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We’ve Got to DO SOMETHING!

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

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It’s almost formulaic at this point.

DO SOMETHINGSomething tragic or disastrous occurs, emotions run high, policymakers see an opportunity to raise their profile, and BOOM! WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!

As libertarians, we are slow to embrace the populist messaging in the wake of a disaster or tragedy. Statistically, these events have a occurrence frequency near zero. With natural disasters like hurricanes, there is even be a significant warning ahead of the disaster. Yet the call for action, to DO SOMETHING, to do ANYTHING grows louder with occurrence.

Libertarians tend to examine potential outcomes rather than the intent of an action. With the initial “feel good” sentiment, an idea floated to address the recent tragedy or disaster gains traction among the masses, despite no real evidence of need or effectiveness.

So, how do we combat the desire to DO SOMETHING?

What I do:

  1. Keep calm. In my experience, the worst time to act is in an immediate response to something that does not pose an immediate threat. By calmly and rationally examining a situation, its effects, the likely consequences (intended and unintended) of proposals, and the actual outcomes of similar actions elsewhere and in other facets of humanity. Usually, cooler heads prevail, so it’s in our best interest to remain the coolest and calmest in a discussion.
  2. Focus on the facts. Despite the efforts of others to make an issue or proposed action emotional, keep your focus on the rarity of the situation, the likely consequences of a proposed solution, and that laws and ordinances only affect the rational and law-abiding. 
  3. Listen to the concerns of others. If you aren’t listening, how can you really address the concerns of those interested in the topic?
  4. Talk WITH others. This is a accompaniment to #3, as we are often quick to give our ideas without having an actual discussion to reach consensus.
  5. Have a solution. In last week’s column, I pointed to the importance of having a solution. In short, I discussed how having a solution or alternative will remind others that your continued inclusion in the conversation is vital to solving the issue at hand. You don’t need an immediate reaction to solve a problem. In fact, patience and focusing on root causes will earn your seat at the table. One key here is to keep your comments within the Overton Window for the issue at hand.

So, when those who are motivated for someone to DO SOMETHING, you have a few things to help you mitigate that emotional response to drive the conversation toward your libertarian solution.

What’s Your Solution?

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

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As libertarians, it’s pretty easy to point out the flaws and holes in solutions pitched to address the issues we face. It’s also very easy to just say no to everything, because the answer doesn’t pass muster with a libertarian worldview.

The hard part, yet the one that helps you be taken seriously as a part of the conversation, is to have your solution, a libertarian solution, ready to share when you oppose the option(s) presented.

solutionIn my experience, we are quick to oppose a politician’s proposal because it increases spending and/or taxes. Or we see that it isn’t authorized by the Constitution. Or we have examined the likely outcomes, and find fault with those outcomes.

Even in cases of strict opposition, like a new tax, build a case to present about why the proposal is bad and offer a libertarian solution to reduce or eliminate the perceived need for increased spending.

When I worked against the continuation of a sales tax, our “Ax the Tax!” campaign focused on the wasteful spending that accompanied the tax.

We pointed out:

  • that additional spending on new capital projects increased the liability for future budgets for operations and maintenance of those projects, likely leading to future tax increases.
  • the projects were wasteful and unnecessary, designed to get the support of small constituencies to support the “whole pie” in order to get their “piece.”
  • several projects duplicated and directly competed with existing private sector businesses or replaced something that failed in the eyes of the market.
  • the regular budgeting process planned for the tax’s continuation to make the spending appear necessary. In this case, road “improvements” (paving and intersection changes) were 98% dependent on the continuation of the sales tax.

We were also involved early in the process, showing up to events and meetings to discuss why the ideas proposed were not acceptable. By being involved early, we won a small victory by reducing the size (and cost) of the proposed project list by a third before it was even presented to voters for the referendum. By showing these faults and offering that there were ways to address them all without the tax, we nearly defeated it, despite being outspent 100:1.

We built a coalition of like-minded and some unlikely allies, and our unified messaging that addressed our solutions received MULTIPLE positive news stories about our opposition to spending $600 million in taxpayer money.

Regardless of why you oppose a proposal, no ready solution negates your inclusion in the conversation, which limits your exposure outside your immediate allies. Those allies already have your support, so you end up “preaching to the choir” rather than getting more people on your side.

Libertarians cannot always be a force of opposition. Inclusion in the discussion gives us a way to share a libertarian solution and offer some common sense guidance to the outcome.

Cop Fired for Doing the Right Thing

in Criminal Justice, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

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Jay Park was following a recently passed Georgia law extending amnesty to those who seek medical attention for others in need when he refused to arrest two underage college students who had far too much to drink.


The Georgia General Assembly passed the 9-1-1 Medical Amnesty Law in March 2014. Gov. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., put his signature on the bill not long after. The bill extends amnesty to people who seek medical attention to those who may have overdosed on illegal drugs and underage individuals who were consuming alcohol.

The idea is that amnesty may save the lives of those who may have otherwise died because those who they were with were scared of being prosecuted. As of August 2015, 32 states have passed a 9-1-1 “Good Samaritan” law, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

In September 2014, Park was called to a scene where two underage female students had been drinking. The University of Georgia wrongly believed amnesty applied if the intoxicated person was the one who made the call. After speaking to state lawmakers who worked on the law and a judge, he believed the university had gross misinterpreted the law.

Park, who served for four years as a police officer for the University of Georgia, was fired for refusing to arrest two underage students who fell under the protections of Georgia’s 9-1-1 Medical Amnesty Law.

University of Georgia Police Chief Jimmy Williamson recorded the firing of Park. “You went outside the chain of command,” Williamson told the dismissed officer. “You’re an embarrassment to this agency.”

Current and former students have petitioned Williamson to reinstate Park, without success. An online petition has gained nearly 5,000 signatures. “In the interest of preserving the safe environment within the University of Georgia community,” the petition states, “I ask that you reinstate Officer Jay Park, expunge his most recent personnel record for insubordination, and commit your officers to serving and protecting in a legal and ethical manner.”

Park, who has been unable to find work in law enforcement as a result of his firing from the University of Georgia, has filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Board of Regents, which governs the state’s university system; the University of Georgia Police Department; and others, including Williamson.

Frankly, it’s discouraging to see so many instances of police officers getting away with abusing their authority and not face any repercussions, and finally see one who did the right thing lose his job because of it. Here’s hoping Park either wins his suit and is awarded monetary damages for the harm to his reputation.

Prepare to Meet the New Republican Leaders; Same as the Old Republican Leaders

in Conservatism, Elections and Politics, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

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In an unexpected move, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced on Friday that he would resign his post and leave Congress at the end of October. His resignation came at a time when conservative members of the lower chamber were waging an internal battle to strip funding for Planned Parenthood, a women’s healthcare provider that performs abortions, which could’ve resulted in a government shutdown.

