Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Liberty

Overzealous Consumer Agency Picks Fight with Wrong Guy

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, August 8, 2014:

English: A constructed NeoCube.

A Neocube constructed with Zen Magnets

In its zeal to proclaim that everything is inherently dangerous and therefore illegal, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) – the Goliath in this story – has just run into its David. Shihan Qu, the 27-year-old founder of Zen Magnets, notified the agency that he wasn’t going to take it anymore through a letter on his company’s website:

Take this as official notice that Zen Magnets LLC is going All-in.… We will not settle for any sort of stop-sale of magnets that are perfectly safe when not misused….

We vow to continue this legal, awareness, and lobbying battle until our very last drop of cash-flow blood. We will combat CPSC’s magnet prohibition until triumph, or until a glorious death of insolvency on the legal battlefield….

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Leahy Offers Weak Bill to Curb NSA Eavesdropping on Americans

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 30, 2014:

English: Official photo of Senator Patrick Lea...

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

On Tuesday, Senator Patrick Leahy (shown, D-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced his version of the USA Freedom Act intended to strengthen a similar bill passed by the House last May. It’s scarcely an improvement and likely won’t be taken up before November, if at all in this congress.

But Leahy was optimistic nonetheless, saying that his bill, if enacted, “would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since … the USA Patriot Act 13 years ago.” That was easy for this hard-left Democrat to say, as there has been no reform of the unconstitutional Patriot Act since it was passed. In fact, without revelations provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, even these modest “reforms” would never have been presented. Without Snowden, the NSA would have continued collecting every last piece of communications data it could and storing it for future reference at one or more of its vast collection facilities around the country. Since the bill was presented so late in this Congress, it is virtually certain no action will be taken on it.

The House bill that was passed back in May was so full of loopholes and modifications by last minute amendments as to make the effort essentially ludicrous. Although offered jointly in October 2013 by Leahy and his House counterpart, Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin (the author of the Patriot Act), only the House bill ever saw the light of day. At the time, Sensenbrenner expressed great hopes for his bill:

Following 9/11, the USA Patriot Act … has helped keep Americans safe by ensuring information is shared among those responsible for defending our country and by enhancing the tools the intelligence community needs to identify and track terrorists.

But somewhere along the way, the balance between security and privacy was lost…. Washington must regain Americans’ trust in their government. The USA Freedom Act [I am offering] is an essential first step.

That first step was more like a stumble. Under the bill, according to The Guardian, “the government will still be able to collect phone data on Americans, pending a judge’s individualized order based on ‘reasonable articulable suspicion’ — the standard preferred by the NSA (National Security Agency) — of wrongdoing.” This is a far cry from the “probable cause” requirement demanded in the Fourth Amendment, but that’s only the beginning.

The bill purports to modify Section 715 of the Patriot Act while saying nothing about Section 702, which allows worldwide surveillance by the NSA. The bill allows for the continuous collection of Americans’ telephone records, according to the Open Technology Institute. Most grievously, the bill extended the Patriot Act until December of 2017.

Once the House passed its USA Freedom Act, 303 to 121, those opposed, including Republicans Darrell Issa, Ted Poe, and Raul Labrador and Democrat Zoe Lofgren expressed their disappointment with it. Said Lofgren, “[This] bill will actually not end bulk collection, regrettably.” It shifts collection responsibilities from the NSA to the telephone companies to which the NSA has virtually unlimited access, so it’s a cosmetic change only. The bill requires the NSA to get permission from the FISA Court, but FISA is not known for having a high regard for the freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights.

When Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) saw what the House had wrought, he said he was “gravely concerned that the changes that have been made to the House version of this bill have watered it down so far that it fails to protect Americans from suspicionless mass surveillance.”

Not surprisingly, the White House endorsed the watered-down version of the bill:

The Administration strongly supports … the USA Freedom Act…. The Administration applauds and appreciates the strong bipartisan effort that led to the formulation of this bill, which heeds the President’s call on this important issue.

The bill ensures our intelligence and law enforcement professionals have the authorities they need to protect the Nation, while further ensuring that individuals’ privacy is appropriately protected.

Especially grievous is the power that continues to be granted to the so-called FISA “court.” This is the secret court that first came to light when Edward Snowden in 2013 leaked a top-secret order issued by the court requiring a subsidiary of Verizon to provide a daily, on-going feed of all call detail records — including those for domestic calls — to the NSA. As Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at Stanford Law School, explained,

The Administration and the intelligence community believe they can do whatever they want, regardless of the laws Congress passes, so long as they can convince one of the judges appointed to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to agree. This isn’t the rule of law. This is a coup d’etat.

