citizens.

That still means a minarchist state is not sustainable.

Officials, thinking of the society as a collective rather than as individuals with inviolable rights, will immediately discover opportunities to raise taxes, create new programs and new powers that benefit those who, in the minds of the officials, need help. In fact, it is precisely the failure of the Public Choice assumptions of narrow self-interest that ensure this outcome. It might be possible in principle to design a principal-agent system of bureaucratic contract that constrains selfish officials. But if state power attracts those who are willing to sacrifice welfare, even their own welfare, for the “greater good” then the constitutional dams of minarchy are quickly overtopped, and Leviathan floods the land.

I should hasten to add that it need not be true, for Jasay’s claim to go through, that the concept of “greater good” has any empirical content. It is enough that (some) people believe. The true believers will brandish “the greater good” like a truncheon, smashing rules and laws designed to restrain the expansion of state power. No one who wants to do good will pass up a chance to do good, even if it means changing the rules. This process is much like that described by Hayek in “Why the Worst Get on Top,” or Bertrand de Jouvenal’s On Power.

So, the argument has the same structure, creating a logical dilemma or contradiction. Either

  1. Minarchy is not possible, because it is overwhelmed by the desire to “do good,” which cannot be controlled by the state because it would require officials to limit themselves for moral, not legal reasons, or
  2. No state, minarchist or otherwise, is necessary because people can limit their actions on their own, without the state’s use of coercion.

Jasay is especially scornful of those who would invoke constitutions and “parchment barriers” to protect a minarchist arrangement. A formal state and a constitution are either unnecessary (if people are self-governing) or ineffective (if they are not). Leviathan either cannot survive because everyone opposes it, or else it is illimitable because no one can resist it.

Most people seem to think that the problem with government power is that the wrong people are in office. That’s not right; the problem is that we want to rely on a physician who suffers an illness that cannot be cured.

The Organic Prepper: Beware People with a “Perfect Solution”

Selco at The Organic Prepper has an article up certain dangerous people in trying times like these – People with a “Perfect Solution” Will Use Our Hard Times to Take Control

…In the last few weeks, I saw riots erupt every single day because people lost their confidence in how the situation was being handled here with all events. People went out in the streets in big numbers, kicking police, smashing windows… I think the main reason for it was the feeling that their lives are being taken away, or to put it more clearly their future is getting taken from their hands by the people who do not know what they do.

So folks went out on the streets, letting that rage out on the system

It is nothing particularly new. When emotions like rage and fear erupt after boiling for a long time, these things happen.

There’s always someone with a “perfect solution.”

What I noticed too is among a huge mass of those people there were movements with ideas that are very violent and radical, trying to take that rage and fear of the common folks and use it in their favor, in order to steer people. They want to “ride” on the common folk’s rage and fear, and they want to get more power.

So they can rule.

That is nothing new either. It happened through history frequently. In very hard times, a movement with a dangerous and radical agenda took all those people’s desperation, rage, and fear and used it in their favor.

Who would people listen to during hard and desperate times? A movement with radical ideas that promises a solution to all problems, of course.

Sound familiar?

It is the perfect time for movements, or people, or some man with “solutions” to everything. What you just have to do is to follow their ideas. Yeah, some of those ideas sound…hmmm… maybe weird, or a bit radical, but what the hell? I mean those folks will “save us”, right?

I am afraid of those “perfect solutions” that are coming, at least coming here in my region. Who knows, maybe those “perfect solutions” are coming everywhere.

It is not about conspiracy theories now. It is about how much people must be desperate in order to accept something which in essence could be even worse than the actual situation?

How desperate must a family man who has lost his job, home, health, and safe future be in order to accept something which is, at its very essence, wrong?

Is all this only a prelude to something even worse after which we will all welcome the “solution”?

I do not know.

What the future holds

As things continue to erode here, I feel like I know less.

Or maybe in a way, I want to know less about things that I cannot change, and I invest more in things that I can change.

And again, as much I do not know exactly what the future will bring, I am positive it is not going to be good. Too many things are happening. Too many people are losing everything, including hope.

