Rising to Empire, Declining into Poverty

by Will

Liberty Minute January 23 2014

 The United States of America was founded as a commercial republic. Since the end of World War II our country has metastasized into an empire – a process that may have entered its terminal phase after 9-11. Over the past decade and a half, as Washington has engaged in unlimited power projection abroad, there has been a concomitant growth of government at home. Not surprisingly, this has led to a steady decrease in our country's economic standing.

 The annual Index of Economic Freedom, a joint project of the Heritage Foundation and the Wall StreetJournal, documents that for each of the past seven years, economic freedom has declined in the United States.

 The Index ranks 178 countries, which are classified as “Free,” “Mostly Free,” “Moderately Free,” “Mostly Unfree,” and “Repressed.”

 According to the most recent ranking, the United States has fallen out of the top 10 of the countries surveyed. America comes in at 12th place – below Estonia, which until 1991 was ruled by a Communist regime allied to the Soviet Union. The supposed Land of the Free is found in the middle of the “Mostly Free” category.

 As John Quincy Adams predicted in 1821, pursuing empire is destroying our liberty.

 

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

Cops Don't Trust Each Other -- Why Should We Trust Them?

by Will

Liberty Minute January 22 2014

Redondo Beach, California resident David Perdue was nearly murdered by police on the way to the beach last February 7. Torrance Police Officer Brian McGee rammed his vehicle into Perdue’s truck and opened fire on the driver’s side without pausing to identify the driver, who he thought was former LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner, who had murdered a police officer and threatened to kill others.

When he spotted Perdue’s car, McGee told investigators, he was “panicking inside, thinking if I don’t get out of this car seat, I’m gonna die. He’s gonna kill me. He’s gonna shoot me. I one hundred percent believe it’s him.”

Dorner was a large, heavyset black man. Perdue is a slender white man. Once those obvious differences had penetrated the blinding haze of panic that had enveloped McGee, he stopped shooting.

McGee’s attack inflicted $20,000 of damage to Perdue’s truck. The victim suffered head and spinal injuries that resulted in him losing his job as a baggage handler. McGee’s job is secure, and he has been cleared by the L.A. District Attorney’s office. According to the DA, McGee made a “reasonable mistake” when he rammed Perdue’s truck and tried to kill him sight unseen.

If police are this afraid of each other, why should the rest of us trust them?

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

The Tattle-Tale Virus

by Will

LibertyMinute January 21 2014

 Under totalitarian regimes like those that afflictedEast Germanyand Communist Cuba, citizens were expected and required to inform on each other. Too many Americans have embraced this mindset and eagerly look for excuses to turn in their neighbors. The tattle-tale impulse can sometimes be expressed in amazingly petty ways.

 In Lee's Summit, Missouri, an anonymous complaint drew the attention of city officials to a fort that had been constructed by a group of local children in a vacant lot. The kids had used scraps left over from local construction projects. A resident spied the fort and, acting in the best tradition of East German civic duty, filed a complaint with the building code bureaucracy.

 The children and their parents assembled for a pizza party to celebrate completion of the fort, and then watched as bulldozers were used to tear down the harmless but unauthorized edifice. One parent told a local TV news reporter that her six-year-old was so upset that she wanted to move to a different city.

 While this child's disgusted outrage is understandable, it's likely that she couldn't find a community in theUnited Stateswhose population hasn't been infected with the tattle-tale virus.

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

Totalitarian "Tolerance"

by Will

LibertyMinute January 20 2014

InCalifornia, a veteran actress named Maria Conchita Alonso was fired from a theater production after she made an advertisement endorsing a Tea Party-backed conservative candidate for governor. This decision wasn't made on her professional merits, nor was it dictated by market concerns. It was purely the product of political considerations: The producers and cast of the play wanted to shun Miss Alonso because of her supposed political heresy. If conservatives treated a liberal actress this way, the air would be rent with outraged criticism of a political “blacklist.”

In New York, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo used a recent radio interview to endorse the banishment of people he characterized as “extreme” right-wingers. According to Cuomo, Republican Party candidates and voters “who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay” are “extreme conservatives [who] have no place in the state ofNew York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

These episodes illustrate the difference between toleration – a willingness to endure disagreements and live with the shortcomings of others – and what the collectivist Left calls “tolerance,” which is a doctrine of conformity invoked to justify the suppression of viewpoints considered to be insufficiently progressive.

People who make a fetish of tolerance often do so to disguise a totalitarian disposition.

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

Edward Snowden vs. the USSA

by Will

Liberty Minute January 17 2014

Some of Edward Snowden’s detractors criticized the NSA whistleblower for fleeing into exile, rather than facing trial for disclosing the agency’s illegal activities. One persistent theme in such criticism is that Snowden should have worked through established channels, rather than going public.

Several previous NSA whistleblowers had attempted to do so, and were either ignored or threatened with prosecution. There was no institutional recourse in a system that punishes whistleblowers and rewards criminals. And since the government that employed him engages in summary execution of US citizens the president designates as official enemies, Snowden is wise to put himself beyond its immediate reach.

Several Pentagon and intelligence officials interview by the Buzzfeed website clearly lust to murder Snowden. One of them described a scenario in which Snowden could be “casually poked by a passerby” on the streets of Moscow, and die several hours later as a result of being poisoned.

That was the method used by the KGB and Bulgarian intelligence to murder exiled  anti-Communist dissident Georgi Markov on a bridge in London in 1978.

In what must be considered a painful historic irony, Edward Snowden fled to Russia because the political elites in Washington are the true heirs to the Soviets.

