I have to admit – I really thought that electing Trump would protect the Second Amendment for 4 to 8 years. However, I think the threats to the Second Amendment are worse than ever right now. Below are the current active threats I see:
Kolbe v. Hogan: If the Supreme Court doesn’t take the case, then the right of states to prohibit weapons will be upheld. Specifically, the Fourth Circuit ruled that weapons “useful in military service” can be banned. This could be almost anything! Shotguns are used by the military for breaching/CQB. Bolt action rifles are used by military snipers. This really opens the door for much more than “assault weapons” to be banned. If the Supreme Court does take the case and the state of Maryland wins, Democrats in Congress will be emboldened to pursue stricter federal gun laws.
Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Recently reintroduced by Senator Feinstein, this legislation revives the 1994 bill that outlawed “assault weapons” until 2004. While most seem to think this doesn’t have a chance of passing due to Republican control of Congress and the White House, I honestly don’t think the Democrats would be pushing so hard if they didn’t think they had a chance. I am concerned they are using the pending 2018 election to apply public pressure to get some moderate Republicans in moderate states to vote for the bill. Don’t underestimate the Democrats at this time.
Bump Stock Ban: Legislation introduced after the Las Vegas shooting, also wrapped up in the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, intends to outlaw everything that could increase the rate of fire on semiautomatic weapons: bump stocks, trigger modifications, M16 bolt carrier groups, non-standard buffers – you name it, they will be banned. This could effectively ban most if not all commercially available and custom built AR-15s available today. This is not a ban on only bump stocks. This has the potential to effectively ban semiautomatic weapons altogether.
Recent Mass Shootings: Yes, I know this is obvious. But what I mean by this is, these shootings have put a complete halt on pro-gun legislation that was about to be voted on. Specifically, the SHARE Act which would have loosened restrictions on supressors was to be voted on the week of the Las Vegas shooting. It very well could have passed, but now public pressure due to these shootings could prevent this from even being considered. Also, calls since Trump’s election to repeal the NFA will now fall on deaf ears. I think we lost the chance for these initiatives, unfortunately.
The NRA: While NRA’s recommendation to have bump stocks be reevaluated by the ATF versus banned through legislation is preferable, these calls are not compromises we need to be making. Don’t get me wrong – I think bump stocks are stupid and gimmicky. But restricting them violates the whole “shall not be infringed” part of the Second Amendment. NRA should be holding the hard line of no further restrictions, not compromising.
I’m sure there are more threats here I’m missing. My larger point is that we can’t get comfortable. What can you do to help?
Calling your Congressman really won’t accomplish much these days. In 2018, elect only 100% pro-gun candidates. Be a single issue voter.
Most importantly – do not give up your guns! Don’t cave to public pressure, don’t comply with new laws banning assault (or judicial rulings) – keep your guns regardless. Stop talking about them to people you know if they’re not a friend of the Second Amendment. Only take 100% pro-2A friends to the range – friends who truly understand the Amendment is for resisting tyranny, not hunting. Friends who are on the fence could be future snitches.
Buy more guns and ammo. Stock up now, and don’t talk about your new guns and ammo stockpile.
Now is the time to draw the line in the sand. Let gun controllers know we will not acquiesce.
Today, the National Archives released several hundred additional documents relating to the Kennedy assassination. These documents have redactions and are subject to further review to remove redactions by Trump’s April deadline. One of the more interesting files in today’s release is E. Howard Hunt’s personnel file. Below, I am going to detail some of the redactions I noticed that may be of significance when redactions are removed.
For those unfamiliar with E. Howard Hunt, he served in the OSS during World War II which led to his career with the CIA. In the CIA, he was known for participating in the 1954 overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. After his career with the agency ended in 1970, he helped organize the infamous break-in at the Watergate Hotel for which he saw prison time. Perhaps most significant of all, however, is Hunt’s supposed death bed confession of his involvement in and knowledge of the conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy.
From my perfunctory glance, here are some redactions of possible significance from Hunt’s personnel file:
pg. 148: This page may be a Notification of Personnel Action that is dated around the Kennedy assassination. The action before this is dated 9/16/1962 and the one after is dated 8/3/1964.
pg. 191: Where did Eisenhower visit in 1960 that needs to be redacted?
pg. 218: Where did he serve overseas that is redacted?
pg. 223: Where was he from 1957 to 1960?
While removal of these redactions may not reveal anything of significance to the Kennedy assassination, they could reveal more details about Hunt’s career that were not previously known. If Hunt was involved in the Kennedy assassination, it was not through any official role of his at the CIA. Instead, I think any CIA involvement in the assassination was by a select group of individuals operating outside of official capacity for what they thought was best for the agency and the Cold War given Kennedy’s threats to splinter the agency “in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”
I will be taking a look at more of these released documents as I have time and making additional observations.
