Tag: senator

Congress Personally Showed Me Their Failures

Kevin Damato | @KevinCDamato

In 2019, labeling Congress as “broken” is not a particularly controversial statement.  The deadlock that many regret is only becoming more common, leaving the ordinary citizenry little hope in any productive changes. I, like most Americans, had a very critical and cynical view of the legislative body, but upon seeing the problems firsthand, I can tell you that they are far worse than most imagine.

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We Can’t Trust Trump to Stop the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019

Thomas DiGennaro | United States

Senator Feinstein of California has introduced Bill S 66 the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 which includes the following regulations:

Key Provisions:

  • Bans the sale, manufacture, transfer, and importation of 205 military-style assault weapons by name. Owners may keep existing weapons.
  • Bans any assault weapon that accepts a detachable ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock. Owners may keep existing weapons.
  • Bans magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, which allow shooters to quickly fire many rounds without needing to reload. Owners may keep existing magazines.

Exemptions to Bill:

  • The bill exempts by name more than 2,200 guns for hunting, household defense or recreational purposes.
  • The bill includes a grandfather clause that exempts all weapons lawfully possessed at the date of enactment.

Other Provisions:

  • Requires a background check on any future sale, trade or gifting of an assault weapon covered by the bill.
  • Requires that grandfathered assault weapons are stored using a secure gun storage or safety device like a trigger lock.
  • Prohibits the transfer of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
  • Bans bump-fire stocks and other devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at fully automatic rates.

Updates to Assault Weapons Ban of 2017:

  • Bans stocks that are “otherwise foldable or adjustable in a manner that operates to reduce the length, size, or any other dimension, or otherwise enhances the concealability of a firearm.”
  • Bans assault pistols that weigh 50 or more ounces when unloaded, a policy included in the original 1994 ban.
  • Bans assault pistol stabilizing braces that transform assault pistols into assault rifles by allowing the shooter to shoulder the weapon and fire more accurately.
  • Bans Thordsen-type grips and stocks that are designed to evade a ban on assault weapons

This legislation would essentially force the rest of the nation to comply with New York and California regulations of semi-automatic rifles. In other words, a semi-automatic AR-15 with a detachable magazine would never be sold again at a gun store. This legislation will effectively ensure that future generations do not have legal means to obtain sufficient arms and munitions to keep a tyrannical government in check or to defend themselves against criminals.

This is it, ladies and gentlemen, this is the legislation we have long feared. This is the justification for the NRA and the Trump Administration caving on the bump stock ban, in order to appease lawmakers like Feinstein and prevent this type of legislation. But you give the mouse the cookie, be damn well sure they’re coming for the glass of milk.

The scariest part? It just may get through the Republican Senate and have Trump’s signature on it. Trump’s priority is building the wall, and the majority of Senate Republicans’ priority is to end the government shutdown. If Feinstein and the Democrats in Congress give Trump his wall and end the shutdown, we might just be looking at our worst fears come true. Isn’t that just the beauty of democracy? The left and right working together, coming to compromise. Compromise at the expense of the American people’s liberties.

The NRA has not released any statements regarding this yet. Trump made remarks supporting Feinstein’s proposals of Assault Weapon Bans, as well as advocating for the expansion of background checks, in February 2018. With the NRA’s and Trump’s support of bump-stock bans, red flag laws, expansion of background checks, and encouragement of lawmakers to pass more gun laws, I wouldn’t hold my breath on their opposition.

What hope do we have for halting the continued perversion of the Second Amendment? As usual, Firearms Policy Coalition is doing what they do best; taking action to defend the Second. They have announced their strong opposition to this bill, set up a link on their site to contact your congressional representatives to demonstrate your opposition, and are likely working on legal action to be filed if S 66 moves forward. This, of course, is in addition to their two legal suits against the bump stock ban, and against California’s violation of the Second and Fourteenth Amendment. We can also likely count on Senator Rand Paul getting up on the soapbox and filibustering the hell out of this bill.

If your Second Amendment rights are important to you, don’t bet it all on Trump, the Republican Senate, or the NRA. Make your voice heard to your representatives, and donate what you can to Senator Paul and FPC. Those dollars will surely be used more efficiently than your tax dollars.


