Tuesday, May 13, 2014

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em - He said, ironically posting an article on a different blog...

Below is an article I wrote and was originally published at The Truth About Guns.

Civilian militia aka autodefensas (self defenders) members in Michoacan, Mexico were recently inducted into the rural Mexican police, facing the threat of arrest if they refused as reported in theNew York Daily News. It’s no secret that the Mexican federal government is not a fan of theautodefensas. In February the Mexican Senate approved reform of terrorism laws so they would make actions taken by the militia illegal. When the population is armed the elite few at the top no longer have all the control. Sound familiar? . . .
Clearly declaring the autodefensas terrorists hasn’t worked. For the most part they have refused to disarm, and without reliable means to remove or counter them, the Mexican government has offered them what appears to be a Trojan horse. Sure, now they carry some more legitimacy, and they no longer have to worry about being arrested for defending their own homes, but I see some pretty realistic potential drawbacks.
  • The autodefensas were formed to counter the established violence and corruption. If you join that system, do you not risk becoming a part of it? I believe these are men who truly believe in justice and freedom, and that’s why they started doing what they’re doing, but it’s hard to resist systemic corruption when you are immersed in it.
  • Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. This could be one of the strategies being employed by the Mexican government. After surveying the situation they found that countering the autodefensas was not a viable strategy. So bring them in close where you can watch them and control them. Now you don’t have to fight them.
  • Just because you follow the man’s rules does not make you safe. These men joined with the threat of arrest hanging over their heads. It was either that or disarm, and they were not ready to do the latter. It seems unlikely that they would be arrested all at once, but now the Mexican government could still investigate them one-by-one and arrest them for “other” problems, slowly, over time in a way that might not catch media attention.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. According to the New York Daily News article only 3,300 out of an estimated 20,000 members of the autodefensas have actually joined the police forces. That’s good news. More and more, we’re seeing that standing up to those who wish to disarm us, even when it is your own government, is a legitimate means of protest. And furthermore, it works.
Why is all this important?
There are a million different strategies any movement can use. The antis have quite an extensive playbook to pull from, so it’s worth watching what some of them are doing next door so we can consider, “What would I do if….”
I find the specific circumstances currently underway in Mexico to be pretty unlikely to occur here in the United States, but unlikely is a far cry from impossible, and a few months ago I would have said it was unlikely that Russia would invade Europe…oops.
Paul Brown is a Marine Corps OIF veteran who runs Liberty Rifle Company, LLC, conducts firearms training, and has written several articles for The Washington Times.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

RE: When May I Shoot a Student?

When May I Shoot a Student?

That is the controversial question posed by Boise State Biology Professor, Greg Hampkin in an Op-ed he recently wrote for The New York Times.
In light of the bill permitting guns on our state’s college and university campuses, which is likely to be approved by the state House of Representatives in the coming days, I have a matter of practical concern that I hope you can help with: When may I shoot a student?
Just as with any other form of free speech, I am glad that the good professor is able to voice his opinions. Furthermore I am not really upset that these opinions were published in The New York Times. It is to be expected from one of the more liberal-leaning publications emanating from one of the more liberal-leaning regions of the nation.
Glock 19: What you should carry if you haven't figured
it out already.

What I find upsetting is how this sort of opinion is what gets blasted across our airwaves and Internets from day to day, while the general public is rarely exposed to a clear, concise explanation of the alternative point of view. In his piece Hampkin sarcastically asks if he can shoot students who cheat on tests, or if he can fire warning shots when they try to correct him using their laser sites. He asks if he should aim and shoot at the legs of students who get into a heated argument. He brings up the prospect of "drunken frat boys" firing guns into sororities because they are armed and the idea of "encouraging firearms within a densely packed concentration of young people who are away from home for the first time, and are coincidentally the age associated with alcohol and drug experimentation, and the commission of felonies."

First of all, to that last part: What? The commission of felonies? Lol?

I don't really expect Hampkin to read my response, but it should be written anyway. Just because a portion of society would rather ignore and deny truth and logic does not mean we should shut up about it. So here goes.

