Man Lands Gyrocopter At Capitol To Protest Corruption

Florida resident Doug Hughes flew 65 miles from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Washington, D.C. in his gyrocopter before landing in front of the Capitol building Wednesday afternoon. The 61-year-old postal worker flew into the restricted airspace in a publicity stunt to draw attention to campaign finance reform. 

I’m going to land on the Capitol Mall in front of the Capitol Building. I’m going to have 535 letters strapped to the landing gear in boxes, and those letters are going to addressed to every member of Congress.

Mr. Hughes intended to deliver the stamped letters in a non-violent attempt to protest government corruption and to prompt lawmakers to advance campaign finance reform. He said that campaign finance reform must be fixed before addressing other problems.

There are these problems and these problems and these problems, that are much more important than campaign finance reform; but those won’t get addressed until we fix campaign finance reform.

Hughes was questioned by the Secret Service in 2013 after revealing his plan to a Tampa Bay Times reporter. He told them he had no intention to hurt himself or anyone else. Once Hughes landed, he was arrested by Capitol police; and the Capitol Building was put into temporary lockdown. However, the focus of Hughes’ publicity stunt to address campaign finance reform has been overshadowed by the Department of Homeland Security and the FAA wondering how a small, ultra-light aircraft could have flown undetected into a restricted No-Fly zone.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Kick Open The Doorway To Liberty: What Are We Waiting For?

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“The greatness of America lies in the right to protest for right.”—Martin Luther King Jr.

Everything this nation once stood for is being turned on its head.

Free speech, religious expression, privacy, due process, bodily integrity, the sanctity of human life, the sovereignty of the family, individuality, the right to self-defense, protection against police abuses, representative government, private property, human rights—the very ideals that once made this nation great—have become casualties of a politically correct, misguided, materialistic, amoral, militaristic culture.

Indeed, I’m having a hard time reconciling the America I know and love with the America being depicted in the daily news headlines, where corruption, cronyism, and abuse have taken precedence over the rights of the citizenry and the rule of law.

What kind of country do we live in where it’s acceptable for police to shoot unarmed citizens, for homeowners to be jailed for having overgrown lawns (a Texas homeowner was actually sentenced to 17 days in jail and fined $1700 for having an overgrown lawn), for kids to be tasered and pepper sprayed for acting like kids at school (many are left with health problems ranging from comas and asthma to cardiac arrest), and for local governments to rake in hefty profits under the guise of traffic safety (NPR reports that police departments across the country continue to require quotas for arrests and tickets, a practice that is illegal but in effect)?

Why should we Americans have to put up with the government listening in on our phone calls, spying on our emails, subjecting us to roadside strip searches, and generally holding our freedoms hostage in exchange for some phantom promises of security?

As I document in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it doesn’t matter where you live—big city or small town—it’s the same scenario being played out over and over again in which government agents ride roughshod over the rights of the citizenry.

In such an environment, it’s not just our Fourth Amendment rights—which protect us against police abuses—that are being trampled. It’s also our First Amendment rights to even voice concern over these practices that are being muzzled. Just consider some of the First Amendment battles that have taken place in recent years, and you too will find yourself wondering what country you’re living in:

  • Harold Hodge was arrested for standing silently in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building, holding a sign in protest of police tactics.
  • Marine Brandon Raub was arrested for criticizing the government on Facebook.
  • Pastor Michael Salman was arrested for holding Bible studies in his home.
  • Steven Howards was arrested for being too close to a government official when he voiced his disapproval of the war in Iraq.
  • Kenneth Webber was fired from his job as a schoolbus driver for displaying a Confederate flag on the truck he uses to drive from home to school and back.
  • Fred Marlow was arrested for filming a SWAT team raid that took place across from his apartment.

And then there were the three California high school public school students who were ordered to turn their American flag t-shirts inside out on May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) because school officials were afraid it might cause a disruption and/or offend Hispanic students. Incredibly, the U.S. Supreme Court actually sided with the school and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming that it might be disruptive for American students to wear the American flag to an American public school.

