Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bob Barr

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Who's looking after her?

This last presidential election cycle was all about “Outsiders.” From Bernie Sanders, to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, they all ran as the “outsider candidate.” Why? The answer is obvious. People are sick and tired of politicians and the whole political system.

Why are people tired of the system? Because it seems as if politicians lie, waste our hard-earned money on insane programs, and give it away; often to the undeserving. One wonders if they care more about their reelection than the good of the country. Political office, it seems for many, is the quickest way to the good life and personal fortune. No wonder Donald Trump is our president, people were looking for the real “Outsider.”

“Outsiders” have always been a breath of political fresh air. Elected officials that run against the political wind, those who dare, even at the expense of their own political good, to stand for constitutional principles and our personal liberties.

Before the title “Outsider” became part of our national vernacular, there were modern day trailblazers, those who stood against the “Establishment.” Those who, even though were in the body politic, for the good of the citizenry, fidelity to the Constitution and love of country, were outside. Persons in government who did go along to get along.

One such “Outsider,” from the Clinton era, was Bob Barr. Congressman Barr was appointed by Ronald Reagan as U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. In that capacity, as a Republican, he successfully prosecuted Pat Swindall. Swindall (appropriately named) was a Republican member of the U. S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 4th District. He was convicted of perjury.

This did not sit well with other Republicans.

Congressman Barr led the call to impeach then President William Jefferson Clinton. Which as the Washington Post reported at the time, was “making the Republican leadership just a tad nervous (Washington Post). He was always an “Outsider.”

This “Outsider’s” purpose was to serve the people who put him in office, not the political elite. At the time he was calling for the impeachment of President Clinton he quipped, “My constituents didn’t send me up here to glad-hand and have a good time. They sent me up here to get something done.”

As the consummate “Outsider,” in 2008 Bob ran for President of the United States, not as a Republican, but as the Libertarian candidate.

What does this “Outsider” do when elected office is behind him? Continue to fight for the rights granted the individual in our beloved Constitution.

Bob Barr practices law and runs Liberty Strategies in Atlanta, Georgia. He has a weekly column published nationally and has served on the board of the NRA since 1997, along with sitting on the board of several other organizations.

Bob also heads Liberty Guard, a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty. Liberty Guard has one mission: Protect and Defend Individual Liberty! This has always been Bob’s driving passion.

“We recognize that life, liberty, and property were granted to us by God, and set forth by our Founding Fathers. Our country was created to protect these freedoms – but has lost sight of their fundamental importance in recent years. We seek to correct that – and place focus back on these founding principles” (Liberty Guard).

Liberty Guard demands a flat tax. They have delivered thousands of petitions to the Congress on a rolling basis.

In 2010 Liberty Guard formed the Opt-Out Alliance. This program was created to protect air travelers from unwarranted screening methods, such as naked body scans.

Currently Liberty Guard is considering the Deep State, the bureaucrats who are imbedded in the government, that are responsible for the leaks undermining the Trump Administration. Not only are these government employees a problem for any administration, that governs contrary to their personal ideologies, but due to the unlimited power they have in the arena of personal data collection and the possibility of misusing the data, they are worrisome to anyone who values their privacy. They literally have the power to destroy the career and reputation of anyone who disagrees with their political views.

Solutions to reining in the Deep State are not readily available. However, under the leadership of Bob Barr, always the champion of privacy, Liberty Guard desires to expose this corruption and offer legal solutions.

Presently Liberty Guard boasts 123,898 members. It has saved $32,000,000 tax dollars and delivered over 1,000,000 petitions.

So, what does this “Outsider” do when elected office is behind him? Continue to fight for the rights granted the individual in our beloved Constitution.

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Though constitutional literacy remains appalling low among U.S. citizens (and, sadly, even among many members of Congress), most Americans have a general understanding and respect for the 230-year-old document. Nevertheless, and despite all the internal and external challenges our nation has faced from the very outset of its existence, American citizens are still (largely) free to pursue life, liberty, and prosperity.

