Nov 20 2016

Liberty Update: Trump Transition, a Gun Control Gaffe, & Castile Shooting Unjustified


Trump announced several cabinet appointments this week that have many Americans up in arms about what a Trump presidency will look like. The position of CIA director has been offered to Rep Mike Pompeo. Pompeo is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and served on the Select Committee on Benghazi. He was particularly critical of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, and used it as the preface for remarks on Edward Snowden during an interview this past February. During the interview, he called Snowden a traitor and suggested Snowden should be given a death sentence for stealing information that puts America’s military at risk even though that’s not quite what happened.

Senator Jeff Sessions has been chosen for the role of Attorney General. Sessions is considered by many to be one of the MOST conservative members of the Senate, previously served as Attorney General to Alabama, and was denied the position of federal judge in 1986 due to accusations of racism. That being said, some of his favorite topics to rail against include finding a way to reduce the US’s trillion-dollar debt and the importance of criminal justice reform.

On Wednesday, Trump announced a 5-year lobbying ban for anyone who wants to join his team. The rule would prohibit anyone in his administration from lobbying for ANY part of the government for five years after leaving the public sector. Under Obama, anyone leaving the administration was banned from lobbying for two years, but only in their own sector. Reportedly, this rule is making it difficult for Trump to find people that are both willing and qualified for his team.

Trump had his first victory in Congress this week after requesting that any major spending plans currently floating through Congress be put off until 2017. This means that they intend to pass a bill to keep the government running through March, but will not be voting on any spending priorities until Trump takes office.

Besides allowing a replubican administration to make the coming year’s spending decisions, this might also serve as a way to roll back more of the Obama administration’s policies once Trump takes office. Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate can nullify legislation with a simple majority vote if they hold the vote within 60 legislative days. But, since Congress took so many days off this year, the “60 days” actually go all the way back to May. If Congress simply passes a stop-gap bill, they may adjourn early, thereby stopping the clock until January. According to the American Action Forum, congress would already be able to vote out 48 of Obama’s regulations that together cost $42 billion, even without ending early. If Congress were to adjourn early, it would push back the 60-day date to even earlier than May, and dozens more regulations would be available for the chopping block.

Obama set a new record for regulations this week after adding 572 pages to the Federal Register in just one day. The register for Thursday, November 17th, can be viewed online and, including the table of contents, publication information, and readers’ notes, clocks in at a whopping 660 pages. This brings the year’s total number of regulatory pages to 81,640. This is the highest number of regulations in one year EVER. In fact, Obama had the previous record with about 81,400 back in 2010. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, Obama holds SEVEN of the top ten spots for highest tallies of regulation pages. The other three slots are owned by Bush #2, but Obama is the only president to ever surpass 80,000, which he has done 4 out of 8 years of his Presidency.

In other news, Kanye West came forward this week to tell the world that he didn’t vote, but if he had, he would have voted for Trump, as if that matters.

At a joint press conference in Berlin, Obama and Merkel blamed social media for being what they called “politically disruptive.” Obama and Merkel claim that social media is to blame for instilling fear and uncertainty in people over things like economic security. The pair claim that the recent “clash of cultures” between the left of right is due to the digitization of information, and as such, those avenues should be controlled. Obama noted that freedom of speech is indeed a thing, and should probably be protected, but was directly followed on stage by Merkel, who compared the internet to the printing press and argued that the internet is a threat that needs to be contained.

Interestingly, a list of so-called “fake news websites” was circulated this week and caused Google and Facebook to consider censoring those sites and denying them advertising services. The list was written by an assistant communications professor from Merrimack College in, appropriately, Massachusetts. She called the list “ “False, misleading, clickbait-y and satirical ‘news’ sources.” The list has since been taking down, supposedly due to “threats and harassment” of the author but included sites like The Onion and Infowars, as well as known partisan Facebook pages such as Occupy Democrats. Many of the sites, however, had a decidedly conservative or third-party slant, such as Breitbart, Lew Rockwell.com, and the Free Thought Project. An update to the original document now also warns readers to stay away from blogs, Buzzfeed, and Fox News. She warned that Fox News, along with the Huffington Post, are considered “real media sources” but are inflammatory for the sake of being inflammatory and therefore should not be trusted.

The list also references ANOTHER list that has been going around social media, this one from Patheos.com, which, interestingly is under their BLOGS category which I thought we were supposed to stay away from, but nevertheless, there it is. The update also adds a list of sources she DOES trust – and the list is pretty small. The list suggests readers focus on The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and NPR. While the lists floating around do have really terrible websites on them, it has launched Facebook and Google into discussions around defining “good” news vs “fake” or “bad news.” It’s not hard to imagine that such accusations could easily be twisted to silence less-mainstream news outlets, as well as unpopular opinions, by the two decidedly-liberal media giants, who on separate occasions have already been accused of promoting liberal ideologies and censoring both conservative and libertarian thought.

