• Swear an Oath to Protect and Defend, but How Many Mean it?

       

     

     

     

    I wonder what it means anymore when certain politicians, one hand on the Bible, the other up toward the heavens, swear a solemn oath to, “…protect and defend the Constitution…?” Is it dishonest to even run for, or accept appointment to an office when you’ve publicly expressed disagreement with, disrespect for, and in some cases, even disdain toward the U.S. Constitution? How can any person of honor swear an oath under such circumstances? I suppose I’ve just answered my own question.

     

    It would seem two things are likely: one, these politicians simply don’t think about it; they don’t take the oath seriously, their word means little. It’s just a ceremonial part of taking office. Or, much worse, they are conscious about their opposition to the very thing they just swore to uphold and protect—they simply don’t care.

     

    The common argument between traditionalists, libertarians, and conservatives, and progressives, liberal, and most certainly socialists is, the former believes in the Constitution as the Framers wrote it, and amended through proper constitutional procedures; the latter believes the Framers meant for it to be a “living” Constitution, which would change with the times, but not necessarily through the amendment process, but by legislation and administrative fiat.

     

    It’s sad that so many politicians and bureaucrats take their oaths as frivolously as is their allegiance to the Constitution.

     

       

  • Are Pro-Choice Groups really Pro-Choice?

       

     

     

    The kerfuffle arising from the impending Super Bowl ad featuring University of Florida Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother points out, once again, the striking lack of tolerance on the self-declared, “tolerant” political left. If I’m correct on this issue, one side refers to themselves as “pro-life,” and the other as “pro-choice.” From what I understand the ad simply relates the Tebow’s true story, a story in which doctors advised his ill mother to abort Tim; she obviously chose not to.

     

    The point is she had her choice and she made it. If that choice influences others to make the same choice, isn’t that what choice is about, an absence of force? Are the “pro-choice” advocates truly that, or are they only for choice if it’s one they agree with?

     

    Now, the opponents of the ad are right that Focus on the Family has an agenda where if they ultimately got their way “choice” in abortion would disappear, but that’s not the issue here. We have to ask who is pro-choice. Focus on the Family doesn’t espouse choice on the issue, the pro-choice side by definition does. So, is choice a principle of pro-choice folks, or is choice simply a pretty word for public consumption?

     

    Incidentally, I believe the Supreme Court made a mistake in Roe v. Wade; I believe it is a state and not a federal issue. I currently support choice, but oppose late term abortions. I do leave room to change my mind, because I believe human life begins at conception. However, I’m currently uncomfortably pressing my beliefs on a woman and her right to care for her own body. But, therein lies the crux; it’s not only her body.

  • Progressives Espouse using Force against Peaceful People

      

     

     

     

    Anyone who’s studied libertarian/conservative political philosophy realizes that a key issue is government use of force against peaceful and free people. Many people may not think of it this way, but when the government mandates something, they’re basically doing it at the point of a gun. This may be figurative, but in essence the result is the same as if it were literal, which in some instances it can rise to: comply or pay, either with your money or your freedom.

     

    Now, sometimes as a society we agree to these mandates through duly voted laws that modify behaviors to keep people safe from other people who would harm them. Violent and property crimes, fraud, and traffic codes are, for the most part, government mandates, which protect people and are necessary. But what happens when government compels behaviors from peaceful, supposedly free, people, which are not designed to keep people safe, but are designed toward social engineering? When government oversteps its constitutionally intended function and uses force against the people’s God-given liberty, it should be obvious to any American, it’s gone too far.

     

    With this in mind it’s curious that so many on the political left espouse ostensibly pacifistic leanings supporting anti-death penalty, anti-gun, anti-war, and the like—so called—peace policies. However, it’s interesting that these peaceniks seem to have no qualms advocating for government force in order to get people to comply with collectivist edicts they support. They wouldn’t slap a hand across your face (at least that’s what they would like you to believe), but they’re perfectly fine with the government forcibly taking your freedom, bit by bit, as well as your wealth (your property), which is then transferred to someone the government has deemed more deserving of it than the person who has created it—you.