This is no fluke, but in fact is due to the Constitution’s clearly defined, written parameters in which a government must operate, along with designed checks and balances among and even within its branches. Both factors work to ensure no individual, agency, or branch can act arbitrarily, or declare itself the supreme authority on the law; all are beholden to the Constitution’s sovereignty.

That is, at least, how our Founding Fathers intended it to work, which is why the recent actions of rogue government employees involved with America’s secret surveillance panopticon, are truly frightening.

Here is what we know. Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, President Trump’s national security advisor, resigned last week after media reports of phone calls between him and a Russian diplomat occurring in the month before he formally took his position – calls he denied to the F.B.I. However, the media’s discovery of the calls was not the result of hard work by the Fifth Estate to uncover leads and evidence. Rather, the retired general’s demise reportedly was the direct result of illegal leaking of classified government surveillance information by up to 10 “current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls.” Given both Trump and Flynn’s rocky reputation within the Intelligence Community, revenge, rather than public service “whistleblowing,” appears to have been the motive for the leak.

Take a minute to let that sink in. Unelected bureaucrats feloniously took highly sensitive information, collected in secret surveillance programs for national security purposes, to launch a political assassination of a presidential aide, simply because they could. And, should this insubordination go without punishment, the ramifications threaten the very foundations of constitutional rule-of-law.

Given the extent of today’s surveillance state, it is perhaps not surprising Flynn’s phone conversations were recorded in a government database; after all, our government has long monitored calls into and out from the Russian Embassy (as we did the Soviets during the Cold War). And, thanks to Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom vastly expanded the government’s surveillance powers, the recording of Flynn’s calls – regardless of what intelligence program or tool ultimately captured the recording – was likely “legal.”

This serves as a chilling reminder that we apparently have reached the point in the “Deep State” in which no electronic communication – even internal government communications — is safe from government snooping; nor is there any confidence that once monitored, the substance of a communication will be safe from someone in the bureaucracy sharing it for purposes other than reasons of genuine national security. The Obama Administration’s decision in its final days to further loosen the rules on what intercepted data the National Security Agency can share with other agencies, only makes this treacherous environment even more prone to exploitation.

In the past, intelligence personnel at the NSA have been accused of sharing nude photos of innocent civilians it intercepted through its surveillance programs. Of course, such childish misconduct pales in comparison to that when in 2014, CIA personnel were caught hacking Senate computers, for no other reason than they felt the Senate had wronged them regarding a sensitive document.

Flynn is just the latest victim in a disturbing pattern of reckless and defiant behavior from individuals embedded in the Intelligence Community who are unwilling to heed the rule of law, and who act to further their own interests above those of even the President of the United States or Congress.

Herein lies the most concerning issue. When unelected, nameless bureaucrats send a warning shot across the bow of the White House, it presents a serious problem that cannot simply be ignored or dismissed as an isolated incident. In addition to vigorously pursuing the individuals behind the felonious leaking of Flynn’s phone calls, Congress and the Trump White House should see this incident as proof that America’s secret surveillance programs are in desperate need of an overhaul; and that Washington should be reining in these programs, not expanding them as many are advocating.

Intelligence officials may fancy themselves as above Congress or the White House, but they are not above the law. It is high time they are given a hard constitutional rap on the knuckles.

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Of the many words to describe Donald Trump, “measured” and “precise” are not among them. This, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing for a larger-than-life figure like Trump. His grandiose demeanor and over-the-top rhetoric is not only responsible for his celebrity status and immense wealth, but his political fortunes as well.

The hallmark of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign was Trump’s broad, sweeping pronouncements about the “sad” state of America; on issues from immigration to terrorism to outsourcing, and more. His ability to channel populist angst about the failures of the Establishment to address the real problems facing Americans was masterful, especially considering his solutions to such problems were no less vague and simplistic. The tactic worked, and Trump won the election. However, that was the campaign, in which exaggerated rhetoric and bite-sized solutions are a candidate’s stock-in-trade.

Serving as president of the United States, however, is far different; or at least it should be. A sure sign of this is the hullabaloo over Trump’s executive order regarding the temporary halt of refugees from foreign countries, and a pause in travel for residents of seven countries considered terrorist hotspots. On intentions alone, the executive order was both a reasonable and a practical first-step to ensuring America’s national security interests were not being sacrificed in the name of globalist altruism. Given Europe’s ongoing battle with domestic terrorism due in part to the flood of refugees from the Middle East, it would have been irresponsible not to immediately review our policies in this regard.