Boehner has long been a target of conservatives in the Republican Party who feel that he is disconnected from or doesn’t care about the concerns of the base. In January, at the start of the new Congress, 25 Republicans cast protest votes against Boehner, nearly throwing the election of the Speaker into a second round of voting.

“My mission every day is to fight for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government. Over the last five years, our majority has advanced conservative reforms that will help our children and their children. I am proud of what we have accomplished,” Boehner said on Friday. “The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love. It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House.”

“It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on October 30,” he added.

Jockeying for position in the House Republican Conference began before Boehner resigned. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., had introduced a resolution to vacate the Office of the Speaker before the August recess. Although the resolution wasn’t expected to get even a hearing, a motion from the floor could’ve been raised at any time and a vote would’ve been required. It was unclear if Boehner would’ve survived without Democratic support.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was thought to be Boehner’s heir apparent before the resignation, and not much has changed. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., the former Speaker of the Florida House, has announced that he’ll run as a conservative alternative, but no one believes he’ll mount a serious challenge.

The real race will be to replace McCarthy as Majority Leader. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., announced his bid for the top partisan post, as has House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga. Both are typically viewed as more conservative members of the House Republican Conference, but Price is likely to attract the most support from that wing of the party.

Still, don’t expect much to change with the new leadership team. Unless there is a serious about face on spending, civil liberties, and other big government policies that contradict the Republican Party’s supposedly limited government platform, the new House leadership will be the same as the old: Stale and weak.

Lawsuit Challenging the Exclusion of Qualified Candidates from Presidential Debates is Filed in Washington, DC

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Brett Bittner Comments are off

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2012 presidential candidates Gov. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, along with the Libertarian and Green parties and their vice-presidential candidates, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, DC, today charging that the exclusion of qualified candidates from the general election presidential debates by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) violates federal anti-trust laws.

The lawsuit is funded by the Our America Initiative, a not-for-profit advocacy organization, through their Fair Debates project, It was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by the Our America Initiative’s attorney Bruce Fein, who served as Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under the Reagan Administration.

presidential debatesThe legal challenge maintains that the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private 501©(3) organization created in 1987 by the Republican and Democratic national parties, intentionally limits participation in the nationally-televised debates to the Democrat and Republican nominees – placing other national party nominees at an unfair disadvantage. According to the complaint, other candidates are excluded by imposing arbitrary polling criteria, and the possibility of additional nationally-televised debates being sponsored by anyone other than the CPD is eliminated by agreements among the CPD and the two major party nominees forbidding participation in other debates or joint appearances.

The proposed remedy is that the debates include all candidates who are legally qualified to serve and whose names appear on enough states’ ballots to potentially secure a majority in the Electoral College.  In 2012, that threshold would have allowed participation, in addition to President Obama and Mitt Romney, by the Libertarian nominee Gov. Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, as well as the two parties’ vice-presidential nominees.

Announcing the filing of the complaint, Our America Initiative Senior Advisor Ron Nielson stated, “A majority of Americans today do not believe that either the Republican or Democratic parties represents them. Yet, through the Commission on Presidential Debates, the two major parties have seized and maintained control over the televised debates voters see every four years, and have gone to great lengths to insure that no candidates other than their own have the opportunity to appear on the debate stage. This lawsuit seeks to change that, and give the American people a chance to see that there are other real choices.”

Ammunition Against a Powerful Anti-Gun Rights Meme

in Liberator Online, One Minute Liberty Tip by Sharon Harris Comments are off

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You see and hear this phrase over and over again in the media: “the gun lobby.”

Frequently it is prefaced by the word “powerful” as in “the powerful gun lobby.”

gun controlIndeed, Google “powerful gun lobby” and you’ll find thousands of matches. Here are some examples from recent news stories:

“The powerful gun lobby has thwarted repeated attempts at firearm reforms, even after a host of horrific shootings…”

“However, the powerful gun lobby and its supporters in Congress have blocked the proposed measures…”

“His efforts to overhaul the nation’s gun laws have been thwarted time and time again by the powerful gun lobby…”

This is an extremely effective propaganda phrase that has worked its way into common and unthinking usage by journalists, politicians, and the public. One reason it is so effective is that many people don’t even realize that it is propaganda. Yet it is.

The phrase creates a potent meme. It instantly conjures up the image of a sinister, wealthy, scheming gun lobby constantly acting in opposition to the wishes and best interests of the vast majority of Americans. A small but extraordinarily effective lobby that controls politicians to prevent the rest of America from winning the popular, reasonable, workable, common-sense gun control measures that would save lives and make everyone safer.

This subtle, devastating phrase portrays most American citizens as standing helpless and endangered before this tiny but unstoppable lobby that cares more about guns and profits than human lives.

Yet this is an utterly false picture. First, polls show that the majority of Americans favor gun rights over gun control. Opposition to gun control has increased in recent decades. Polls vary on specific issues, but in general, and especially concerning the more draconian gun-rights restrictions, a majority or near-majority consistently favors gun liberty.

So the “powerful gun lobby,” far from being a small group of elites manipulating the political system, actually represents, generally speaking, theanti views of a majority or near-majority of Americans.

Second, the “powerful gun lobby” phrase conveniently ignores a crucial point: there exists a very powerful and highly influential anti-gun lobby in America. This anti-gun lobby is massive, well-funded, very active, and enjoys huge support from some of the most powerful people and institutions in America. The anti-gun lobby includes presidents, members of Congress, other office holders, billionaire supporters (Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, George Soros, Nick Hanauer, for example), journalists, celebrities, think tanks, advocacy groups… Indeed, most of the work of the “powerful gun lobby” is in response to the ceaseless efforts of this anti-gun-rights lobby to limit gun rights or abolish gun ownership outright.

Yet we seldom if ever hear anything about the “powerful anti-gun lobby.”

Which brings me to today’s communication tip. You can raise awareness of this — and begin refuting the ubiquitous and misleading “powerful gun lobby” meme — by simply using this phrase: “anti-gun lobby.” Or “the powerful anti-gun lobby.” Not in an argumentative or confrontational way, but in casual conversations about guns. Just drop it in:

“The anti-gun lobby is putting all their weight behind this new bill to outlaw private gun sales…”

“That’s the argument being made by the powerful anti-gun lobby. But as John Lott points out in his excellent book More Guns, Less Crime…”

I like the way “anti-gun lobby” parallels the familiar “gun lobby” phrase. This gets the attention of listeners.

Those who support gun freedom will find it refreshing to hear. Those who are undecided about the issue will find it intriguing. It will help cancel out the “powerful gun lobby” meme, help your listeners begin thinking outside the mental box that phrase creates, and open their minds to thinking further about other aspects of the gun issue.

Of course, use this along with the other rules of good libertarian communication, always remembering that our goal is opening minds and winning supporters, not engaging in fruitless arguments. (I discuss those rules, and many more ways to talk about gun rights, in my book How to Be A Super Communicator for Liberty.)

