Our Interview with LibertyNerd!

Liberty Nerd 1The Internets make for a great place to connect with all sorts of people and share ideas and discussion about thoughts and various topics of interest. We were fortunate to find LibertyNerd, and we knew immediately that her love of liberty and things nerdy would make her an instant friend worthy of following and learning from. For this week’s Freedom Friday, we met up with LibertyNerd in her natural habitat (on the Internet of course) for a virtual interview. Check out that interview below, then check out LibertyNerd’s Facebook page and/or Twitter feed. If you have any inner nerd, even a small bit, we promise you won’t be bored!

Freedom Forge Press:  Tell us about yourself.

LibertyNerd:  I’m 24 years old, currently a graduate student at GMU pursuing a dual MA in History and Education (with the teaching licensure). My undergrad was a BA in History with a focus on Russian History, and a thesis on a futuristic anti-opera from 1913 in the Russian Avant Garde. I’ve got about 24 animals as well! Along with all of that, I am a HUGE Harry Potter lover! With that comes an enjoyment and passion for reading books. I have found that if I’m not reading something, whether it’s a book, journal, news article, etc., my day is boring. For politics, I volunteered for Ron Paul 2012, was lead intern for Ken Cuccinelli for Governor in the Fairfax office, and a founder of GMU Young Americans for Liberty. Rep. Thomas Massie is my favorite Congressman currently serving.

FFP: You call yourself the “Liberty Nerd”. What is the link between liberty and “nerd-dom”?

LN:  There are MANY (and I mean MANY) qualities that are coming about in the media nowadays, along with freedom/liberty aspects that people may not have picked up on before. From Star Wars’ Han Solo being anti-government and marrying a capitalistic Princess Leia, to looking at how the Ministry of Magic in “Harry Potter” tries to meddle with the education system at Hogwarts, there are things that society can take and learn from and try to see the connection between fantasy and reality.

Also, look at Facebook news feeds: they are downright depressing half the time. My goal with my page is to help liberty-minded activists and lovers unite with others that are passionate about things other than just politics. Studying this… “nerd” culture in a liberty-minded way can help others understand our message without some being all up in everyone’s face. I feel like there are many self-proclaimed libertarians that go around and shout at those different from them because they aren’t libertarians, and how is that helping us win people over? It’s not. It pushes people away. By combining what people have been exposed to in Hollywood and the media with liberty-minded philosophies, I think it can be a very strong and winning argument for us (and we don’t have to be mean about it!)!Liberty Nerd 9

FFP: What do you think an average person can and should do to increase his/her own personal liberty?

LN: Just be themselves and constantly learn about the OTHER side of things. If you strictly focus on just honing in on your beliefs, that’s fine…but you will never be able to justify your beliefs by not exposing yourself to the other side of the coin, you know? I remember reading how someone only read stuff by X economist because this individual didn’t believe in understanding any other type of economist’s viewpoints. That’s such a shallow argument! Be well-rounded in your beliefs by understanding and reading up about both sides! Besides, if you stop learning in life and just focus on yourself and you 5ft radius, you’re going to live that shallow life.

FFP: What is your favorite book/movie/story and why?

LN: I have two (I can’t pick just one!). It’s “Peter Pan” and the “Harry Potter” series. I have always loved the story of “Peter Pan” and the idea of never growing up. Even though I’m continuously growing up (I feel we never stop growing intellectually, anyways!), I embrace my childhood and my old imagination. Why live a life without fun and imagination? I feel like that is the message from Neverland: even if you grow up, stay true to who you are inside. This also goes into how to grow your own personal liberty: just being yourself!

Then, there’s “Harry Potter.” I was absolutely part of the Potter generation. Growing up, I was teased in school for being so in love with it, however, I found friends who shared my passion for the books and we all became such great friends. Honestly, that book series taught me more about life and friendships than any other show or book series ever has. There’s truly something magical about those books, and I will always be thankful that I decided to pick up “Sorcerer’s Stone” on a random whim when I was 10 years old. Also, to go along with Potter, the fifth book, “Order of the Phoenix” has MANY anti-government qualities and themes to it, and Rowling herself believes we should always question authority. It’s very interesting to see how things from that book are playing out here in our education system or our government today (education reform, spying, torture, control, etc.)

FFP: Who is your favorite pro-liberty hero in a sci-fi or fantasy story (book or movie)? Why?

LN: I’ve got two, a male and a female. This is going to sound really generic, but I heavily connected to Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games.” Even from a non-political standpoint, I connected to her. Like Katniss, I also have a little sister that reminds me of Primrose Everdeen, and I would have absolutely volunteered as tribute for my sister as well. Politically speaking, Katniss is strong and hates what the Capitol has done, yet she remained apolitical and went along with it for a while, until she worked out a way to get around the government. I mean, how badass is that? Infiltrate the system by getting to know it, then demolish it from within. She also doesn’t like the attention, but she accepted it in order to prove a point to the Capitol. She’s also headstrong, stubborn, skillful, and when all is said and done, loving.

Also, Captain Malcom Reynolds from the show “Firefly.” He cares for his crew, hates the government, and will do what he can to evade it. You don’t want to cross this guy, especially when he’s wearing a “pretty floral bonnet.”