Yet, as the saying goes, the road to Hell — or in this case the federal court system — is paved with good intentions . . . and, poor execution.

Such seems to be the case with the so-called “travel ban” executive order. Instead of working with the various federal agencies involved with immigration policy — prepping them on the incoming changes and soliciting their advice for its implementation — the Trump White House reportedly rushed its release; giving little notice to Homeland Security and failing to have the policies properly reviewed by the Justice Department. The final result of what should have been a noteworthy policy change was mass confusion, mass protests, and a continuing court battle over its constitutionality.

The White House did itself no favors with the release of the order or in its subsequent explanations; using terms like “extreme vetting” to describe the changes, without ever defining what, exactly, “extreme vetting” actually means.

For starters, “vetting” is not a legal term, so its use to describe changes to a legal process only muddies the water. Secondly, the federal government (and the president in particular) already possesses broad powers to police America’s borders and ports of entry. Such powers include warrantless searches of persons, luggage, or vehicles; powers which the president or those agencies involved can change or expand anytime, without issuing an executive order or calling on Congress for legislative authority.

Furthermore, the Obama Administration frequently asserted the government’s right to inspect and detain electronics from all persons traveling into the United States, and to copy any information stored on those devices. Add to this the fact that U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently started collecting social media account information for those applying for travel to the United States, and you have an extremely robust “vetting” process already in place.

Thus, outside of any updates to the internal processes of the State Department and other agencies involved in approving refugees or foreign travelers, the government already has at its disposal a broad arsenal of “extreme vetting” powers. So, if the changes were, in fact, behind-the-scenes, why was this not explicitly detailed by the Trump Administration when announcing the policy, rather than brushing aside the changes with overly simplistic and utterly meaningless terminology?

Regardless whether one agrees or disagrees with the changes made by the executive order, Administration officials, if not Trump himself, have a responsibility to clearly and precisely explain significant policy changes. There is a practical reason for this, as the chaos following the immigration policy illustrated. So-called “Green Card” holders were left stranded in airports — a result that allowed the liberal judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to hang their hat in finding Trump’s Order unconstitutional.

If the White House will not define its policy changes, others will, including Democrats looking for any chance to undermine the legitimacy of the Trump Administration. That is exactly what happened here; and guess with which narrative the Mainstream Media ran?

Trump has already proven detractors of his abilities as Executive-in-Chief wrong with several of his cabinet picks, not to mention his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Avoiding stumbles like his immigration executive order, by keeping in mind that he is no longer on the campaign trail, will help him keep this momentum and out of unnecessary controversies; otherwise, further unnecessary challenges and set backs will result.

Thoughts? Comment below.

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congress

No sooner had the election results rolled in late last Tuesday night, heralding a Donald Trump victory and continued Republican control of both houses of the Congress, than many Republicans began calling on Speaker Ryan to get the House ready to start passing Trump’s agenda. The better call would have been to remind both Ryan and Trump that it is not when the House of Representatives serves as a rubber stamp for the President, that good and fiscally conservative actions result. Rather, it is when there is a degree of positive tension between the House majority and the President of the same or a different party that the system constructed many decades ago by our Founders, actually works best.

It is a team effort, to be sure, and President Trump has every right to press for enactment of his legislative and fiscal agendas. But Paul Ryan, as Speaker and Leader of the House of Representatives, has an equally important responsibility to ensure that the President’s agenda fits within the budgetary and legislative agendas of the House and of the majority of members elected thereto. Truly, the last thing President Trump should want, is a Speaker who salutes and says “Yessir” whenever the President calls.

While many students of history focus on the differences between the House and the Senate in terms of their procedural powers; the perhaps more relevant focus should be on the relationship between the House of Representatives and the President.

