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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Red flag laws; Democrats threaten to restructure the Supreme Court


Who among us is not disgusted with senseless mass murders? People demand that something be done to solve this horrible problem. Proposed solutions include weapons and accessories bans, universal background checks, and red flag laws.

Clearly, some people should not have access to guns: the mentally ill, those addicted to drugs or alcohol, people with a history of violence, or those who have displayed suicidal tendencies, etc. Identifying these people is often difficult.

Shortening its summer recess so that it can meet on Sept. 4 to address these tragedies through legislation, the House Judiciary Committee will look at bills addressing high-capacity magazine bans, preventing people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing firearms, and a red flag law to deny firearms to those deemed to be a danger to themselves and/or others.

The New York Times explains that red flag laws “are state laws that authorize courts to issue a special type of protection order, allowing the police to temporarily confiscate firearms from people who are deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or to others.”

Requests for confiscation may come from persons who have legitimate concerns about an individual, such as suicidal tendencies or comments about violence, or actual threats. Authorities may also request such an order.

The key factor in gun violence is the desire to harm or kill people. But keeping guns away from those likely to misuse them may be the most sensible and successful approach to ending or reducing mass shootings. 

These laws must be written and enforced to protect not only the public from potentially violent individuals, but also to protect the Constitutional rights of all individuals.

Without laws that are properly written and executed, all that might be necessary to have police show up at someone’s home, demand or force entry, and confiscate legally owned weapons is an allegation that sounds legitimate to the judge in a red flag action.

Baseless, vindictive allegations of potential violence are an all-too-real possibility. The U.S. Constitution guarantees each of us the right of due process in such cases. Any legal procedure in which allegations are made against an individual must allow the individual to have legal counsel and to be presented with and counter the allegations.

The Indiana red flag law carries protections for citizens concerned about any limitation on their Second, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. Other state laws may or may not provide these protections. However, every red flag law must protect these rights.

And there must be a significant punishment for fraudulent or baseless referrals for red flag actions. 

*****

Democrats, liberals, socialists – or whatever term may be used to identify today’s radical leftists – are set on changing nearly everything that makes the United States of America the special nation that it is.

Granted, the USA is not perfect. But it also does not require dramatic changes. 

A fairly recent target of the left is the U.S Supreme Court. Since the appointment and approval of two new justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the Court now has an originalist/conservative majority, and that does not sit well with those on the left.

Originalists view the Constitution through its original language and support the principles it emphasized when it was written. This is a significant obstacle to the fundamental transformation of the country the left has in mind.

Five U.S. Senators have expressed their dissatisfaction with certain rulings with which they disagree. They are Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. They feel the High Court suffers from an affliction which must be remedied.

“The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it,” according to a legal brief produced by the five senators, as reported by Fox News. “Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.'”

This not-so-veiled threat assumes that a sufficient outcry of agreement with the senators’ opinion is all that is needed for the U.S. Senate to “restructure” a federal body that is not subservient to the Senate, or even to the whole of the Congress.  The Judicial Branch is co-equal with the Executive and Legislative branches. The senators also mistakenly suggest that their misadventure is something other than “politics” itself.

The essence of the message is that unless the Court makes decisions more politically suitable to these senators and those who think like they do, rather than decisions based upon the laws and/or the Constitution, the senators will somehow act to structure the Court with more liberal justices and fewer originalists.

The Founders provided proper methods for making changes to the federal government, to the Constitution and laws. Loading courts with liberal judges who will make the “right” decisions, such as threatened by the five senators, is not one of them.

*****

Correction: Last week’s column contained a quote attributed to Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. The quote was found in two different sources, but turned out to be a false attribution; she did not say what the quote attributed to her. I regret the error.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Efforts to suppress freedom of speech truly threaten our future



Our Constitution guarantees many freedoms that are outlined in its first ten amendments, The Bill of Rights. 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” So reads the First Amendment.