First there is the overall point that cannot be stated enough that making guns legal does not make them magically appear in a place just like making guns illegal does not make them magically disappear from a place. Is the professor not aware of the gun laws in Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC, or dare I say New York, where his article was published? I'm assuming he does not. If he did would would realize that the bulk of gun crimes occurs in these cities and other large cities like these with incredibly restrictive gun laws. These gun laws are shown in study after study to have no positive benefit in relation to gun crime. You would think that stuff like scholarly, peer-reviewed studies would matter to a professor at a university.

Now to address some of the specific issues about which Hampkin writes. One of the reasons it is disappointing that articles like that of Hampkin receive so much attention is that he is so ignorant on all matters relating to guns and self defense. I know he was joking, but within his jokes he still revealed his ignorance.  "But given the velocity of firearms..." The what? Are you throwing them? Are you throwing your firearms? I know it might seem nitpicky, but your firearm really should not have velocity. The bullets exiting the muzzle should have velocity, and that is what he meant to say obviously, but then he really didn't know how to say it because he does not know the first thing about guns.

Correcting him with laser sites? That is a clear, gross safety violation, as virtually any gun owner will tell you.

Shooting students who cheat on tests? I know this is a big joke to the professor, but how is that question productive? Obviously you cannot shoot students who cheat on tests.

Shooting at students who are in a heated argument? Let me be honest. It's not really necessary to hit each of these one by one. I'm not a lawyer, and this should not be taken as legal advice,  but most jurisdictions will not give you the protection of the law for firing upon someone unless you are acting in clear defense of yourself or others against a threat to life and/or grievous bodily harm. Does that mean if you do act in defense of your life that you won't go to jail? Not necessarily. Basically it is a measure of last, last, last, last resort. There you go. I hope that clears things up a bit.

What about giving guns to drunk frat boys and kids who are at an age associated with drugs and alcohol? Well "making it legal to carry them on campus" and "giving them guns" are really two different things aren't they? Let me refer to one of my earlier points. Making them illegal does not make them disappear, and making them legal does not make them appear. If drunken frat boys (who clearly have no regard for the law because they are apparently wielding firearms while drunk) want to carry guns then they will regardless of the law.

And if they do decide to carry legally?

Fun fact: Some studies have shown that concealed handgun permit holders tend to be much more law abiding than the average citizen. Still other data shows that police officers are three times likely to murder someone than those with concealed handgun permits. Wait, what?

Three times.

That's just murders. What about the total number of people killed by those with concealed handgun permits vs. the total number killed by police officers?

The Violence Policy Center, a center with a clear agenda to increase gun control regulations in the United States reports that between May 2007 and March 1, 2014 608 private citizens have been shot by "Concealed Carry Killers." Are those numbers comprehensive and accurate? I don't know, but let's just go with it for now.

So how many people have been killed by police in that same time period? Would you be surprised to find out that there doesn't seem to be a convenient website that tracks those numbers? Wikipedia has some stuff on it, but is it accurate? Who knows. According to one source an estimated 500 to 1,000 people are killed by the police in the US per year. Some of the Wikipedia data would seem to back that up, and there is more data to support that as well. But let's just estimate on the low end: 500 per year.

So in the same time period that 608 private citizens have been shot by "Concealed Carry Killers," about 3500 have been killed by the police.

Question, Mr. Hampkin: Who is it you're worried about carrying guns on campus?

There is, of course, a silver lining to this whole story. Comments. Comments are the junk food of all reading. Like junk food, they have become a bad habit of mine. As soon as I finish an article I jump to the comments to see what people are saying. Disgusting habit. You know what I love about this article though? I like all the professors from random universities around the country pledging to quit the day that guns are allowed on their campuses. Because to me, the ignorant, bigoted, liberty-hating people who hold that position are not the people I think should be teaching and leading the future of this nation.