Yet another story this week of a gun-toting grandma protecting herself against would-be burglars. A 78-year-old woman was getting ready for a nap when she heard a commotion in the front of her home. Police say she calmly loaded her pistol and found two men who had broken in. When they saw the gun, the men fled from the house and jumped into an SUV driven by a female accomplice. Police later found the trio and recovered two stolen guns, power tools, and fur coats from the vehicle. All three were taken to the county jail and are being charged with burglary. One of them is also being charged with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.

At a press conference this week, Minnesota prosecutor John Choi announced that the shooting of Philando Castile was found unjustified. The Minneapolis police officer involved in the shooting is being charged with one count of second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.

The shooting occurred this past July and made headlines after Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, livestreamed the police encounter to Facebook. Castile, his girlfriend, and her four year old daughter were pulled over for a traffic stop. According to Reynolds, as well as squad car audio AND video, the officer approached the vehicle with his hand near his gun and requested Castile’s license and insurance card. Castile first handed over his proof of insurance and then told the officer that he had a concealed carry permit. The officer told him not to reach for the gun, and Castile confirmed twice that he was not going to do that. He then reached for his wallet and the officer immediately drew his weapon and fired seven shots into the vehicle. Castile’s dying words were, “I wasn’t reaching for it.”

The officer reports seeing Castile put his hand around a “dark object” and immediately thinking he was going to die. According to Choi, however, he later told other officers that he didn’t know where Castile’s gun was. According to medical personel, Castile did have a pistol in high right pocket, but the pistol was about a foot deep in the pocket. Choi believes Castile was, in fact, reaching for his wallet. The other officer at the scene never drew his gun.

A Free State Project supporter was shot last week after an argument broke out over the movement’s porcupine version of the Gadsden flag. According to police, the shooter and his two friends saw the flag at victim Jarrod Ean-Dixon’s apartment and felt the porcupine was a descecration of the traditional “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. The trio allegedly started a verbal argument and then the two men ganged up on Ean-Dixon, dropping him to the ground, kicking and punching him, and finally shooting him three times at point-blank range. The trio then fled to their car, and were eventually found and arrested. Ean-Dixon is expected to recover

More bad news for gun control supporters – most of the illegal guns used in crimes in gun control posterchild Massachusetts come from – Massachusetts! Local news recently reported on the issue, and stated that many of the guns used in crimes in 2015 actually came from out of state and showed this graphic that they supposedly made using ATF data. According to the graphic, 121 of the illegal guns came from New Hampshire, and that’s certainly a lot. The reporter claimed this is because so many states around Massachusetts have weak gun laws, which supposedly makes gun trafficking wicked easy.

The report claimed these illegal guns come into the state through the illegal drug corridor in Springfield, my home city. But the number of guns used in Massachusetts crime was 5,258 that year. Of this 5k, police traced just over 1700, and were only able to identify the source in 1100 cases. Even so, the numbers in the graphic clearly don’t add up – because WWLP conveniently left out the guns coming from home.

But, lucky for us, they did link the ATF trace data in the accompanying article.

THIS graphic is taken directly from the ATF literature. It shows the top 15 sources of those 1100 traced and sourced illegal guns in Massachusetts. And look at that, 419 came from Massachusetts. That’s more than one third. The next highest is New Hampshire with 136. Note, that that number is different the WWLP number – because for some reason, the written article on their site reports there were 5,000 guns in 2015, but made the graphic for 2014.

In 2014, the numbers were even worse for Massachusetts – out of 979 traced guns, 402 again came from Massachusetts. That’s almost HALF. Either way, officials claim it is New Hampshire and Vermont’s weaker gun laws to blame, and that their laws allow New Hampshire and Vermont criminals to come to Massachusetts and exchange guns for drugs. But if strict gun control worked in the first place, wouldn’t our criminals then be unable to get those guns? I mean, that’s what gun control is supposed to do, right? Get the illegal guns off the street? Interestingly enough, the #1 crime committed with these illegal guns was – wait for it – illegal possession. So it was MA’s own gun laws that turned these guns into “illegal” guns, rather than violent crime. Funny how that works.

After just ONE comment pointing out the report’s misleading information, and another pointing out the second amendment, WWLP shut down the comment section on the story.

A recent string of Hezbollah propaganda photos shows the terrorist group in possession of US military equipment, and no one seems to know how they got it. The images show Hezbollah troops on parade with US armored personnel carriers. Some people are theorizing that the carriers were stolen from Lebanese troops, which were awarded the carriers as part of a US military aid shipment overseen by the Pentagon and State Dept. However, some are suggesting that the equipment wasn’t stolen at all, and was given up voluntarily. The Lebanese military denies having any missing equipment, a claim also backed up by the State Dept. Both deny any ideas on how Hezbollah actually got the equipment, except that maybe they’re leftovers from when Israel gave US equipment to the Southern Lebonese Army in the 80s, only to have that militia be disbanded in the early 2000s, and then Hezbollah was just like “hey, lemme get those tanks.” The other theory put forth by the State Dept is that they’re somehow from Al-Qaeda, but then they don’t know how AL-QAEDA got them. Also, by the way, all these theories were put out by the State Dept and its people via Twitter, if you can wrap your head around THAT one.

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