Author: Mark West

Adam Kokesh Begins Presidential Campaign, Gets Arrested

Mark West | United States

Libertarian activist Adam Kokesh has long since announced his candidacy for the Libertarian Party nomination for President in 2020. But last week, in New Orleans, police arrested him on the campaign, again. His crime is still unclear; the arrest occurred as he was cleaning filthy concrete on a public street by water stenciling “FREEDOM” into the dirty road. Officers from the New Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Department then confronted Kokesh. After he refused to show his ID, they arrested him.

The New Orleans “Book Bomb”

After spending more than 48 hours in the clink, police released Kokesh and dropped all charges. Kokesh was in New Orleans for a “Book Bomb”, for which he planned to place more than 200,000 copies of his book, “Freedom!”, in residential mailboxes.

He also took part in a New Orleans Freedom Townhall, which Loyola University’s Young Americans for Liberty hosted. The townhall also featured former law enforcement officer Robert Evans and Loyola University Economics Professor Walter Block.

Kokesh is campaigning on a promise to initiate the “peaceful, responsible dissolution of the entire federal government,” which he says he says he can enact through an Executive Order once he is president. He sees the collapse of the United States Federal Government as “inevitable” and is concerned that if he doesn’t win, this collapse may not occur peacefully or orderly manner.

Adam Kokesh 2020: His View

In an upcoming book, “American Freedom”, Kokesh plans to outline his federal government dissolution plan. He plans to release this book before the 2020 campaign season. Kokesh is a Marine Corps combat veteran who served in Fallujah, Iraq. For his actions, many of which he regrets, he received a Navy Commendation Medal for Combat Action Ribbon. He is also an author and former television and radio host.

Adam Kokesh is well-known in libertarian circles for his acts of civil disobedience. One of his first claims to fame came in 2011 when police arrested him for leading a flash mob of dancers in the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. Not long before, courts ruled that dancing in the monument was to be illegal. He has since been arrested several times while engaging in acts of civil disobedience.


71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!
Advertisements

Is Trump’s Wall What’s Best At The Border?

Mark West | United States

In the midst of our nation’s longest partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump gave an Oval Office address making his case for the necessity of a wall along the United States’ border with Mexico. The next day President Trump stormed out of a meeting with Congressional leaders, still at odds over how much money should be dedicated in the upcoming budget for border security. President Trump took immediately to Twitter to lodge his complaint:

If you ask the President, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are to blame for the shutdown, even though he pledged to take the mantle for it during their meeting in late December. President Trump has gone as far as threatening an emergency declaration in order to build a border wall, which raises a host of controversies on its own.

A standoff like this leaves libertarians stuck between a wall and a hard place. The wall being their opposition to President Trump’s wall on the Mexican border and the hard place being their support for the government being shut down, even if only partially.

Shutdown aside, we must asses what began this impasse to understand why it is the political albatross we are facing today.

President Trump descended the escalator to announce his intention of running for President in 2016 with a promise to build a big, beautiful wall. As the campaign progressed, his promise morphed with a guarantee that Mexico would pay for the wall he wanted built on the border. Mexican officials have publicly rejected this part of the deal from its inception.

Fast forward to early 2018 when the Democrats came to President Trump with a deal offering to exchange $25 billion in wall funding for a path to citizenship for Dreamers. The deal seemed set until signals reached the Senate that President Trump wasn’t going to sign the deal and the bill failed as Republican Senators voted it down to avoid facing primary challenges.

Another bump of the jump button and we arrive at our current budget battle that has shut the government down as President Trump wants $5.7 billion for border barriers while the Senate budget only allotted around $1.6 billion. Apparently, the chasm dividing our government is $4.1 billion.

This last gasp at keeping a promise that probably shouldn’t have been made led to the President’s necessary aim of convincing us that our border is in an emergency situation and the only solution must include a new wall.

You read that right, I said a new wall. One of the larger fallacies in this debate surrounds the belief that no barriers are on our border with Mexico. Approximately 650 miles of border wall exist and another 1,200 miles of the border is the Rio Grand River. Let’s not forget the Barry M Goldwater Range Air Force Base and Big Bend National Park portions of the border as well.

USA Today took a helicopter trip to scout out the border, beginning at the Gulf of Mexico and ending at the Pacific Ocean. I would encourage anyone interested in the debate to hop on the flight with them and check out the unique and diversified geography that makes up the border.

What this standoff should really be focused on is funding for an incomplete project that suffered from lacking funds and an appropriate definition. Why would a border wall project not be more defined? The Border Patrol wanted the leeway, and got it with an amendment in 2007, in determining what sort of barrier would work best in each topographical region along the border. I would argue that anyone who has looked at the entire border can understand that desire. A one-size-fits-all solution, like those red ball-caps, isn’t going to work.

However, calling the current border situation a crisis or national emergency seems like a bit of a stretch to me. I don’t believe the data supports it and without an appropriate cost-benefit analysis, it may also be unsupported fiscally as well.

