Security or Liberty

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”  H.L. Mencken

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it.” – H.L. Mencken

Both of these quotes were attributed to H.L. Mencken, a  well known journalist, satirist,  and scholar known as the “Sage of Baltimore” and  one of the most influential writers of the the first half of the twentieth century.  Most importantly, he was often noted as being largely libertarian with a noted distrust in representative democracy, a system that he believed was where “inferior men dominated their superiors”.   Now me, I’m a fan of our government, as designed by our founding fathers, but I’ll have to admit, Mencken may be on to something with that last line.  However, the two quotes above were attributed to Mencken in the early 1920’s.  One would have to wonder what he would say about American life today?  

True to Mencken’s words, post 9-11, America was inudtaed  with the political class and the media tossing out accusations of impeding doom to warrant the creation of some new measure by government.  The rush to expand the surveillance state in the name of safety started to look more like a grand prix rally than responsible , valid government, but to what end?

We’ve all experienced that walk of shame at the airport, feeling like a sorority girl after an all night frat party, after having gone thru the pat and tickle exercise at the hands of the TSA, but has it done any good?  It might surprise you to know that since it’s inception, the TSA has had over 400 agents arrested for stealing from the people they were designed to protect, but after $900 million  and untold number of crotch grabs later, the number of arrested terrorists or foiled attempts to harm our country is zero.

Additionally, via a fellow named Edward Snowden, we all learned that our government has basically relegated the 4th amendment to role of  a doormat by  recording and listening in every phone call, text, and email in order to “stop terrorism”.  One has to ask though, if the real goal was to stop terrorists, shouldn’t the focus be paid border security or due diligence in the Visa and immigration offices, rather than turn the spying on the American Citizen?  Ah, that would be the smart and logical choice but, unfortunately, smarts and logic aren’t exactly in vast supply around government circles.

Lastly, we have the DHS, to help secure America from all those terrorists behind every tree awaiting to destroy us and coordinate our national defense.  However, I think someone forgot that we already had the National Security  Agency to do that, but I digress.  Anyways, with the a big budget and almost unlimited resources the Department of Homeland Security (Am I the only one that gets a bit weirded out upon hearing the term “homeland” and subconsciously seeing goose stepping dome hats on the streets?) has surely been able to provided significant advances in terms of security, yes?

Well, according to a 141-page senate oversight panel report, the DHS  U.S. Counterterrorism Centers have failed to provide any valuable information, instead providing uneven, untimely, shoddy intelligence that has been acknowledged as “predominately useless” bye DHS officials.  Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), goes on to state,

It’s troubling that the very ‘fusion’ centers that were designed to share information in a post-9/11 world have become part of the problem. Instead of strengthening our counterterrorism efforts, they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties”

In short, the agency that was commissioned as a reassurance of our fears of terrorism, has spent between $289M and $1.4B in public funds to support these centers that have provide no valuable return in that regard.  Combine this with the TSA, who falls under DHS authority, and we have a agency that is proving to be wholly impotent at it’s task, but cited for endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act violations.  Furthermore, when questioned by Congress regarding these failures, DHS resisted any oversight and opted out of providing requested documentation to congress on grounds of “sensitivity and confidentiality”. 

In spite of these failures however, we watch as the DHS increasingly militarizes themselves and local police.  With reports of DHS buying 1.6 million rounds of ammunition, some which being hollow points (illegal under the Geneva Convention) and 2700 mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, (again, images of goose stepping, stahlhelm wearing, foreigners fill my head),  shouldn’t we be concerned of a secretive agency, held up as a defender of our safety, having this much power?

All of this comes down to a simple matter, safety cannot be bought, only temporarily rented.   Safety is fleeting and always being challenged by some new threat, however, liberty and freedom, once surrendered is difficult to reclaim.   The government, along with a complicent media, attempts to increase fear using the menacing hobgoblin of terrorism, both here and abroad.  The goal being to convince us that liberty and safety are a delicate balance, one that government should hold the exclusive power to maintain. However, this idea is the very anti-thesis of the principals upon which our nation were founded.   The principals are that individual freedom and liberty are supreme, and that the people only consent to government as a means to secure and protect those principals.

We must remember, we, as a people, are inherently charged with our own safety.   While there are portions of our safety that we simply aren’t equipped to manage, we have provided government with limited authority to do so for us.   These things include border security, due diligence in the application and issuance of visas and green cards, and in the realms of foreign intelligence.  However, when we see that the government starts to shift it’s eye inward, towards the people, or fail to succeed in that authority then concern should be raised to the highest levels. 

Should we let  “menacing hobgoblins” used by government to instill fear  influence us to a point that we willingly surrender our freedoms, we will find ourselves no longer worthy of the birthright provided to us by our founding fathers.  When the balance between safety and liberty are called into questions, liberty must always reign supreme.  For the simple truth is that liberty and safety can never be balanced, for they are never equals.  We are nation of free men, and as free men, we grant to government the power to protect our freedoms of life, liberty,  and pursuit of happiness.   It is this grant from the people that creates safety, so it cannot be possible for government to seek to take from us that which the grant enables. Should government to subjugate our rights in the name of safety, even in the name of the few, then liberty cannot exist and we are duty bound to resist.

The ATF’s Green Tip Hysteria

(originally written and posted on Unapologetically American)

In a totally expected unexpected move by the ATF, the agency in charge of all my favorite vices has filed a motion to reclassify common ammunition as armor piercing.  Specifically, this reclassification would affect M855, or “Green Tip” ammo. 

Citing safety of Law Enforcement Officers as the primary reasoning, the ATF contends that the introduction and sale of AR style handguns has now moved the M855 ammo into the statutory definition of armor piercing under the Gun Control Act of 1986 and out of the realm of “primarily intended for sporting purposes”.  Therefore, they are looking to “streamline” the ATF process for exempting ammunition and reverse the previous exemption for M855 made in 1986.