Today the National Archives released another set of the JFK assassination records. However, this release was a major letdown for the public and a failure of the U.S. government serving its citizens. Here’s why you should be furious about this release:
Tens of thousands of documents weren’t released: Trump granted the relevant agencies an extension to complete review and redaction of the bulk of the documents. However, these agencies have had 25 years to work through this. Their procrastination should not be our consequence. They should release them as-is. The claims around why these should remain secret for now are smoke and mirrors. They could have let the public know much sooner that the full release wasn’t happening today.
Trump led us on: Don’t misunderstand me – I generally admire Donald Trump. But his tweets on Saturday and yesterday gave the impression that we were getting the full release. Don’t be fooled – his administration knew that the full document set wasn’t getting released today. Why did he lead us on with those tweets? He also had the power to force the agencies to release today, but he didn’t use that power. Let that sink in – he caved.
The CIA has no interest in declassifying most of these documents: As clear from past CIA lack of declassification – if the CIA wants it kept secret, it’s going to stay secret. Don’t expect to see anything they don’t want to be released.
The documents wouldn’t reveal anything anyway: Let’s be real – if there was CIA involvement in JFK’s assassination, there would be no paper trail. Whatever elements of the CIA may have partook in the assassination would definitely not have filed memos and reports to that effect. They know better than that. If anything, these documents just point to the CIA’s preferred narrative – that there may have been Russian or Cuban connections to Oswald.
No one will be held accountable for failing to release: If no one is getting in trouble for not releasing documents by today, do you expect anything to happen if they keep delaying or refusing to release? No one will be held accountable because no one ever is in the intelligence community.
We can’t let this blow over. We should demand their release. Americans are owed this release. Being deprived of these documents, even if they prove nothing, is a symbolic middle finger from the intelligence community to the American people.
I honestly thought that when Trump stood up to the intelligence community during the Russia collusion accusations that his disdain for them would last and that he would have an impact. If these documents remain classified for the duration of Trump’s presidency, I have no faith in his ability to drain the swamp. Prove me wrong Mr. President.
Why do pedophilia and youth sex trafficking seem to be growing? I think offenders are not faced with serious-enough consequences. Faced with only jail time, and often pleaded down to 10 years or not much more, offenders are not really deterred. Add to that the apparent profitability of sex trafficking and child pornography and offenders are willing to risk it.
How can we solve this problem? I have a hunch that significantly increasing the penalties around pedophilia and sex trafficking can help. Here are my proposals for first offenses:
Sexual assault of a minor: Death penalty
Sex trafficking of a minor: Death penalty
Any involvement in the production of child pornography: Death penalty
Any involvement in the propagation of child pornography: Death penalty
Conspiracy to any of the above: Life in prison
Viewing/possessing child pornography: Life in prison
While I am a states rights person and normally am inclined to leave capital punishment up to the states, the intra- and international nature of pedophile rings suggests that updating the federal penalties might be necessary. Also, these crimes amount to minors being deprived of their Constitutional liberties. It’s also likely that states without these stiff penalties would become relative safe havens for pedophiles. That said, states should also be adopting these strict penalties. Florida, Louisiana, and Montana already have laws on the books to this effect. I do not believe that the death penalty is a violation of the Eighth Amendment, i.e. cruel and unusual punishment, as long as the execution methods are humane and not vengeful. While Coker v. Georgia ruled that the death penalty for rape was unconstitutional, it did not address the idea of rape and trafficking of minors which I think most would agree is more severe of a crime than rape of an adult.
Without stricter penalties and sentences, frustrated citizens are likely to take matters into their own hands. Just take a look at Justin Payne of Toronto who has taken on the task of publicly exposing and shaming pedophiles. There’s also Veterans for Child Rescue who are working to expose pedophiles and save children. If the problem doesn’t get better soon, it won’t be long before citizens start organizing vigilante groups to track down and stop pedophiles and sex traffickers by any means necessary. Let’s try to avoid this lawlessness – introduce the death penalty for these crimes and life in prison for parties to them.
What do you think? Would introducing the death penalty for pedophiles and sex traffickers reduce the prevalence of these crimes?
I’m still shocked by the complacency of many Americans regarding government violation of their privacy. It’s been known for years now that mainstream email services such as Gmail are a backdoor for the NSA to your personal communications. And yet these services are still used by the majority of Americans. Gmail especially.