     

    If war is the use of force, and force is violence or the threat of it, and the far left says war is always wrong, that you can’t solve violence with violence, then how can they support any government force against any peaceful people. Shouldn’t folks be consistent in their philosophy? I’m just askin’.

  • Police Work from the Streets not the Bench

       

     

     

     

    Being a libertarian I pay close attention to legal issues affecting individual freedom vs. police procedures. Obviously, my opinion doesn’t just come from a book or a classroom; it comes from working the streets for nearly two decades now. I don’t simply talk about the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights; I have to apply them every day in what I do and don’t do. It’s easy to talk about how to balance the rights of suspicious persons with the police officer’s safety in theory; it’s much harder to apply it in practice.

     

    In the most recent Law Enforcement Digest, February, 2010 issue, published by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office to provide practical information to the law enforcement community, the publisher precedes the issue with an ominous note: “Readers brace yourselves. This month’s LED delivers more troubling news from the federal and state appellate courts than any LED since the LED became a monthly publication in 1979.” Recent court rulings will work to hobble law enforcers once again.

     

    Too often government treats individuals like children, creating rules that ostensibly look out for them; I’d prefer they educate rather than mandate. And with that let me start with the Police Academy. When I was in the academy, many of the methods and procedures I was taught were considered “good police work,” now many have been struck down either at the local, state, or federal level. There’s a notion that judges are hesitant to too strictly regulate what officers have to do on the streets, based on the situation as it is unfolding, from the bench.

     

    However, I’ve seen over the years this reluctance seems to be fading. I could go on for pages (don’t worry, I won’t), but for now I’ll limit my comments to one situation. What’s an officer to when he sees someone wandering through an area at night, and that officer’s responsibility is to protect the neighborhood? Well, absent reasonable suspicion to contact and detain the individual for further investigation, an officer is taught that, as with any person, he can always simply walk up and talk to the person. The person may choose not to talk and to walk away, but then again, if he is a criminal, he just may be stupid enough to talk himself into getting arrested.

     

    The courts have previously ruled that an officer may make this type of “social contact” so long as a reasonable person would feel they are free to leave. Things like number of officers, blocking the individual’s path to leave, holding a weapon such as a baton, or activating police car emergency lights, are seen as causing a person to believe they are not free to leave.

     

    In this particular case an officer noticed a man walking through a neighborhood at about eleven at night. The officer drove past the man, parked his patrol car in a driveway out of view, and then walked to meet the man. The officer asked if he could talk to the man and stood on the grass off to the side of the sidewalk. The man said, “Yes.” The officer asked where the man was coming from. The man said, “My sister’s house.” When the officer asked the man where his sister lives, the man said, “I don’t know.”

     

    I don’t know about you, but even if I didn’t wear a badge, I’d think this was a wee suspicious. Now, at this point I should remind you that this guy, the one coming from his “sister’s house,” is totally free to end the conversation and walk away. After all, the officer asked if he could speak with the man, he did not command him to stop.

    The officer also noticed the man appeared quite nervous, was twitching, and had bulges  in his front pant’s pockets. About this time another officer happened to drive by. Seeing the officer was alone, he parked and joined the two men, standing eight feet off to the side. Officers often do this for officer safety reasons.

     

    The officer then asked the man if he could frisk him for weapons. If a social contact begins to build into something more suspicious, but still not quite at the level of actual criminal activity, courts have agreed that officers may ask to pat down individuals for their safety. I often explain to the person I’ve contacted in similar situations that if I can pat him down, and can feel comfortable that he’s unarmed, then he is free to keep his hands in or out of his pockets to his content. Remember again, the guy still could have said, “No,” and walked away. The man again said, “Yes.”

