civil liberties

Ron Paul launches Institute for Peace and Prosperity

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Ron Paul Launches Foreign Policy Think Tank

Ron Paul

Ron Paul may have left Congress, but he will continue to push his non-interventionist foreign policy through a new think tank. The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity will focus on promoting the same foreign policy views that became a signature issue for the former Texas Congressman as well as make a case for civil liberties:

“The neo-conservative era is dead,” proclaims the media advisory on his Facebook page announcing the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

“The ill-advised policies pushed by the neo-cons have everywhere led to chaos and destruction, and to a hatred of the United States and its people. Multi-trillion dollar wars have not made the world a safer place; they have only bankrupted our economic future. The Ron Paul Institute will provide the tools and the education to chart a new course with the understanding that only through a peaceful foreign policy can we hope for a prosperous tomorrow.”

The group promises to focus on coalition-building across party lines and creating opportunities for students to engage on the topic.

The official launch of the project will be held at 3pm on Wednesday, April 17th, at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, DC. Ron Paul and members of the organization’s advisory board — Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. John Duncan (R-TN), former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Judge Andrew Napolitano, Ambassador Faith Whittlesey, and Lew Rockwell — are slated to speak.

You can read the full media advisory on Ron Paul’s Facebook page.

ACLU Cool to Senate Gun Control Bill

ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization that traditionally been on the wrong side when it comes to the Second Amendment, has expressed some concerns with the gun control regulations being pushed by President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats, according to The Daily Caller:

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller, a top lobbyist for the ACLU announced that the group thinks Reid’s current gun bill could threaten both privacy rights and civil liberties.

The inclusion of universal background checks — the poll-tested lynchpin of most Democratic proposals — “raises two significant concerns,” the ACLU’s Chris Calabrese told TheDC Wednesday. 
[…]
“The first is that it treats the records for private purchases very differently than purchases made through licensed sellers. Under existing law, most information regarding an approved purchase is destroyed within 24 hours when a licensed seller does a [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] check now,” Calabrese said, “and almost all of it is destroyed within 90 days.”

Calabrese wouldn’t characterize the current legislation’s record-keeping provision as a “national gun registry” — which the White House has denied pursuing — but he did say that such a registry could be “a second step.”

Senate Democrats Pushing a New Gun Tax

guns

The Assault Weapons Ban and universal background checks may be on the ropes, but the gun control bill Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is pushing through the Senate has what is essentially a “gun tax” buried in the language.

David Addington of the Heritage Foundation reports that the gun control bill would allow the Attorney General to impose an arbitrary fee on anyone selling a firearm to another individual:

Title I of the Reid gun control bill purports to “fix gun checks.” The proposed “fix” in section 122 of S. 649 is to take away an individual’s right to sell or give away a firearm to another individual unless, in most cases, the individual (1) uses a licensed importer, dealer, or manufacturer to make the transfer of the firearm and (2) pays a fee to that importer, dealer, or manufacturer to make the transfer. The individual transferring the firearm is not actually receiving a service; the federal government is receiving the service. The service the government gets is a background check on the intended recipient of the firearm, because the law requires the importer, dealer, or manufacturer to run the recipient through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Forcing the individual to pay for the government-mandated service, which is in fact a service to the government, is in essence a federal tax on the individual. And the amount the individual pays as a fee is not limited by the legislation; section 122(a)(4) of the Reid bill enacts a new section 922(t)(4)(B)(i) of title 18 of the U.S. Code to grant to Attorney General Eric Holder the power to set the maximum fee by regulation.

National Journal, Politico Profile Justin Amash

Last week, the National Journal profiled Rep. Justin Amash, the libertarian-leaning Michigan politican, noting how his potential entry into the race for the Republican primary for United States Senate could further shake-up the establishment in both parties:

Amash is a unique politician with the potential to transcend traditional party appeal. He preaches transparency and accountability, having never missed a vote in Congress. (He also writes lengthy notes on his Facebook page explaining every vote.) His isolationist streak has earned him a following among young people. His Arab-American heritage makes him appealing to minorities. He’s the rare politician with fans at both the American Civil Liberties Union and Right to Life.

Amash also has the ability to attract serious money. Already, one libertarian super PAC has pledged to spend upward of $1 million to help him get elected, and others would likely follow (Club for Growth would surely spend big on his behalf). The ability to attract such substantial outside assistance makes Amash an intimidating contender, and could send other Republicans running from a primary challenge. “If that money comes through, that’s a big benefit,” said former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, another potential candidate. “Look, this is going to cost $2 million to $3 million in the primary, and another $10 million to $15 million in a general election. So if there are people who are willing to put that kind of money behind him, that makes a big difference.”

Is Obama At War With American Citizens?

“I am concerned for the security of our great nation, not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.” — Commanding General Douglas McArthur

A few weeks ago, a friend sent a YouTube link of a conversation between a radio show host and a man identifying himself as a police lieutenant in North Carolina, who claimed America was about to slide into internal war and martial law, saying the ATF is recruiting from local and state law enforcement agencies to form an internal security force to suppress domestic insurrection. The catalyst for the insurrection would be a collapse of the American economy, intentionally triggered, leading to a complete collapse of the social infrastructure, giving the government a pretext to consolidate power.