While there are all kinds of labels being put on so-called “unacceptable” speech today, from calling it politically incorrect and hate speech to offensive and dangerous speech, the real message being conveyed is that Americans don’t have a right to express themselves if what they are saying is unpopular, controversial, or at odds with what the government determines to be acceptable.

Whether it’s through the use of so-called “free speech zones,” the requirement of speech permits, the policing of online forums, or a litany of laws and policies that criminalize expressive activities, what we’re seeing is the caging of free speech and the asphyxiation of the First Amendment.

Long before the menace of the police state, with its roadside strip searches, surveillance drones, and SWAT team raids, it was our First Amendment rights that were being battered by political correctness, hate crime legislation, the war on terror, and every other thinly veiled rationale used to justify censoring our free speech rights.

By suppressing free speech, the government is contributing to a growing underclass of Americans who are being told that they can’t take part in American public life unless they “fit in.” Mind you, it won’t be long before anyone who believes in holding the government accountable to respecting our rights and abiding by the rule of law is labeled an “extremist” and is relegated to an underclass that doesn’t fit in and must be watched all the time.

It doesn’t matter how much money you make, what politics you subscribe to, or what God you worship: we are all potential suspects, terrorists, and lawbreakers in the eyes of the government.

In other words, if and when this nation falls to tyranny, we will all suffer the same fate: we will fall together. However, if it is possible to avert such an outcome, it will rest in us remembering that we are also all descendants of those early American revolutionaries who pushed back against the abuses of the British government. These people were neither career politicians nor government bureaucrats. Instead, they were mechanics, merchants, artisans, and the like—ordinary people groaning under the weight of Britain’s oppressive rule—who, having reached a breaking point, had decided that enough was enough.

The colonists’ treatment at the hands of the British was not much different from the abuses meted out to the American people today: they too were taxed on everything from food to labor without any real say in the matter, in addition to which they had their homes invaded by armed government agents; their property seized and searched; their families terrorized; their communications, associations, and activities monitored; and their attempts to defend themselves and challenge the government’s abuses dismissed as belligerence, treachery, and sedition.

Unlike most Americans today, who remain ignorant of the government’s abuses, cheerfully distracted by the entertainment spectacles trotted out before them by a complicit media, readily persuaded that the government has their best interests at heart, and easily cowed by the slightest show of force, the colonists responded to the government’s abuses with outrage, activism, and rebellion. They staged boycotts of British goods and organized public protests, mass meetings, parades, bonfires, and other demonstrations, culminating with their most famous act of resistance, the Boston Tea Party.

On the night of December 16, 1773, a group of men dressed as Indians boarded three ships that were carrying tea. Cheered on by a crowd along the shore, they threw 342 chests of tea overboard in protest of a tax on the tea. Many American merchants were aghast at the wanton destruction of property. A town meeting in Bristol, Massachusetts, condemned the action. Ben Franklin even called on his native city to pay for the tea and apologize. But as historian Pauline Maier notes, the Boston Tea Party was a last resort for a group of people who had stated their peaceful demands but were rebuffed by the British: “The tea resistance constituted a model of justified forceful resistance upon traditional criteria.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Yet it’s a history we cannot afford to forget or allow to be rewritten.

The colonists suffered under the weight of countless tyrannies before they finally were emboldened to stand their ground. They attempted to reason with the British crown, to plea their cause, even to negotiate. It was only when these means proved futile that they resorted to outright resistance, civil disobedience, and eventually rebellion.

More than 200 years later, we are once again suffering under a long train of abuses and usurpations. What Americans today must decide is how committed they are to the cause of freedom and how far they’re willing to go to restore what has been lost.

