Archive for March, 2017
Ever since the Libertarian Party was formed in December 1971 there has been a hope by some that electing libertarians to high office could slow or reverse the march to greater government control over private affairs.
We just had a crystal-clear proof that it’s a fatally-flawed theory.
In 2016 the American electorate voted for a Republican president and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress pledged to repeal the Democratic-Party-passed Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
The Republican leadership in the House and Senate crafted a bill that was alleged to do that. It would have repealed the tax penalty for those who did not purchase health insurance. But that’s about the only “repeal” that would have been meaningful since nothing in the bill would have lowered healthcare insurance premiums or expanded healthcare options.
Even that bill failed to pass, leaving the current laws unchanged.
Debates endlessly rehash everything except the obvious: only a small caucus of Republican legislators had any desire to repeal the ACA and the GOP replacement bill was merely a reshuffling of how government-provided benefits were to be managed.
After two terms of railing against the Democratic Party’s health-care law the Republican Party turned out to be derailed even for its own.
There’s a lesson here for all political observers, but particularly libertarians: socialistic programs, once enacted into law, can’t be repealed. Politics, itself, foils it.
Republicans and Democrats — and Libertarians, if ever elected to political power — are constrained by the nature of politics: a game of Three-Card Monte by which a mark is cheated out of his money. A politician shows only the benefits available to the mark and conceals the costs to the mark.
The Republicans never had any intent to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. It was empty campaign rhetoric.
Donald Trump knew that.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan knew that.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi knew that.
Freedom Caucus ally Senator Rand Paul knew that.
The only people who didn’t know it were the marks — the poor working American.
If Republicans want to repeal the Individual Income Tax ACA Mandate they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to make it legal to purchase health-insurance policies across state lines they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to make it legal for medical doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and witch doctors to practice throughout the United States regardless of where they studied and previously practiced, they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to allow Americans to buy drugs and supplements across state and national borders without federal interdiction or penalty, they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
If Republicans want to stop the War on Drugs, they can do that as a stand-alone bill.
But they won’t because just as much as Democrats, Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone’s medical choices or well-being. All they care about is maintaining their ability to fleece you and hand out the benefits to those from whom they want votes.
Two of my favorite authors – Robert A Heinlein and Ayn Rand – favored a limited government that would provide an effective national defense against foreign invaders and foreign spies. Rand died March 6, 1982; Heinlein on May 8, 1988 – both of them well before domestic terrorism by foreign nationals or immigrants was a major political issue.
Both Heinlein and Rand, however, were aware of domestic political violence, industrial sabotage, and foreign espionage by both foreigners and immigrants, going back before their own births — Rand February 2, 1905, Heinlein July 7, 1907.
Both Heinlein and Rand wrote futuristic novels portraying totalitarianism (including expansive government spying on its own citizens) within the United States. Both authors also portrayed in their fiction writing and discussed in their nonfiction writing the chaos caused by capricious government control over individual lives and private property.
In their tradition, I’ve done quite a bit of that, also, in my own fiction and nonfiction.
So has my libertarian friend author Brad Linaweaver, whose writings I try never to miss an opportunity to plug.
Brad, like myself, writes in the tradition of Heinlein and Rand – more so even than I do, since Brad also favors limited government while I am an anarchist. Nonetheless I am capable of making political observations and analysis from a non-anarchist viewpoint.
We come to this day in which Brad and I find ourselves without the comfort and living wisdom of Robert A. Heinlein and Ayn Rand. We are now both in our sixties, old enough to be libertarian literary elders.
Oh, we’re not the only ones. L. Neil Smith still writes libertarian novels and opines on his own The Libertarian Enterprise. There are others of our “libertarian writers’ mafia” still living and writing, but none as politically focused as we are – and often, in our opinion, not as good at keeping their eyes on the ball.
We see a duly-elected president whose legitimacy has been severely compromised by the very national intelligence agencies tasked with protecting that legitimacy.
We see in the United States official government intelligence operatives tasked with detecting and disrupting foreign threats yet by ubiquitous domestic surveillance and selective leaks instead act to advance their own partisan policy objectives. This clandestine force has invented a completely false narrative — paralleling the John Birch Society’s paranoid charges against President Dwight D. Eisenhower — that President Trump is a Russian agent.
We see a foreign-based journalistic service, Wikileaks, that acts as the Fourth Estate intended by the American founders – informing the American people of what our government is up to behind our backs – while our domestic major media almost universally have replaced independent news coverage with partisan talking points and debate.
Our president, in his belief that the military needs to be well-outfitted to perform its job of national defense, nonetheless seems intent on outfitting the military to fight the last war, not the next ones.