FFP: Flip side: who is your “favorite” anti-liberty villain in a sci-fi or fantasy story? Why?

Liberty Nerd 6

LN: Professor Umbridge from “Potter.” I absolutely hate that character more than Voldemort who was the epitome of evil! She’s my favorite, though, mainly because there’s a plethora of things we as a society can learn from her. She doesn’t want us to defend or protect ourselves because there’s “nothing out there to harm us”? Ha, apply that to the world today! Look at what’s around us. Our right to defend ourselves is bring infringed upon, just like Umbridge tried to do the same to students. No wands were allowed in class, and the students revolted and were like, “Oh hell no we’re gonna do our own thing,” and they did and became very strong wizards. Umbridge is the character we love to hate, and also just flat out hate.

FFP: Education seems to be a priority for you. Why is this a concern/priority for you, and what do you want to change?

LN: Well, I want to be a teacher in the system…so take what I said about Katniss and apply it here! I think there are ways around the system in order to teach students. Many believe we have to just teach students with an outline and teach them the what’s and the who’s of history…but why not the how’s and the why’s? History is an abstract concept, and yet it’s taught to be either black or white. Not acceptable. I want to change how history is taught in school, and I want to show people how it is being taught. There’s a video on my Facebook page of an American History textbook for 11th grade, and it doesn’t have ANY documents in it! No Constitution, no Bill of Rights, no Articles of Confederation, no Gettysburg Address (even THAT’S surprising). It’s downright pathetic that this is how the State expects students to learn. It’s all about profit instead of actually teaching students nowadays. It’s all about how well students can memorize instead of learn and think for themselves, which causes students to expect the answers right in front of them, instead of applying what they already know. It’s all about how well students do well on a standardized test. Whatever happened to how well students can perform individually, think for themselves, or take personal responsibility for their own grades? It’s a sad state of affairs for education.

FFP: Where can people find you online?

LN: They can find me online at my Facebook page  or they can follow me on Twitter @Liberty_Nerd

FFP: What can people expect when they visit your site/page?

LN: A mix of nerdy things (books, movies, shows), space articles, political things, maybe a pic or a million of my cat Tootsie. It’s being designed to be a FUN page to brighten up news feeds, a place to post articles/pictures of nerd culture combined with political thought. Also, expect interaction from me! I think it’s great when admins of pages personally respond to people. It creates a sense of community instead of anonymity.

FFP: Is there anything you wanted us to ask that we didn’t (and answer!)?

LN: My political beliefs are liberty minded. I do have libertarian qualities, but I also have a few conservative ones as well (example, many libertarians are pro-choice while I am pro-life for personal reasons!).

I’m terrible with economics, I really am, and I don’t hide this factor. It bothers me when people think they know all the things in the world and that they’re always right. I don’t hide behind the fact that I don’t know everything – no one does, and I’m okay with that. Another factor with my page is that I hope to learn from others about certain topics, such as economics, and build upon it.

Budget “Deal” Shows Why You Shouldn’t Trust Politicians to Fix Anything

House Republican Paul Ryan and Senate Democrat Pat Murray proudly emerged from crafting their back-room budget deal. Finally, an end to the dreaded “sequester” budget cuts that were promised to be so intense and so devastating that the sky might literally fall if they were enacted. Finally, an end to the threat of another government shut down when the continuing resolution passed in October expires in mid-January.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor praised Ryan for “the hard work behind trying to get a deal in this divided government we’re in.”

Speaker John Boehner was so angry that conservatives in his caucus weren’t widely supporting the budget deal, he yelled “Are you kidding me?” at one point into a microphone at his press conference earlier today.

That’s funny. We think the question really should be asked of him and those who support the budget “deal” and think that something meaningful has actually been accomplished.  Maybe a better question is “who are you trying to kid?”

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office scores the deficit impact of the laws Congress passes.  They evaluated this budget deal and reported the law would result in about $150 billion in deficit reductions. Over ten years.

Of course Representatives have two-year terms–meaning there will be five elections between now and the end of this projection. Even the Senate will go through nearly two full election cycles of its members during this timeline. What is the chance that the cuts enacted will be left in place? If you need a hint, the budget cuts that went into effect January 2, 2013 lasted until…well until about today, so not even a full year. What’s the likelihood that budget cuts enacted ten years from now actually remain in place?

This is the dishonesty of budget projections. All the budget pain is in the later years of the timeline. But politicians claim to have made “the hard choices” now and done “the hard work” now of getting a deal done today. They’re hoping you don’t notice when the cuts go into effect.

The “hard choice” made in the House today is to make NO change to the projected deficit in 2014. That’s right. Zero change. All changes take place after 2014. And we know 2014 is an election year, meaning in 2015, fresh faces in Congress may alter this budget blueprint at will.

The pie chart below shows the dollar value of deficit cuts in each year of the budget plan.  Yes, 2014, the year when Congress could have actually enacted something that would stick, is zero. As each year passes, the likelihood of the cuts remaining in place drops–so we shaded the chart to reflect lighter pie slices until 2023 when the final slice is a pale white-green color.