Slacktivism: You Can Do More

in Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

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I’ve worn ribbons. I’ve liked, shared, favorited, retweeted, and pinned things on social media. I’ve sported a sticker on my laptop.

Facebook LikeBut did any of that really accomplish anything? When looking at the direct effect of those activities, there was no measurable impact.

So, why bother with what I call slacktivism? (I’ll answer this shortly.)

Where is there a measurable impact?

  • Tabling/Outreach Booth – Setting up a table at an existing event and meeting new people is a great way to find new people for your group, your issue, or your philosophy. When you’re in college, there’s always an opportunity to table. Once you’re out, however, it gets pricier and a bit more difficult, but it can be done. Gun shows, book fairs, holiday festivals, and town celebrations are a prime opportunity to reach out to the local community for the post-college readers.
  • Going Door-to-Door – While this sounds like a strictly candidate or party politics activity, it can be something that gets noticed by your neighbors. If you are active in your community or highly visible, this kind of activism can lead to growth as you ask those around you to join in your efforts.
  • Contributions – I’ve long held the belief that EVERYONE can give time, talent, or treasure. When you have a particular talent that you can offer to your preferred issue or group, do it. When you have the time to serve that issue or group, share it. When you have the treasure, spend it in a way that benefits your passion project. I’ve always appreciated the time and talent an individual will give, as well as the funds they spend in lieu of that time, when they are too busy to make the time or talent commitment.
  • Being a Shining Example – This takes little or no “extra” time to accomplish. When you exemplify the libertarian lifestyle, the results may not be immediate, but they are measurable and direct. You will inspire others to join you. You will find that there are others who hold your same beliefs that may not be motivated other ways.

Above, I gave “slacktivism” a hard time. I realize that many of us are busy people with a lot going on, and wearing a pin, interacting on social media, or sporting a sticker may be all that you can do in that moment. I also realize there is an immeasurable impact in the aggregate when many wear those pins en masse, “like” or share social media posts, or promote a position or organization’s brand.

I ask that after that slacktivism moment passes that you take a hard look to plan how you can make a lasting, measurable impact.

If I can offer an immediate opportunity, I ask that you support us here at The Advocates for Self-Government with a bit of your treasure.

Is it Corporate Greed That Led to Turing Pharmaceuticals’ “Price Gouging” on Daraprim?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Liberator Online by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

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Question: Is it corporate greed that led to Turing Pharmaceuticals’ “price gouging” on Daraprim?

Turing PharmaceuticalsOver the last couple of days, the media has been aghast as Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO, Martin Shkreli announced his plan to increase the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill. Daraprim was patented in the 1950s, and is used for treating parasitic infections in fewer than 13,000 people a year in the U.S.  Turing bought exclusive rights to distribute the drug in the U.S. from Impax for $55 million; drug sales are less than $10 million/year.  Impax itself bought daraprim several years earlier. It upped the price from $1 to $13.50/pill, causing the number of prescriptions to drop about 30%.

Shkreli’s assertion that the profits would be used to develop a better drug for treating toxoplasmosis was met with skepticism.  Shkreli is a former hedge fund manager, not a pharma veteran, and might not be aware that the new drug will have to be tested against daraprim itself. Testing against placebo would be unethical, given that daraprim is part of the treatment standard.  Showing superiority, in terms of effectiveness or side effects, is much more difficult against another drug than placebo. Indeed, given the small number of patients who need the drug, it might be impossible to show the “statistical significance” required by the FDA, since large numbers of patients can’t be tested.

Why, you might ask, can Shkreli price his drug so high and not fear that a generic competitor will undercut him? After all, the daraprim no longer has patent protection.

The answer: Turing Pharmaceuticals has a de facto monopoly, courtesy of the ever-increasing costs of gaining FDA approval, both for new drugs (over $1 billion and 11 years) and generics. Any generic company could make daraprim; its patent expired decades ago.

However, the FDA would require that the company demonstrate that its pill released the drug into the blood stream at the same rate as the original daraprim.  Coupled with the cost of setting up FDA-approved manufacturing facilities for the new drug, a turn-around time of a couple years or so due to regulatory red-tape, and the expensive clinical trials, a generic company would need to commit to spending many millions, perhaps tens of millions, even with the special exemptions that the FDA gives drugs that have small or “orphan” patient populations.  After jumping through all of these costly hoops, the competitor might be unable to take a substantial part of the market from Turing should it choose to lower its prices for the sole reason of preventing the competitor from getting a foothold.

The $750 pill might be considered an example of “corporate greed.”  However, Turing probably wouldn’t have even attempted such a price hike without high cost of FDA-mandated drug development, both new and generic, which virtually eliminated his competition.


The Good and the Bad of Donald Trump’s White Paper on Guns

in Elections and Politics, Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has shifted away from his previous support of some gun control policies, including longer waiting periods and a ban on “assault weapons.” Although his campaign is general devoid of any meaningful or specifics on policy, Trump released a white paper last week that offers support for the Second Amendment.


The white paper opposes restrictions on firearms, such as “assault weapons,” that are usually targeted by the anti-gun left. But this is a departure for Trump, who, in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, expressed support for a ban on this type of firearm.

“The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions,” Trump wrote. “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.” (Emphasis added.) Trump was, at the time, considering a bid for the Reform Party’s presidential nomination.

Today, Trump, as he does on many different issues, sings a different tune. “Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like ‘assault weapons’, ‘military-style weapons’ and ‘high capacity magazines’ to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans,” Trump’s white paper states. “Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.”

He opposes expanded background checks and supports allowing the military to carry weapons on base and at recruiting centers. In the months after the Newtown tragedy, conservatives resisted a failed attempt to expand background checks, which wouldn’t have stopped that particular incident from occurring, and, after the recent shooting at a military recruiting center in Chattanooga, have expressed support for allowing recruiters to carry weapons on the job.

One particular policy proposed by Trump is likely to strongly appeal to conservatives. He supports “national right to carry,” which would make concealed carry permits valid in every state and the District of Columbia, much like a driver’s license. “A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state,” Trump says. “If we can do that for driving – which is a privilege, not a right – then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege.”

While this policy is attractive and worth of support – and at least three pieces of legislation have been introduced in the current Congress to achieve that goal – one aspect of Trump’s white paper is particularly troubling. He expresses support for a little known federal program, known as “Project Exile,” that existed in Richmond, Virginia in the 1990s.

“Several years ago there was a tremendous program in Richmond, Virginia called Project Exile. It said that if a violent felon uses a gun to commit a crime, you will be prosecuted in federal court and go to prison for five years – no parole or early release. Obama’s former Attorney General, Eric Holder, called that a ‘cookie cutter’ program. That’s ridiculous. I call that program a success,” the white paper states. “Murders committed with guns in Richmond decreased by over 60% when Project Exile was in place – in the first two years of the program alone, 350 armed felons were taken off the street.”

