Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges!

Remember that line from the classic movie “Blazing Saddles”?  Well that could now easily be the new motto of the United States, replacing the old and tired E Pluribus Unum.  With the latest uproar in the war between President Trump and the leftists over whether or not his campaign and his administration was secretly wire tapped, many who were asleep for the past few decades are learning (or should be) that our government has to power to know everything about each and every one of us, whether warranted or not.

In case you were not aware, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 created a secret court system that was designed to issue warrants allowing government agencies to use electronic surveillance on foreign powers and those suspected of spying for them within the United States.  In December 1981 President Reagan signed Executive Order 12333 that was intended to expand the flexibility of US intelligence agencies in gathering their data and sharing it with other agencies.  It has since been amended and expanded by subsequent executive orders signed by President George W. Bush.  This law and the courts it established, along with these executive orders are now the backbone upon which the National Security Agency today collects data on all citizens with or without warrants.  Just before he left office, President Obama authorized the NSA to open up its treasure trove of data on us to a host of government agencies.

The NSA has its own search engine that covers almost one trillion private phone and internet records of millions and millions of US citizens.  The collection and housing of this “metadata” is allegedly to catch those who would do us harm.  Yet our Constitution is quite clear:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Let’s analyze this amendment against the backdrop of what I’ve shared above.

We have the right to be “secure”, that is protected and kept safe from.

We are to be secure in regards to:

Our persons, which would mean our bodies and any information pertaining to us.

Our houses, hence the notion of our homes being our “castle”.

Our papers, meaning anything we might write or communicate in any form or fashion, including electronic communications.

Our effects, which would include any kind of possessions we have.

We are to be secure against searches and seizures of these items that are deemed to be “unreasonable.”  What is unreasonable is defined by what follows.

In order for the government to search, and if found, seize any of the items described as being protected, a warrant must be obtained from a judge.  Those requesting the warrant must present evidence for the probable cause of a violation of law. Furthermore, they must swear by an oath that the evidence is indeed truthful and straight forward. Therefore, if such evidence is not sufficient to prove probable cause, then any search and/or seizure is to be deemed “unreasonable.”

Not only this, but the warrant must be specific – no blanket, open-ended, generalized warrant is permitted.  The places, individuals and things that have been sworn to be reasonably suspected to be a violation of the law must be named; without this specificity, any search and/or seizure is again “unreasonable.” Yet our government today is gathering all of our communication data and transactions either with a broad generalized warrant, or no warrant at all.

When it comes to the law, governments are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that justice is served, which can only be done when the law protects us from lawbreakers, enemies, and yes, even our own government.  Our government may say “Warrants?  We don’t need no stinkin’ warrants”, but our Constitution that created it says differently.

-March 10, 2017

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Health Insurance, Obamacare and Government

Congress and our new President are pushing to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.  I wholeheartedly applaud the goal of repealing Obamacare.  However, the greater issue surrounds its passage to begin with and the follow up notion of “replacing”.

Obamacare is a clear violation of the statement laid down by James Madison in Federalist 45 that “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.”  Nowhere in the Constitution’s enumeration of the federal government’s powers is there any hint of a reference to its operation in the realm of health care.  Consequently, from this basic truth, Obamacare is unconstitutional and on that ground demands repeal.

However, that same principle also demands that Congress and President Trump not seek any kind of “replacement” by the federal government.  The proper role of the government in healthcare from the standpoint of the Constitution is no role at all.  If anything, it could be argued that the power of Congress to regulate commerce among the several states would authorize it to pass legislation which would allow insurance companies located in one state to “sell” its services in all other states.  This commerce clause in Article I Section 8 was inserted to prevent the states from charging tariffs on goods sent into them from other states, and in a sense insurance services could be likened unto an importation of a product from one state into another.  Hence, Congress legislating that all states allow insurance companies in one state to sell in another would be within its constitutional purview.  (It seems such action should be unnecessary as Congress didn’t have to pass legislation requiring states to allow Chevrolet or Ford to send their products from Michigan and other locations to all of the other states, so why should it be required to force states to allow insurance companies to “sell across state lines”?)