Nat Hentoff, one of my dearest friends and a formidable champion of the Constitution, has long advocated for the resurgence of grassroots activism. As Nat noted:

This resistance to arrant tyranny first became part of our heritage when Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty formed the original Committees of Correspondence, a unifying source of news of British tyranny throughout the colonies that became a precipitating cause of the American Revolution. Where are the Sons of Liberty, the Committees of Correspondence and the insistently courageous city councils now, when they are crucially needed to bring back the Bill of Rights that protect every American against government tyranny worse than King George III’s? Where are the citizens demanding that these doorways to liberty be opened … What are we waiting for?

What are we waiting for, indeed?

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

IRS, Congress Hold Our Liberty In Contempt

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This past week, the Justice Department announced it would not charge former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner with contempt of Congress. Some members of Congress requested that Lerner be charged with contempt after she refused to testify at a congressional hearing investigating her role in denying or delaying the applications for tax-exempt status of “tea party” and pro-limited government organizations.

Cynics might suggest it is not surprising that a former government official would avoid prosecution for refusing to tell Congress about how federal employees abused their power to help the incumbent administration. These cynics have a point, but the problem goes beyond mere partisanship. Government officials are rarely prosecuted for even the most blatant violations of our liberties. In contrast, federal prosecutors routinely pursue criminal charges against whistleblowers. For example, the only American prosecuted and imprisoned in relation to the government’s use of torture was whistleblower John Kiriakou!

While some officials like Lois Lerner who find themselves at the center of a high-profile scandal or partisan dispute can expect harsh treatment from Congress, this is the expectation, not the rule. Executive branch officials usually receive deferential treatment from members of Congress. I recall one hearing on government surveillance where a representative actually apologized to a government official because Congress had the gall to ask that official to testify about the government’s ongoing surveillance of the American people.

In contrast, private citizens called before Congress are harangued and even bullied. Congress should stop using the hearing process to intimidate private citizens and start using it to intimidate those government officials who are threatening our liberty. For example, Congress should continue to investigate the IRS’s ongoing attempts to silence organizations that work to advance free markets and individual liberty.

My Campaign for Liberty organization has had to battle an IRS demand that it hand over personal information regarding some of its top donors. The IRS is either ignoring, or ignorant of, the numerous precedents protecting the right of organizations like the Campaign for Liberty to protect their members’ privacy from government officials.

The IRS is drafting a new regulation that would empower the agency to revoke an organization’s tax-exempt status if that organization sends out a communication to its members or the general public mentioning a candidate for office by name sixty days before an election or thirty days before a primary. By preventing groups from telling their members where candidates stand on issues like Audit the Fed and repeal of the PATRIOT Act, this anti-First Amendment regulation benefits those politicians who wish to hide their beliefs from the voters.

Since the IRS’s power stems from the tax system, the only way to protect our liberty from this agency is to eliminate the tax code. Promising to end the IRS is a popular applause line for politicians wishing to appear as champions of liberty. This week, John Koskinen, the current IRS commissar, responded to these cries to end the IRS by pointing out that shutting down the IRS would deprive Congress of the revenue needed to fund the welfare-warfare state. Koskinen has a point. Congress cannot shut down the IRS until it enacts major reductions in all areas of government spending.

Politicians who vote for warfare abroad and welfare at home–yet claim they want to shut down the IRS–should not be taken seriously. Freeing the people from the IRS’s tyranny is one of the best reasons to end the welfare-warfare state and return the federal government to its constitutional limitations.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Is Reid Hoping To Avoid Another Black Eye By Retiring?

YouTube/Nevada Senator Harry Reid

Sen. Harry Reid’s, D-Nev., announcement Friday that he would not be seeking a sixth term caught many in Washington off guard. As recently as two months ago, Reid had stated emphatically that he would be running and looked forward to his re-election campaign.

Why the sudden change? A Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Inspector General’s report released last week may have revealed at least one of the reasons.

