Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.
Glenn Verasco | Thailand
If you’re not familiar with Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things, don’t worry; I won’t reveal any major spoilers. A central theme of the show is that a portal into a parallel dimension opens. The terrors that lurk there are spilling out into a small town in our own world. Once the main characters discover this, they refer to the parallel universe as “The Upside Down.”
The Upside Down States of America
A bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators recently decided that America needs a taste of The Upside Down, too. By a 68-23 margin, the Senate affirmed a resolution to block any of Trump’s attempts to remove American troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
The vote comes amid repeated announcements and tweets by the president that he will fulfill one of his central campaign promises by ending some of the U.S.’s endless wars abroad, particularly in Syria. This would fit in well with his America First slogan. Bringing our troops home would allow the government to focus on the country it presides over. Moreover, it enables it to respect the autonomy of the globe’s many states.
When the president began talking withdrawal, establishment members of both parties and a hostile mainstream media scoffed and presented lame justifications for our presence in both countries. Many claimed that Turkey, our NATO ally, would “slaughter” our Kurdish allies if the mere 2,000 US troops still in Syria went home. The Kurds and Turks admittedly have their differences. However, this would be a first in their shared history, not to mention the fact that Kurds are rough and tough; nobody will slaughter them.
Weak Reasons to Remain Abroad
It’s also worth noting that many of the same people who claim we need to protect the Kurds from Turkey lost their minds when Trump suggested the U.S. should leave the outdated and useless bureaucratic leviathan we call NATO. In a transparent display of idiocy, they simultaneously claim (1) we can’t leave NATO because it would be a betrayal of our NATO allies and (2) we can’t leave Syria because it would be a betrayal of our Kurdish allies who our NATO allies would slaughter. Talk about Stranger Things…
Other purported reasons to remain in Syria and Afghanistan are that leaving these aimless 10 and 17-year missions, respectively, would be “precipitous”. And of course, something, something, something, Russia.
Despite the contradictions and hollow fear-mongering, the real reason the situation is so upside down is that Congress never authorized the wars Trump is trying to end. On the other hand, the commander-in-chief’s power to withdraw troops requires no authorization at all.
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power “to declare war”. Article II, Section 2 names the president “commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States”. To me, “commander-in-chief” sounds pretty self-explanatory. Perhaps the Founders would have had to have written “Total Super Ultra Mega Boss of the Military” to get it through the thick skulls of today’s Democrats and Republicans.
It is true that Congress authorized former President George W. Bush to use military force against those responsible for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. Despite this, he did not get permission to occupy Afghanistan indefinitely for whatever reasons he and his successors could conjure up. The language in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists is admittedly vague. Thus, it might be fair to say that Congress and a gullible public are to blame as much as the executive.
On the other hand, President Barack Obama was outright denied authorization to invade Syria in a bipartisan fashion, but he did so anyway. Nice one, Barry.
Make Ending Wars Easy Again
Going to war should not be this easy, and ending wars should not be this hard. Our Founders were right to warn against entangling alliances and sticking our noses in other nations’ business. Engaging in either of these endeavors drains American lives, liberty, and treasure. It also prevents our neighbors abroad from learning to develop themselves. Neoconservatives can spend hours explaining why dependency upon welfare undermines an individual’s ability to develop. For some reason, they are too blind to see that dependency upon a foreign militia has the same result on nations.
However upside down our government is, President Trump cannot blame the potential failure to end the wars in Afghanistan and Syria on Congress. He has unquestioned authority to command the armed forces. No one can stop him from exercising his powers but himself. Playing politics by waiting a little while to accomplish this goal could be a forgivable strategic maneuver. But Trump will deserve total and complete blame if this promise is broken.
Mr. President, it’s time to grow a pair and order things right-side up.
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Late Sunday night, Russia accused the United States of dropping bombs containing white phosphorus in a raid in Syria. The Kremlin alleged that two planes flew over a small town in Syria’s Deir Ez-Zor province. At that point, says Russia, they released the white phosphorus bombs, which caused massive fires.
