Category Archives: The Bill Of Rights

Meet Michael Charles Smith

If the 2008 presidential campaign wasn’t about electing the first woman, African American, Hispanic, or Mormon president but rather about ideas, candidates like Ron Paul might have a fighting chance to be the next president. For the purposes of this post, I’ll pretend that this race is about ideas.

Ron Paul seems to be a fan favorite here at The Liberty Papers. I also have a great deal of admiration for Ron Paul. I hope that he draws a great deal of attention in the debates so that certain libertarian issues will be discussed that the G.O.P. front runners wouldn’t touch with a 10’ pole. As far as domestic issues go, I think Paul is right on the money…its some (but not all) of his foreign policy positions I have problems with (the same problems I generally have with the Libertarian Party platform in regard to foreign policy). More specifically, Ron Paul’s inability to understand the very real threats to the U.S. by Islamofascists makes it very difficult for me to endorse him or pull the lever for him.

So what is a liberty and small government minded person who also recognizes the threats of Islamofascim to do? The G.O.P. front runners (Giuliani, McCain, Romney, etc.) all seem to want to combat these threats but will also most likely continue to grow the government in much the same way as President Bush has. Ron Paul would work to decrease the size of government and restore some of our lost liberties but would cut and run in Iraq and leave America vulnerable (as would most if not all of the Democrats who are running). No good can come from a defeat in Iraq. There is at least one candidate who is perhaps even less well known than Ron Paul that might be a reasonable compromise between the G.O.P. front runners and Ron Paul; meet Oregon Republican Michael Charles Smith.

For those of you who are looking for the perfect presidential candidate, I have some bad news: there is no perfect candidate. But as I went through the list of things I am looking for in a candidate, Michael Charles Smith is about as close as I can find who reflects my views. Smith is not your typical Republican and certainly won’t be receiving any support from the Christian Right. Smith calls himself a “fiscal conservative” and “social libertarian.” By fiscal conservative he means that federal spending should only be used for functions specifically mandated in the U.S. Constitution (what a concept!), federal taxing and spending should be reduced in favor of state and local control, and the federal income tax should be abolished and replaced with the Fair Tax. By Social libertarian he means that he is pro choice, that illicit drugs should be de-felonized (not a complete withdraw from the war on drugs but a start), and that gays should have the same rights of marriage and be able to openly serve in the military.

In matters of war and peace Smith was opposed to going to war in Iraq but does not believe the troops should leave until the job is done. Though I did support the reasons for going to war with Iraq and continue to support the war, the president and the congress did not use the constitutional approach and was therefore; reckless and possibly illegal (I’ll leave that up to the lawyers to decide). Smith, on the other hand, actually believes the founders had it right in the first place. Smith explains:

Fundamentally, our approach to military engagement should be reset. The threshold for military commitment should be stringently limited to specific threats to Americans, not American “interests.” Any extended commitment of military force should require a formal declaration of war from the Congress. Discretionary commitments and preemptive justifications are too prone to political motivations and lack sufficient checks and balances.

Let’s honor the sacrifice of those who volunteer to protect our freedom by not carelessly putting them in harm’s way.

While I don’t think Smith would be as strong of a leader in the war on Islamofascism as Giuliani, at least Smith seems to recognize both external and internal threats to liberty in the United States. Most importantly, he wants to restore what he calls “constitutional integrity” by returning to a smaller government, less spending, returning more responsibility to the states, restoring the Bill of Rights by upholding church/state separation, civil liberties, and state’s rights.

Obviously, the chances of Michael Charles Smith being the next POTUS is a long shot (lack of campaign funds, name recognition, the MSM, the G.O.P. establishment, etc.) at best. He probably will not even qualify for the early primaries. Though I’m not prepared to give Smith my endorsement at this moment, I think he deserves some careful consideration by those of us with libertarian leanings. How great would that be to have not one but two ‘true’ Republicans in the Republican debates with the likes of Rudolf Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Duncan Hunter? Is it possible that perhaps one of the front runners might adopt some of the Smith and Paul platforms? In this 2008 beauty contest, this is probably the best we can hope for.