Those who oppose this move of repealing the so-called “Affordable” Care Act claim that access to health insurance is a “right”.  I have addressed this matter in previous essays in more detail, but simply put, a “right” is something that has always been and will always be – something neither created nor granted by man.  Obviously, a cursory examination of the history of health insurance indicates that it fails this basic premise of “rights.”  The concept of health insurance is less than 100 years old and has changed and been modified considerably since its introduction into our society.  Therefore, access to health insurance cannot be a right in the same vein as the right to life, liberty and property.  There is a reason why companies that provide health insurance coverage options to their employees style it as a “benefit”, administered by their “Benefit Department”.  Benefits are something that can be given and taken back, unlike rights which cannot be.

I would hope that Congress and President Trump will indeed repeal Obamacare in its entirety and then butt out and allow the free market to provide a variety and innovative options from which we can choose coverage that is both affordable and appropriate for our individual needs.

-January 27, 2017

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There He Goes Again…

If President Reagan were with us today he might well make use of this line he made famous in his presidential election debates with President Jimmy Carter, but this time in reference to President Obama.

A couple of weeks ago I commented on President Obama’s unconstitutional use of executive power to “federalize” 400,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean, declaring it off limits to commercial fishing and mineral exploration (Federal Overreach into State Territory).  He is now threatening to declare off-limits to commercial fishing (and “other activities” – think drilling for oil/gas) in large portions of the 200-mile continental shelf off both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of our country, all with the flourish of his mighty pen.  In both instances there were/are no hearings, no legislative debates and no representation of the people; just a tyrant and his minions wielding their power to force their environmental agenda down the throats of our citizenry.

The consequence of this will be to put many fishermen and those industries dependent upon their fishing success either out of business or severely restricted.  This will in turn negatively impact the communities that have for centuries built their economy around the fishing industry.  Those who press on to continue their business will have to venture further out into the ocean to hopefully continue providing us with fish entrees.  Of course, those entrees will now cost consumers more as well, but all of this is of little concern to Obama and his henchmen.

I realize that these leftists will claim they have the authority to make such sweeping grabs of land and ocean, based upon the 1906 American Antiquities Act, signed by Teddy Roosevelt (no friend of the Constitution or limited government).   This Act grants the president the power to designate land (and now oceans) by simple degree “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.”   However, this Act is wholly unconstitutional and should be declared as such for no authority of this magnitude is granted to the president in the US Constitution.

Behind closed doors President Obama is working with the leaders of many other countries to do likewise with their coasts and to designate up to  2.3 million (yes, you read that right) square miles of ocean as protected areas for natural parks for fish and other marine life!  You just can’t make this stuff up.  And we wonder why we see our property rights – the foundation of individual liberty – being eroded away?

Unheralded stories like these are why our upcoming election is so vital to turning back this tyrannical onslaught upon our liberties, our Constitution, and our “American way of life.”  The prospect of putting an end to such atrocities will vanish as a vapor should Hillary Clinton become our next president.  In that event America, as most of us knew her, along with our freedom, will be no more.

-September 23, 2016

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This Land’s NOT Your Land, This Land’s NOT My Land…

I remember singing “This land is your land, this land is my land”  in elementary music classes, but my how the sentiment has changed from “is” to “not”!  We have witnessed some startling developments as related to our Constitutional rights this past week in the confrontation between rancher Cliven Bundy and the Federal Department of the Bureau of Land Management.  You can read the news stories and blog essays about what happened there but I want to take a few paragraphs to delve below the surface of these events.

(As an aside, in the standoff between armed citizens and those armed members of this government agency, we have witnessed the precise reason why we have the second amendment right to bear arms – to resist the tyrannical overreach of the central government as well as the further trampling upon our Constitutional right of free speech when these government agents limited such speech to only certain restricted areas.)

