2013 NDAA Still A Threat To Americans

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that keeps Guantanamo Bay open and indefinite detention of American citizens a prospect.

This year’s NDAA also authorizes funding for the war in Afghanistan, tightens sanctions against Iran, funds Special Forces and boosts security at diplomatic posts abroad in response to the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

The President, in a signing statement, expressed regret for provisions keeping Guantanamo open.

“I continue to oppose this provision, which substitutes the Congress’s blanket political determination for careful and fact-based determinations, made by counterterrorism and law enforcement professionals, of when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees,” Obama wrote.

“This provision would, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles. In the event that these statutory restrictions operate in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict,” he added.

While Congress added a provision, Sec. 1029, asserting that “any person inside the United States” is allowed his Constitutional rights, including habeas corpus as a fix for the indefinite detention provision, critics are less than impressed.

“Saying that new language somehow ensures the right to habeas corpus — the right to be presented before a judge — is both questionable and not enough. Citizens must not only be formally charged but also receive jury trials and the other protections our Constitution guarantees. Habeas corpus is simply the beginning of due process. It is by no means the whole,” Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said.

The American Civil Liberties Union also criticized the Obama-approved bill.

“His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero. “He also has jeopardized his ability to close Guantanamo during his presidency. Scores of men who have already been held for nearly 11 years without being charged with a crime — including more than 80 who have been cleared for transfer — may very well be imprisoned unfairly for yet another year. The president should use whatever discretion he has in the law to order many of the detainees transferred home, and finally step up next year to close Guantanamo and bring a definite end to indefinite detention.”

America’s Mainstream Personal Fable

As political idiocy and economic folly continue to become more the norm in the United States than reason, logic and freedom, one question continues to get harder and harder to answer: What makes us so special in America?

At some point in the Nation’s early history, revolutionary spirit would have been a sound answer. Later — around the time of Alexis de Tocqueville’s visit to the country — laws, freedoms, overwhelming civic responsibility and entrepreneurial vigor were all good answers.

The Nation has been through many hard times, tragedies and embarrassments over the past 237 years. There were times when the Nation seemed doomed and pulled through, and there were times of great prosperity. Much of the Nation’s success — despite some recent opinions to the contrary — can be attributed to its revolutionary roots and the foresight ingrained in its founding documents.

But the Nation is young. Perhaps it could even be correctly personified as adolescent in the grand historical scheme. As anyone with teenage children or who has ever looked back on their own adolescence with the wisdom of a few more years will tell you, adolescence is often a time of reckless abandon and great change.

There is a psychological term associated with adolescence that applies nicely to the mindset of mainstream America today. “Personal fable” is a common teen belief that arises from adolescent egocentrism. It is the adolescent’s belief that he or she is highly special and unlike anyone else who has ever walked the Earth. The adolescent living out a personal fable believes others are so obviously fascinated by him (adolescent egocentrism) that he must be a unique individual (the personal fable).

One great example of America’s collective personal fable arises in the recently feverish debate over gun control in the United States. After a bloody Revolution against a tyrannical ruling force, America’s Founding Fathers felt it proper to include in the Nation’s supreme law a provision allowing every American citizen to arm himself. The 2nd Amendment says nothing about hunting, self-defense, sport shooting or muskets. But it states its purpose quite expressly:

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Gun control advocates never mention the necessity of firearms to the security of a free state. They argue that Americans have a standing army, police, civilized society and courts to ensure the state of freedom. But they fail to realize that the right to bear arms is not an outdated addendum to those previously mentioned markers of our modern civil society, but rather a last line of defense should they fail — or, worse, should they be used with malevolent intent by those in charge.

Slate magazine crime blogger Justin Peters outlined the mindset of the common anti-assault weapon crusader in a recent piece about the usefulness of the AR-15 as a hunting or home defense weapon:

But the guns also appeal to another demographic that doesn’t get nearly as much press—paranoid survivalists who worry about having to fend off thieves and trespassers in the event of disaster. Online shooting message boards are rife with references to potential “SHTF scenarios,” where SHTF stands for “shit hits the fan”—governmental collapse, societal breakdown. (Adam Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza, has been described as “a gun-hoarding survivalist who was stockpiling weapons in preparation for an economic collapse.”) An article on ar15.com titled “The Ideal Rifle” notes that “the threats from crime, terrorism, natural disaster, and weapons of mass destruction are real. If something were to happen today, you would need to have made a decision about the rifle you would select and be prepared for such an event. So the need to select a ‘survival’ rifle is real. Selecting a single ‘ideal rifle’ is not easy. The AR-15 series of rifles comes out ahead when compared to everything else.” Depending on where you live, it’s perfectly legal to stockpile weapons to use in the event of Armageddon. But that’s a far different argument than the ones firearms advocates have been using since the Newtown shootings.

Peters is right when he writes that firearms advocates haven’t made the proper case for the vitality of American assault weapon ownership. The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups have stuck to the argument that assault weapons are good for hunting and home defense, with hardly a mention of the 2nd Amendment. They can’t make the proper case for the 2nd Amendment, because the personal fable mindset of a majority of the population simply won’t have it.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — George Santayana

While madmen in the United States may have taken a few hundred lives with guns in America over the past century, the world’s rulers — which some lawmakers say have the monopoly on legitimate violence — were splattered with the blood of 260 million human beings in the 20th century alone. They are poised to murder billions more in the 21st century.