I am kinda waiting for something that will be even worse than this…

Click here to read the entire article at The Organic Prepper.

Rutherford Institute: Founders Would Be Anti-Government Extremists Today

Constitutional law attorney John Rutherford of the Rutherford Institute writes about America’s founding fathers and how they would be branded by our modern imperial government in America’s Revolutionary Founders Would Be Anti-Government Extremists Today

“It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.”—Thomas Paine

“When the government violates the people’s rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.”—Marquis De Lafayette

Had the Declaration of Independence been written today, it would have rendered its signers extremists or terrorists, resulting in them being placed on a government watch list, targeted for surveillance of their activities and correspondence, and potentially arrested, held indefinitely, stripped of their rights and labeled enemy combatants.

This is no longer the stuff of speculation and warning.

In fact, Attorney General William Barr recently announced plans to target, track and surveil “anti-government extremists” and preemptively nip in the bud any “threats” to  public safety and the rule of law.

It doesn’t matter that the stated purpose of Barr’s anti-government extremist task force is to investigate dissidents on the far right (the “boogaloo” movement) and far left (antifa, a loosely organized anti-fascist group) who have been accused of instigating violence and disrupting peaceful protests.

Boogaloo and Antifa have given the government the perfect excuse for declaring war (with all that entails: surveillance, threat assessments, pre-crime, etc.) against so-called anti-government extremists.

Without a doubt, America’s revolutionary founders would have been at the top of Barr’s list.

After all, the people who fomented the American Revolution spoke out at rallies, distributed critical pamphlets, wrote scathing editorials and took to the streets in protest. They were rebelling against a government they saw as being excessive in its taxation and spending. For their efforts, they were demonized and painted as an angry mob, extremists akin to terrorists, by the ruler of the day, King George III.

Of course, it doesn’t take much to be considered an anti-government extremist (a.k.a. domestic terrorist) today.

If you believe in and exercise your rights under the Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share your political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned or searched by the police, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you’re at the top of the government’s terrorism watch list.

Indeed, under Barr’s new task force, I and every other individual today who dares to speak truth to power could also be targeted for surveillance, because what we’re really dealing with is a government that wants to suppress dangerous words—words about its warring empire, words about its land grabs, words about its militarized police, words about its killing, its poisoning and its corruption—in order to keep its lies going.

This is how the government plans to snuff out any attempts by “we the people” to stand up to its tyranny: under the pretext of rooting out violent extremists, the government’s anti-extremism program will, in many cases, be utilized to render otherwise lawful, nonviolent activities as potentially extremist.

The danger is real.

Keep in mind that the government agencies involved in ferreting out American “extremists” will carry out their objectives—to identify and deter potential extremists—in concert with fusion centers, data collection agencies, behavioral scientists, corporations, social media, and community organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for surveillance, facial recognition, predictive policing, biometrics, and behavioral epigenetics (in which life experiences alter one’s genetic makeup).

This is pre-crime on an ideological scale and it’s been a long time coming.

For example, in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released two reports, one on “Rightwing Extremism,” which broadly defines rightwing extremists as individuals and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely,” and one on “Leftwing Extremism,” which labeled environmental and animal rights activist groups as extremists

Incredibly, both reports use the words terrorist and extremist interchangeably

That same year, the DHS launched Operation Vigilant Eagle, which calls for surveillance of military veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and other far-flung places, characterizing them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.

These reports indicate that for the government, anyone seen as opposing the government—whether they’re Left, Right or somewhere in between—can be labeled an extremist.

Fast forward a few years, and you have the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which Congress has continually re-upped, that allows the military to take you out of your home, lock you up with no access to friends, family or the courts if you’re seen as an extremist.

