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  • The Libertarian and Catholic Social Teachings PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
    Written by David S. D’Amato   
    Wednesday, 25 June 2014 13:13

    Roman Catholic leaders from Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga to Pope Francis himself have made news this year in their criticisms of supposed free-market economies, likening them to a form of idolatry that exploits and denies access to the poor. Because Catholic social teachings emphasize stewardship and aid to the less fortunate, clergymen such as Maradiaga have taken aim at perceived “structural causes for poverty.”

    It is in identifying these causes that the cardinal’s fulminations against free markets become problematic. While he can hardly be blamed for supposing that something in relations between rich and poor is amiss, it is his faith in the positive interventions of the state that is the “deception.” Ironically, the “free market” that Maradiaga so sincerely denounces is itself a product of deep and sustained state coercion on a scale not often recognized for what it is. We must therefore distinguish between two ways of employing the phrase “free market,” lest we fall into the trap that caught Maradiaga – the trap of opposing libertarianism in principle without actually understanding the economic system it prescribes.

     
    Has the Department of Homeland Security Become America’s Standing Army? PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
    Written by John W. Whitehead   
    Tuesday, 17 June 2014 13:32

    A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive, will not long be safe companions to liberty.” – James Madison

    Here [in New Mexico], we are moving more toward a national police force. Homeland Security is involved with a lot of little things around town. Somebody in Washington needs to call a timeout.” – Dan Klein, retired Albuquerque Police Department sergeant

    If the United States is a police state, then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its national police force, with all the brutality, ineptitude, and corruption such a role implies. In fact, although the DHS’s governmental bureaucracy may at times appear to be inept and bungling, it is ruthlessly efficient when it comes to building what the Founders feared most – a standing army on American soil.

    The third largest federal agency behind the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, the DHS – with its 240,000 full-time workers, $61-billion budget, and sub-agencies that include the Coast Guard, Customs & Border Protection, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency – has been aptly dubbed a “runaway train.”

     
    Just Shoot: Turning Search Warrants into Death Warrants and SWAT Teams into Death Squads PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
    Written by John W. Whitehead   
    Monday, 09 June 2014 05:59

    “A government which will turn its tanks upon its people, for any reason, is a government with a taste of blood and a thirst for power and must either be smartly rebuked, or blindly obeyed in deadly fear.” – John Salter

    How many children, old people, and law-abiding citizens have to be injured, terrorized, or killed before we call a halt to the growing rash of police violence that is wracking the country? How many family pets have to be gunned down in cold blood by marauding SWAT teams before we declare such tactics off-limits? And how many communities have to be transformed into military outposts – complete with heavily armed police, military tanks, and “safety” checkpoints – before we draw that line in the sand that says “not in our town”?

    The latest incident happened last month in Atlanta, where a SWAT team attempting to execute a no-knock drug warrant in the middle of the night launched a flash-bang grenade into the targeted home, only to have it land in a crib where a 19-month-old baby lay sleeping. The grenade exploded, burning his face, lacerating his chest, and leaving him paralyzed. At the hospital, he was put in a medically induced coma.

    If this were the first instance of police overkill – if it were even the fifth – there might be hope of reforming our system of law enforcement. But what happened to this baby, whose life will never be the same, has become par for the course in a society that glorifies violence, turns a blind eye to government wrongdoing, and sanctions any act by law enforcement – no matter how misguided or wrong. As I detail in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this state-sponsored violence is a necessary ingredient in any totalitarian regime to ensure a compliant, cowed, and fearful populace.

     
    Lights, Camera, Arrested: Americans Thrown in Jail for Filming Police PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
    Written by John W. Whitehead   
    Wednesday, 19 March 2014 05:53
    Once again, the U.S. government is attempting to police the world when it should be policing its own law-enforcement agencies. We’ve got a warship cruising the Black Sea, fighter jets patrolling the Baltic skies, and a guided-missile destroyer searching the South China Sea for the downed Malaysia Airlines flight. All the while, back home in the U.S., our constitutional rights are going to hell in a handbasket, with homeowners being threatened with eviction for attempting to live off the grid, old women jailed for feeding crows, and citizens armed with little more than a cell phone arrested for daring to record police activities.

    Robin Speronis now finds herself threatened with eviction from her own Florida home for daring to live off the grid, independent of city utilities such as water and electricity. City officials insist the Cape Coral resident’s chosen way of life violates the international property-maintenance code and city ordinances. Mary Musselman, also a Florida resident, is being held in jail without bond for “feeding wild animals.” The 81-year-old Musselman, on probation after being charged with feeding bears near her home, was arrested after officers discovered her leaving bread out for crows. Meanwhile, Brandy Berning of Florida was forced to spend a night in jail after recording her conversation with an officer who pulled her over for a routine traffic stop.

    Welcome to the farce that passes for law and order in America today, where crime is low, militarized police activity is on the rise, and Americans are being penalized for living off the grid, feeding wild animals, holding Bible studies in their backyard, growing vegetables in their front yard, collecting rainwater, and filming the police.

     
    How Can the People Be Protected From the Police? PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
    Written by John W. Whitehead   
    Tuesday, 25 February 2014 10:36

    “We live in a small, rural town. Moved here in 1961. I don’t remember what year the State Troopers moved a headquarters into our town. Our young people were plagued with tickets for even the smallest offense. Troopers had to get their limits for the month. People make jokes about that, but it has been true. Every kid I knew was getting ticketed for something. But now it is so much worse. I raised my kids to respect police. If they did something wrong and got caught, they deserved it and should take their punishment. But now I have no respect for the police. I feel threatened and fearful of them. They are aggressive and intimidating. They lie and are abusive, and we do not know how to fight them. I am not a minority here, but people are afraid if they speak out they will be targeted. We are just a small town. I just don’t care anymore if they do target me. I am afraid they are going to kill someone.” – letter from a 60-year-old grandmother

    The following incidents are cautionary tales for anyone who still thinks that they can defy police officers without deadly repercussions, even if it’s simply to disagree about a speeding ticket, challenge a search warrant, or defend oneself against an unreasonable or unjust charge. The message they send is that “we the people” have very little protection from the standing army that is law enforcement.

    For example, Seattle police repeatedly Tasered seven-months-pregnant Malaika Brooks for refusing to sign a speeding ticket. While Brooks bears permanent burn scars on her body from the encounter, police were cleared of any wrongdoing on the grounds that they didn’t know that Tasering a pregnant woman was wrong.

     
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