war

Home » war

House of Representatives Fails to Meet Its Most Important Constitutional Duty

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, blocked a resolution that would have required President Barack Obama to remove all United States armed forces operating in Iraq and Syria by the end of the year, at the latest.

It’s clear that the framers of the Constitution intended authorization or declarations of war come from Congress, rather than presidents. Article I, Section 8 of the nation’s foundational document, which lists the limited powers of the legislative branch, makes this quite clear.

The framers knew unchecked power in the hands of a president was dangerous. In Pacificus-Helvidius debate with Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, wrote: “In no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department. Beside the objection to such a mixture to heterogeneous powers, the trust and the temptation would be too great for any one man; not such as nature may offer as the prodigy of many centuries, but such as may be expected in the ordinary successions of magistracy. War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement.”

H. Con. Res. 55 – introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and cosponsored by Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Walter Jones, R-N.C. – would have required President Obama, under Section 5 of the War Powers Resolution, to remove American troops in Iraq and Syria absent an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

In late May, McGovern and Jones sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to remind him of comments he gave to The New York Times late last summer. “Doing this with a whole group of members who are on their way out the door, I don’t think that is the right way to handle this,” said Boehner, who added that the issue should be discussed early in the new Congress, which came into session in January. President Obama asked for an AUMF in February.

“Since then, the House has failed to act on the President’s request [for an AUMF against ISIL], or any alternative,” McGovern and Jones wrote to Boehner. “No AUMF bill has been marked up in committee or debated on the House floor. As a result, the House has failed to asset its proper constitutional authority over declaring and authorizing war.”

Some Republicans have suggested that President Obama doesn’t necessarily need an AUMF to fight ISIL. Instead, they say, he can rely on the War Powers Resolution. This notion, however, is woefully inaccurate. Section 2 of the War Powers Resolution places limitations on executive branch, requiring a formal declaration of war, statutory authorization, or a national emergency due to an attack on the United States.The proposed resolution found bipartisan support. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., for example, urged the House to act.

“Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress, not the President, the power to declare war,” Massie said from the House floor. “War requires congressional authorization, and the American people deserve open debate by their elected officials.”

“If we are to send our brave young men and women into harm’s way overseas, then Congress must honor the Constitution, declare war, and fight to win. Anything else is illegal, unconstitutional, and likely to lead to horrific unintended consequences,” he added.

In the end, the House failed to meet its constitutional obligation. H. Con. Res. 55 failed by a vote of 139 to 288, meaning that an authorized war against ISIL will continue for as long as…well, who knows.

Obama Is Wrong: Marijuana Re-Legalization Is No Joke

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“Every so often, President Obama is confronted with young Americans who favor legalizing marijuana,” notes Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic magazine, in an enlightening short article entitled “Obama’s Critique of Young People Who Want Legal Marijuana.”

“He typically treats their enthusiasm for the issue as a joke, despite the fact that he almost certainly wouldn’t be a successful politician today if he’d been arrested and convicted for smoking marijuana … in his youth.”

Friedersdorf points to the latest example of our ex-pot-smoking Drug-Warrior-in-Chief doing this: an interview Obama did in mid-March with VICE News founder Shane Smith. When Smith told Obama that marijuana re-legalization was the number one issue online readers said they wanted addressed, Obama’s reply was again condescending:

“It shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority,” the President said. “Let’s put it in perspective. Young people, I understand this is important to you. But you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana.”

Wrong, says Friedersdorf. He reverses Obama’s argument:

“The young people to whom Obama addressed himself would be fully justified in reversing the criticism: ‘Given challenges like climate change, an uncertain economy, joblessness, and war, how can you justify spending perhaps $160 billion over the course of your tenure on marijuana prohibition? Isn’t it the federal government, not us young people, that has irrationally prioritized marijuana policy? We’re fighting for a more rational allotment of resources, where government funds are directed away from weed and toward challenges you listed as more pressing.’”

Further, Friedersdorf points out, young people may not have settled opinions, agreement, and effective political strategies for action on the problems Obama lists. But on the re-legalization issue, they are already in agreement and having major success, winning re-legalization battles in several states and winning public opinion. Plus the solution is straightforward and the benefits tremendous. And, he notes, “If they mobilize, they have a realistic chance of ending prohibition in the next decade [and] that would meaningfully enrich the lives of many millions of people here and abroad.”

So why shouldn’t young people press forward on this issue? Is it sensible to wait for the climate debate to be settled and solved, war to be halted and world peace achieved, and jobs and prosperity to be available to all — before dealing with the far simpler-to-solve issue of marijuana re-legalization?