Seventy cents of every dollar in proposed cuts won’t take place until after the 5 year mid-point (2019) of the budget plan. We won’t even have the same president by then. The remaining 30 cents in cuts will be realized between 2015 and 2019.

But the size of the cuts themselves are unbelievably small. Sure, politicians will claim to have cut the deficit by $150 billion (…*cough*overtenyears*cough*…)

But what does that mean? Even if every penny that is proposed to be on the budget chopping block remains on the chopping block, the size of the cuts is insignificant.

Over the same 10 year period where Republicans and Democrats are slapping each other on the back over their $150 billion in deficit reductions (…*cough*overtenyears*cough*…) your government is expected to spend some $46.6 TRILLION. Suddenly the $150 billion in reductions (your turn! *cough*overtenyears*cough) is little more than an insignificant rounding error–just 0.3% of funds to be spent.

We colored the area of the rectangle below green in a sea of red to represent the value of the cuts as a percentage of expected spending. You might need to zoom in to find the cuts.

This inability of Congress to address the country’s fiscal woes will lead to economic ruin in the form of crippling tax increases, inflation, and a damaged US Dollar in foreign currency markets. These effects in turn limit the freedom we have to enjoy a fruitful and prosperous lifestyle as we have less disposable income, must pay more for basic goods and services with the money the government was gracious enough not to tax, and an inability to afford goods and services that are not produced here.

All of which begs the question of Speaker Boehner and those who voted for the measure, “Are you kidding us?”

Book Review: Emily Gets Her Gun…But Barack Obama Wants to Take Yours by Emily Miller

Emily Gets Her Gun: But Barack Obama Wants To Take Yours (Regnery Publishing) is the story of Emily Miller’s personal experience and observations in navigating the convoluted, hostile, and even incompetent District of Columbia bureaucracy in order to secure her constitutional right to legally own a firearm in her home of Washington, D.C. The book is definitely worth your time, especially if you value your Second Amendment rights to own firearms.  You’ll learn a lot of “need to know” facts about legal gun ownership and information needed to effectively defend your right to “keep and bear arms” when dealing with political figures and “reasonable gun control” advocates who propose policies that are anything but reasonable.

Emily Miller is a journalist and a resident of Washington, D.C. One day she found herself defenseless as criminals broke into a friend’s home as she was house-sitting. Emily decided to follow the District’s process for purchasing and possessing a legal firearm in Washington, D.C., which turned out to be no small feat. The book is a nonfiction account of her journey (of several months) to navigate the city’s red-tape aimed at making legal handgun possession too difficult for most people to achieve.

The narrative is told in alternating chapters. Miller alternates retelling her personal journey for firearm possession with commentary on recent incidents involving politicians and the media, many of whom seem to be aimed at grabbing the guns of law-abiding Americans. Emily’s writing style is easy to understand—it’s almost as if she’s sitting down with you for a one-on-one chat about her experiences. The speeches, laws, and documents she cites are extensively documented, so it’s easy to do further research on any of the points she makes and references she uses.

As an example, here are some statistics she provides in her book:

  • 1 of 4 registered voters believes stricter gun control laws will reduce firearm-related violence. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans owns a gun. There are also 8 million concealed-carry permit holders in the U.S., according to a Government Accountability Office study released in July 2012. (p. 19)
  • Rank and file law enforcement do not support more gun-control laws. PoliceOne did an extensive survey of 15,000 active and retired law enforcement officers across the country in March 2013. When asked what kind of effect a ban on “assault weapons” would have on crime, 71% said “none.” Another 21% said such a ban on guns based on cosmetic appearance would make crime worsen (p. 45)
  • All rifles, whether or not they have the cosmetic features, accounted for only 323 of the 12,664 homicides in the United States in 2011.…Twice as many people—728—were killed by attackers using hands and feet as by all types of rifles. Yet no one is calling for an assault-fist ban. (pp. 46-47)
  • The CDC task force concluded that “evidence was insufficient to determine the effectiveness” of the “high-capacity magazine” ban. According to a Justice Department study released in May 2013, the number of criminal shootings (fatal and nonfatal) has decreased 7% since the decade-long federal ban on “high-capacity” ammunition devices expired in 2004. (p. 65)100 million gun owners own 300 million firearms in our nation. 47% of Americans self-report having a gun in the home, according to a Gallup poll released in October 2011. That number was up from 41% a year earlier and the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993. (pp.155-156)
  • Sturm, Ruger & Co.’s stock was $5.29 on the day Obama was elected in 2008.  On June 3, 2013, the Ruger stock was at $51.02. That is a jaw-dropping 864% increase. Don’t you wish you’d bought that stock? (p.159)
  • About 30,000 people are killed by firearms a year—two-thirds are suicides—while guns are used to prevent crimes as often as two million times a year. (p. 193)
  • The two cities with the stiffest gun control laws—D.C. and Chicago—had increasing crime. Murders in the Windy City were up 16 percent in 2012 to 506 people. And there were 2,460 shooting incidents—a 10 percent increase from the previous year. (p. 199)
  • By a 2 to 1 margin, Americans favor armed security guards and police in more schools, according to the Pew Research Center. (p. 275)
  • 2 out of 3 voters say the Second Amendment was, in fact, intended to protect them from tyranny, according to a Rasmussen poll. Only 17% disagreed. (p. 276)
I met Emily Miller at a book signing earlier this fall. I was amazed by how crowded her signing was!