Recent history is full of examples of the bad things that happen when the House forgets or willfully ignores its separate responsibility to carefully consider and amend a president’s legislative proposals; or blindly pushes a president’s budgetary proposals simply because that president happens to be of the same political party as the majority. President George W. Bush’s vaunted “No Child Left Behind Act,” sent to the House in January 2001 and rushed though both houses with little real consideration, turned out to be a law widely panned by educators and many Republicans as costly and unworkable.

Just a couple of years later, Bush demanded the GOP-controlled House pass the prescription drug benefit bill, despite cries by conservatives that its projected costs were drastically and artificially under-estimated. It passed, and has in fact turned out to be hugely more expensive than the Bush Administration’s projections.

The good news is that in Trump and Ryan, there appears to be the ingredients for success in this regard. For one thing, and unlike the current President who almost never dismounted from his high horse to climb the steps of Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress (even of his own Party), Trump shows no such arrogance. In fact – and as he notes in his books – Trump enjoys the art of negotiating; a critical component of good legislation. Moreover, he respects a tough and informed adversary and is disposed to run roughshod over weak opponents – a characteristic some of his early GOP Primary opponents recognized too late.

Ryan, too, seems to have a good head for negotiating; although his job in a Trump-Ryan tete-a-tete will be more difficult since Trump only has one point of view (his) to worry about, while Ryan has many to keep in mind and in line.

The House and its leadership must never forget that its fiscal responsibility is owed not to the incoming or any president, but to the people and the future of our country. Thus, and here again unlike during the first Administration of George W. Bush, if President Trump asks the House to pass a budget that, for whatever great reasons he cites, busts the budget and increases the federal deficit, Ryan must say “No.” As we recall, it took less than two budget cycles for new President Bush and the GOP-controlled Congress to bust the balanced budget so laboriously crafted in 1997 between then-Speaker Gingrich and then-Democratic President Bill Clinton; and Washington has never looked back since.

The runaway budget deficits that became a hallmark of the George W. Bush Administration were a primary factor in the GOP losing control of the House in 2006 for two cycles; and it was in those few years that Obamacare became law, Dodd-Frank was enacted, and all manner of other legislative and executive actions decisions made, which now are ripe to be addressed and undone.

America is on the cusp of an historic opportunity to once again enact constitutionally- and fiscally-sound legislative and budget measures. While it may appear counter-intuitive, to aid in accomplishing this, President Trump should resist demanding a House of Representatives that rubber stamps his every decision. Instead, he should welcome one that will sometimes challenge him and occasionally say “No” – because that’s a recipe for real change, good change, and long-lasting change.

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law enforcement

There was a point in time when federal law enforcement was the standard-bearer for policing. Agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the Secret Service were the gold standard for professionalism and integrity that state and local agencies looked up to. This was the case when I worked closely with federal law enforcement during my tenure as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986 to 1990. But, things have changed.

More often than not, in recent years, federal law enforcement agencies find themselves in the news not for breaking a massive, complex investigation; but defending the misdeeds of its agents or the mistakes of its leaders. Add to this the massive growth in federal criminal laws, and the inevitable bureaucracies such growth spurs, and you have a recipe for disaster.

This current decline of federal law enforcement can be traced back to at least the Clinton Administration, when the politicization of the Department of Justice reached a level not seen since the Administration of Richard Nixon.

The 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), but ultimately involving federal agencies from the FBI to the Department of Defense, was a colossal and tragic screw up resulting in the deaths of four agents and more than six dozen civilians (including many children). Yet, despite the Attorney General nominally taking the “blame” for the mess, not a single federal employee was disciplined in the aftermath. “Accountability” was just a fig leaf.

The Clinton Justice Department found itself at the center of one political firestorm after another – from the bungled investigation surrounding illegal contributions to the campaign of then-Vice President Al Gore, to the almost-comically mishandled seizure and deportation to Cuba of youngster Elian Gonzalez.

Unfortunately, things were little improved at the Justice Department during the subsequent Administration of George W. Bush. The open political pressure brought to bear on a number of U.S. Attorneys during the Bush Administration cast a pall over this group of non-partisan prosecutors. The perception of the Department as the pinnacle of respect for constitutional rights, was further diminished when Bush’s Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez testified before Congress that the “great writ of habeas corpus” was not a constitutionally-guaranteed right.