There are some basic Constitutionally-related issues that need to be addressed.  First, who controls the land that is in dispute, and the corollary to it, who should control that land, Nevada or Washington DC?  Second, should any government entity control the land to begin with?  Third, if the land is “owned” by the state of Nevada, under what Constitutional authority does the federal government have in interfering with how the land is used?

Let us begin by turning to our Constitution and reading what properties it authorizes the general government to “own”.  Article I Section 8 lists the “enumerated powers” of the general government, and within those powers are given the kinds of properties it may possess:  (1) Post offices and post roads, (2) the District of the seat of the government, (3) Forts, (4) Magazines,  (5) Arsenals, (6) Dockyards, and (7) other “needful” buildings.  All of these properties were to be purchased by the general government upon the consent of legislature of the state from which the property was to be acquired.  The Union of the States did acquire property by other means, namely purchasing land from foreign countries (e.g., the “Louisiana Purchase”, Alaska) or as a result of war (Arizona, New Mexico, California, etc).  However, once these territories were divided into states, those states became as much a sovereign entity as the original thirteen.  Further, Article IV, Section 3 states that Congress shall have the power to either dispose of its territory or property as well as “make all needful Rules and Regulations” regarding said territory.

The general government owns approximately 85% of the state of Nevada, which pretty much destroys any notion of state sovereignty as far as the citizens of Nevada are concerned.  There is a dispute in this case as to whether or not the grazing range used by Mr. Bundy is federal or, as he alleges, land properly belonging to Nevada.  It appears that the property is technically federal land.  So the question is, does the property in Nevada at the heart of the dispute fall into any of those seven categories of property listed in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution, and if not, then even though Nevada may have at some point ceded the land to the general government, such would be an unconstitutional exchange.  The federal government has no business being in possession of that land.  It should belong to the citizens of Nevada to either sell to private individuals/companies or lease to ranchers such as Mr. Bundy.

Therefore, since the “federal” government has no constitutional right to own that land, the land should revert back to the state of Nevada, and as Nevada is a sovereign entity, the “federal” government has no right to interfere in how the land is used.  This is why I advocate for the return of all lands and property currently owned by the general government that do not fall within those above listed categories of the Constitution back to the states wherein such property is located.

-April 23, 2014

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“I’m From the Government…

…and I’m here to help” – the nine most terrifying words in the English language according to Ronald Reagan.  We laugh, but painfully because we know deep down it’s true.  But why?  The answer is the law of unintended consequences.

Our founders crafted the Constitution as  a means of limiting the size, scope and  role of the federal government in our lives.  Yet practically, if indeed not all, of the ills besetting us can be traced back to the point at which the federal government has exceeded the boundaries of its constitutional authority.

The most recent case in point:  the flood victims of Louisiana.  Tens of thousands of families have been displaced, their homes destroyed  and their lives turned inside out.  These families face the challenge of trying to re-build without any insurance funds to cover the costs, leaving them in dire straits.  Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President places the blame on the bogus notion of man-made “climate change.”  Some may blame the Army Corps of Engineers for not properly building dykes and levees, while others may even blame God.

The fault, however, can squarely be placed at the feet of the federal government.  One government agency that provides flood insurance will only do so to those living in what has been declared by the government to be a flood plain.  However, another agency told many families that they did not live in a flood plain, and therefore they were not eligible for federally-provided flood insurance.  Had that not been the determination, then many might have applied for the insurance and thus had some protection since private insurance firms refused to offer flood insurance in that general region as the federal government was doing so.

Here then is the result of the law of unintended consequences.  Those in government felt that it was the “right thing to do” to offer folks this insurance, and in so doing make themselves feel they had performed the function to which government was created.  Yet because government stepped in and determined some to be eligible and others not, many are now facing ruined lives.