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

North Korean Police: More Restrained than their U.S. Counterparts

by Will

LibertyMinute January 16 2014

On January 14, the PBS program Frontline aired a documentary entitled The Secret State of North Korea Among the scenes captured in that documentary are two encounters between women and police.

In the first confrontation, a woman running a private bus service is accosted by an officer who attempts to issue a citation. She is angrily and openly defiant of the uniformed bully. She actually shoves him several times and treats him to a well-earned outpouring of verbal abuse before turning back to her work. The second incident involved a woman who refused to accept a citation for wearing pants in defiance of a mandatory dress code.

If these incidents had occurred in theUnited States, the women would have been beaten, tasered, and -- quite possibly -- killed.

American police taught to treat any act of non-compliance as “resisting arrest,” a supposed offense that justifies the use of pain compliance and lethal force, if it is necessary to subdue the victim. Any incidental contact with the sanctified person of a police officer is treated as criminal battery or even aggravated assault.

Interestingly, this doesn’t appear to be the case in Communist North Korea.

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

Soviet-Style Indefinite Detention for a Blogger in Alabama

by Will

Liberty Minute January 15 2013

In overtly Communist countries like China and North Korea, it is commonplace to see people imprisoned for speaking or writing in opposition to the ruling elite. Similar conditions exist in the State of Alabama, where the ruling Republican establishment has arranged the indefinite imprisonment – without a criminal conviction – of a blogger whose writings offended them.

Roger Shuler, who maintains a blog called Legal Schnauzer, has been sued by the family of Robert Riley, Jr., the son of the state’s former Republican Governor. Shuler claimed that Riley had engaged in an affair with a lobbyist that ended in an abortion. In a sealed decision, a state judge imposed an injunction against Shuler forbidding him to write about Riley and ordering him to remove previously published material. Commendably, Shuler refused to comply – and was arrested on a charge of criminal contempt. He is now in a state prison, where he will remain until he complies with the judge’s patently unconstitutional order.

Libel is a civil matter, not a criminal one, and the accusation against Shuler has not been proven in court. But such principles matter little to the pious totalitarians responsible for the Soviet-grade persecution of a troublesome blogger in Alabama.

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

Police Have a License to Murder

by Will

LibertyMinute January 14 2013

There was never any dispute as to the identity of the people who beat Kelly Thomas to death outside a bus station in Fullerton, California. Nor was there any reasonable doubt that this act was one of aggressive violence by armed strangers committed against an unarmed, terrified, mentally troubled, 160-pound man. Yet a jury in conservativeOrange County,California acquitted the two ringleaders of the six-member gang that beat, kicked, and suffocated Thomas on a July night in 2011, while he cried out for his father.

The victim’s father, Ron Thomas, is a retired sheriff’s deputy. He described the killing of his son as an act of gang violence. The perpetrators were members of the Fullerton Police Department. The assault was instigated by Officer Manuel Ramos, who spent several minutes taunting and baiting Thomas – a homeless man who was not suspected of a crime – before slapping on gloves and saying: “You see these fists? They’re about to f**k you up.”

The defense team insisted that Thomas was to blame for his death because he had tried to fight back after the police began their unwarranted and criminal assault. A jury accepted that argument, ratifying the idea that police have an unconditional license to kill – and citizens have a moral duty to die when targeted by them.

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

Why Does Rand Paul Want to Imprison Edward Snowden?

by Will

Liberty Minute January 13 2013

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has announced his intention to file a class action lawsuit against the National Security Agency over its illegal eavesdropping program. An earlier suit filed by the group Judicial Watch resulted in a temporary injunction from federal district court Judge Richard Leon, who described the program as “almost Orwellian.” A second federal judge, in response to a separate lawsuit filed by the ACLU, issued a ruling that described the totalitarian surveillance program as justified by the need to fight terrorism.

All of these lawsuits have depended heavily on the revelations of former NSA employee Edward Snowden, whose disclosures have laid bare the unconstitutional and criminal misconduct of the agency.  Rather than commending Snowden for his principled and patriotic service, Sen. Paul has called for him to be prosecuted and imprisoned.

“Edward Snowden broke the law,” Sen.  Paul wrote in a letter to the Wall Street Journal. “There are penalties for breaking the law, and I believe he should be prosecuted.”

In effect, Senator Paul is telling Snowden: “Thank you for risking your life to reveal criminal misconduct. I’ll take over and ride this issue to the White House, and you can serve a term in federal prison.”

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

Texas Game Wardens Get their SWAT Freak On

by Will

Liberty Minute January 9 2014

Why would game wardens need to undergo SWAT training?

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has announced the creation of what it calls a “cadre of specialty teams” that have undergone SWAT-style tactical training.

These new teams will supposedly focus on search-and-rescue operations, which the public understandably supports. It shouldn’t be forgotten, however, that all of the state’s 532 game wardens are commissioned police officers who operate far afield of their expected responsibilities.

The poster child for the department’s tactical program is Game Warden Cullen Stakes, who posed for a photo holding an assault rifle and wearing military garb quite similar to that worn by Special Forces operators overseas.  None of this is necessary or useful in rescuing people stranded by floods, or who have gotten lost in the woods.

Among the Parks and Wildlife Department’s new specialized units is the “Scout Team,” a group of 45 wardens who “have received a variety of training and can be used in border operations, dignitary protection, or any form of high-risk law enforcement, such as serving felony arrests or hostage situations,” reports Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.

When even Parks and Wildlife agencies are becoming militarized, it’s pretty clear we live in a fully operational police state.

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

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