Now connect the dots, from the 2009 Extremism reports to the NDAA, the National Security Agency’s far-reaching surveillance networks, and fusion centers that collect and share surveillance data between local, state and federal police agencies

Add in tens of thousands of armed, surveillance drones that are beginning to blanket American skies, facial recognition technology that will identify and track you wherever you go and whatever you do. And then to complete the circle, toss in the real-time crime centers being deployed in cities across the country, which will be attempting to “predict” crimes and identify criminals before they happen based on widespread surveillance, complex mathematical algorithms and prognostication programs.

Hopefully you’re getting the picture, which is how easy it is for the government to identify, label and target individuals as “extremist.”

And just like that, we’ve come full circle.

Imagine living in a country where armed soldiers crash through doors to arrest and imprison citizens merely for criticizing government officials. Imagine that in this very same country, you’re watched all the time, and if you look even a little bit suspicious, the police stop and frisk you or pull you over to search you on the off chance you’re doing something illegal.

Keep in mind that if you have a firearm of any kind (or anything that resembled a firearm) while in this country, it may get you arrested and, in some circumstances, shot by police.

If you’re thinking this sounds like America today, you wouldn’t be far wrong.

However, the scenario described above took place more than 200 years ago, when American colonists suffered under Great Britain’s version of an early police state. It was only when the colonists finally got fed up with being silenced, censored, searched, frisked, threatened, and arrested that they finally revolted against the tyrant’s fetters

No document better states their grievances than the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

A document seething with outrage over a government which had betrayed its citizens, the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, by 56 men who laid everything on the line, pledged it all—“our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”—because they believed in a radical idea: that all people are created to be free.

Labeled traitors, these men were charged with treason, a crime punishable by death. For some, their acts of rebellion would cost them their homes and their fortunes. For others, it would be the ultimate price—their lives.

Yet even knowing the heavy price they might have to pay, these men dared to speak up when silence could not be tolerated.

Read the Declaration of Independence again, and ask yourself if the list of complaints tallied by Jefferson don’t bear a startling resemblance to the abuses “we the people” are suffering at the hands of the American police state…(continues)

American Thinker: The Coming Collapse of the Republic

From writer Selwyn Duke at American Thinker is The Coming Collapse of the Republic

 “We’re just one election away from full-blown socialism,” a man recently said to me during a short conversation. This sentiment has become increasingly common lately, even, notably, among the previously apolitical. Yet something is overlooked:

In keeping with President Reagan’s observation, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” being one election away from tyranny means that not enough people noticed and took action when we were one generation away — or two or three.

Also perhaps overlooked is that being one election away from tyranny now means we’ll be one election away after the next election — whatever happens November 3. The point is that politics being downstream from culture (and, really, from morality, faith and philosophy), this isn’t merely a “moment.” It’s not a fashion. It won’t just pass. And we need be prepared for things to come.

I’ve often cited late Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov, who in 1980s interviews warned of “demoralization” — an undermining of a nation’s morality that makes it ripe for leftist revolution — in America. As a young man in my late teens or early twenties at the time, I didn’t know about Bezmenov (no Internet back then). But I’d recently become more intensely “politically” aware and quickly realized, and began telling people, that the West and the U.S. were in decline and gravitating toward tyranny. Oh, I did realize the republic’s demise was decades away.

Now I suspect it’s years away.

General Michael Flynn, whom, it’s clear, was targeted by the Creep State for being a good man, just warned that if we don’t act, two percent of the people are about to control the other 98 percent. But I’m here to tell you: Long term, voting won’t save us.

Oh, for sure, get out and vote in November as if your life depends on it (because in a way, it does). But as was the case in 2016, a Trump victory and partial GOP control of Congress only amount to a “stay of execution.” The clock is ticking.

Moreover, President Trump’s re-election, like his election, would have to defy the odds. Along with traditional media bias — which a college professor determined aids Democrat candidates by 8 to 10 points every election (an underestimation, I believe) — there’s now social media/Big Tech bias. According to liberal psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein’s research, this factor can shift up to 15 million votes toward one party or the other (not an overestimation, I believe). This is enough to turn any modern election.