Russian Lieutenant General Vladimir Savchenko said Sunday that Washington carried out a similar raid with the white phosphorus bombs on Saturday. “Following the strikes, large fires were observed in the area”, he told RT. Information regarding deaths and injuries for both alleged attacks is not yet available.
What is White Phosphorus?
White phosphorus is a war chemical with a number of purposes. The smoke is usable for both offense and defense. When lit, it burns very quickly and brightly, serving as a useful smokescreen to hide behind. These blankets of smoke are quite common and are generally legal.
However, it can also be highly deadly. When used offensively, the gas can burn through skin, all the way down to the bone, in a short timeframe. Because of this, the Geneva Conventions placed heavy regulations on the incendiary white phosphorus missions. Essentially, the substance is legal as a smokescreen, but not as an instrument of death. To ensure this, they barred all use of it against civilian targets, as well as against military targets in civilian areas. The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons also bars the use of incendiary weapons against civilians.
The Pentagon’s Denial
Despite the harsh allegations, the U.S. is denying that either strike used white phosphorus. In fact, Commander Sean Robertson said Sunday that such an attack would be impossible because he did not have the chemical. “None of the military units in the area are even equipped with white phosphorus munitions of any kind”, the U.S. official declared.
However, Russia is not without controversy of its own in regards to the matter. In March, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British organization, accused the Kremlin of using incendiary bombs against a rebel base near Damascus. Russia has since denied these accusations in full. Neither country, however, has denied entirely the use of military force against largely civilian targets.
A History of Misuse
This is not the first time that the U.S. is coming under fire over chemical weaponry. In 2005, they admitted to using white phosphorus as a weapon in efforts to secure Fallujah in Iraq. “It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants”, said Lieutenant Colonel Barry Veneable, speaking on behalf of the U.S. The country also admitted to using it for incendiary purposes just one year earlier, in the First Battle of Fallujah.
Before admitting this, however, they had denied using the substance. They claimed, on the other hand, that they were only using it as a smokescreen. When the truth came to light, it was a major mishap for the country’s public relations. Questions rose in regards to what else the military was hiding from the people and the world.
Just last year, controversy arose again about the banned incendiary. In June, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. had used the gas twice in Syria as an incendiary. The New York Times, on the other hand, gave a different look. A military official told the paper that the U.S. had used the gas, but only in legal methods.
Mass Casualties in Syria
While Russia and the U.S. continue their patterns of denial, the evidence is growing that Syria is also using banned tactics in their civil war. Residents reported this weekend that President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces had used barrel bombs in Southern Idlib, where rebel forces reside. According to the report, at least two children died as a result of the attacks.
Syria has also faced questions regarding their own use of white phosphorus and other chemical weapons in the past. In total, over 350,000 people have died since the dawn of the war, many of whom were civilians.
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By Craig Axford | United States
We all need to ask ourselves the question Sarah Huckabee Sanders refuses to answer
Shortly after Schindler’s List came out in 1993, my wife and I got a babysitter and went to the theater to see it. I managed to keep it together until the scene depicting the cleansing of the Warsaw Ghetto.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know the film is done in black and white. But in the Warsaw Ghetto scene, there’s a small girl trying to escape the madness and suffering that has suddenly broken out all around her. Steven Spielberg made that small girl stand out by giving her a pink coat.
She was about my daughter’s age, and she looked very much like her too. I recall her crawling under a bed, and I remember Schindler looking down from a hill seeing her dash down the street uncertain where she might go to escape the machine gun fire, rape, and chaos that marked the Ghetto’s final hours. Later in the movie, we learn her fate. I don’t think I’ve ever wept so openly in a theater before or since. That could be my daughter I thought over and over again.