There is a reason these rights appear in the very first amendment: They are important and fundamental freedoms. And among those, the ability for the people to express their wants and desires, their approvals and disapprovals is fundamental to a free nation.

The First Amendment protects popular speech as well as unpopular speech, without prejudice. And it is unpopular speech that has the greater need for protection. Imagine living in a nation where only approved ideas may be discussed, with punishment for breaching the rules a likely result.

Such restrictions on the expression of ideas is a feature of monarchies, dictatorships and fascist regimes.

In sharp contrast, the USA was formed as a democratic republic with great individual liberty, where new and different, popular and unpopular ideas have been welcomed since its inception. 

By encouraging the expression of ideas by anyone at any time, there are discussions going on continually. Ideas that offer positive influences are adopted, while unworthy ones are rejected. The freedom to speak is an indispensable element in moving forward in the best possible way.

In the early years of the 21stCentury, that sensible process is under attack. What we see increasingly these days are efforts to suppress and suffocate ideas that are in conflict with some group or another, regardless of how small or large the group may be. 

Some of this is the ghastly social disease called “political correctness.” Some of it is censoring political ideas and speech, a clear and present danger to our future. This movement shuts down discussion and debate. It works to prevent even the exposure of contrary ideas to the light of day. The only ideas the ever-more socialist Left will allow are those of the group’s narrow dogma.

It is a testament to the failure of their ideas that the Left’s greatest fears are ideas that are different. Rather than leave their ideas to rise or fall on their own merit, they work overtime using dishonest tactics to make their ideas the only ones anyone hears or reads.

Some examples:

** Putting their finger firmly on the ideological scale, Twitter, Facebook and Google (among others) censor conservative posts. Recently, a group of Leftists protested in front of Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky home, shouting profanities and threats. When McConnell had video of these threatening carryings-on posted on Twitter, his account was promptly suspended. It’s just unacceptable to show how the Left behaves.

** Texas Democrat Rep. Joaquin Castro publicized the names and businesses of Trump campaign contributors. “Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” he tweeted. Clearly assisting his followers in efforts to intimidate potential supporters/voters, he continued, “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

Defending this sordid action, Castro said that he didn’t intend any harm, and that the information is public information. True, campaign donations are public information, if one chooses to search them out and knows where to look. But how many of Castro’s followers would have thought to do that, or gone to the trouble to look up the names of Trump donors, if he hadn’t saved them the trouble?

** Robert Francis O’Rourke (Beto) said this on MSNBC recently: “… the most important thing we can do right now, but also ensuring that beyond the president’s conduct and behavior and rhetoric we do a better job of regulating and enforcing hate speech and calls to violence on social media platforms.” The essence of his comment is to censor conservative speech, particularly Trump’s, which he characterized as “hate speech” and “calls to violence” based solely on his prejudiced opinion.

Isn’t it interesting how so many Democrats/Leftists, particularly those chasing the Democrat nomination for president, exercise their First Amendment rights to attack the First Amendment rights of their ideological and political adversaries? They do this under the guise of protecting America from “racists” and “white supremacists.”

The Leftists have raised the uncouth ability for name-calling to the top of their list in order to stifle free speech.

Silencing political and ideological opponents is a violation of one of the most important individual rights that our Constitution guarantees each of us. It is un-American. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Democrats’ strategy for 2020: Free stuff, fear, and gun control




The process of nominating a candidate for president is always a spirited affair. And with 24 people (so far) seeking the Democrat nomination – including a former Vice President, current senators, current and former representatives, some governors and mayors, and a billionaire – who range from well-known to unknown, the stage is set for a lively campaign.

It can get rough, as candidates tear down their rivals and at the same time try build up their own image in the eyes of voters. This year’s nomination process is even wilder than the Republican effort in 2016 when 17 candidates vied for the nomination.

Front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden has been harshly attacked by several opponents in the first rounds of debates, as they work to claw their way to a respectable level in the polls.