Despite the fact that there is no limitation of the 2nd amendment to “sporting purposes only”, there are several other fallacies with this attempt by the ATF to effectively ban commonplace M855 ammo.  Each of them proving that these rules are enacted by federal bureaucrats and politicians who can’t tell the difference between a bolt carrier group and a trigger guard. 

First and foremost, this reclassification attempt is premised on the fact that the ammo can now be used in handguns, thus alluding to the fallacy that such action makes the ammo more “dangerous”.   As an agency tasked with the regulation of all things firearm related, you would expect them to have a greater understanding of ballistics.  The fact is that rifle caliber ammo is inherently more powerful than pistol calibers and all will easily bypass the soft body armor worn by police.  The key differentiator here is velocity, not construction. 

In a study done by  Small Arms Defense Journal titled “Barrel Length Studies in 5.56MM NATO Weapons”, it was found that for the M855 to have a lethal wound channel, the projectile must have a velocity of ~2,500 ft/sec upon impact.  Any velocity below that simply drills a 1/4” hole thru the target, resulting in a frequently non-lethal wound unless a vital structure is impacted.   This was further confirmed by the group over at Ballistics by the Inch that showed significant loss of energy by .223/5.56 calibers, with almost a 1,000 ft/sec drop from 18” to 6” barrels.  By referencing it’s use in handguns, the ATF ignores the fact that the M855 is less lethal in the firearms that they claim justify its “reclassification” showing that this is nothing more than an attempt to restrict by fiat.

Secondly, this reclassification is based on the “characteristics” of the firearm used to fire the ammo, nothing more.  In summary, the ability to ban ammunition as “armor piercing” is based its ability to be used in the following criteria: 

“Any firearm not deemed a “single shot handgun”, meaning a break-open or bolt action handgun that accepts only a single cartridge manually and does not accept or use a magazine or ammunition feeding device.”

Consider that definition carefully.  Does anyone else see the slippery slope of exclusion and scope creep here?  Admittedly, the ATF is only claiming this definition for ammo bans to “rifle” calibers, but considering the sale of rifles utilizing “pistol calibers” such as the Hi-Point 9MM carbine, how long till the ATF decides to reclassify all ammo as “rifle caliber” since it “may be used” in both a rifle and handgun.  After all, the agency is justifying this move on the failure of Congress to specifically define terms in the Law Enforcement Protection Act, in which they included the terms “may be used” rather than the more specific terms of the Gun Control Act that stated “designed for use”.  Already, this would impact not only the M855 round, but also .224, .308, .430 and .458 bullets because each of these “may” be used in handguns fitting the above definition.  Using this “logic”, the ATF could simply attempt to reclassify all ammunition at their whim, because hey, “We are the government and we just make stuff up as we go along”.

Additionally, the realistic effect of this ban would have the exact opposite impact that the ATF is proposing.  Their stated purpose is to improve the safety of law enforcement officers and to do this, they suggest taking a less combat effective ammo out of circulation, but leave a more combat effective ammo in place.  It should be noted that the M855 (SS109) ammunition has be criticized by combat troops due to its tendency to create pinpoint wound tracks that effectively leave the enemy “combat ready” despite multiple hits.  In comparison, the FMJ ammunition has the ability to “mushroom” creating a much larger, substantially more grievous, wound.  It is this difference that led to the adoption of the MK318 & MK 262 ammunition by our combat forces.

The ATF also states the overwhelming requests for “armor piercing” exemptions as an added need for this change, however, this rise of exemption requests is a direct result of Government interference regulation.  The Military’s anti-lead movement combined with EPA attempts to ban lead ammunition (thankfully blocked by a federal court) and EPA actions that closed the last primary lead smelter in the US,  have resulted in ammunition manufacturers attempting to preempt impending regulations by creating more steel and copper based bullets.  Yet, the definition of “armor piercing” states that a projectile is considered as such if it meets the following:

(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or

(ii) A full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

So, the government is moving to ban the use of lead, but constructing a bullet that “may” be used in a handgun of any other reasonable substance would fall under the statutory definition of yet another ban?  Seems kind of like a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario, until some illustrious manufacturer finds a way to construct a bullet from pure fairy dust or marshmallow crème.  While I will never underestimate the ingenuity of the American entrepreneur, I’m not holding my breath for that to become reality anytime soon.

The final fallacy is that the M855 round doesn’t even meet the legal definition of “armor piercing”.  As stated above, the bullet used is not constructed entirely of any of the substances stated.  The M855/SS109 bullets are in fact a lead core with a steel tip.  In reading the 18 USC Sec. 921 (a) (17) code, the M855 bullet falls outside of this definition, but that matters little to the ATF.  Instead, using intelligence only capable of federal bureaucrats, they chose to narrowly view the legal definition to the “may be used in the handgun” portion of the code and ignore all other defining language within.  Again, “We are the government, we do what we want” mentality take hold here.  

Since it doesn’t fit the definition, the only conclusion is that the government is using the premise of “scary looking” to justify the exclusion of “green tip” ammo as an end run to gun control.  Any bets on how long it takes the ATF to open a new position of “Ammunition Inspection Application Specialist” who’s only duty is to walk into ammo plants with a supply of nail polish to paint bullet tips green to justify further exclusion?

Remember, this ban is only proposed at this point.  For all the reasons above, and considering the slippery slope of the measure, all citizens should voice their opinion on this apparent overreach by the ATF.  Below you will find the address and contact information for the proposal’s open comment period.  You have until March 16th to make your opinions known.  I suggest we bombard them with such!
Comments can be made via the ATF’s website at APAComments@atf.gov or faxed to 202-648-9741.  Additionally, you can mail comments to the following address.  Feel free to do all three.

ATTN: AP Ammo Comments

Denise Brown

Mailstop 6N-02

Office of Regulatory Affairs

Enforcement Programs and Services


99 New York Avenue, NE

Washington, DC 20226


Liberty or Security?