So please, Mr. Hampkin, step aside with your friends and let responsible professors help raise up a new generation of men and women who will take their own safety and security seriously without cowing to fear and ignorance.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Patriot's Barbecue - By Liberty Rifle Company, LLC

Fellow Freedom Lovers,

Liberty Rifle Company, LLC cordially invites you to attend the first annual Patriot's Barbecue at Great Falls Park, Virginia starting at 10:00 a.m. on March 22, 2014.

What is the purpose of this barbecue? It is a get together of like-minded patriots: People who love liberty and justice. There are some major issues that need to be discussed in the open, and the time to do that is now (or March 22 really). Out-of-control government spending and debt, wars we don't win, rights tread upon, and other issues will be discussed as well as what we can do to help affect change.

So who is invited? Do you like freedom? Do you want freedom? Come on over.

Other details: Liberty Rifle Company, LLC will provide food and drinks, but given that the size and scope of this event has not yet been determined, we cannot yet promise that there will be enough for everyone. Volunteers to bring food, drinks, cooking skills, an extra grill or two, or contribute money for these things will be appreciated. Great Falls Park does not take reservations for most groups, so the picnic tables are first come first serve. A scouting party will be sent to the location to ensure we have at least a couple of picnic tables for the group.

This is our nation. Though there are those who would seek to change the fundamentals upon which it was built, there are those of us who will stand up against that. Join us and let your voice be heard.

If you are planning to attend RSVP through our Facebook Event Page or by emailing Paul Brown at pmbrown@libertyriflecompanyllc.com. Invite your friends and family and share on your various social media sites. Movements don't start themselves.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

33 Grievances For the Government of The United States of America

I, Paul Brown, a citizen of the United States of America, a freeman, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, a veteran of the war in Iraq, a voter, and a man who takes responsibility for the state of his nation do hereby declare this list of grievances. These grievances are not simply annoyances or items for concern. Rather they are unacceptable to anyone who takes seriously the principle of liberty and justice for all. I do not request, but demand instant, drastic reform in these areas at all levels of government including local, territory, state, and federal.