Conor Friedersdorf’s excellent short article has much more of interest on this, and includes a link to the full VICE News interview with President Obama.

They Said It… With John Kerry and Rand Paul

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 8 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

LIBERTARIANS HELP WIN LEGAL POT IN ALASKA: “Smoking, growing and possessing marijuana becomes legal in America’s wildest state Tuesday, thanks to a voter initiative aimed at clearing away 40 years of conflicting laws and court rulings. Making Alaska the third state to legalize recreational marijuana was the goal of a coalition including libertarians, rugged individualists and small-government Republicans who prize the privacy rights enshrined in the state’s constitution.” — journalist Molly Dischner, Associated Press, “Alaska Becomes 3rd State With Legal Marijuana,” Feb. 23, 2015.

HOW GOV’T SPIES HACKED VIRTUALLY EVERY CELL PHONE IN THE WORLD: “With the help of the NSA, British intelligence broke into the world’s leading manufacturer of SIM cards and stole millions of keys that encrypt cell phone communications, including what you say. … U.S. and British spies hacked into Gemalto, which makes SIM cards for AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and hundreds of other wireless networks. With Gemalto’s encryption keys in hand, the intelligence agencies gained ‘the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data’ without having to get a single warrant or tell a telephone company.” — the Daily Beast website, summarizing “The Great SIM Heist: How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle” by Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley (based on files from Edward Snowden), The Intercept, Feb. 19, 2014. Ajit Pai

GOV’T AT WORK: “[Net Neutrality] is a solution that won’t work to a problem that doesn’t exist.” — Ajit Pai, a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

UBER REDUCES DRUNK DRIVING, SAVES LIVES: “In May 2014, Uber set out to answer a simple but important question: what, if any, effect did the availability of safe, reliable rides on the Uber ridesharing platform have on drunk driving in Seattle, where prior to Uber’s arrival in 2013, approximately 7.6 people per day — or 2,750 per year — were arrested for driving under the influence. Using publicly available data and a simple econometric model, we discovered Uber’s entry into the Emerald City was associated with a 10% decrease in DUI arrests. The results were robust and statistically significant, providing meaningful evidence of the power Uber’s network of safe, reliable rides has on drunk driving in major metropolitan cities. … And the pattern is the same in cities across America. … [W]e believe there is a direct relationship between the presence of uberX in a city and the amount of drunk driving crashes involving younger populations.” —Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) from their new study, “More Options. Shifting Mindsets. Driving Better Choices.”

FOOLS:
“American foreign policy is controlled by fools. What else can one conclude from the Doug Bandowbipartisan demand that the U.S. intervene everywhere all the time, irrespective of consequence? … Not only has virtually every bombing, invasion, occupation, and other interference made problems worse. Almost every new intervention is an attempt to redress problems created by previous U.S. actions. And every new military step is likely, indeed, almost guaranteed, to create even bigger problems.” —Doug Bandow, Cato Institute, “Washington’s Foolish Foreign Policy: American People Must Say No to More Wars,” Forbes.com, Feb. 21, 2015.

WAR, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR: “So just what did several thousand dead Americans, and at least tens of thousands of civilian casualties, plus a couple of trillion dollars get us? … Are we living in a safer world with a more peaceful and prosperous Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya? Isn’t there, as some experts have posited, a possible casual link between the way we prosecuted the war on terror so far, and the proliferation of violence so much of the world is still living with today? … We are on a ‘wars of the future’ conveyor belt where we will keep spending mindlessly, without pausing to see what the trillions we have already spent have actually bought us and the planet.” — Robert Hennelly, “What did thousands of dead Americans get us? Before granting war powers, let’s see where the last two got us,” Slate.com, Feb 22, 2015.

EXCELLENT QUESTION: “Remember there was this [federal government] shutdown about a year ago, and in Washington everyone was clamoring, everyone was worried. I went home to Kentucky and you know what they said: ‘Why in the hell did you open it back up?’” — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaking in Montgomery, Alabama, Feb. 20, 2015, quoted by Breitbart.com.

John KerryKERRY SWIFTBOATS NETANYAHU: “The prime minister was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush. We all know what happened with that decision.” — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Feb. 25, 2015, attacking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the grounds that Netanyahu’s support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq shows his judgment on Iran can’t be trusted. Yes, this is the same John Kerry who himself voted for the war in Iraq in 2002 and touted that support while running for president in 2004.