Matters would sink even lower under the Executive leadership of Barack Obama.

Symptomatic of a “Bureaucracy Gone Wild,” one of the first scandals of the Obama Administration was the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” operation, in which Department of Justice officials approved the intentional sale of firearms to known gun traffickers, then lost track of those weapons. Rather than admit its fault and hold those responsible accountable, the Department ducked and dodged all attempts by congressional investigators to find out what went wrong; continuing a tradition begun nearly two decades earlier.

Most recently, we are witnessing the impact of inept leadership at the FBI under Director James Comey. Rather than handling the twin investigations of possible “pay-to-play” allegations between the Clinton Foundation and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the improper use of e-mail accounts, as the Justice Department and the FBI historically conducted themselves – by not commenting on or allowing themselves to be drawn into divulging details of ongoing investigations – this FBI Director appears to have gone out of his way to comment and characterize ongoing investigations. In so doing, he has undercut the credibility of his agency that had been its stock-in-trade for decades.

Add to Comey’s bungled leadership the highly improper meeting between former President Bill Clinton and current Attorney General Loretta Lynch smack-dab in the middle of the FBI’s investigations, and there is little wonder why citizen respect for the government is at an all-time low.

The moral and professional failures of law enforcement officials have not been limited to the ATF, the FBI and the Office of the Attorney General. Even the Secret Service, one of the most respected of federal law enforcement agencies, has seen its stock plummet as its ranks fell victim to scandals from hookers in Colombia to drunk driving at home. Making matters worse for the Secret Service, when a high-ranking member of the House of Representatives – Jason Chaffetz – sought to investigate some of the problems plaguing the Service, it resorted to leaking potentially embarrassing information about the Congressman.

While Hollywood continues to churn out popular law enforcement programs extolling the exploits of the men and women who serve in those agencies, our next real-life president will have a much harder job rebuilding the tarnished reputation and less-than-stellar leadership of our country’s federal law enforcement system. But it is a task that truly ought to be high on the new President’s To Do List.

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wonder woman

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s . . . the United Nation’s latest Honorary Ambassador – Wonder Woman.

As death, destruction and mayhem continue to spread across the globe from Syria to Venezuela, the bureaucracy that is the United Nations has decided the best response to aggressive despots and global terrorism is placing their faith in a fictitious comic book hero. If one needed any further proof the U.N. has been reduced, quite literally, to a farce, this should remove all doubt.

The U.N.’s attempt to appropriate a beloved (if somewhat dated) comic book hero into yet another superficial, politically-correct campaign, would truly be “comic”-al if not for the taxpayer money used to support a bloated bureaucracy that has become no more effective at keeping global order than a social media slacktivist campaign. And, that’s when its officials are actually dedicated to a public good, rather than being busted for corruption or having its “peace-keeping” forces charged with committing atrocities in the Third World countries they are supposed to be helping.

And still, the U.S. government keeps shoveling millions of dollars annually into the global bureaucracy on the East River in Manhattan.

Last year alone, American taxpayers subsidized more than $650 million of the U.N.’s general budget (22 percent), and more than $2.2 billion for its peacekeeping missions (28 percent). Now, thanks to the largesse of the American taxpayers, oppressed girls and women in countries that engage in institutional misogyny, including Pakistan, India, and the Congo, can rest easier at night knowing Wonder Woman has their backs.

As is the nature of all government bureaucracies, the U.N. long ago lost sight of its original mission; blinded by its own self-importance as it extends its reach far beyond simply fostering “international peace and security” and “respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.” And, the U.N.’s politically-correct mentality, reflecting the pacifist worldview of its European members rather than America’s strong-willed spirit of defending liberty, has reduced its efficacy to the level of holding a picture of a hashtag on Twitter. This may be fine for Democrats who glow warmly at the mention of “international cooperation,” but to those who actually care about equal rights and self-determination, such actions ring hollow.

If the U.N. were truly committed to empowering women across the world, it would reject countries like Pakistan and Iran, which oppose rights for women, from positions of “leadership” on such issues. And, if the organization truly was committed to the self-determination and freedom of individuals, it would cease embracing its relentless campaign to undermine the concept of an individual right to keep and bear arms – the centerpiece of its Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which unfortunately also enjoys the support of many Democrats in the United States, including most notably, Hillary Clinton.

