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December 15: Celebrate Bill of Rights Day!

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 23 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Bill of RightsA little-known but very important U.S. holiday is coming up — one far too many Americans are unaware of. It offers libertarians a great chance to inform Americans of our heritage of liberty and the urgent need today to defend that heritage.

December 15 is “Bill of Rights Day” — a day to celebrate, honor and renew support for our precious Bill of Rights.

It was on December 15, 1791 that the Bill of Rights  — the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution — went into effect.

One hundred and fifty years later, in 1941, December 15 was officially proclaimed Bill of Rights Day. States, cities, and counties across America have passed resolutions honoring Bill of Rights day. Some classrooms will hold special Bill of Rights Day classes, and some citizens and organizations will celebrate Bill of Rights Day.

Still, most Americans remain sadly unaware of the date’s significance.

The Bill of Rights is, of course, the great protector of American liberties. It boldly declares that people have certain inalienable rights that government cannot abridge — fundamental rights like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, and more. It also provides procedures for defending those rights — such as fair trials and limits on federal power.

The Bill of Rights doesn’t belong just to America. It has inspired freedom fighters around the world. The Founders viewed their Revolution as the first blow in a struggle to win liberty for all the people of the world. So the Bill of Rights is truly a document for everyone.

Thomas Jefferson made this clear in a letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787: “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

Use Bill of Rights Day to teach family, friends, neighbors and others about our precious heritage.

It’s a great time for a letter to the editor discussing the vital importance of our Bill of Rights freedoms, and urging citizens to speak out against current calls to sacrifice liberty for (alleged) security.

With fundamental Bill of Rights freedom under unprecedented assault in recent years, this has never been more important.

To help with that, here’s a short summary of the Bill of Rights, prepared several years ago by students at Liberty Middle School in Ashley, Virginia. (I’ve added just a few words for clarification.) While this condensed version doesn’t have the majesty, depth and detail of the entire document, it is short and easy to understand, and may be useful to you in discussions and letters:

THE BILL OF RIGHTS

1. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assemble peaceably, right to petition the government about grievances.
2. Right to keep and bear arms.
3. Citizens do not have to quarter soldiers during peacetime.
4. No unreasonable searches and seizures.
5. Rights of the accused.
6. Right to a fair trial.
7. Right to a trial by jury in civil cases also.
8. No cruel and unusual punishments.
9. Unenumerated rights go to the people.
10. Reserves all powers not given to the national government to the states or
the people.

All Americans should be familiar with their Bill of Rights freedoms. Sadly, numerous surveys indicate most are not. Indeed, as journalist James Bovard has pointed out, a 1991 poll commissioned by the American Bar Association found only 33 percent of Americans surveyed even knew what the Bill of Rights was. In one Gallup poll 70 percent did not know what the First Amendment was or what it dealt with.

As Adam Summers of the Reason Foundation observed in The Libertarian Perspective:

“The Founders must be spinning in their graves. Nearly everything the government does today is unconstitutional under the system they instituted. Governmental powers were expressly limited; individual liberties were not. Now it seems it is the other way around.

“If the Bill of Rights is to regain its meaning, we must rededicate ourselves to the principles it asserts and be mindful that a government powerful enough to give us all we want is powerful enough to take away everything we have.”

Let it begin with you. This December 15 is a great time to remind all Americans that we are, as the National Constitution Center puts it, a nation of “Bill”-ionaires.
Happy Bill of Rights Day!

Cut Military Spending by 60%: Libertarian Candidates Pledge

in Liberator Online Archives, Military by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 16 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Cut Military Spending by 60%As we noted last issue, scores of Libertarian Party candidates for federal office have pledged to downsize the bloated federal government — in four big and specific ways:

  • Eliminate the federal income tax
  • End the War on Drugs
  • Abolish the NSA
  • Cut military spending by 60%

We’re exploring each of these pledges in detail, one per issue, because the Libertarian Party has done a great job of showing that these bold proposals are not only possible, they are practical and enormously beneficial. (Of course, you can jump ahead of us and read about all four positions right now.)

Let’s look at the pledge to cut military spending by 60% or more. The candidates pledge: “If elected, I will sponsor legislation to cut military spending by 60% or more and cut total federal spending accordingly; close all foreign U.S. military bases; withdraw completely from the Middle East; and bring our troops home.”