Here are three infamous mass killers of the last century:

Adolf Hitler — Death Toll: Nearly 20 Million 

“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or native police. German troops alone will bear the sole responsibility for the maintenance of law and order throughout the occupied Russian territories, and a system of military strong-points must be evolved to cover the entire occupied country.”

Nazi Germany established gun control in 1938.

Joseph Stalin — Death Toll: 61,911,000

“If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.”

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control.

Mao Tze Tung — Death Toll: 35,236,000

“All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.”

China established gun control in 1935.

The American condition is fragile and changing all too rapidly. The “it could never happen here” mindset has, quite unfortunately, led many Americans to mistake patriotism and citizenship for all out support of the ruling class. And government in the United States has repaid its citizenry by installing a massive surveillance/police apparatus, methods by which it may circumvent courts and prosecute or kill citizens, and virtually all of the power it needs to do anything it wishes. Americans have gleefully allowed this to happen with hopes of becoming safer and more comfortable. If it weren’t for the adolescence of our Nation and the personal fable mindset to which we subscribe, we might recognize that these things have happened before and it is our Constitution which has protected the Nation from the same events thus far.

Thursday Morning News Roundup 1-3-13

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • As gun grabbers plan for an all-out assault on the 2nd Amendment, the FBI reports that December set a new record for gun-purchase background checks.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who was expected to be re-elected easily in an election this month — is plummeting in polls after a series of embarrassing publicity flops following his decision to merge with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party.
  • Police State alert: An 18-year-old man was jailed in Brevard County, Fla., after being accused of stuffing a $1.29 Iced Honey Bun down his pants and leaving a store.
  • Happy New Year to the additional 372,000 Americans who filed new jobless claims this week. 2013 is sure to be another year of American economic malaise.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Anti-Gun Newspaper Hires Armed Security

The New York news organization that recently published a list of names and addresses of pistol permit holders in its locale has, in response to a torrent of angry phone calls and email, hired armed guards to defend its offices.

The Journal News elicited national controversy when it released an interactive map of pistol permit holders’ names and addresses in Rockland and Westchester counties on Dec. 23. The newspaper’s editors said they believe knowing where guns are located is a matter of public interest. The newspaper also took a strong editorial position in favor of strict gun control.

But following a barrage of angry phone calls and emails from gun owners that felt they were lampooned in the news for owning firearms as if they were sex offenders, the anti-gun publication felt the need to hire armed guards to protect its offices.

From another local publication, the Rockland County Times:

Guns are good for the goose but NOT for the gander.

A Clarkstown police report issued on December 28, 2012, confirmed that The Journal News has hired armed security guards from New City-based RGA Investigations and that they are manning the newspaper’s Rockland County headquarters at 1 Crosfield Ave., West Nyack, through at least tomorrow, Wednesday, January 2, 2013.

Meanwhile, despite anti-gun campaigning from media outlets like The Journal News and a number of politicians, the FBI reports that the number of background checks for gun purchases in America hit a new record in December.

Shelby: GOP Will Regret Fiscal Cliff Deal

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said Wednesday that the United States is “headed down the road that Europe’s already on” in reflection of the Senate’s fiscal cliff offer.

Shelby is one of eight lawmakers from both sides of the aisle that rallied against the fiscal cliff deal put together by the Senate. The deal extends George W. Bush-era tax cuts for families making less than $450,000 a year and wards off sequestration for another two months. What it fails to address, however, is a plan to cut debt or entitlement spending.

“I [would have liked] to see a grand bargain,” Shelby told Fox and Friends. “And I believe you never know — if we would have held out, maybe it would have done something. The pressure was building on the president to do something. He certainly doesn’t want us to go into recession. But we need fundamental tax reform. We need to reform our entitlements. We need to look at the spending ledger.”

The Senator was joined in voting against the measure by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tom Carper (D-Dela.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Republicans who voted for the fiscal cliff deal, Shelby said, made a big mistake and will “rue the day.” He said he was proud of those lawmakers that stood with him in opposition.

Paul, in a statement before the fiscal cliff vote, outlined why he would note “nay”: “It’s impossible to get to any deal on the fiscal cliff when Majority Leader Reid and President Obama refuse to consider meaningful cuts in spending. They are demanding we raise taxes on working families and small businesses — and worse — using these tax increases for more government spending.

“Sending more taxpayer dollars to Washington isn’t the solution to this situation; cutting wasteful government spending and enabling Americans to keep more of their own money is.”

The fiscal cliff bill moved on to the House Tuesday for consideration and passed 257-167. Congress will now shift focus to its next looming crises and opportunity for political theater: the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner submitted a letter to Congress on Monday saying he had begun a “debt issuance suspension period” that would last through Feb. 28. The Department of the Treasury will employ a series of “extraordinary measures” so it does not exceed the debt limit before lawmakers work out a deal. The debt limit is currently set at $16.394 trillion.

