Tags: The Constitution

Congress Guts Anti-NSA Spying Bill Beyond Recognition; Original Cosponsor Justin Amash Votes No

It’s shameful that the president of the United States, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the leaders of the country’s surveillance agencies refuse to accept consensus reforms that will keep our country safe while upholding the Constitution. And it mocks our system of government that they worked to gut key provisions of the Freedom Act behind closed doors.

– Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, original cosponsor of the USA Freedom Act

In what will come as no surprise to any of you, there are very few members of Congress I have even the slightest degree of respect for. However, Justin Amash is one of them.

Rep. Amash is 34 years old and was first elected to Congress in 2010. He has been on my radar screen for several years now as one of the few elected representatives who act more like statesmen than politicians. He has been on the right side of many civil liberties related issues, including his opposition to the NDAA’s provision that allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens without a trial. More recently, last summer he authored an anti-NSA amendment known as the “Amash Amendment,” which was defeated by establishment authoritarians in both political parties. I covered that story in my post: NSA Holds “Top Secret” Meeting to Stop Powerful Anti-Spying Amendment.

Being the fighter that he is, Amash regrouped and came back with an anti-NSA spying bill with some teeth to it: The USA Freedom Act. This bill concerned the establishment to such a degree that Senator Feinstein launched her own competing bill, which believe it or not, intended to codify the NSA’s unconstitutional practices into law.

In the end, what the status quo did was water down the once robust USA Freedom Act into oblivion. Don’t take my word for it, Justin Amash wrote the following on his Facebook page:

Today, I will vote no on ‪#‎HR3361‬, the ‪#‎USAFREEDOMAct‬.

I am an original cosponsor of the Freedom Act, and I was involved in its drafting. At its best, the Freedom Act would have reined in the government’s unconstitutional domestic spying programs, ended the indiscriminate collection of Americans’ private records, and made the secret FISA court function more like a real court—with real arguments and real adversaries.

I was and am proud of the work our group, led by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, did to promote this legislation, as originally drafted.

However, the revised bill that makes its way to the House floor this morning doesn’t look much like the Freedom Act.

This morning’s bill maintains and codifies a large-scale, unconstitutional domestic spying program. It claims to end “bulk collection” of Americans’ data only in a very technical sense: The bill prohibits the government from, for example, ordering a telephone company to turn over all its call records every day.

But the bill was so weakened in behind-the-scenes negotiations over the last week that the government still can order—without probable cause—a telephone company to turn over all call records for “area code 616″ or for “phone calls made east of the Mississippi.” The bill green-lights the government’s massive data collection activities that sweep up Americans’ records in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

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My Latest Interview with Financial Survival Network – Creating a Decentralized World

Creating an ever connected, yet increasingly decentralized world is no easy task. Nevertheless, it is something I believe humanity must do in order to traverse the current challenging times and come out the other side better off than before.

Yesterday, I highlighted what I believe is an extremely important article on the worker co-op movement. Earlier in the week, I sat down with Kerry Lutz of Financial Survival Network to discuss everything from Bitcoin and crony capitalism, to marijuana legalization and local food.

You can listen to the interview here. Enjoy!

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Who Are We at War With? Sorry, That’s “Classified”

You’d think that a nation that has allowed the shredding of the civil liberties enshrined in its founding document might deserve to know who the dastardly enemy is to justify such a dramatic transgression, right? Wrong. Amazingly, Carl Levin (D-Michigan) asked the Pentagon to define who exactly the “Al-Qaeda affiliates” we are at war with are. While Mr. Levin received and answer, guess what he told the public? Yep, you guessed it. It’s classified.

From ProPublica:

In a major national security speech this spring, President Obama said again and again that the U.S. is at war with “Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces.”

So who exactly are those associated forces? It’s a secret.

At a hearing in May, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked the Defense Department to provide him with a current list of Al Qaeda affiliates.

The Pentagon responded – but Levin’s office told ProPublica they aren’t allowed to share it. Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for Levin, would say only that the department’s “answer included the information requested.”

A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that revealing such a list could cause “serious damage to national security.”

There’s that “national security” line again.

“Because elements that might be considered ‘associated forces’ can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list,” said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Jim Gregory. “We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks.”

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Senator Dick Durbin: “It’s Time to Say Who’s a Real Reporter”

If you study the American criminal class long enough, it becomes quite easy to anticipate its next move in almost any serious situation.  This is precisely what I did last week in my piece: It’s Acts of Journalism that Matter Not People Called “Journalists.”  By watching the mainstream media’s reaction to Edward Snowden’s leaks, it became pretty obvious that what the power structure would attempt to do is pass a federal law that would ostensibly protect free speech and journalism, but in reality would allow the “authorities” to define who is and who isn’t a journalist.  That way they can create distinct groups of people with distinct rights.  One group would be permitted to share valuable information with the public, and the other would not.  Of course, only compliant lapdogs to the state would be granted such privileges and we will end up rather quickly with no free press in America.  Such a law should be resisted at all costs. Specific groups of people should not be carved out and granted specific rights, specific actions must be protected.  Such as the act of journalism, not so called “journalists.”