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”  H.L. Mencken

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it.” – H.L. Mencken

Both of these quotes are attributed to H.L. Mencken, a well-known journalist, satirist, and scholar known as the “Sage of Baltimore” and one of the most influential writers of the first half of the twentieth century.  More importantly, he was often noted as being largely libertarian with a noted distrust in representative democracy, which he believed constituted “inferior men dominating their superiors.”   (Allowing for current affairs, Mencken may have a valid point there!)  Considering that these two quotes were attributed to Mencken in the early 1920’s, it is amazing how much relevance they have in today’s America.

True to Mencken’s words, post 9/11 America was inundated with the political class and the media conjuring images of impending doom to warrant the creation of some new measure of government.  The rush to expand the surveillance state in the name of safety started to look more like a grand prix rally than responsible, valid government; but to what end?

The TSA has subjected passengers to that “sorority girl after an all-night frat party” walk of shame upon passing through their airport pat and tickle line since 2001, but has it done any good?  You may be surprised to learn that since its inception, the TSA has had over 400 agents arrested for stealing from the people they were employed to protect. Yet after $900 million and an untold number of crotch grabs later, the number of arrested terrorists or foiled attempts to harm our country is zero.

Edward Snowden informed us that the NSA basically relegated the 4th amendment to the role of a doormat by recording every communication of the American people under the guise of “stopping terrorism.”  If the real goal was to stop onshore terrorism, shouldn’t the logical focus be centered on border security or due diligence in the visa and immigration offices, rather than eavesdropping on the American citizen?  Ah, that would be the smart and logical choice but, unfortunately, smarts and logic aren’t exactly in vast supply within government circles.  The agency tasked with “analysis of foreign intelligence and counter-intelligence” instead decided that it would be more beneficial to unconstitutionally spy on its citizens rather than just foreign governments. 

The Department of Homeland Security (Am I the only one that gets a bit concerned over the Germanic roots of the word homeland?) was commissioned as the counterterrorism apparatus to help secure America from an impending terrorist apocalypse and to coordinate national defenses.  With a big budget and almost unlimited resources, DHS has surely been able to provide significant advances in terms of security, yes?

According to a 141-page senate oversight panel report, the DHS U.S. Counterterrorism Centers have failed to deliver any valuable information; instead they provide uneven, untimely, shoddy intelligence that has been acknowledged as “predominately useless” even by DHS officials.  Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), goes on to state,

“It’s troubling that the very ‘fusion’ centers that were designed to share information in a post-9/11 world have become part of the problem. Instead of strengthening our counterterrorism efforts, they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties.”

In short, the agency appointed to reassure Americans fearful of terrorism, has spent between $289M and $1.4B in public funds to support centers that have provided no valuable return.  Combined with presiding over the TSA, DHS is proving to be wholly impotent at its task, while being cited for endangering citizens’ civil liberties and engaging in Privacy Act violations.  Furthermore, when questioned by Congress regarding failures and abuses, DHS has resisted any oversight and opted out of providing requested documentation to Congress on grounds of “sensitivity and confidentiality”. 

In spite of these disappointments, we watch as the DHS increasingly militarizes themselves with reports of buying 1.6 million rounds of ammunition and 2700 mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles. It is concerning that such a secretive agency, operating solely within our borders, is outfitting itself with enough equipment to sustain a 24 year domestic war. Especially in light of the fact that part of that ammo stockpiling consists of hollow points, internationally illegal in war per the Hague Convention. Doesn’t such an agency, with this much power, require a bit more than failed congressional oversight?

All of this comes down to one simple realization: safety cannot be bought, only temporarily rented.   The government, along with a complicit media, consistently attempts to intensify our fear with the goal of convincing us that liberty and safety are a delicate balance; a balance over which the government should hold exclusive power to maintain.  However, this idea is the very anti-thesis of the principals upon which our nation was founded. The principals that individual freedom and liberty are supreme and that we the people only consent to government as a means to secure and protect those principals.  

Therefore, we must remember that we, as a people, are inherently charged with our own safety.   While there are aspects of safety that we simply aren’t equipped to manage, we have provided government with limited authority to do so for us, such as: border security, due diligence in the application and issuance of visas and green cards, and in the realms of foreign intelligence.  When we see the government start to shift its eye inward, suspiciously upon its people, or fail to succeed in its assigned task, then the people must ask themselves if government is capable of retaining the responsibility provided for that task. For safety is but a fleeting idea under constant challenge; but liberty and freedom, once surrendered, are very difficult to reclaim.   

Should we let the “menacing hobgoblins” used by government to instill fear influence us to a point that that we willingly surrender our rights and liberty, we find ourselves unworthy of the birthright of freedom left to us by our founding fathers.  When the balance between safety and liberty is called into question, liberty must always reign supreme.  The simple truth is that liberty and safety can never be balanced, for they will never be equals.  We are a nation of free men; as free men, we authorize to government the power to protect our freedoms of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.   This authorization is what creates our safety, so it cannot be possible for government to limit our liberty in its execution.  Should government attempt to subjugate our rights in the name of safety then liberty does not exist and we are duty-bound to resist.  For as the second Mencken quote states, “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it,” which is especially true when government is involved. 


Myth of the “War of Ideas”

Recently on Facebook, I read an article that portrayed the idea of the “minority of radical islamists” and basically lambasted the US for fighting a “war of ideas” with violence.    In short, this article is more of the same modern liberal ideas that all the troubles in the world are that of the US and that we should limit our responses due to the myth that radical islamists  are a minority.  I wish to counter this article point by point.

Judging from the comments on my most recent post, a non-trivial number of IVN Facebook followers believe that the United States should lead the way in eradicating Islam from the earth—preferably with nuclear weapons. Whatever the merits of such a proposal may be, let’s assume for the sake of argument that it’s just not going to happen. We are not going to commit the crimes of 200 Hitler's and incinerate a fourth of the world’s population in a single afternoon. Practical considerations and (one would hope) moral qualms will get in the way.