First, illegal border crossing apprehensions have dropped 81% since 2000. Second, around half of immigrants living in the country illegally are VISA overstays. A wall will not send people back after they overstay their visas. Third, we do not have an accurate and independent cost-benefit analysis that can be reliably cited for argument’s sake.

I would like to see if Democrats would be up for additional funding for repair, renovation, and connecting of the current barriers where possible, but I would also like to see the new wall conversation die on a craggy, desert, path along the border.


71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon.

Featured Image Source

Rank Choice Voting: How We Can Empower Voters and Save Taxpayer Money

By Mark West | United States

“Third-parties have no chance of winning!” -Way too many voters in Arkansas

Admittedly, this indubitably frustrating refrain echoes on the lips of thousands of Arkansas voters every election. Any time a third-party candidate asks for a vote, with dreadful certainty, this rejoinder is ripped quickly from its sheath and enthusiastically deployed in parrying any thoughts of winning an election that may have been dancing in the minds of third-party candidates.

Epic and gut-wrenching! Especially when it reverberates in what seems like every campaign event and conversation. In my own race, I read or heard that phrase so many times I lost count. It takes a destructive toll on your psyche and chances of garnering support…literally!

If third-party candidates are ever going to have a realistic chance at winning anything in our State, we must dramatically alter this thought process.

So, how do we do it?

In our current, first-past-the-post, zero-sum election game we can’t, it’s impossible. Even given the right circumstances and the right candidate, this mindset is so effectively entrenched with the voters in our state that winning is a fairy tale if you’re a third-party candidate.

The only pragmatic approach is in changing the way our system operates.  This article is the first of two that are aimed at addressing systemic issues with the way our elections work. I’m going to address the first-past-the-post voting system today. I will tackle the zero-sum issue next column.

My suggestion is transitioning Arkansas into a ranked-choice voting system. First, I’ll talk about how it works. Then I’ll give a few reasons why it will help with the logjam that stifles third-party movement in our state.

What is ranked-choice voting? Essentially it is a system of voting with an embedded run-off that allows voters to rank their choices instead of only choosing one. Need an example?

If you have three candidates, like we did with the Gubernatorial race, voters can rank their choices. We’ll use a round number (100) so that it’s easier to follow. We begin by counting first-place rankings. In Round 1, for argument’s sake, the Republican got 40, the Libertarian 31, and the Democrat 29. No candidate receives 51 votes, so we kick into the automatic runoff. The Democrat is out for having the fewest first-place rankings. We would then allocate the second-place rankings to the other two candidates. Let’s say the Democrat’s supporters are so adamantly opposed to a Republican winning, that most of their second rankings are given to the Libertarian. If that gave 20 second rankings to the Libertarian and only nine for the Republican, the final tally would see the Libertarian with 51 votes and the Republican with 49 votes.

A different result, a different winner, a genuine chance at winning for a third-party candidate.

Why would this be better for Arkansas?

First, let’s take the democratic reason. Voters’ voices would be more empowered. They could vote for a third-party candidate without the fear that the “greater evil” would win. One trip to the voting booth becomes vastly and immensely more powerful than it has been. Voters would also see more viable choices on the ballot.

Second, we’ll talk about the representative reason. Voters would be empowered with the knowledge that their government will better represent their views. Why? It is easier to vote the bums out in a ranked-choice system than in a big-money driven first-past-the-post system that belongs to the special interests.

Third, we have the pragmatic reason. Taxpayers will be saved the expense of costly run-off elections. According to Talk Business & Politics, Arkansas tax-payers will be paying for 100 run-off elections in 2018. None of these are necessary and they would be eliminated with a ranked-choice voting system.

We have plenty of reason to at least look at how to do our elections differently, not just to save taxpayer dollars, but also to empower We The People against special interests that tend to have more financial resources. My next column will look at a more representative means for choosing our elected representatives in government and how it, combined with ranked-choice voting, could impact our future.


71 Republic takes pride in distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Will Trump Take Down The Fed?

By Mark West | United States

Since October the stock markets have been on a ride of ridiculous levels of volatility enough to make those closing in on retirement squeamish. Volatility showcased its’ unpredictable nature as the Dow Jones Industrial plunged more than 600 points on Christmas Eve only to rebound with a more than 1000 point surge to close out the holiday week.

During this insanely cataclysmic trading week, President Donald Trump was cozy with his cell phone and his television as the tumultuous market events unfolded. You see, the government has been shut down since the Saturday before Christmas so President Trump has some extra time on his hands, especially during the holiday season, to enjoy his favorite activity…tweeting.

In the midst of President Trump’s Christmas Eve tweet storm, I found a jewel. He tweeted something that some people hope signals not necessarily a change in policy but a modification for how our economic and financial systems operate as a whole. I’m giving you advance warning, wading through our President’s Christmas Eve tweets can be a treacherous journey that isn’t beneficial for the timid at heart.

So, what did President Trump tweet that could be at least encouraging, at most inspirational, to certain segments of our political society?

Our President narrows all of our economic issues down to only one problem: The Fed. For those who aren’t sure what this Fed is that Trump is referencing, it is the Federal Reserve Bank, which is not a government bank, but rather a private bank that sets our federal monetary policy. It was invented out of thin air by Congress in 1913, although many of its concepts were already working in the economy in an unofficial capacity.