We see the two major political parties debate existing and even new entitlements as if the government — already twenty trillion dollars in debt and with ten times that in unfunded mandates — has a way to pay for these transfers of earned wealth other than life-destroying taxes combined with increased reliance on Federal Reserve issued fiat money leading to life-destroying hyperinflation.
Oh, national defense? The excuse for that “limited” government?
It doesn’t work.
The American military is so bogged down in foreign quagmires there isn’t even enough money to pay for as basic a national defensive force as the United States Coast Guard.
The Transportation Security Administration — charged with stopping “another 9/11″ — commits daily sexual assault on airline passengers while attempting (often not even successfully) to disarm the very civilian passengers who time after time have been the only effective militia stopping terrorist attacks.
The government is so focused on keeping out foreign workers to “protect” American jobs that it fails to recognize that these same foreign workers – because of their local proximity — must be deputized as the front line of defense to detect the terrorists camouflaged among them.
Writing in the days immediately following the 9/11 attacks – before there was even a Department of Homeland Security joining a shadow government/deep state in being more afraid of the American people than actual foreign threats – I noted that the American people, well-armed and staged at points of weakness, had to be the primary defense against terrorist attacks planned in secrecy and launched without warning.
Instead we have a Security State that disables the people’s ability to defend and protect ourselves, and instead has become more of a threat to the people’s privacy and liberty than foreign and immigrant terrorists post-9/11 attacks.
That Security State is now a direct threat to whatever government Heinlein and Rand would have seen as necessary — especially the Executive.
I don’t know what to tell you to do to fix this problem since as an anarchist I have no faith in government to begin with.
I do know, however, that there are good people – I include in that President Trump and Brad Linaweaver – who think it conceivably can be fixed.
Short of a revolutionary libertarian underground such as the one I’ve portrayed in my novel and movie Alongside Night, I ask them:
We’ve been hearing a lot in the news about applications for a “FISA court” warrant by someone in the executive branch — possibly by request of the 44th President, or the previous Attorney General, or by someone in the FBI, or elsewhere in the “intelligence” community — to conduct electronic surveillance in a building owned and occupied by the then Republican nominee for president, and currently the 45th President, Donald J. Trump.
But no application for such a warrant was ever made to a federal judge, appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.
So what is this so-called FISA court?
Let’s start with everything the Constitution of the United States has to say about the federal Judiciary and its jurisdiction:
Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
Section 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;–to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;–to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;–to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;–to controversies between two or more states;–between a state and citizens of another state;– between citizens of different states;–between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.
In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.
The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit, in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. ….
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Note the 9th and 10th amendments to the Constitution, which limit the jurisdiction of the federal government to only those powers specifically mentioned in the Constitution:
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Now, here’s what Wikipedia tells us about FISA:
The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, also called the FISA Court) is a U.S. federal court established and authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to oversee requests for surveillance warrants against foreign spies inside the United States by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Such requests are made most often by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Congress created FISA and its court as a result of the recommendations by the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee. Its powers have evolved to the point that it has been called “almost a parallel Supreme Court.”
Since 2009, the court has been relocated to the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C. For roughly thirty years of its history (prior to 2009), it was housed on the sixth floor of the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.
In 2013, a top-secret order issued by the court, which was later leaked to the media from documents culled by Edward Snowden, required a subsidiary of Verizon to provide a daily, on-going feed of all call detail records – including those for domestic calls – to the NSA.
Main article: United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
The Act created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and enabled it to oversee requests for surveillance warrants by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies (primarily the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency) against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the U.S. The court is located within the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C. The court is staffed by eleven judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to serve seven-year terms.
So, these 11 judges are not part of the federal judiciary. They are not appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate. Their appointment by the Chief Justice of the United States may qualify them as clerks to the Chief Justice but the Chief Justice has no constitutional authority to appoint other judges, and such appointments made by the Chief Justice certainly do not meet the constitutional standard for considering or issuing warrants for anything — and certainly not in a secret kangaroo court.
We see now the “shadow” government has its own secret court and its own goons to carry out its secret orders.
The President of the United States is now learning that such powers have been targeting him and his administration in what appears like nothing other than an attempted coup d’etat by his political enemies, likely loyal to the previous president.
This is something that belongs not in our daily news but in a play by Shakespeare.
Edward Snowden went rogue to alert the American people to this danger.
President Donald Trump, who during his campaign declared Edward Snowden a traitor (he’s not; see the Constitution’s definition of treason quoted above) should reconsider his campaign statement and pardon Edward Snowden so that Snowden might return to the United States and advise President Trump as to what intelligence tools are being used by a hidden and unaccountable power structure to target whoever might attempt to bring them to justice.