The Cybersecurity Information Security Act – or CISA – was signed into law on December 18, 2015. This law facilitates corporate information sharing of user information – email content, password, IP addresses, and more – with the government. This act just eases the barriers and adds to the data already being collected by the government as revealed by the Snowden leaks. Because this information is willingly given to the government by these companies, the government can query it without a warrant. Most alarming of all – all evidence of this information sharing between is exempt from FOIA and any other state or local laws.
What this amounts to is a big fat violation of your Fourth Amendment right. The government can search all of your email information without a warrant. Most people don’t care because they’re not doing anything wrong. But that’s not the point! Your Constitutional rights are being violated, but society has just come to accept that.
So what can you do? Ditch mainstream email.
First, sign up for a secure alternative. I’ve listed a couple for you here:
ProtonMail: Switzerland-based email service that stores your data encrypted on their servers using OpenPGP. You can also email non-ProtonMail users with encrypted messages, but not by default. Switzerland notoriously supports individual privacy and cares not for the needs of foreign law enforcement. Free accounts allow 500 MB of storage. Bonus – it is accessible through Tor.
Tutanota: Germany-based email service that also stores your data encrypted on their servers using AES and RSA. Being in Germany, it is subject to EU law. Also, German intelligence are known collaborators with American intelligence. Riskier than Protonmail, but better than mainstream. Free accounts allow 1 GB of storage.
While any emails you have with mainstream email users will still be read by the government from their end, at least you’re not storing all of your data there.
Second, completely ditch your previous mainstream email account. Export or download all of your previous email content then delete it from the inbox. You can read how to export your Gmail data here. Then, completely close your account. Read how to delete your Google account here. Make sure you inform all your contacts of the change. If you’re willing to wait a little while before closing the account, you can use a vacation auto-responder that notifies others about your new email address.
While your pre-ditch data is invariably still stored on NSA servers, you’re at least sending a strong message to the mainstream email provider that you’ve had enough. The more users that take this approach, the more American companies will hopefully begin to value privacy. What are you waiting for? Ditch now!
Tennessee state senator Mark Green, once Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army, made the news back in May for his 2013 statements on the Second Amendment. He stated that he thought citizens should be able to own any weapons the government owns. He was quoted as saying, “If they can have an aircraft carrier, I ought to be able to have an aircraft carrier.” The media, of course, portrayed this as ridiculous. Some outlets even wondered if this meant that citizens should be allowed to own nuclear weapons.
As Second Amendment advocates have had to reiterate time and time again, the true intention behind the Amendment is to ensure citizens can resist tyrannical government. If such a government is using tanks, aircraft carriers, and nuclear weapons, how could they reasonably be stopped with only small arms? Sure, there have been successful guerrilla wars that defeated better armed opponents – Vietnam and Afghanistan come to mind. But the Second Amendment is intended to even the odds between a tyrannical government and its citizens.
There are historical examples of citizens legally owning military-grade weaponry beyond small arms. During the War of 1812, James DeWolf – the second richest person in the U.S. at the time of his death – was commissioned by President Madison to field two privateers outfitted with privately-owned cannons. Captain Nicholas Millin was granted a Letter of Marque by Madison that confirmed his right to mount eighteen cannons to his vessel, the Prince de Neufchatel.
In a world where citizens could own any weapon the military does, would everybody have a tank, aircraft carrier, or a nuclear weapon? No – it’s cost prohibitive. Only the wealthiest of the wealthy with access to resources and manufacturing facilities for those weapons would be able to possess them. Not only is an aircraft carrier not cheap, but the requirements to staff, house, and maintain such a vessel drive that cost even higher. As for nuclear weapons, those resources would be even harder to obtain and form into a functional weapon. Short of a government, it would take a dedicated billionaire.
But just because it’s expensive and few to none will ever independently produce these weapons doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to own them. Mike Green was correctly interpreting the Second Amendment. So yes, all citizens should be allowed to own any weapon the military does. I know this viewpoint will be labeled as crazy. A common argument is that the founding fathers could never have imagined the future of weaponry. But it doesn’t matter – they didn’t write it that way. As written, any arms should be allowed for citizens.
Congress passed the CIA Information Act in 1984 under the guise of speeding up the agency’s ability to process FOIA requests. The premise was that they wouldn’t have to consistently review operational records that they were going to deny anyway. Today, however, the CIA (and now a number of other agencies) are not abiding by Congress’ intent. There is still a backlog. FOIA processing costs are higher than ever. And most importantly, “operational files” were supposed to still be subject to FOIA as a result of an investigation but today the CIA still refuses to search these files in the spirit of the original act.
