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Reaction Reel: Leftists react to  Amy Coney Barrett confirmation

On Monday, the Senate officially confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States.

In this clip, Steven Crowder and the “Louder with Crowder” crew discussed Barrett’s Senate confirmation and the meltdowns shared across social media following her confirmation. Later, Crowder delved into the modern-day feminist mentality that seemed to abhor strong, successful conservative women like Barrett regardless of sex/gender/pronoun.

Watch the clip for details.

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Advice and Consent Amy coney barrett Article II CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars Judiciary Nomination Supreme Court

Is the Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett Unconstitutional?

On Oct. 10, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden claimed that nominating and potentially approving Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court during election season was “not constitutional.”

You might think Biden knows what he’s talking about. Trained as a lawyer, he served a long tenure in the Senate and eight years as vice president. For eight years as well, he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate committee most involved in constitutional issues. During all this time, the Constitution was the source of Biden’s power and a rule book governing his job.

Keep in mind that the Constitution is not a particularly long document. It’s not too much to expect a member of the Senate, and especially of the Judiciary Committee, to be familiar with it.

On Oct. 15, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called the Barrett nomination and approval process “illegitimate”—that is, illegal. Leahy is another lawyer who has been in the Senate for many years. He chaired the Judiciary Committee even longer than Biden.

Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), still another lawyer, was likewise a member of the Judiciary Committee. He apparently professes some constitutional expertise, for he now heads the American Constitution Society, an organization of liberal lawyers, professors, and law students. In circular emails Feingold has asserted repeatedly that the Barrett nomination and confirmation process is “illegitimate” and would “steal” a Supreme Court seat.

Buttressing the presumed credibility of these three lawyers is the code of ethics governing them: Lawyers are supposed to tell the truth.

But let’s test the statements of these three men against the Constitution itself.

The relevant sections of the document are simple and straightforward. Article II of the Constitution states: “[The president] … shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the Supreme Court.”

Consider this sentence for a moment: The Constitution grants many powers that officials are free to exercise or not, as they wish. But in this grant of power, exercise is mandatory. This sentence is in a grammatical form called the future imperative: “shall nominate” and “shall appoint.” The language is similar to the Constitution’s requirement that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” A president who systematically refused to enforce laws—or to nominate judges—during election season would be violating his constitutional duty.

This conclusion is underscored by another sentence in Article II: The president “shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years.” In the case of President Trump, that means from Jan. 20, 2017 until Jan. 20, 2021 (or until Jan. 20, 2025, if he is re-elected).

The fixed four-year term was a flat rejection of the system in countries where the executive stayed in office for life or until an event whose timing was not known in advance. For example, Great Britain divided executive power between the king, who served for life, and the ministry, which held power while it enjoyed a parliamentary majority.

One reason for the fixed-length term was precisely to ensure that the president remained reasonably independent of the legislature and of external events—even pending elections.

In sum, the president not only may nominate Supreme Court justices, but also must do so, irrespective of when vacancies arise.

Once the president has nominated a potential justice, the Senate has the job of “advice and consent.” This means it must give an answer—yes or no—to the nomination. (It does not necessarily mean it must hold hearings.) Like the president, Senators also serve for fixed terms (6 years), and a Senator may not ignore his or her obligation merely because an election campaign occurs during his or her period in office.

A federal law affirms that the president’s duty to nominate and the Senate’s duty to respond do not go away during election season. Title 28, Section 1 of the U.S. Code states that “The Supreme Court of the United States shall consist of a Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices …” [emphasis added]

Presently the Court is in session with only seven associate justices. While the court may legally do this (its quorum is six), federal law contemplates eight associate justices. A president or Senator who refused to respond to a vacancy merely because an election is pending certainly would be violating the spirit of this statute.

Thus, the statements by Biden, Leahy, and Feingold are flatly incorrect. The current proceedings are neither “unconstitutional” nor “illegitimate” nor an attempt to “steal” anything. On the contrary, both the president and the Senate are carrying out their constitutional and legal duties. While many legal conclusions are arguable, this one really is not.

So why did these three supposedly qualified individuals make the statements they did?

Cornelius Tacitus—whose Latin-language writings are widely considered the best historical works produced by ancient Rome—once observed that governments both great and small are afflicted with two common problems. The first is ignorantia recti: ignorance of what is right. I suppose that Biden, Leahy, and/or Feingold might have made their statements out of honest ignorance. As I have pointed out elsewhere, some public officials display astonishing levels of ignorance.

Tacitus identified the other common defect as invidia. This Latin word usually means “envy,” but in this context it’s more accurately translated as “spite” or “ill-will.” A claim motivated by pure spite is not an honest one; it’s often an outright lie.

There’s a third common political problem that’s a blend of the two that Tacitus identified. You might call it willful ignorance. A person is willfully ignorant of important facts if he knows he’s ignorant but just doesn’t care enough to learn the truth.

The reader can decide for himself whether the Biden–Leahy–Feingold allegations flow from simple ignorance, spite, or willful ignorance.

This article first appeared in the October 20, 2020 Epoch Times.

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Afghanistan Constitution CURRENT EVENTS Donald Trump Intelwars Somalia war powers

Trump’s Quiet Little War in Somalia

Through the first seven months in 2020, the U.S. military under Pres. Donald Trump conducted 43 airstrikes in Somalia. That compares to 42 U.S. airstrikes in that country from 2007 to 2017. In other words, in just seven months, the Trump administration bombed Somalia more than Pres. G.W. Bush and Pres. Barack Obama combined.

The bombing numbers come from U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and were reported by Time Magazine.

Even as Trump has made headlines about bringing troops home from Afghanistan, he has directed significant escalation in military intervention in Somalia. In 2017, President Trump loosened the rules of engagement for the drone war in that country, and since then the U.S. military has executed a record number of bombing missions. The bombing campaign through the first seven months of the year was a continuation of last year’s significant spike. In 2019, the U.S. military conducted 63 airstrikes in Somalia, the most in any single year.

There are also roughly 650 to 800 U.S. troops on the ground in Somalia.

Trump has reportedly asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for a troop withdrawal from the country. But as Dave DeCamp pointed out in an op-ed published by Antiwar.com, Trump was responsible for sending most of those 650 to 800 troops into the region to begin with.

“If the president successfully withdraws some troops from the country, it would undoubtedly be a good thing, but would it wind down the conflict? U.S. troops are not doing the fighting and dying in Somalia. It’s a war being waged by drones.”

The president has also tweeted about ending the war in Afghanistan in an apparent campaign move to solidify support from anti-interventionist libertarians and paleo-conservatives.

But it’s hard to take Trump’s sudden anti-war rhetoric seriously when he intentionally escalated the war in Somalia along with bombing campaigns in Afghanistan.

As far as ending the war in Afghanistan, Trump oversaw a record number of bombs dropped in in that country just last year. According to U.S. Air Force Central Command data, coalition aircraft (excluding the Afghan Air Force) dropped 7,423 weapons in 2019, slightly higher than the 7,362 dropped in 2018. Keeping up the pace, U.S. warplanes dropped 415 bombs in January and 360 bombs in February, according to CENTCOM. (The last data posted.) That was just under 2019’s record pace.

And despite the lack of American casualties, the U.S. war in Somalia continues to exact a human toll. According to an investigation by Amnesty International, 21 civilians were killed in just nine airstrikes and 11 others were injured. According to Airwars and reported by Time, evidence suggests that as many as 15 Somali civilians have been killed by U.S. strikes in 2020 alone.

Despite his reputation as a slightly less military interventionist president and some progress toward deescalating some of America’s foreign military adventurism, Donald Trump continues to run unconstitutional and illegal wars.

There is absolutely no constitutional authority for President Trump to bomb Somalia. Congress has not declared war on that country, and the president’s role as commander-in-chief does not authorize him to initiate offensive military action.

Constitutionally, Congress must “declare war” before the president can engage in offensive military action. As George Washington wrote in a letter to William Moultrie, “The Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress, therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure.”

Instead of a declaration of war, Trump, along with Bush and Obama before him, relies on the authorization to use military force (AUMF) passed by Congress in the wake of 9/11 to justify military action across the globe, but this stretches the president’s constitutional authority far beyond the breaking point.

In practice, these resolutions authorize the president to decide if and when he wants to take military action. The AUMF passed after 9/11 to authorize the invasion of Afghanistan remains in effect today. Bush, Obama and Trump have used it to justify their independent decisions to take military action across the globe, including Somalia.

But congressional AUMFs simply don’t pass constitutional muster.

No constitutional provision authorizes Congress to transfer its delegated powers to another party, including the president. In fact, doing so violates basic legal rules of construction. In contract law, when a principal (the people) delegates power to an agent (the federal government), the agent cannot transfer its delegated power to another party without specific direction within the contract. No such authorization exists in the Constitution. So, Congress can’t legally give the president a blank slate to make decisions about war at his own discretion. Congress must make that call and make it specifically before the initiation of military action.

Congress has never authorized military action in Somalia.

Some might argue that dropping some bombs in a faraway desert isn’t really a big deal. But America’s unconstitutional wars exact a significant cost. And the price we pay isn’t just in dollars.

James Madison warned about the dangers of endless wars, calling them a threat to our liberty. We’re seeing his fears play out before our very eyes.

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” [Emphasis added]

We would be wise to heed Madison’s warning.

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Court packing CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars Judiciary Supreme Court

A Brief History of Court Packing

Since the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the determination of President Donald Trump to fill her Supreme Court seat before Election Day with the traditionalist Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the concept of court packing has reared its head. The phrase “court packing” is a derogatory reference to legislation that alters the number of seats on the Supreme Court to alter its perceived ideological makeup.