My response to her was that this was elements of truth mixed with a heavy dose of conspiracy theory, and suggested she’d feel better if she’d prepared her family for any emergencies by making sure they can defend themselves, and have enough supplies for their basic needs. After all, these things would be useful in situations other than the one she described, whether it be a home invasion by armed thugs, or the aftermath of a natural disaster where there was no access to electricity, fresh water, or food for an extended period.

I hoped that had calmed her fears, but the more I thought about it, the more I could understand how someone could come to these types of conclusions in light of the political environment unfolding in our country today.

Cruz Explains Tough Questioning of Feinstein on the Bill of Rights

Ted Cruz

On Monday, Sean Hannity talked with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) about his exchange last week with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), during which he asked the fierce gun control advocate if she would support banning certain books that maybe deemed dangerous or contain explicit messages. Feinstein didn’t react well to the line of question, angrily stating that she’d served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 20 years and didn’t need a lecture.

In a calm manner, Cruz explained that he appreciated her “sincerity and passion,” but noted that she didn’t answer the question. Feinstein fired back, “The answer is obvious – no.”

Cruz, who served as a clerk for then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, told Hannity that more of his colleagues should question what Congress does. “For a long time, a whole bunch of Democrats and, unfortunately, even some Republicans have been passing laws in this body without even asking where the basis is in the Constitution,” said Cruz. “And I think the Constitution should be the starting point for everything Congress does.”

Hannity asked Cruz about the First Amendment analogy he used with Feinstein. Cruz explained that his question was based in the text of the Constitution that refers to the “right of the people.”

“The reason is if you look at the text of the Constitution — and I always think the text of the Constitution should be the starting point — the Second Amendment provides the ‘right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,’” noted Cruz. “And the point I made in my question is that language — the ‘right of the people’ — is a term of art that the framers of the Constitution used in other places in the Constitution.”

What are Rand Paul’s Plans for 2016?

It has been clear for some time that Senator Rand Paul sees himself as far more than Kentucky’s junior senator.  Paul has established himself as a truly national figure - any remaining doubt of that was shredded by his nearly 13-hour filibuster two weeks ago, where Paul successfully took over the Senate for over half a day.  His actions that day won him the praise of many, and put his name on the lips of nearly every politically aware person — and many who aren’t.  Speculation has understandably abounded about whether Paul will run for President in 2016 — and if he will give up his Senate seat to do so.

Fuel for the latter proposition was added this week when Senator Paul made a dramatic reversal of the immigration views he espoused during his Senate campaign and made clear he was open to a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants (though he did not use those words).  As this Politico article points out:

The endorsement of any sort of legal status for illegal immigrants amounts to a remarkable reversal for Paul, who in his first month in the Senate proposed a constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship. (On Tuesday’s conference call, Paul said a secure border would make the amendment unnecessary.) While running against an establishment pick in Kentucky’s GOP primary in 2010, he proposed building an underground electric fence along the length of the entire border.

Obama Says He’s Not Dick Cheney — Dick Cheney Disagrees

Dick Cheney

During a recent closed-door meeting with Senate Democrats, President Barack Obama fended off questions about his controversial drones program, which could put American citizens accused of terrorism in its crosshairs. In seeking to downplay his administration’s use of drones, President Obama claimed that he is no Dick Cheney, whose hawkish foreign policy views carried significant weight in the Bush Administration:

President Barack Obama’s defense to Democratic senators complaining about how little his administration has told Congress about the legal justifications for his drone policy: Dick Cheney was worse.

That’s part of what two senators in the room recounted of Obama’s response when, near the outset of his closed-door session with the Senate Democratic conference on Tuesday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) confronted the president over the administration’s refusal for two years to show congressional intelligence committees Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the use of lethal force against American terror suspects abroad.
[…]
“This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here,” he said, according to Democratic senators who asked not to be named discussing the private meeting.

Dick Cheney apparently didn’t get that memo. The former vice president spoke positively of President Obama’s drones program last month in an interview with Charlie Rose. Cheney said, “I think it’s a good program and I don’t disagree with the basic policy that the Obama administration is pursuing now in those regards.”

Justin Amash is “Certainly Open” to a Senate run in 2014

Justin Amash

Last week, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) announced that we would retire as the end of his current term. As I explained on Friday, this leaves a door open for Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who has been solid on fiscal issues and civil liberties, to make the jump to the Senate — and it looks like he may actually do it. According to The Detroit News, Amash is indeed weighing his options:

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a young firebrand in the lower chamber who has championed a Ron Paul-style of libertarian politics, said Monday he is “certainly open” to a run in 2014.

“Frankly, we can’t afford to nominate another unelectable establishment Republican,” Amash, R-Cascade Township, told The Detroit News. “History shows they don’t appeal to moderate and independent voters.”
[…]
Amash, 32, said a traditional establishment candidate cannot win the Senate seat. Posting explanations for his votes — including those that buck the GOP leadership — on his social media pages, Amash said he has enjoyed grassroots support to join the race.

“I don’t think any of the names that are being tossed around have quite hit the spot for most Republican voters or for most voters in the general election,” Amash said. “People both within the Republican Party and within the general electorate are tired of the pro-corporate welfare, anti-civil liberties Republican. I think we need to stop running on the past.”


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