Mosque issue hijacked for political expediency

The issue of whether or not to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Towers terrorist attack has been hijacked for political expediency, said Mike Beitler, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in an op ed on his website. “To collectively blame every Muslim for the actions of a few is probably the most un-American act I can think of,” Beitler said. “Our country was formed by the ideals of individual liberty, not blaming the innocent for a crime committed by the other.”

Terrorism is a tactic that uses fear to make people act in ways against their belief, he said. “To defeat terrorism, we must embrace the ideas of freedom and liberty and protect the rights of all individuals and not just of a select few.”

Beitler said that some politicians have decided to take a different path, which he describe as “the religious crusade for some, this hatred of the other.” “These are not American ideals,” Beitler said, “they are fascist ones.”

One of the most shameful things he said he’s learned about the political manipulation of September 11 is the refusal to mention the Muslims murdered that day.

One of the 63 Muslim victims was Mohammad Salman Hamdami, a part-time ambulance driver, medical student, and an NYPD cadet.

When he saw smoke coming from the twin towers, he drove right to the scene and tried to help,” Beitler said. “Since he wasn’t working and no one knew his whereabouts, the media were happy to brandish him as a terrorist and say that he was involved in the plot due to his ethnicity and religion.”

Rahma Salie was passenger on the American Airlines flight that crashed into the North Tower. She was seven-months pregnant and traveling to California with her husband to attend a wedding. Beitler said that Rahma was put on the FBI watch list because of her “Muslim-sounding” name and her travel patterns were similar to those of the hijackers. She was a computer consultant living in Boston.

Although her name was eventually removed from the list, several of her family members were barred from taking flights to her memorial service,” Beitler said.

Mohammad Chowdhury was a waiter in the Windows of the World restaurant on the top floors of Tower One. His wife Baraheen Ashrafi gave birth to a son two days after the attack.

“I wonder what the eight-year-old Farqad is thinking today when he hears that a mosque his father might have worshiped in should not be built because it’s an affront to his father’s memory,” Beitler said.

Beitler said he’s been silent on the issue in the hope that common sense would prevail. To a libertarian, this is not really an issue, since the Constitution protects religious freedom and property rights. “Everything else is irrelevant,” he said.

CFA answers Etheridge question 'Who are you?'

The Constitutional Freedom Alliance opened its gathering of representatives from state Tea Party movement groups yesterday with a video produced to answer the question recently raised by Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge: “Who are you?”

The answer was a resounding, “We are the People of the United States” and we want to restore the Constitution.

The CFA is a group of “ordinary citizens driven to promote and restore individual freedom.” They believe individual freedom is a natural right, affirmed by the U.S. Constitution and cannot be rightfully abridged by any government.

About 150 people attended the event organized to forge an alliance of the diverse Tea Party organizations. “We exist for the purpose of finding common ground,” said Richard Stack, CFA board of directors chair.

Stack said that people justifiably angry about Federal bailouts, corruption and the arrogance of elected officials in Washington D.C. have “taken off in different directions.”

“Many are ready to give up on the Federal government,” he said. The CFA is not. “We want to help develop a cohesive response to get the change we need. We’ve got to be more than angry. We’ve got to get organized. We need to form alliances and find common ground.”

The goal of CFA is to hold both incumbents and candidates accountable for their actions. To that end, CFA has asked incumbents and candidates to sign a seven-point Compact with the American Citizens pledging to reduce the size, influence and role of the Federal government to the narrow-set of duties listed in the Constitution.

The Congressional candidates who spoke to the audience focused their remarks on the need to restore limited, fiscally-sound Constitutional government.

“We need to be conscious of the barbarians at the Constitution’s gates,” said District 13 Republican candidate Bill Randall. “The Constitution and the Bill or Rights are the DNA of America and should not be genetically modified,” he said.

Libertarian Lon Cecil, running in District 12, said if elected he would read the bills and added, “I will not vote to fund any program that is not constitutional.” He said that he was in an uphill battle and one of his major obstacles was that people did not know they were in his district because it’s so severely gerrymandered.

“What is missing in Washington is accountability,” said B.J. Lawson, Republican candidate in District 4. Lawson distributes what he calls a “concealed carry” version of the Constitution at campaign events. If elected, he said he would vote for term limits and to eliminate all Congressional perks including healthcare programs and pensions. “Congress is not the place to go to retire,” he said.