  1. The tax burden placed upon the people by federal and state governments is unacceptably large, hurting the ability of the individual to thrive, and putting more power and control in the hands of the government.
  2. The governments actions in forcing individuals to pay for certain products and services including, but not limited to, retirement savings and health care infringes upon the basic right of the individual to choose for better or for worse. 
  3. The mismanagement of federal money has violated the most basic public trust, as the current federal deficit of over 17 trillion dollars is abominably large; lack of effort by both parties to sufficiently address this issue shows a near treasonous level of negligence that must be addressed forthwith. 
  4. The right of the people to keep and bear arms has been heavily infringed at the local, state, and federal level in a plethora of ways, all of which must be changed immediately.
  5. The federal government's judgement in the use of force overseas has many great deficiencies to include when force must be used, how it must be used, for how long, and to what objective. Wars are fought when they ought not be fought, and when they ought be fought they are not fought with the objective to win. This is criminal negligence of the public's trust.
  6. Federal, state, and local laws have created an enormous amount of red tape through which individuals and business must cut in order to be profitable in business legally.
  7. The militarization of police has given way to a police force across the nation that mirrors military tactics and capabilities, rendering civilians in the United States subject to the very same tactics and weapons employed in warfare. For example, as many as 80,000 or more SWAT raids occur in the US every year, many for non-violent offenses.
  8. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures has been violated at local, state, and federal levels by an army of departments and agencies in pursuit of the war on drugs, the war on terror, and other mantras that have been put above the rights of the people over the last several decades.
  9. The federal government has failed to protect the lives of an entire class of individuals by legalizing and protecting the act of abortion, resulting in the murder of over 57 million unborn humans.
  10. The federal and state governments have violated the individual's right to choose for himself or herself by making illegal entire classes of substances known as narcotics. Several government entities continue to pursue this theme by seeking legal restrictions on other substances like trans fat, sugars, cigarettes, and other items deemed unhealthy by the state.
  11. The federal government, through spending, central bank manipulation, taxation, incentives, stimulus packages, tax breaks, tax credits, grants, unfair partnerships with certain businesses and industries, and a host of other measures has meddled in the economy in ways that have led to bubbles, crashes, and markets too stifled to fully thrive as they should in a modern economy.
  12. Petty and invasive laws have placed federal control in areas where the government ought not have any business to include restrictions on toilet flush capacities, types of light bulbs, and other bizarrely restrictive areas.
  13. Through the exercise of no-knock warrants and other forced searches without warrants using militarized SWAT units, federal, state, and local governments have violated the third amendment by quartering troops in the homes of private citizens without permission.
  14. Federal, state, and local governments have turned a host of rights into privileges by forcing private citizens to seek permission to exercising these most basic rights including but not limited to: the right to keep and bear arms, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to marry.
  15. Federal, state, and local governments have forcibly "spread the wealth" through taxation of certain groups and passing along those moneys to other groups without remuneration.   
  16. Laws have been passed at all levels of government that are regularly not enforced, or in many cases almost never enforced due to the lack of practicality of enforcement, lack of sense in creation of the law, or the uproar that would occur if it were enforced regularly. This creates an undue burden on the public and additionally gives the state a means to oppress individuals by unevenly enforcing the law against those it wishes to target.
  17. Corruption exists at all levels of government, and though it is seen and evidenced nearly every day it has been normalized, and is often ignored. 
  18. The federal government has ignored the tenth amendment and no longer leaves decisions up to individual states when they should be up to the individual states. 
  19. The two party system has failed us. Neither party seeks what is best for the people of the United States of America.
  20. Foreign policy has been neglected to a point that there is no recognizably cohesive foreign policy that would benefit the people of the United States.
  21. The federal government uses the Internal Revenue Service to target individuals and organizations with whom it disagrees, targeting political dissidents and others. 
  22. Legislation is regularly passed that contains special handouts or payments for specific groups or parties, also known as "pork," as a means to incentivize legislators to vote for its passing.
  23. Often legislation is passed without having been read by all or in some cases any of the voting legislators. This legislation, in many cases, is too long and complex to make any cohesive sense, and creates more red tape and an undue burden on the public. 
  24. Those elected into office and others appointed are often not held to the same standards as regular citizens, and are often held to lower standards. This includes not prosecuting, not firing, and not disciplining those who are caught in criminal or unethical actions. It also includes the well-known insider trading that occurs in Congress. 
  25. The judicial system has, for all practical purposes, become a legislative body in the way it treats "case law." The job of any and every court is only to interpret law, and it is well known that many of those even on the Supreme Court have a disdain for the very document by which they are to judge. 
  26. Minorities and other marginalized groups are often unfairly targeted for search, arrest, and prosecution by local law enforcement and courts. 
  27. Federal and state governments have created protected classes of individuals, typically based on race. 
  28. Elected officials regularly lie to the public and are not held to account. 
  29. Businesses and individuals provide financial remuneration for legislation in their favor, which legislators accept. 
  30. Immigration needs to be handled; it should be easier to enter the United States legally, and harder to enter the United States illegally.
  31. Foreign nations and groups should be held to account when they attack and kill Americans, such as the events in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. 
  32. The federal government has, in times of peace, neglected to sufficiently collect or act on intelligence overseas that would help protect the nation from hostile actions by foreign parties.
  33. The federal government, which has become disgustingly large and invasive, should be significantly smaller in number of agencies and departments, number of personnel, and funding. 

This list is not exhaustive, and there may be many more grievances both specific and general that I and other free residents of this nation have. These are not requests, but demands. We, the free people of the United States of America, are not subjects. We are citizens. We, therefore, are responsible for our own society, culture, government, and freedoms. We may blame others, including those who we elected and their appointees, but ultimately we must hold ourselves to account for the state of the nation. Change must, and shall begin not with them, but with us. 