RULE OF THUMB: “Here’s a good rule of thumb: Any time a president says new tech laws are to protect ‘our kids,’ you know something bad is on the way.” — tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin on anti-privacy laws being considered by the Obama administration, “President Obama’s tech-centered State of the Union,” Boing Boing, Jan. 20, 2015.

Libertarian Party Response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address: Why Not Peace, Liberty and Abundance for All?

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Immediately after President Obama’s State of the Union address and the Republican response, America’s third-largest political party, the Libertarian Party, weighed in with their take, offering a ringing pro-liberty alternative to the Big Government agendas of the two older parties.

The mass media declined to carry it, but don’t let that stop you from encountering a genuine libertarian State of the Union address. It was delivered by Arvin Vohra, vice chair of the Libertarian National Committee. You can see and read the entire response here.

Some highlights:

On education: 

“Mr. President, we can have world-class education. The first step is defunding and eliminating the federal Department of Education, abolishing Common Core, and allowing parents to take full control over their children’s education. Free-market competition will raise educational standards, lower costs, and prepare students to compete in a global economy.”

On ending the income tax: 

“Here’s how we really grow the economy and create jobs: dramatically cut taxes and government spending. Libertarian candidates have pledged to sponsor legislation to cut federal spending to 1998 levels and eliminate the income tax. That means that you keep the money you earn, and spend it how you see fit: on charities and the arts, science research, education, and the health care of your choice.

“Eliminating the income tax also defunds government’s ability to infringe on our privacy, to create enemies through needless wars, and to imprison our fellow citizens for victimless crimes.”

On ending the War on Drugs:

“Mr. President, so many of your supporters have begged you to defund and end the War on Drugs, but you have refused their pleas. Drug prohibition separates families, fosters violence, and destroys communities. You can end the War on Drugs today, by doing what so many Libertarian gubernatorial and presidential candidates have pledged to do: pardon all nonviolent drug offenders.

“Libertarian candidates have pledged to completely end the War on Drugs, and thereby eliminate the black market profits that fund violent cartels. Ending the Drug War will make our streets safer, and people will no longer have to fear incarceration if they seek help overcoming an addiction.”

On online privacy: 

“Americans should be able to use their computers and phones without fear of anyone listening in or recording their communications through mass surveillance. … To protect privacy, Libertarian candidates have pledged to defund the NSA’s mass surveillance program, repeal the Patriot Act, and massively downsize and consolidate redundant spy agencies.”

On war, military spending, and foreign intervention: 

“Mr. President, your party and the Republican Party are damaging lives here and abroad through misuse and overuse of the military. Libertarian candidates have pledged to sponsor legislation to end all foreign military operations, shut down needless foreign bases, cut military spending by at least 60 percent, and bring our troops home.

“Even after those spending cuts, we will still outspend both Russia and China combined. We will also be safer, because our military will be focused on defense. We will stop creating enemies through unwarranted military intrusions.”

On ending Obamacare:

“Republicans have talked about repealing and replacing Obamacare. With what? Romneycare? That will continue to damage businesses and make health care worse. When Republicans controlled the House, they had the chance to defund Obamacare. They refused.

“Libertarian candidates have pledged to completely repeal Obamacare along with the many laws that stand in the way of low-cost, high-quality health care. Providers will compete for customers by lowering costs and increasing quality.

“To help people in need, Libertarian candidates will make charitable hospitals legal. Doctors should not have to leave our borders to be able to offer free care.”

On the need for the Libertarian Party:

“We need to massively downsize and defund the federal government. But Republican and Democratic politicians only want to make it bigger. Get involved with the Libertarian Party in your state by going to LP.org, and by voting Libertarian.”

They Said It… With Judge Napolitano, Seth Meyers, and More

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 20 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

OBAMA’S ILLEGAL WAR: “The war against the Islamic State is now illegal. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 gave President Obama 60 days to gain consent from Congress and required him to end ‘hostilities’ within 30 days if he failed to do so. This 90-day clock expired this week.” — Bruce Ackerman. professor of law and political science at Yale University, “Congress must act as Obama’s war against the Islamic State hits an expiration date,” Washington Post Nov. 7 2014.

MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS: “In case you didn’t notice, the new Congress is likely to be closer to President Obama’s views on executive power, surveillance, transparency.” — post-election tweet from Atlantic.com journalist Conor Friedersdorf, Nov. 5, 2014.