Add to this vote fraud and vote harvesting — the latter of which flipped conservative Orange County, Calif., from GOP to Democrat control in 2018 — and left-wing mail-in voting scams, and the picture is clear: Even if Trump wins, the chances of him having two simpatico Houses are slim. And if Trump triumphs but the Democrats hold the House and seize the Senate, there’s a good chance he’ll be deposed.

Really, though, focusing on this, the micro, is to not see the forest for the trees. An excellent high-profile commentator said a while back that this all (the current unrest, intensifying cancel culture, etc.) seemed to happen so suddenly. But only the spark, the George Floyd situation, and the fire were sudden, and something else could have triggered the blaze as well. The kindling, however, and the many-layered sea of morally dead and intellectually dry wood had long been burgeoning.

And the spark only catalyzed the firestorm because we’d reached a point of critical mass.

This is why what we began talking about in the ‘80s, political correctness, has metastasized into “cancel culture.” It’s why two people in two recent days — one a cop, the other an acquaintance — told me what’s plain: They, and everyone else, are afraid to speak their minds, fearing career and reputational destruction. It’s why social media censorship is intensifying by the month. An iron muzzle has descended upon America, and what can’t be spoken against can’t be effectively combated.

As I warned in 2012, there no longer is a culture war. “What is occurring now is a pacification effort.” Its progress is why corporate America, including the now-absorbed Chick-fil-A and NASCAR, has turned decidedly to the dark side (shifted “left”). It’s why prominent people, including Republicans such as Indiana senator Mike Braun, are bowing before terrorist group Black Lives Matter. It’s why mobs are enabled and good people hobbled for defending themselves from the mobs. It’s why we’re seeing a complete cultural collapse — portending a political collapse.

This is partially due to a new “woke” generation having entered the corporate sphere and others of influence. But what did you expect? The apocryphal saying (no, it’s not Lincoln’s) informs, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” Did you really think the Left could completely control academia for generations and that, somehow, it all would “stay in college”?

Leftists have also controlled entertainment, which could even be more significant. A (perhaps loose) paraphrase of ancient Greek philosopher Plato warns, “When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the state change with them.”

Now, though, we have television and the Internet, whose effects I’ve examined, which dwarf music’s influence. Then there’s the aforementioned media (conventional and social). This culture-shaping media/academia/entertainment triad has long been leftist-controlled, the result of the long Gramscian “march through the institutions,” the rotten fruits of all our squandered yesterdays.

Being a culture-shaper also ultimately means, again, being a politics-shaper (and civilization-shaper), and this brings us to conservative rationalization. Even if we could somehow seize control of the media/academia/entertainment axis, sorry, it takes generations to thus reshape society, and the time for that was 60 years ago. That ship has sailed (and sunk).

Then there’s our 1965-born immigration policy, which, I’ve estimated, gives Democrats 300,000 new voters yearly, three million a decade. And when the Democrats assume full control, they’ll legalize the illegal aliens among us and open the floodgates further (goodbye, wall), giving themselves perhaps tens of millions of new voters in short order.

So Democrat presidential sock puppet Joe Biden, echoing the man whose name he couldn’t recall a while back (because echoes are all he has left), not long ago said we had to “fundamentally” change America. But that fundamental change has already occurred. Does the 2020 U.S. even remotely resemble its few-generations-back former self?

So the question isn’t what’s coming, but this: Will you be ready? When leftists take full political control federally, they’ll mercilessly impose their agenda as they always do. If you have no idea what that agenda is, you’re likely not reading this. But do know that it will be effected no-holds-barred.

For not only is there the critical-mass factor, but Machiavellian leftists have convinced their useful idiots, projecting all the way, that conservatives constitute a hateful, “racist,” fascistic, White Supremacist™ threat to civilization. They thus have an ideal pretext for iron-fistedly crushing opponents. When “Nazis” threaten your civilization, after all, you’re faced with desperate times requiring desperate measures, right, comrade?

So how do we proceed? This isn’t a defeatist screed. I’m not saying keep a cyanide capsule handy. But knowing tomorrow’s strategy requires knowing tomorrow’s battlefield. So what can be done when, after this election or the next, the federal government becomes a complete leftist Leviathan wholly unmoored from constitutional constraints?