We met Emily Miller at a book signing earlier this fall. We were amazed by how crowded her signing was!

Her personal journey to legally register a gun is frustrating, to say the least. She had to spend hundreds of dollars in fees (not counting the purchase of the actual gun), take time off work, navigate through a web of city officials ignorant of the actual laws and regulations, and jump through many hoops—when in the very same city, criminals and non-criminals alike refuse to register their guns. Emily proves time and again, that only the law-abiding citizens are being punished by strict gun-control measures.

But the focus isn’t just about guns. The last paragraph summarizes Emily’s primary purpose for writing the book. While the main topic is her fight for personal gun rights, the last line (and our favorite!) is, “A gun is just a tool. The fight is for freedom.” Before experiencing the frightening break-in at her friend’s house, Miller had never shot or even held a gun before. Her motive throughout the book is emphasized as wanting to help law-abiding citizens secure the same rights that criminals seem to have—the ability to own a firearm. She notes how anti-gun legislation doesn’t make anyone safer; it simply removes freedoms.

Throughout the book, she also explains how many of the politicians and “anti-gun” advocates seem to know little, if anything, about guns. For instance, many anti-gun lobbyists seem to believe that Americans can still purchase automatic weapons (think: Rambo). She reminds the reader that the most “dangerous” weapons Americans can possess are semi-automatic, meaning one trigger pull equals one bullet.

She also points out that many gun laws seem arbitrary. For instance, when legislation was recently passed in New York, politicians mandated that residents could possess magazines able to hold no more than seven bullets. Had they done their research, they would have seen that seven-bullet magazines generally don’t exist for most handgun caliber models. The law was amended to allow residents to legally possess magazines that hold ten rounds, but lawmakers still restricted law-abiding citizens to only filling the magazine with no more than seven bullets. As she points out—a criminal will not abide by the law and will (a) secure even higher-capacity magazines by any means possible and (b) will not think twice about placing more than seven bullets in the magazine.

This point, that laws restricting gun rights only hurt law-abiding citizens, is a common theme running through the book. Emily provides examples to illustrate this point time and again in her book.

She also discusses the arbitrary nature of some of the “assault weapons” legislation aimed at limiting the types of weapons people may purchase. But non-functional, even completely cosmetic features of some guns are sometimes enough to earn them a place on an “assault weapon” ban list as defined in some state or city laws.

The gun Emily chose to purchase, for instance, is permitted in the District of Columbia in all black, or in black with a silver accent. But the same exact model was not allowed in the “Scorpion” version. The difference is cosmetic. The “outlawed” version is earth-toned tan. Imagine going to a car dealership to purchase a car, but finding out that you can only buy a white or gray one–red, and black, forget it–too dangerous!

The same is true for rifles. Many assault weapons are banned simply for having one or more cosmetic features. The type of grip, for instance, could make one gun outlawed but another, of the same exact caliber and functionality, would be legal. Adjustable stocks are also a big “no no” when it comes to a weapon’s legal status. It’s ironic that an adjustable stock simply makes it easier for a smaller person—such as a female—to comfortably hold the gun. Things like adjustable stocks and variable grip positions do not give criminals any advantage. Rather, they help people most in need of protection—such as petite women—hold the gun more safely and effectively if the weapon has to be used against a criminal. Once again, the people creating the laws seem to have no practical knowledge of guns, or what specifically makes them dangerous.

As is proven many times in the book, none of the laws deter criminals from possessing or using guns. The point is—criminals are criminals. Murder and theft are already illegal. Criminals ignore those laws. Even police officers surveyed admit that gun bans and stricter gun laws have little impact on criminals using guns. In fact, politicians usually ignore the most important points, which is that there already is a background system check in place for gun purchasers. The “gun show loophole” only actually allows an extremely small percentage of people to buy guns without a background check. Mental health checks—largely ignored, as states fail to upload important mental health data into a  national background check system that already exists—are the most important factor of keeping guns out of the hands of people who would most likely misuse them.

There’s also the argument that gun-free zones become like a playground for criminals. Knowing they won’t be confronted by any citizens who can lawfully conceal-carry a handgun, criminals feel free to shoot as many people as they like without fearing consequences. Just look at the crime rates in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Miller also makes the point that even though gun sales have skyrocketed lately (with the threat of gun bans), crime has been steadily decreasing. Increased gun ownership has not increased gun-related crime.

The examples go on and on. (Someone could write a book! Oh wait, someone has!)

Toward the end of the book, Miller cites examples of seemingly arbitrary and capricious enforcement of gun laws, some aimed at veterans arrested for arbitrary reasons—one for having three unregistered guns in the city, one for having several loose rounds in the bottom of a backpack (but having no weapon). She also demonstrates how celebrities and people with political connections do not have to go through the same scrutiny. For both examples above, veterans were subjected to extensive legal fees, undue stress, even jail time though they committed no actual crimes and were eventually cleared of (most of) the charges.