The origins of modern court packing are from the depression era when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought to expand the court from nine to 15 by adding a new justice for every sitting justice who declined to retire upon reaching his 70th birthday. FDR offered the plan in the spring of 1937, shortly after he was inaugurated to his second term. He had just been reelected in a landslide and was frustrated that much of his legislation had been invalidated by the Supreme Court as beyond the powers of the federal government.

FDR’s stated reasoning was that the court had a “congestion of cases” since its nine justices were, he claimed, slow to address the appeals that came before them, and a larger number of justices would make for a more efficient court. Few believed this subterfuge. If nine were too slow, then 15 would be slower.

FDR really wanted more pro-New Deal justices who would ratify his radical proposals to centralize, plan and control the economy. Nevertheless, his court packing was immensely unpopular and the plan never made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But historians have debated whether the proposal actually worked, and here is why. Before FDR’s plan died, one of the conservative justices, Owen Roberts, had a change of heart on the constitutional scope of the federal government, and he began voting with the court’s liberal wing to uphold New Deal legislation against constitutional challenges.

Though the case in which Roberts broke ranks involved a Washington state minimum wage law — which the court upheld 5 to 4 with Roberts joining the liberals — the hook on which Roberts hung his constitutional hat was the Commerce Clause. That clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states.

Prior to the New Deal, congressional power over commerce was generally interpreted as James Madison intended it. Congress can regulate — that is, keep regular — the movement of goods over intestate borders among merchants and bar the states from favoring their own merchants.

After Roberts’ change of heart, a majority of the court began to view the commerce power in a wildly expansive way, nowhere justified by the language of the Constitution or its original understanding. The new — and regrettably, current — view of Congress’ commerce power is that the Constitution empowers Congress to regulate anything that affects interstate commerce, even private personal economic behavior too minuscule to measure, behavior that is not commercial in nature and behavior wholly within one state.

Roberts’ shift, which he never justified publicly, was coined “the switch in time that saved nine.” FDR could not have known that his court packing stunt would have so terrified a conservative justice as to turn him into a big government liberal. But it did.

Soon, retirements of justices allowed FDR to fill five vacancies on the court during his 12 years in office, and the landscape of American constitutional law would never be the same.

The number of justices on the court is fixed by legislation because the Constitution is silent on this. Though FDR’s stunt was a misguided effort to treat the court as if it were a super-legislature, it is constitutionally permissible for Congress to alter the number of sitting justices.

The only time this was done, it was the Republicans who were the scoundrels. The era was Reconstruction, and the unpopular and impeached-but-acquitted President Andrew Johnson was in the White House.

Fearing that Johnson would fill the court with southern sympathizers, the Radical Republicans in Congress “unpacked” the court.

There were two issues that the Republicans feared would bring judicial invalidation of their legislation. One was Reconstruction and the other was legal tender.

Reconstruction placed the Southern states that had joined the Confederacy under a military occupation so draconian that congressional leaders feared the court would invalidate it. Thus they enacted legislation that withdrew the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over Reconstruction and reduced the number of justices by attrition from the fluctuating nine and sometimes 10 down to a permanent and fixed seven. The latter prevented Johnson from replacing retiring justices unless the court’s membership fell to six.

The legal tender issue involved Civil War-era legislation that declared paper money — unbacked by gold or silver as the Constitution requires, and just printed by the government — to be lawful legal tender. When the nine-member court invalidated paper money for private debts, the Republicans struck with their unpacking.

It worked. After Ulysses S. Grant became president, Congress returned the number of justices to nine, Grant filled the vacancies with his buddies, and the new justices joined the former dissenters in another legal tender case that upheld the use of paper money for private debts.

No matter the outcome on Nov. 3, we will soon have a conservative top-heavy Supreme Court. If Joe Biden wins the presidency and the Democrats control Congress, some will try to pack the court by expanding its number. But history teaches that tinkering with the judiciary for political reasons is dangerous to freedom and to longevity in office.

The court is not a legislature. Its purpose is to restrain — not to unleash — the president, Congress and popular majorities from infringing upon constitutional rights.

Without this anti-democratic structure, who or what will protect us from the tyranny of the majority?

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CURRENT EVENTS Donald Trump federal power Federal Programs healthcare Intelwars Obamacare Trumpcare

Trump’s “New and Improved” Obamacare

At an appearance in Charlotte, North Carolina, last month, President Trump unveiled his replacement for Obamacare that “puts patients first, families first, and — perhaps most importantly for all of us — America first.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as the PPACA, ACA, or Obamacare, was signed into law on March 23, 2010. It consisted of numerous “reforms” to health care and health insurance and a bevy of new taxes and tax increases to pay for them.

Obamacare expanded Medicare; created state health-insurance exchanges; began federal subsidies for the purchase of health insurance; and required that insurance companies provide policies with minimum standards, cover all applicants without regard to their pre-existing medical conditions, eliminate annual and lifetime caps on benefits, eliminate co-payments and deductibles for selected health-insurance benefits, and allow children to remain on their parents’ insurance plan until their 26th birthday.

Obamacare increased taxes on wages and investment income for higher-income taxpayers, decreased the medical-expense tax deduction (thus effectively raising taxes), and imposed new taxes on indoor tanning services, drug companies, health insurers, medical-device manufactures, and comprehensive health-insurance plans.

Obamacare also instituted employer and individual mandates. The employer mandate dictated that all employers with 50 or more full-time or full-time-equivalent employees must offer them “affordable” health insurance that provides “minimum value” or pay an annual tax penalty of $2,000 per employee. The individual mandate dictated that every American not covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or private health insurance must purchase health insurance or pay up to $285 per family or 1 percent of taxable income (2014), up to $975 per family or 2 percent of taxable income (2015), and up to a maximum of $2,085 per family or 2.5 percent of taxable income (2016 and beyond) as an “individual shared responsibility fee.”

Said Trump in his speech about Obamacare, “It was terrible and very, very expensive. Hurt a lot of people. Premiums were too high. Deductibles were a disaster. Patients had no choice. You couldn’t keep your doctor. But, by far, the worst part of Obamacare was this thing called the ‘individual mandate.’”

But in spite of many attempts, Republicans could not bring themselves to just simply repeal Obamacare lock, stock, and barrel. To their credit, Republicans did eliminate the individual mandate in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and a federal district court and a federal appeals court then ruled that the individual mandate was unconstitutional. Democrats and Republicans united in 2019 to repeal the medical-device tax and the “Cadillac tax” on high-cost, employer-sponsored health-care plans. The rest of Obamacare still stands.

But according to Trump,

Obamacare is no longer Obamacare. As we worked on it and managed it very well. We stabilized it and got premiums down very substantially.

But it’s still unacceptable to me because it’s too expensive and doesn’t really do the job as well as we could have. So what we have now is a much better plan. It is no longer Obamacare because we’ve gotten rid of the worst part of it — the individual mandate — and made it much less expensive. A lot of that was through good management. We manage it properly. We have tremendous people working on it. Simultaneously with all of this, we are joining in a lawsuit to end this ill-conceived plan. I’m in court to terminate this really, really terrible situation.

If we win, we will have a better and less expensive plan that will always protect individuals with preexisting conditions. If we lose, what we have now is better than the original — the original version of Obamacare, by far. Much better. Much better. Again, we will always protect patients with preexisting conditions.

The president’s new and improved version of Obamacare is called “An America-First Healthcare Plan”:

We will ensure the highest standard of care anywhere in the world, cutting-edge treatments, state-of-the-art medicine, groundbreaking cures, and true health security for you and your loved ones. And we will do it rapidly, and it’s in very good order, and some of it has already been implemented.

My plan expands affordable insurance options, reduces the cost of prescription drugs, will end surprise medical billing, increases fairness through price transparency, streamlines bureaucracy, accelerates innovation, strongly protects Medicare, and always protects patients with preexisting conditions.

The “three pillars” of Trump’s plan are choice, lower costs, and better care. Here are the highlights:

Under our plan, you’ll have the freedom to shop for the option that is right for you and your family. These options include new, affordable choices that cost up to 60 percent less than Obamacare.

Through a massive expansion of health reimbursement arrangements, millions of Americans will be able to shop for a plan of their choice on the individual market and then have their employer cover the full cost.

My plan will also revolutionize access to telehealth.

We will end surprise medical billing.

My plan also includes the vital reform of price transparency.

I’m taking on the lobbyists and the special interests to lower the price of prescription drugs.

We will finally allow the safe and legal importation of prescription drugs from Canada.

Under my plan, 33 million Medicare beneficiaries will soon receive a card in the mail containing $200 that they can use to help pay for prescription drugs.

Under my plan, hundreds of thousands of Medicare patients will see their insulin costs capped at just $35 a month.

We’ll ensure that all seniors pay the same price for the same service, whether at a hospital, a surgery center, or a doctor’s office.

As long as I’m President, no one will lay a hand on your Medicare. Your Medicare is going to be safe and it’s going to be solid.

The historic action I’m taking today includes the first-ever executive order to affirm it is the official policy of the United States government to protect patients with preexisting conditions.

We’ll require doctors to make your records available electronically, and you’ll own them, and you’ll control them, and they will be portable, and you’ll be able to work seamlessly with all of your medical providers.

Trump then issued an executive order (no. 13951) about his health-care plan that mostly recounts, in a very long section 1, “Purpose,” his administration’s health-care accomplishments. Section 1 concludes,

Taken together, these extraordinary reforms constitute an ongoing effort to improve American healthcare by putting patients first and delivering continuous innovation. And this effort will continue to succeed because of my Administration’s commitment to delivering great healthcare with more choices, better care, and lower costs for all Americans.