Ashley Woolard, a Republican running in what he called the poorest district in the state, District 1, told the audience he had some good news and some bad news. “The good news is that I just had a daughter,” the 35-year old small business owner said. “The bad news is that she’s already $50,000 in debt and hasn’t been to the mall yet.”

“We need to send real people to Washington, people who have held a job and worried about a house payment,” said Republican Renee Ellmers, who’s running against Etheridge in District 2. “We all know President Obama’s agenda is the redistribution of wealth. And Congressman Etheridge supports that agenda.”

Building a Tea Party alliance

The Tea Party Movement has often been called fragmented and ineffective. That is natural for a grassroots movement, composed of a variety of organizations and groups across the nation.

To at least partially remedy this, the Constitutional Freedom Alliance is inviting North Carolina Tea Party movement members and groups to an organizational and planning meeting July 26 at the Radisson Hotel in the RTP.

The Constitutional Freedom Alliance is a group of “ordinary citizens driven to promote and restore individual freedom.” They believe individual freedom is a natural right, affirmed by the U.S. Constitution and cannot be rightfully abridged by any government.

“As our name states we are an alliance between individuals and groups who are fed up with legislation that goes against our Constitution,” said Casey Craig, CFA director. “We do not want to be the leaders of the tea party movement and we do not wish to be seen in that light. We are the common ground for politically active groups.”

Craig said that the goal of the meeting is to create an alliance between the Tea party groups and CFA.

The CFA believes that over generations, the federal government has expanded its power and reach far beyond the bounds of the U.S. Constitution and co-opted state and local accountability, using tax money as a weapon.

“The federal government now operates substantially outside its Constitutionally-defined duties,” said Craig. “This situation is as unsustainable as it is unacceptable.”

CFA believes “our freedoms are under sustained attack by the Federal Government.” Their objective is to fundamentally reverse the size, influence, and role of the federal government on states, communities, families, and individuals.

CFA seeks to hold incumbents accountable for their actions. And they are asking those seeking office to sign a Candidate Compact with American Citizens pledging to only support legislation that:

  • Restores the freedom of Americans by reversing the size, influence, and role of the Federal government on our States, our families and ourselves.
  • Provides for a strong national defense, both militarily and economically, including the securing of our borders and enforcement of the laws prohibiting illegal immigration.
  • Limits the rules of interstate commerce to those that are exclusively designed to promote free enterprise.
  • Reduces and balances the Federal budget.
  • Eliminates the Federal debt.
  • Lowers Federal taxation and ensures that all citizens contribute.
  • Defends the individual freedoms affirmed in the Constitution, including the right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms.
  • Believing that “individual freedom is not political currency,” the CFA is not aligned with any political party.

“We neither support nor endorse candidates,” Craig said. “We support North Carolina citizens’ rights and we hope that our elected officials will keep those rights at the top of their priority list instead of their re-election, which seems to be the case most of the time.”

While the CFA doesn’t plan to endorse candidates, Craig said that they do plan to post information about incumbent voting records and a list of candidates who sign their compact on their website.

What to know:

Constitutional Freedom Alliance Meeting
July 26
7 to 9:30 p.m.
Raddison Hotel
50 Park Dr. RTP
I-40 at Davis Dr. – Exit 280

U.S. Supreme Court affirms gun rights

The recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that the Second Amendment protects an individual right and applies to the states is a striking victory not just for gun rights advocates but for anyone who believes in the fundamental rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“Libertarians have always firmly supported the individual right of self-defense,” said Mark Hinkle, Libertarian Party chair. “Now there is some hope that Chicago’s horrible violent crime problem can be reduced by law-abiding citizens who will now be able to deter and resist criminals. More guns equal less crime.”

Hinkle said he was disturbed that four justices voted to the ban. “Their position is an attempt to pursue a policy goal from the bench, not to apply the Constitution — and to make matters worse, it is a policy goal that would be very harmful to the people of Chicago, and potentially to everyone in America.

“We hope that this ruling will lead to further court decisions that reduce the government’s ability to infringe on gun rights with burdensome restrictions and red tape,” Hinkle said.

The decision followed a similar case, District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court overturned the district’s handgun ban. That case was originally brought by Dick Heller, a Libertarian Party member.

In the wake of the decision, Grass Roots North Carolina, the Second Amendment Foundation and several individual plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s emergency powers gun ban.

The lawsuit contends that state statutes forbidding carrying of firearms and ammunition during declared states of emergency are unconstitutional, as affirmed by the McDonald v. Chicago ruling. The suit also challenges laws enabling government officials to prohibit purchase, sale and possession of firearms and ammunition in such emergencies.