If you agree with this list share it with friends, and family, email it to representatives, and do what you can to help make these changes happen. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

Obligatory free picture I found on Wikipedia - Because if your article
doesn't have pictures people probably won't read it.
If you haven't heard of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOC then you might want to check it out. So what is MOOC? The name spells it out pretty well. Basically a MOOC is a course offered online by a university or other educational institution, typically for free, and typically to an unlimited number of enrollees. Most of these courses are offered over a set period of time (e.g. January 6 to March 1). So the course material and instruction is not static, but changes with each revolution of each course. Courses are taught by real, live professors and can include video lectures, video discussions, forums, PowerPoint presentations, reading materials, and a number of other methods to teach the materials. Courses of study cover virtually every subject and although some do not offer any kind of certificate of completion, many do, including some courses from prestigious universities such as Harvard and Stanford.

So why am I writing about this? Basically I am super excited about MOOC. It offers free education to the masses in a very real, accessible manner. Is it as good as "the real thing," such as attending the same or similar courses in person? Probably not. I will be the first to attest to the value of in-person education over online, having experienced both extensively. But that does not remove all value from online courses, especially when the student is genuinely motivated to learn.

So where do you start? Other than a Google search, here are some really good resources to look into it. The MOOC List is a website with a fairly exhaustive list of all MOOCs being offered currently or in the near future. You can browse that all day. If you really just want to pick out the "good" universities from the list they offer, I have actually gone to the trouble of creating that list here:

Brown University
Columbia University
Duke University
Harvard University
Johns Hopkins University
King's College London
MIT Media Lab
Northwestern University
Princeton University
Rice University
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Stanford University
Syracuse University
Tel Aviv Unviersity
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
University of Colorado, Boulder
Vanderbilt University
Yale University

This is not to say that list is exhaustive. There are plenty of great universities on the website I did not include here. But all of the above are definitely worth checking out.

Of course that website is just a list, a hub if you will that offers directions. Here are some websites where the courses are actually offered and facilitated: edX, coursera, iversity, and NovoEd. Of course there are others, but these are just the main ones I have seen.

Are there any drawbacks to MOOC? Definitely. Some courses offer no certificate of completion. Certainly if you take them then take them to learn, but if you are going to spend the time studying and learning from an academic institution, it would make sense to get the academic credit that is traditionally bestowed for that work. Even the courses that do offer certificates of completion do not seem to offer actual credit hours that could be used towards a degree at most institutions (though I am sure that varies). Additionally with unlimited free enrollment you could literally be in a class of thousands, tens of thousands, or in some cases hundreds of thousands. Good luck getting help with your specific questions or issues in class. And articles such as this one in Forbes asks if MOOCs are a failure (spoiler alert, they say no, it is not a failure).

So check out MOOCs! If you have a little spare time sign up for classes. They're free! And you can learn something! And if they offer certificates you can put "Took class from Stanford/Harvard/MIT/etc." on your resume! Cool, huh?

I intend to take some MOOCs when I get the opportunity, and I will update you with my experience whenever that happens. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

An Open Letter to the Attorney General of Texas Regarding DHS Violation of Rights

Below is the exact text of an email I just sent to the Attorney General of Texas in relation to the 100-mile Constitution-Free-Zone implemented by the DHS. For more information on the specific issue check out any number of the links provided in the text of the email.
Attorney General Abbott,
I am writing this email to inform you of a disturbing situation regarding the violation of the rights of Texans currently being perpetrated by the US Federal Government. In this email I will outline the specifics of the problem, explain some of my background and interest in these matters, and make a request for action on your part as the Attorney General of the great State of Texas.

You may or may not have heard about this already, but according to multiple news outlets, blogs, and more notably the ACLU, it would appear that the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) considers any area within 100 miles of the US coast or border to be a "Constitution-Free-Zone." They may not have used those words exactly, but that is what it comes down to as you can see in various articles and websites such as the ACLU, the ACLU Blog, Wired Magazine, Storyleak, and any number of other articles online.
As you have no doubt already realized, this particular set of policies means that a large wing of the US Federal Government is ignoring and violating the rights of many Americans to include many, many Texans. According to several of these articles over 197 million US citizens live within this 100-mile-zone, roughly two-thirds of the US population. After some very rough calculations you may find that this zone covers roughly 80,000 square miles of Texas territory and as may as two-thirds or more of Texans.