I’ve long advocated nullification — meaning, in this case, the ignoring of unconstitutional federal and judicial dictates — something Thomas Jefferson called the “rightful remedy” for all federal overreach. This should have been embraced long ago (e.g., in response to the Obergefell opinion), but will become more conservative states’ only recourse in the not-too-distant future. Note, too, that we’d just be doing what leftists do with their “sanctuary” cities and their defiance of federal drug laws.

In this vein, you can’t win a contest being a “connedservative” who insists on fighting by Queensberry rules while your adversary operates no-holds-barred. Remember that, more and more, we’re living in post-constitutional and post-rule-of-law America. We’re now increasingly subject to the rule of men and, in the coming conflict, it’s only a matter of which men will win.

America is irremediably divided — if a marriage, she would’ve dissolved long ago — and the above resistance would, of course, make that division more official. This brings me to what I believe will be our fate…

Continue reading at American Thinker by clicking here.

 

Mises Institute: The State – The Deadliest Virus

Professor Jesús Huerta de Soto, a Spanish economist, writes this piece for the Mises Institute about government tyrannies in Spain, but most of them could just as easily be applied to the US government — The State: The Deadliest Virus.

The deadliest virus is the institutionalized coercion which lies in the very DNA of the state and may even initially permit a government to deny the outbreak of a pandemic. Evidence has been suppressed, and heroic scientists and doctors have been harassed and silenced simply because they were the first to realize and expose the gravity of the problem. As a result, weeks and months have been lost, at an enormous cost: hundreds of thousands of people have died due to the worldwide spread of an epidemic which, in the beginning, the shamefully manipulated official statistics made appear less dangerous than it actually was.

The deadliest virus is the existence of cumbersome bureaucracies and supranational organizations, which did not manage or wish to monitor in situ the reality of the situation, but instead endorsed the information received, while offering constant support and even praising—and thus becoming accessories to—all the coercive policies and measures adopted.

The deadliest virus is the notion that the state can guarantee our public health and universal welfare, when economic science has demonstrated the theoretical impossibility of the central planner’s giving a coherent and coordinating quality to the coercive commands it issues in its attempt to achieve its pompous objectives. This impossibility is due to the huge volume of information and knowledge which such a task would require and which the planning agency lacks. It is also, and primarily, due to the fact that the institutional coercion typical of the agency impacts the social body of human beings, who alone are capable of coordinating themselves (and do so spontaneously) and creating wealth. Such coercion prevents the emergence of precisely the firsthand knowledge the state needs to bring about coordination with its commands. This theorem is known as the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism. Mises and Hayek discovered the theorem in the 1920s, and the events of world history cannot be understood without it.

The deadliest virus is the dependency and complicity shown toward the state by countless scientists, experts, and intellectuals. When authorities are drunk with power, this symbiosis leaves a manipulated civil society unarmed and defenseless. For instance, the Spanish government itself urged citizens to take part in mass demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people while the virus was already spreading exponentially. Then, just four days later, the decision was announced to declare a state of alarm and coercively confine the entire population to their homes.

The deadliest virus is the demonization of private initiative and of the agile and efficient self-regulation characteristic of it, combined with the deification of the public sector in every area: the family, education, pensions, employment, the financial sector, and the healthcare system (a particularly relevant point at present). Over 12 million Spanish people, including—quite significantly—almost 90 percent of the more than 2 million government employees (and among them a vice president of the Spanish government), have freely chosen private healthcare over public healthcare. The doctors and nurses of the public healthcare system work hard and selflessly, and their heroic efforts are never sufficiently recognized. However, the system cannot possibly do away with its internal contradictions, its waiting lists, or its proven incompetence in the matters of universal prevention and the protection of its own workers. But, by a double standard, any minor defect in the private sector is always immediately condemned, while far more serious and flagrant defects in the public sector are viewed as definitive proof of a need to spend more money and increase the size of the public sector even further.