I do not know Michael Austin and I do not know what his followers are saying.  He provides no proof or evidence to his claim that a “non-trivial” number of his followers wish nuclear war upon the Muslim population, but I will assume for a minute that he is speaking the truth and not expounding the responses in an effort to make his ideological point.

With that assumption, I would be among the first to say that, while the idea of bombing those who kill our brothers and sisters till they glow and then shooting them in the dark has a non-rational elegance, it is not something that I, or others like me, wish for.  As we are a people that inherently believe in freedom, and as such, we believe that freedom should extend to everyone.  Annihilation of a people is simply not something that we seek, nor is it something we practice.  You need only to look at the world wars, or really any conflict we’ve been involved in to see that this is not true.  We use violence to the point of stopping violence against ourselves, and once solved, we have rebuilt the nations we warred against. 

Barring such a cataclysmic response, we must acknowledge that the “War on Terror” is a war of ideas that cannot be won with military force. Wars of ideas are won with persuasion. This does not mean (as it is often reduced to in political discourse) that we should persuade the terrorists to stop bombing us. That’s just silly. Radical Islamicists constitute a small percentage of the Islamic world, and they are trying to convince the rest of that world to adopt their ideas. It is the billion or so Muslims who are not terrorists that we have to win over. To do this, we must persuade them that we have better ideas than radical Islamicism.

I understand the point that he is trying to make here, but it is a false point.  Every war is based upon a “war of ideas”.  The idea that Nazi’s were a superior race destined to rule the world, that communism is a better political/fiscal system that free markets/democracy, that countries have a right to invade others based on a difference of opinion, etc.  All of these were “wars of ideas”.  The turning point in these wars is when one side attempts to use force of violence to promote their held ideas upon another.   When that happens, the “war of ideas” moves beyond that of simple speeches and conveyance of beliefs to that of physical action.

Also, let us be done with this myth of a “small percentage of the Islamic world” that is radical.  Terrorists, which is what the author is referring to, is but a small percentage of those that are considered radical.  Terrorists receive their funding, support, and abilities from those that are equally radical even if they do not strap a bomb to their chest.  Those that take to the streets, in every nation, to celebrate and support the killing of innocents are no less radical than those that did the killing.  Those that support Shariah law are no less radical.  Ben Shapiro addresses this myth in his Reality Check segment “The Myth of the Tiny Radical Muslim Minority”.  While I do not agree with all of his figures that he uses to justify radical, the facts are clear that a majority of Muslims adhere to the tenants of the radical Islamist.  To claim otherwise is a blatant falsehood or requires a large suspension of belief.

This means is that we are involved in an ideological contest with radical political Islam. We have to try to understand what this means. The big idea that we bring to the contest is the set of beliefs about human liberty, individual rights, and fundamental equality that we group together and call “the Enlightenment.” It is, I believe, a very good idea, but that does not mean it is guaranteed to win. We still have to present the case. There are a lot of ways to do this, none of which involve bombing stuff.

For the most part, I agree.  We need to present the ideas of freedom and liberty to others and argue the merits in political ways.  However, when the other side resorts to acts of terrorism and/or war to counter political speeches, when the use of force is used to subjugate people to a belief, specifically when that use of violence is used to silence our “ideas”, then we are duty bound to subvert that violence and protect our own by any means necessary.  As is the general practice of our system of government, we first attempt to do so with embargos and other political means, but when that is unsuccessful in the protection of our, and other freedom loving people, then we must meet force with force.  

It does involve, however, living by our ideas, even when doing so is hard. One of the persistent problems of the Enlightenment has been the tendency of its most vocal advocates to try to keep it in the family. This is how we got the unfathomable hypocrisy of a group of slave owners coming together to create a nation dedicated to the “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal” (women, not so much).

This is simply an ignorant statement that is devoid of actual knowledge of our founding.  Yes, there were those in our founding that believed in slavery, but it was not a commonly held belief by our founders.  In order to create a nation, compromises were required.  Compromises that were repugnant but necessary to the creation of a country and done so under the belief that the people would grow a conscience with regards to the practice.

I do not wish to devolve this into an article about slavery, but it must be mentioned to counter a intellectually dishonest statement by the author aimed to create a bias.  First and foremost, the practice of slavery existed long before our revolution.  It was common place practice that our founders were born into and one that, even though they owned slaves, our founders publicly disagreed with.  Quote upon quote could be issued that proved that our founding fathers disagreed with the practice, and the simple fact that they protested the practice publicly, was incredibly radical for their time.  However, they knew that the public conscience would not change in their lifetime, so compromises were made to ensure the birth of a nation.  Compromises written to lead the people in a direction of abolition.  Any statements to the contrary are ideological drivel meant to distort and bias the reader to the contrary.

We are guilty of a similar hypocrisy when we abandon our Constitutional protections of due process in order to engage in torture, or when we conduct war with drone missions that rack up high rates of “collateral damage” (dead and injured people who have nothing to do with terrorism) without putting a single American life at risk. Actions like these send a fairly easy-to-understand set of messages to the very audience we are supposed to be trying to persuade. It tells them that our big idea is compatible with the theory that our lives are more important than theirs.

Again, a valid emotional point is being made here, but facts are being left out.  First is the definition of torture.  The cutting off of heads is not the same as pouring water over someone’s face to simulate drowning.   Playing loud music to disrupt sleep is not the same as physical beatings and breaking of bones.  The “torture” that the author speaks of is drastically different that that used against us, but for the sake of argument, I will concede the point.

However, where the author loses the argument is in the case of due process for those that fight against us.  Like it or not, it is still a physical war.  As such, due process is generally not offered to enemy combatants.  It is impossible to try, convict, and issue judgment against those that are firing upon us.  There is no time or ability for this on the battle field.  This has been accepted in all wars, from the Great Wars on.  To try and claim lack of due process during a time of war is naive and illegitimate.  Again, it is an effort by the author to create an ideological point by complete suspension of common sense.  As to the collateral damage, anyone with military experience knows that our military does everything in it’s power to limit collateral damage, but in short, shit happens.  Our weapons are designed with pinpoint accuracy, but when the enemy sets itself up in hospitals and similar civilian establishments, it is by their doing that civilians are put at risk, not ours.  Additionally, compare that to the actions of those who engage in this “war of ideas”.  They target civilians, non-combatants, and innocents in an attempt to create “terror”. These are acts of cowards that must be met.  To not do so, to allow such acts and not counter them, is nothing more than a recipe for extinction.  You are unable to promote your “ideas” when your population is decimated by violence with no response.