Worse still, as the ATT clearly demonstrates, the U.N.’s globalist idealism is often more than simple raw hypocrisy, and reaches into the domestic affairs of the United States, where it has no proper place. It is one thing if other countries decide to kowtow to the U.N.’s gun control bidding while they hold hands and sing Kum-Ba-Ya; but Republicans have a hard enough time in the United States protecting our Constitution and freedom from Democrats, without a host of international bureaucrats interfering.

The interests and guiding philosophy of America are far different than those of the United Nations and the vast majority of its member states – many of which deeply and openly despise our country and what we represent.

America does not need comic book super heroes to remind us about equal rights and individual liberty. America’s heroes are and always have been real-life heroes – from the men who launched our nation and crafted our guiding blueprint in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, to the men and women today serving in our armed forces who daily risk their lives in the noble pursuit of Liberty.

Let the United Nations and its Fancy Pants bureaucrats hang pictures of Wonder Woman on their wall and bow down before her. As for me, I’ll keep pictures of George Washington and Ronald Reagan hanging in my office.

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trump

When Politico Magazine recently asked historians what figure in America’s history compared to the mythos of Donald Trump, answers ranged from Henry Ford to William Randolph Hearst. Yet, there is one historical comparison these experts missed – Andrew Jackson.

Jackson and Trump could not have come from more different backgrounds – Jackson, a gruff war hero and “Man’s man” from humble upbringings in a remote part of the Carolinas, and Trump, who was raised in New York City among great wealth and opportunity. Both men, however, developed a shared appetite for adversarial confrontations with “enemies,” and a distaste for “authorities” who dared stand in their way.

Neither man was known for cool headedness, particularly when it related to personal attacks. Fancying himself a frontiersman, and living in the days where disputes often were settled by duels, Jackson is said to have kept 37 pistols at-the-ready for such occasions. Though not all of Jackson’s alleged 100+ duels ended in shots fired (duels most often were tests to see which man “backed down” first, rather than as the fatal shootings portrayed in Hollywood Westerns), Jackson did kill at least one opponent who called him a coward, and took a bullet to the chest in the showdown.

Trump, the city-slicker, has chosen to hold his “duels” in court, and is known for his incredibly litigious nature, especially involving slights or so-called “defamations” against his or his family’s character. Trump’s threats of libel lawsuits have become so comically frequent, a website was setup to track the number of days since his last threat against a critic.

Such confrontational attitudes also influenced how each of these men approached public policy.

Neither Jackson nor Trump are men to whom the word “No” applied when pursuing their agendas. For instance, when South Carolina attempted to nullify federal laws during Jackson’s Administration, he threatened to use military force against the state in order to get his way. And, when the Supreme Court issued a ruling on Native American inhabitants with which Jackson disagreed, he simply ignored the ruling. “[Supreme Court Justice] John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it,” Jackson famously declared; throwing a verbal gauntlet at the feet of the distinguished Chief Justice and his colleagues. The flouting of the Court’s ruling would lead eventually to the forced and tragic removal of Indians from southern lands, in what would become known as the Trail of Tears.

Trump, too, has shown little regard for limitations when it comes to outlining his vision for being President. Even though doing so would grant enormous (and likely unconstitutional) law enforcement power to federal and local authorities – not to mention astronomical costs – Trump repeatedly has stated plans to deport all illegal immigrants in the United States. Trump also has threatened punitive repercussions against CEOs who dare disobey his declaration that no American companies would be permitted to move their businesses outside the US without paying a heavy price.

Both men view Executive power as a tool to be wielded whenever necessary, and to whatever extent necessary, to implement and preserve their vision for law and order. This, too, may explain why both men used their positions of power and influence to expand their personal empires; Jackson through bribery and coercion to acquire real estate, and Trump through eminent domain and cash donations to politicians at all levels of government.