“North Carolina’s legislature has chosen to infringe upon a citizens’ ability to protect themselves and their families in times of need,” said GRNC president Paul Valone in a press release. “When (the city of) King banned guns and ammunition in response to pending snowfall, it clearly highlighted the unconstitutional restrictions endured by lawful North Carolinians.”

“Republicans and Democrats both deserve blame for violating gun rights,” said Hinkle. Republicans often position themselves as Second Amendment defenders, but he noted the record shows otherwise.

Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, received a F minus rating from Gun Owners of America. President George Bush supported a project that sought to toughen and federalize prosecution of gun control laws. President Ronald Reagan supported the Brady Bill, a federal gun control law.

DNA bill violates presumption of innocence principle

Two Libertarian candidates with experience in the law and law enforcement believe a bill being considered by the General Assembly to allow police to take a DNA sample from those arrested for certain felonies violates the basic American principle of the presumption of innocence and protections against unconstitutional search and seizure.

“At its most basic level, this bill offends my notions of the presumption of innocence and the right against unconstitutional search and seizure by those merely accused of a crime,” said T.J. Rohr, Libertarian candidate for District Attorney in Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties.

“We have federal and state constitutions that are supposed to guarantee the defendant certain rights,” he said. “Those rights seem to be taken away day by day as Congress and the General Assembly scramble to score easy political points at the cost of what makes the ideals of the American Republic great.”

Barry Coe, Libertarian candidate for N.C. Senate 24, said that the presumption of innocence should override use of new technologies to investigate crime.

“With 20 plus years in law enforcement, I can tell you our so-called justice system is mostly one more means to extract money from people weakened by the illegitimate power of a government, that has become itself a criminal enterprise,” Coe said.

“Many new technologies are now available to help secure the public and investigate criminal acts,” he said. “However, the presumption of innocence should be paramount and no one should be forced to do anything without constitutional due process.”

The original bill championed by Attorney General Roy Cooper would have covered all felonies and some misdemeanors. In its current version the bill only lists certain felonies, including rape, murder and cyberstalking.

The bill was passed by the House judiciary committee and is not being considered by the finance committee.

“Before it adjourns, the legislature should allow law enforcement to collect DNA from arrestees,” the state’s top law enforcement officer said. He told the judiciary committee that the state already has a database of 190,00 DNA samples and this legislation would increase it by 45,000 samples per year.

Rohr said that the cost of processing these additional samples will slow down an already overloaded and underfunded State Bureau of Investigation lab. He said that the lab is already months behind on cases that are actually being prosecuted.

“How many trials are being delayed, how much justice is being denied to both the victims and the accused, and how many dollars are spent on pretrial confinement because DNA has not been processed,” Rohr asked.

“If North Carolina wants to access a database to identify suspects of crime, search the internet for the General Assembly website,” said Coe.

DNA is already taken from anyone convicted of a felony offense or certain assault-related crimes. Under this bill, police would take the DNA sample from those merely arrested, using a cheek swab. Information from the sample would be added to the state’s database. It would only be removed if the person arrested requests it in writing, and then only if they had not been convicted of a crime, including a “lesser included offense,” plead guilty, entered plea bargain, or plead nolo contendere (no contest).

This process also troubles Rohr because “mistakes can happen whereby the sample isn’t destroyed, or the person’s DNA ends up in the system anyway.”

“This is a continuation of a slippery slope,” Rohr said. “First, it was ‘DNA from those convicted of felonies.’ Now with this bill, it may be ‘DNA from those merely accused of felonies.’ Next it will undoubtedly be ‘DNA from those convicted of misdemeanors,’ and then finally ‘DNA from those accused of misdemeanors.’”

While all the bill’s primary sponsors are Republicans, several Democrats are co-sponsors, including Rep. Larry Hall of Durham.

Nominate justices who respect the Constitution

The bitter battles now routine for every U.S. Supreme Court nomination go beyond the issue of the qualifications or political views of the specific nominee. They expose a more fundamental problem with the federal government: the legislative and executive branches simply refuse to take the Constitution seriously.

“Once upon a time, Congress felt it had a duty to legislate in accordance with the Constitution. Likewise, past presidents believed that they should veto laws that were not clearly constitutional,” said Wes Benedict, Libertarian Party executive director.