As Professor Jacob Levy pointed out after the bombings, there is a related (but by no means as glaring) hypocrisy in the French law banning face coverings, which was primarily aimed at Muslims. “What this ends up saying, Levy argues, is “‘you have to accept that editorial cartoons blaspheming Mohammad will be published. But if you wish to express your religious identity in public by women covering their faces, that is too offensive to French civic identity. . . and so we will prohibit that act of expression.” This pretty much keeps with the theme: “we have the right not to be offended, but you don’t.”

Again, we see a deliberate act of intellectual dishonesty.  First and foremost, the entire article is about the American view of Islam, with constant references to our constitution and views, but then portrays a law in France as if it were an American view.  We (America) cannot be responsible, nor held liable, for the laws of another state.  To intend that we are guilty because of what another country does is simply pandering at best.  Secondly, it ignores the purpose and the letter of the law as passed.  The law does not specifically target Muslims, but instead targets head coverings of all religions, including Christian veils, Sikh turbans, etc.  Instead, it was progressed as a security measure in that hides the identity of a person which presents a security risk to the public and law enforcement, not because it “offended people” as the author disingenuously attempts to persuade the reader. 

Regardless, it has no consequence to the article.  America has no such ban and I would oppose if it was suggested.  We are a country of religious freedom, and agree with the religion or not, I will stand by those that wish do so.  If the author has issue with what the French are doing, then take that up with the French, do not attempt to use subversive attempts to correlate the actions of a foreign government with our own.

Additionally, if the author wishes to take this tactic, why not go into the tenants of Islam that are arguably more cruel than the banning of head coverings?  Why not preach against the practice of honor killings that a majority of Muslims see as appropriate?  Why not argue that Islam should change it’s policy on the murdering of homosexuals for being immoral?  Genital mutilation, suppression of religious rights, etc?  All of these are far more invasive than the banning of covering your face, yet not a mention of this is made in the article?  Where is your condemnation of “brute force” in these tactics?

These sorts of double standards are simply not good ways to persuade the millions of Muslims who are not terrorists that the values of the Enlightenment are superior to the values of radical Islam. The message that it communicates is that the “big idea” of Western Civilization—the Enlightenment—is not capable of handling hard questions. When things really get tough, we have to ditch this idea and go with brute force instead.

Again, it was not us that decided to go to brute force.  What the author is suggesting here is not comparison of ideas but the capitulation to the ideas of one over the other.  While you may think that the French banning head coverings is egregious and demonstrably cruel, I imagine that the homosexual living in the area would have a higher concern for their life.  That the Christian in the Muslim world would consider being stoned for their beliefs as much more harming.  That those subjugated to Shariah Law fear in a greater amount of fear than those forced to identify themselves by removal of a head covering.  Lastly, what of the innocents that are placed in harms way by having terrorists base operations within their midst?  Seems that scale of atrocity is a problem for this author, or maybe, it’s just that none of the above meets his ideological, progressive stance, so it is just ignored?

This is why nearly everything thing that radical Islamicists have done since 2001 has been designed to goad Western nations into abandoning the core values of the Enlightenment. They want us to be brutal, to devalue human life, and to deny human rights. They are trying to convince us that we have to be barbaric in order to defeat the barbarians (a role that they are only too happy to play). And if we do this–if we take the bait and become the thing we are fighting against–we must concede the point that barbarism is a better idea than Enlightenment.

Again, to allow the wholesale murder of our people, to allow the targeting of civilians, to do nothing to counter the acts of terror created by these animals is nothing more than a move to extinction of our society.  Turning the other cheek is a noble, and commendable, action, but when the other cheek is also struck, action must be taken.  If you aim to kill, maim, or otherwise harm another, then those actions must be met with overwhelming response.   To do nothing but counter violence with words destines you to defeat and threatens your existences.  However, maybe that is what the author ultimately wants.

And conceding the other guy’s main point is not a good way to win a contest of ideas.

Agreed, but then again, neither is allowing undeterred violence.


New York mandates the city go green! (but not really)

Today we see where a progressive, left wing government once again misses the mark and resorts to harmful, top down heavy handedness rather than support free market opportunities.   In this instance, it’s a decree by the New York City government banning polystyrene food containers from the city.

First, DeBlasio’s administration is incorrect in stating that polystyrene is not recyclable.  This is just a blatant lie and falsehood being spread to justify their big government actions.  Los Angeles and roughly 65 other US cites currently  have polystyrene recycling programs in operation today.  Businesses such a StyroMelt, StyroRecycle, Dart Container’s Care program, and others that provide polystyrene recycling services/products to both industry and cities where desired.  In fact, the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers (wait, there is an Alliance for something that supposedly can't be done??) states that in 2006 alone, over 56 million pounds of EPS (expanded polystyrene) were recycled, emphasizing that this is an astonishing number due to the fact that EPS is 98% air.

Mike Levy, Senior Director for the American Chemistry Council's Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group states that "there are nearly 140 companies that process or use the plastic material [EPS] in the US and Canada." and that "A US maker of foam foodservice packaging even offered to help New York expand it's recycling program to include the foam packaging by providing a guaranteed market for the material." All of this was being offered at no cost to the city!  Again, how is that even possible for something that know it all DeBlasio says isn't even possible to recycle? 

The unintended consequences of this action?  It will most likely INCREASE the amount of trash going to the landfill each year, rather than decrease it according to the Fiscal & Economic Impacts of a Ban on Plastic Foam Foodservice and Drink Containers in New York City produced by the MB Public Affairs Research Center.