Miller notes that she could easily move to Virginia, where gun laws are much more fair to law-abiding citizens, but she chooses not to: she wants to stay in Washington, D.C., and continue her fight for gun rights. She notes that, although she is allowed to keep her gun in her home, she is not allowed to carry it outside, even into the lobby of her apartment building. Along her journey to become legally armed, she has met many people who have confided in her, and her goal continues to be helping others exercise their Second Amendment Rights without unnecessary restrictions. Emily is truly a freedom fighter, and one worthy of two thumbs up from Freedom Forge Press.

Published by Regnery Publishing.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million

Cover Courtesy of Regnery Publishing

This…Actually Won Money…Money…Money…

The US Department of Health and Human Services and Young Invincibles teamed up to spend a sum of some thousands (we think $5,000 but it’s not clear, if you can interpret the beaucra-speak from the contest prizes rules and press release let us know) on this mess…

Even the White House joined in the fun of ripping off a pop song to try to turn it into political propaganda for an age group that so far  is largely not interested in buying into Obamacare.

Here’s why the video isn’t worth whatever price the government and its unwitting partner paid:

1. The video, which received financial compensation, makes heavy and unattributed use of a copyrighted song by Jessie J without attribution. We’re pretty sure if a Tea Party group had used a copyrighted song to illustrate a point against the Affordable Care Act, that concerted teams of IRS agents, left-wing activists, media types, lawyers, FBI swat teams, heavily armed Predator drones, even Eric Holder himself would descend on the Tea Party group to capture those involved and dispense whatever mob justice seemed appropriate at the time.

2. The video’s chorus asks you to “Forget About the Price Tag” for a program that’s been plagued with upward cost estimate revisions since the president claimed it would cost only $90 billion per year. Coming up on 5 years and 5 revisions later the current estimate stands at $2.7 trillion (3 times the president’s original figure) factored in a 10-year CBO projection. Forget about that price tag, indeed…

3. The program’s signature product website healthcare.gov cost taxpayers more than $600 million, and was nowhere near ready for prime time on the administration’s launch date of October 1 of this year. Negligence and gross mismanagement abounded, but no one has been held accountable. But forget about the price tag; we guess it “ain’t about the uh-cha-ching cha-ching.”

4. Speaking of “cha-ching cha-ching,” the $600 million the federal government blew on a non-working website still has NO payment transfer mechanism to pay insurance companies those subsidies the federal government promised. As one observer has pointed out, the Armed Forces of the United States mobilized, deployed, fought, and defeated the Axis Powers, winning World War II in less time than it took the government to develop a non-functional website.

5. In a lilting exhortation, our singer says “there’s no excuse to be uninsured.” But the law applies to all Americans. You get a government-approved health plan, or you get fined. But “just stop for a minute to think.”  Do the super-wealthy like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffet really need to purchase individual health insurance?

6. “Keep your mind at ease and get some security.” Like the 5 million+ people who had an individual health insurance policy and have had their plans cancelled due to the Obama Administration’s implementing regulations for the Affordable Care Act? But don’t worry about the “yeah bla-bling bla-bling”!

7. “We just wanna make it more fair with affordable health caaaare.”  But having an insurance policy that has the Obama administration’s gold (or maybe even red!) star seal of approval, does NOT mean you will be getting any health caaaare. It means you have coverage and now have to find a doctor that participates with that insurance program.

8. When coverage expands? Well coverage so far has only contracted with millions of cancellation notices and the president’s extra-legal request that insurers extend policies that his law, as his administration has chosen to implement it, are barred from having…  Even as Obamacare enters maturity as a federal program, the CBO projects we will still have 30 million some uninsured Americans.  But wasn’t that close to the number of uninsured before the government seized control of the health insurance industry?

9. “Take advantage of this opportunity!” What opportunity? Insurance actuarial tables work thusly: a population or risk pool pays premiums. Premiums are used to pay for the bad things that happen to members of the risk pool. Young people in general have far fewer health care requirements–and thus many could benefit from a plan offering catastrophic coverage and socking money into a Health Savings Account, which they control, for later in life when their needs, unfortunately, are destined to change. But like Social Security, the young are paying higher premiums into a program that will pay NOW for sicker people and will not have enough future money coming in to pay for the young when they advance in age and require more costly care.

10. “Why is everyone so oblivious?” Well, many aren’t. A recent poll suggests that only 1 in 4 young people (the target of the video) plan to sign up for “Obamacare,” suggesting that at least the remaining 3 out of 4 aren’t so oblivious and can do the simple math above and see that the program is not a good deal for them. It’s too bad we can’t count the video author among the un-oblivious.

11. “I know we’re in our prime. About time we opened our eyes.” Agreed!

We think the video’s author, Erin McDonald, could have gotten more benefit and closer to the truth if she had stuck with words from the original song:

“Seems like everybody’s got a price” (Like the Louisiana Purchase–Right, Sen Landrieu?)

“…when the sale comes first, and the truth comes second” (Ain’t that the truth? Right, Pres Obama? And your close to 40 recorded promises of “if you like your doctor/health plan you can keep your doctor/health plan.”

“It’s not about the money, money, money//We don’t need your money, money, money.” While Obamacare is precisely about the money, money, money, we’d much prefer a government that espoused this idea!