Section 2, “Policy,” merely says, “It has been and will continue to be the policy of the United States to give Americans seeking healthcare more choice, lower costs, and better care and to ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions can obtain the insurance of their choice at affordable rates.”

Section 3, “Giving Americans More Choice in Healthcare,” merely says, “The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall maintain and build upon existing actions to expand access to and options for affordable healthcare.”

Section 4, “Lowering Healthcare Costs for Americans,” relates to expanding access to “affordable medicines,” “facilitating the safe importation of affordable prescription drugs from abroad,” ending “surprise billing,” and reducing “waste, fraud, and abuse in the healthcare system.”

Section 5, “Providing Better Care to Americans,” concerns improving “quality in the delivery of care for veterans,” and government promotion of “medical innovations to find novel and improved treatments for COVID-19, Alzheimer’s disease, sickle cell disease, pediatric cancer, and other conditions threatening the well-being of Americans.”

Would it be good if the United States and its citizens had the highest standard of care anywhere in the world, cutting-edge treatments, state-of-the-art medicine, ground-breaking cures, true health security, affordable insurance options, reduced prices on prescription drugs, no surprise medical bills, price transparency, more choice, lower health-care costs, increased access to telehealth? Would it be good if waste, fraud, and abuse in the health-care system were reduced?

Of course it would.

But a government plan is not the way to do those things. Everything the government touches it distorts and corrupts. And aside from the fact that Trump’s health-care plan is a government health-care plan — and therefore not only illegitimate but doomed to fail — there are a number of troubling aspects of his plan.

  1. It “strongly protects” Medicare. Trump criticized socialism nine times in his remarks in Charlotte. But what is Medicare if it is not socialized Medicine?
  2. It ensures “that Americans with pre-existing conditions can obtain the insurance of their choice at affordable rates.” It actually makes it “the official policy of the United States government” to do so. This is pure Obamacare. It is like buying a fire insurance policy for your home after it has burned to the ground.
  3. It gives “33 million Medicare beneficiaries” $200 “to help pay for prescription drugs.” This is simply a government handout to seniors — the largest class of voters — right before an election.
  4. It caps insulin costs for “hundreds of thousands of Medicare patients” at $35 a month. This is either blatant government price control or a massive subsidy to the pharmaceutical industry, or perhaps a little of both.
  5. It requires doctors to make your records available electronically. Perhaps electronic records are a good thing or perhaps not. My point is that the government shouldn’t be requiring doctors to do anything with medical records.
  6. It tasks the government with promoting “medical innovations to find novel and improved treatments” for diseases. But it is simply not the proper role of government to engage in or fund such activity.
  7. It is blatantly unconstitutional. Trump doesn’t mention the Constitution in his remarks. How could he have? The Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to have anything to do with health care, health insurance, medical devices, medical treatment, medical records, medical research, clinical trials, family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives, vaccination programs, hospitals, physicians, nurses, medical schools, or drugs, or to have Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, the National Institutes of Health, federal laboratories, the FDA, or the Department of Health and Human Services.

This article was originally published on the Future Freedom Foundation website

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Breonna taylor CURRENT EVENTS Incorporation Doctrine Intelwars Judiciary no-knock raid Police Police State qualified immunity

How the Supreme Court and the Incorporation Doctrine Helped Kill Breonna Taylor

There has been plenty of debate surrounding the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. But seldom mentioned is the role Supreme Court precedent and the incorporation doctrine played in setting the legal stage for events to unfold ending with the death of a young woman.

Breonna Taylor was in bed with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker in the early-morning hours of March 13 when police broke into her home executing a no-knock warrant issued earlier that day. Walker claims he heard banging on the door but never hear anybody say “police.” When the officers broke down the door, Walker fired a shot, hitting an officer in the leg. Police returned fire, killing Taylor. She suffered at least eight gunshot wounds.

Walker escaped unharmed. After the shooting stopped but before he was taken into custody, Walker called 911 and said, “I don’t know what’s happening. Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.”

Officers were ultimately cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in Taylor’s death. A grand jury indicted one officer on reckless endangerment charges for firing into a neighboring apartment.

Under the law, officers were justified in entering the apartment because they had a valid warrant. There is considerable debate about whether or not police announced themselves before entering. Officers and at least one witness said they did. Walker’s 911 call indicates that if they did, he didn’t hear them. Regardless, the police were not required to knock or announce themselves because the warrant was a “no-nock” warrant, meaning officers could legally enter the apartment without any notice.

The grand jury determined that since the police entered the apartment legally, they also had the legal right to defend themselves once Walker fired his weapon. In the eyes of the grand jury, Taylor was collateral damage in a legally justified police self-defense response.

There has been a hot debate about the events that transpired inside Taylor’s home. Were police reckless when they opened fire? Did Walker have a right to shoot? Was it racially motivated? Did police misrepresent facts to obtain the warrant? There is plenty to parse out. But it’s also important to take a step back and look at the legal framework that made the no-knock raid possible to begin with. Without Supreme Court precedent applied to local law enforcement through the incorporation doctrine, police may well have never crashed into Breonna Taylor’s home that morning.

No-Knock Warrants

In the 1995 case Wilson v. Arkansas, the Supreme Court established that police must peacefully knock, announce their presence, and allow time for the occupants to open the door before entering a home to serve a warrant. But the Court allowed for “exigent circumstance” exceptions if police fear violence, if the suspect is a flight risk, or if officers fear the suspect will destroy evidence.

As journalist Radley Balko notes, police utilized this exception to the fullest extent, “simply declaring in search warrant affidavits that all drug dealers are a threat to dispose of evidence, flee or assault the officers at the door.”

The SCOTUS eliminated this blanket exception in Richards v. Wisconsin  (1997) requiring police to show why a specific individual is a threat to dispose of evidence, commit an act of violence or flee from police. But even with the opinion, the bar for obtaining a no-knock warrant remains low.

“In order to justify a ‘no-knock’ entry, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing their presence, under the particular circumstances, would be dangerous or futile, or that it would inhibit the effective investigation of the crime by, for example, allowing the destruction of evidence.” [Emphasis added]

Reasonable suspicion is an extremely low legal bar to meet.

A third Supreme Court ruling effectively eliminated the consequences for violating the “knock and announce” requirement without a no-knock warrant. In Hudson v. Michigan (2006), the High Court held that evidence seized in violation of knock and announce was not subject to the exclusionary rule. In other words, police could still use the evidence in court even though the technically gathered it illegally.

The Supreme Court has also created a legal environment that provides cops broad authority to shoot armed citizens, even if the police are violating the Constitution. For instance, in County of Los Angeles v. Mendez (2017) the Court effectively held that police can shoot a person in their own home even if the officers are violating the individual’s constitutional rights.

Qualified Immunity and the Incorporation Doctrine

Officers who violate no-knock rules or more broadly infringe on rights protect by the Constitution could still face lawsuits. But the qualified immunity defense creates an almost insurmountable legal barrier for victims of police abuse.

Through a series of Supreme Court opinions, federal courts created a qualified immunity defense out of thin air, making it nearly impossible to hold law enforcement officers responsible for actions taken in the line of duty. In order to move ahead with a suit, the plaintiff must establish that it was “clearly established” that the officer’s action was unconstitutional. The “clearly established” test erects an almost insurmountable hurdle to those trying to prove excessive force or a violation of their rights. As a result, police rarely face consequences for actions taken in the line of duty, no matter how egregious the violation of rights protected by the Constitution.

Significantly, were it not for the dubious “incorporation doctrine” made up by the Supreme Crout based on the 14th Amendment that purportedly empowers the federal government to apply the Bill of Rights to the states, these cases would have never gone to federal court and we wouldn’t have these blanket rules.

A lot of people believe that the Bill of Rights always applied to state governments. This is simply not true. The Bill of Rights was never intended to bind the actions of state governments. The application of the federal Bill of Rights to the states came about through a series of federal court cases based on the 14th Amendment.

Many conservatives and libertarians support the incorporation doctrine because they think federal courts will protect individual rights from getting trampled by tyrannical state and local governments. That sounds good in theory, but it rarely works that way in practice. In most cases, federal courts expand government power and cement it in legal stone, as we’ve seen with no-knock warrants and qualified immunity. And because of the incorporation doctrine, these expansions of power are not limited to the state where the case occurs.

In effect, the Court sets precedents that become universally applied across the U.S. In terms of local policing, the incorporation doctrine and the application of the federal Bill of Rights to state and local governments protect police officers, allow no-knock warrants, and allow cops to shoot individuals with little fear of legal repercussions — in every city, county and state in the U.S. from Honolulu, Hawaii to West Quoddy Head, Maine.

State and local governments can place more strict restrictions on police officers beyond what the SCOTUS legal framework allows. For instance, Louisville banned no-knock warrants after cops shot Taylor to death. But this rarely happens. In a federalized system, most states and localities defer to the legal requirements set forth by the High Court. The centralization of the legal system leads to a centralization of policy.

A decentralized system where cases were heard under state law and state constitutions would undoubtedly have problems. Some states would probably extend almost complete protection to law enforcement officers just like the federalized system. But surely some would be better.

It might be hyperbole to say the Supreme Court and the incorporation doctrine killed Breonna Taylor. But they certainly created the system that made the events leading up to her death possible. And I would argue the system functions just as designed. It empowers government and protects its agents at your expense. If you don’t want outcomes as we saw in Louisville, stop centralizing power in D.C.

 

 

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affordable care act Court Cases CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars Obamacare

Can the Government Force Us to Eat Broccoli?