Leahy’s bill allegedly will tighten up the House bill somewhat, creating a “special advocate” for liberty at the FISA courts, and limiting the NSA from vacuuming up data from an entire zip code or all the records from a communications service provider. It also declassifies some of those FISA court orders which have remained sealed and protected from public view. In its tentative support for Leahy’s new offering, Nadia Kayyall of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said,

The legislation may not completely end suspicionless surveillance … it allows the NSA to get a second set of records (a second “hop”) with an undefined “direct connection” to the first specific selection term.

Because the “direct connection” standard is vague, the government may seek to construe that phrase to mean less than reasonable suspicion.

Translation: The NSA, under Leahy’s new stronger, tighter, more restrictive language, may continue to do whatever it pleases in collecting and storing for later use all private communications from Americans.

Leahy’s bill will probably never see the light of day in this congress and will have to be reintroduced in the next session if anything is to be done to rein in the NSA’s collection of data. In the meantime, the NSA’s vacuuming of innocent Americans’ private communication continues unabated.

 

 

D’Souza Should have Named it America: Imagine a World Without Zinn and Alinsky

This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, July 23, 2014:

Saul Alinsky

Saul Alinsky

After viewing the movie and reading the book entitled America: Imagine a World without Her, one is inclined to suggest a new title. For starters, D’Souza, the author and producer of his first film 2016: Obama’s America, never explains what the world would look like without America’s presence. That is left up to the reader and viewer. He starts off badly, as well, naming his first chapter Suicide of Nation. This presumes that American citizens are doing themselves in deliberately, with malice aforethought.

But, as D’Souza shortly points out, that is hardly the case. There are evil forces afoot attempting to

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Pushback Against Operation Choke Point Gains Momentum

 

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, July 15, 2014:

 

Choking - 365 Day 59

The secret initiative that began as Operation Choke Point (OCP) in March 2013 is now beginning to meet not only with massive unfavorable publicity but also congressional pushback. Three hearings by House committees this week are indicative of the mounting outrage OCP has generated.

Just months into his first term, President Obama launched “Operation Broken Trust” under an executive order, creating the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, seeking to “root out and expose” various investment scams that cropped up at the start of the Great Recession. It has now morphed into a gigantic interagency behemoth involving the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Postal Service, the IRS, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the U.S. Secret Service.

“Mission creep” inevitably set in, and the scope of the investigative attention expanded greatly to include

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House Passes bill to Increase Funding for Background Checks

Seal of the National Crime Information Center ...

Seal of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), USA. — “Servicing Our Citizens” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Late last Thursday the House voted, 260-145, to increase federal grant money to states to improve their reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. It was a textbook case of revolutionary parliamentarianism at work.

Less than one week after the Isla Vista, California, shootings which left seven people dead and 13 wounded, the House voted to increase funding by $19.5 million to assist the states in their data collection and entry into the federal gun registry system. It was all for good reasons, according to Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), who helped sponsor the amendment:

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Review of “No Place to Hide” by Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald, the facilitator in bringing to light Edward Snowden’s staggering revelations over the NSA’s surveillance of Americans, titled his book from a comment made by Senator Frank Church back in 1975. As head of the U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence Activities, Church said:

The United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables [them] to monitor the messages that go through the air…

That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left. Such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.

There would be no place to hide.

Greenwald opens his book as if it were a John Grisham thriller,

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Michigan Senator wants to close “Tax Inversion” Loophole

United States Senate election in Michigan, 2002

United States Senate election in Michigan, 2002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The recent bid by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to acquire British-based drug maker AstraZeneca has given the senior senator from Michigan, Carl Levin, just the opening he has been seeking: to offer his bill prevent such “tax inversions” from taking place. Said Levin:

It’s become increasingly clear that a loophole in our tax laws allowing these inversions threatens to devastate federal tax receipts.

We have to close that loophole.

If the deal between Pfizer and AstraZeneca (currently in doubt) actually takes place, the tax inversion would allow Pfizer to consider Great Britain as

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Supreme Court Refuses to hear case Against NDAA Unlawful Detention

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: View of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. (Image: US National Park Service ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Within days of Congress reauthorizing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in January 2012, Brian Trautman summarized it perfectly:

This pernicious law poses one of the greatest threats to civil liberties in our nation’s history. Under Section 1021 of the NDAA, foreign nationals who are alleged to have committed or merely “suspected” of sympathizing with or providing any level of support to groups the U.S. designates as terrorist organization or an affiliate or associated force may be imprisoned without charge or trial “until the end of hostilities.”

The law affirms the executive branch’s authority granted under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and broadens the definition and scope of “covered persons.”