“But in more recent years, both branches have thrown this crucial duty away,” he said. “Now their attitude seems to be, ‘We can pass anything we want to, and let the Supreme Court deal with it if they don’t like it.’ That was absolutely not what the American Founders had in mind.”

Benedict said Kagan is a bad pick for the court because she’ll probably vote to advance liberal policy goals, just as other justices vote to advance conservative policy goals.

“That is the problem,” said Benedict. “That is not the place of justices, who should be applying the Constitution, not trying to rewrite it to make society work better according to their views.”

“She will not be bound by the Constitution, but that is why Obama nominated her,” said Mike Beitler,

Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate. “Her nomination is no surprise.”

Beitler said that he was also concerned that Kagan has no experience as a judge.

“The Supreme Court has become a very different creature in the past 150 years,” said Dr. Mike Munger, Duke University political science department chair. “To my mind, the last great justice of the Constitution was Justice (Stephen) Field.”

Munger said Field’s idea of fundamental rights to property and to the “pursuit of happiness clause” in the Declaration of Independence, articulated in his dissent in the Slaugherhouse Cases (1872, 83 U.S. 36), are very important.

Field wrote that the Declaration of Independence “lays the foundation of our national existence upon this broad proposition: ‘That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ ”

“These are the fundamental rights which can only be taken away by due process of law, and which can only be interfered with, or the enjoyment of which can only be modified, by lawful regulations necessary or proper for the mutual good of all,” Field wrote.

“The pursuit of happiness is individual: an individual chooses a path, and has the right contract and work to secure the fruits of that work, without outside interference,” Munger said. “Any justice President Obama is likely to choose will long ago have abandoned that fundamental truth articulated by Stephen Field.”

“We could do worse than Ms. Kagan, I suppose,” said Munger. “And I expect we will, unless we reconceive the role of the court, and the role of the individual in a free society.”

Who is appointed to the Supreme Court should not matter, Libertarians say, because the justices should no have the power to make American society lurch from one direction to another. Nor do Republicans have the right to “throw stones” at Kagan, because they supported the Bush Administration’s blatantly unconstitutional Patriot Act and his blatantly unconstitutional Medicare program.

“When they were in power, they showed absolutely no respect for the Constitution,” Benedict said.

“I wish that President Obama had picked a nominee with more regard for the original intent of the Constitution,” he said. “But even more than that, I wish that he and the members of Congress would stop shirking their responsibility to apply the Constitution themselves.”

Kinston citizens fight for non-partisan elections

The decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to overturn a referendum approving non-partisan city council elections in Kinston is a clear example of the abuse of Federal government power and a insult to the intelligence of all voters, said North Carolinians for Free and Proper Elections.

“Nearly two-thirds of Kinston voters decided to remove partisan bickering from their city council elections, yet the Justice Department saw fit to support the narrow interests of political parties over the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the people,” said Jordon Greene, NCFPE founder and president.

“This is repugnant to the basic principles of representative government,” he said. “And the reasoning given for the ruling is an insult to voters – both black and white.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King argued that black voters require a party label, specifically the Democratic party label, in order to decide who to vote for.

“Removing the partisan cue in municipal elections will, in all likelihood, eliminate the single factor that allows black candidate to be elected to office,” she said. “In Kinston, voters base their choice more on the race of the candidate rather than his or her political affiliation, and without either the appeal to party loyalty of the ability to vote a straight ticket, the limited remaining support from white voters for a black Democratic candidate will diminish ever more.”

“This is a stunning pronouncement,” Greene said. “It implies that African-American voters aren’t smart enough to vote for the candidate who will best serve their interests, regardless of party or race.”

King claimed that “numerous elected municipal and county officials” confirmed the results of statistical analysis that a majority of white Democrats support white Republicans over black Democrats in Kinston elections.

“That’s another shocking observation, given the fact that the black voters comprise 64 percent of the registered voters and there is a overwhelming majority of registered Democrats in Kinston,” Greene said.

Greene noted that Kinston has never been found to have engaged in discriminatory election practices or had any previous voting changes denied by the Federal government.

In 2008, Kinston voters approved the referendum for non-partisan city council elections by a 2 to 1 margin (64 percent) and it passed in five of the seven precincts where blacks were the majority voters. Under the 1964 Voting Rights Act, the referendum had to be approved by the Department of Justice.

A group of Kinston citizens are suing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to restore the vote results, claiming the ruling that section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is being used unconstitutionally to harm the election process in Kinston. The plaintiffs are Stephen LaRoque, John Nix, Klay Northrup, Lee Raynor, and Anthony Cuomo.