     

    When the second officer felt a hard cylindrical item in the man’s pocket during the pat down he asked the man what it was. The man said it was his “glass,” and then “it’s my meth pipe.” They arrested the man and in a search incident to the arrest they found the crack pipe and some crystal methamphetamine.

     

    After a conviction, appeal, and having been upheld on appeal, the question put to the Washington State Supreme Court, “was Harrington unlawfully seized without reasonable suspicion at the point when the officer asked for Harrington’s consent to a frisk?” The justices ruled unanimously, yes.

     

    So, let me ask you, what’s an officer to do? He sees a guy out late at night, he’s walking down the street—maybe in front of your house—(oh, and I don’t have to tell you how Meth-Heads make their money, do I?) The cop’s job, when he’s not answering 911 calls, is to anticipate and deter criminal activity if he can. The officer knows he has the right to contact anyone on a public street, just like anyone else can, and attempt to gain voluntary compliance.

     

    Now, we’re not talking about some form of blatant harassment; this isn’t someone walking down the street at 3 PM, this is an hour before midnight. So, the officer decides to contact the person to see what’s up. The guy could have declined the officer’s request to talk and simply have walked away. It happens, it’s happened to me several times. It’s not the officer’s fault if the, in this case, criminal isn’t savvy enough to know this. He should educate himself, not depend on paternalistic courts to “watch his back.”

     

    The man repeatedly putting and pulling his hands in his into and out of his pockets, the officer doesn’t want to take a chance that one of these times the guy’s going to pull out a knife or gun, so he asks to conduct a frisk. I should mention here a frisk is limited to patting down the person on the outside of their clothing; no intrusion into pockets. Despite the man saying yes, giving consent to being searched, and neither officer having told the guy he couldn’t leave, the court ruled the officers had legally “seized” the man at the point of the frisk “request.”

    By seized the court means a reasonable person doesn’t feel free to leave. I’m thinking this guy was very acquainted with police procedures from past experience and he certainly should have walked away. But as cops are fond of saying, we don’t catch the smart ones.

     

    I understand the freedom argument here, but the court seems to be going too far. Whether or not the individual knows for himself he has the right to walk away is not the officer’s problem, it’s the individual’s. The court’s preempting the individual’s right to be stupid and admit criminal activity to the cops seems stepping beyond its purview.

     

    Think about the ramifications: So now an officer, who during a social contact becomes suspicious that a person may be armed, instead of soliciting the person’s consent to frisk him, should live with the threat, or actually turn around and walk away—turning his back to a person he’s determined may be armed? The good justices have just shown why the bench is a poor substitute for the streets to make this type of judgment.  

  • Civility, yes of Course, But…

     

     

     

     

      

     

    People must be open-minded, reasonable, and must compromise; the political left elites admonish us. But they call for this as if it’s an unconditional equation when it’s far from it. I understand these attributes can be appropriate in certain circumstances, but compromise has no place when it comes to our principles and values—we should strive to never compromise them.

     

    Such virtues may sound reasonable, but the context is the key. If some politician shows me he wants to transfer my wealth and/or reduce my liberty, where exactly should I compromise? Would it have been open-minded for Jefferson to have compromised in the Declaration of Independence? “…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Existence, being somewhat Free, and the Pursuit of Reasonable Contentment?”

     

    Politically active people, especially those on the far left, sometimes cite the “anger” of “Tea Party” participants, based not on their behavior, but on the bitingly sarcastic, and poignant signs many carry. Frankly, I’ve been amazed, pleasantly so, that the new Sons (and Daughters) of Liberty have been so civil and gracious in their dissent. Consider that the opposition has been attempting to alter the very course America’s Founders set into motion, and if they get their way, all American’s, as well as future generation’s, liberty suffers. How provocative is that?

     

    When a political opponent wants to turn free people into part-time government slaves, are the people supposed to compromise? I suppose the transfer-wealth crowd has no problem with this concept; they actually believe a people can be “partially” free, and certainly not nearly as free as our Founders intended for us.