From 1993 to 2010, violent crime fell across the United States. The Pew Research Center found that the gun homicide rate fell by 49 percent from its peak level in 1993 and the victimization rate for other violent crimes committed with firearms, including rape, dropped by 75 percent.

“Nearly all the decline in the firearm homicide rate took place in the 1990s,” Pew noted, “the downward trend stopped in 2001 and resumed slowly in 2007. “ Theories on what caused the decline in crime rates vary, but economist Steven Levitt, known for the best-selling book, Freakonomics, has written that changes in policing strategies and gun control didn’t have much of an impact.

Project Exile was a federal program created in 1997 that targeted felons in possession of firearms. It brought these cases to federal court, where offenders faced a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Trump’s praise of Project Exile may be misguided. A 2003 study called into question its effectiveness as a deterrent to violent crime. “Despite this widespread acclaim, some skeptics have questioned the effectiveness of Project Exile, pointing out that homicides increased in Richmond in the last ten months of 1997 following the program’s announcement,” the authors explained. “In fact, the Richmond homicide rate increased by 40 percent between 1996 and 1997.”

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who represents part of Richmond and the surrounding area, blasted Project Exile in a speech on the House floor in April 2000. “The mandatory minimums associated with Project Exile show no better results. The proponents suggest that the violent crime rate has gone down 39 percent in the city of Richmond under Project Exile,” Scott said. “At the same time it went down 43 percent in Norfolk, 58 percent in Virginia Beach and 81 percent in Chesapeake without Project Exile.”

Trump’s white paper may offer a good idea, national right to carry, combined with fluff in contradiction to his previous statements, but programs like Project Exile are bad policy that are better handled under state law. What’s more, it defies logic. Violent crime is at its lowest point in the last couple decades. Unfortunately, the politics of fear are politicians need to succeed to win support from people who simply don’t know better.

The Religious Test Clause and Muslims

in Conservatism, Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

Ben Carson raised more than a few eyebrows on Sunday when he said that a Muslim should never be considered for the presidency. The retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential hopeful was responding to a question from Meet the Press host Chuck Todd when he made the Islamophobic comment.

“Should a president’s faith matter? Should your faith matter to voters?” Todd asked Carson.

“Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter,” Carson replied. “But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem.”

Todd followed up by asking Carson if he believes Islam is consistent with the Constitution. Carson didn’t hesitate. “No, I do not,” he said. “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” He did say, however, that he would consider voting for a Muslim for Congress, which he said is a “different story,” if he agreed with their policies.

Carson is among the presidential candidates who have made railing against Islam a frequent theme of their campaigns. This rhetoric may appeal a part of the Republican Party’s ultra-conservative base, but it’s disappointing to hear coming from anyone with a large following.

Of course Carson is free to set his own criteria for voting for a candidate. Every voter has that right, and some did against the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon. But let’s be clear here, Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution states: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Emphasis added.)

The framers of the Constitution had their reasons for adding the language. “First, various Christian sects feared that, if any test were permitted, one might be designed to their disadvantage. No single sect could hope to dominate national councils. But any sect could imagine itself the victim of a combination of the others,” Gerard Bradley explains. “More importantly, the Framers sought a structure that would not exclude some of the best minds and the least parochial personalities to serve the national government.”

Any suggestion that a candidate for federal office should be subjected to a religious test should is itself inconsistent with the Constitution. And, no, “but Sharia law” isn’t a valid response. It’s a half-cocked conspiracy theory, but that’s what passes for political and policy discussion today in the United States, at least in some circles.

Compassion with Caution

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

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Over the last month, citizens of the world have watched the growing Syrian refugee crisis unfold on television. Thousands of men, women and children are risking their lives to flee the violence from the Syrian civil war. Many are making the treacherous journey on foot through Turkey, while others attempt to sail across the Mediterranean on makeshift rafts.

compassionAccording to Mercy Corps, more than 11 million Syrians have been displaced since 2011. The majority of these people have fled to Syria’s neighboring countries over the years – Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. As violence continues in the Middle East, more than 350,000 migrants have sought asylum in Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom – and it’s not ending there.

Germany expects 800,000 more migrants this year. British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged on Monday to take in up to 20,000 refugees from camps in Syria over the next five years.

Since the start of the Syrian war in 2011, only 1,500 refugees fled Syria for the United States, though President Barack Obama has committed to accepting 10,000 more over the next coming year.

Obama’s plan has sparked a debate in Washington. Refugee advocates say the United States is not doing enough to address the humanitarian crisis caused by the war, while some congressional Republicans worry that an increase could allow terrorists to enter the United States.

“The rhetoric has been really awful,” said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. “The difficulty of doing it is met by this Islamophobia and conflation of Syrians and Iraqis with terrorists.”

Strong opposition met previous efforts to increase the flow of Syrian refugees.

Fourteen U.S. Senate Democrats wrote a letter urging the Obama administration to allow at least 65,000 Syrian refugees to settle in the United States this past May. The following month, Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX) objected to the administration’s plans to allow nearly 2,000 by the end of 2015.

“While we have a proud history of welcoming refugees, the Syrian conflict is a unique case requiring heightened vigilance and scrutiny,” McCaul, whose Homeland Security Committee has held hearings on the issue, wrote in a letter to Obama.

Although both sides of the debate in Washington present valid arguments, why can’t the United States offer these refugees compassion while exercising caution? After all, the U.S. has a history of meddling in Middle Eastern affairs that complicate the situation faced today. That history goes back almost 100 years.

Now, in an attempt to escape the horrors of war, hundreds of refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean. Small children are washing up on the shores of Turkey and Greece. Refugees face tear gas and water bombs in other parts of Europe where their governments are closing borders.

The U.S. should be a shining example of compassion to the migrants who have lost everything. Republicans raise an excellent point: young, single men of military age should be looked at with caution so that our compassion isn’t taken advantage of by ISIS or other terrorists. The U.S. can do better than just taking 10,000 refugees.

By offering compassion, the United States can be an example to other parts of the world that the Syrian refugee crisis isn’t an issue of proximity, but an issue of humanitarianism.

The Madness of Zero Tolerance

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

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When news broke this week about 14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed’s arrest for building a clock at home and bringing it to school, I immediately thought of zero tolerance incidents in the recent past. Most specifically, I was reminded of the ridiculousness of the suspension received by my high school class president during our sophomore year.

David was our class president, an honor roll student intent on attending Northwestern University, a member of the marching and symphonic band, a leader in many academic and extracurricular clubs, and an all-around good guy. He was a good guy that had to explain on every college application and in every interview about a 10-day suspension in the 10th grade for bringing a weapon to school.

zero toleranceEven more innocent than either this incident or this one, David’s suspension was a direct result of zero tolerance policy. David brought a knife to school and got caught with it during lunch. BOOM! Ten day suspension, out of school for an honor student.

You may be asking why such a bright kid needed a knife at school. It wasn’t for protection, because David was immensely popular and friends across the high school cliques. It wasn’t because he was a troublemaker, because David had never received a single disciplinary action in his school career. It wasn’t because he was defiant of the rule, because he was a model student.