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Gary Johnson is Running For Senate — Now What?

By Francis Folz | United States

To some, he is a professional spoiler. To others, he is the future of American politics. But to all, his name is Gary Johnson, and he’s back at it, this time running for senate in his home state of New Mexico. Mr. Johnson’s re-entry into politics is more expeditious than expected. After the 2016 election, Mr. Johnson announced he was concluding his life as a public servant with his landmark Libertarian Party presidential campaign. 

However, when Aubrey Dunn, New Mexico’s Land Commissioner, withdrew his candidacy and implored Gary to take his place, the Libertarian Party voted to instate Johnson as their nominee if he chose to run. Mr. Johnson officially accepted the Libertarian Party’s nomination on August 13 and has officially launched his campaign. A Gary Johnson Senate win could shake up the D.C. establishment and impact national politics.

As the next senator from New Mexico, Gary Johnson would have a decisive vote on future Supreme Court nominations, one of the most imperative issues identified by voters in the 2016 election. As a libertarian, Mr. Johnson could effectively force the President to nominate more liberty-minded justices like Neil Gorsuch by potentially withholding support for weaker, more mainstream candidates like the Honorable Hardimann and recent Trump nominee Kavanaugh. Because the Senate’s current composition is only one-plus in favor of Republicans, Gary Johnson’s fiercely independent spirit, coupled with his promulgation for civil liberties as well as personal and economic freedom, could help mold future candidates and shift the Supreme Court.

Since 2010, Rand Paul has acquired few allies in the Senate, thus pursuing many of his endeavors on his own. A Johnson victory would alleviate some of Rand Paul’s burdens by providing a second strong libertarian voice in the Senate. For example, this Congress Dr. Paul succeeded in securing a vote to audit the Federal Reserve. Unfortunately, this uphill battle was primarily fought by Paul and ultimately unsuccessful due to a lack of political courage by many senators. This includes Martin Heinrich, New Mexico’s current senator. 

Martin Heinrich is no stranger to the beltway status quo. In 2018 alone, Martin Heinrich has supported the abhorrent omnibus spending bill while voting against Rand Paul’s penny plan to reduce the budget and Paul’s amendment to reduce appropriations to their budget cap limitations. Mr. Heinrich’s fiscally reckless record gets worse, as he also voted against eliminating funds to expired and unnecessary programs. 

This differs tremendously from Mr. Johnson who has advocated for limited government since the 90’s. Mr. Johnson is a vocal critic of the two-party system which regularly works to undermine Americans’ best interests by spending imprudently and interfering in the free market. As governor of New Mexico, Mr. Johnson vetoed over 700 pieces of legislation and became one of the first major proponents of decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana, emphasizing his belief in small and efficient governance.

One substantial advantage Johnson maintains is that he’s the most anti-establishment candidate, left or right, in the race. Although Mr. Rich’s stances remain to be seen in practice, Senator Heinrich has made himself at home in D.C. Aside from his disregard for fiscal responsibility, Mr. Heinrich embodies almost all other aspects of the D.C. machine. The Farm Bill, supported by Mr. Heinrich, is one of America’s most brazen examples of cronyism, infused with subsidies for special interests and elites. Senator Heinrich’s opposition to Federal Reserve Transparency Act and the Sentencing Reform and Corrections act has bolstered the status quo and his reputation as a politician. It is unsurprising that support and enthusiasm for the sitting senator remain meager among his constituents. He further misrepresented New Mexico’s best interests by voting against the CREATES Act which has the potential to drop drug prices by 15-50 percent. It is unsurprising that support and enthusiasm for the sitting senator remains meager amongst his constituents.

In contrast, former-governor Johnson has been an outspoken opponent against all forms of the D.C. status quo, from taking down the duopoly, to fighting the criminalization of acts that could rather be kept in check by personal responsibility. As senator, Gary Johnson would be a reliable vote to defend civil liberties, oppose cronyism, end the Fed, reform our shoddy criminal justice system, and to drain the swamp.