Yesterday, I was reminded again that this could be my family. As I watched White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dodge the question yelled at her by Brian Karem, a reporter with Playboy Magazine, I saw the face of someone — the face of an administration — that simply could not imagine their children and grandchildren in anything other than the comfortable circumstances they already enjoyed.
“Come on, Sarah, you’re a parent,” Karem shouted at Sanders. “Don’t you have any empathy for what these people are going through?” No, she doesn’t. Besides, as she had already told CNN’s Jim Acosta, taking away the children of immigrants crossing the border is the law, and the Bible tells us to follow the law. It isn’t the law, but to these people the rule of law has always been seen as a rather quaint concept.
“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.”
― Anatole France
There are certainly plenty of verses that justify slavery, misogyny, and genocide in the Bible. Most of them are in the Old Testament, however. Though I’m hardly a religious man, I am well aware there are a number of other verses that focus on love and recommend forgiveness. Regardless, Jesus was supposedly not a man overly attached to the law, and he paid a price for it.
But if we’re inclined to turn to the Bible in situations like these, the verses we turn to say far more about us than they do Judeo-Christian ethics. Those willing to face Brian Karem and accept his challenge to imagine our children or grandchildren ripped from our arms don’t need a Bible verse to tell us that what’s happening on the Mexican border right now is evil.
I, like most Americans, grew up convinced that the horrors of 1930s and 40s would never happen here. Not in my lifetime at any rate. I was wrong. It’s begun. Border agents are telling mothers and fathers they are taking their child for a bath and not returning them. Sound familiar?
That there are supposedly only a couple of thousand children so far does not mean we are as far from Auschwitz as we would like to think. Numbers are about scale. Evil is about how we treat others. Whether our betrayal of human rights affects one, a thousand, or a million people we are tarnished just the same.
But the numbers will not remain a couple of thousand. Those taking a quantitative view of evil must tell us at what number we should be troubled that our country is tearing families apart, traumatizing children, and condemning people to live in warehouses and (soon) tent cities. They must explain why quantity matters when it comes to human rights abuses, but not when it comes to treating people as though they have inherent dignity and worth.
I’ve had enough of walls. I’ve already seen more hate in my native country than I ever thought I would. If we can answer the question Sarah Huckabee Sanders could or would not, we must oppose this government with every fiber of our being. The global community must not engage in appeasement. If America’s noble aspirations are to be salvaged, the current US government must be peacefully but forcefully resisted on every front. If successful, we’ll never know how far America would have descended without our resistance, but that’s not something we want to find out.
Other stories by Craig that you might enjoy:
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By John Keller | United States
Nickolas Wildstar is a Wisconsin native who moved to California in 1999. After over a decade of office work, he is pursing the mission to “Bring Back Liberty to California”. To achieve this aim, Wildstar is currently running to be the next governor of California. 71 Republic’s John Keller spoke with Mr. Wildstar about his ideas and the campaign:
Keller: What inspired you to pursue political office?
Wildstar: Most of my inspiration to run for office has come from being moved by the wisdom of Dr. Ron Paul. His 2012 presidential campaign opened my eyes to the benefits of having a limited government that doesn’t operate on debt, and returning the power of governance back into the hands of the people where it belongs. Being a black man, my life experience already included first hand abuses by police officers and the justice system, as well as economic inequality and other difficult circumstances stemming from statist policies, so when the Occupy and Anonymous movements came along, I got involved in community activism and protesting in the streets to demand change. Learning from Ron Paul and others seeking to elect him about how constitutional government was intended to hold official abuses in check, was the last bit of encouragement I needed to excite me to seek to become a public representative myself.
Keller: In your words, what is libertarianism and why is it the right choice for California?
Wildstar: Libertarianism to me is an individual’s peaceful expression of their natural right to live freely and without restriction. As with classical liberalism, freedom is the heart of its value. While this traditional American sentiment is widely cherished, California is a special reflection of that since it is home to one of the most diverse and multicultural populations and largest entertainment industry in the country. People from all walks of life come here to live, start their careers and businesses, and pursue their dreams, because this is a state where they can come true. But it’s quickly becoming a nightmare for many, which is why I am fighting to bring back the principle of liberty and restore California’s promise as a place where you can be free to live out your dreams.