     

    The Founders fought, risked, and died, as did so many who followed them, for my liberty. How can I, as an American, disrespect them by so frivolously allowing a progressive political movement to steal my birthright from me? I can’t.

  • For Once Massachusetts is Right

     

     

     

     

      Wow! Massachusetts.

     

    Being my home state how could I not at least comment on the great upheaval that has propelled Scott Brown to U. S. Senator? A Republican no less. Comparisons to the Bay State’s secure place in early American history abound, “…the shot heard ‘round the world…”, paraphrased by radio host and writer Mark Steyn, “…the Scott heard ‘round the world.”

     

    I can’t go as far as the First Lady’s expression of novel adult pride in her country, since I’ve always taken pride in Massachusetts’s early history, its literary and academic stature, and of course its venerable athletic traditions, but this is the first time I remember being able to boast about the commonwealth, politically.

     

    It’s exceedingly fitting that a major “shot” fired in our fight to re-dedicate our nation to the U.S. Constitution, happened in John, Sam, and John Quincy Adams’; Paul Revere, and John Hancock’s home state. Now, as happened after the American Revolution’s birth in Lexington and Concord, other states will likely join Massachusetts recommitting to our U.S. Constitution and to constitutional process. 

     

      

  • All Dressed up With no Place to Write.

         

     

     

    Why do the writing gods have to play such mischief with writers? I mean, come on; why do so many of our greatest ideas, or at least what we think are our greatest ideas at the time, so often come to us when we have no ability to record them? Some notions are so fleeting that even a few seconds delay in jotting them down, or otherwise recording them, can result in the muse sucking the idea back into her inspirational source. The muses are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne the goddess of memory. The irony is fantastic. 

     

    I commute to work everyday by motorcycle. Riding inspires me, but riding also provides me no ability, other than to try to hold it in my sieve-like mind, to record my inspirations. How cruel my muse.

     

    I’ll be riding, enjoying the wind, the mountains, the sights, when suddenly, in a mini-eureka moment, an idea will flash in my mind. I’ll try to hook the idea with some memory techniques I’ve learned over the years, but too often the hook fails to set. I can’t recall the number of times I don’t even try those tricks; I simply convince myself I’ll remember the idea—you know; because it’s so damned brilliant—(yeah, right), but it’s fifty-fifty at best. As likely as not, poof! It’s gone as it came back to the ether.

     

    Do I have an answer to this phenomenon, great ideas filling your mind when your open water swimming in a lake or ocean, skydiving, riding a motorcycle, running, showering, whatever…you get my point, no I don’t.

     

    It’s just a fact of the writer’s life that many of the things we do, which provide us with the most inspiration, are often things that provide us little ability to record our ideas in order to make use of them later. I suppose even the writing gods need a laugh now and then—apparently my muse certainly does.

  • Want to help Haiti? Promote Liberty!

                

     

     

     

     

    The horrendous situation occurring in Haiti since a major earthquake struck the island nation last weekend points up something that should sober the world—especially the so-called “developed,” and “free” nations. Countries like Haiti are an embarassment to a modern, “enlightened” world, and are a condemnation of the tyrants and most of all, of all the good people who do nothing.

     

    Haiti has an interesting history as the only nation in the western hemisphere to have had a successful slave revolt. Unfortunately, to paraphrase Mel Gibson from his movie, The Patriot, the people exchanged one tyrant thousands of miles away, for other tyrants one mile away.

     

    Haiti’s is a history of dictatorship and corruption. Billions in yearly financial aid have poured in from many nations. In particular, Uncle Sam, of course, has been very generous to the Haitians, and most recently President Clinton, during his administration and since, has taken a keen interest in the Haitian condition. And while we’ve indeed poured in more than enough funds to spur development, we’ve never been very good at tracking what happens to our money once it arrives in Port au Prince. If we believe it’s ending up in the bank accounts of the few at the expense of the many, I’m certain we’d be correct.