But because the “war on terror” is a war on a tactic, not on a state, it has no parameters or timetable. Consequently, this law can be used by authorities to detain (forever) anyone the government considers a threat to national security and stability – potentially even demonstrators and protesters exercising their First Amendment rights.

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States Beginning to Demand SWAT Team Transparency

SRA Dave Orth (L) and SRA Clarence Tolliver (R...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Examples of no-knock raids performed by SWAT teams on innocents across the country have even raised the consciousness of the London-based Economist magazine which declared in its most recent issue that “America’s police have become too militarized.” It opened with the story of the raid on the home of Sally Prince in Ankeny, Iowa, by a SWAT team fully helmeted and

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The Minimum Wage: Economists and Weather Forecasters

English: Murray Rothbard in the 90's

Murray Rothbard in the 90′s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 21, 2004:

Establishment economists defending interventionist statist policies like the minimum wage really ought to get out more. Weathermen, when they head home after work, are going to be confronted immediately with the reality of their forecasts and the consequences of being wrong. Economists are rarely if ever visited by the consequences of their predictions when they turn out badly.

One such is Jared Bernstein, who has spent his professional life locked up in a cubicle somewhere,

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President Proposes Doubling the tax Subsidy for the Poor

President Obama’s proposal to double the earned income tax credit (EITC) for the working poor on March 4 came with all the attendant benefits such an expansion would provide: it would reduce poverty while encouraging people not working to get a job. It would expand the existing law to cover an additional 16 million families with 30 million children.

In his State of the Union Address in January, the president warned this was coming,

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Rule of Law in Connecticut is Being Threatened

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, March 10, 2014: 

Connecticut is called the Constitution state for a very good reason. On January 14, 1639 it was the first state to adopt its Fundamental Orders, which explained the necessity for government and the rule of law:

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NRA Warns of Potential Breakdown of Law in Connecticut

On Friday the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) published an update on the situation in Connecticut, claiming that confused answers to pointed questions about how the state will respond to gun owners who haven’t registered their now-illegal “assault” weapons and magazines, risks turning the rule of law in Connecticut into

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Is the Dingell Dynasty in the House Over?

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 7, 2014:

The encomiums poured in following the announcement by John Dingell (D-Mich.) last week that he wouldn’t be seeking a 30th term in the House. Tweeted Gary Peters (D-Mich.): “Today we honor the service and legacy of Michigan’s greatest Congressman. His accomplishments will never be forgotten.” Such praise would reasonably be expected from a hard-left progressive like Peters who

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Age and Acrimony End Dingell Dynasty in the House

Born in Colorado Springs in 1926, John Dingell (D-Mich.) took over from his father as a Representative from Michigan in 1955 and has never stopped promoting his father’s progressive agenda. On Monday, February 24th, Dingell announced that he would not seek a 30th term partly due to

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ICE Solicits then Withdraws Bid for National car tag Database

The pushback from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s request for bids to build a national database of all license plate data now being collected elsewhere across the country was immediate, and for the moment at least, effective: within a week the agency withdrew its request.

ICE said such a national data base would just make its job of tracking illegal immigrants easier, that it

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Birch Society smeared for opposing the Article V convention push

Joe Wolverton is one of the leading lights among the gifted writers and investigative journalists regularly having his articles appear in The New American magazine and its companion website, TheNewAmerican.com.

A constitutionalist attorney who not only writes but speaks around the country for the John Birch Society (the publisher of The New American), Wolverton saw the dangers inherent in efforts by Mark Levin to promote a constitutional convention – a “con-con” – in order to rein in out-of-control government spending. Levin’s book, The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic, has formed the basis for a movement to call a convention of the states that would be limited in scope to addressing just the issue of spending.

Wolverton disagreed and

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Job One for New Mayor: Turn New York into Detroit

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Thursday, January 2nd, 2014:

Progressive mouthpieces like ABC News and the New York Times could hardly contain their glee over the election of one of their own to the mayor’s office: Bill de Blasio. ABC News hailed de Blasio “as the face of a progressive movement that pledges a significant realignment of the nation’s largest city … that is poised to enact sweeping changes to the city …”, while the Times delighted to note that

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Progressives Expecting Great Things from New York City’s new mayor

When Bill de Blasio was celebrating his mayoral victory in November, he made clear exactly what his agenda is for New York City:

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Free Market Alternatives to Obamacare Already Exist

More than a year ago, Dr. Barbara Bellar, a medical doctor with a JD degree, was running for office as an Illinois State Senator, and provided a sound byte that continues to reverberate across the internet, having been viewed as of this writing some 3,675,000 times. The clip lasts less than two minutes, including laughter and applause from her audience, to whom she said:

So let me get this straight. This is a long sentence:

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.