With President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — is back in the news. Barrett expressed constitutional misgivings about Obamacare 10 years ago when she was a professor at Notre Dame Law School, and some folks who oppose her nomination have argued that should she be confirmed in the next month, she should not hear the Nov. 10 arguments on Obamacare.

Wait a minute. Didn’t the Supreme Court already uphold Obamacare in 2012? Yes, it did. So why is the constitutionality of this legislation back before the Supreme Court?

Here is the backstory.

The ACA of 2010 marked the complete federal takeover of regulating health care delivery in America. It eliminated personal choices and mandated rules and regulations on almost all aspects of health care and health care insurance. It created a complex structure that, at the back end, directed the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars on health care and, at the front end, received health insurance premiums from or on behalf of every adult in America.

To assure that every adult obtained and paid for health care coverage, the ACA authorized the IRS to assess those who failed to have health insurance about $8,800 a year and use that money to purchase a bare-bones insurance policy for them.

The requirement of all adults to maintain health care coverage, and the power of the IRS to assess them if they don’t, is known as the individual mandate.

When the ACA was challenged in 2012, the challengers argued that Congress lacked the constitutional power to micromanage health care and to enforce the individual mandate. The feds argued that this was all “interstate commerce” and Congress’ reach in this area is broad and deep.

Yet, both the challengers and the government agreed that the IRS assessment was not a tax. The challengers argued that it was a penalty for failure to comply with a government regulation, and thus those not complying with the individual mandate were entitled to a hearing before they could be punished.

The government argued that the assessment was triggered by people choosing freely to have the feds purchase their insurance for them. The feds could not argue that this assessment was a tax because President Barack Obama had promised that his health care programs would not increase anyone’s taxes.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the individual mandate was a tax and since, under big government constitutional jurisprudence, Congress can tax anything it wants, the ACA was constitutional.

This logic was deeply disconcerting to those of us who believe that the Constitution doesn’t unleash the federal government but restrains it. The Constitution was written to keep the government off our backs. Yet, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, along with his four liberal colleagues, that while Congress cannot order us to eat broccoli, it could tax us if we don’t. The same, he reasoned, is the case for maintaining health care insurance.

In 2017, Donald Trump became president and the Republicans retained control of Congress. During a massive reform of American tax law, Congress did away with the tax on those who fail to maintain health insurance by reducing it to zero. Then, 18 states challenged the ACA again, this time arguing that since there was no longer a tax associated with the ACA, and since the tax formerly associated with it was the only hook on which the Supreme Court hung its constitutional hat, the ACA was now unconstitutional.

A federal district court and the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed, and the lawyers representing the federal government filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. I wrote “the lawyers representing the federal government” because the Department of Justice, which defended the statute in the district court, withdrew from the case under Trump’s orders.

Then, the House of Representatives hired a team of private lawyers to defend the statute. This is very irregular. The presidential oath requires that the president “faithfully execute” his office. James Madison — who wrote the oath and many other parts of the Constitution — insisted on using the word “faithfully” because he anticipated the presidential temptation to enforce only statutes with which a president agrees. The word faithfully was intended to remind presidents of their oath of fidelity to the Constitution and all laws written pursuant to it, whether they agree with those laws or not.

Now, back to Judge Barrett.

When she questioned the chief justice’s logic about congressional taxation used to bootstrap a 2,700-page regulatory takeover of the delivery of health care, she did so in an academic setting designed to stimulate student understanding; she did not do so as a judge. Having taught law school for 16 years, I can tell you that professors of law often make provocative remarks just to see how students will analyze them. Their remarks are hardly a textual commitment to a legal position.

Yet, Barrett’s remarks were well-grounded, and Roberts’ broccoli example is telling. What is the effective difference between ordering me to eat broccoli and taxing me if I don’t? Nothing except a rejection of the Constitution as an instrument designed to preserve freedom — a design that rarely works that way today.

Its original end was that the government leaves us alone. But that end is no longer in sight.

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CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars Police State Ruth Bader Ginsberg Supreme Court

No, the U.S. Supreme Court Will Not Save Us

The U.S. Supreme Court will not save us.

It doesn’t matter which party gets to pick the replacement to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The battle that is gearing up right now is yet more distraction and spin to keep us oblivious to the steady encroachment on our rights by the architects of the American Police State.

Americans can no longer rely on the courts to mete out justice.

Although the courts were established to serve as Courts of Justice, what we have been saddled with, instead, are Courts of Order. This is true at all levels of the judiciary, but especially so in the highest court of the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, which is seemingly more concerned with establishing order and protecting government interests than with upholding the rights of the people enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

As a result, the police and other government agents have been generally empowered to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts.

Rarely do the concerns of the populace prevail.

When presented with an opportunity to loosen the government’s noose that keeps getting cinched tighter and tighter around the necks of the American people, what does our current Supreme Court usually do?

It ducks. Prevaricates. Remains silent. Speaks to the narrowest possible concern.

More often than not, it gives the government and its corporate sponsors the benefit of the doubt, which leaves “we the people” hanging by a thread.

Rarely do the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court— preoccupied with their personal politics, cocooned in a world of privilege, partial to those with power, money and influence, and narrowly focused on a shrinking docket (the court accepts on average 80 cases out of 8,000 each year)—venture beyond their rarefied comfort zones.

Every so often, the justices toss a bone to those who fear they have abdicated their allegiance to the Constitution. Too often, however, the Supreme Court tends to march in lockstep with the police state.

In recent years, for example, the Court has ruled that police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits; police officers can stop cars based only on “anonymous” tips; Secret Service agents are not accountable for their actions, as long as they’re done in the name of “security”; citizens only have a right to remain silent if they assert it; police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes,” justifying any and all police searches of vehicles stopped on the roadside; police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime; police can stop, search, question and profile citizens and non-citizens alike; police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the “offense”; police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home; and it’s a crime to not identify yourself when a policeman asks your name.

The cases the Supreme Court refuses to hear, allowing lower court judgments to stand, are almost as critical as the ones they rule on. Some of these cases have delivered devastating blows to the lives and rights enshrined in the Constitution. By remaining silent, the Court has affirmed that: legally owning a firearm is enough to justify a no-knock raid by police; the military can arrest and detain American citizens; students can be subjected to random lockdowns and mass searches at school; and police officers who don’t know their actions violate the law aren’t guilty of breaking the law.

You think you’ve got rights? Think again.

All of those freedoms we cherish—the ones enshrined in the Constitution, the ones that affirm our right to free speech and assembly, due process, privacy, bodily integrity, the right to not have police seize our property without a warrant, or search and detain us without probable cause—amount to nothing when the government and its agents are allowed to disregard those prohibitions on government overreach at will.

This is the grim reality of life in the American police state.

In fact, our so-called rights have been reduced to technicalities in the face of the government’s ongoing power grabs.

In the police state being erected around us, the police can probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts.

This is what one would call a slow death by a thousand cuts, only it’s the Fourth Amendment being inexorably bled to death by the very institution that is supposed to be protecting it (and us) from government abuse.

Remember, it was a unanimous Supreme Court which determined that police officers may use drug-sniffing dogs to conduct warrantless searches of cars during routine traffic stops. That same Court gave police the green light to taser defenseless motorists, strip search non-violent suspects arrested for minor incidents, and break down people’s front doors without evidence that they have done anything wrong.

Make no mistake about it: this is what constitutes “law and order” in the American police state.

These are the hallmarks of the emerging American police state, where police officers, no longer mere servants of the people entrusted with keeping the peace, are part of an elite ruling class dependent on keeping the masses corralled, under control, and treated like suspects and enemies rather than citizens.

Whether it’s police officers breaking through people’s front doors and shooting them dead in their homes or strip searching motorists on the side of the road, in a police state such as ours, these instances of abuse are not condemned by the government. Rather, they are continually validated by a judicial system that kowtows to every police demand, no matter how unjust, no matter how in opposition to the Constitution.

The system is rigged.

Because the system is rigged and the U.S. Supreme Court—the so-called “people’s court”—has exchanged its appointed role as a gatekeeper of justice for its new role as maintainer of the status quo, the police state will keep winning and “we the people” will keep losing.

By refusing to accept any of the eight or so qualified immunity cases before it this past term that strove to hold police accountable for official misconduct, the Supreme Court delivered a chilling reminder that in the American police state, ‘we the people’ are at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to ‘serve and protect.”

This is how qualified immunity keeps the police state in power.

Lawyers tend to offer a lot of complicated, convoluted explanations for the doctrine of qualified immunity, which was intended to insulate government officials from frivolous lawsuits, but the real purpose of qualified immunity is to rig the system, ensuring that abusive agents of the government almost always win and the victims of government abuse almost always lose.

How else do you explain a doctrine that requires victims of police violence to prove that their abusers knew their behavior was illegal because it had been deemed so in a nearly identical case at some prior time?

It’s a setup for failure.

A review of critical court rulings over the past several decades, including rulings affirming qualified immunity protections for government agents by the U.S. Supreme Court, reveals a startling and steady trend towards pro-police state rulings by an institution concerned more with establishing order, protecting the ruling class, and insulating government agents from charges of wrongdoing than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Indeed, as Reuters reports, qualified immunity “has become a nearly failsafe tool to let police brutality go unpunished and deny victims their constitutional rights.”

Worse, as Reuters concluded, “the Supreme Court has built qualified immunity into an often insurmountable police defense by intervening in cases mostly to favor the police.”

For those in need of a reminder of all the ways in which the Supreme Court has made us sitting ducks at the mercy of the American police state, let me offer the following.