He brought the knife to school to eat an apple, because David wore braces, and he had to cut away the skin of the apple to prevent it from getting stuck in very expensive orthodontics.

While I can appreciate the absolute right and wrong nature of zero tolerance policies, they leave absolutely no room for discretion or appeal to common sense for thinking individuals to realize the difference between intent and outcome. When applied in a school setting, I’m curious to know why zero tolerance policies exist, as the trust to make responsible decisions teachers and administrators disappears.

Aren’t they still trusted to make educational decisions for their students?

If we can’t trust that they can make the decision about right and wrong about a weapon or drugs on campus, how can we trust them to make the right decisions for the students they teach?

By the way, I’m happy to share that David went on to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta and chose Yale for his graduate studies.

Where Do Our Rights Come From?

in Conversations With My Boys, Liberator Online by The Libertarian Homeschooler Comments are off

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Me: What would you say to someone who said rights come from the government?

Young Statesman (then 13): Well, it seems like we get our rights from government, and I think that’s a common misconception.

The Young Statesman Contemplates RightsMe: Why is that?

YS: Because the government is charged with protecting our rights. That’s their job. I think that’s why people get confused.

Me: So how would you explain to someone what rights are and where they come from?

YS: I would explain that there are positive rights and negative rights. Negative rights are a duty to refrain from encroaching on the life, liberty, or property of another.

Me: Is that why they’re called negative rights?

YS: Yes. They’re negative because they’re saying what you can’t do. Negative rights are natural to every person. We have these rights just because we are people. We don’t have to enter into contract for these rights.

Me: So what another person has the right to expect you won’t do?

YS: Yes. So I have the right to expect that I won’t be killed, enslaved, or robbed. Life, liberty, and property. Positive rights are different. Positive rights say you have a duty to provide someone with something.

Me: How do you come about having a positive right?

YS: If a negative right was infringed upon, you have a positive right to restitution. You can also contract for positive rights

Me: Can you take away a peaceful person’s negative rights?

YS: No. If your negative rights haven’t been infringed upon and if you have no voluntary contract, then you have no positive right to a good service or anything like that.

Me: So what if I were to say that what you say about rights makes sense, but I still think rights come from the government?

YS: A legitimate government is just a group of people who have voluntarily gotten together to protect their rights. The rights that existed before the government came into being.

Me: Is there any great difference between a legitimate government and a voluntary mutual aid society that agrees to help one another protect their property?

YS: No. A legitimate government upholds people’s property rights and is voluntary. It doesn’t have a band of enforcers to force you the be part of their system. That violates the rights it claims to protect. If the government violates the rights it claims to defend it’s not legitimate. I should be able to say that I do not want their services. If you aren’t able to opt out, what are you? Do you have your liberty? Slaves aren’t able to opt out, are they? We just have a slightly bigger pen.

The Problem with “Should”

in Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

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I LOVE feedback. I LOVE suggestions. If you’d like to send me feedback, click here to shoot me an e-mail.

Often, I find that the feedback and suggestions I hear from within the libertarian community are unintentionally similar to feedback and suggestions from non-libertarians about the role of government. In fact, I find them to be eerily similar to the way many Americans talk use a phrase many libertarians despise.


Are you among those I’m writing about in this cautionary tale?

That feedback and those suggestions typically involve the word “should.”

“We should do this.”

“This should be done.”

In nearly every case, the word “should” is used without follow-up about how the giver of that feedback or suggestion will perform or help to perform toward their intended outcome.

That is an outsourcing of responsibility.

By only suggesting that something should be done, you assign an obligation or duty to someone else. Many times, that person will agree, but they have priorities and tasks that take precedence.

How do you remove the “should problem”?

That problem disappears when you take on the responsibility of some tasks toward the outcome.

Is it any different from saying “There ought to be a law!”?

Knowing what to address is a great start, though if you don’t have a solution or take action to correct things, are you really part of the solution? Or simply joining the chorus that points out a problem?

One of the things that makes an effective libertarian is having a defined solution in mind when you see a problem in government.

The next time you are about to say “should,” will you have an action plan and support for what you are pointing out? Are you willing to pitch in to solve the problem? Or are you outsourcing the responsibility of what should be done to someone else?

You Don’t Have to Like Same-Sex Marriage to Realize Kim Davis Ignored the Rule of Law

in Liberator Online, Marriage and Family, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Jackson Jones Comments are off

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Apparently, the most pressing issue in the country is a Kentucky county clerk who refuses to separate her religious beliefs from her duties as a public official. The media frenzy has created a debate over the role of religion in public affairs in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Kim Davis was elected as a Democrat to serve as the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky in November 2014. She succeeded her mother, Jean Bailey, who served in the role for 37 years. Davis worked under her mother as a deputy clerk for 24 years.

Near the end of Bailey’s tenure, her office was the subject of complaints. Davis pulled in more than $63,000 in compensation. The excessive government salaries in the county of approximately 23,600 residents led to a reduction in the office’s budget in December 2011.

When Davis took the oath of office, she pledged that she would “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth.” When she entered office in January, same-sex marriage was constitutionally prohibited in Kentucky, but that changed in June when the Supreme Court struck down state constitutional amendments and statutes prohibiting it.

Governor Steve Beshear, D-Ky., instructed county clerks to comply with the ruling by issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples. “Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe,” Beshear explained. “But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act.”

Davis, citing her religious beliefs, refused to issue marriage licenses to any couple, traditional or same-sex, in Rowan County and ordered her staff to follow suit. In mid August, U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, the son of former Republican U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, issued an injunction against Davis ordering her to issue marriage licenses in accordance with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergfell.

Just days later, Davis appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which, prior to Obergfell, was one of the few courts in the United States that upheld the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans. A three-judge panel denied her appeal.
She asked the Supreme Court to take her case, but she was again rebuffed.

In the injunction issued against Davis, Bunning wrote that “[o]ur form of government will not survive unless we, as a society, agree to respect the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions, regardless of our personal opinions. Davis is certainly free to disagree with the Court’s opinion, as many Americans likely do, but that does not excuse her from complying with it.”

“To hold otherwise,” he added, “would set a dangerous precedent.”

The case isn’t about religious liberty; it’s about the rule of law. Certainly, one can disagree with the Supreme Court rulings. Simply because five judges in black robes rule on an issue doesn’t necessarily mean that the subject can’t be revisited through appropriate legislation within the confines of a judicial ruling.

But as Judge Andrew Napolitano explained on Tuesday, “There is no acceptable dispute to the truism that the Supreme Court has the final say on the meaning of the Constitution, whether you agree with it or not.”

“[Davis’ attorney is] asking for an accommodation between her religious beliefs and the fundamental right of same sex couples to get married in that county, they found the accommodation, she doesn’t have to deal with them, and the deputy clerks can issue those applications,” said Napolitano. “But if he wants to relitigate the issue of whether or not a local county clerk can defy the Supreme Court, he is going to lose and she is going to lose. That issue has already been resolved with finality.”

