Sunday, March 15, 2015

Why continue to battle Socialism


From: John Porter
To: Americans everywhere

As you may or may not be aware, I write and email to over 7,000 people all across the United States, and a great many of those people forward it to their email lists. I am asked by many, "what drives you to continue writing when it seems it does no good." Well, I firmly believe it does a lot of good, just not in giant leaps. Why do I believe that? I believe it because history bears out that it has worked before. Besides my undying love for the United States of America, I must give credit to Samuel Adams for my inspiration to never quit doing what I do. Below are 25 words spoken by him which will drive me to continue until all the breath has left my body.

“It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather a . . . tireless minority, keen on setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men.”– Samuel Adams...Who was Samuel Adams?

Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a politician in colonial Massachusetts, Adams was a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and was one of the architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped the political culture of the United States. He was a second cousin to President John Adams.

Born in Boston, Adams was brought up in a religious and politically active family. A graduate of Harvard College, he was an unsuccessful businessman and tax collector before concentrating on politics. As an influential official of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Boston Town Meeting in the 1760s, Adams was a part of a movement opposed to the British Parliament's efforts to tax the British American colonies without their consent. His 1768 Massachusetts Circular Letter calling for colonial non-cooperation prompted the occupation of Boston by British soldiers, eventually resulting in the Boston Massacre of 1770. To help coordinate resistance to what he saw as the British government's attempts to violate the British Constitution at the expense of the colonies, in 1772 Adams and his colleagues devised a committee of correspondence system, which linked like-minded Patriots throughout the Thirteen Colonies. Continued resistance to British policy resulted in the 1773 Boston Tea Party and the coming of the American Revolution.

After Parliament passed the Coercive Acts in 1774, Adams attended the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, which was convened to coordinate a colonial response. He helped guide Congress towards issuing the Continental Association in 1774, the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and helped draft the Articles of Confederation and the Massachusetts Constitution. Adams returned to Massachusetts after the American Revolution, where he served in the state senate and was eventually elected governor.  Accounts written in the 19th century praised him as someone who had been steering his fellow colonists towards independence long before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.
     
Samuel Adams didn't just say these 25 words, he lived them. I am asking you to help me and let's all live them too.

“It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather a . . . tireless minority, keen on setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men.”–

Until next time, may God bless and keep you.

John Porter
Harrison, Arkansas
johnporter1939@cox.net








Tuesday, March 10, 2015

MARCH 9, 1933: THE DAY THAT THE REPUBLIC BECAME AN EMPIRE


Ray's Headshot
An empire is characterized as an artificial state consisting of unlike peoples and forcibly held together by the authoritarian rule of the state, usually embodied in the person of an emperor. 

The revolution to overthrow the American constitutional republic that was begun by Lincoln was effectively finished on March 9, 1933 with FDR's enactment of the "Emergency War Powers Act."  The Act ascribes to the president the unfettered authority to write law by imperial edict all by himself with the stroke of a pen... without approval of Congress.  This act made executive orders the "law of the land."

Since that time, the Emergency War Powers Act of 1933 has been used to rob the American people of their liberties under the "color of law" and has created the unconstitutional dictatorship which currently exists under both Democrat and Republican administrations alike.  Examples of the thousands of executive orders which have destroyed American liberty are:  seizure of private property, confiscation of billions of dollars worth of gold from Americans, amnesty for illegal aliens, illegal surveillance of American citizens, militarization of law enforcement, authorization for FEMA to confiscate weapons and round up citizens in detention camps. 



One might ask the question, "How was an Emergency WAR Powers Act passed when we weren't at war?"  World War II did not even begin for another six years, and these united States did not enter WWII for another eight years after enactment of the new law.  This was done under the guise of the "war" against the Great Depression, just as so many other American liberties have been stolen during federal "wars" against "poverty," "illiteracy," "drugs," "crime," "terror," and so on and so on, ad nauseam. These "wars" by the government are never intended to eradicate what they propose to fight but are only intended to increase governmental power and reduce American liberty.  And of course, even though the Great Depression ended nearly a century ago, the Act has never been repealed; it is still in use by presidents today.

To be sure, the effort to completely convert America to an empire is still being finalized in minutia today; but it was effectively completed on March 9, 1933, for the federal leviathan now purports to have the authority to do whatever it wishes solely by imperial decree.  Just ask President Obama... or President Bush... or whoever happens to be in office at the moment.