As a result of court rulings in recent years, police can claim qualified immunity for warrantless searches. Police can claim qualified immunity for warrantless arrests based on mere suspicion. Police can claim qualified immunity for using excessive force against protesters. Police can claim qualified immunity for shooting a fleeing suspect in the back. Police can claim qualified immunity for shooting a mentally impaired person. Police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits. Police can stop, arrest and search citizens without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.  Police officers can stop cars based on “anonymous” tips or for “suspicious” behavior such as having a reclined car seat or driving too carefully. Police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime.  Police can use the “fear for my life” rationale as an excuse for shooting unarmed individuals. Police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes.” Not only are police largely protected by qualified immunity, but police dogs are also off the hook for wrongdoing.

Police can subject Americans to strip searches, no matter the “offense.” Police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home. Police can use knock-and-talk tactics as a means of sidestepping the Fourth Amendment. Police can carry out no-knock raids if they believe announcing themselves would be dangerous. Police can recklessly open fire on anyone that might be “armed.” Police can destroy a home during a SWAT raid, even if the owner gives their consent to enter and search it. Police can suffocate someone, deliberately or inadvertently, in the process of subduing them.

To sum it up, we are dealing with a nationwide epidemic of court-sanctioned police violence carried out with impunity against individuals posing little or no real threat. In this way, the justices of the United States Supreme Court—through their deference to police power, preference for security over freedom, and evisceration of our most basic rights for the sake of order and expediency—have become the architects of the American police state.

So where does that leave us?

For those deluded enough to believe that they’re living the American dream—where the government represents the people, where the people are equal in the eyes of the law, where the courts are arbiters of justice, where the police are keepers of the peace, and where the law is applied equally as a means of protecting the rights of the people—it’s time to wake up.

We no longer have a representative government, a rule of law, or justice.

Liberty has fallen to legalism. Freedom has fallen to fascism.

Justice has become jaded, jaundiced and just plain unjust.

And for too many, the American dream of freedom and opportunity has turned into a living nightmare.

Given the turbulence of our age, with its police overreach, military training drills on American soil, domestic surveillance, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, wrongful convictions, profit-driven prisons, and corporate corruption, the need for a guardian of the people’s rights has never been greater.

Yet as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People,, neither the president, nor the legislatures, nor the courts will save us from the police state that holds us in its clutches.

So we can waste our strength over the next few weeks and months raging over the makeup of the Supreme Court or we can stand united against the tyrant in our midst.

After all, the president, the legislatures, and the courts are all on the government’s payroll.

They are the police state.

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CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars Social Security

Should Social Security Be Expanded?

Time is running out for Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security.

The Constitution, in Article I, Section 4, mandates that Congress assemble “at least once in every Year.” Each Congress is numbered and lasts two years, with two legislative sessions. The current Congress is the 116th to assemble since the first in 1789. Although congressional elections are held in November of even-numbered years, a new Congress does not begin until noon on January 3 of the following odd-numbered year. The first session convenes on or soon after that date. The second session convenes on or soon after January 3 of even-numbered years. Sessions typically adjourn before the end of the year, although they sometimes run all the way to January 3. All bills introduced during the first or second session that are not enacted by the end of the second session die, although they can be reintroduced in the next Congress.

The Social Security 2100 Act

Reintroducing a bill is exactly what Larson did last year and may have to do again if time runs out on him. On April 5, 2017, in the 115th Congress, Larson introduced the Social Security 2100 Act (H.R.1902) “to protect our Social Security system and improve benefits for current and future generations.” A companion bill (S.2671) was introduced in the Senate the next day by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

In a press release accompanying the bill’s introduction, Larson stated,

Social Security is not an entitlement — it’s the insurance Americans have paid for to fund retirement, disability, and survivor benefits through a lifetime of work. Seniors depend on Social Security and no one should be able to retire into poverty. I am committed to taking common sense steps to expand benefits and to make the system solvent for the next 75 years and beyond. The Social Security 2100 Act, will do just that, without adding to the national debt. Social Security is the most successful program in American history, it is time to expand it for the future. This bill will secure your future, your family, and our nation.

A year later, during a House Ways and Means Tax Subcommittee hearing, Larson defended Social Security and promoted his bill to expand Social Security:

Social Security is not an entitlement, it is the insurance that Americans pay for through the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) with every paycheck. It is exactly what it says, an insurance contribution that we pay into. My bill, the Social Security 2100 Act, would enhance the program, give current beneficiaries a benefit bump, and make the program solvent beyond the 75 year window. We need to come together and work on solutions, not cuts.

Although the bill eventually garnered 174 cosponsors (all Democrats), and was referred to several committees and subcommittees, including the subcommittee on Social Security, it died, as did the companion Senate bill.

Soon after the beginning of the 116th Congress, on January 30, 2019, Larson reintroduced the Social Security 2100 Act (H.R.860) in the House, with 201 cosponsors, while Blumenthal reintroduced his companion bill (S.269) in the Senate. In a press release accompanying the bill’s introduction, Larson stated,

Today, over 200 Members of Congress came together on the anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s birth to honor his legacy, and to enhance and expand the nation’s most successful insurance program, Social Security, which touches the lives of every American. With 10,000 baby boomers becoming eligible for Social Security every day, the time to act is now. The Social Security 2100 Act will provide economic security not just for today’s seniors but for future generations too.

A brochure put out by Larson’s office summarizing the Social Security 2100 Act says about Social Security,

You’ve paid for it.

It’s not an entitlement.

It’s an earned benefit.

Now, we have to protect it …

The brochure also echoes what Larson said in one of his press releases: “Social Security is not an entitlement. It is the insurance that you contribute to with every paycheck. That is what FICA stands for: Federal Insurance Contributions Act.”

A “fact sheet” that accompanies the Social Security 2100 Act touts that the bill increases Social Security benefits while strengthening the Social Security trust fund. It increases benefits by raising the amount paid out by about 2 percent of the average benefit (currently $16,848 a year), improving the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) formula by switching to a consumer price index (CPI) for the elderly (CPI-E), establishing a new minimum benefit at 25 percent above the poverty line tied to wage levels, raising the income threshold to $50,000 ($100,000 for married couples) before Social Security benefits are taxed, and ensuring that any increases in benefits from the bill do not result in a reduction in, or loss of eligibility for, other welfare benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medi-caid. It strengthens the trust fund by gradually phasing in an increase in the Social Security tax rate to 14.8 percent by 2043, applying the payroll tax to wages above $400,000, and combining the two parts of the Social Security trust fund.

The Social Security 2100 Act has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO, the NAACP, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the Daily Kos, MoveOn, and many other progressive groups. But time is running out. When the second session of the 116th Congress comes to a close at the end of this year, the opportunity for Congress to pass Larson’s Social Security 2011 Act will end with it.

Social Security

Social Security is officially the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Program, and consists of two parts. The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program provides monthly benefits to retired workers, families of retired workers, and survivors of deceased workers. The Disability Insurance (DI) program provides monthly benefits to disabled workers and families of disabled workers.

Social Security is funded by a 12.4 percent (10.03 percent OASI and 2.37 percent DI) payroll tax (split equally between employers and employees) on the first $137,700 of employee income. Self-employed individuals pay the full 12.4 percent, but receive a tax deduction equal to 50 percent of the amount of the Social Security tax they paid. One must pay Social Security taxes for a minimum of 40 quarters, or 10 years, to be eligible for benefits. Social Security benefits are figured on the basis of one’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), the average of a worker’s 35 highest years of earnings (up to a particular year’s wage base), adjusted for inflation. For those born after 1959, the retirement age to receive full benefits is 67. Reduced benefits are available for those who have reached the age of 62; increased benefits are available for those who wait until age 70 to retire.

According to the latest annual report by the Social Security Board of Trustees (“The 2019 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds”),

At the end of 2018, the OASDI program was providing benefit payments to about 63 million people: 47 million retired workers and dependents of retired workers, 6 million survivors of deceased workers, and 10 million disabled workers and dependents of disabled workers. During the year, an estimated 176 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes on those earnings. The total cost of the program in 2018 was $1,000 billion.

Social Security is the largest expenditure in the federal budget. According to Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal, annual outlays are expected to increase from $1.15 trillion in 2021 to $1.91 trillion by 2030.

Expanding Social Security

What is unusual about Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act is that it is an expansion of Social Security. What we usually hear are calls to save or protect Social Security for future generations by doing one or more of the following: raising the retirement age, raising the tax rate, reducing or eliminating COLAs, increasing or eliminating the payroll tax cap, reducing benefits, or means-testing recipients.

As even Larson says, “For 75 years, Social Security has been a promise to all Americans that they would have a chance to retire with dignity after a lifetime of hard work. We have an obligation to keep that promise; to safeguard Social Security for our seniors, people with disabilities, and all Americans — today, tomorrow, and forever.” Although Democrats sometimes accuse Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security, Republicans are just as committed to the program as Democrats. According to the latest Republican Party platform, “Saving Social Security is more than a challenge. It is our moral obligation to those who trusted in the government’s word.” And as Trump said earlier this year, “Democrats are going to destroy your Social Security. I have totally left it alone, as promised, and will save it!”

Larson is not alone in his desire to expand Social Security. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), one of the many Democrats who ran for president, had an ambitious expansion plan. She proposed increasing Social Security benefits immediately by $200 a month; further increasing benefits for “lower-income families, women, people with disabilities, public-sector workers, and people of color”; and increasing the Social Security “contribution” requirement by raising the tax rate to 14.8 percent on wages above $250,000 and implementing a new 14.8 percent tax on net investment income on persons making more than $250,000 ($400,000 for married filing jointly). Other Democratic presidential candidates were content to tax, at the existing rate, wages above $250,000 or $400,000 in the case of Joe Biden.