Here are the benefits, according to the Libertarians:

* A non-interventionist foreign policy will result in less hostility towards the United States and reduce the risk of a terrorist attack.

* There is no justification for forcing U.S. taxpayers to fund the military defense of other nations, including wealthy countries such as France, Germany and Japan.

* Cutting the U.S. military by 60 percent does not remove one cent of U.S. military defense spending — only military offense, defense of other countries, and waste.

* An oversized military budget is a war waiting to happen. Needless war results in untold death and destruction — the greatest assault on human liberty. A lean, reasonably-sized military budget will save lives, avoid casualties, preserve personal property and community infrastructures, and foster peace.

* Voters want to downsize the U.S. military. According to a survey by the Stimson Center, Democratic, Republican and independent voters all want to cut military spending “far more severely than the sequester would” and “far, far more severely than either party has proposed.”

* Closing foreign bases and withdrawing from the Middle East means that U.S. troops stationed abroad can come home to their families. Kids will grow up with mom and dad at home.

* Fewer casualties will reduce demand on the Veterans Administration, which will improve the care of America’s wounded soldiers.

* Downsizing the military will force the reduction and consolidation of 18 separate spy agencies — the surest way to end the government’s spying on innocent citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

* A right-sized military will be auditable, will squeeze out its legendary waste and will put an end to overpriced and unneeded multi-billion-dollar procurements that politicians lobby for to “bring home the bacon” to their districts.* A non-interventionist policy will reduce trade barriers, resulting in greater prosperity for both Americans and our trading partners.

* Cutting the military by 60 percent will enable substantial cuts in federal taxes and stop the growth of the national debt. If applied to the income tax, each American family will get back, on average, $4,100 — every year. If used to balance the budget, it will eliminate approximately 70 percent of the deficit and stop today’s rapid inflation of the dollar. This will stabilize prices on everyday goods and services and dramatically reduce the risk of an economic collapse.

* Transferring wealth out of the government sector and into the private sector will create sustainable, productive jobs — approximately twice as many jobs as will be lost in the government sector. A net increase of millions of new jobs.

VIDEO: “Isn’t it Ironic”: Remy Rips Feinstein on Spying

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Okay, admit it: you had to laugh when Senator Diane Feinstein — long one of the Senate’s biggest defenders of NSA spying — was suddenly filled with outrage when she found out that SHE, too, was being spied on. Hey! That’s going too far!

The irony is just too perfect. And who better to point this out than the great liberty-minded comedian Remy?

In this 2-minute video from our friends at Reason TV, Remy updates the Alanis Morissette hit “Isn’t it Ironic” …with Feinstein in mind.

You can read the lyrics here. Laugh along with lines like:

Senator, this may surprise you
and the irony bites
but Congresspeople ain’t the only ones
with 4th Amendment rights

…oh, and we really like the quick dig at the Great Interner, FDR, too.

Share it with friends!

Credits: Written and performed by Remy. Video and animation by Meredith Bragg. Music performed, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Ben Karlstrom.

Rand Paul: Who is Running the Government?

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Even U.S. senators are scared of the run-amok NSA, said Rand Paul on March 19 at the University of California at Berkeley.

Paul, currently running at the front of the pack of GOP presidential hopefuls, won applause and standing ovations for his fiery anti-surveillance-state speech, entitled  “The NSA vs. Your Privacy.”

Some excerpts:

Rand Paul“I am here to tell you…that your rights, especially your rights to privacy, [are] under assault. I’m here to tell you that if you own a cell phone, you’re under surveillance. I’m here to tell you that the NSA believes that equal protection means Americans should be spied upon equally —  including Congress. Instead of equal protection, to them, it’s equal disdain. They don’t care if you’re white or black or brown. They care only that everyone must submit to the state. …

“They’re spying on Congress, they’re collecting our data as well. Digest exactly what that means: if Congress is spied upon without their permission, who exactly is in charge of your government?

“I don’t know about you, but that worries me. If the CIA is spying on Congress, who exactly can or will stop them?

