Archive for June, 2016

Democrats stayed up all night fighting to expand unconstitutional Bush-era powers

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Originally published at Rare

I’m months from my thirtieth year on this earth, and starting to feel old.

Before you get offended by this, consider that when I was in college, Democrats were the anti-war party. I mean a let’s-reject-Hillary-for-Obama-because-he’s-anti-war kind of party. Code Pink was essentially mainstream on the left a decade ago. George W. Bush-era surveillance was markedly beyond the pale. The Patriot Act? Sedition? The TSA? Absurd.

Enter the left, circa 2016. What do today’s protests look like? A Civil Rights era-style sit-in. This is noteworthy given the historical implications of such an act. For a spectacle this extensive—in which Democrats have been literally sitting on the House floor holding up the works—the objective had to be worthy.

So what’s led Democrats to this extreme behavior? Their goal is to use Bush’s no-fly list as a means to deny you your basic constitutional rights.

It’s true: In the wake of the Orlando mass shooting, Democrats are promoting a vast expansion of war on terror-era powers that strip innocent people of their second, fourth, and fifth amendment rights. They’re pushing the use of a secret government list, in which the people on it, often arbitrarily assigned as a terrorists, have no means to combat the designation.

Essentially, what Democrats spent hours demanding, into the thick of the night and into Thursday morning upending regular legislative order for, is the expansion of broadly defined national security powers not long ago opposed by their party and in most cases, them specifically.

Interestingly, House Democrats have both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on their side. And though they’ve dwindled in numbers, a few vestiges of the principled left remain in opposition to this attempt, in concert with libertarians and conservatives.

The ACLU, for example, opposes using the no fly list as a means to deny gun rights. And not because they’re particularly pro-second amendment, but due to an understanding that secret government lists aren’t a metric citizens should accept as a replacement for our traditional “innocent until proven guilty” standard.

Libertarian-leaning Republican Congressman Justin Amash summed the scene up well by tweeting a relevant family anecdote.

This is a matter our friends on the left ought to consider. Particularly those who crow about how Trump is “literally Hitler.” Do liberals really trust a man like him with the kind of power they’re seeking to expand? A man who suggested that putting Muslims in internment camps might not be such a bad idea since, after all, FDR did the same to the Japanese?

It’s easy to sit on the House floor and create a spectacle, demanding a vote on gun control legislation that wouldn’t have even prevented the terrorist attack they’re politicizing. It’s less easy to admit that the answer isn’t a new law made in haste, but a hard look at our national security and intelligence apparatuses.

After all, Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen was investigated by the FBI twice, reported again to the FBI for suspicious behavior just days prior to his attack, and no follow up was initiated.

There are unfortunately no easy answers to the question of how to prevent lone wolf terror attacks, no matter how understandably desperate many are to find them.

To the Democrats sitting on the House floor so they can feel good about “doing something,” I’d suggest that denying innocent Americans their basic due process rights is no solution.

Gay groups and gun advocates are teaming up across America to promote LGBT self-defense

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

While Senate Democrats filibustered in an effort to pass gun control legislation (the specifics of which wouldn’t have stopped the Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen), some LGBT community members are doing the opposite of what so many politicians now demand: Gay men and women are arming themselves.

In Las Vegas, Nevada, several LGBT organizations are working to get their community properly trained and armed.

Derek Washington of Get Equal Nevada said, as reported by KTNV News:

“We’re at risk. We’re under attack. We’re not just under attack from Muslim terrorists. We’re under attack from Christian terrorists. We are under attack from drunk frat boys. We’re always under attack.”

Washington wants LGBT members to get concealed carry permits: “I want those courses packed. After Orlando, it is our responsibility to care for us. We can’t depend on anyone else,” he said.

Leading this Vegas-based effort is Out For Liberty, an organization that is offering gay nightclub workers—who are legally allowed to carry guns while working behind the bar, per Nevada law—free training courses. The group is also offering discounted rates to LGBT locals.

In Houston, Texas, a gun range has decided to offer free concealed carry courses to LGBT individuals.

“We want to make them aware they can come here, they can feel safe here, they can get their concealed handgun license or their license to carry and they can carry a gun and they can feel good about it,” said Jeff Sanford, owner of the Shiloh Indoor Shooting Range, to KPRC News.

This tracks with a broader trend of increased interest in firearms training within the LGBT community. “Gun shops typically see a spike in customers after mass shootings. But this time, many are seeing shoppers they’ve never really seen before: More gays and lesbians,” reported FOX 31 Denver.

Hours after the Orlando shooting Sunday, the Pink Pistols, a national pro-gun LGBT organization, had its membership spike from 1,500 to 3,500. The organization’s website explains their mission, stating, “We teach queers to shoot. Then we teach others that we have done so.”

“Armed queers don’t get bashed.”

The Pink Pistols website continues, “We change the public perception of the sexual minorities, such that those who have in the past perceived them as safe targets for violence and hateful acts — beatings, assaults, rapes, murders — will realize that that now, a segment of the sexual minority population is now armed and effective with those arms.”

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, gay-friendly neighborhoods have been plastered with posters depicting a rainbow adaptation of the iconic “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden Flag – typically associated with conservative causes such as the tea party movement – affixed with text that says #ShootBack instead of the traditional “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Rand Paul wants to end the draft as a tribute to Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

The death of Muhammad Ali has reignited a debate about the outspoken athlete’s legacy, particularly his famous refusal to be drafted to fight in the Vietnam War.

Now, Rand Paul is getting in on the discussion.

Paul recently introduced an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act that would end the selective service, which forces men between the ages of 18-25 to register for a military draft that, while still technically in existence, hasn’t been enforced since the 1970s.

Now he wants to do it in Muhammad Ali’s honor.

Sen. Paul wrote in the Louisville Courier Journal, “In honor of Muhammad Ali’s life work, I will introduce the repeal of the draft as stand-alone legislation with his name on it.”

“He was a conscientious objector and practiced civil disobedience, a proud American tradition that runs from the Founding Fathers to Thoreau and all the way through Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ali’s own time,” said Paul.

“Ali said in 1975 that he would like to be remembered, ‘As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him and who helped as many of his people as he could – financially and also in their fight for freedom, justice and equality,” Paul added.

If Paul’s bill passes, it will essentially end the draft, officially making the United States dependent upon an on all-volunteer military, as has functionally been the case since 1973.

“One thing I liked about Muhammad Ali is that he would stand on principle even when it was unpopular,” said Paul, speaking to a slew of reporters in Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky this week.

Tying Ali’s opposition to the draft to contemporary disparities, Paul said, “The criminal justice system I say now has a racial justice disparity, selective service had a racial disparity, because a lot of rich white kids either got a deferment or went to college or got out of the draft. I’m opposed to Selective Service.”

Paul’s standalone legislation is called ‘The Muhammad Ali Voluntary Service Act.’