Memo: The Earth Doesn’t Move

Cross posted here at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds

Kansas’ government school science curriculum is no longer the laughing stock of the nation and the world; the dubious honor may next be bestowed on Georgia. Georgia state representative Ben Bridges has circulated a memo to other state lawmakers around the country encouraging his colleagues to challenge the teaching of evolution (while promoting of I.D. creation “science”) in court by stating that evolution is not science but part of another religion thus violating the separation of church and state. This in itself is nothing too unusual; those who promote I.D. have made that argument before. Bridges memo goes even further: evolution is part of an ancient Jewish conspiracy! Obviously, this did not sit well with the Anti-defamation League.

Just when I thought this story couldn’t get nuttier, the memo has links to a site called as its authority. not only takes on well-established scientific theories of evolution and the big bang (what the site calls “big bangism”) but the very fact that…the earth revolves around the sun! According to the site the earth DOES NOT MOVE and the sun REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH. No shit.

Marshall Hall, the sites creator and former government school teacher (scary), believes that the idea that the earth revolves around the sun is also a giant conspiracy to discredit the bible. Hall references two bible verses “The world is established and cannot move” (Psalm 93:1) and “He hangeth the Earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). Following these verses, Hall goes on to say:

The Bible and all real evidence confirms that this is precisely what He did, and indeed:

The Earth is not rotating…nor is it going around the sun.

The universe is not one ten trillionth the size we are told.

Today’s cosmology fulfills an anti-Bible religious plan disguised as “science”.

The whole scheme from Copernicanism to Big Bangism is a factless lie.

Those lies have planted the Truth-killing virus of evolutionism in every aspect of man’s “knowledge” about the Universe, the Earth, and Himself.

I can’t say that I am all that surprised that there are such people out there who have not left the dark ages. What is a little surprising and very disturbing is the idea that a U.S. lawmaker on any level would listen to moon bats such as Marshall Hall to put forward an agenda in government schools. Had I stumbled across this site myself, I would have thought it to be a spoof to mock creationists because I know that most creationists would never question the idea that the earth revolves around the sun. Most creationists would not take Psalm 93:1 and Job 26:7 literally and would say that the descriptions made in these verses were based on the understanding people had of the universe at that time (which is a lame explanation if you ask me seeing that they were supposedly authored by the creator of the universe). In a previous post, I wrote the following statement:

Since we don’t want to offend the fragile faith of the fundies, why not allow them to substitute their own version of reality in all the other sciences? Clearly the astronomers don’t know what they are talking about either because the Bible clearly stated that the earth was flat and that the sun revolves around the earth. We ought to burn all books written which contradict the Bible. This will be no small task: we pretty much have to rid ourselves of everything we have learned about biology, geology, astronomy, anthropology, psychiatry, history, mathematics, medicine, and more.

Little did I know at the time I wrote that statement that there were fundies with influence setting out to do just that. Could there ever be a better argument for school privatization and school choice than this?

Hat tip: Nealz Nuze

Related Posts:
Sunday School Science Lesson
The End of Faith (Book Review)
Can Mysticism Co-Exist with Reason and Liberty?
The Battle for Young Minds

Is it time for impeachment?

Bob Barr has written a scathing editorial on the continued ignorance of the Bush Administration when it comes to securing our most basic liberties:

[M]any provisions in the Magna Carta dealt with parochial interests of barons that have little relevance today, such is not the case with paragraph 39: “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.” The eloquence, relevance and importance of these words ring as loudly today as they did nearly 800 years ago.

This paragraph, reciting the inherent right of each person in a free society to be protected against incarceration or deprivation except by rule of law, was well-known and clearly understood by our Founding Fathers as an underpinning of civilized society. The “Great Writ” of habeas corpus — whereby a person has a fundamental right to be brought before a court to determine the lawfulness of his or her detention or deprivation — is a vital element of liberty growing out of this paragraph in the Magna Carta. Its importance to the fledgling republic occupied many pages of debate and court decisions in those early years that defined our nation to the world as the “beacon of liberty.” The Great Writ was considered a core element in the foundation of our republic.

So important was the writ of habeas corpus deemed by the Constitution’s drafters that Article I expressly forbids the “Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus” from being even temporarily suspended. Only if our country is invaded or faced with overt “Rebellion” could the Congress move to suspend — not eliminate — the right of every person to be brought before a court if the government seeks to detain or otherwise imperil his or her freedom. The president is not granted that power at all. President Lincoln attempted to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, a move later determined by the Supreme Court to have been unconstitutional.