“I look into the eyes of senators and I think I see real fear. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I think I perceive fear of an intelligence community that’s drunk with power, unrepentant, and uninclined to relinquish power. …

“If you have a cell phone you are under surveillance. I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business. …

“The Fourth Amendment is very clear. Warrants must be issued by a judge. Warrants must be specific to the individual; must have your name on it if they want your records; and a single warrant for millions of Americans’ phone records hardly sounds specific to the individual. Warrants are supposed to be based on evidence or probable cause. …Generalized warrants that don’t name an individual and seek to get millions of records [go] against the very fabric of the Fourth Amendment. ….

“The FISA court is a court where the defendant gets no attorney; the debate is shrouded in secrecy. In the FISA court, the NSA can say whatever they want and they are not cross-examined.

“A secret court is not a real court. We must take a stand and demand an end to the secret courts. …

“The question before us is: Will we live as men and woman, will we cower, and will we give up on our liberty?”

Paul further said he intends to call for a bi-partisan independent select committee, styled after the 1975 Church Committee that investigated intelligence agencies’ abuses of power, to investigate the explosion of recent surveillance state abuses.

There’s much more in the 20-minute speech, which can be seen here, along with a 20-minute follow-up discussion.

THEY SAID IT…

in Drugs, Healthcare, Liberator Online Archives, Victimless Crime by James W. Harris Comments are off


JAY LENO’S LAST STAB AT OBAMACARE:
 “And the worst thing about losing this job, I’m no longer covered by NBC. I have to sign up for Obamacare!” — Jay Leno on his last day as host of The Tonight Show, Feb. 6, 2014.

RAND PAUL TAKES ON NSA: “The Fourth Amendment states that warrants issued must be specific to a person, place or task and this provision of the Bill of Rights exists explicitly to guard against the notion of a general warrant,where government can plunder through anyone’s privacy at will. The NSA’s metadata collection program is a general warrant for the modern age, reflecting the same kind of tyranny our nation’s founders fought a revolution to make sure would never happen again. … It’s time to trash the NSA’s mass surveillance of Americans, for good.” — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), “The NSA is still violating our rights,” The Guardian, Feb. 20, 2014.

THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL WAR ON MARIJUANA: “The truth is that the federal ban on marijuana — unlike the federal ban on alcohol, which began and ended with constitutional amendments — has no basis in the powers granted by the Constitution, at least insofar as it purports to reach purely intrastate activities.” — syndicated columnist Jacob Sullum, “Let 50 Cannabis Flowers Bloom,” Jan. 29, 2014.

YES, THE GOV’T CAN KILL AMERICAN SUSPECTS ON AMERICAN SOIL: “The truth emerged only in 2013 when Senator Rand Paul asked point-blank whether the president could authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against an American citizen in the United States. Attorney General Eric Holder fired back that while the question was ‘hypothetical,’ the real-world answer was yes. Holder said he could imagine ‘an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.’ … They’ve thought about it. They’ve set up the legal manipulations necessary to justify it. The broad, open-ended criteria the president laid out for killing suspected terrorists exposes the post-Constitutional stance our government has already prepared for. All that’s left to do is pull the trigger.” — journalist Peter Van Buren, “How to Build a Post-Constitutional America One Killing at a Time,” February 17, 2014.

WHY TRUST THE GOV’T: “The United States has been lying to its people for more than 50 years, and such lies extend from falsifying the reasons for going to war with Vietnam and Iraq to selling arms to Iran in order to fund the reactionary Nicaraguan Contras. Why should anyone trust a government that has condoned torture, spied on at least 35 world leaders, supports indefinite detention, places bugs in thousands of computers all over the world, kills innocent people with drone attacks, promotes the Post Office to log mail for law enforcement agencies and arbitrarily authorizes targeted assassinations?” — Prof. Henry A. Giroux, “Totalitarian Paranoia in the Post-Orwellian Surveillance State,” Truthout, Feb. 10, 2014.

THE FOUNDERS BETRAYED: “The bottom line is that we’ve betrayed much of the moral vision of our Founding Fathers. In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who had fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison rose on the floor of the House of Representatives to object, saying, ‘I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.’ Tragically, today’s Americans — Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative — would hold such a position in contempt and run a politician like Madison out of town on a rail.” — syndicated columnist and economist Walter Williams, “Concealing Evil,” Feb. 19, 2014.