Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category

Speech at the Maryland Tax Day Tea Party

Friday, April 16th, 2010

I recently spoke at the 2010 Maryland Tax Day Tea Party in Stevensville. Here are the links and the text of the speech:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Text of Speech:

You know, theres a Chinese proverb that says that there are three curses, each one worse than the previous. The first of these curses is: “May you live in interesting times.” Well, the times we live in are certainly interesting.

We stand here today at a transformative moment in American history at the front lines of what can only be called a revolution in thought. We are here today, like hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans in cities all across the country to exercise our basic right as citizens, as a free people in a democratic republic. We stand here today, peaceably assembled, petitioning our government for redress of our grievances. And we are here to tell our government one thing: STOP.

We stand here today with a crisis of creativity in our country. We look around and see problem after problem: Poverty. Millions unable to get health care. People out of work. Its easy for all of us, no matter what our political views may be, to agree on what the problems are.

But though we all see these problems, for too long, we have seen just one solution let the government do it. Its their job. Its their responsibility.

Well, the second Chinese curse is this: May you come to the attention of those in authority.

Well, let me tell you, weve definitely been getting attention from those in power.

We are citizens today living under a government that doesn’t represent us its people. And we have made the decision, together, that we can no longer refuse to take action. And for that, we are drawing much attention.

But when I say people, I should be clear, because I don’t just mean us here today, or our friends across the country. I mean all Americans, regardless of whether or not theyre a part of the tea party movement. For years, no matter the Administration, no matter which party controlled Congress, no matter who we elected, none of us has been represented by our government.

And why should anyone care? Why should anyone have bothered to pay attention to what we wanted? Why pay attention when we largely refused to take action when we continued to let elected officials get away with whatever they wanted? We have congressional approval ratings in the teens and twenties, and yet re-election rates are in the 90s, and thats unacceptable.

You know, thirty-two years ago, something remarkable happened in the state of California. In 1978, Californians stood up passed Proposition 13 overwhelmingly a law hated so strongly by the political class, because it of all things made it more difficult for politicians to raise taxes.

But thats not why Prop 13 was important. No, it was important for what it started for what it signified. 43 states followed by passing some form of a tax limitation. In the late 70s, Americans realized that theyd been taxed too much for too long, and that it was time to do something about it.

But today the problem we face the problem that is drawing us attention is not our dislike of taxes. It is our solemn and firm rejection of completely out-of-control spending by politicians.

You know, to go off on a tangent for a second, Rodney Dangerfield once had a great line in Back to School that said, Youve always got to look out for #1, because if you dont, youll end up stepping in #2.

Well, pardon the analogy, but for too long, our elected officials have not been looking out for us for the citizens who should be #1. And worst of all, they havent just mistakenly stepped in some #2 theyve thrown us into a $16 trillion dollar pile of it.

And that brings me to the third Chinese curse: May you find what you are looking for.

For too long, those who wanted big runaway government have gotten what they wanted.

We have a Democratically-controlled Congress this year that passed a new trillion dollar health care entitlement, all the while ignoring overwhelming public opposition.

But why should we be shocked when just 7 years ago, a Republican-controlled Congress passed a new half-trillion prescription drug plan that nobody wanted?

We have a Congress today that raises the federal debt ceiling whenever it bumps up against that ceiling.

But why should we be taken aback considering that Republicans raised that ceiling again and again when it was politically convenient to do so?

Its pretty sad when those in Congress dont even know what the word ceiling means, isnt it?

We have President Obama borrowing, printing and spending more than any president in history, in the supposed name of job creation.

But why should we be surprised when his Republican predecessor did the exact same thing?

We have a president now who wastes trillions of dollars overseas in multiple endless wars, sacrificing American lives, destroying our civil liberties at home, and shredding our Constitution into millions of tiny bits.

But why should we be surprised to see him merely continuing and expanding the policies initiated by George Bush?

And then, of course, we have the worst example of all an example of government so out of control an example so galling that it deserves special scorn, all its own.

And this time Im talking about the bailouts.

A tag-team effort, foisted upon us by our last two presidents, a scheme that took hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, ignored the public outcry of those taxpayers, and then handed that money to the well-connected friends of unelected treasury secretaries and government officials, so that Wall Street millionaire bankers could keep making campaign contributions to both parties.

The truth is, we only really have one party with two competing factions: the spend money over here party, and the spend money over there party.

But what we realize today is that low taxes are not enough. Low taxes mean nothing if we don’t reduce spending as well. And fortunately for our future generations, more and more Americans are realizing this as well.