  Ray McBerry is the president of Ray McBerry Enterprises, Inc. which owns KBN Television and serves as a public relations firm for select clients.  He is a father, television host of "Georgia First," former Republican candidate for governor, and has been generally recognized as the leading spokesman for the Tenth Amendment and States' Rights in Georgia for more than a decade.  He still takes occasional speaking engagements and continues to write and speak out on radio and television for the Cause of liberty.  He has appeared on FOX News, CNN, HLN, MSNBC, and many other stations to defend States' Rights. 

NOT Atlanta... NOT Washington... but GEORGIA FIRST!

Ray McBerry Enterprises is the public relations firm for Georgia First.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Common Core State Standards


From: John Porter
To: Americans Everywhere

WHAT ARE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS?

In all the history of man, every free nation which has been taken over by someone with a desire to be an absolute ruler, or a group with that same evil desire being led by some individual at the helm, there have always been two things which MUST, and did, happen. 

(1) Gain control, up front, of the vast majority of the public news media outlets, thus controlling the minds and thinking of the adults, effectively dismantling most current opposition.

(2) Start forming the minds and thinking of all school children, thus molding the thinking and gaining control of the coming generations, in other words, the dismantling of individual thinking and initiative. The most glaring examples are Russia, Germany, China, Cuba, and North Korea among others.
       
We all have been witness to the implementation of Number 1 over the past few years. The implementation of number 2 is now almost completed. It is called Common Core State Standards in our American education system.
       
A great many people in our government think that whatever they happen to know and believe, everybody else should be REQUIRED to know and believe.
       
In education, what has been assumed that everybody should be required to know and believe is called “the core.” The responsibility for teaching the core has always been divvied up between teachers of math, language, arts, social studies, and science. The teachers all being directed by local school boards elected by the citizens of that local community.
       
Socialistic, big government motivated interests, argued that the core was being sloppily taught, and organized a behind the scenes campaign to “super-standardize” it. Their work has been given the name, COMMON CORE “STATE” STANDARDS. The word "State" is to hide the fact that it is driven by Federal Government policymakers in Washington D. C. Thus far it has been federally shoved, and adopted, into every state except Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia. Also Oklahoma, Indiana and South Carolina at first adopted it and have now voted to withdraw. Minnesota has adopted some parts of it, but not all.
       
This has been done without sufficient public dialogue or feedback from experienced public educators, no research, no pilot or experimental programs…..no evidence at all that such a thing created by unnamed people attempting to standardize what’s taught is a good idea. It is in fact, a very bad idea. It gives our Federal Government the power to mold the mind and thinking of our children.
        
The word “standards” gets an approving nod from the public (and a lot of educators) because it means “performance that meets a standard.” However, I submit to you, it also means “like everybody else,” and standardizing the thinking of minds is what the Common Core State Standards try to do. Those who support the Standards will try to sell the first meaning, while the Standards actually deliver the second meaning. It is very cunning, don’t you think?
       
The government forming Standardized minds is straying as far from a Constitutional Republic’s values as it is possible to stray. The foundation of the United States of America is the freedom of individual thinking and initiative.

Besides those states which have already voted to repeal it, there are groups forming in many other states to petition their legislatures for repeal of this terrible injustice to freedom. Also Iowa Senator, Chuck Grassley, has been trying to stop funding in Washington in an effort to kill it. Your support is needed where ever you can lend it. I urge you to get involved in your state. If you don't live in one of the aforementioned states it has already happened to you, and you probably didn't even know it.

May God bless America.

Please forward this to all you can.

Until next time:

Your friend in freedom;

John Porter
Harrison, Arkansas
johnporter1939@cox.net

Monday, February 23, 2015

Conservative Sheep, Neocon Shepherds


Nelson Hultberg

In 1919, Rudyard Kipling wrote in The Gods of the Copybook Headings, "As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man / That...the Sow returns to her Mire / And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire."

Likewise, it appears that conservatives return to their disastrous past policies. In outlining his foreign policy plans for America, Jeb Bush recently stated, "I love my father and my brother...But I am my own man - and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences." He went on to say, "I won't talk about the past. I'll talk about the future."

What does this mean in actual foreign policy goals and actions? As reported by Chris Stirewalt at Fox News, the foreign policy team being formed by Jeb Bush "is not just very much George W. Bush's, but includes two of the most controversial figures from [the] invasion of Iraq, former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Short of including Dick Cheney, this is the strongest possible indication that Bush is embracing his brother's foreign policy."

"Feels like old times," reports Stierwalt. "Other core players from the George W. Bush administration on the team include former Homeland Security secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, former intelligence bosses Porter Goss, John Negroponte and Michael Hayden."