Prior to Gary Johnson’s reemergence into American politics, New Mexico’s Senate seat, currently entertained by Martin Heinrich, was largely seen as a safe Democratic seat. That all changed when the former 2-time governor of the Land of Enchantment Gary Johnson announced he would accept the Libertarian Party’s invitation to run for Senate. Mr. Johnson’s record as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal continues to resonate with a plurality of New Mexicans. Time will tell if New Mexico, once considered a stronghold of Democrats anticipating a blue wave this November, will be the commencement of a libertarian gold rush.


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Liberty-Leaning Mike Lee Should Stay in the Senate

By Kenneth Casey | United States

Recently, with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, there’s been a lot of buzz about who President Trump might nominate to replace the Republican-appointed Justice. The White House released a list of potential replacements for the seat that President Trump is deciding from.

On that list is Utah U.S. Senator Mike Lee. Although appointing legislators to judicial seats is often frowned upon, Lee is a rare exception. Before he decided to enter politics and run for office, he served as a Law Clerk to Judge Dee Benson on Utah’s District Court and future Supreme Court Justice Judge Samuel Alito. At the time, Alito was serving on the United States Court of Appeals. After that, Lee served as Assistant United States Attorney in Salt Lake City.

Lee has a very sharp legal mind and has shown it off many times in the United States Senate. Most recently, Lee spoke in favor of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have protected Americans from detention without trial or charge. Lee, speaking in favor of the amendment on the Senate floor, said:

“The amendment simply says that if you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may not be indefinitely detained on U.S. soil without trial, without charge, without access to a jury or to counsel.”

-Mike Lee

Lee’s position on the issue was that enforcing indefinite detention on any U.S. citizen for any reason violates the 5th amendment. Thus, it is not tolerable in the United States.

Lee possesses a trait that is rare for any elected legislator. He has common knowledge of the Constitution, and realizes protecting it is a legislator’s first and most important duty. Hence, Lee would be an amazing addition to the Supreme Court. He would represent liberty on the bench for a long time.

However, is nominating Mike Lee to the Supreme Court really worth losing his voice in the Senate?

Unfortunately, the answer, at least at this time, the answer is no. Lee has consistently been the second-most liberty-leaning member of the Senate, alongside Rand Paul. His loss would leave Paul as the only liberty-leaning senator.

In the past, Lee has championed criminal justice reform. For example, he introduced a bill in the Senate titled Smart Sentencing Act that would reform the criminal justice system. It addressed prison overcrowding by lowering mandatory minimum sentences. Thus, he effectively wanted to limit the number of nonviolent drug offenders sent to prison.

When it comes to surveillance bills, Lee and Paul have been the only two consistent Republican Senators opposing more spying. In 2011, they were the only two Republicans to oppose extending all three provisions of the PATRIOT Act. When the FISA Authorization Act came to the Senate floor earlier this year, Lee was one of just seven Republicans to vote against it. Also, when John McCain put a bill on the Senate floor to expand the FBI’s surveillance powers, Lee was again one of seven Republicans to vote against it.

Moreover, Lee has consistently supported bills that cut spending and shrink our national debt. When Paul introduced a bill that would reduce discretionary spending by $43 billion, Lee was one of a mere five senators to vote for it. Most recently, two days ago, when the Senate voted on the Agricultural and Nutrition Act, a bill the CBO claimed would increase direct spending by $3.2 billion over the 2019-2023 period, Lee and Paul broke alone from their party to vote against it. According to the site SpendingTracker.org, a site that tracks how much money Congressmen vote to spend, Lee voted to spend the 2nd least amount of money in both the 114th and 115th Congresses, behind only Paul.

In addition, Lee has been a proponent of foreign policy realism in Senate. While many Senators praised President Trump’s decision in 2017 to launch missiles into Syria, Lee joined Paul in saying that it was unconstitutional for a president to engage in an act of war without Congressional approval. Lee also teamed up with Bernie Sanders to end U.S. intervention in Yemen earlier this year.

A liberty-leaning Senator like Mike Lee is very rare in today’s political climate. It would be a huge blow to lose him as a Senator.