Yet, so little regard has the Bush administration for the rights of the people as opposed to the power of the government, that its attorney general recently told the American people, through testimony before the United States Senate, in effect, “don’t worry so much about habeas corpus because you don’t really have that right under our Constitution anyway.” For many Americans, the shock of such words being spoken by an attorney general of the United States has not yet worn off, though uttered nearly three weeks ago.

The position thus staked out by the attorney general is troubling also in light of the fact that the administration has repeatedly taken another phrase in the Constitution and elevated it to the level of a sacred and all-encompassing “right” of presidents. Article II provides that the president, rather than the Congress, shall occupy the position atop the military chain of command. The president serves as the “Commander in Chief” of the armed forces.

The paragraph in which this provision appears gives to the president no additional powers when serving as commander in chief. It is a reflection simply of the administrative need to have one person, rather than the entire Congress, issuing commands to the military. Moreover, the very next section reminds the president that at all times he has a responsibility to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” with no hint of an exception for whenever he decides he is acting as commander in chief.

Yet, post-Sept. 11, this president has let not a single opportunity slip by without reminding us, almost in the fashion of a character in a Gilbert and Sullivan opera, that he is the “commander in chief” and a “wartime president.” He then proceeds to employ the title to justify whatever it is he wishes to do in the “Global War on Terror.”

Admittedly, I’ve voted for Bush. My drift towards libertarianism and classical liberalism began back in 2002 and for a while, I bought into the rhetoric on the war on terror.

The Constitution of the United States is the most basic of contracts, the sole purpose of the document is constrain government and protect the rights of “We the people.” I don’t use that phrase in a collective sense. It is clear by reading the Bill of Rights that the Constitution protect individual liberties. Liberties cannot and should not be taken away in the name of the common good or for any other rhetorical purpose like a “war on terror” or to fight a “Great Depression” or to combat the “Red Scare” (even though I despise collectivism).

Our government has a fiduciary responsibility to guarantee our rights protected under the Constitution, if they fail to secure those liberties at what point do we start exercising and recreating the actions of our Founding Fathers to restore the concepts of the Individual and Natural Rights, on which this country was founded.

Warrantless GPS Tracking Isn’t A “Search”

According to the 7th Circuit, cops can place a GPS tracking device on your vehicle, without warrant, based on a claim of suspicion. That claim doesn’t ever have to be justified to a judge, and since it doesn’t require a warrant, “probable cause” is whatever the officer thinks it is. The device will be similar to those available from firms who specialise in fleet tracking to ensure businesses can manage their drivers and trucks whereabouts. If you’d like to find out more, you can click here to go to the Autoconnect website.

From engadget:

Earlier this month, the Seventh Circuit of the US Court of Appeals “ruled against a defendant who claimed that the surreptitious placement of a GPS tracking device amounted to an unconstitutional search,” essentially giving the coppers the green light to add a GPS module to a suspicious ride sans a warrant. While we’re sure the privacy advocates out there are screaming bloody murder, the district judge found that they had had a “reasonable suspicion that the defendant was engaged in criminal activity,” and it seems that a well-placed hunch is all they need for lawful placement. Interestingly, the government argues that no warrant was needed since “there was no search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment,”

I guess my post over the weekend on RFID tracking didn’t even take into account that they’re already doing it with GPS.

Now, I don’t really like the idea of government being able to track with GPS. Just like I don’t like the idea that the Department of Homeland Security might tap our phones. What is truly disturbing, though, is when they try (and courts uphold) their ability to do it without any sort of oversight. I worry about giving government power; I’m truly terrified of giving them unaccountable power.

As I pointed out in my RFID post, most of you won’t ever have to worry about this. After all, you haven’t done anything wrong. And the bulk of the usage that cops and politicians will get out of these sort of technologies will be for actual lawbreakers (even if they’re breaking stupid laws like those of the War on Drugs). But the tools are also tools of harassment. And as the Manassas Park story shows us, it’s a tool to harass YOU if you make powerful enemies.

But it can spread wider. The state has the power, and libertarians are consistently making themselves enemies of the state. With the labyrinth of laws, so widespread that nobody can exist without breaking laws; this gives the state power to “legally” harass people who don’t serve its purposes or actively work against them. You know, people like me. It’s just fine to call the state a bumbling, stumbling fool, but it’s pretty difficult to defend yourself when that fool takes aim at you.

Hat Tip: Radley Balko @ Hit & Run

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