How many conservatives, other than Jeb Bush, are also of this mindset? How many are itching to get bogged down again in the Mideast cauldron with ground troops taking on ISIS? John Kasich of Ohio, for one, states in the Washington Post that he supports sending U.S. ground forces to fight the Islamic State: "You will not solve this problem with only air power." Will Chris Christie be strong enough to reject such herd thinking? Hardly. He's the personification of an establishment sycophant.

Paul, Cruz, and Walker

Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Scott Walker will surely not stand for this myopic rehash of Bush Doctrine interventionism. But neocons control the GOP both ideologically and financially. To become the nominee, a candidate must acquiesce to the neoconservative worldview. This is why all prospective nominees (even Paul, Cruz, and Walker), when discussing the illegal immigration problem, state that they support "opening up a path to citizenship" for the illegals. What else is this but amnesty for over 20 million illegals? What else is this but acquiescence to the neocon controllers of the party? Prospective nominees realize that such a stand is mandatory if they are to win the nomination of a party controlled by "pro-amnesty" neocons. Will the same acquiescent attitude also govern Paul, Cruz, and Walker on foreign policy?

One certainly hopes not, but the desire to win the nomination is a fire that burns obsessively in the bellies of every presidential aspirant. Such an obsessive fire, far too often, destroys the principles of all aspirants who eventually cater to the ideological and financial partisans of the GOP hierarchy, i.e., the powerful intellectuals, bankers, and corporate moguls, who dominate the Washington-Wall Street axis.

This hierarchy is "interventionist" through and through, and it will turn most GOP aspirants into dancing puppets. Watch over this next year as the GOP nomination seekers drift closer and closer into acquiescence to the neocon worldview on immigration, welfarism, and a police-the-world foreign policy.

It's disgusting because this has been going on for over 40 years now, and nothing ever changes. When do the lights come on in conservative heads? When do they come to grips with the need to form an alternative political party if we are to save the country?

Those who refuse to see this, and insist it is a mandatory rule of politics that we must "always work within the GOP," don't understand that their rule is only a slogan with no rationality to back it up. They have become part of the problem, not the solution. They have become the equivalent to Lenin's "useful idiots" for the neocon dictatorship being insidiously formed around us.

There's a saying in Las Vegas that casino owners "send cabs for the gullible sheep." Well, neocons do the same for Republicans who preach the myth that we "must always stay within the GOP and try to take it over with new conservative legislators."

Vegas casino owners love the sheep who come to gamble because they know the game is rigged in the casinos' favor. And likewise the neocon hierarchy loves conservatives who preach "eternal love for the GOP" because it knows the party is rigged in its favor. The hierarchy has the power to buy off (or discourage from running again) 90% of new libertarian and conservative legislators sent to reform Washington.

Buying Off the Patriots

If you doubt that 90% of libertarians and conservatives are bought off or discouraged from running again by the neocon hierarchy, consider this: In 1991, the Republican Liberty Caucus was formed, consisting of libertarian and conservative congressmen to fight for free-markets and restoration of the Republic as the Founders envisioned. In the first three years the RLC had about 25-30 members in the House of Representatives out of 435. Today they have 36 members.

If the strategy of taking over the Republican Party by sending new libertarian and conservative legislators to Washington has any validity, why has the RLC not grown to 200 members by now? Every election year, scores of new candidates win office who could be classified as strong patriots. Let's say 30-40 every two years. Why has all this new blood not translated into firm control of the GOP? At least 400 new conservatives and libertarians have been sent to Washington in the last 24 years. Why have we only increased the RLC membership by 8 during this time?

The answer is obvious to those who are perceptive and grasp the frailties of human nature: Out of the 400 new libertarian and conservative representatives we sent to Washington over the past 24 years who remained in Congress, only 36 had the strength of mind to stand firm on principle. Only 36 were possessed of the integrity of Ron Paul. Many got discouraged and went home. But of those who remained most capitulated to the enticements of fame, power, popularity, access to more campaign contributions, and ease of re-election that the neocon hierarchy promises to all incoming legislators who play ball with them by "modifying" their principles and easing away from hard core insistence on free-market capitalism. In other words, they got bought off. 

The lure of power and wealth has been corrupting men since time began. Do our conservative pundits believe that somehow human nature can be dramatically changed and politicians will no longer seek gratification of their egos? That such politicians will not cross over the aisle to do the neocons' bidding in order to gain more power and wealth? Do those activists in the Tea Party believe such nonsense?

Of course not. Why then are so many conservative pundits and activists preaching that "we must always remain within the Republican Party?" Why are so many ignoring history and human nature? Why are they not checking deeper into their arguments to make sure they are subscribing to truth, instead of succumbing to slogans? Isn't this what rational men do in disputes of monumental importance?