This is due to the fact that alternatives to foam packaging are less desirable in that many of these alternatives have a plastic or wax coating to prevent leakage/collapse of the products while in use.  Well, according to the city's own Department of Sanitation, food contaminated materials with a "heavy wax or plastic coating" are not accepted by the city for recycling.  Read that again.  DeBlasio's administration decides to ban EPS due to it being "un-recyclable" (which is false) and will force city businesses to use alternatives that are not accepted as recyclable by the city??  The progressive thought process sure is hard to follow!

Additionally, the economic impact of this ban was estimated be ~$100M a year.  With the cities agencies already spending nearly $12M/year on EPS products, making the switch to the lowest cost alternatives will raise that by an additional $11M/year.  Restaurants in the five boroughs would see an increase of $57M in operating expenses.  In short, for roughly every $1.00 spent today, consumers and businesses would need to spend a minimum of $1.84 on alternatives. So, the cost of eating out for New Yorkers is going to more than double as a result of this decision.

No, rather than instituting free market, cost savings, true environmentally friendly solutions, New York's political betters decided to go the route of restricting people's freedom and choice by instituting a ban. Forget the fact that New York is home to four EPS packaging companies, employing ~1,600 people over 9 facilities and providing over $47M in payroll taxes and over $2.3M in state taxes.  Never mind the offers of like companies that were willing to assist in free-market solutions that would save the city and estimated $100M per year, rather than actually serving to expand the amount of material that goes to the landfill each year. Forget the fact that by supporting proposed recycling solutions, you provide an opportunity for new business markets which could lead to jobs and increased tax revenue.  All of this be damned, let's use the power of government to subjugate the people to what the politicians feel is best, because clearly, the people are too ignorant to decide themselves. 

What's that saying?  The problem with common sense is that you have to deal with so many people that lack it.  Thanks Mayor DeBlasio, you and yours prove that adage perfectly!



IRS: Obama’s downfall?

There has been a lot of news of late with regard the the IRS using it’s authority to intimidate and delay conservative political groups during the 2012 political election cycle.  Setting aside the fact that there were accusations made, requests for enquiry, and multiple reports of this happening, the mass media simply labeled this as “right wing paranoia” up until this same media found that the Obama administration was violating their first amendment right of free press.  Once this was done, the IRS scandal picked up full steam and investigations were called, with many stating that this scandal (among many others) would be the downfall of the Obama Presidency.  It is this last statement that I want to address.  Will the fact that the IRS, under Obama, used it’s political might to silence opposition be final thread to unravel Obama’s presidency?

Make no mistake, this scandal has wide reaching implications and is a severe breech of trust of government authority that should result in jobs being lost and prison terms, but should it land on Obama’s shoulders alone?  My response to you is no, it shouldn’t.    Was there a failure of leadership?  Absolutely and as this happened under the Obama administration, when it comes to brass tack, the buck stops with him.   However, this scandal goes far beyond party lines and the purview of one man and points to a much larger, more dangerous problem.

Obama henchman David Axlerod stated it best in an interview with MSNBC when he said:

“If you look at the inspector general’s report, some folks down in the bureaucracy, you know we have a large government, took it upon themselves to short hand these applications for tax exempt status, uh, in a way that was, as I said, idiotic and dangerous because of the political implications.  [sic]  Part of being president is there’s so much underneath you that you can’t know because government is so vast”

Mr. Axlerod summed it better than I ever could.  Now while he was making these statements as a way to defend, or shield, Obama from the negative coverage, he outright stated something that I, and many like me, have been saying for a long time.  Government has simply grown too large, too powerful, to be effectively managed and policed for abuses of power and tyranny.  David, and other leftist apologists, attempt to pass the blame on this to lower level employees, ala Richard Nixon, but the truth still rings true, our government has simply outgrown our ability to control it and that is the real problem.

This is not the first time that a wing of the government, specifically the IRS, has been used in a manner to intimidate opposition.  Most notably was Richard Nixon, in which this was used as one of his articles of impeachment, but there are instances that the same has happened under the Coolidge, FDR, JFK, Clinton, and Bush administrations.  The problem is that we have a large government agency that is made up of people, people of unprecedented power and reach.  As history shows, when power is granted, there is a risk of corruption by those that wield it. No, this is not an implication of party, but an implication on allowing the size of government to grow to such a level that it cannot be controlled.

Consider this, why do you pay taxes?  It’s not necessarily because you have a desire or will to see better roads, improved infrastructure, or enacted social programs, it’s because you fear the consequences should you not.  You pay them out of fear.  You know that if you do not, armed guards can break down your door, confiscate your house and/or property, garnish your wages, even place you in prison for failure to give that to government for which it feels entitled.  It is not for country or a common good, it is driven by fear and fear alone.  So, the question I have to ask is, why did the people allowed the creation and continued existence of a government agency that controls them by fear?

This was not the intention of our founding fathers.  They did not wage a revolution against the crown so that their future countrymen would live in fear of government, but so government would live in fear of the people.  Their intent is well known and documented in our constitution and that intent was to keep a necessary evil, a centralized government, constrained, restricted, and beholden to those that it serves.  However, we have allowed government to create an agency(s) that does not serve the people but serves itself and we did so with our consent.

The IRS has unprecedented access and involvement into an area of our lives which allows for manipulation and control: personal finance.  The IRS knows how much we make, how much we save, where and how we invest, and how we spend our wages.  These are details that we do not share with our closest family members, yet we somehow find it prudent that thousands of government agents be allowed that level of access to our private lives.  It was an agency built on the very premise of depriving us of our natural rights to property and the fruits of our labor.  Within the creation of the income tax and the IRS, we do not willingly consent to payments to the federal government, we are forced to do so at the point of a spear and threat of violence.  Do you think I exaggerate?  When have you ever seen a letter stamped IRS that did not give you a feeling of dread?  When have you ever received a call from the IRS that did not immediately cause a upset feeling in your core and your mouth to go dry?  These are not the feelings of a consenting person , but of a fearful one.