Theyre realizing that the reckless spending of taxpayer money our money is just the beginning. Our government hasnt just been eroding away our pocketbooks, but also the basic liberties that have for so long characterized our free society.

But we cannot we must not — let lawmakers keep grabbing this power the power to solve problems that they themselves created.

This may come as a surprise to some in Washington, but you know, you cant run massive government programs like Medicare and Medicaid and the FDA and the medical boards, and many, many others and then say the free market doesn’t work in health care, so we’ll run it, instead.

You can’t put up roadblocks to interstate competition between insurance companies and then say we need a government option because insurers don’t have enough competition.

You can’t have the Fed and the Treasury and the SEC and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the FDIC and then say we need to regulate financial instruments because the free market is failing.

No. We live in a world where the easiest way for a federal agency to get more funding is to fail at what it does, and the easiest way for Congress and the President to grab more power is to create a problem. This has got to stop, and its got to stop now.

Because if it doesnt stop, then as the Chinese curse suggests, well find what were looking for.

So the next time theres a Democrat who wants to spend money on a new health insurance bureaucracy, or a Republican who wants to spend on a new prescription drug entitlement, or a Democrat who wants to spend money on a supposed peace-keeping mission in Somalia, or a Republican who wants to spend money on war in Iraq no matter what it is, and no matter how much you think it might be a good idea you, me, all of us need to ask the question: Where is this money coming from?

Do I want to be taxed more to pay for this? Do I want the national debt to explode from more borrowing to pay for this? Do I want the Treasury and Federal Reserve to print more money to pay for this?

Or do I want to live my life, with as small a government as possible a government that doesnt threaten to bankrupt our finances or crush our currency. A government that doesnt have the power to run roughshod over the freedoms that we value so much.

We cannot let these bad policies be ignored anymore. Every time we let the government reach into yet another part of our lives, there’s only less freedom left for us.

So do not let public debate be drowned out by those who shout obstructionist! every time someone opposes your ideas. Those of us opposed to bad laws arent obstructionists. We are citizens, with ideas we care passionately about.

And we demand to be free and responsible for ourselves. We don’t want handouts; we don’t want special advantages, whether those are farm subsidies or social safety nets.

We want a government that acts in accordance with the people, not in defiance of them. A government that does not trod about on our basic liberties, the economy, or our livelihood.

We must make runaway government spending a political curse on those who support it, before it becomes a curse on us financially. We must make our will known; we must ensure that our demand for a government of the people, by the people, for the people remains forever a reality and not just an idea.

No. Your Answers to The Census Aren’t Confidential

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Mary Theroux explains why you shouldn’t believe government claims that Census answers are confidential:

I saw a huge new billboard in San Francisco the other day—part of the $350 million ad campaign supporting this year’s $14 billion Census—picturing an American Indian in full regalia against a black background, apparently in the process of worshiping the sky, with the stylized text “Tell your story.”

If he’s wise, he might want to think twice about thereby providing information that can be used against him.

As examples, 1940 Census data was released and used to locate and intern Americans of Japanese, Italian and German descent, as outlined in these stories from Scientific American, “Confirmed: The U.S. Census Bureau Gave Up Names of Japanese-Americans in WW II: Government documents show that the agency handed over names and addresses to the Secret Service,” and USA Today, “Papers show Census role in WWII camps.”

The Census Bureau played a role in the confinement of more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent who were rounded up and held in internment camps, many until the war ended in 1945. In 1942, the Census turned over general statistics about where Japanese-Americans lived to the War Department. It was acting legally under the Second War Powers Act, which allowed the sharing of information for national security.

The newly released documents [further] show that in 1943, the Census complied with a request by the Treasury Department to turn over names of individuals of Japanese ancestry in the Washington, D.C., area because of an unspecified threat against President Franklin Roosevelt. The list contained names, addresses and data on the age, sex, citizenship status and occupation of Japanese-Americans in the area. [emphasis added]

And more recently, in 2002,

the Census turned over information it had collected about Arab-Americans … to Homeland Security.

While the Census Bureau assures us that “your confidentiality is protected. Title 13 requires the Census Bureau to keep all information about you and all other respondents strictly confidential,” the exceptions above negate such assurances. And, of course, their release of the “strictly confidential” data was perfectly legal: during World War II, under the terms of the Second War Powers Act, and more recently under the terms of the still-in-effect USA PATRIOT Act.

And there’s more.