“Money can’t buy us happiness//can we all slow down and enjoy right now.” This sounds an awful lot like freedom to us. If government would stop worrying about what you and I do with our money and stop trying to steal it to buy votes, corruption, and political power, perhaps we could all just “make the world dance.”

“That Government of the People, by the People, for the People, Shall Not Perish from the Earth”

Seven and a half score (150) years ago, Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address, commemorating the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War.

He closed his speech by saying:

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Fast forward from 1863 to 2013 and consider a Fox News Poll released yesterday 10/3. The last question of the poll is disheartening: “In the United States, the people are supposed to be in charge of the government. What do you think is happening today?”  Eighty-eight percent of those polled said “the government is in charge of the people.” Eight percent said the people are in charge of the government.

Set aside any passions you may have for the new healthcare law or the government shutdown for a moment and consider where “We the People” currently stand in our relationship with our federal government:

-It openly admits, in glaring contrast to the guarantees of the Fourth Amendment of Constitution, to a domestic spying program, with surveillance of American citizens’ web-browsing, email, and telephone calls.

-It has mortgaged the future of young Americans, amassing $17 TRILLION in debt and another $126 TRILLION in promises made to current tax payers with no realistic ability to pay them.

-It has hoarded an arsenal of billions of rounds of ammunition–more than would be needed for 24 Iraq Wars, and refuses to provide a justification for the purpose for such purchases. (With one purchasing official advocating a race war and still on paid leave…)

-It has, via the Internal Revenue Service, engaged in active harassment, tax audits, and discrimination against persons and organizations who do not agree with the current administration’s political views and policies.

-It has engaged in armed raids on private property, using heavily armed tactical agents at civilian agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

-it has enacted a complex, confiscatory, and redistributive scheme of federal taxation, spanning nearly 74,000 pages, ensuring that even honest, law-abiding citizens are guilty of some unintended offense.

-It has denied farmers operating on federally managed lands their proper allocation of water because of rabid adherence to an arbitrary environmental policy.

-It has engaged in surveillance of journalists, with a keen interest in those who do not support the current administration’s politics.

The list could go on and on and on. And as the details of the anti-constitutional Affordable Care Act become known, the government is going to assert more control than ever before over the supply and demand of medical services. To make matters worse, enforcement of the ACA will be overseen by the same agency that has a documented history of bias against the current administration’s political opponents.

All this begs the original question from the poll: Should the government be in charge of its citizens, or should the citizens be in charge of the government? Are Americans citizens, or are they subjects ruled by their betters from a dysfunctional and corrupt capital?

Reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, we know that the United States federal government was established for one purpose:

(Declaration of Independence): We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

(US Constitution): We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It is time to remind government of their purpose. By calling, tweeting, “Facebooking”, and writing to your elected officials at all levels, by holding them accountable with your votes, and by speaking out against government injustice, we the people must retake our birthright of freedom and ensure that it is the government who works for us, and not we who work for them.

John Quincy Adams once remarked, “Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” And so we must. We must make good use of our freedom. We must do our part now to ensure “that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Harry Reid Says Tea Partiers Are “Anarchists” and “Fanatics”

Today the US Senate began debating the House-passed bill that would fund government operations through December 15 in a “continuing resolution” budget process and also defund the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The Politico reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, referred to Tea Party advocates and conservatives as “fanatics” and as “anarchists.”

Point of order, Mr. Reid. An anarchist believes that there should be no government. But the chart below captures government spending on a per capita basis since nigh unto the beginning of the Republic. (Yes, the chart is adjusted for inflation.) Clearly there is no lack of government presence in our everyday lives. The 20th Century, with the rise of the liberal progressive movement, saw an explosion of federal spending and a far expanded role for Uncle Sam. Even to the point where the FY 2013 US Government budget is nearly twice the level of spending that was incurred to finance World War II.

So to refer to people who believe in budget reductions and a more modest role for the federal government as “anarchists” clearly fails to establish any logical nexus with reality. Ah, but this is politics and budget making in Washington DC! What hath logic and reality to do with budgets?!

But as you see the line of spending per person marching ever upward, the numbers don’t tell the complete story. What is the government doing with all this money? As progressive statists like to ask, “if it weren’t for the federal government, who would build roads?!” But the federal government doesn’t spend any considerable portion of its budget on road-building.

Nearly 65 percent of the federal budget goes to transfer payments–a literal taking of money from some and distribution to others. These are the big item programs that many are familiar with: Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and paying interest on the existing national debt. These programs require no annual appropriation from the Congress, no debate on program effectiveness, no debate on financial sustainability, and no debate on appropriate spending levels. The annual budget growth for these programs is as close to being “on auto pilot” as one can get.

To the 65 percent of the budget above, another 25 percent pays for defense expenses. A large military presence with over 900 installations and more troops deployed outside of the US in non-combat operations than in combat roles is a debate for another day. (E.g., for an unknown reason, the US maintains approximately 9,000 troops in the UK–perhaps to colonize our former mother country?)

If you’ve done the math, then you know that there’s only about 10 percent of the overall federal budget pie left. That’s 1 dollar for every 10 collected for federal support of education, federal law enforcement, even to build all the roads that the progressives insist we must pay higher taxes for. This is the portion of the budget Congress actually debates on an annual basis with any real impact to spending.