LaRoque organized the referendum and Raynor and Cuomo assisted him. Nix and Northrup intend to run for city council in 2011.

The Center for Individual Rights is representing the plaintiffs. CIR is a Washington DC nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to the defense of individual liberties against the increasingly aggressive and unchecked authority of federal and state governments. CIR seeks to enforce constitutional limits on state and federal power.

Terence Pell, CIR president, acknowledged that the Voting Rights Act has been used to prevent disenfranchisement of black voters. But now he said that it’s being used to “set aside the votes of black voters in an actual election in favor of the federal government’s presumptions about the preference of voters in some future elections.”

“Such an extraordinary exercise of federal authority is neither supported by the Constitution nor by common sense,” he said.

For more on the lawsuit go here.

New health care law is wrong legally, financially and morally

While Republicans are calling for Congress to “repeal and replace” the new Federal health care law, North Carolina’s Libertarians want to make more fundamental changes.

Most are skeptical of Republican opposition, particularly Sen. Richard Burr’s pledge to “repeal and replace” that has become the GOP battle cry.

“Burr’s statement ‘repeal and replace,’ tells you one thing: we want our law, not theirs,”said Richard Evey, Libertarian candidate for N.C. Senate District 44.

“Repeal and replace with nothing is what we would like to see,” said Susan Hogarth, Wake Libertarian Party chair.

“The only reform that is needed is for the Federal Government to get completely out of health care programs,” said Thomas Rose, Libertarian candidate for Congress in District 2.

Libertarians believe a completely free market, unhampered by taxation and government regulation, is the best way to insure all people have access to the best health care at the lowest prices. They oppose the new law on legal, moral and financial grounds.

The Constitutional argument, rarely raised by Republicans during Congressional debate, is simply that health care regulation is not among the specific and enumerated powers granted to the Federal government.

Proponents claim that Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, the commerce clause, which grants the Federal government power to regulate interstate commerce gives the Federal government the right to regulate health care. But that interpretation is wrong, according to Herb Sobel, Libertarian candidate for N.C. House District 3.

“The commerce clause of the Constitution which is used so often to justify government regulation of the rights of citizens applies to positive commercial activity,” he said. “If a citizen declines to purchase health insurance,  a negative commercial activity, the commerce clause can not apply.”

Even if the U.S. Supreme Court finds the law constitutional, “that will not make it right and Libertarians will still oppose it,” said Hogarth. “Our opposition is not based solely on Constitutional grounds.”

The law forces people to purchase a service they may not want or need, and it forces people to further subsidize that service for others, libertarians say. It also enforces a moral judgment.

“Providing health services for ourselves or for those who cannot afford it is an individual decision based on an internal moral judgment,” said Stephanie Watson, Libertarian candidate for N.C. Senate District 16. “Like all moral decisions, this should be up to the individual, not forced by government mandate.”

Watson said the bill will increase demand for insurance, thus driving up prices from existing insurance companies.

“A compulsory system with higher health insurance rates means healthcare overall will be an even greater cost to the people of North Carolina,” she said. As a state senator, she said she’d work to keep North Carolina free from any costs and obligations imposed by the Federal government which go beyond its Constitutional power.

Evey and Sobel would support her efforts.

“This law will force tremendous unfunded mandates on the state that would lead us down the same economic path as California and dramatically increase the number of government dependents,” said Darryl Holloman, Libertarian candidate for Congressional in District 3.

Holloman said if elected he would work to repeal the bill using every means possible, including defunding administration and enforcement.

Whatever action the Federal government takes regarding health care “should be based on simple, grade school level problem solving skills and limited to the powers given to our Congress by the Constitution,” Holloman said.

He said that the root of the problem is that health care and insurance have been considered entitlements, driving up demand, while government price controls and regulation have driven up the costs associated with medical practice, restricting supply.

Holloman proposes several ways to let the free market to reform the health care system, including ending state insurance monopolies, reduce medical license requirements and ending government intervention in education and making allowing private companies to do drug testing.

Obama is not a Marxist

“Despite what some popular right-wing talk-show hosts claim, Obama is not pushing Marxism, revolutionary or otherwise. The threat is not from socialism in the sense of State ownership of the means of production, much less a proletarian uprising. Rather, he’s pushing good old American progressive-corporate elitism, or corporatism. (Some would simply call it capitalism.) It is anti-free market, but not anti-business.”

Read the full article by Sheldon Richman here.