Still, despite losing at every turn, Davis refused to perform her duties. She refused to uphold the rule of law. Davis and her attorney insisted that she was acting on “God’s authority,” which, since the United States isn’t a theocracy, isn’t recognized.

Bunning found Davis in contempt on September 3 and ordered her into custody. Her staff subsequently resumed issuing marriage licenses to traditional and same-sex couples. Those who initiated the suit against Davis asked for fines, but Bunning believed that Davis’ supporters would pay the fines for her, rendering that form of sanctions irrelevant.

Republican presidential candidates, desperate for the limelight, have rallied behind Davis. Former Governor Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have been the most vocal. Huckabee said the jailing of Davis for contempt is an example of the “criminalization of Christianity.” Huckabee offered to take Davis’ place in jail should she be required to go back for further ignoring the law. Cruz claimed that Bunning’s action against Davis was “judicial tyranny.”

“Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office. That is the consequence of their position,” said Cruz. “Or, if Christians do serve in public office, they must disregard their religious faith–or be sent to jail.”

The public comments of presidential candidates are little more than hot air in the conversation in a desperate attempt to gain attention when all the wind in the room is being consumed by Donald Trump, who, as it happens, doesn’t agree with Davis. As an example of how desperate these guys are, one of Huckabee’s aides physically blocked Cruz from appearing on stage with Davis and Huckabee when she was released on Tuesday.

No one disagrees that people are free to observe their religion peacefully in their private lives. But if someone, like Davis, holds a public office and is willfully using their religious beliefs position to ignore the rule of law, they deserve some form of punishment.

Perhaps the Kentucky General Assembly will offer Davis some means to avoid having to sign off on marriage certificates for same-sex couples, but, until state lawmakers act, Davis has no choice but to follow the law or face some form of punishment until she complies with the law or resigns from office.

No, Violent Crime is Not Getting Worse

in Criminal Justice, Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Jackson Jones Comments are off

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One wouldn’t know it if they read what some news outlets are reporting or listened to the words of some Republican hopefuls and pundits on television, but there isn’t any real evidence that crime is getting worse.

The Pew Research Center, in May 2013, noted that the gun homicide rate was down 49 percent since 1993, when it peaked. What’s more, non-fatal gun violence dropped by 75 percent over the same period analyzed. The Bureau of Justice Statistics, an agency in the Department of Justice, found similar figures, a 39 percent drop in gun homicides and a 70 percent drop in non-fatal gun violence, between 1993 and 2011.


Although instances of gun violence were falling, according to the Pew Research Center, 56 percent of Americans believed gun-related crimes were on the rise compared to 20 years before. The causes of this belief are certainly up for debate, but the media’s focus on shootings and coverage of politicians’ reactions could be a cause. After all, bad news sells.

At the end of August, The New York Times reported that “[c]ities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines.” The Times offers data from several U.S. cities that have seen spikes in homicides. Some have interpreted the story as a nationwide spike in violent crime attributed to the so-called “Ferguson effect.” Heather Mac Donald pushed this theory in a May editorial at the Wall Street Journal.

“Since last summer, the airwaves have been dominated by suggestions that the police are the biggest threat facing young black males today,” Mac Donald wrote. “Almost any police shooting of a black person, no matter how threatening the behavior that provoked the shooting, now provokes angry protests.”

Others, including Bruce Frederick of the Vera Institute and John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center, have taken a more reasoned approach to the perceived spike in violent crime.

“[N]ot all of the increases cited by the Times are statistically reliable; that is, some of them are small increases, or are based on small numbers of cases, such that the observed increases could have occurred by chance alone. Among the 16 top-20 cities for which I found publically available data, only three experienced statistically reliable increases,” Frederick explained. “Only one of the top-20 cities included in the Times’ sample, Chicago, experienced an increase that was statistically significant.”

“Even where a statistically reliable increase has been experienced,” he noted, “a single year-to-year increase does not necessarily imply a meaningful trend.”

Writing in response to Mac Donald at the end of May, Lott pointedly contested her narrative, writing, “The bottom line is that across the largest 15 cities in the US the murder rate has fallen by by 12 from 749 to 737 (a 2% drop) or from 43 from 871 to 828 (a 5% drop).”

And while many are insisting that violence against police is becoming a trend, the Associated Press recently noted that shooting deaths of police officers are actually down by 13 percent. “There were 30 shootings last year and 26 this year,” the report explained. “Those figures include state and local officers, as well as federal agents.” The data used in the report came from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Each shooting, whether of an innocent person or a police officer, is a tragedy, but everyone needs to calm down about this supposed uptick in violent crime because the data suggest that 2015 is consistent with recent years. Even if by year’s end there’s an increase in violent crime, it’s far too early to call it a trend.

Libertarian Parenting

in Conversations With My Boys, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, Marriage and Family by The Libertarian Homeschooler Comments are off

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Me: What are the rules of the house?
BA (10): Do not encroach on the person or property of another. Do all you have agreed to do. [We took those rules directly from Richard Maybury.]11988564_10104815737879530_1104378496462959819_n
Me: Who has to obey the rules?
BA: Everyone in the house?
Me: Me and Dad?
BA: Yes.
Me: What if you don’t want to obey those rules?
BA: You can ask if you can change the rules.
Me: Who would you ask?
BA: It depends on who is in a good mood.
Me: Young Statesman, what are your thoughts? What if you don’t want to obey the rules? Do you only lose the constraint?
YS: You lose the protection that the rules provide you.
Me: What does that make you?
YS: An outlaw. Fair game.
Me: So, BA, what would you think if we said, “Great. You don’t want the constraints or the protection of the rules, there are more of us, we’re going to take your stuff!”
BA: I’d be like, “That was a bad choice. I take that back.”
Me: So you think those are good rules.
BA: Yeah.
Me: Are they rules you’ll take with you into adulthood?
BA: I think so.
Me: What if you met someone who didn’t obey those rules?
BA: I would be quite upset.
Me: What would you call that person?
BA: A thief.
Me: Are you free to leave the family?
YS: Yes. I’m not going to.
Me: So you’re here voluntarily?
YS: Yep.
Me: How can that be? What recourse do you have? Isn’t it dangerous just to leave?
YS: You would help me find a good home that suited me better.
Me: That’s true. That’s a big part of being a member of this family. You are free to go. Your father and I both agree on that point. He is free to leave, I am free to leave, you are free to leave, your brother is free to leave. How do you think it impacts our parenting to know that we have agreed that you can walk away–right now–and not look back?
YS: It makes you think about your actions and consequences.
Me: Does that make us perfect parents?
YS: No.
Me: Why don’t you leave?
YS: Because I love you all and you are my family.
Me: What if we were oppressive?
YS: You aren’t so how would I know what I would do?
Me: So if we were prone to being oppressive we wouldn’t give you the option to walk away.
YS: Right. If you’re going to be oppressive you aren’t going to give the kid the option to safely walk away.
Me: But you’re given the right to walk away when you’re eighteen, right? Earlier if you become an emancipated minor. So eventually everyone has the right to rid themselves of relationships they find abusive or broken. We’ve just given it to you earlier. Why would we do that?
YS: Because you want to be respectful of me.
Me: It also keeps us honest. Knowing that you can leave us. It levels the field. What if I couldn’t leave my marriage to your father?
YS: That would make you a slave and he could do anything.
Me: Would that be healthy?
YS: No. You couldn’t do anything. You would have no power.
Me: There has to be balance. We decided early on that our relationships had to be balanced. You had to have the right to leave. Your father and I agreed to that with one another. That’s our agreement. If one of us refuses to make leaving the family a safe option for a child, the other is the fail safe. They will guarantee your safe departure and survival until you are old enough to make it on your own. Are there other adults who would assist you if your dad and I suddenly lost it?
YS: Yes.
Me: Miss Katy, Miss Alison, Miss Karen, Mr. Jamie, The Whites, Scott. Would they help you?
YS: Yes, they would. But I’m not leaving.