In an interview last week with the New York Times, Reid conveyed that the reason he was leaving was because he thought it was  “unfair for me to be soaking up all the money to be re-elected with what we are doing in Maryland, in Pennsylvania, in Missouri, in Florida…These are big, expensive states.” He added, “I want to be able to go out at the top of my game…I don’t want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter.”

Breitbart reports that the publicly stated explanations are not getting to the truth behind Reid’s sudden exodus: the potential of multiple criminal investigations.

According to a DHS IG report released last week, he may have unlawfully intervened on behalf of a company being represented by his son, Rory Reid, in order to secure 230 EB-5 investor visas for the SLS Hotel and Casino project in Las Vegas. EB-5 visas, when approved, allow those investing $500,000 or more to receive green cards. With the visas approved, $155 million was free to flow into the project.

The watchdog group Cause of Action filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics office in December 2013 detailing how Reid had unlawfully contacted two officials at the U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)–Office of Legislative Affairs Agent Miguel Rodriguez and USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas–in order to get visas processed. Some of the visas had not been approved due to “suspicious financial activity” committed by those applying. In other words, USCIS had concerns about whether some of the funds were lawfully obtained. After Reid’s intervention, all the visas were approved.

Reid called the several whistleblower employees at the USCIS who raised ethical concerns about the senator’s conduct “a bunch of whiners,” adding, “If I had to do it over again, I would do it again.”

The second action taken by Reid that has potential abuse-of-power implications involved the Department of Health and Human Services. According to Breitbart, Reid:

…hosted a meeting between Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. At the meeting, Menendez made the case for his friend and donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, who was at the time embroiled in what was supposed to be an independent adjudicatory process at HHS involving $8.9 million the department said he overbilled Medicare.

Reid’s intervention came immediately after Dr. Melgen donated $300,000 to the Senate Majority PAC, which has close ties to the Nevada senator. By the end of 2012, Melgen had donated a total of $700,000 to the PAC.

Breitbart indicates if the Republicans gain the White House in 2016, a new attorney general would be far more likely to open a criminal investigation into Reid’s conduct, especially if he were still a sitting United States senator. Apparently to avoid another black eye, Reid decided not to take another roll at the re-election dice.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Good Riddance! The 7 Worst Harry Reid Blunders

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Courtesy of LouderWithCrowder.com

What a week we just had! First Zayn Malik. Now Harry Reid. If only Barack Obama could be more like them…

It’s no secret that Harry Reid’s time in the Senate has been a demonstration of a less than stellar record of public service. In fact, what we find is quite the opposite. We’ve sorted through the laundry list of Harry Reid scandals and narrowed it down to 7 best worst moments you may have forgotten…

1.  Reid’s Bridge to Nowhere – was really a bridge to somewhere. That somewhere being his own, undeveloped desert land. Self-serving much?

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2.  Tens of millions to his sons – via highly questionable political gerrymandering. Having DHS rush visa applications on a $115 million deal was one instance. Then there was that Chinese solar plant in the desert issue. Yikes.

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3.  The $600,000 bribe – apparently the price to make a federal investigation quietly disappear. Did Harry Reid accept it? Was it all a farce? Read all about it.

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4.  The lies – about being pro-life, about Mitt Romney, about… his own words. NARAL Pro-Choice America gave Harry Reid a 100% rating. Mitt Romney, contrary to what Senator Reid told us, did in fact pay his taxes. And if you lost your health plan due to Obamacare, Harry Reid called you a liar. Then two days later, he said he never actually called you a liar.

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5.  Tourists are smelly – no, really.  He called DC tourists “smelly.”

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6.  “Evil mongers.”  That’s what Senator Reid calls individuals who exercise their First Amendment rights. Because we all know that free speech is evil, right? Right?!

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7.  Christmas bonuses from campaign funds. It’s illegal. But hey, the law never stopped Harry Reid before. And besides, you didn’t expect the Scrooge to use his own dough for Christmas gifts, did you?

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Listen to this week’s show!

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom