Russia Shouldn't Be Our Enemy

by Will

Liberty Minute August 11 2014

Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia was the largest component of a regime committed to a global ideological crusade. By that time the USSR was economically bankrupt, and in many ways a ruined society.

During most of the 1990s, Russia attempted to reconstruct its civil society. Politically connected oligarchs fought among themselves, the secret police abetted the growth of organized crime, and Moscow fought two bloody wars against Islamic separatists in Chechnya. But there was no evidence that the Russian government continued to pursue the Soviet vision of global revolution. Instead, we saw a large and wounded country struggling to regain a sense of normalcy following seven decades of ideologically driven mass murder and unremitting tyranny.

Vladimir Putin is a product of the Soviet and Russian security apparatus, which means that he is neither moral nor trustworthy. There is just as little evidence that he seeks global domination, however. In the current Ukrainian crisis, Putin has been restrained – remember, this is a country on Russia’s doorstep with a large ethnic Russian population. Rather than imposing sanctions on Russia and goading it into an avoidable conflict, the U.S. should offer to act as a neutral mediator – and otherwise mind our own business.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.

What It Takes to Remove a Tyrannical Police Chief

by Will

Liberty Minute August 8 2014

 

Victor Pierce claimed that the Lord had called him to be police chief of Barry Township, a Michigan village of about 3,700 people. When he obtained four armored vehicles from the Pentagon, Pierce said that this was necessary in order to protect the public against terrorism and school shootings. After he organized a 34-man “reserve” force to patrol the village’s crime-free streets, the chief insisted that this was part of his “visionary balance for the community.”

 

After two of the reserve officers took part in the beating of a local businessman on May 10, Pierce shrugged and said that the victim had “resisted” and that the courts should handle the matter. Amid mounting complaints from citizens who had been harassed, detained, and searched without cause, Pierce and his dwindling band of defenders maintained that the innocent have nothing to fear from additional scrutiny.

 

After the state cancelled the department’s liability insurance, and more than one thousand residents signed petitions demanding that Pierce be terminated, the town council dragged its feet. Finally, amid surging local outrage and accumulating adverse media coverage, Pierce announced his resignation on August 7.

 

It took a prodigious effort to dislodge one tyrannical police chief from a tiny town. What does this say about police accountability?

 

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

The NYPD Retaliates Against a Vigilant Citizen

by Will

In a development as predictable as the next sunrise, police in New York City have arrested 22-year-old Ramsey Orta, who used his cell phone to document the police killing of Eric Garner. Orta’s mother says that the NYPD has been shadowing her son since the video of the July 17 incident went public, sending officers to stake out the family’s home and shine spotlights at their windows.

Undercover plainclothes officers claim that they saw Orta slip a handgun into the waistband of a girlfriend outside a hotel in what the department describes as a “drug-prone” neighborhood in Staten Island. Orta has a previous conviction that forbids him to own a weapon.

Assuming that he was actually caught with a stolen gun – rather than being framed by the cops with what they call a “throw-down gun” – Orta would appear to be a repeat offender. The same is true, however, of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who assaulted Eric Garner with an illegal chokehold, leading to what the medical examiner has concluded was a death by homicide.  Pantaleo had several previous complaints for excessive force prior to his lethal assault on Garner, who was killed by the cops shortly after breaking up a fight.

Orta wasn’t arrested because he is a criminal, but rather for offending the tribal sensitivities of the NYPD.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Internationalizing the Military

by Will

Liberty Minute August 6 2014

We’re often told that if not for the military exploits of the “Greatest Generation” during World War II, we would be taking orders from German military officers. Yet this is precisely what will happen to U.S. military personnel assigned to duty in Europe.

The Army Times reports that Brig. General Markus Laubenthal, who had commanded Germany’s 12th Panzer Brigade, has been promoted to serve as chief of staff for the U.S. Army Europe, the first time that position has been held by a non-American officer. Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell describes this appointment as “a bold and major step forward in [US Army Europe’s] commitment to operating in a multinational environment with our German allies.”

Actually, this appointment – which was approved by President Obama – is probably intended to palliate German outrage over revelations that the National Security Agency has conducted electronic surveillance of German citizens and officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Twenty years ago, US Army Specialist Michael New refused to wear a United Nations insignia on his uniform and serve under the command of a foreign general during a UN mission in Macedonia.  He underwent a court martial in order to warn his colleagues about the internationalization of the US military. The appointment of General Laubenthal validates Specialist New’s warning.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

When Cops and Prosecutors Become Civil Libertarians

by Will

Liberty Minute August 5 2014

As a federal prosecutor and legal scholar, Utah resident Paul Cassell distinguished himself as a critic of the Supreme Court’s Miranda ruling, and the “exclusionary rule” it articulated. That ruling protected a suspect’s rights against self-incrimination by requiring the suppression of compelled or dishonestly obtained confessions.

Cassell insists that the famous Miranda Warning is harmful because it supposedly handcuffs police, resulting in what he calls “lost confessions.” He also believes that innocent people have no reason to fear police interrogation. Cassell is so zealous to repeal the Miranda ruling that he pursued an unsuccessful appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.

He recently joined the defense team of Utah resident Shaun Cowley, who admits that he fatally shot Danielle Willard in November 2012. Cassell insists that evidence obtained through Cowley’s voluntary statements to investigators must be suppressed – because when Cowley killed Willard he was a police officer, and therefore cannot be criminally prosecuted on the basis of evidence obtained through his department’s internal investigation. This is known as the “Garrity” rule, and the privilege it extends applies only to police officers and other government employees.

It is fascinating to see how quickly prosecutors and police union officials become civil libertarians when a police officer is charged with a crime.  