Wednesday Morning News Roundup 1-2-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

 

  • According to the Congressional Budget Office, the last-minute fiscal cliff deal reached by congressional leaders and President Barack Obama cuts only $15 billion in spending while increasing tax revenues by $620 billion—a 41:1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts.

 

 

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook.

Americans Aren’t Using Their Vacation Days, But Want More

A new study of American workers shows that most would like to have more vacation days from work, but a majority of them don’t even use all of the days they already have by the end of the year.

Research from Adecco Staffing USA shows that 75 percent of employees had yet to take all of the vacation days allotted to them by their employers as of November. But 40 percent of those surveyed said they would like one or two additional weeks off, and about 25 percent of the respondents said they would like to have three or more additional weeks of vacation time.

“It’s interesting that many workers are not taking advantage of their available vacation days for the year, yet are hungry for more time off,” said Joyce Russell of Adecco Staffing.

According to the study, the stockpiling of vacation time comes most often from workers using sick days or other paid time off as vacation time and saving the actual vacation days for other situations when they may be needed.

About half of employees surveyed admit to using their sick days as “vacation” days, and 27 percent have used jury duty days as vacation time. Also, 26 percent reported using bereavement days as vacation days.

Gun Sales Up, Crime Down

Gun sales are up in California and, contrary to what politicians and the media say, gun deaths and injuries in the State are down sharply.

Firearm dealers in California sold 600,000 guns in 2011, almost double the number sold in 2002. Over the same period of time, hospitalizations due to gun injuries declined from about 4,000 annually to 2,900, a roughly 25 percent drop, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Health records from the State also indicate that there was an 11 percent drop in firearm-related fatalities, which fell from about 3,200 annually to about 2,800.

What is happening in California also appears to be playing out on a national scale.

The FBI reported a record number of background checks (16.5 million) were conducted in 2011 for individuals who were purchasing firearms. During the same year, FBI numbers showed a 4 percent decrease in violent crime throughout the Nation.

Gun control has become one of the Nation’s hottest topics following the tragic murders of elementary school students in Connecticut last month. President Barack Obama has vowed to use the full power of his office to make stricter gun laws during his second term, and a handful of liberal lawmakers are preparing bills that include draconian gun-control measures.

Crime Increasing In America’s Suburbs

Amid an overall national decline in homicides, murders in the suburbs and other areas not traditionally associated with high rates of violent crime are on the rise.

This, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, is the result of criminals looking for easier targets outside inner-city areas where police presence has increased in recent years.

“They just shifted their operations,” Craig Steckler, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told WSJ.

The report indicates that about 25 percent of all homicides in the United States occur in suburban areas, up from around 20.7 percent in 2001.

According to a Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics study of the most recent data, there was a 16.7 percent drop in homicides in big cities due largely to aggressive police patrols in cities like New York and Los Angeles. But during the same period, homicides rose 16.9 percent in their outlying suburbs.

Gun Sales Soaring

Demand for assault rifles in the United States has increased tremendously as politicians’ knee-jerk reactions to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School threaten Americans’ right to bear arms.

Last month, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced that she will introduce legislation early in 2013 that will essentially criminalize millions of law-abiding American gun owners. Harsh provisions in her legislation and bills being drafted by other lawmakers have Americans in a mad dash to buy firearms, particularly those deemed “assault rifles.”

“Our phones are ringing every 10 seconds and people are saying, ‘Do you have any assault rifles?’” Dennis Pratte, owner of My Gun Factory in Falls Church, Va., told CNN Money. “They’ve sold out of just about every gun shop nationwide and just about every distributor is out of stock.”

Reports from around the Nation indicate that community gun sellers are experiencing a healthy uptick in business and many online retailers are out of stock on various high capacity magazines, assault rifles and popular ammunition.

A report from the North Carolina based Hickory Record is indicative of what is happening at gun shops throughout the country:

Scott Ledford, who operates Ledford’s Trading Post, said, “We’re getting 20 calls a day looking for AR-15s and AK-47s, SKSs and that kind of thing, and we just don’t carry that.” His shop specializes in antique and collectable weapons, but he said even he has seen an increase in ammunition sales…

…Smitty Smith works at Catawba Valley Tactical Supply in Newton. The store is waiting to receive its Federal Firearms License, so it does not currently sell firearms, but it does sell ammunition. When asked if he had seen an increase in ammunition sales over the past two weeks, Smith laughed and said it wasn’t a matter of an increase in sales, but rather a matter of a total wipeout of supply. “There’s no .223 ammo out there,” he said.

Catawba Valley Tactical Supply had been selling 1,000-round boxes of .223-caliber ammunition for $450, Smith said. His supply has run out and now customers who are able to find .223-caliber rounds are paying at least double what they would have paid two weeks ago. Ellizondo said the price of a 1,000-round box of .223-caliber ammunition at the gun show was around $1,200.

Brownells Inc., a supplier of firearms accessories and gunsmithing tools, said that demand in recent weeks has been so high that at one point the company sold 3.5 years’ worth of stocked ammunition and magazines in a 72-hour period.