The problem with Social Security

Social Security is underfunded, unstable, and unsustainable. Since 2010, total expenditures of Social Security have exceeded the non-interest income of its combined trust funds. The trust funds are projected to be depleted in the early to mid 2030s. Once they are depleted, the Social Security trustees project that current revenue will be sufficient to cover only 80 percent of promised benefits. The ratio of those paying into the Social Security system to those collecting Social Security has declined from more than forty to one down to about three to one. Although Ida Mae Fuller, the first recipient of Social Security, paid in only $24.75 and received $22,888.92 in benefits (she lived to be 100), for many years now Social Security has been a bad investment.

A recent report by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, found that “Americans would be better off keeping their payroll tax contributions and putting them into private retirement accounts than having to sacrifice them to the government’s broken Social Security system.” Many workers who “pay into the program” end up with a negative annual rate of return. But there is a deeper problem with Social Security, and it has nothing to do with how solvent or insolvent or how good or bad an investment the program is.

Surely John Larson speaks for a majority of Americans when he maintains that “Social Security is not an entitlement,” but is “the insurance that you contribute to with every paycheck.” Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Not insurance

First of all, the federal government doesn’t have a Social Security account with every American’s name on it. The Social Security trust funds are government accounting fictions. Unlike a real insurance company, which is required to carry huge reserves, there is no money in an account for people to withdraw from. All Social Security benefits are paid from current taxes collected. As the Social Security Administration acknowledges, “The money you pay in taxes is not held in a personal account for you to use when you get benefits. Today’s workers help pay for current retirees’ and other beneficiaries’ benefits. Any unused money goes to the Social Security trust funds to help secure today and tomorrow for you and your family.” The whole system is one gigantic fraud. Payroll taxes collected are deposited in the government’s general fund and immediately spent, not only on current Social Security benefits, but also on foreign aid, welfare, the drug war, the TSA, and countless other unconstitutional sinkholes.

Second, those who die before signing up for Social Security forfeit every penny they “contributed” to the system. Americans with lower life expectancies have the most to lose because they receive little or nothing in benefits and cannot pass along their years of “contributions” to their surviving relatives. In Flemming v. Nestor (1960), the Supreme Court held that the widow of someone who had paid into Social Security for years and then lost his citizenship was not entitled to any benefits. The majority opinion stated, “To engraft upon the Social Security System a concept of accrued property rights would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to the ever-changing conditions which it demands.” And even Justice Hugo Black, in a minority opinion, stated that “no private insurance company in America would be permitted to repudiate its matured contracts with its policyholders who have regularly paid all their premiums in reliance upon the good faith of the company.”

Third, there is no connection between the taxes one pays to fund the Social Security system and the benefits that one receives from the Social Security system. Although most Americans think the opposite, Social Security benefits have never been based on the amount of Social Security taxes paid. They have always been based on the 35 highest years of one’s income earned from wages during his life. The benefits are calculated with an arbitrary formula that Congress can change at any time. The additional Social Security taxes that the Democratic presidential candidates wanted “the rich” to pay would not have resulted in any increase in their benefits. Under the Social Security expansion plans of Larson and Warren, benefits would be increased for those who didn’t pay more in taxes. And even though Social Security taxes were cut by 2 percentage points in 2011 and 2012, no one will see their future benefits cut.

Fourth, Americans have no contractual right to receive Social Security benefits. In Helvering v. Davis (1937), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “the proceeds of both [employee and employer] taxes are to be paid into the Treasury like internal revenue taxes generally, and are not earmarked in any way.”

There is contractual right to receive Social Security benefits.

According to Title XI, section 1104, of the Social Security Act, “The right to alter, amend, or repeal any provision of this Act is hereby reserved to Congress.” This means that Congress can raise Social Security taxes, raise or eliminate the wage base upon which taxes are figured, cut benefits, raise the retirement age again, means-test recipients, eliminate yearly cost of living increases, or make all those changes at the same time. Section 1104 was affirmed in the aforementioned Flemming v. Nestor decision. There the Court ruled that “the noncontractual interest of an employee covered by the Act cannot be soundly analogized to that of the holder of an annuity, whose right to benefits are [sic] based on his contractual premium payments.”

And fifth, although insurance proceeds aren’t generally taxable, Social Security benefits can be taxed almost in their entirety. According to the Social Security Administration,

Some people who get Social Security must pay federal income taxes on their benefits. But, no one pays taxes on more than 85 percent of their Social Security benefits.

You must pay taxes on your benefits if you file a federal tax return as an “individual” and your “combined income” exceeds $25,000. If you file a joint return, you must pay taxes if you and your spouse have “combined income” of more than $32,000. If you are married and file a separate return, you probably will have to pay taxes on your benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines “combined income” as adjusted gross income, tax-exempt interest income, and half of Social Security benefits. According to the annual report of the Social Security Board of Trustees, in 2018 the Social Security trust funds received $35 billion from the taxation of benefits — 4 percent of the trust funds’ non-interest income. And “more than 40 percent of current beneficiaries pay income taxes on part of their benefits.”

Social Security benefits were exempt from income taxation through 1983. Section 86 of the Social Security Amendments of 1983 provided that up to 50 percent of benefits could be taxed if “combined income” exceeded $25,000 for individuals or $32,000 for married couples. In 1993, Congress amended section 86 to allow for an additional taxation of up to 85 percent of benefits if “combined income” exceeded $34,000 for individuals or $44,000 for married couples. Those numbers have never been indexed for inflation. In addition, there are also thirteen states that tax Social Security benefits. Social Security couldn’t possibly be an earned benefit that workers have paid for — not if the government can tax you on 85 percent of your benefits. If Social Security was really “the insurance that you contribute to with every paycheck,” then it wouldn’t matter how much money you made after retirement. Your income shouldn’t affect your Social Security at all.

So then, if Social Security is not a retirement plan, a trust fund, an annuity, an insurance program, a savings account, a 401(k)-type account, an investment vehicle, or a pension fund; if it is not “earned,” “paid for,” or “the insurance that you contribute to with every paycheck,” then what is it? It is simply an intergenerational wealth-redistribution scheme that has been an entitlement program for the elderly from the very beginning. Social Security doesn’t need to be expanded, and neither does it need to be reformed, privatized, fixed, or saved. Because Social Security is based on coercion, fraud, and theft; and because it is immoral for the government to take money from those who work and give it to those who don’t, the Social Security program should be eliminated, not expanded.

This article was originally published in the July 2020 edition of Future of Freedom.

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CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars Judiciary Rbg Ruth Bader Ginsburg Supreme Court

Bigger Problem Underlies Supreme Court Fight

Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away last week, opening up a spot on the Supreme Court even as election day looms. The fight over her replacement is already heating up. But there’s a far bigger problem underlying the battle over which politically connected lawyer sits on the Court next.
Regardless, let the political theater begin.

I’m already enjoying watching Republicans do rhetorical gymnastics to explain the difference between blocking Obama’s nominee during an election year and rushing a Trump nomination during this election year.

“This is different!”

Yes. Whatever.

Here’s the thing — it doesn’t really matter.

As I explained recently, you shouldn’t be depending on federal judges to protect your liberty or the Constitution. They aren’t committed to your liberty. They aren’t even committed to the Constitution. They are mostly committed to precedent. And most precedent is unconstitutional.

Nevertheless, we will see significant wailing and gnashing of teeth as this SCOTUS hubbub plays out. To most Americans, there is nothing more politically significant than who sits on the Supreme Court.

And that reveals a big problem.

No sane political system vests so much power in nine politically-connected lawyers.

The American founding generation certainly didn’t. In fact, Alexander Hamilton argued that the Court would be the weakest branch of the federal government. But here we are – living in a world where nine lawyers in black dresses wield almost absolute power.

I kind of think maybe we should rethink this.

I’m reminded of a pretty prescient observation by Littleton Waller Tazwell, who served in the U.S. House and Senate, and as the 26th governor of Virginia.

“For the Judiciary of the United States, I entertain at least as much respect as I do for any other Judiciary. I will not say more; and I cannot say less. With the individual Judges, I have nothing to do. They shall all be, if any one thinks so, what some of them certainly are, ‘like Mansfield wise, and as old Foster just.’ But all must know that the robes of office do not cover angels, but mere men, as prone to err, as any other men of equal intelligence, of equal purity, and of equal constancy.

We all know, too, that some of the supreme Judges of the United States have not thought it unbecoming their high places, to accept Foreign Missions, to present themselves as candidates for other offices, and to enter into newspaper disquisitions upon party topics. I do not mean to blame them for such things, but merely to shew from such facts, that the rights of sovereign States, when assailed by the government of the United States, could not be safely confided to a forum so constituted, even if it was possible that it could take cognizance of the subject.”

The root of the problem is that so many people have embraced this absurd system that empowers judges to run their lives. As a result, many will view this SCOTUS appointment as very nearly a matter of life and death.

I don’t. And I won’t. I refuse to get caught up in D.C. political theater. I think there’s a better way forward.

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CURRENT EVENTS Deficit Spending Economy Intelwars National Debt

Debt is the Real Pandemic

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) latest “Update on the Budget Outlook,” this year’s $3.3 trillion federal deficit is not just three times larger than last year: it is the largest federal deficit in history. The CBO update also predicts that the federal debt will equal 104 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) next year and will reach 108 percent of GDP by 2030.

The CBO update also shows that the Social Security, Medicare, and highway trust funds will all be bankrupt by 2031. This will put pressure on Congress to bail out the trust funds thus further increasing the debt.

This year’s spike in federal spending was caused by the multi-trillion dollar coronavirus relief/economic stimulus bills passed by Congress and signed by the president. However, spending had already increased by $937 billion from the time President Trump was sworn in until the lockdown.