No one is safe in this environment, not even the Democrats’ much-loved former President Barack Obama. As Obama’s VP, Biden opened the door to criticism of Obama’s immigration and health care policies.

Liberal MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said the "trashing Barack Obama's legacy” was “insanity.” "We were sort of in a Never-never land last night in that debate. It was bizarre," he said. 

Free stuff is a favored ploy among the candidates, along with dire predictions. In a recent opinion column John Stossel presented the shopping lists and total costs of free stuff offered by several of the candidates.

The list of free stuff contains many items, including:
·         More money for Title I schools
·         Universal pre-K
·         More psychologists and social workers in schools
·         Free college and free community college
·         More money for teachers
·         Forgiving all or some student debt
·         Universal child care
·         “Medicare for All”
·         The “Green New Deal”
·         A government job for everyone
·         Increases in several government assistance areas

Stossel’s major focus was on which items each candidate proposed and how much those items will add to taxpayers total costs.

In comparing the biggest spenders to President Donald Trump’s spending plan, which Stossel said totals $267 billion, he concludes: “We can’t afford it! The federal government is already $22 trillion in debt – $150,000 per taxpayer.”

Stossel continued, “While Trump’s $267 billion is bad, the Democrats’ plans are worse.” He counted $297 billion proposed by Biden, $690 billion from Mayor Pete Buttigieg, $3.8 trillion from Senator Elizabeth Warren, $4 trillion from Senator Bernie Sanders and $4.3 trillion from Senator Kamala Harris. “That would double what the entire federal government spends now. Senator Harris ‘wins’ the free stuff contest.”

There is also a fear factor in campaign rhetoric, as candidates continue to predict global catastrophe if Americans do not make great sacrifices to save the world from climate change. The candidates predict we have only 10 years, or perhaps 12, to turn our lives upside-down in order to save humanity.

The recent hot spell gave a boost to the assumed urgency of this situation, and campaign rhetoric heated up correspondingly.

Contenders prefer various measures to bring a positive effect to the problem of carbon emissions. Biden wants a price on emission-producing materials and tariffs on foreign carbon products. Buttigieg, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Cory Booker prefer a tax, or carbon-price on certain products.

All candidates support the enormously expensive “Green New Deal” with all of its job-killing and severe lifestyle-changing requirements to transition to 100-percent clean energy in a decade. This despite the fact that the U.S. leads the world in carbon emission reduction, while other nations lag behind, are not reducing emissions at all, or are actually increasing emissions.

Democrats’ support for more and stricter gun control laws has been long and loud. Last weekend’s two horrible mass murder incidents in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio have added more urgency to the situation among gun control advocates.

Like the climate change issue, the gun control issue uses fear to attract support. Everyone abhors these senseless killings, and every candidate seeking the Democrat nomination preaches gun control as the solution.

Saturday’s El Paso shooting resulted in 20 deaths and injuries to nearly two-dozen others. The alleged shooter is also believed to have written a 4-page manifesto that provides insight into his motives.

Reason magazine described the manifesto: “The El Paso shooter’s alleged manifesto is racist, anti-corporate, anti-automation, and especially anti-immigrant, and it reflects a general hatred for many aspects of American society.”

It also urges any future mass murders to pick lightly guarded or unguarded target areas: “Remember: it is not cowardly to pick low hanging fruit. AKA Don’t attack heavily guarded areas to fulfill your super soldier COD (Call of Duty) fantasy.”

Any successful response to these horrific events must address soft targets where no defense against someone with evil intentions exists, and especially the mental condition and motivation of the people who carry out these acts.

Guns are inanimate objects. They are not evil; the people who misuse them are evil. Disarming or restricting law-abiding citizens’ gun purchases misses the point.

The most important word in the gun control discussion is “control,” a trait it shares with the climate change discussion. Control is a major aspect of socialism, which is openly advocated by several Democrat candidates.