I am not saying that we should not fund government, we should.  There are 17 enumerated powers that are owned and are the responsibility of the federal government.  To exercise these powers, some level of funding is required, but there are many alternative ways to provide this that do not involve allowing government insight into the minutia of our lives.  There are vat, flat and fair, and consumption taxes that remove any need for the fed to know our financial details.  Each removes them from knowing what/how much we have and provides privacy, taxing only on what we consume or which reduces the tax code to the size of postcard, thus reducing the need for invasion into our most intimate financial details.  There are ways to remove the fear associated with the IRS by removing the level of information they are allowed to access.  When you remove this access, your remove the ability to coerce and intimidate thru the use of that information.

No, the IRS scandal is not about party, it’s about the fact that we now have a federal leviathan that has grown beyond our control.  As the beast grows, the more it consumes, the more power that it has.  We cannot stop the abuses of the IRS by any other means than via reform.  Our only option is to defund and eliminate the office of the IRS and to reform our tax code.  Liberty is not achieved thru fear, it is achieved in the absence of fear.  As long as government has an agency with the power to invade, regulate, and confiscate our natural right of property, we can have no liberty. we can have no freedom.  Look beyond party, as that is just a symptom, look at the cause, a bloated federal ruling class with too much influence and control of our lives.  The answer, the only answer, to preventing future reoccurrences of tyranny and abuse is to restrain the size of government back to it’s original, constitutionally prescribe size.  Remember the next time you see an IRS letter or answer a call from them and your heart drops, free men should not live in fear of that which they should control.  If we ever wish to be free again, the abolishment of the IRS and the federal income tax is our first step.


Purpose of Government

“The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.”
Thomas Jefferson

We, as citizens, have grown lazy.  We have forgotten our legacy and our duty as left to us by those brave, courageous men who fired the first shot for our freedom in 1775.  We have forgotten what it means to be free.

With so many of the details and controversies surrounding politics assaulting our senses on a daily basis, it is easy to become numb and oblivious to the consequences of what it all means.  As a result, we have become apathetic, we have faltered, and we have allowed our birthright to liberty to start slipping between our fingers.

On a daily basis we see our government declare a new war on some benign object from which it feels the need to protect the people.  Sodas cause obesity, we must ban sodas.  Salt causes high blood pressure, we must ban salt.  Guns are used by the evil and insane to take life, we must remove them from our society.  Lack of health insurance leads to people not utilizing services or seeking services for free, we must mandate all people have health insurance.   Drugs are deemed harmful, therefore we must dedicated resources, money, and life to their eradication.  With each of these, as government power and reach grew, our freedom shrank.

As times evolved, we have allowed the government to develop new rights and privileges:  Right to sexual freedom, right to a cell phone, right to a job, right to retire in luxury, right from the consequences of our own choices, and the list goes on.  We see consistent measures taken to try our limit our freedoms, in the belief that we are simply to naive to understand the impact.  Drones fly above our skies, presidents spy on citizens and media, kill/enemy lists are created without oversight or due process, our wealth is confiscated to be used as government sees fit, not as we see fit, and other violations too numerous to list.   Again, with each of these, as the influence of government expanded, liberty contracted.

In each of these circumstances, we listen to politicians dredge up the ghosts of our founding fathers and of our constitution to provide teeth to their arguments, to justify their over reach.  However, we have politicians that cannot tell the Constitution from the Declaration of Independence.  Politicians who are ignorant and blind to the purpose and provision of the articles contained within the Constitution.  Likewise, we have a state sponsored education system that fails, literally fail, to teach our young the foundation and meaning of this incredible document that serves as the law of our land.  As such, we have allowed the birth of low-information voters, those that know nothing outside of what they are told by the media and an ignorant ruling class.  Voters who are swindled, misdirected, and lied to every single day, abrogating freedom for handouts and made up rights, allowing their votes to be purchased by the highest bidder.  It’s time we remember our history, remember why we were provided with the Constitution, and what is the true purpose of government.

Our founding fathers sacrificed life, wealth, and comfort to provide our country with an opportunity to pursue happiness absent of tyranny.  They fought and won the right of the people to self-govern.  The key here, self-govern, as they did not wish to trade the tyranny of the crown for tyranny of another.  No, they sought to isolate the people, both then and now, from having to go thru the same trials as they did.  As such, they create the representative democracy that gave birth to the American Experiment.  An experiment based on the premise that people were granted certain inalienable rights as derived by their creator, but recognizing that human imperfection exists and that it has a tendency to abuse power if granted. 

Begrudgingly, they created a central government with just enough power to protect our nation and serve as mediator between states, but they constrained those powers thru a purposely worded Constitution.  They sought to balance, and separate, the powers of central government through a carefully constructed system of checks and balances.  To all other things, they left the power of rule to the states and ultimately, to the people.  Within this power, they provided a mechanism to amend the constitution, to allow the people the right to delegate power back to the government as they saw fit. 

While it was with good intent, is this final attribute that has been used against us.  Under the guise of security and “rights”, we’ve allowed ourselves to delegate so much power back to the government, that we are no longer self-governed.  We now have a government that finds itself above the law.  We find ourselves once again under tyranny, not by the crown, but by bureaucracy.  We have a ruling class that deems itself not subjected to the laws that they create for us.  Tyrants that wish to impose restrictions, or outright denial, of rights that are guaranteed to us.  Per Thomas Jefferson’s warning above, we now have a government that rules in the interests of the governors, not the governed.

It is time for us, the people, to realize that the Constitution was not established to grant government unlimited centralized power, but instead limit that power and reserve it to the people for themselves.  Rather than following this blueprint and restricting government, we have allowed what history has shown happens with all governments, and that is to permit the corruption of law and to allow the powerful few to rule the masses.