To begin with, it is not the government’s role to provide insurance – it is not one of the limited, enumerated powers granted it by the Constitution.  Second, by stepping outside its limitations, it provided a false sense of security to those living in the affected areas who were told they had no need of the coverage.  Third, and this is the ultimate unintended consequence of government’s overstepping, it indirectly encourages individuals and companies to take risks they otherwise would not take.  If you have the guarantee of government backing that you will be provided the money to rebuild your home, business, etc, then you might risk living in an area such as what would otherwise be a place you would avoid.

We saw the same thing in the bailouts a few years ago when banks and investment houses were “saved” by government handouts because they were “too big to fail.”  Why did the housing market collapse?  In a nutshell, it was government interference in the marketplace and its encouraging, and in some instances coercing, banks to make risky loans they would not have made in times past.  Again, the lives of countless individuals were adversely affected, and in the end, we all were as the national debt swelled as a result.  There are so many other examples they could comprise a book instead of a short essay.

I am not saying those affected in Louisiana are not to be helped, but if the government didn’t take so much of our money in taxes for unconstitutional purposes, private citizens would have more funds available to donate as they are doing and the government would not be needed.

President Reagan was right; he also warned that whenever we hear those “nine most dangerous words”, the safest thing we can do is run.  This we must do – run back to our constitutional roots of a limited government, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, that is bound down by the chains of that precious document so that we can escape these kind of negative, unintended consequences.

-August 26, 2016

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Study Guide/Handbook on the US Constitution

At the bottom of this newsletter you will see the cover to a new book, “The Handbook for We The People: A Primer on Strict Construction of the Constitution”.   Originally, the book was written with the intent to serve as a study guide to the fundamentals of our Constitution and the principles of the government it created for high school students, but it is an excellent tool for anyone who would like to have an understanding of the original intent of the authors of the Constitution.

The author, a good friend of mine, used several sources in putting this guide together.  The principles covered were based upon the writings of a retired attorney who is a devoted student and lecturer on the Constitution who writes under the pseudonym “Publius Huldah” (whom some of you may be acquainted with) along with writings of the founders including the Federalist Papers and Webster’s 1828 Dictionary which gives the meanings of the words as understood at the time of the writing of the Constitution.

The book is an easy read and contains seven chapters.  The first chapter covers the basics of the principles behind the Constitution such as a brief description of Federalism, republican government, etc.  The next three chapters cover in brief the enumerated powers of each of the three branches of government and touches on topics that are much in the news today such as  the major clauses of governmental power (Welfare, Commerce, Necessary and Proper) and how they were intended to be understood by the founders.

Chapter six builds upon the principle of federalism and republicanism and delves into the topic of nullification – a tool, as explained in the chapter, the founders put in place for the states to use in keeping  the federal government within its constitutional boundaries.  Chapter seven focuses on the issue hotly debated today in regards to the relationship between religion and the state.  The final chapter covers the concept of making amendments to the Constitution, including a brief look at the idea of what some are calling an “Article V Convention of the States”.

At the end of each chapter there is a list of questions and assignments to encourage the reader to delve deeper into the subject matter presented in the chapter.  In the appendix is a list of references such as the text of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and a glossary of terms that are critical to understanding the original intent of our founders.

The prophet Hosea of ancient Israel, speaking for the Lord, declared “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.”  It is the intent of this book to help our youth, citizens, and yes, even government officials at all levels, gain a basic knowledge so as to keep our republic from being destroyed.  I highly recommend the book and would encourage anyone interested to look into it and use it for your children, grandchildren as well as any teachers and government officials you can convince to read it.

As a disclaimer, I did help in the early proofing of the book and making suggestions regarding the chapter questions; yet I have no financial interest at stake in the proceeds of the sales.  My only concern is to get an excellent primer into the hands of those who wish to gain a firm grasp of the original intent of our Constitution.

Handbook for We the People

-June 17, 2016



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Land of the Free and Home of the Brave?

In all the times you’ve sung/heard that last phrase in the first stanza of our national anthem, have you ever given much thought as to why those two concepts are joined together?  Reflecting back upon this past Monday when we remembered those who gave “the last full measure” to procure and secure our freedom, the inextricable connection between them becomes very clear.