Federal spending is unlikely to be reduced no matter who wins the presidential election. Former Vice President Joe Biden has proposed increasing spending on everything from Obamacare to militarism to “green” cronyism. Yet some progressives are attacking Biden for being to “stingy” in his spending proposals. Even more distressing is how few progressives are critical of Biden’s support for increasing the military budget.

With some notable exceptions, such as his infrastructure plan, President Trump is not proposing any massive new spending programs. However, he Is not promising to stop increasing, much less cut, federal spending.

Most Republicans have abandoned their Obama-era opposition to deficit spending to support President Trump’s spending increases. This repeats a pattern where Republicans oppose deficit spending under a Democrat president but decide that “deficits don’t matter” when a Republican is sitting in the Oval Office. If Biden wins in November, Republicans will likely once again discover that deficits do matter, especially if Democrats also gain control of the Senate.

Government spending forcibly takes resources from the private sector, where they are used to produce goods and services desired by consumers, and puts them in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats. This distorts the market, reducing efficiency and lowering the people’s standard of living. This, combined with pressure to monetize the federal debt, causes the Federal Reserve to pump money into the economy leading to a boom-bust business cycle.

Unless Congress begins reducing spending, the coming economic crisis will be even worse. The logical place to start cutting spending is ending all unnecessary overseas commitments, corporate welfare, and shuttling down all unconstitutional federal agencies — starting with the Department of Education.

The savings from these cuts can be used to start paying down debt and providing for those truly dependent on the current system while we transition away from the welfare state. Private charities, including ones run by religious organizations, are better than government bureaucracies at providing effective and compassionate aid to those in need.

Most politicians will not vote to curtail the welfare-warfare state unless their constituents demand it. The people will not demand an end to big government as long as so many believe that the government has a moral responsibility to, and is capable of, providing them with economic and personal security.

Therefore, our priority must be on getting people to reject the entitlement mentality and embrace the philosophy of liberty and personal responsibility. This will enable us to build a movement capable of convincing politicians to stop voting for more spending and debt and instead vote to respect the Constitutional limitations on government in all areas.

Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

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CORPORATE MEDIA COVER-UP/DECEPTIONS/PROPAGANDA CURRENT EVENTS Economy Intelwars POLITICS/ELECTIONS/CORRUPTION WHITE HOUSE

Can The US Recover All COVID-Fueled Job Losses By Early 2021?

Authored by Daniel Lacalle, op-ed via The Epoch Times,

The employment recovery in the United States is as impressive as the collapse due to the lockdowns.

What the United States needs to do to recover jobs and return to real wage growth and the path to full employment is both easy and challenging.

The United States needs to cut red tape and bureaucratic burdens to new business creation, lift regulatory and fiscal burdens that prevent small and medium enterprises from growing into large companies, and maintain an attractive tax system that incentivizes investment, capital repatriation, and supports job creation.

Anyone can understand this. Why is it challenging, then?

In the middle of an election year there are too many misguided proposals from the left demanding higher taxes, more government interventionism, and more regulatory burdens. It seems that many politicians cannot learn from the mistakes of the eurozone.

Higher taxes and more interventionism will not deliver better public services and stronger finances. The eurozone is the proof that higher taxes still drove most countries to historic high levels of debt and unemployment while public services did not improve. Deficit spending is not solved by raising taxes but by cutting unnecessary spending. With a rising tax wedge, growth is weaker, job creation is poorer, and the deficit remains stubbornly high because expenditures rise in growth and crisis periods significantly above receipts.

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China COMPUTERS/INTERNET/SECURITY COVER-UP/DECEPTIONS/PROPAGANDA CURRENT EVENTS DICTATORSHIP Intelwars Iran WAR/DRAFT/VETERAN AFFAIRS

China Looks To Build Espionage Hub In Iran Under 25-Year Deal

Authored by Simon Watkins via OilPrice.com,

The next phase of the 25-year deal between China and Iran will focus on a large-scale roll-out of electronic espionage and warfare capabilities focused around the port of Chabahar and extending for a nearly 5,000 kilometre (3,000 mile) radius, and the concomitant build-out of mass surveillance and monitoring of the Iranian population, in line with the standard operating procedure across China, senior sources close to the Iranian government told OilPrice.com last week.

Both of these elements dovetail into Beijing’s strategic vision for Iran as a fully-functioning client state of China by the end of the 25-year period. By that time, Iran will be an irreplaceable geographical and geopolitical foundation stone in Beijing’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ project, as well as providing a large pool of young, well-educated, relatively cheap labor for Chinese industry. The mass surveillance, monitoring, and control systems to cover Iran’s population is to begin its full roll-out as from the second week of November, after the final agreement on event sequencing has been reached in the third week of October at a meeting between Iran’s most senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and intelligence services figures and their Chinese counterparts.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, already agreed on the broad plans in July, according to the Iran sources.

“The plan is for nearly 10 million extra CCTV [closed-circuit television] cameras to be placed in Iran’s seven most populous cities, to begin with, plus another five million or so pinhole surveillance cameras to be placed at the same time in another 21 cities, with all of these being directly linked in to China’s main state surveillance and monitoring systems,” said an Iran source.

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CORPORATE MEDIA COVER-UP/DECEPTIONS/PROPAGANDA CURRENT EVENTS Economy Intelwars

California Towns Are Leasing Back Their Own Streets To Build Prisons, Finance Pensions

What matters most: The unique structure of a lease revenue bond makes the essentiality of the facility being leased and the legal protections on appropriating funds very important. Bonds backed by structures with lower essentiality and limited protections for appropriating funds will usually be lower-rated and have higher yields. Our opinion is to be cautious of bonds backed by lease revenues, as these bonds should be viewed more like general government bonds, not revenue bonds.

Although the name of the bonds implies that the streets are nominally being “leased,” the bondholders will not have any particular rights to lay claim to the streets; despite their status as “collateral,” the bondholders can’t take them over and charge tolls if a city defaults on the rent.

Instead, the town “leases” the area to a ‘financial authority’, which forks over the cash up front. The city will then pay the “rent” to the leased-back land. The “lease” component then becomes little more than a gimmick. The LRB is effectively an example of Wall Street helping to supplant the will of the voters.

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COVER-UP/DECEPTIONS/PROPAGANDA CURRENT EVENTS DICTATORSHIP Intelwars Iran ISRAEL LEBANON RUSSIA/BELARUS/UKRAINE saudi arabia WAR/DRAFT/VETERAN AFFAIRS

Iran Seeks Revenge For Sabotage Attack On Natanz Nuclear Plant

Iran has identified the perpetrators of an act of sabotage at Natanz nuclear facility in the central part of the country in July, according to a spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. Behrouz Kamalvandi said that while the details of the act of sabotage are still being investigated, the security forces “have detected the agents [who committed the act of sabotage] as well as the motive, methods and manner of the sabotage.”

The AEOI for the first time described the July 2 incident at the Natanz nuclear facility as a sabotage attack on July 23, and since then pro-Iranian sources have repeatedly vowed to take revenge for the attack.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Defence Minister Amir Hatami announced that the country is working to expand its missile capabilities even further. In particular, the military is working on air-launched cruise missiles that would be able to hit targets in the range of up to 1,400km.

These statements cause expected concern in Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia, as the main geopolitical opponents of Iran in the region. They also claim that Teheran has been ramping up its proxy efforts against the Saudi-Israeli-US block in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Despite loud claims by Iranian officials and state-linked media, Iran is in fact not interested in an open military confrontation with the US-Israeli alliance. Therefore, it is logical that the Iranian response to the Natanz attack will likely be asymmetric. The recently increased IED attacks on US convoys and rocket strikes on US-affiliated facilities in Iraq could be a part of this campaign.

At the same time, Israel has been actively strengthening security measures on the contact lines with Lebanon and Syria, and continues its low intensity bombing campaign against ‘Iranian-linked targets’ in Syria.

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CORPORATE MEDIA COVER-UP/DECEPTIONS/PROPAGANDA CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars POLITICS/ELECTIONS/CORRUPTION

Rich Americans Flock To Caribbean Ahead Of US Presidential Election Turmoil 

Wealthy Americans aren’t just fleeing big cities for rural communities amid the virus pandemic, social unrest, and surge in violent crime; some of these folks are leaving the country until the dust settles. Citizenship advisers, government agencies, and real estate developers are pointing out a surge in inbound migration flow of Americans to countries in the Caribbean Sea ahead of the US presidential election.

Forbes spoke with Mohammed Asaria, whose Range Developments is constructing six new Senses resorts in Grenada, said Americans are flocking to the Caribbean as a means to ‘hideout’ from the socio-economic implosion stateside.

“You’ve got the election coming. That’s number one. You’ve had Covid and certain places in the U.S. have been challenged through that, and more working remotely,” Asaria said.

Requests for long-term stays at Secret Bay in Dominica have soared 66% this year as Americans seek isolation in the mountainous Caribbean island nation.

“It’s the first time the U.S. has gone through a period like this and it’s not just the Covid-19 situation,” Gregor Nassief, its owner, told Forbes. “It is the fear of what an extreme outcome on the left or right may look like after the presidential election.”

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CORPORATE MEDIA COVER-UP/DECEPTIONS/PROPAGANDA CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars

Whitney: Is BLM The Mask Behind Which The Oligarchs Operate?

We are not experiencing a sudden and explosive outbreak of racial violence and mayhem. We are experiencing a thoroughly-planned, insurgency-type operation that involves myriad logistical components including vast, nationwide riots, looting and arson, as well as an extremely impressive ideological campaign. “Critical Race Theory”, “The 1619 Project”, and Homeland Security’s “White Supremacist” warning are as much a part of the Oligarchic war on America as are the burning of our cities and the toppling of our statues. All three, fall under the heading of “ideology”, and all three are being used to shape public attitudes on matters related to our collective identity as “Americans”.