We have this conversation about every six months. Just so he knows his father and I remain bound by this rule. We check in. They know the rules of our union as a family and they know that removing themselves safely is an option guaranteed to them as members of this family. Particularly as they become young adults with all that adulthood brings with it, I think having the option to walk away is fundamental.

Do You Listen?

in Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

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I mean TRULY listen.

Or are you waiting for your turn to speak?

We have conversations every day, but I don’t see many engaged conversations. I see many participating, as if they are following a script’s cues: talk, talk, talk, and wait to talk again.

listeningGreat communicators listen actively, not waiting for their opportunity to speak, scrolling through things on their smartphone, or talking past others in the conversation.

In political conversations, it seems that we only wait for our opportunity to talk past one another. Unfortunately, that means that no participant actually understands the others’ concerns or point of view on the issue being discussed. We simply wait to throw out our next fact, figure, emotional pitch, or sound-byte, rather than listening to what others say.

When we truly listen, we get the benefit of hearing a different perspective. We hear their concerns, and we find out how they work through solving an issue of concern to them.

What can you do to make yourself a better listener (and a better communicator)? Try out these five tips from Inc. on The Huffington Post:

  1. Be present. Being “in the moment” is not just for yoga or Grateful Dead concerts. If you are going to take in what someone is saying, you have to truly focus your mental awareness on the person. Push distractions aside. Give a person the gift of your attention. Put down the smartphone, turn off your computer screen, put down the book or magazine, and look at him or her with a neutral or pleasant expression. Most people are so accustomed to having half of someone else’s focus at any given moment that this gesture alone will make them feel important and it will allow you to actually hear what they are saying.
  2. Turn down the inner voice. Internal analysis of any conversation is unavoidable and necessary, but often it’s at the expense of objectivity. That voice can actually take over in your brain to the point at which you are no longer listening to the person talking and instead simply listening to the diatribe in your head. There is plenty of time after a conversation to assess the value of what you heard, but first you have to hear it. One technique for quieting the inner voice is simple note taking. Writing down even key words or short phrases will force you to absorb the information coming in. Then you can process it on your own outside the presence of the speaker. As an added benefit, you’ll have a more accurate representation of what was actually said for later discussion.
  3. Hold up a mirror. This is a technique many psychologists and counselors recommend to help alleviate conflict. When the opportunity arises, speak up and describe for the person what you have just heard him or her say. It is OK to rephrase in your own words. Be sure to end with a request for confirmation: “So what you’re most concerned about is that the new hires lack training. Is that accurate?” The speaker then knows you are paying attention and fully engaged.
  4. Ask for clarification. During a conversation, hunt for areas of interest where you might further inquire. Without derailing his or her train of thought, ask the speaker to expand and clarify: “What do you mean by ‘interesting?’” or “Why do you think that is so important?” The speaker will appreciate the interaction, and you will gain better understanding of the person’s perspective as well as your own perception of the information.
  5. Establish follow-up. At the end of any conversation, discuss and determine if there are action steps required. This check-in will alert speakers to your actual concern for what they said, and help them assess their own relevancy to your needs.Express appreciation for their sharing, and let them know what you found to be valuable from the conversation. Making them feel heard increases the odds they’ll truly listen to you when you have something to say you believe is important.

So, are you ready to listen?

Renaming Mt. McKinley: An Otherwise Silly Controversy Because of Executive Overreach

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

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On Monday, the United States Department of the Interior announced that it would change the name of Mt. McKinley, located in Alaska, to Denali. The name change reflects the decades-old wishes of the state, but Ohio Republicans are miffed because they see it as a sign of disrespect toward President William McKinley, who hailed from the Buckeye State.

Mount McKinleyWith a prominence 20,128 feet, Denali is in the highest mountain peak in Northern America and the third highest in prominence the world, behind only Nepal’s Mt. Everest and Argentina’s Aconcagua. In 1917, Congress named it Mt. McKinley in honor of McKinley, who was assassinated in 1901, not long after beginning his second term in office.

McKinley wasn’t connected to the mountain in any meaningful way, as the Department of Interior’s statement explains: “President McKinley never visited, nor did he have any significant historical connection to, the mountain or to Alaska.”

Alaska was a territory when McKinley was president. The United States purchased the land from Russia in March 1867 and took possession of it in October 1867, under President Andrew Johnson’s administration. It wouldn’t be granted statehood until January 1959, during the Eisenhower administration.

Originally named Mt. McKinley National Park, the park in which the mountain rests was created by the same act of Congress, signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1917, which named the mountain after McKinley. It was renamed Denali National Park and Preserve in December 1980, in one of President Jimmy Carter’s final acts in office.

Legend has it the mountain was named after McKinley as a jab at William Jennings Bryan’s supporters. Bryan, the Democratic Party’s nominee in 1896 and 1900, was a supporter of “free silver” movement. McKinley, a Republican and a backer of the gold standard, was his opponent in both elections. Bryant lost both elections.

James Pethokoukis, writing at The Week, speculated that President Barack Obama might have signed off on the name change to “troll” current supporters of the gold standard. Pethokoukis is a critic of the gold standard, so take it for what it’s worth. Likewise, Ohio Republicans consider it a slight at McKinley. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he is “deeply disappointed in the decision.”

“There is a reason President McKinley’s name has served atop the highest peak in North America for more than 100 years, and that is because it is a testament to his great legacy,” said Boehner. “McKinley served our country with distinction during the Civil War as a member of the Army. He made a difference for his constituents and his state as a member of the House of Representatives and as Governor of the great state of Ohio. And he led this nation to prosperity and victory in the Spanish-American War as the 25th President of the United States.”