This is the small part of the budget that funds the IRS to produce Star Trek parody videos and harass the Tea Party that Harry Reid loves so much. This is where the Department of Homeland Security finds billions of dollars to stockpile more ammunition per person than the US Army. This is where the Environmental Protection Agency finds money to harass farmers. This is where NASA is funded not to conduct manned space missions but to engage in Muslim outreach, to make them feel better about their historical contributions to science. This is where the NSA finds funding to violate the Bill of Rights’s Fourth Amendment guarantees against government spying on its own law-abiding citizens. And on, and on, and on.

All of these things are examples of government encroachment on our freedom to conduct our everyday lives without government interference. We believe one of the things that has made America great is the power of the individual to strive to make the world better–using his or her individual freedom and a free marketplace. So we hope that Mr. Reid can forgive us if we have a very difficult time believing that he has any credibility whatsoever when he starts a food fight at the lunch table and calls anyone a “fanatic” or an “anarchist” who simply wants to curb the federal government’s ever-increasing lust for more money and more power at the expense of individual freedom and liberty.

Gun Crime Down; Democrats Stubbornly Promise Renewed Assault on Gun Freedoms

Despite gun crime decrease of 49 percent; Obama, Reid promise further gun control actions.

Freedom Forge Press

Do you remember Chris Rock’s well thought out reasoning for supporting President Obama’s push for tighter controls on the freedoms of law-abiding gun owners? Let’s rewind the tape for you!

Thank you, Chris, for that thoughtful and well-reasoned justification for why law abiding citizens should surrender their Second Amendment freedom. We’ll come back to this in a moment.

A Pew Research Center report released yesterday detailed a 49 percent decrease in gun-related crimes in the United States since 1993. The trend line shows a decline from 1993 to 2001, a leveling off, then resumed a downward movement in 2007. Interestingly, the same report shows the public is woefully uninformed about the trend. A public opinion poll showed 56 percent of respondents thought gun crime was up from 20 years ago. Twelve percent correctly identified the trend as lower; the rest, sadly didn’t know.
These results are interesting to note along side a recent Gallup poll. The poll asked what issues are most important to the public. Gun control came in at a respectable…4 percent, well behind the economy and unemployment (which really represent the same issue, no?), dissatisfaction with the government, and government spending. None of these items seem to draw much attention or interest from the Obama Administration.
Yet assaulting the freedom of lawful gun owners continues to be a fascination of the president and Congressional Democrats. Following the Senate pulling gun control bill, the president’s official Twitter account had the below message:
It probably doesn’t help that the “90 percent” figure is pure fantasy. The Gallup poll above shows the number is about 4%. And reality tells us that gun-related crime is on a downward trend without further government “help.” But as if taking his cue from the president, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly stated on April 26 that gun control will “definitely” be back again this year.
Returning to Chris Rock’s comments above, that gun owners and the country should listen to the president because he is “our boss” and like our “dad of the country.” And when your dad says something, “you listen…when you don’t it usually bites you in the ass later on.”
Well Chris, and those who shared the “Demand a Plan” platform with you, nodding and laughing with you, we see it differently. We’d like to introduce you to a group of people known as the Founding Fathers. You can think of them also as founding “daddies” or “daddies of the country” if that helps. They wrote things like, “no free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms,” and “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
See these “daddies” of the country lived in another time when their government was attempting to take away basic freedoms too. Based on their experience with this tyranny, they put checks and balances on government power in place, like the Bill of Rights, to safeguard against future government mischief.
We’d like to see our current president and virtually all Members of Congress–from BOTH parties–get reacquainted with our founding fathers/daddies and relearn the principles of limited government that are illustrated in the Constitution that they have taken an oath to protect and defend.

Federal Government Is “Blowing Smoke” in Montana Marijuana Case

We submit to you, Dear Readers, the case of Chris Williams as a cautionary tale of an out-of-control federal government that refuses to recognize the sovereignty of the several states as enshrined in the US Constitution. The federal government does not exist to destroy individual freedom or state sovereignty.

In 2004, Montana voters passed the Montana Medical Marijuana Act by popular referendum. It wasn’t close–the law passed with a 62 percent majority of votes cast.  The law legalized the growing, distribution, and sale of marijuana to customers who had a certified medical need. State residents could pay an application fee and submit a request to be a registered cardholder of the state’s Medical Marijuana Program. All applicants were required to obtain a physician’s certification that they are suffering from a debilitating medical condition. By 2011, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services confirmed approximately 30,000 state residents were enrolled in the program.

In 2009, the Obama administration via the Department of Justice announced that prosecution of marijuana cases in states with medical marijuana laws would be a low priority. Following these statements in 2009, Williams and 3 business partners opened Montana Cannabis.

Williams and his partners established what they felt was a responsible model for medical marijuana providers. As reported in Montana’s Independent Record, ” [Williams] said they set up a legitimate business model in 2009 that would be the ‘gold standard’ for other medical marijuana providers to follow. [Montana Cannabis] had an open door policy, hosting tours for legislators, law enforcement officers and even the chief narcotic officer for the state. They hired accountants, paid taxes and tracked all of their plants ‘from the time they had roots to their harvest’ and as well as when they were being packed and distributed.”