We were established to be a land of free citizens through the bravery of a few who sought to make their home in a land of freedom.   When those 56 men in Philadelphia pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor by signing our Declaration of Independence, they were bravely signing their death warrants in the eyes of the British Crown.  It was their burning passion for liberty over their fear of death, as expressed by Patrick Henry, that gave them the courage to sign that document and bequeath to us the freedom we now see slipping from our grasp.

How is it that we sing this phrase and yet no longer act like we mean it or believe it?  Are we a “land of the free”?  Hardly; not like we were in times past nor as we were meant to be.  Are we the “home of the brave”?  For some we are, but not as many as there should be.  We have those among us who are yet brave in the defense of freedom – every man and woman who put on the uniform of our military or local police and emergency service provider can be numbered among those who are “the brave.”

But what about the rest of us?  Why are we allowing those we elect to represent us to create laws that chip away at our freedom without any accountability or repercussion?  Why do we tolerate nameless, faceless, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats to trample our constitutionally-guaranteed liberties with their unconstitutional acts and regulations?  Why do we cower in fear before them when it is they who should cower before us?  Is it because we have become too soft – too afraid to stand up and be counted because we fear becoming like a few brave fellow citizens who have and now languish in jail?

We celebrate two holidays – Memorial Day, in which we somberly reflect upon those brave souls who sacrificed their lives for us, and another, Veterans’ Day, for those who have and currently serve in defense of that freedom.  These men and women bravely left their homes to ensure that our land remains free, and some have returned, not to the embrace of their loved ones, but rather in a flag-draped casket.

So the questions for us are:  “How brave are you?  How brave am I?”  “How deeply do you want to be free?  How deeply do I?”

-June 3, 2016

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What “-ism” Are We?

Our founders championed the political structure of “republicanism”, i.e. a system of government based upon democratically elected representatives who would govern in behalf of those who elected them and to whom they would be accountable for the manner of their governance.  Since then we have seen the rise of socialism and its variants of communism and fascism throughout the world and more alarmingly, our transitioning from the republicanism upon which we were founded to fascism.

This week Michelle Obama demonstrated another “-ism” towards which our country has been lurching for decades – “nannyism”.   One of the actions advocated by the first lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign was an overhaul of the nutrition labels on food packaging.  These updates that she will be announcing were recently finalized by the Food and Drug Administration (another agency without authority granted to the federal government among the enumerated powers in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution).  It is not the government’s role to tell companies what and how they must label their products – that is the role of consumers in the marketplace who can bring pressure on companies to do so or, if necessary, by the states.

Furthermore, as is usual with governmental regulations, it will only place more burdens on businesses, the cost of which will ultimately be borne by us, the consumers as all such costs are.  According to industry estimates, it will cost companies at least $640 million to make the updates, with a net social cost of at least $1.4 billion.

The question to be asked is “Will this be an improvement or just more government heavy-handedness?”  A number of scientists are going on record that these new guidelines are not based upon sound science.  A dozen scientists have signed a joint letter stating that the new requirements are misleading.   Among those signing this letter are Roger Clemens, a member of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and Eric Decker, head of the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts.  They further state that these regulations are based upon the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, which were formulated by a committee that did not include even one expert on sugars; yet the first lady boasts that the most important change in these regulations is information about sugar content!

So as with most other similar government regulations, they are outside the scope of the role and authority of government as well as being inaccurate, misleading and costly.   But then again, we are too stupid to know better than to consume an entire bag of Oreos, so we need the government to tell us.

-May 27, 2016

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Government Intervention into Labor Relations

The Department of Labor has announced new regulations redefining the classification of workers who will be entitled by law to overtime compensation and the salary levels below which workers must be reclassified.  As with all such interventions by government, there are issues to be taken with this one on many levels.