Unfortunately our pundits and activists have abandoned reason and are more interested in slogans. Consequently, the neocon hierarchy continues to bamboozle the Republican rank and file with the old communist agitprop that "one must never doubt the widsom of the party."

Thus conservative sheep remain loyal to the GOP and, in doing so, enable their neocon shepherds to relentlessly centralize government in Washington while perpetuating military interventionism around the globe. Strong minded patriots would revolt, not readily acquiesce to unconditional "love for the Party."

They Don't Think

Hitler told his Nazi followers: "How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think." Ditto with the neocons. How fortunate for them that so many conservatives don't think. Don't observe history. Don't grasp the flaws of human nature. Don't understand the evil of appeasement. Don't muster the courage to revolt. How fortunate for the neocons that so many conservative pundits refuse to leave the flock and continue to play the lackey to their neocon masters. How fortunate that so many are so soft and undiscerning.

America is descending into despotism because of the softness of conservative pundits and activist sheep. My message is this:

What will you tell your grandchildren when they have grown up amidst vicious tyranny and ask you, "why didn't you oppose the neocons when we still had a chance to save freedom? Why didn't you revolt? Why didn't you break from the GOP? Why would you continue for forty, fifty, sixty years to tolerate the constant 'crossing of the aisle' by conservative legislators you sent to Washington? Why would you continue to support a party hierarchy that bought off or scared off 90% of the freedom advocates you sent to reform the system? Why would you continue to tolerate collectivists who relentlessly expanded their power every year, yet soothed you every election with embarrassing lies claiming that they stood for freedom? Why didn't you revolt, Grandfather, when we still had time?"


-------------------------
Nelson Hultberg is a freelance scholar/writer in Dallas, Texas and the Director of Americans for a Free Republic www.afr.org. He has a BA degree in Economics from Beloit College in Wisconsin. His articles have appeared over the past twenty years in such publications as The Dallas Morning News, American Conservative, Insight, Liberty, The Freeman, and The Social Critic, as well as on numerous Internet sites such as Capitol Hill Outsider, Conservative Action Alerts, Daily Paul, Canada Free Press, and The Daily Bell. He is the author of The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values. Email: nelshultberg (at) aol.com

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Ark of Freedom


Nelson Hultberg

There is only one hope to stop the tyrannical rot of statism stealing over our country. We must challenge the Democrat-Republican monopoly of politics that foments the rot.

Is this being redundant? Heard all this before? Perhaps, but our most defiant Founding Father, Samuel Adams, was very redundant in his pursuit of justice. He told his fellows repeatedly: "It does not take a majority to prevail...but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." Irate and tireless are what's important here. We can save our country only if we patriots (who are the minority) relentlessly challenge the Democrat-Republican monopoly and the egregious falsity it spews out every election year.

Our Democrat-Republican politicians are not interested in freedom. They're interested in power and riding around in black limousines. Conservatives and libertarians must break from them totally and join with millions of patriotic independents and blue-collar Democrats to form a new governing coalition.

Never can we hear too much of this message of American salvation. The Democrat-Republican monopoly is like the Bolsehviks' Master Party collectivizing us with its regimentation (only done with ballots rather than bullets, subsidies rather than gulags), but always degrading our lives in so many ways, keeping us from what could be and ought to be. So if redundancy is the price we must pay to rouse the people from their stupor, so be it.

But the People Just Don't Care!

The most frequent objection encountered in discussing a challenge of the Democrat- Republican monopoly is that it will be impossible for an alternative political party to win because the people just don't care enough to do something so revolutionary. They are mesmerized by their SUVs and all the goodies that Consumerland has brought them. Voting will not change things because the voters are already bought and paid for with the bread and circuses government perpetually sends their way. Apathy dominates their lives.

This is partly true; most people will not listen at first. But life is not static. The great majority of Americans will begin to be receptive as the country descends deeper into the massive debt and immigration crises now upon us. It will not be long until the dollar is dropping like a rock in a dry well, 30 million illegals are banging on the door of our Congressional appeasers, and government is stultifying everything in its path. Then the people will be willing to listen to calls for an alternative party solution.

How far into the future that day is cannot be said with certainty. But we need to start building an anti-amnesty, patriot party NOW. The time to build an ark is before the raging flood is upon us, not after we're waist-deep in the tides of chaos and despair.

Amidst the coming socio-economic tumult, there will be a breakdown of many of the established ways of doing things. When the Keynesian fallacies plaguing us today have wreaked sufficient destruction upon our economic stability and sanity, there will take place an inevitable economic crash much bigger than the busts of 2008 and 2000; more lethal even than 1929. It is then, as we are climbing out of this catastrophic crash, that the people will be crying for radical change. Our danger lies in the fact that Democrat-Republican demagogues, bolstered by waves of third-world immigrants, will stampede the confused masses into accepting all-pervasive government control of the economy. They will abandon what vestiges of a free country we have left.