The striking similarities are reflected also in how both men see themselves — as anti-Washington “men of the people.” Jackson, for example, dismantled the Second Bank of the United States, which he saw as an unchecked tool of the privileged to oppress commoners. Trump, too, speaks to problems of the working class, and has made this populist rhetoric the centerpiece of his campaign against the Establishment; notwithstanding his life-long membership in that very Club.

Where Trump whines incessantly about battling a “rigged” system, Jackson actually lost his first try for the presidency in 1824 in what some might call a “rigged election.” The problem faced by Jackson was that, in a four-way race, he won a plurality but not a majority of electoral votes in the general election, but when the decision then went to the House of Representatives to decide the final winner, John Quincy Adams won. Like Trump, Jackson never forgot or forgave a slight; and the anti-establishment fervor he and his supporters stoked over the next four years led to his victory four years later.

After nearly two centuries, the restless soul of “Old Hickory” appears to have found a new host; one with access to money and levers of power Jackson could hardly have imagined.

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gender

Ahhh, the Good Ole Days. Boys were boys. Girls were girls. And “going to the bathroom” was a simple, private matter that required no direction from busybody lawmakers. Not anymore.

We no longer live in the era of “he” or “she.” In 21st Century American, the list of “gender types” is longer than the menu of flavors at a Baskin-Robins ice cream parlor. According to Tumblr – the social media platform serving as the “intellectual” epicenter of gender fluidity and other “social justice” nonsense – gender terms range from the basic, like cisgender (“the feeling of being the gender you were assigned at birth, all the time”); to the confusing, like vibragender (“a gender that is usually one stable gender but will occasionally changes or fluctuate before stabilizing again”); and to the genuinely bizarre, colorgender (“a gender associated with one or more colors and the feelings, hues, emotions, and/or objects associated with that color”). There appears to be no end to this madness.

Even the advocacy movement for such groups struggles to keep up with the amorphous definition of their constituencies. Whereas just one generation ago, the universally understood term for the gay community was “LGBT” (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transsexual), the acronym today has ballooned to “LGBTQQIAAP” (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer-questioning-intersex-asexual-allies-pansexual). The rationale behind this alphabet-soup absurdity is to increase inclusion of groups that otherwise make up statistically miniscule elements of the population when divided into such niches. The practical effect is exclusion by inclusion. According to one of the “As” in the acronym – “ally” — anyone who is not sympathetic to the cause is automatically excluded from the movement –becoming, in effect, an enemy.

As a general rule, people can refer to themselves by whatever name, title, or pronoun by which they desire to be known. And, within reason, it is common courtesy to try to respect their wishes. However, respect in this regard is no longer a two-way street. Understanding and tolerance are no longer shown to anyone who either does not know what to call someone, or politely chooses to stick to traditional, biologically-based gender pronouns and identities. Such people are branded as “homophobic” or worse, and lumped together into one of the Left’s “basket of deplorables.”

Sports associations have proudly placed themselves at the forefront of this Gender Identity Strike Force. The college sports division Atlantic Coast Conference, for example, announced last week that it would pull all championship games out of North Carolina in retaliation against “HB2,” the state’s so-called “bathroom bill” which does nothing other than reflect centuries-old, biologically-based restroom usage.

Public schools also have taken up the gender-identity challenge. In Chicago and Kansas City, public school students and faculty could face “consequences” for “intentionally referring to the student by a name or pronoun that does not correspond to the student’s gender identity” – with “identity” being wholly subjective and fluctuating.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Administration has drafted rules to levy fines on businesses of up to a quarter of a million dollars for not “respecting” a customer’s preferred terminology by which to be addressed. To avoid fines, the Big Apple’s Commission on Human Rights recommends “creating a policy of asking everyone what their preferred gender pronoun” might be, and “not limit the [customer database] options for identification to male and female only.”

It is one thing for a group of people or an individual to choose how to be identified; but a far different matter to employ the power of the law to force public and private businesses and individuals to engage in such nonsense; particularly when the list of pronouns by which individuals may choose to be addressed reads like a foreign language playbill.