Last week, the Senatorial spokesperson for the Ministry of Information, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, wrote the following fascist op-ed in the Chicago Sun Times. Some key excerpts:

Is each of Twitter’s 141 million users in the United States a journalist? How about the 164 million Facebook users? What about bloggers, people posting on Instagram, or users of online message boards like Reddit?

But who should be considered to be a journalist?

Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech. But when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive.

I’m confused.  We’ve survived as a country without making such definitions just fine for the past 223 years under The Constitution.  Seems to me you and your crony friends are just concerned you are losing your grip on power.

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Liberty Mastermind Conference: The Day After

While I was hopeful going into the conference, I am happy to say that the event itself exceed my most optimistic expectations.  At the end of the day, a conference like this depends on the people involved and not only was it inspiring and engaging to listen to and meet all of the incredible speakers, but the attendees were equally interesting and impressive. Sometimes libertarian types get a bad wrap in the mainstream media, but I have to say that these were some of the best people I’ve ever met.

I made excellent contacts that I will take with me going into the future, had more philosophical and in depth conversations than I can remember, and most importantly laughed a lot and had a ton of fun. It was my first time speaking at a conference like this, and the twenty minute time slot plus panel discussion format was perfect.  Twenty minutes is enough time to connect with the audience and make your point, without losing their attention.

The only downside to the entire weekend happened just minutes ago at the border crossing known as Dallas Forth Worth airport.  Don’t mess with Texas apparently means no metal detectors, and so I was forced into my third ever “freedom grope.” You honestly don’t realize how the state views you until you go through one of those things…

In any event, I’d like to send a heartfelt thanks to Robert Ian and Kerry Lutz for putting together such an amazing conference and for including me.  I look forward to the next one!

In Liberty,
Mike

The Liberty Mastermind Conference: Less than 2 Weeks Away!

The Liberty Mastermind Conference is now very close at hand, and everyone involved is extremely excited to meet each other, interact with the attendees and share ideas about how to restore freedom and the rule of law to this once great nation.  As a reminder, the conference will be held in Dallas the weekend of June 28-29.  It has been set up by Kerry Lutz and Robert Ian and the lineup is extraordinary, including Martin Armstrong, Bill Murphy of GATA, David Morgan, Jeff Berwick, myself and many more.

Time is now running short to get signed up and book travel. Click here for the conference website. I can’t wait to see you all there!

In Liberty as always,
Mike

My Response to David Brooks’ Hit Piece on Edward Snowden

Where does the New York Times find these people?  I used to think Paul Krugman was bad, but David Brooks makes Krugman look like the reincarnation of Nostradamus and Adam Smith. A few minutes ago, I had the unfortunate experience of reading the latest nonsensical, statist drivel from David Brooks in an Op-Ed on Edward Snowden titled “The Solitary Leaker.” I’m not sure if my brain cells will ever forgive me the experience.

It’s one thing to write a hit-piece on Snowden (something we all knew would happen), and I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that the New York Times would be the “paper of record” to bring us such an editorial.  It’s quite another to write one that would only influence the simplest and most ignorant, brainwashed mind.  He sounds like a 15 year old boy arguing in the high school cafeteria.

At this point, I’m convinced that 90% of the people that call Edward Snowden a traitor are merely expressing a subconscious recognition of their own cowardice. The other 10% work for the military-industrial-Federal Reserve-propaganda complex.  David Brooks seems to uniquely fall squarely into both categories.

So let’s get into it.  It appears that David Brooks dusted off his copy of “How to Write a Hit Piece for Dummies” before getting started as he begins with an attempted character assassination.  He writes:

Though obviously terrifically bright, he could not successfully work his way through the institution of high school. Then he failed to navigate his way through community college. 

What drivel.  So many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and thinkers failed to thrive in the school system.  They were simply too bright.  Even Albert Einstein was known to have struggled in many high school classes.

Brooks then writes:

He has not been a regular presence around his mother’s house for years. When a neighbor in Hawaii tried to introduce himself, Snowden cut him off and made it clear he wanted no neighborly relationships.

Really David, that’s the best you could do?