Why do I care? A little about me - Though I was born in Arkansas, my family moved to Texas when I was 10 years old. My family and I, like many who move to the great state of Texas, quickly decided that we were Texans and adopted it as our home state. We love Texas. My friends and family love Texas. The woman I love and married was born and raised in Texas. I joined the United States Marine Corps at the Dallas, Texas MEPS station and served honorably for five years, thankfully some of them in Texas. Some of them were served overseas in Iraq. Not only do I love Texas, but I love the United States of America. It pains me to see our rights stripped from us on a daily basis. It is happening faster and faster, and I know you see it as well. I swore to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, and right now this is the best way I know how. I no longer live in Texas, but I still consider it home and wish to return someday. This is why I am contacting you.
You are the Attorney General of Texas. As such you know your duties. You know that what the DHS is doing is illegal according to the Constitution of the United States and the Texas Constitution. You know our rights are being violated. So whether you sue the Federal government, or have Texas Rangers arrest Federal Agents who have chosen to break our laws at the direction of their agency, I believe you must act. We must act. As our rights are eroded and destroyed day by day, it becomes ever-more apparent that the time to act is now. In words often attributed to Edmund Burke, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

​ Mr. Abbott, I believe you are a good man. I have also CC'd Governor Perry, who I believe is also a good man. Even if my suggested actions are not the best course of action, I believe that one or both of you will figure out what must be done. Because, to let this tyranny stand is not acceptable. It is not advisable. It is not allowable. ​

​ Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss this subject further. If the issue is man power, I would be happy to lend my service to the State of Texas, and I will at your request.

Very Respectfully,​

Paul Brown
So now what?  Nice read - move on with your day? No. Write emails, send letters, make phone calls. Attorney Generals, Governors, Congressmen, these people need to know that you are not okay with this. I am not okay with this. No one should be okay with this. It doesn't matter what their reason is. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, "They who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." And it could be added: "And will have neither Liberty nor Safety in the end."

Even if you don't send emails, letters, and phone calls of your own, at the very least you can share this letter with your friends. Help make it go viral and then maybe we can get some more attention on this issue.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Liberty Rifle Company, LLC

For those of you who keep up with me on Facebook or just about anywhere else you have probably noticed by now that I have started Liberty Rifle Company, LLC.

I have done most everything I need to do to get it off the ground and right now I am just waiting for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to grant my Federal Firearms License (FFL) that I sent an application in for last week. That could take 60 to 90 days or more factoring in the government shutdown.

Once I have my license I will begin assembling AK-47 style rifles for sale to individuals and dealerships. I also intend to conduct sales and transfers of other firearms.

In the meantime (while I wait for my FFL) I am getting trained up in various NRA instructor courses so that I can offer NRA certified firearms training locally.

It's a long, difficult process to get into the firearms business, but step-by-step I'm making it happen. I look forward to keeping you all apprised of the details.

The website is http://libertyriflecompanyllc.com and I also have a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/lrcllc) and a Twitter account (username: @LibertyRifle, Twitter Page: http://twitter.com/libertyrifle).

Feel free to visit the website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Vice Guide to Travel

If you are interested in learning more about the world at large, especially places and people you were otherwise unlikely to ever hear about, I heartily recommend checking out Vice.com. Vice is an outfit that travels around the world making fascinating documentaries. They have filmed inside North Korea, Libya, Syria, Liberia, and a host of other dangerous, war-torn locations. They also cover controversial topics such as narcotics, guns, and the war in Afghanistan. Most of their films can be found on their Youtube channel here.

In a world where shallow, seven second, 140 character sound bites seem to reign supreme, Vice offers a refreshing level of depth and honesty in the discussion of very difficult topics. Be warned. None of these videos are for children. They are for mature minds, and though they are entertaining, they seek to educate. Sometimes they shock.