Judge Andrew NapolitanoTWEEDLEDUMB AND TWEEDLEDUMBER: “The two major political parties are more alike than they are different. On the two paramount issues of our day — war and debt — they are identical. With the exception of Democratic progressives and Republican libertarians, the two parties stand for perpetual war and perpetual debt. Both stances increase the power of the government, and each invites present and future destruction.” — Judge Andrew Napolitano, “More Culture Wars,” syndicated column, Nov. 6, 2014.

COINCIDENCE? “New Hampshire has among the least restrictive gun laws in the U.S. and the lowest homicide rate of any state.” — tweet from the Free State Project, Nov. 11, 2014.

YOUR FBI FILE: “Nearly one out of every three American adults are on file in the FBI’s master criminal database. … Over the past years, prompted by changing police tactics and a zero-tolerance attitude toward small crimes, authorities have made more than a quarter of a billion arrests, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates.” — reporters Gary Fields and John R. Emshwiller, “For More Teens, Arrests by Police Replace School Discipline,” Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2014.


VA BLUES:

Seth Meyers“It’s been announced that a Union soldier who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War will be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama over 151 years after his death. Even better, he finally got an appointment at the VA hospital.” — Seth Meyers, “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” Nov. 6, 2014.

The Missing Ingredient in Your Fact-Based Arguments for Liberty

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

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Facts are essential to making the case for liberty. But you can make dry facts come alive to your listeners — by using the mind-changing power of stories.

Stories — both true and fictional — have a special power. The greatest teachers have Memorable Storiesalways used stories: think of the parables of Jesus, the fables of Aesop, the witty tales of the Taoist Chuang-Tzu. Nearly every culture uses stories both to entertain and to convey vital lessons.

Now we have scientific evidence that stories are extraordinarily effective. Bestselling author Carmine Gallo, in his book Talk Like TED, cites Princeton University research which used MRIs to study how the brains of audience members reacted to stories. The studies showed that stories actually activate all areas of the brain.

Says Gallo: “Brain scans reveal that stories stimulate and engage the human brain, helping the speaker connect with the audience and making it much more likely that the audience will agree with the speaker’s point of view.”

Obviously, if we want to successfully persuade others, we should be telling lots of stories.

When you can combine a story with your facts and figures, your audience listens. They identify. They are moved. They feel, as well as calculate. Further, while it’s hard to remember facts and figures, people remember stories — and eagerly share them.

Let’s take as an example the issue of medical marijuana. There are many logical, fact-based arguments that can — and should — be used in persuading others on this issue. But consider this story, a version of which was published in the Pittsburgh Press in the early 1990s, before liberty activists begin to have success in getting states to re-legalize marijuana for medical purposes:

James Burton, a former Kentuckian, is living literally in exile in the Netherlands. Burton, a Vietnam War vet and master electrical technician, suffers from a rare form of hereditary glaucoma. All males on his mother’s side of his family had the disease. Several of them are blind.

Burton found that marijuana could hold back, and perhaps halt, the glaucoma. So he began growing marijuana for his own use and smoking it.

Kentucky State Police raided his 90-acre farm and found 138 marijuana plants and two pounds of raw marijuana. At his 1988 trial, North Carolina ophthalmologist Dr. John Merrit — at that time the only physician in America allowed by the government to test marijuana in the treatment of glaucoma — testified that marijuana was “the only medication” that could keep Burton from going blind.

Nevertheless, Burton was found guilty of simple possession for personal use and was sentenced to one year in a federal maximum security prison, with no parole. The government also seized his house and his farm, valued at around $70,000. Under forfeiture laws, there was no defense he could raise against the seizure of his farm. No witnesses on behalf of the defense, not even a statement from the Burtons, were allowed at the hearing.

After release, Burton and his wife moved to the Netherlands, where he could legally purchase marijuana to stave off his blindness. Instead of a sprawling farm, they now live in a tiny apartment.

They say they would love to return to America — but not at the cost of Burton going blind.

See how that puts a human face on the medical marijuana issue?

There are equally moving, equally appalling stories about taxation, utility monopolies, First Amendment issues, gun rights, licensing laws, war… virtually any issue. Anywhere the government has committed aggression against individuals, there is a story to be told.

A great place to find such stories is the website of the Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian legal defense organization. IJ has done a wonderful job of collecting stories of heroic individuals fighting to defend their lives and property against oppressive government.

Whenever you come across heart-rending, powerful stories of victims of government, or people overcoming oppression, collect them for future use.

Most people decide what they believe not just on bare facts but also on feelings and emotions. Give them stories to hang your facts on, memorable stories that make your facts come alive, and you will be far more effective in your political persuasion.