The most alarming aspect of the 1984 act is that operational files can be exempted from public access forever. This means that even 100 years, 200 years, 500 years, and so on ad infinitum, the American public will never really know what the CIA was up to or how their involvement in historical events had an impact. Why should this activity be classified forever? The most common defense made is protecting sources and methods. After 100 years, sources are definitely dead. And if the CIA is still using methods that are over 50 years old, shouldn’t we be concerned about their ability to protect us? This is absurd.
Most Americans operate under the assumption that the CIA is conducting operations that are protecting us, such as preventing terror attacks. But with the CIA Information Act we’ll never know if that’s true, we just have to take their word for it. This in effect allows the CIA to operate with impunity.
Let’s review just a few of the known sketchy and/or illegal things the CIA has done over the years that should make us question whether the agency has our best interests in mind:
the overthrow of the democratically-elected president of Guatemala in 1954
assassination attempts on Fidel Castro
the Bay of Pigs invasion
extraordinary rendition in the War on Terror
hacking Senate computers
signature drone strikes
Shouldn’t we be allowed to know more about those operations? What about the ones we don’t even know about? Why do they need to be secret forever? At some point, aren’t Americans owed that knowledge so we can conduct introspective historical analysis? As long as the CIA can claim exemptions for operational files from the CIA Information Act of 1984, we’ll never know what happened. Why are we ok with that?
In December 1963, Harry Truman wrote an article in the Washington Post to say the CIA should only be collecting intelligence and not conducting operations. He never thought “that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations” and that “the last thing we needed was for the CIA to be seized upon as something akin to a subverting influence in the affairs of other people.” He wanted to see the CIA’s “operational duties be terminated.” He concluded: “There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.”
The CIA attempted in 1993 to refute Truman’s claims, drumming his viewpoint up to ignorance of the events in 1947 that led to the CIA’s establishment. They even make the argument that the article wasn’t written by Truman himself. How convenient.
But let’s be real – Truman got it. Unfortunately his words were not heeded. The CIA only went further down the road of covert operations that subvert the affairs of other countries. Today, the CIA is a full-blown shadow government with a black budget funded with front companies and illegal commerce. It’s insane to think that the current U.S. government could be a true republic with organizations like the CIA operating with impunity.
We need a president and a Congress that will dissolve the CIA and replace it with a pure intelligence agency – collecting and reporting intelligence, not assassinating foreign nationals and intervening in foreign elections. No operations. That is for the military in conflicts resulting from a Congressional declaration of war. Do I expect the CIA to go away in my lifetime? No. But I will not complacently accept the state of our republic with its CIA shadow government.
Side note: I do have to wonder if the timing of Truman’s article, exactly a month after Kennedy’s assassination, was due to his fear that the CIA was involved.
Bob Goodlatte’s new bill, the USA Liberty Act, reauthorizes section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which is scheduled to expire in December. It presumably uses the word “liberty” in its title because we are to believe that this surveillance is protecting our liberty. It also presumes to do a better job at protecting the privacy of U.S. citizens than section 702 did originally. Let’s not kid ourselves – this is not liberty!
While I must say I appreciate the effort to instill additional oversight and protections into our surveillance efforts, this surveillance shouldn’t be happening at all. The current structure collects everything, but supposedly only allows it to be queried after FISA court approval if it involves a U.S. citizen. Communications that belong to U.S. citizens should not be collected at all until there is a search warrant, regardless of whether they are communicating with foreign nationals. Collecting them before a search warrant, query or no query, is a violation of our Fourth Amendment right.
Collecting all communications and storing them indefinitely is a very dangerous prospect. This is turnkey tyranny. At any point, a tyrannical government could use this capability at its whim. While there may be oversights and protections in place now, we know nothing about the software or databases this infrastructure is based on. None of it is open source thus not publicly verifiable. For all we know, anyone at any time can use it to read communications without FISA court approval. While that may be illegal, it’s not necessarily stopping anyone.
The USA Liberty Act, while noble in attempting to reduce the impact on U.S. citizens, isn’t what we need. We need nothing less than total dissolution of mass government surveillance and the government agencies or subordinate offices that participate.
After every mass shooting you get the regular calls by concerned citizens to increase gun control. Las Vegas, within minutes, was proven no exception. But most alarming are the calls to repeal or modify the Second Amendment. Bret Stephens’ piece in the New York Times is the most recent popular call for this.
Let me state emphatically: repealing ormodifying any of the first ten amendments will nullify the entire Constitution.
Why is that? Well, because the Bill of Rights was the fundamental compromise by the federalists to bring the anti-federalists to support the Constitution – known as the Massachusetts Compromise. Without those ten amendments, the Constitution would not have been ratified. Any changes to those amendments today invalidates that compromise and thus the entire Constitution.