Locals call the mountain as Denali, which is Athabaskan for “the high one.” No, it’s not Kenyan for “black power,” as the absurd meme making the rounds on Facebook says. In 1975, as well as subsequent years, Alaska asked the federal government to rename the mountain Denali, but Washington hasn’t listened to the requests. Alaska’s congressional delegation expressed support for the name change.

“Denali belongs to Alaska and its citizens. The naming rights already went to ancestors of the Alaska Native people, like those of my wife’s family. For decades, Alaskans and members of our congressional delegation have been fighting for Denali to be recognized by the federal government by its true name,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. “I’m gratified that the president respected this.”

Still, though, one of the criticisms of the name change is the administration acted without proper authority. The Department of the Interior cites 43 U.S.C. §364(b) as its authority to make the change. The statute, which deals with policies and procedures of the United States Board on Geographic Names, states: “Action may be taken by the Secretary in any matter wherein the Board does not act within a reasonable time.”

Given that Denali got its original name through an act of Congress, some are crying that the renaming of the mountain is an example of executive overreach. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, for example, said the change is “yet another example of the President going around Congress.”

Ed Morrissey, a blogger at the conservative space, Hot Air, also complained about the power grab. “[I]t’s an arbitrary and capricious use of executive power in pursuit of a petty end. The federal government controls vast swaths of Alaska land, and Congress should exercise joint authority over it with the executive branch,” Morrissey opined. “We seem to be getting farther and farther from that concept.”

“This may be a comparatively minor and frivolous example of that problem, but in one way that makes this even worse. One might understand an executive overstep in an emergency or to secure the nation, but …. renaming a mountain?” he added.

The name of the mountain matters not, unless you’re a Republican from Ohio, apparently. The use of executive power, though, is a legitimate criticism in light of this administration’s expansionist of view of its constitutional authority. The next president can call it Mt. Sarah Palin if they want as long as they go through Congress to do it.

The Radical Environmentalist Roots of the Anti-Immigration Movement

in Immigration, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

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Immigration is dominating much of the national political dialogue at the moment. Republicans in Congress are preparing legislation to target so-called “sanctuary cities” and eyeing a new five-year mandatory minimum sentence for immigrants who illegally re-enter the United States.

immigrationConservatives, generally, are supportive of rolling back illegal immigration. A recent poll found that 55 percent of conservatives want to deport the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States. Most Americans – 56 percent, in fact – support a plan that would allow them to stay.

Much of the rhetoric on the Republican side reveals more than just opposition to illegal immigration, but animosity toward even legal immigrants. It shows nativist tendencies; the sort of sentiment that is dangerous, disgusting and seriously misinformed. There’s a wealth of information, for example, showing that immigrants, including illegal ones, are a net-benefit to the economy. But the negative attitude toward them persists.

So what’s driving it?

Organizations like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and NumbersUSA are some of the driving forces in the debate. And these three groups all share a common name: John Tanton.

Tanton is a retired ophthalmologist and radical environmentalist who was unable to convince prominent environmental groups to support restrictionist immigration policies. A resident of Michigan, he also served on the board of his local Planned Parenthood.

Tanton, who founded FAIR and helped organize CIS and NumbersUSA, opposes not only illegal immigration but advocates for zero-population growth for fear that an influx of immigrants would be dangerous for the environment. But, keeping to form, there was a hint of prejudice in his motives.

The New York Times’ 2011 profile of Tanton quotes from a letter he wrote to a donor, in which he said, “One of my prime concerns is about the decline of folks who look like you and me.” Tanton is white.

In his 2008 book, Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders, Jason L. Riley, a columnist with the Wall Street Journal, details the connection that Tanton has to the restrictionist movement in the United States. He provides details on some of the more sinister aspects of these groups that he helped get off the ground, such as the $1.2 million in funding FAIR received from the pro-eugenics foundation, the Pioneer Fund.

“When I travel the country to report on immigration, or speak to groups in the known about Tanton and his network, I’m often asked why the mainstream media continue to cite groups like FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies without mentioning their origins or ulterior motives,” writes Riley. “CIS ‘reports’ are given the gravitas of the Brookings Institution’s, and FAIR is described as an organization that merely favors less immigration, when in fact its stated goal is to cut the U.S. population in half.”

Others have taken note of the restrictionist movement’s zero-population growth roots. Mario H. Lopez published a study in October 2012 in which he explained the views that, at the very least, were foundational principles of today’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.

“The myth that human beings are ‘overpopulating’ the earth, which has persisted for centuries, is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of human activity, economics, and natural science,” writes Lopez. “Numerous political elites have promulgated the overpopulation myth in pursuit of various big-government policies both in their home countries and around the world. People like Thomas Malthus, Paul Ehrlich, and Margaret Sanger have sought various ‘remedies’ for this false crisis, ‘solutions’ which devalue human life—abortion, sterilization, and euthanasia—and promote government control of economic activity.”

Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population, in which he theorized that population growth would eventually outpace agriculture production and offered “two great checks” – “positive,” which includes famine and war, and “preventative,” which refers to birth control. His work influenced many thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of his beliefs were carried forward, perhaps unwittingly, perhaps not – by radical environmentalist Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, and Margaret Sanger, a member of the American Eugenics Society and founder of Planned Parenthood.

“The opinions of the abortion and population-control movements are dominant among the founders, funders, and board members of FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA,” Lopez explains. “They represent the direct modern continuation of the 1960s and 1970s population-control movement—in many cases the same people involved in that movement decades ago sit on the boards of these three organizations.”

“Of course, not everyone concerned about immigration advocates population control, abortion, or sterilization. However, the evidence shows that the primary leaders and funders of the anti-immigration movement were drawn to it because they were also active organizers and supporters of, and contributors to, the population-control movement in the United States,” he adds.

Similarly, Neil Stevens, a contributor at the popular conservative outlet, RedState, has called these restrictionist groups, specifically FAIR and NumbersUSA, “fronts for the extreme left.”

“FAIR took a number of early members from ZPG, the group founded by Paul Ehrlich of The Population Bomb fame. They’ve now renamed themselves to Population Connection, but they’re always been a group about abortion and birth control in the global green left context,” Stevens explains. “FAIR spun off from them when, in the United States, it turned out that our fertility rate before Roe v. Wade was low enough that the way to end population growth here was to end all immigration.”

He turned his attention to NumbersUSA and its executive director, Roy Beck. “[B]uried in PDFs is the real NumbersUSA agenda. Take a look for example at Page 8 of this PDF by the group, which goes off into a whole rant against a vast Catholic conspiracy to oppose abortion and birth control,” he notes. “Or take Page 189 of this PDF which outlines Beck’s green left agenda, including ‘Laws that force greater cuts in consumption and waste,’ and ‘Tougher enforcement of environmental laws.’”

One has to wonder that if conservatives would still support the work of restrictionist and anti-immigration organization if they had even a basic overview of its background in the zero-population growth movement. For now, just sit back and enjoy the irony.

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