Andrew Napolitano  - Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A British author, residing in the United States for the past 30 years, created a small firestorm earlier this week with his candid observations that modern-day Americans have been duped by the government into accepting a European-style march toward socialism because we fail to appreciate the rich legacy of personal liberty that is everyone’s birthright and is expressly articulated in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Os Guinness the author of more than a dozen books defending traditional Judeo-Christian values and Jeffersonian personal liberty, argued that we should embrace individual liberty and personal dignity and reject the “no givens, no rules, no limits” government we now have. He went on to opine that the government today is not the constitutionally restrained protector of personal freedoms the Framers left us, but rather has become the wealth-distributing protector of collective interests the Founding Fathers never could have imagined.

Yet the problem is a deep one. The Framers believed in the presumption of liberty, which declares that we are free to make personal choices, and the government cannot interfere with our liberties unless we violate the rights of others. Stated differently, the federal government cannot interfere with our personal choices by writing any law it wants; it can only regulate behavior or spend money when the Constitution authorizes it to do so.

However, for the past 100 years, the federal government has rejected the Madisonian concept that it is limited to the 16 discrete powers the Constitution delegates to it, and has claimed its powers are unlimited, subject only to the express prohibitions in the Constitution. Even those prohibitions can be circumvented since government lawyers have persuaded federal courts to rule that Congress can spend tax dollars or borrowed money on any projects it wishes, whether authorized by the Constitution or not. The courts have even authorized Congress to use federal tax dollars to bribe the states into enacting laws that Congress is powerless to enact, and Congress as done so.

The Declaration of Independence defines our personal liberties as inalienable aspects of our humanity, and the Constitution prohibits the government from interfering with those liberties — such as thought, speech, press, association, worship, self-defense, travel, privacy, due process, use of money and private property, to name a few.

The teaching of these founding documents is that our liberties are natural — their source is not the government — and they are personal, not collective. We don’t need a government permission slip to exercise them; we don’t need to belong to a group to enjoy them; they cannot be taken away by a congressional vote or a presidential signature.

Even though everyone who works for the government takes an oath to uphold the Declaration and the Constitution, very few are consistent with what they have sworn to do. We know that because on the transcendental issues of our day — life, liberty, war and debt — the leadership of both political parties and the behavior of all modern presidents have revealed a steadfast willingness to write any law and regulate any behavior or permit any evil, whether authorized by the Constitution or not.

Take life. Abortion is the most deadly force in America today. Abortions lawfully kill a baby every minute — that’s 1.1 million babies a year and 45 million killed since the Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. A simple one-line statute — “The fetus in the womb is a legal person” — could have been enacted by a simple majority vote in Congress and signed into law by any of our so-called pro-life presidents, thus stopping the slaughter. It never happened.

Take liberty. Both parties support the Patriot Act and the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act apparatus, which together invade privacy, infringe upon free speech, permit federal agents to write their own search warrants and allow domestic spying on all of us all the time. This demonstrates that our political leaders do not believe that our rights are inalienable, but can be interfered with and regulated by them. They have written laws that literally permit federal agents to undertake the very acts the Constitution was written to prohibit.

Take the lethal combination of war and debt. Both parties support perpetual war and perpetual debt. The leadership of both parties has permitted every modern president to kill whomever he pleases in foreign countries without lawful declarations of war and to do so by going into a $17 trillion hole of debt, with no end in sight. Today, 20 cents of every tax dollar collected goes to interest on pre-existing government debt. Today’s taxpayers are still paying interest on the $30 billion Woodrow Wilson borrowed to finance World War I in 1917.

The British author is correct. Unless we have a radical change in the direction of government — its size, cost, focus, intrusiveness and rejection of first principles — and unless we elect people to the government who truly believe the Declaration and the Constitution mean what they say, we will continue our march toward the federal destruction of the presumption of liberty.

It is a slow march, but a steady one.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/7/andrew-napolitano-us...

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LIGHTER SIDE

 

Political Cartoons by Steve Kelley

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

ALERT ALERT

OMG!! -> Government Now Wants To Seize Your Car For Going 5MPH Over The Limit

We’ve discussed this on and off for several years now. Civil asset forfeiture is a legal process that allows the government to seize assets and cash from citizens without any due process or judicial oversight.

You don’t even have to be charged with a crime. You are assumed guilty unless you can somehow prove your innocence.

Of course, not everyone has this ability… if you aren’t local, state, or federal law enforcement, this is called stealing, and you go to prison.

But the government is actually a bigger problem than common thieves.

A 2015 report showed that law enforcement used civil asset forfeiture to steal more from US residents than every thief, robber, and burglar in America combined.

About $4.5 BILLION worth of cash, cars, homes, and other property is taken by civil asset forfeiture each year – hundreds of millions more than common criminals steal.

And it happens at every level. Your local cop can use civil asset forfeiture just like your state trooper. And then any one of the armed agents of the US government—from the FBI to the Fish and Wildlife Service—can rob you for whatever reason they want.

This travesty continues to grow because the cops who take your stuff get to keep it. Police departments and government agencies around the country depend on civil asset forfeiture to boost their budgets.

Cops will literally keep some of the cars they take as squad cars. And they make a fortune auctioning off the houses, boats, and anything else they confiscate.

Obviously this gives cops an incentive to steal, whether or not they actually think the property was used in a crime, or acquired illegally. Remember, civil asset forfeiture adds billions every year to their bottom line.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case of civil asset forfeiture.

Tyson Timbs was convicted of selling a small amount of drugs to an undercover police officer. He was sentenced to house arrest, and paid about $1,200 in fines.

But then police used civil asset forfeiture to take his $42,000 Land Rover which Timbs purchased with money from a life insurance policy after his father died. The money did not come from selling drugs, or any other illegal activity.

Timbs sued, and the case made its way to the Supreme Court, because every lower court in Indiana said the forfeiture was perfectly legit.

The case revolves around whether or not the seizure of the Land Rover was an excessive fine under the 8th amendment, and whether or not this protection against excessive fines applies to state governments.

And the public got some crazy insight into the government’s position.

The Indiana Solicitor General was arguing in favor of civil asset forfeiture when Justice Stephen Breyer asked him a hypothetical.

Breyer asked, if a state needs revenue, could it force someone to forfeit their Bugatti, Mercedes, or Ferrari for speeding? Even if they were going just 5 miles per hour over the speed limit?

And the utterly appalling answer from the Indiana Solicitor General was, yes.

That’s right… the official government position is that they can steal any amount of your property in “connection” with any crime whatsoever, no matter how trivial the crime may be… even exceeding the speed limit by 5 miles per hour.

This is how overbearing and authoritarian the government has become in the land of the free.

This is how much power your local cop has… and the power only grows as you go to state, and federal officials.

If there is any solace in any of this, it is that the other Supreme Court Justices were reportedly laughing at this exchange.

The justices seemed incredulous that Indiana’s top lawyer was using such absurd assertions and flimsy reasoning in his arguments.

So, for now, we can keep our cars if we get pulled over for speeding. But that may not always be the case…

Depending on how this is ruled, it could pave the way for even more egregious abuses of power… or it could curb the practice, and reign in these thieves in uniforms.

Just understand where the government is coming from. These politicians, bureaucrats and officers think they can do whatever they want. Absolutely anything goes, with no limitation whatsoever.

And that makes it a little tough to feel like you really live in the land of the free.

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