First is the existence of a Department of Labor which is tasked with regulating labor relations within our economy.  Nowhere in the enumerated powers of the US Constitution is the government granted the power to create such laws and regulations.  We claim to have a “free marketplace”, but it is only lip service; in fact it is, by the definition of Fascism economics, a Fascist marketplace.  As Ayn Rand put it, “…a system in which the government does not nationalize the means of production, but assumes total control over the economy is fascism.”  This is the very description of the direction our government has been heading for decades, and is only picking up steam with such encroachments into business practices such as this.

Second, as with most, if not all, governmental encroachments into labor matters, the opposite end of what is desired is what is achieved.  For example, consider Milton Friedman’s excoriating of the idea of a minimum wage (which is making the headlines nowadays):  “Minimum wage laws are about as clear a case as one can find of a measure of the effects of which are precisely the opposite of those intended by the men of good will who support it.  Many proponents of minimum wage laws…hope, by outlawing wage rates below some specified level, to reduce poverty.  In fact, insofar as minimum wage laws have any effect at all, their effect is clearly to increase poverty…The effect of the minimum wage is therefore to make unemployment higher than it otherwise would be.”

 The consequences of this latest regulation will be no different from what Friedman stated about the effect of the minimum wage.  Are there occupations where individuals are being taken advantage of by companies that this regulation is intended to help?  Most definitely.  However the solution is not the heavy hand of government interference, but rather the power of the marketplace.  When enough people refuse to perform certain kinds of jobs for the wages offered, companies will be forced to raise the salaries and/or benefit packages to attract the quality of employees they seek.  As one who has earned professional certifications in the field of compensation I can attest that market forces are extremely forceful in determining compensation levels.

In Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard, those who worked all day were paid the same wages as those who only worked a small portion of the day.  When they complained because they had worked longer than the others, the owner said “Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go.”  If we accept a position in exchange for a certain amount of compensation, then that is our decision; it is we who made the agreement and if we don’t like it, then either don’t accept the offer or stay in that position while seeking better employment.  I have done this more than once in my career.  It is not the function of government to improve our situation in life; it can only make life more difficult when it goes beyond the purpose for which it was created.

-May 20, 2016

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The Two Ends of Tyranny’s Spectrum

When we think of tyranny it is usually pictured in the form of a despot such as the emperors of ancient  Rome or our modern-day want-to-be emperors such as Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jung-un, etc.  When we look at our current system of government we could also add unelected bureaucrats who populate such agencies as the EPA, BLM, IRS, et al.

As you examine these various avenues through which tyranny can and has manifested itself, there is a continuum on which all of these forms fall.  At the each end of it are two extremes that are manifesting themselves in America today.

On one end you have “democracy” – the rule of the majority.  Our founding fathers rejected pure democracy on several grounds.   Madison set forth the case in The Federalist No. 10 that democracy ultimately devolves into “spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property;”  In such a society those in the minority are unprotected from the abuse and oppression by the majority.  Today, as more and more individuals become dependent upon government for their sustenance, and more immigrants, both legal and especially illegal, are allowed into America and have no intention of assimilating the principles of “Americanism”, they will use government to oppress those who strive to adhere to those principles of individualism and limited government.  Such a danger was expressed again by Madison in a letter to Thomas Jefferson on October 17, 1788:

“Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is cheifly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.”

 On the opposite end is the tyranny of the minority.  This is becoming more prevalent today.  The Occupy Wall Street hooligans chanted “This is what democracy looks like”, but such could not have been further from the truth.  They were what anarchy looks like; they were an expression of attempted tyranny by a minority.  Most recently we see those who can’t figure out what gender they are demanding access to restrooms and locker rooms corresponding  to the gender they think they are because to not do so makes them feel uncomfortable.  They are a tiny minority in our society yet governments, companies and schools are caving in to this minority even though it makes those in the majority feel uncomfortable.  Such capitulations as these (and others in the news) are the submission of the majority to the tyranny of the minority.

Regardless of whether we are speaking of the tyranny of one individual, a particular political party or group of government officials, a majority or a minority within a society, it is still tyranny, and in none of these cases can the inalienable right of individual liberty be realized.

-May 13, 2016

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