The deadliest virus is the political propaganda channeled through state-owned media and also through private media outlets which, nonetheless, are dependent on the state as if it were a drug. As Goebbels taught, lies repeated often enough to the population can be turned into official truths. Here are a few: that the Spanish public healthcare system is the best in the world; that public spending has continued to decrease since the last crisis; that taxes are to be paid by “the rich” and they are not paying their fair share; that the minimum wage is not detrimental to employment; that maximum prices do not cause shortages; that a universal minimum income is the panacea of well-being; that the northern European countries are selfish and unsupportive, because they do not wish to mutualize the debt; that the number of deaths officially reported reflects the actual number of deaths; that only a few hundred thousand people have been infected; that we are performing more than enough tests; that face masks are unnecessary, etc. Any moderately diligent citizen can easily verify that these are all lies.

The deadliest virus is the corrupt use of political terminology involving misleading metaphors to mesmerize the population and make people even more submissive and dependent on the state. We are told that we are fighting a “war,” and that once we win, we will need to begin the “reconstruction.” But we are not at war, nor is it necessary to reconstruct anything. Fortunately, all of our capital equipment, factories, and facilities are intact. They are there, waiting for us to devote all of our effort and entrepreneurial spirit to getting back to work, and when that happens, we will very quickly recover from this standstill. However, for this to occur, we must have an economic policy that favors less government and more entrepreneurial freedom, reduces taxes and regulations, balances public accounts and puts them on a sound footing, liberalizes the labor market, and provides legal certainty and bolsters confidence. While such a free market policy enabled the Germany of Adenauer and Erhard to recover from a far graver situation following World War II, Spain will be impoverished and doomed to move at idling speed if we insist on taking the opposite path of socialism.

The deadliest virus consists of the deification of human reason and the systematic use of coercion, which the state embodies. It appears before us in sheep’s clothing as the quintessence of a certain “do-goodism” that tempts us with the possibility of reaching nirvana here and now and of achieving “social justice” and ending inequality. However, it conceals the fact that the Leviathan thrives on envy and thus fuels hatred and social resentment. Hence, the future of humanity depends on our ability to immunize ourselves against the most deadly virus: the socialism which infects the human soul and has spread to all of us.

FEE: Police Accountability Begins With Ending Qualified Immunity

Ben Harris at the Foundation for Economic Education writes that Police Accountability Begins With Ending Qualified Immunity

Following the death of George Floyd, peaceful—and less than peaceful—protests have broken out across the country against what is perceived as an abusive police system that often absolves officers of wrongdoing, sometimes in the most egregious cases. To address unjust policing and restore public trust will require big changes in state and federal policy, as well as in police practice.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has just passed on an opportunity to effect such change. Several petitions requesting the Court to re-examine a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity were recently denied, leaving little hope that the Court will take the lead on needed reform. Only Justice Clarence Thomas voiced dissent.

Qualified immunity grants police officers and other government officials immunity against civil lawsuits in the exercise of their responsibilities, subject to key limitations. Among the limitations outlined originally by Congress, a police officer loses immunity when he or she, “subjects… any citizen of the United States or other person within… to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.”

Over the years, the Court has functionally neutered Congress’s original objective of holding public officials accountable for the violation of civil rights. As the case law has developed, the police and other officials receive immunity unless the facts indicate a constitutional right has been violated and the right was “clearly established” at the time of the misconduct.

The term “clearly established” is the minnow that has swallowed the whale.

To determine whether the right was clearly established, it must either be established by statute or case law. But which case law? The Supreme Court can “clearly establish” something as a right, but it rarely does so. Appeals courts have held they can clearly establish a right, but the Supreme Court has cast this assertion into doubt. So the lower courts are left with a Catch-22. They cannot enforce a right without it being established, but the only way to establish the right is to enforce it.