There will be a rash of sequels to what Roosevelt biographer, John T. Flynn, called the "dance of the crackpots" during the Great Depression era. Ivory tower eggheads will descend upon Washington like weevils to the gristmill to bring government and our corporations further together into not just today's partial fascism, but into the total form.

Attacking the Fortress

This "dance of collectivist crackpots" and its government-business partnership will have to be fought. And there is only one way to do that. We must attack its protective fortress, the Democrat-Republican monopoly over politics. But the time to start doing so is now. This means commitment instead of cynicism. This means a new political party - the National Independent Party - that AFR is forming.

Only in this way will we have a chance to save America as we are climbing out of the upcoming crash. Only in this way can we convince voters to return to the Founders' ideal of freedom, rather than subordination of America to World Government, which is what the Democrat-Republican monopoly will certainly be preaching.

If, during the coming crisis, we do not have a strong "freedom candidate" in the national TV presidential debates to counter Democrat-Republican proposals for subordination of America to World Government and a World Bank, the first stages of Orwell's nightmare will arrive. American sovereignty will become a "19th century delusion" in the media's eyes. The United Nations will begin to dictate our political direction in huge and hideous ways. To avoid this denouement, it is crucial that we get a "freedom candidate" into the national TV presidential debates to challenge the globalist propaganda that Washington's odious elites will be heaping upon a confused American populace.

To help make this happen, we at AFR have published Salvation of America (4 pgs). It lays out a revolutionary strategy of reform for our monetary, tax, immigration, and foreign policy systems that will stop the Democrat-Republican monopoly from its steady march to bigger and bigger government.

The Failure of the Libertarian Party

"But alternative political parties always fail," reply the naysayers. Yes, this is true. But there's a reason for their failure. They fail because they structure themselves upon excessively idealistic platforms that frighten the electorate with dissolution of the welfare state. They ignore the fact that politics is a game of incrementalism. They ignore the fact that we're not going to eliminate the Federal Reserve, the income tax, and the welfare state overnight.

As a result, no nationally prominent candidates choose to run on the tickets of any alternative "freedom party" out there. Thus their candidates end up getting at best 1% of the vote. Our article, Why the Libertarian Party Fails (4 pgs), explains how today's alternative parties foolishly marginalize themselves.

The National Independent Party will not make this mistake of "marginalization." Thus it will be able to attract a nationally prominent candidate (of libertarian-conservative beliefs) such as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Mike Lee. Our Four Pillars of Reform platform is designed to stop the growth of government and restore sanity to the country, but not threaten the voters with dissolution of the welfare state like the Libertarian Party and Constitution Party do every election year. Restoring the Republic will be left to future generations; we need to get the runaway freight train of government growth stopped first.

Libertarians and Immigration

Those libertarians of America who oppose our tough stand on immigration must rethink their reasoning. Tight borders are based upon one of the most libertarian of all principles - the "right to freedom of association." This means humans have the right to form into groups and establish rules for entrance into their groups, whether it's a family with a fence around its yard, or a country club with a gate at its entrance, or a labor union with closed doors and by laws, or a country with tight borders and a Constitution. There is no such thing as a "right" to go wherever we please as Judge Napolitano and the Libertarian Party maintain. Immigration is not a fundamental "right." It is a conditional "privilege" conveyed by the members of the group one is seeking to enter.

This was the view of Washington, Jefferson, and the Founders in 1787. [1] It was the view of the Supreme Court in 1892. [2] And it must become America's view again. No individual has the right to enter a country uninvited.

All property in the world is owned either individually by persons or collectively by groups. The owners of a house and yard decide who can enter their house. The members of a country club decide who can enter their club. And the citizens of a country decide who can enter their country. The government is not destroying rights by denying entrance to certain people to the country it governs. It is merely expressing the rightful will of the owners of the country.

Challenging Liberal Statism

American voters are ready for this kind of common sense campaign in which a nationally prominent libertarian-conservative challenges the Democrat-Republican monopoly. It was too early in 1992 when Ross Perot made his run. Now it's not. The people are fed up and ready for an alternative political party. An anti-amnesty, freedom candidate running as an  Independent would electrify the country's conservatives, libertarians, independents, and blue-collar Democrats. He would get 38-40% of the vote and win in a three-man race.