(Via David Beito)

Cuccinelli and Drunk Driving Laws

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Drunk driving laws don’t often come up as a campaign issue, but when they do my reaction isn’t always what the person who brings them up in a campaign usually intends. DUI law in our country is chock full of gross violations of Constitutional rights, so I find myself impulsively sympathetic to the candidate accused of being ”weak on drunk driving.”

This is because being “weak on drunk driving” inevitably refers to an apparent unwillingness to further demolish the rights of citizens who might be accused of drunk driving.

This is playing out in Virginia where Republican Attorney General candidate Ken Cuccinelli is being attacked by his Democratic opponent for “consistently voted against tougher penalties for drunk drivers.” I’m sure I disagree with Cuccinelli on some issues, but if he has consistently opposed new DUI laws then he’s to be applauded.

I could write an entire essay about how DUI laws violate the Constitution, but that essay has already been written by DUI lawyer Lawrence Taylor. In “The DUI Exception to the Constitution” Taylor explains how nearly every Constitutional protection designed to protect the rights of the accused, most notably the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, has been utterly destroyed by the way our criminal justice system pursues the legitimate goal of prosecuting dangerous drunk driving.

In other words, if for no other reason than having “consistently voted against tougher penalties for drunk drivers” consider me pro-Cuccinelli.

Freedom Watch (April 8)

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Another episode yesterday of Freedom Watch from Fox’s Strategy Room.

The first guest? British MP and RonPaulBlog.com reader (we’re on his blogroll) Daniel Hannan. Other guests include regulars Peter Schiff, Lew Rockwell and Steve Bierfeldt.

I still say this deserves to be on actual television (not just internet only). How could it not get better ratings than the Huckster?

Bob Barr on the Nanny State

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

A good appearance by Bob Barr on George Stephanopoulos’ show:

Declaration of Independence

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

On Friday, most Americans “celebrated” America’s Indepence by taking the day off wor, BBQ-ing and watching fireworks.  What was missed is that so much of the Declaration of independence seems to have been voided in the over two hundred years since it was signed.

Most obvious is that the Declaration of Independence makes it clear that succession (or political separation) is perfectly legitimate - in fact is a duty - when rights are sufficiently abused:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Next look at the some of the abuses sighted by the signers of the Declaration.  There can be no doubt that many are abused by the current government, and particularly the current Administration:

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

Republicrats

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Here’s another example of the problem that comes with trusting one individual to restrain government force.

Guess who said the following:

Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. . . .

What sounds like George W. Bush actually comes from a statement issued today by Barack Obama, in which he explains why he voted in favor of the compromise wiretapping bill.

Obama went on to say:

After months of negotiation, the House today passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year’s Protect America Act. . . It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. [Note: According to Salon, "Harry Reid is already acknowledging that this 'effort' is going to fail and is just pure political theater."]

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives -– and the liberty –- of the American people.

But Senator, what happens if John McCain is elected president?  Then you’ll have voted in favor of a bill that you fully admit just further withers away our civil liberties.  Well done.

National Review, Torture, McCain and Che

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Over on the National Review, Mark Levin rushes to John McCain’s defense against George Will whose recent column goes after McCain for his criticism of the recent decision of the Supreme Court to allow habeas corpus rights for terror suspects being held in Guantanamo. (McCain’s response showed his blatant disregard for civil liberties and the Constitution.)

Levin’s post certainly evokes the old criticism of the National Review as being so concerned with being anti-communist, that it fails to oppose communism.  This time Levin invokes opposition to Che as a reason to defend Bush’s torture policy:

the attorneys for the enemy, led by the Center for Constitutional Rights, have made clear their motives. It is their purpose to use litigation to weaken our nation’s resolve. CCR’s president, Michael Ratner, is a William Kunstler protégé and worshipper of Che Guevara. There is plenty of public information about him and his group and their activities. Will should have encumbered his views with more facts regarding the bigger picture. This war is being fought not only overseas, but now in our courtrooms; we are winning in the former and losing in the latter.

How ironic that Levin cites Ratner’s tie to Che as a reason to oppose the Center for Constitutional Rights (which took the case to the Supreme Court) given that Che was a thug who ran Castro’s secret prisons and was the communist regime’s chief torturer.

If Levin is so appalled at Che (and he should be), then how about he opposes the Bush Administration’s remarkable imitation of Che?  After all, Guantanamo (which like Che’s prisons are located on the island of Cuba) is essentially a secret prison where the Bush Administration ordered torture.

Instead Levin equates a group that is advancing the rights of habeas corpus (a right that no Cuban living under communism enjoys), with the evils of communism and even implies that the lawyers are at war against America. What chutzpah!