By making gender identity identification a legal issue, the government gets to define the playing field for a societal debate about gender – something that, throughout human history until now, was never a topic needing debate in the first place. Worse still, in the Brave New World of Gender Identity Correctness, government is able to dictate to private citizens how to respond to such a debate, so as not to make anyone “uncomfortable.” But, as noted law professor Eugene Volokh suggests, “we should all feel uncomfortable about government regulators forcing people to say things that convey and support the government’s ideology about gender,” considering that such a debate makes no sense to most people in the first place.

Until recently, one might have though governments, universities, high schools, grade schools, and sports associations had more important things to worry about than bathroom protocols. Apparently not.

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The first tactic in starting a conflict is defining the enemy – and the federal government working with the mainstream media have successfully branded the activists occupying federal lands in Oregon as “Militia.”

The term, which has been successfully linked to images of crazed and camouflaged white supremacists and other right-wing extremists, provides the government with an excuse to aggressively act.

The view of the government was overtly released in 2009 by the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) which stated that Americans who prescribe to certain political views – even supporters of Ron Paul and Bob Barr – as “a threat to law enforcement officers.”

The report titled, “The Modern Militia Movement” bundled conservatives, veterans, ranchers and many others as “Militia” and “Rightwing extremists.”

The report also states that Militia use the Gadsden Flag and the term Molon Labe as their symbols.

The Gadsden Flag has become widely popular with the TEA Party movement and is even featured on license plates in Virginia.

The term Molon Labe is a Greek term that translates to“Come and Take Them!” and is a very common bumper sticker to promote 2nd Amendment rights.

Back to Oregon and the activists who have occupied federal lands, they have already lost the fight to be defined as peaceful – leaving a huge opening for aggression by the government as was seen in 1993’s Waco Seige and 1992’s Ruby Ridge confrontation that lead to the killing of a 14 year-old boy (shot in the back) and his mother.

In Waco, the Branch Davidians had been labeled as “Cult members” while in Ruby Ridge, the Weaver family had been labeled as “survivalists” and “white supremacists” although the racist claim was never proven and denied by the family.

The leader of the Oregon activists, Ammon Bundy, has previously been labeled a racist and Sen. Harry Reid has even defined the family as “domestic terrorists.”

Will the public fall for the toxic branding or see the actions of these Americans as a natural reaction to the overreach of federal authority?

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2016 GOP

Liberty Guard, founded by former Congressman Bob Barr, released their ratings recently that ranked each presidential candidate based upon a Liberty index.

Included in the scorecard are 17 candidates in total — 14 Republicans and 3 Democrats.

The GOP candidates include: Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Former Governor Jeb Bush (FL), Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Rand Paul (KY), Senator Ted Cruz (TX), Governor Chris Christie (NJ), Governor John Kasich (OH), Former Governor Mike Huckabee (AR), Senator Marco Rubio (FL), Former Governor George Pataki (NY), Former Governor Jim Gilmore(VA), Former Senator Rick Santorum (PA), and Senator Lindsey Graham (SC).

The Democratic candidates include: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-V), and Former Governor Martin O’Malley (MD). The complete scorecard may be found at www.libertyguard.org.

The scoring model examined each of the candidates on public statements, announced platforms/plans, and their voting record (either as an incumbent or past political service). In each of the categories: healthcare, national security, taxation, immigration, electronic privacy, 2nd Amendment, cronyism, budget, education, and ethics; liberty-minded sub-topics were used as the judging criteria.

Most notably (and unlike any other scorecard so far),Liberty Guard rated candidates on cronyism and ethics.

In releasing the scorecard, Liberty Guard Chairman Bob Barr emphasized, “The American people are tired of Beltway insiders and their cronyism. The scorecard is a reliable, unbiased way to see how the candidates stack up, issue by issue, on liberty-related topics.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) both outperformed their respective GOP counterparts by advocating and fighting for limited government and liberty-minded principles based on the Constitution. At the bottom of the list includes Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL).

“This scorecard is the first of its kind — ranking candidates on liberty matters, taking into account all a candidates’ past statements and positions as well as votes. This comprehensive effort will inform voters decisions as they sort out the wheat from the chaff,” Liberty Guard President Steve Thomas added. “The typical establishment candidates that would be flourishing in past elections are now suffering. Voters are making this ever more evident by citing their distaste for ‘career politicians.'”

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