I just watched one of their more recent videos about children being used as assassins in warfare. They traveled to the Philippines where children are used as political assassins as well as foot soldiers by various factions and then they traveled to Afghanistan where children are used as suicide bombers to kill individuals or sometimes large groups of people.

If you have a little time you can watch the video below, or check out out on Youtube here.

These sorts of revelations are both saddening and angering, but they are also eye-opening. Things we take for granted like respect for human life, protecting children, and relative political/social stability are not always the "standard" in some places and among some people. Films like this reveal a level of commitment to win that is foreign to us as a culture.

Not only is it sad that people employ children without regard for their safety in these situations, but it is also sad that we as a nation do not take the resolve of our enemies into account before entering an armed conflict. Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam - These conflicts have several things in common but one is this: In all three conflicts our enemies wanted to win more than we did.

Here's a hint. If a fighting force is willing to go to war against the United States of America, which arguably has the most powerful military in the history of the world, then they are willing to do anything to win. If we are not 100% committed to winning ourselves, then in most cases we will fail. Until we learn that we are going to continue plunging into conflicts where we have little interest for little apparent reason. And we will continue to lose.

If we only enter conflicts with true commitment (formally declaring war against a nation might be the first step) it achieves two things. First we will enter fewer conflicts. Secondly we will be far more likely to win the conflicts we enter.

And in my opinion a world in which the US goes to war less and wins all the wars it gets involved in is a better one. But maybe that's just me....

But seriously - check out Vice. It's off the hook.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We are Facing a Gun Crisis – But Not the Kind You Think

Every now and then I submit articles to be published in The Washington Times. Several have been published, which you can check out here if you're interested. But they can't publish everything they receive, so invariably they have to send some things back.

A few days ago I came across an article about more guns in Mexico from the Fast and Furious operation. I decided to write an article about it. Since the paper couldn't use it, I am posting it here. Enjoy!

A deadly shootout broke the silence of southern Arizona on the evening of December 14, 2010. It was late: about 11:00 pm. Yet the men tasked with defending this nation stood fast, ready to answer the call of duty, no matter the cost.

On that fateful night Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry lost his life in a gun battle with drug traffickers who were armed with a semi-automatic version of the famed AK-47. Terry was a Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine) and a member of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit, an elite unit that regularly engaged in life threatening situations as part of its duties.

But why would armed thugs be allowed to carry such deadly weapons? How did they get access to these tools of war?

Thank the Justice Department and Operation Fast and Furious, where agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) facilitated the sale of over 700 “assault weapons” to drug cartels in Mexico.

In light of the fact that more rifles have turned up at crime scenes in Mexico that have been traced to the Fast and Furious operation, one would think it would be time for a new conversation about the repercussions of these actions.

The House of Representatives drafted a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder for withholding evidence about the case months ago, but no one has held him accountable.

Is this not America? In a truly free nation everyone lives under the law and no one lives above the law. When people live above the law, operating with impunity, that is the definition of tyranny.

Big media plasters headlines every day about shootings and the mass terror caused by firearms in the hands of private citizens, but where are the headlines about the probable hundreds or thousands killed with AK-47 style rifles in Mexico that were handed to them by the US government?

The definition of “mass shootings” varies from one publication to another. In 2012 somewhere between 70 and 160 people were killed in these shootings. But in that same time period 587 people were shot by police officers. In other words, you are roughly five times more likely to be shot by a police officer than to be shot in a mass shooting.

Our current government administration and the media that supports it wants to paint a picture of private citizens out of control, whose gun rights must be stripped from them in order to protect the public.

But the true picture is that of a police state, shooting first and asking questions later. Gun-control advocates often argue that, “This isn’t the Old West. There’s no reason for people to be carrying guns around everywhere like they’re going to get into shootouts at high noon.”

But I think it’s the US government that is behaving like this is the Old West.