This then is AFR's goal - to build an Ark of Freedom for America, to rekindle that spirit that exists eternally in the hearts and minds of all those who will not kowtow to tyranny. We are the "New Sons of Liberty." We intend to take back our country from the statist black limousine crowd and all its collaborators - the academic cheerleaders for multiculturalism, the vast legions of obtuse bureaucrats, the liberal media apparatchiks, the mobs of unthinking voters - who are selling the greatest country in history down the river for an illusion of security and wealth via government pork and privilege.
   
America was meant for the free, for the self-reliant, for those individuals who are willing to live on their own wits, energy, and courage. She was never supposed to have a powerful centralized maze of bureaucracies regimenting and subsidizing every aspect of our lives. She stood in the beginning for "limited government," "personal independence," and a "small, selective flow of immigrants gaining entrance to the country." Unless she restores that stand, there will be no true liberty or justice for men on this earth in the future.


Notes

1. Writings of George Washington, Government Printing Office, 1931-44, 27: 254. See also Erler, West, and Marini, The Founders on Citizenship and Immigration, 2007, pp.
18-22, and Thomas G. West, Vindicating the Founders,1997, pp. 150-151.

2. Nishimura Ekiu v. U.S., 142 U.S. 651, 659 (1892).


---------------
Nelson Hultberg is a freelance scholar/writer in Dallas, Texas and the Director of Americans for a Free Republic www.afr.org. His articles have appeared over the past twenty years in such publications as The Dallas Morning News, American Conservative, Insight, Liberty, The Freeman, and The Social Critic, as well as on numerous Internet sites such as Capitol Hill Outsider, Conservative Action Alerts, Daily Paul, Canada Free Press, and The Daily Bell. He is the author of The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values. Email: nelshultberg (at) aol.com

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sons of Liberty: A Review


Nelson Hultberg

History channel, January 25-27, 2015.
Directed by Kari Skogland; written by Stephen David and David C. White.

The History channel's new miniseries, Sons of Liberty, will anger the purists and the prudes. But it will delight the swashbuckler in the rest of us. It is a big, bodacious screening with superb production values that covers the lead-up years to the American Revolution, 1765-1775. Yes, certain liberties are taken with some of the facts and events. The main characters are glamorized. But the essential theme of America's birth is kept intact: we as a nation were spawned by a band of rebels made up of assorted firebrands, smugglers, and philosophers all coalescing together under the rubric of Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man." Besides, what depiction of history is not romanticized by making the main characters a bit handsomer and younger than they, perhaps, were. Certainly not any depiction made for television.

The main character striding through Sons of Liberty is the famous Samuel Adams, played robustly by British actor, Ben Barnes, who doesn't give us an actualization of Adams' role in history, but rather a symbolization of it. First of all, Barnes is in his early thirties, and Adams was 51 years old when he fomented the Boston Tea Party. So the producers of Sons of Liberty are trying to give us the symbolic Sam Adams and what his role was in the creation of America. Sam Adams was the quintessential rebel mind. He didn't have the scholarly genius of Thomas Jefferson, but he had a brilliant revolutionary mind. And valor permeated his entire life. He blended mind and defiance as well as, and perhaps better than, any of our Founders.

Sam Adams told his fellow patriots in 1773 in the build-up to the Boston Tea Party, "It does not take a majority to prevail...but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."

This is what brings about all revolutionary change in history - small minorities of men and women fervently committed to a cause that will require courage and resourcefulness to bring into fruition. Yes, luck is also necessary, but mostly courage and resourcefulness because luck eventually descends upon us all. It's the ones with courage who ride the luck into history and change the fate of mankind. Sam Adams and the "Sons of Liberty" were these kind of men. They seized the opportunity that the arrogant, blundering British gave to them.

The valor of Sam Adams was the spark that made him one of our most important Founders. As we all know, the colonists were by no means united. Sons of Liberty portrays this Rebel-Tory division clearly, and it demonstrates how remarkable the likes of Sam Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Dr. Joseph Warren were. They were willing to break from the security and stability of life under the British Crown to venture into uncharted waters for a new future - a break that offered them certain death or prison if they failed, yet they eagerly proceeded. In the process they galvanized a band of rebels and lit the match to "the shot heard round the world."

The Partnership

In the first segment, we see Sam Adams and John Hancock initiate their partnership, which eventually leads to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Adams is a scruffy, roguish firebrand, while Hancock is portrayed as a rich, cautious, unbearably foppish socialite who relies on trade and imports to bring him the lavish life he desires. In dddition, the director, Kari Skogland, has him constantly urging Adams and his band of street rebels to "stop their insanity." Unfortunately this is not the historical Hancock at all. Yet at every turn, Skogland and her writers insist on painting this false picture of Hancock as timidly opposing the rebellion, even opposing the dumping of the tea into Boston Harbor.