     

    President Bush famously said, “Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world; it’s God’s gift to humanity.”

     

    The problem is that the strong free nations fail again and again to stand up for, and with, the people of weaker oppressed nations. In too many cases, the free nations continue to provide economic support and fail to comply with sanctions against tyrants. For example, right now while I write, people in Darfur, Sudan continue to be slaughtered because the “developed,” “free” nations can’t—won’t—refuse to come together to end it.

     

    Does anyone doubt that if the free (and semi-free) nations truly stood together both economically and militarily, nations such as, Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Israel, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Poland, Georgia, Brazil, Mexico, the Scandinavian nations, the Baltic states, and how about Russia, just to name a short list, that they together in a committed common cause couldn’t exert a powerful influence and facilitate the eventual demise of the brutal dictators of our world?

     

    Two primary issues come to mind: The first reason is a misplaced national self interest.  They put the short term over the long term, thinking placating or appeasing tyrants today will protect them in the future, even as those tyrants’ power grows. More liberty anywhere is more liberty everywhere. Second, too many nations have been busy over the years conducting their socialism experiments at the expense of their national defense, content to crouch under America’s shield, the only nation that can competently and consistently project power anywhere on earth, for protection, all the while routinely disparaging their benefactor.

     

    I’m afraid that until nations cast aside their socialist delusions and embrace individual human liberty, we will continue to see tragic events like that which we see today in Haiti following their earthquake. In 1989 the U.S. experienced a similar strength earthquake in the heavily populated San Francisco-Oakland region. And while it appears that the Haitians will suffer anywhere from fifty to a hundred thousand or more deaths; only 62 people died in the California quake. The majority of buildings didn’t collapse on people.

     

    However, in a final comment on the subject: while what I’ve said is food for thought, and is indeed something desperately needed in Haiti, right now the real suffering can only be mitigated by the charitable efforts of the world. While the people’s political and economic plight has individuals to blame, a catastrophic disaster is totally within the realm of an indiscriminate nature.

     

    Let’s take this opportunity to help the Haitians, who are a friendly, good, and decent people, build a nation conceived in the liberty that is every person’s God-given right. Here in Seattle, back in 1889, the town suffered a major catastrophe when the fledgling city burned to the ground. The people chose to rebuild rather than relocate and many people today believe that had Seattle not had that great municipal “do-over,” having replaced the previous wooden structures with beautiful brick and stone ones, many of which still stand today, the Emerald City wouldn’t be the crown jewel of the Great Pacific Northwest, and the world class American city we admire today.

     

    If the people of Haiti are willing to build a free nation from the rubble of earthquake and oppression, let’s help them do it, but do it right.   

  • Don’t get Mired in Distractions on Nanny-state Issues

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I’ve been writing about my opposition to helmet and seatbelt-type laws for many years. In fact, I’ve been doing this for about three decades now. I believe if government should be involved at all, it should educate, not mandate. One frustration I’ve found, even with some sympathetic and otherwise conservative/libertarian-leaning folks, is they too often get distracted by political straw-men, and concede points or make weak arguments against liberty grabs.

     

    The distraction is the perennial counter to the argument against helmet and seatbelt laws, which is based on personal liberty, is to assert, “If I’m going to have to pay hospital bills for those who choose not to use seatbelts or helmets, I (government) should be able to force seatbelt and helmet use.”

     

    Unfortunately, they do have an argument, but only due to the fact that government pays for too many American’s medical care. This is why the argument should be more against increasing government interference in American healthcare, than even against specific helmet, seatbelt, and similar type laws. When the government pays your bills, yes, it’s logical they should have a say in your behavior. This is the perfect argument against the government paying your bills. And even when it does pay your bills, the truly American policy should be, liberty first-safety/health second; remember, it’s the Statue of Liberty, not the Statue of Safety. Patrick Henry didn’t say, “Give me Safety, or give me Death.” Now there’s a bold and courageous declaration.