Many may argue that Lee vacating his Utah seat in the senate is not a big deal. After all, he serves in the Republican stronghold state of Utah. They are right – Lee’s seat is very safe for Republicans. They would have no trouble voting in a new Republican in a special election for his replacement. However, it is quite unlikely we would see another liberty-leaning Republican in his place.

It is important for Donald Trump to nominate somebody like Mike Lee to the Supreme Court. Yet, it would be best if he did not nominate the man himself, as liberty-leaning senators are too critical to lose.


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Libertarians are Lacking a Respectable Role Model

By Ryan Lau | @agorists

As a libertarian, it can be very difficult to find good examples of political figures to admire. Of course, very few public officials are members of the Libertarian Party, and the exceptions usually hold minor local positions. This creates a bit of a problem for libertarians, especially those of the next generation. Without a key figure to look up to, it can be very difficult for many youths to form their opinions.

In fact, it is entirely possible that the lack of libertarians in the country is perpetuated by a lack of clear examples to follow. Though the most informed will discover Hayek and Mises, the reality is that these names are foreign to a majority of people. Yet, names of current politicians are well-known.

What effect does this have on the youth? Simply put, it limits the ideas that they witness and process. If a mouse is fed nothing but cheese in its life, it may believe cheese to be the only food source. Yet, the mouse’s belief does nothing to actually cement itself into reality. It does, however, alter how the mouse perceives reality. In this manner, the nation’s adolescents are no different. If society teaches an adolescent that there is a one dimensional spectrum of ideas in politics, the second dimension will not cease to exist. But, it will not be in the youth’s brain in any way.

Thus, many are under the impression in America that only one dimension exists: left and right. One may either be a conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between. Of course, this could not be farther from the truth, but what reason do they have to doubt this? The fact of the matter is, there is no clear alternative in place. Blame the media. Blame government manipulation. Ultimately, however, the blame game needs to end. It is time for the libertarian movement to start acting proactively, not reactively.

Throughout much of the last two years, Governor Gary Johnson has focused on his Our America Initiative. The main objective is to make the country’s politics “fair” again, and end a bias against third parties. I do not question Johnson’s data on said bias, nor his intentions.

But, this simply is not the behavior of the leader of a new movement. Essentially, the governor is asking the government to treat him fairly, while accusing them of treating him unfairly. In his project, he makes no mention to his numerous embarrassing, televised gaffes during the 2016 election season, or his inability to raise enough money. Though the government does unfairly treat third parties, Johnson takes no responsibility for his own pitfalls, instead choosing to point the blame solely at anyone who can take it. He has successfully brought some more attention to the Libertarian Party, but Gary Johnson is not, and will not be, the next figurehead for libertarians.

If not Johnson, who else can fill the role? Some go so far as the Republican Party, claiming that Rand Paul should be the next leader of liberty. Conversely, he is a far worse choice. With his support for a federal income tax, as well as his vote to confirm Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, Paul shows that his true colors do not reside near liberty. Though he is better than most Republicans, the lesser of two evils is still evil. In fact, that very principle of not voting for a lesser evil is often the reason libertarians leave the major parties. It is absurd to think that now, they should throw their support behind a statist of a slightly lower degree.

Ruling out both of them, there simply are not many options left. Both Larry Sharpe and Austin Petersen are smart, respectable men with a desire for change. Yet, neither comes close to being well-known enough to make a national impact. Petersen, if he wins his Senate race, may have the potential to fill that gaping void. However, Josh Hawley may prove to be too difficult a primary opponent to defeat. Sharpe, on the other hand, appears even less likely to win his race for Governor of New York. Without a title, neither of these men are likely to gain the recognition needed to be the face of a movement.

We as a nation are at a turbulent time in politics. Approval ratings for both parties are at a record low, and desire for a third party is higher than ever before. Gary Johnson is correct with those statements. Yet, if libertarians wish to become a force in politics, with or without the aid of the Libertarian Party, they need a figurehead, someone who can inspire the masses. Ron Paul did exactly this, and did a great job of it, but he is well into his ninth decade and has retired from politics. We as a movement need a new viable leader, but alas, one does not seem to exist.


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