It’s time for the people to remember, the purpose of government is to protect our rights, not to grant them.  We are a people endowed with natural rights, rights that preexist government, rights that can not be rightfully taken away by governments, nor must we seek permission to utilize them.

 They cannot silence our speech in an effort to dissent or speak our minds or prevent us from gathering to redress our grievances. 

They cannot take our weapons. 

They cannot confiscate and redistribute our private property. 

They cannot break down our doors and search our homes. 

They cannot murder, imprison, or use the force of government to intimidate us for our beliefs without due process before our peers.

Contrary to current events, the ability to violate these principals is not granted to government.  They are overreaches allowed by the people, overreaches that we, the people,  must bring to an end.  We cannot allow them to pervert and manipulate the language of the Constitution,  to subvert its meaning and intent,  in an effort to deprive of us of our liberty.  At some point, we must say enough, we must take back the power left to us by our founding fathers. 

We are not slaves, we are not servants,  we are free men.  We are free men who determine our own course of government.  Liberty is our natural right and should government become abusive, we have duty to abolish or reform that government to bring it back to the core, basic principals prescribed by the people’s Constitution.  Now is that time.

The Constitution is not there to limit the power of the American People, but the power of government.  The Constitution does not grant government power, it grants US power.   The purpose of government is to protect the rights of the people, not provide for them.

Government only exists because we allow it to exist and it’s high time that we, the people, remember that and take back that power that belongs to us, to take back the liberty that is ours by birthright. 

“The government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.”
Mark Twain


Why Do You Hate the Liberal Left?

People often ask me, "Nicky, why do you hate leftists/liberals so much?"

I don't hate leftists, I fear them. Theirs is an ideology based on fantasy and false perceptions. Their methods have historically been proven as unsustainable and dangerous to any country that attempts to exercise them, yet they push them forward despite this truth.

I fear them because those that lead them have been able to infect both academia and the media and use both as a way to misinform, indoctrinate, and manipulate our young and the uneducated into believing that they portray a cause for "social justice and equality" despite using class and racial warfare to meet their goals.

I fear them because they have been allowed to rewrite history with the help of the media and to brand themselves as the "party of racial equality" while attempting to erase all accounts of supporting the KKK, racial segregation, promotion of abortion for social engineering, etc. Ironically, they use the calls of racist, homophobe, and other pejoratives to silence anyone that dares to disagree with them while ignoring the fact that their policies harm those they claim to stand for the most.

I fear them because they do not believe in the core principals that made this country great. They despise the concept of private property opting for a principal of confiscation for the general good. They believe in the promotion of made up rights while seeking to limit or eradicate natural rights as prescribed in our constitution. They provide a concept that big government can solve all problems even though a majority of those problems are directly tied to the actions and breadth of big government.

I fear them because the promote a concept of having a ruling class, where those that make the rules do not have to play by them. They force us to buy/participate in programs to which they do not subscribe, or are subject, to themselves. They believe that they are above the law, seeking to bypass our historical, lawful proceedings and system of checks and balances. They place themselves above those that they rule and seek to carve out special, protected classes, while stealing rights and property from those that they consider their enemies.

I fear them because they see themselves as above scrutiny and push forward with economically harmful policies under a false perception of science.  They refuse to listen to dissenting scientific opinion in relation to climate change and label those that disagree as “climate deniers who want America to have dirtier water and air”.   In their minds, they are almost god like, with the ability to control the weather with the simple passing of laws when in truth, they are capable of nothing more than using emotional responses to these charges to expand the power of government and intrude further into into the lives of American citizens.  

I fear them because they seek to cripple our energy industry and raise prices on the staples of electricity and gasoline, claiming it is for our own good and safety, despite controversies and proof of manipulated and cherry picked or falsified data.  I fear them because they seek to deny America the possibility of energy independence, and thus harm our national security, by not allowing common sense proposals such as Keystone Pipeline and hydraulic fracking to continue even though their own agencies have deemed them safe.  Instead, they would rather beholden us to energy dependence on unfriendly nations, never seeing the irony of an even greater potential environmental risk results in the shipment of fuels across our oceans.

No, I do not hate the left. I fear that they are going to be successful in "transforming" this country by praying on a lazy, uninformed, complacent citizenship. I fear them because their ideology is dangerous, harmful, and toxic to freedom and the very foundational concepts that allow America to become the greatest nation the world has ever know.

No, I do not hate the left, but I will fight them, despite my claims to let them burn in the fires of their own making. The future of our country depends on it and I am not yet willing to see it die by suicide at their hands.

Using Force of Government to Silence Opposition


On the heels of the Benghazi controversy and cover-up, and make no mistake, it was a cover-up, we are now finding out that top IRS officials lied to congress and the public when they stated that "No conservative groups were targeted".

This is one of many examples of top officials within this administration lying to the American People and their representatives.  However, in this case, we now have proof of government agencies being to target and harass political enemies thru the use of the tax code. This is a serious, serious charge! How can the American people, much less congress, trust an administration who consistently and constantly lies about their act ivies and policies. How can there be any hope of so called "bipartisanship" when one side of the equation cannot be trusted to be honest and forthright in any of their dealings? Further more, there is now information coming out of the investigation that IRS officials were illegally leaking donor information to key opposition leading up to the elections. Again, this is the use of the government to silence opposing voices and using the tax code to target any opposition to this administration.

I know there are are many out there that will quickly become Obama apologists saying such things like "This is just another witch hunt. How can Obama keep an eye on all aspects of government? Yes there may have been bungling or inappropriate handling of this situation, but people make mistakes?" My question to you would be, at what point to you quit apologizing and see the trend of leadership inability, out right corruption, and malfeasance associated with Obama and this government? How many controversies does it take before you start to question the ability of this administration to govern, especially in the best interest of the people and not it's own.

There is no doubt now, there is tyranny in this government. This can no longer be denied. Using the law, inappropriately and illegally, to target opposition (or enemies as Obama likes to say), is the definition of tyranny and we are now seeing that this administration is rampant with it.