The plan is to overwhelm the population with a deluge of disinformation about their history, their founders, and the threats they face, so they will submissively accept a New Order imposed by technocrats and their political lackeys. This psychological war is perhaps more important than Operation BLM which merely provides the muscle for implementing the transformative “Reset” that elites want to impose on the country. The real challenge is to change the hearts and minds of a population that is unwaveringly patriotic and violently resistant to any subversive element that threatens to do harm to their country. So, while we can expect this propaganda saturation campaign to continue for the foreseeable future, we don’t expect the strategy will ultimately succeed. At the end of the day, America will still be America, unbroken, unflagging and unapologetic.

Let’s look more carefully at what is going on.

This is a class war dolled-up to look like a race war. Americans will have to look beyond the smoke and mirrors to spot the elites lurking in the shadows. There lies the cancer that must be eradicated.

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COVER-UP/DECEPTIONS/PROPAGANDA CURRENT EVENTS IMMIGRATION/NAU/GLOBALISM Intelwars RELIGION/ATHEISM

Sweden: The Violence Is “Extremely Serious”

Authored by Judith Bergman via The Gatestone Institute,

Things in Sweden have now deteriorated to such a degree that on August 29, the Swedish police published a statement titled “The trends in violence are extremely serious.” It said:

“Recently, there have been serious incidents and serious acts of violence linked to criminal networks, in which several people have been murdered and others seriously injured…

“In Stockholm, two people were murdered in the past week, and in Gothenburg, criminal groups have tried to demonstrate power by controlling vehicles entering certain districts. Earlier in August, an innocent 12-year-old girl was murdered… [during a gang incident], and in other parts of the country there are conflicts between various criminal networks and other ruthless crime, as well. On Friday night, a violent riot also occurred in Malmö where several police officers were injured…”

Sweden’s National Police Chief, Anders Thornberg, made what sounded like a plea for help from the rest of society: “Swedish police are in a tough operational situation. It is now a matter of society joining forces behind the police,” he said.

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COVER-UP/DECEPTIONS/PROPAGANDA CURRENT EVENTS DICTATORSHIP Economy Europe Intelwars PROTESTS/REVOLUTION RUSSIA/BELARUS/UKRAINE

Embattled Lukashenko Raises Possibility Of Fresh Elections In First Hint At Compromise

Embattled Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has remained defiant after weeks of mass protests have brought parts of the country, especially the capital of Minsk, to a standstill, following his disputed August 9 reelection to a sixth term. He’s actually been seen walking the presidential compound grounds in combat fatigues while holding an automatic rifle, to show just how serious he is about resisting the unrest increasingly at the gates of his residence.

But on Tuesday he showed the first signs he might be willing to compromise as both domestic and international pressures grow toward holding a fresh election. The opposition claims the Aug.9 election was “rigged” as exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya urges “international pressure on this regime” while issuing regular messages from neighboring Lithuania

Lukashenko was quoted in Interfax as saying Tuesday that he may have “overstayed” his time in office and that he would “not exclude early presidential elections” in a significant first sign of possibly softening his stance.

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Cares act CDC CURRENT EVENTS Evictions federal agencies Intelwars

CDC Declares Itself Landlord of All Rental Property in America

“So great moreover is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community. In vain may it be urged, that the good of the individual ought to yield to that of the community; for it would be dangerous to allow any private man, or even any public tribunal, to be the judge of this common good, and to decide whether it be expedient or no. Besides, the public good is in nothing more essentially interested, than in the protection of every individual’s private rights.”
– William Blackstone 

In response to the economic suffering brought about in large measure by its own actions taken in response to the COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has now claimed for itself the power to prevent landlords from controlling their own rental properties.

As first reported by zerohedge.com, the CDC announced last Tuesday that it was suspending most evictions from rental property at least through the end of 2020.

The zerohedge story reports that in a phone call with the media, CDC officials “said the order will apply to Americans who qualified for direct payments under the CARES Act.”

CARES Act — the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — is the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump on March 27, 2020. The economic aid package included assistance for renters unable to pay their rent as a result of government reaction to the coronavirus outbreak.

As for how this new bureaucratic fiat differs from the CARES Act, zerohedge reports:

Under the CARES Act, only renters in federally-backed rental units were protected from eviction. This covers any rental unit in United States, so long as the renter meets those requirements, where they’ve demonstrated that they are at risk of becoming evicted,” an official said. There’s also currently a moratorium on evictions for federally-backed, single family home mortgages.

In order to qualify for eviction protections, renters will need to download and fill out several forms provided by the CDC on its website. Renters will then give the completed forms directly to their landlord.

An official quoted in the zerohedge report said, “This will be a declaration presented to the landlord, if that landlord approaches a tenant with an intent to evict.” Should a landlord refuse to allow the CDC to exercise control of his property, the landlord’s failure to comply with the mandate “would become a criminal offense,” the CDC official added.

In cases of a dispute between the landlord and the tenant seeking to avoid eviction, the CDC official said these cases would be heard in local courts.

One would look in vain to find authority over private contracts and private property granted to any branch of the federal government, much less to some agency of dubious purpose such as the CDC.

In a report on the new edict published at the Mises Institute, Jeff Diest quotes an unnamed “federal official” trying to explain how the CDC’s reach should rightly extend to private property and the ability of individuals to execute and enforce contracts:

Congress has delegated broad authority to HHS, the Surgeon General and CDC, to take reasonable efforts to combat the spread of communicable diseases, and frankly I think it makes sense for those authorities abroad because we don’t know for any given situation or scenario what steps will be needed to stop the spread. I think, in this particular order, the CDC has made a very compelling case that it is quite problematic at this particular time. It’s focused on this particular pandemic, which is obviously the uniquely powerful grasp in the nation’s entire history in terms of the effect it’s had that for a bunch of reasons in particular, that the home has been sort of the focal point of people social distancing and building, sort of a safe space themselves over the past few months, and also the fact that if people get kicked out, they may end up in overcrowded congregated living facilities or homeless shelters, and that is a potential recipe for a big spread of COVID-19.

Wow. Well, that would surely satisfy Samuel Adams or Patrick Henry.

It should be noted by everyone who values republican government and the concept that the only legitimate government is a government that acts with the consent of the governed, that the CDC’s seizure of power over private property was not approved by Congress. In fact, there was no oversight by the representatives of the people whatsoever. This decree is, by any definition of the word, tyrannical.

It is no exaggeration to say that liberty in the United States today is not under attack from one, single identifiable despot, but from hundreds of federal agencies and commissions, each of which is tacitly allowed by Congress and the president to exercise immense legislative, executive, and judicial power.

What is relevant to Americans today is the realization that such consolidation of government authority, in the hands of one (or many) agents of the federal government, is tyrannical and will eventual lead to the denial of the full panoply of rights all of which should be shielded from bureaucratic despotism.

Finally, apart from the accumulation of powers being accomplished by these alphabet agencies, there is another aspect of this growth of government that is anathema to our republican form of government.

One of the royal abuses of power in the “long train” listed by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence seems to accurately describe these agencies’ autocratic agenda. “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance,” Jefferson wrote.

And, as Jefferson warned at another time, “It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. 173 despots would surely be as oppressive as one.”

In fact, it would be preferable that the authority of land owners to protect their property — and the livelihood that property affords them and their families — had been usurped by a single presidential tyrant or even 535 tyrants in the legislative branch, as at least those people are subject to election by the people and theoretically the people could run the tyrants out of office by refusing to reelect them. The officials at the CDC, however, are subject to no control by the people of the United States and cannot be held accountable by them, no matter how despotic their decrees become.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published at The New American Magazine and reposted here with permission from the author.

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CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars

New ‘Republicans & Independents for Biden’ Group Led by Same Old GOP Gun-Grabbers

Not only does Joe Biden threaten to eviscerate all those interests, if elected, he will make sure judges are appointed to the Supreme Court and at all levels within the federal court system to reverse gains gun owners have made to date and to uphold new infringements. As far as political and “legal” means of redress go, it will be “Game over” for the Second Amendment, leaving the only options to be “Surrender or resist.”

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CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars

Kamala Harris – Who Smeared Kavanaugh Over Debunked Sex Assault – Says She’s “Proud” Of Accused Rapist Jacob Blake

In September of 2018, Sen. Kamala Harris smeared then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with decades-old sexual assault allegations by Christine Blasey Ford, despite the fact that all witnesses in the ‘case’ – including a lifelong friend, disputed her account.

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CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars

Fico blames Soros for provoking instability in Slovakia

A fully-fledged political crisis is evolving in Slovakia after the brutal murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée. As thousands of people gather in the streets, Prime Minister Robert Fico has accused the President of colluding with financier George Soros in an attempt to destabilize the country.

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CURRENT EVENTS Intelwars

Tesla “full self-driving” rip-off car exposed by Consumer Reports

If you are in the market *for a new vehicle equipped with all the latest bells and whistles, beware of the Tesla deception.

The Elon Musk-owned car manufacturer is peddling a newfangled “Full Self-Driving Capability” option that costs a cool $8,000 per vehicle, but that, according to the experts at Consumer Reports, is basically a scam.

While admittedly still in the “beta” phase of its rollout, Tesla’s full self-driving technology is flawed, at best. At worst, it might land you in a ditch or T-boned into another vehicle.

Whether it involves self-parking in a lot or auto-changing lanes on the highway, Tesla’s latest technological claim to fame is a glitchy mess that cannot be trusted to get a driver safely from point A to B.

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