The Fed functions in a sort of private-public collaboration that is designed to prevent recessions and curb inflationary pressures that hurt the economy. Basically, the Fed can affect our economy and is practically unaccountable to Congress, or the President, for the decisions it makes. The Fed’s driving concept is that a politically independent Fed will lead to solutions that aren’t politically motivated and thus better for the nation in its entirety.

President Trump’s tweet threatens and undermines the state of independence the Fed has enjoyed since it’s inception. I think this, and President Trump’s Syria move, expose what may be a secret relationship which could generate a lot of excitement in the liberty movement. Taking on the Fed would be a move right out of Senator Ran Paul’s playbook, just like a less-interventionist foreign policy.

Maybe Senator Paul has been working behind the scenes to shift President Trump toward more libertarian solutions to the variety of issues our nation faces. Paul has been working on Trump about auditing the Fed since the bill began working through Congress in the Spring.

If President Trump’s tweet signals his desire to bring the Fed under Congressional oversight and accountability, then it is definitely a threat to the autonomy under which the bank has operated.

A turning point in how our elected leaders deal with the Fed could lead to more unstable and volatile markets in the days to come since those markets are naturally uncertainty-averse. However, the long-term benefits of restoring control of our monetary policies to a more accountable and constitutional process could secure our economic stability for generations to come.

Yet, we have to leave the possibility open that President Trump’s tweet was just a momentary ventilation of his frustration with Fed chair Jerome Powell’s rate hikes and their impact on the markets. If so, this means that nothing will change structurally in that relationship and that President Trump will rely on the bully pulpit he has as President that includes his Twitter account to influence the future monetary decisions of the Fed.


71 Republic takes pride in distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Featured Image Source

Christmas Withdrawal From Syria Exposes Trump’s Allies

By Mark West | United States

President Donald Trump gave Washington a Christmas surprise by announcing, via Twitter, that ISIS is defeated and that the United States will begin the withdrawal of approximately 2,000 troops that are stationed in the civil-war-ravaged nation of Syria. Reports and rumors are circulating that an imminent draw down of forces in Afghanistan is also on the President’s agenda. President Trump’s allies have been knocked off their footing by this move towards a demilitarized world.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, who has become a more vocal supporter of the President in recent months, is a leading voice of criticism of Trump’s move labeling it “a stain on the honor of the United States.” Graham also pointed out that he believes the President is ignoring “sound military advice” in his move to withdraw our troops from Syria.

President Trump isn’t taking Graham’s critique lightly, firing back in a tweet that it was “hard to believe that Lindsey Graham would be against saving soldier lives & billions of $$$.”

Many Republicans in Washington and the media were openly critical of Trump’s decision before Defense Secretary James Mattis bombed the capitol with his resignation which appears to be directly impacted by his own dissension from the President’s decision on Syria. The most telling line in Mattis’ resignation letter reveals his reasoning as he says that Trump has, “the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects.”

The next few days and weeks will be full of expert opinions on what to do next on Syria. Senator Graham is already pushing for Congressional hearings to discuss the move. Debates will swirl around how the Kurds will be impacted and how this move empowers Russian dominance in the region.

President Trump’s surprise announcement exposes his allies. We see now the reality of the establishment Republican status quo in DC. Most military spending to support our interventionist international military presence is, in reality, a right-wing, big-government boondoggle. Neocons don’t want their base to see that they have been hoodwinked.

Trump’s allies continue the tired and flawed argument that ISIS will be fighting us in our streets if we aren’t fighting them in the streets of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, Senator Graham shared that same thought in his tweets of criticism against Trump.

This rhetorical fantasy is meant to disguise us from the reality that the party of small, limited government simply isn’t living up to the slogan when it comes to empire-building, international policing activities using our troops. Our national deficit might be $6 trillion dollars less if not for our state of war in the Middle East since 2001.

President Trump is making the right call on the Syrian withdrawal and with the drawdown in Afghanistan. He is exposing his limited government allies’ dark underbellies in a way that will help balance our budget and begin shrinking the national debt. Our invasions abroad have not ended the terrorist threat and may even be one contributing factor in its continuing existence and strength.

Former Congressman Ron Paul tweeted his case that eventually all of our troops will have to come home because the tendency toward empire-building is bankrupting our government. We’ve spent around $3 billion per year in military interventionism that has possibly been as provocative as it has been proactive. How many new terrorists do we create by our interloping interference for every terrorist we kill or capture? We can’t deny the fact that we are indeed in their country, on their land, and in their backyard. We shouldn’t be shocked that the effect we’ve caused is continuing terrorism aimed at our troops and our citizens at home and abroad.

While not a proponent of the “America First” version of “Make America Great Again” that President Trump is pushing, I am in supportive agreement with his call to withdraw our troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Putting America first should mean that it’s time to bring our troops home so that the money spent maintaining their presence abroad can instead be invested in American infrastructure, innovation, and in keeping American troops present for their families here at home.


71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

Featured Image Source