So after he completes his ineffective character assassination, he attempts to actually make an argument.  Something David Brooks is not very good at.  He writes:

This lens makes you more likely to share the distinct strands of libertarianism that are blossoming in this fragmenting age: the deep suspicion of authority, the strong belief that hierarchies and organizations are suspect, the fervent devotion to transparency, the assumption that individual preference should be supreme. You’re more likely to donate to the Ron Paul for president campaign, as Snowden did.

But Big Brother is not the only danger facing the country. Another is the rising tide of distrust, the corrosive spread of cynicism, the fraying of the social fabric and the rise of people who are so individualistic in their outlook that they have no real understanding of how to knit others together and look after the common good.

Brooks doesn’t even attempt to explain why Libertarianism is booming.  He sort of just implies that it has sprung out of thin air and then deeply laments its existence. This “deep suspicion of authority” did not spring from the ether.  Rather, it is the quite natural response to a corrupt, criminal and out of control corporate-financial and political oligarchy that has taken too much control and remains subject to zero accountability.  This isn’t about the balance between the individual and the political system we live under.  It is a realization that the “state” is being run to the benefit of the 0.01% at the expense of the 99.9%. It isn’t any more complicated than that.

Then he writes:

For society to function well, there have to be basic levels of trust and cooperation, a respect for institutions and deference to common procedures. By deciding to unilaterally leak secret N.S.A. documents, Snowden has betrayed all of these things.

While I do not disagree with this statement, trust must be earned.  Our leaders have lost the trust of the citizenry and rightly so.  Then he makes another bizarre generational slander:

He betrayed his friends. Anybody who worked with him will be suspect. Young people in positions like that will no longer be trusted with responsibility for fear that they will turn into another Snowden.

That’s not all though.  He follows it with another childish knock on Snowden’s high school performance:

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Barrack Obama Celebrates May 1st as “Loyalty Day” with an Orwellian Statement

While some alternative media sources are implying that Obama has decided to declare May 1 “Loyalty Day,” this is actually not true. From my very brief research, it appears that this Orwellian “holiday” was created by public law 85-529 in 1958.  Clearly the intent was to remove the occasion as one where labor traditionally stood up for their rights in the midst of the U.S. “red scare.”  That said, Obama has embraced the concept with a Presidential proclamation.  So if you are in the mood for 500 words of nauseating Orwellian bullshit from our President read below:

Presidential Proclamation — Loyalty Day, 2013

LOYALTY DAY, 2013

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

In the centuries since America broke from an empire and claimed independence, our people have come together again and again to meet the challenges of a changing world. We have reinvented our cities with advances in science and reformed our markets with new understanding of the forces that guide them. We have fought for freedom in the theater of war and expanded its reach during times of peace. We have revamped and recovered and remade ourselves anew, mindful that when times change, so must we. But with every step forward, we have reaffirmed our faith in the ideals that inspired our founding. We have held fast to the principles at our country’s core: service and citizenship; courage and the common good; liberty, equality, and justice for all.

Broke from an empire and created another one.  Awesome.

This is our Nation’s heritage, and it is what we remember on Loyalty Day. It is an occasion that asks something of us as a people: to rediscover those ageless truths our Founders held to be self-evident, and to renew them in our own time. We look back to Americans who did the same, from generation to generation — citizens who strengthened our democracy, organizers who made it broader, service members who gave everything to protect it. These patriots and pioneers remind us that while our path to a more perfect Union is unending, with hope and hard work, we can move forward together.

Today, we rededicate ourselves to that enduring task. We do so knowing our journey is not complete until the promises of our founding documents are made real for every American, regardless of their station in life or the circumstances of their birth. Progress may come slow; the road may be long. But as loyal citizens of these United States, we have the power to set our country’s course. Let us mark this day by pressing on in the march toward lasting freedom and true equality, grateful for the precious rights and responsibilities entrusted to each of us by our forebears.

In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as “Loyalty Day.” On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America, our Constitution, and our founding values.

Why do we need another holiday to do this?  We have July 4th already, the last thing we need is “loyalty day.”  What is this Nazi Germany?

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2013, as Loyalty Day. This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support of this national observance, whether by displaying the flag of the United States or pledging allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

BARACK OBAMA

Feel free to vomit profusely.

For my coverage of May Day in NYC last year click here.

For the link to the White House statement click here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Interview with Dr. Dave Janda – April 2013: The Boston Massacre

There are many, many theories out there regarding the tragedy in Boston; however, the key thing to bear in mind is that it is our response to such horrific events that really matters and will demonstrate what kind of a society we are.  The last thing we should do is allow ourselves to be manipulated even further into a police state as a result of this.  I talk to Dr. Dave Janda about this and other issues.  We had a mix up with the timing so I don’t come in until minute 13.  Enjoy!