Keller: What encouraged you to run as a libertarian? What attracted you, and what should attract others, to the message of liberty?
Wildstar: From all of the face to face discussions I’ve had with people while campaigning throughout the state, I’ve come to find out that not many of them have a clue what liberty even means anymore, and this is mainly due to their being conditioned to believe that whenever a problem arises, there needs to be a government solution. I used to suffer from the same belief, and I’m sure there are people reading this who think some level of authoritarianism is needed. This very thought enslaves the mind. As people forget what is possible with freedom and lose the ability to dream, it results in restrictions that prevent innovation, creativity, ingenuity, and evolutions that advance humankind. We The People are not at liberty to act outside of the box anymore, and this is because a small minority are desperately working to keep the masses asleep. It’s time to wake up to the real world we’re living in and break out of the controlled existence into which we’ve been shackled. With liberty as the cornerstone of politics, there would be respect and protection of personal property and choices. There would be no taxes collected under threat of violence. There would be no mass incarceration. From how you work, to how you play, to your health and financial decisions, to the risks you take, to what you do with your own body, you would be allowed the autonomy that America’s founders, at their best, intended you to have. Only politicians who are committed to refusing to use the power of office to boss other people around and impose their own agendas, can make this happen, which is why Libertarians are best suited for the job, because they’ve been preaching this for years! If I were elected as a Libertarian governor, shackles would start coming off. People would still be free to sit there like they were chained to a post and had to wait for someone else’s permission or assistance in order to be able to do anything! I’m all about choice. But I believe most people would look and see the new freedoms around them and be attracted to experience a bit of it.
Keller: Recently a study was released that showed, when factoring in cost of living, California is the state with the highest poverty rate – despite spending the most money on poverty relief and welfare programs. As governor, what will you do to fix this issue?
Wildstar: I’d change the laws to let people help each other directly, instead of doing it through government. Good ideas don’t require aggression. The establishment gubernatorial candidates all want to keep taxing you and most of them want to add new taxes for one thing or another, but they have no viable plans to stop tax money being wastefully spent, misappropriated, and countless of politicians being caught red handed stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from public funds. If elected governor, I would immediately seek a completely independent and transparent audit of the state’s finances so the people of this state can see exactly where all of their tax dollars have been going. Reduce the personal income tax to 0% and end the double dip taxing of businesses. Reduce the property tax to zero and eliminate zoning laws to make buying or renting a home truly affordable again. I would also reduce the regressive sales tax to 7% statewide, so that the cost of everyday goods and services can be lower than ever before. With these reforms, more ordinary people will have the means to help themselves instead of relying on government, and Californians will be more ready and able to do their part to help the smaller number of less fortunate members of our communities who remain in poverty.
Keller: The Trump Administration has declared a virtual policy war against California. How will you balance federal mandates and the need to govern California as a sovereign state?
Wildstar: By upholding the United States Constitution and incorporating federalism. California is one of the few states in which state tax money funds the majority of federal programs. Taxpayers in this state are being bilked by the Feds for much more than they are getting in return. Our state economy could easily be healthily revived were this line of credit cut off and would serve its residents best in the long run. Whether it’s the recreational use of marijuana or peaceful individuals migrating here from every corner of the world, the people of this state deserve a governor who will protect their rights as residents. My goal would be to end the subservient relationship with the federal government, and meet any actions reducing federal support or spending in California as punishment for exercising local control and upholding state law, with an equal response to reduce support and cooperation with the federal government. Washington D.C. needs to stay in Washington D.C.
Keller: In regards to the policy war, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has expanded the Drug War. Where do you stand on this issue?