All historical records clearly show Hancock was a vigorous supporter of the colonial protests against the British from 1765 on in concert with Adams. Yet Skogland has him reluctantly and timidly dragging his feet throughout these crucial years. Hancock was not a warrior, but he was very much a willing rebel who financed the agitations and the dumping of the tea. He was upper class, yes, but hardly a fop. He fervently favored the revolution, and served admirably in various roles of political leadership for the American cause from the beginning. For some reason, however, Skogland's writers have quite incorrectly portrayed him. Not good.

The British Are Coming

In the second segment, we are introduced to the tyrannical British Gen. Thomas Gage (played to menacing perfection by Marton Csokas) and also to the renowned Paul Revere and his epic ride (played forcefully by the rugged Michael Raymond-James). Revere was a silversmith, but he had a warrior persona. The Boston Tea Party is presented in a sensationalized manner with Sam Adams standing astride one of the ships to stare down a regiment of British regulars with muskets raised on the wharf, daring them to shoot him. Quisling Governor Hutchinson arrives just in time to halt the British regiment leader for fear of making the heroic Adams into a martyr.

If director, Skogland, is lacking in historical accuracy, she is certainly not deficient in the ability to entertain her viewers. She gives us action, conflict, suspense, and charismatic characters we care about, as well as a salacious romance between Dr. Joseph Warren and Gen. Gage's ravishing wife, Margaret, played by Emily Berrington. Ryan Eggold is very appealing as the clever and courageous Dr. Joseph Warren. Berrington is pristinely beautiful as Margaret Gage. Their love affair is total fiction; but it's insertion into the story allows Sons of Liberty to avoid being just a litany of politics and battles. It becomes a sexy romp as well. After all, America's rebels were not prudes; they lusted after women in their day as we do in ours. This tale is not meant to be a staid documentary with sidebar commentaries by dreary Doris Goodwin types. It is meant to be a TV blockbuster. Sex is necessary for that.

Lexington and Bunker Hill

The third and final segment begins with the British rout of the rebels at Lexington Green on April 19, 1775 and the following rebel victory at the Concord munitions storage. Thus begins our War for Independence. These and the later battle scenes are carried off spectacularly with big sophisticated production values. The Concord surprise victory for the rebels shakes Gage and his troops severely, which is demonstrated by Gage's hurried request to London for more troops and his demand to recklessly attack the rebels at Bunker Hill despite the certainty of heavy British casualties and warnings from his subordinate officers. Gage is vile and icy in demeanor. He will surely go down as one of the great villains of TV entertainment. There is a grisly inhumanity about the man. Gen. Washington termed him a ruthless cancer.

At John Adams' insistence, our rebel heroes then pay a visit to Benjamin Franklin for advice and support. Apparently the historical Franklin is not in Skogland's memory bank either, for the Franklin we encounter here seems more like a brawny biker with a Harley outside at the hitching post. He is played by Breaking Bad's robustious Dean Norris. He pours forth the braininess we expect from Franklin, but Skogland has injected a few choice morsels of modern dialogue into his part. "You're talking about a new country," he informs a startled contingent of Sam and John Adams, and Paul Revere. They reply hesitantly that they guess they are, to which Franklin responds, "That's a bat shit crazy idea." But he assures them that he agrees with this crazy idea. Inserting modern slang into the revered mouths of the Founders may be "progressive" and "avant-garde" to Skogland, but to me it is a stink bomb for the script.

Next comes the Battle of Bunker Hill, and it is as gritty and grotesque as a battle can be. Huge casualties are suffered by the rebels as they are overrun by the monster British war machine and Gage's fanaticism. In the aftermath, Gen. Washington, who up till now has remained a non-participant in the rebel hostilities, manifests as the heroic leader we know from history and assures the rebels that all is not lost. A fierce war is coming, but he will lead them.

The finale is a stirring speech for liberty by Sam Adams in front of the delegates of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia in July of 1776 that prefaces the signing of the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock inscribes his now famous signature to the storied document, a war begins, and a new country is born.

The Lesson for Us Today

In conclusion, Sons of Liberty is far from accurate history, but it is splendid entertainment. Most importantly it is true to the fundamental fount of America - that we were spawned by a new philosophical vision of strictly limited government instituted to protect men's rights rather than manipulate men's lives.

How did these scruffy "Sons of Liberty," and the rag-tag army they morphed into, pull off defeating the most powerful military force in the world at that time? They did it because there exists a dynamic force in our lives that all tyrannical systems lack and all rational revolutionaries possess - moral truth!  This is what brings the most powerful of tyrannies down. No matter how much military or regulatory control they possess, no matter how ruthless they are - they are always vulnerable in face of men and women who are in possession of truth and willing to take a moral stand against overwhelming odds. Moral truth connected to unbending human will is what eventually destroys the most entrenched of evil.