There is a gun crisis in the United States today. And that crisis involves the most powerful military and police force in the world wielding massive power without accountability. When one man shoots a teen in self-defense in Florida the entire country goes up in arms. But when SWAT teams break into the wrong house and shoot the wrong person who is unarmed in Northern Virginia it goes largely unreported.

Even though the Boston Bombing in April 2013 didn’t involve firearms, some people still used it as a platform to advocate for more gun control. But where was the outcry when Boston Police violated the third and fourth amendment rights of private citizens across the city in search for the assailants?

Maybe it’s time to stop talking about limiting the gun rights of private citizens, and start talking about reacting to the gun abuses of the state.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jeff Bezos, The Washington Post, and Libertarianism

It's funny how information travels.
Jeff Bezos, Chairman, President, and
CEO of Amazon.com - Retrieved from

Sometimes little bits of information that come together seem too harmonious to be coincidental.

Case in point: Over the last several days I have written about the company Amazon and Libertarianism. Today I came across an article that addresses both, and I wanted to talk about it a little bit. To be fair, I was tipped off by Stephanie Slade who mentioned the story in an article she wrote in US News and World Report.

But enough about that. The article I want to talk about was written by Allan Sloan, senior editor at large for Fortune Magazine. Published in the Washington Post, the article is called A plea to learn more about Bezos's personal politics. Jeff Bezos is the chairman, president, and CEO of Amazon.com who just recently purchased The Washington Post, a Washington DC based newspaper with liberal leanings.

Sloan's article is condescending and a bit laughable to say the least. Take a look at his opening paragraph:
When I first heard that Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, was a libertarian, I laughed out loud, because I thought it was a joke. Bezos’s company, after all, is based on the Internet, which was created during the Cold War by a military research-and-development arm of the federal government, the Advanced Research Projects Agency. No Arpanet, no Internet. No Internet, no Amazon, no $25 billion personal fortune for Jeff Bezos.
There is no real argument made here. Libertarianism, as I discussed in my last article is about maximizing freedom for the individual, partially by limiting government. Sloan seems to be trying to argue that since Bezos has libertarian leanings, he is automatically opposed to any action ever taken by any government and/or he should be unable to benefit from any kind of advancements to which a government has contributed.

But that is in no way a tenant of libertarianism. Even if Bezos were an anarchist, that doesn't mean he couldn't benefit from the achievements of a government. Scenario: tomorrow the world goes dark. Governments collapse and anarchy erupts. Would those who readily usher in this era of anarchy refuse to use roads? How about left over arms and ammunition abandoned by militaries? Of course not. But this is an extreme example, which honestly has very little bearing on the conversation.

Because - for one - Bezos isn't an anarchist. As one who apparently supports certain libertarian principles or policies, I am guessing he supports a smaller government, limited government intervention, low taxes,  less regulation, and more individual rights. In no way do any of those preclude the government from making advances where it can. Limited government is a far cry from no government.

There is always the counter-argument that the private sector has pushed the Internet to where it is today and that it still would have come about privately (possibly) if if the government had not been its author. But what's the point of making those arguments? Again, I don't see how any position taking by Bezos even remotely precludes the government from benefiting society through the creation of the Internet.

Additionally, if we want to get into which side everyone's on, the Internet was greatly advanced through US Military dollars. With his clear liberal leanings would it be safe to say that Sloan has no business supporting anything developed by the military? Or might that be a bit naive, ignorant, and broad-based? I don't know - I'm just throwing out ideas.

It's a mystery to me why so much of the power elite, especially in media and politics hates libertarianism. It's really quite patronizing when you think about it. The poor little people can't fend for themselves, so we should let the big government handle their lives. They can't be expected to get food, and money, and health care on their own like us intelligent, well-bred, rich people.

There is a more sinister explanation. Libertarianism offers the greatest amount of freedom to the highest number of people. Greater freedom for all takes the power out of the hands of the elite few: politicians, big businessmen, the media, lobbyists. And what do men with power want? Usually more power.

Sloan may be terrified about somebody who loves freedom and common sense taking over a paper like The Washington Post.

But I, for one, am elated.