This has led to some of the most egregious case law in recent history. For example, the Cato Institute cites a Ninth Circuit case that alleged the police stole $250,000 in cash from homeowners. “The three‐​judge panel held that while theft may be “morally wrong,” the officers could not be sued because the Ninth Circuit had never specifically considered the issue, and therefore the right not to have police steal your property while executing a search warrant was not “‘clearly established’ in that jurisdiction.” Additionally, the Supreme Court has aggressively policed qualified immunity, supporting officers and dismissing petitions of citizens that would establish those rights.

We do not tolerate such behavior among private citizens; even less should we tolerate it among public servants, who, if anything, should be held to higher standards, not lower. Yet, the current state of the law holds officers to standards lower than is reasonable even for basic citizenship, let alone for their profession, and to avoid facing personal liability for their actions. While doctors and other health care professionals, lawyers, and even general laborers are held to standards of reasonableness appropriate to their work environment, often a more exacting standard, law enforcement is given a bar so low that nearly all conduct clears it.

When the Court created qualified immunity, its concern was that public officials would be deterred from executing their important responsibilities if mired in lawsuits. The Court’s concern is not completely unfounded. Law enforcement is a dangerous job and imposing the cost of a potential civil suit could discourage people from becoming police. However, these concerns are mitigated when provided additional context.

First, policing is not as relatively dangerous among professions as is commonly held. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate that log workers, fishery workers, aircraft engineers, roofers, garbage collectors, and many others all have more dangerous jobs than the police.

Second, the risks and costs of civil lawsuits can be managed through insurance markets, just as it is for other professions. Such insurance markets could also be a further check on police abuse. As Clark Neily of the Cato Institute has written:

Like police, doctors have a difficult and stressful job that sometimes involves making life‐​or‐​death decisions under conditions of uncertainty. But unlike police, doctors don’t expect the rest of us to pay for their mistakes. Instead, doctors carry professional liability insurance, which pays to defend them against malpractice claims and protects them from financial ruin by paying out damage awards to successful plaintiffs.

Insurance companies are exceptionally good at identifying risk. Think about car insurance. The more accidents or speeding tickets a driver has had, the higher their premiums will be. The same is true for teenagers, who tend to get in more wrecks than adults and therefore represent a greater risk to the insurance company.

Instead of spreading those risks among all of their policyholders, insurance companies charge risky drivers more while giving a break to their safest drivers, who pay less.

…insurance companies have powerful incentives to identify the greatest risks — whether drivers, doctors or cops — and charge them accordingly. If cops had to carry insurance, the worst offenders would quickly be identified and charged higher rates. If they failed to clean up their act, they would eventually become uninsurable and thus unemployable.

Currently, qualified immunity pushes the cost of police misbehavior onto victims and the public, but because those costs are diffused among many and the benefits concentrated among a few, it is difficult to muster the political momentum necessary to turn it around. Politics remains a barrier to reform.

Additionally, reducing police accountability in the short term is not only unjust, it also undermines the objectives of those who tolerate high leeway for the police. When members of society do not trust that law enforcement will be held accountable for its failings, mostly at the expense of a few, then it impacts the ability of law enforcement to protect people. When law enforcement is truly needed, such as to control rioting and violence, trust that any aggressive interventions are fair and reasonable will have already been compromised, which in turn leads to less trust and more potential rioting, which leads to more heavy-handed police interventions and so forth.

Abolishing qualified immunity raises the costs of misbehavior. And as the cost of abuse increases so will the reputation of law enforcement as an institution that serves all, as bad actors are priced out of the occupation.

But now the cycle is spinning in the opposite direction, largely due to qualified immunity. And it will continue to spin out of control until steps are taken to restore accountability for, and thus trust in, law enforcement.

Access to justice is a sign of an inclusive civilized society, and righting harms through civil law plays an important part in curbing injustice and providing redress to the injured. The Supreme Court has created a system that undermines Congress’s original intent to hold law enforcement accountable and denies civil law remedies to those who have been wronged.

Fortunately, Rep. Justin Amash has introduced a bill to end qualified immunity. Since the Court has proven derelict in its responsibility to defend the constitutional rights of Americans, it is now up to Congress to decide whether they will fulfill that duty.