We have this force on our side today in the crisis we now face, which is identical in principle to the crisis our Founders faced. We possess the same "moral truth" that they had, and we can use it to overcome today's Washington tyrants. We just have to design the right strategy to implement it. There are countless Americans out there just waiting for the right mix of political savvy and passion to come along and sweep them up into a crusade.

In 1776, the Tories timidly hid behind closed doors where it was safe and popular. They wallowed in pessimism and lamented that nothing could be done. The British were too strong. Why make a big fuss? But the rebels - men like Samuel Adams and John Hancock, Paul Revere and Joseph Warren - would have none of it. They knew they had moral truth on their side, and that the British Gargantua would fall precisely because of that. And if they weren't absolutely certain they would prevail, they knew they still must fight, or their lives were meaningless. This is the lesson we glean from the Sons of Liberty for our lives today.

Sam Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Dr. Joseph Warren are eternal archetypes of what is required as human beings to live freely and justly. If you missed this original History channel presentation of their fight, it will come around again. Don't miss its rerun.

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Nelson Hultberg is a freelance scholar/writer in Dallas, Texas and the Director of Americans for a Free Republic www.afr.org. His articles have appeared over the past twenty years in such publications as The Dallas Morning News, American Conservative, Insight, Liberty, The Freeman, and The Social Critic, as well as on numerous Internet sites such as Capitol Hill Outsider, Conservative Action Alerts, Daily Paul, Canada Free Press, and The Daily Bell. He is the author of The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values. Email: nelshultberg@aol.com

Friday, January 16, 2015

U.S. Department of Justice Shuts Down Major Aspect of its Civil Forfeiture Program


Property Rights Protected, but More Needs to Be Done

Holder's order
Department of Justice release
Washington Post story that broke the news
Arlington, VA.Marking an important shift in federal law enforcement policy, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the U.S. Department of Justice’s adoption program—which permits state law enforcement agencies to turn seized properties over to the federal government for forfeiture—will be suspended.

But the Justice Department policy does nothing to limit the widely used and sweeping power of the federal government, or joint federal and state task forces, to seize Americans’ property based on nothing but suspicion.

“This important change in policy will strengthen protections for property owners who stand to lose their cash, cars, and other property without being convicted of or even charged with a crime” said Scott Bullock, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, the nation’s leading legal advocate against civil forfeiture. “But it is essential that greater protections for property owners must follow at the federal level and in the states to ensure that Americans are no longer victimized by civil forfeiture.” 

The announcement by Attorney General Holder follows a growing wave of criticism and outrage about the government’s forfeiture practices. Federal legislation that would sharply curtail the federal government’s civil forfeiture program, including adoption, was introduced last session and is expected to be introduced again soon.

Under civil forfeiture laws, law enforcement can take property suspected of involvement in criminal activity without convicting or charging the owner with a crime. At the federal level and in most states, agencies involved in the forfeiture, including prosecutors and police departments, can keep some or all of the proceeds for their own use. 
Today’s announced policy would stop the process of adoption, where state and local officials use federal law to forfeit property without charging owners with a crime and then profit from those forfeitures, regardless of whether those forfeitures are permitted under state law.  But the new policy leaves open a significant loophole, as state and local law enforcement can still partner with federal agents through joint task forces for forfeitures not permitted under state law, and state and local law enforcement can use such task forces to claim forfeiture proceeds they would not be entitled to under state law.  Moreover, the federal government can still pursue its own civil forfeiture actions, where property owners face very significant burdens.  And the policy does not change state forfeiture laws, many of which burden property owners and permit policing for profit.

IJ is the nation’s leading legal advocate against civil forfeiture. IJ launched its initiative against civil forfeiture in 2010 with the publication of its path-breaking report, Policing for Profit.  That report first exposed the federal government’s pernicious practice of equitable sharing and adoption procedures.  IJ’s initiative against civil forfeiture consists of cutting-edge court battles on behalf of property owners facing civil forfeiture, strategic research, and grassroots activism calling for ending or radically changing civil forfeiture law.  In 2014, IJ launched EndForfeiture.com, a wide-ranging online initiative to educate and activate citizens and legislators to fight civil forfeiture.

“Civil forfeiture should not exist in a country that values the principles of private property rights and due process,” said Chip Mellor, IJ’s President and General Counsel. “Now is the time to enshrine today’s policy change into the law and to pass further reforms to ensure that no American loses their property without being convicted of a crime.”