     

    Bottom line, the reason to oppose helmet and seatbelt laws is simple. The formula that gets us those laws is the very same formula that will bring similar laws affecting more and more areas of our lives. For example take New York Governor Mike Boomberg’s “Scorched Nutrition” campaign against its citizen’s health choices in Gotham.

     

    He’s decreed transfats be banned and next on the list is salt. How staggeringly arrogant can one politician be? Well, this year we’re getting lots of answers to that question. And this is from a Mayor who, while at the same time he’s working diligently to save New Yorkers from their choices, is handing out brochures to assist heroin addicts with the “safe” use of their chosen opiate. Even though I’m a cop, as a libertarian I say discuss legalization, sure, but I’ve seen too many junkies to ever endorse a government assisting with what they consider the “safe” use of such a treacherous narcotic.

     

    Yes folks, you may not think helmet laws affect you, because you don’t ride a two-wheeled vehicle; you may not think seatbelt laws affect you, because you’d wear a seatbelt regardless. But what happens when they eventually (and they will) come after, what should be a personal decision about, something you do care about? If we have high profile politicians willing to, by virtual royal decree, banish food products as ubiquitous as salt, for Pete’s sake; there’s a politician somewhere, bitten by the “do-something” bug as we speak, who’s just waiting for, or more likely looking for, the next ban to inflict on a supposedly free people.    

  • Obama: It’s All About “Me.”

     

    I’ve heard many conservatives talk about how President Obama is all about “Me.” That his speeches are filled with references to, “I this… and I that,” but believe it or not, although I am far from a fan, I wasn’t ready to purchase this particular observation—yet. I thought he was still about his progressive cause. Well, the President’s handling of this, what is supposed to be, final portion of the healthcare push, has convinced me: it is indeed all about him.

     

    How else can one explain that not only is the process not as transparent as the President promised it would be, it’s diametrically opposed to transparency—it’s secret. As we’ve heard all over the media, the President promised many times over the course of his campaign that this process would be the most transparent and bipartisan possible, broadcasting on C-Span and on streaming web video, and even soliciting “better” ideas from multiple sources. (Apparently, from all liberal Democrat sources).

     

    Now I’m hearing that the President wants a healthcare bill on his desk to sign before the State of the Union Address. There seems to be no interest in what exactly the bill will contain; there’s only a mad dash to run roughshod over the opposition, which polls across the board now show includes a majority of Americans.

     

    That the President wants something, anything, to sign that he can trot out to show the country how “successful” his first year has been, is as obvious as it is pathetic. The words, “I have passed the most significant legislation since the FDR administration…” (or since the dawn of man), in some form, will spill over his smiling lips, likely to the standing ovation of the leftist ideologue robots in attendance. This shows me that in this president’s mind, accomplishment that is more show than substance is just fine.

     

    This also accounts for the hair-on-fire, lunatic race to pass something that’s ostensibly so critical to all those Americans now dying in the gutters, bodies stacked up on street corners, due to no insurance, but won’t take effect for half a decade.

     

    If this were truly only about the American people, getting it done swiftly, in the next couple weeks, wouldn’t be necessary; getting it right would be necessary. If this is all about President Obama looking “good,” then getting this done before the State of the Union is absolutely necessary—although will likely backfire anyway.

     

    Democrats are already beginning to feel the retribution of the American people with 2009’s political losses in Virginia and New Jersey, a turncoat representative, and now 2010’s exodus of major Democrat players in Connecticut, North Dakota, and Colorado.

     

    It seems the folks currently in power are either absolute political dunces, or they’re something much more dangerous. Is it possible that they’re willing to suffer a temporary loss, or diminishing, of power in exchange for establishing an irreversible mechanism with which they will transform our free market democratic republic into some form of an ugly, new, progressive/socialistic version of America.