Wildstar: It’s sad how the “War on Drugs” is still being waged on people despite decades of data proving it has done more to hurt more innocent people than to protect them from dangerous threats. I support decriminalization. People should never be incarcerated for victimless crimes. I’d advocate for such legislative changes here in California, and would defend the people of this state from any outside enforcement of law within state borders. Peaceful adults should be left to take responsibility for their own choices whether it be smoking marijuana, taking prescription drugs, or eating certain foods. Government should not be the nanny for grown human beings. We are capable of making our own decisions and our bodies belong to us.
Keller: What three policies are most important to you to be implemented should you be elected to the governorship?
Wildstar: The majority of my agenda of getting the power back to the people would consist of seeking to reverse current policies which have harmed Californians and damaged the state as a whole. For a long time the practice of taxing and spending has been done without the people of the community who fund these efforts having any individual say in the matter. I would seek to change that so there would be no more surprise raids on your pocketbooks. One top priority for me would be putting measures in place to prevent taxation without representation. No one who cannot vote in a jurisdiction should not be required to pay taxes there. That was one of the fundamental principles of the Revolutionary War. Another priority would be ending welfare for the insurance industry by eliminating requirements to purchase insurance for things like cars, homes, and healthcare. A third top priority of mine is police reform. Removal of policies like the “Police Bill of Rights” would make police officers more accountable and restore honor to their traditional role as heroes and pillars of our community.
Keller: If someone is interested how can they get involved with your campaign or the Libertarian Party?
Wildstar: Any way you can contribute right now is much appreciated. This campaign is a team effort, with many of the key campaign staff roles, like campaign manager, media coordinator, etc., being filled by multiple volunteers. The more dedicated people who are willing to jump in and lend a helping hand the more successful we can be! Even if you cannot get directly involved, talking with people about my campaign for governor in person and on social media gets that buzz going that will help make me a household name so I can be more effective at spreading the libertarian message and building the freedom movement. Most importantly at this time, with a $4000 filing fee due March 7th, I’m in need of donations! Libertarian candidates don’t get much funding and I myself am not a rich man so please do give what you can even if it’s only a few dollars, so I know you appreciate me being out there promoting what we stand for and want that to continue. To make a donation to my campaign, visit my website Wildstar2018.com. If you believe people have the right to live as they choose so long as they do not initiate force or fraud against others, please also become a member of the Libertarian Party and come to the state convention in Long Beach this April where you can vote to endorse me. I also encourage you to get involved with your local party chapter. You can support their activism and attend local meetings whether or not you are a member. Like the system of federalism I’m seeking to restore, the Libertarian Party is made up of affiliate parties in each state which are independent from the national Libertarian Party. You can join the California LP at LPC.org, and the national Libertarian Party at LP.org.
Keller: Do you have any final remarks for the readers?
Wildstar: There are many more things I would love to talk about and share with your readers like jury nullification, the common law tradition and how the courts have gotten away from it to the detriment of liberty, the whole fiat currency house of cards, etc., but doing some of these topics justice would take more space than we have here. I encourage curious readers to do their own research. This Matrix of a world we live in has a lot of interesting rabbit holes! But if you decide to go exploring down any of them, try to keep your eye on the big picture. We are at a critical time in history. Events are accelerating, and rapid technological advances have the potential to give us a brighter future we can scarcely imagine. But if we don’t stand up and resist government control, these changes could also take us down the road toward a police state. We must stop this from happening, and realize the possibility of freedom without undergoing the suffering of chaos and war. If we can successfully stand up for our rights using the democratic system today, flawed as it is, our future won’t have to involve battling to overcome increasing poverty and inequality, diminishing opportunities, or tyrannical control. It’s up to us today to bring about the necessary shifts that will liberate our nation and spare future generations’ untold agony and hardships. Vote Libertarian and be the pioneers of a revolution that will show the world what a constitutional republic looks like can be. Together we can do it, and we will!
I would like to thank Nickolas Wildstar for his time in conducting this interview. If you would like to get involved or want to have further dialogue with him please visit Wildstar2018.com.