Compounding the situation in the eyes of federal prosecutors was the fact that Williams carried a pistol for protection, in accordance with his Second Amendment rights. But to federal prosecutors, this means Williams was in possession of firearms while committing a drug trafficking felony.

Williams faces nearly 50 years in prison for violating federal drug laws, which consider marijuana to be a Schedule I Controlled Substance. At his trial, the Independent Record article goes on to state that Williams and his attorney were not permitted to discuss the Montana law because the judge ruled “Montana laws…weren’t pertinent to the case and he didn’t allow any mention of them before jurors or as a defense.” Jurors in the case were prevented from even hearing the defense that Williams believed his actions were consistent with state law.

We disagree. On many fronts.

1. The US Constitution grants legislative powers “herein granted” to Congress. If the Constitution does not specifically and explicitly grant Congress authority, then the federal government has none. We do not recognize regulation of marijuana grown, sold, and distributed within a state’s borders to be a federal issue warranting an unlawful excursion of federal power into state sovereignty.

2. The oft-abused “Interstate Commerce Clause” which Congress has relied upon for a host of federal abuses of authority ranging from passing laws about highway speeds to Obamacare does not apply. Montana voters approved their medical marijuana law which impacts residents of Montana. State residents may cultivate, distribute, sell, or grown their own plants for their own purposes within the state’s borders.

3. The Tenth Amendment says simply, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” It doesn’t take a law degree to understand this simple statement–though federal prosecutors and a federal judge in Montana seem to be giving it their best effort either to not understand the simplicity of the statement–or to outright ignore it.

We conclude the federal government does not have lawful authority under the Constitution to prosecute citizens who are lawfully following their state’s laws regarding marijuana usage. The federal government cannot effectively micromanage issues that are best left to the states. The United States is too complex and too large for such a federal government to be able to successfully run so many aspects of our lives without being destructive to the freedom and liberty that it exists to protect. With a broken immigration system, ballooning federal debt and deficits, a stalled economy, rising unemployment, we see the federal government clearly has other challenges that it should be focusing on rather than worrying about infringing on a citizens rights and freedom to conduct lawful activity within their own state borders.

It is our sincere hope that the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals will overturn this trial court’s verdict and speedily return Mr. Williams to the freedom that he deserves. His courage to stand up for his rights should be commended and serve as an example to all!

Editor’s Note: As of posting time 11/15/12 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized various levels of medical marijuana programs. As of 11/6/12, two states (Colorado and Washington) have legalized “adult use” of marijuana by popular referendum.

Photo Credit: JonRichfield

When Life Gives You Lemons, Apply for a Permit

As a kid I played baseball for a company-sponsored baseball team in the spring.  During the games sno-cone, pretzel, or ice cream vendors would come by selling treats.  They were all very unorganized, very delicious, and very unregulated.  Somehow I and my fellow ball players and their families managed to survive season after season without a single case of food poisoning.  As it turns out, snack vendors prosper when they’re not killing off their customers or making them sick with contaminated products.

This sort of free-for-all in rural Pennsylvania in the late 1980s, with its raw, unpolished marketplace, with its lack of formal licensing, with its voluntary participation by vendor and customer, must have caused nightmares for a group of government officials in Multnoma County, Oregon.

You’ve heard of these guys, right?  This is the group of officials who threatened 7-year-old Julie Murphy with a $500 fine because she did not possess a $120 temporary restaurant license in order to operate a lemonade stand from which she hawked her lemonade at a price of 50 cents per cup.

Officials hid behind the classic “rules is rules” argument that I hear all too frequently these days.  The city was just trying to regulate health codes and can’t pick and choose when to enforce rules. One official was quoted as saying that they certainly understand the point of having a neighborhood event to raise revenue, but that the public health must come first.

Is the public so unable to fend for itself that its very safety is threatened by a 7-year old trying to sell lemonade?  The long arm of the law and its muscle must surely be flexed in order to protect an unsuspecting populace from the wiles of a business savvy 7 year old who no doubt intended to spread E coli throughout the community, one 50-cent cup of lemonade at a time.

The local government officials have a point.  The water in the lemonade might be contaminated.  The plastic cups are certainly not environmentally friendly if not recycled properly.  No doubt the stand must have caused some traffic pattern disturbances.  But freedom is not without its risks.  And voluntary participation is key.  If you fear your local lemonade stand proprietor, then your choice is simple: keep driving and don’t buy.  Mistakes in a free society can and do happen.  But mistakes are just that—mistakes.  They’re not opportunities to enact layer upon layer of regulation in a vain attempt to regulate away all of life’s risks in order to appease the interest group with key voter demographics or campaign cash.  Clearly a balance must exist between the right to pursue happiness by running a lemonade stand and the collectivist notion of “the greater good.”

That’s why Freedom Forge Press was created.  We’ll gather the stories like this from around the country (and world) and tell it like it is in an effort to promote maximum freedom and individual liberty as the birthright of all mankind.  These are not gifts of government but inherent rights we possess by being humans.  Governments exist to secure and protect rights—not to create them.  Think of the danger in this.  A government that creates and bestows rights to its citizens is a government that can surely take these same rights away.

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