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

A Sniper's Misfire Hurts his Family

by Will

Liberty Minute August 1 2014

As a military sniper, the late Chris Kyle earned notoriety by killing people from the shadows, striking at them from a distance and then disappearing.  In his memoir, American Sniper, Kyle attempted the literary version of that tactic on Jesse Ventura – and now his family is suffering the fallout from his misfire.

In his memoir Kyle claimed to have confronted Ventura, a former Navy frogman and critic of U.S. foreign policy, in a bar following a Navy SEAL funeral. Supposedly furious over disparaging comments Ventura made about the deceased and his friends, Kyle slugged the much older man and then ran away before the police arrived.

That story was never corroborated, and now a jury in Minnesota has found that it was a conscious, malicious falsehood that damaged Ventura’s reputation. The jury awarded Ventura $1.8 million in damages, which will be paid by Kyle’s estate out of profits from his best-selling book.

It’s bad enough to tell the world that you sucker-punched a senior citizen then ran away – but lying about doing so is a mystifying bit of bullying braggadocio. Given that Kyle traded on his association with the Navy SEALs, his behavior makes one wonder why the SEALs didn’t file their own defamation suit against him.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Costumed Beggars vs. Costumed Bullies: Which are Worse?

by Will

Liberty Minute July 31 2014

New York’s Times Square is in habited with costumed characters who pose for photos with tourists in exchange for tips. These street performers have no way to compel people to pay them.

The street performers are outnumbered by another costumed troupe called police officers; they routinely issue citations to people accused of committing trivial infractions of ordinances that have little if any connection to the protection of persons or property. Unlike the costumed street performers, however, police do issue demands for payment and will track down and use violence against people who refuse those demands.

Recently a New York cop confronted a street performer named Junior Bishop, who was dressed as Spiderman. Bishop was supposedly “shaking down tourists for cash” – although witnesses say he was politely asking for tips. When the officer tried to arrest Bishop, the performer was compliant – until, witnesses said, the officer went for his throat. Given the recent death of Eric Garner following an NYPD chokehold, Bishop understandably was in fear for his life, so he fought back.

Cops and their media allies described Bishop as a “beggar.” His fellow performers insist that the officer is a bully. Assuming that both descriptions are accurate, which is a greater potential threat to the public?

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Public Safety Isn't a Law Enforcement Priority

by Will

Liberty Minute July 30 2014

Whenever a police officer detains a citizen, officer safety is the highest consideration. When the citizen is injured or killed without justification, officer safety and institutional protection for the agency employing him trump full and timely disclosure of the facts. This is borne out by the actions of the Missouri Highway Patrol following the death of 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson.

Ellingson drowned while handcuffed on May 31 after being arrested by Trooper Anthony Piercy on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. Ellingson, who was in a life vest with his hands cuffed behind his back, fell out of the trooper’s boat. His specially designed vest somehow came off in the water. Repeated attempts to rescue him were unsuccessful. His body was found the following morning.

Defying that state’s Sunshine Law, the Missouri Highway Patrol has refused to honor public records requests, insisting that the investigation isn’t complete. However, Trooper Piercy has been returned to duty following a brief paid vacation – also known as administrative leave. That development suggests that either Piercy has been cleared of suspected wrongdoing, or that his department has no problem with allowing a homicide suspect to carry a gun and badge and exercise custodial control over other suspects.

Far too often, public safety is last on the list of law enforcement priorities.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

A Century Ago, the Gates of Hell Were Opened

by Will

Liberty Minute July 29 2014

One hundred years ago, the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a member of a Serbian nationalist group triggered a series of diplomatic ultimatums that eventually led to World War I. Combatants on both sides of that conflict went giddily off to war in the mistaken confidence that the affair would be brief and glorious.

More than four years of unfathomable bloodshed and barbarism later, Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire were in ruins, a generation of young men was destroyed, and several murderous ideologies – Communism, various forms of militant nationalism, and politicized Islam – were unleashed on the world. A vindictive victor’s peace through the Versailles Treaty reduced Germany to starvation, thereby cultivating and nurturing the seeds that would blossom into National Socialism.

America’s improvident entry into that war was hastened by Germany’s sinking of the Lusitania, a passenger ship that crossed a blockade carrying war material bound for England. Both the British and US governments, which had sent the Lusitania as a deliberate provocation, shared culpability with Germany for that act.

If the US had stayed aloof from the war, a negotiated settlement may have been achieved. But then, as now, ambitious people in exalted posts craved warfare and worked to inflame tensions, rather than abating them.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

A Dictator Blames the Refugees for Fleeing

by Will

Liberty Minute July 28 2014

James Madison, recognized as the chief Framer of the US Constitution, explained in Federalist essay number 10 that the constitutional republic he envisioned would encourage political and economic competition among states. The assumption was that states that were congenial to freedom –including economic freedom – would attract a larger population of productive people. This would enhance that state’s prosperity, and encourage other states to adopt similar policies – or pay the economic costs associated with a more oppressive government.

The original concept of “economic patriotism,” in brief, is the idea that government should be prevented from stifling prosperity. Barack Obama, who famously criticized the Constitution for failing to mandate economic redistribution, has inverted the expression “economic patriotism” by describing it as a willingness to submit to whatever regulatory and tax burdens the central government deems appropriate.

In a speech before a partisan crowd in Los Angeles, Obama condemned US corporations for a practice called “inversion” in which they shift their tax domiciles to other countries with less draconian tax rates. Such businesses, insisted Obama, are “corporate deserters.”

Obama, who is a socialist down to his corpuscles, sees the flight of productive people to foreign shores as an indictment of the refugees, rather than of his own increasingly despotic government.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

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