Is Our Nation Broken?

Lately I have been saddened by the division in our Nation. I think it has always bothered me that we have a long history of division. Like when we hated on the Indians and all but annihilated them and enslaved a portion of our society that was predominately black and further punished them with segregation and Jim Crow laws, but I had hoped we had left some of that behind.  The most obvious division today is among the Haves and the Have Not’s and between those who want more government control and those who do not. Those we have elected to lead us have been putting on a pretty good show of fighting for the cause of their constituents, yet our government continues on its set course. That course being more control over its people and more information about their lives and more of their money. Obviously they are not content to just control their own citizens, but people all over the world as evidenced by the surveillance of foreigners and the constant intervention in other nations by our government. Should we be in a constant state of war without a defined enemy. The stated enemy is terrorism yet we refuse to acknowledge that it is a war with Islam where the Quran calls for the killing of non-Muslims. We also have the internal and external war on drugs where tens of thousands of people have lost their lives in a struggle to illegally provide the United States with drugs and hundreds of thousands of Americans are imprisoned and lose their property because their drug of choice is not alcohol or tobacco. These things are being used as an excuse to gather information on every citizen in this country and many abroad. Privacy in our communications, information searches, shopping habits and our medical history is gone and all that information along with our location is now available to our government. We have surrendered our individual sovereignty for the illusion of safety.

Lets consider some of the implications from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. One provision is the smokers have been accessed a $3000 penalty or premium increase that cannot be subsidized with tax money. That $3000 is just an arbitrary number. What if it increases to $6000 or more and how hard would it be to say that anyone who uses an illegal drug should be charged more. You could always just not tell them but likely medical exams in the future will include toxicology exams since the government is picking up the tab. Laser powered molecular scanners will very likely find their way into medical diagnostics and drug use will be obvious, both legal and illegal. If you do not report your drug use you will be guilty of felony fraud.

The use of the Internal Revenue Service as the enforcement arm of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is also troublesome. Does anyone remember the abuse of power about awarding or withholding tax-free status to groups and individuals along party lines. The Internal Revenue Service has always been used by our elected leaders to reward those in their favor and punish those who are not. It is also being used to divide our nation. We are split between the Haves and the Have Not’s where according to CNN Money, 10% of the people pay 70% of all income taxes. Randi Rhodes once told me that it wouldn’t do any good to tax the poor because it is like squeezing blood from a turnip but I disagree. Those who do not pay income taxes ( about 47%) don’t have any skin in the game and they can vote for whatever benefits they want from government and not have to worry about how it is paid for. When we authorize our government to take away from a few to supplement others it is theft, even if it is backed by the rule of law. If everyone pays, then we could find the level of government benefits that we can agree on and pay as we go. This astronomical national debt thing has to stop if we are to leave any kind of decent future for our children and grand children.

If America wants to turn this around, it can be done, but we have to act in unison. Stop voting for lifetime politicians. Their allegiance is not to you but too their party. Demand term limits and run for office if you are dissatisfied with the selection of candidates. We need more ordinary citizens in office. Above all watch those that take office and let them know what you expect from them. Silence is seen as approval.

Randy Johnson

Nullification Is Essential To Maintain Freedom

I’ve been hearing about jury nullification as a defense against prosecution for marijuana crimes. It is an interesting concept, where the jury just refuses to convict the defendant just because they disagree with the law or because they believe it should not be applied in a particular case. This was used extensively to stop the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act before the Civil War and the Volstead Act during the prohibition of alcohol. During prohibition, as many as 60% of the alcohol violations were nullified by juries. With greater than 50% of Americans now believing that marijuana prohibition should end, it is very likely you could get a member of your jury to vote for your acquittal. NJWeedman, Edward Forchion, a New Jersey medical marijuana patient, has used jury nullification as a way to avoid prosecution. Forchion is an outspoken critic of the war on marijuana and has some very good ideas about mounting an effective defense in court against prosecution. He spent 6 months in jail for exercising his freedom of speech when he made commercials that called for an end to marijuana prohibition, yet he still marches on as a warrior in the fight against prohibition.

The states that have moved to legalize marijuana for medicinal or recreational use have also nullified Federal marijuana laws to a certain extent, by stopping the enforcement of those laws by local authorities. It has been an uphill battle where some local law enforcement have refused to honor the will of the voters in their state and enforce Federal marijuana laws anyway. Still progress is being made where a wave of acceptance for medical marijuana has swept the country and over 50% of Americans now believe marijuana prohibition should end, and that it should be regulated and taxed similar to alcohol.

Oath Keepers is an organization of active and former military, police and first responders that have vowed to uphold their oath to support and defend the Constitution of The United States, by refusing to obey unconstitutional orders such as, to disarm the American people, detain Americans as enemy combatants to be held without trial and to conduct warrantless searches. This also is a form of nullification that protects our freedoms and rights that are under attack by the Federal Government. Their motto is “Not On Our Watch”.

When those we elect to lead us, refuse to honor their oath to support and defend the Constitution, the responsibility falls on us to stand together and defend our rights and way of life. Our best defense against this assault on freedom, is to watch those we elect to represent us and hold them accountable by removing them from office when they fail to protect our rights. That system seems to have failed, where our two-party system yields more of the same, regardless of which party is in majority. Our rights of freedom of speech, the right to privacy, the right to be secure in our personal effects, and the right to self-defense are constantly being eroded by our government. Nullification can be a very powerful tool to prevent the loss of freedom if we just refuse to play their game.

Randy Johnson

What Makes A Crime Criminal

We all know that crimes are committed by criminals and those that are caught are punished by society through the criminal justice system, with fines, probation, incarceration and in extreme circumstances by death. But what constitutes a crime? Must the action that constitutes the crime harm others, as in assault, rape or murder, or could it simply be an action that deprives others, their right to life, liberty or their pursuit of happiness. This should be a simple answer but it is not in our society. According to a documentary originally aired on Fox News by Jon Stossel, the United States Government now has over 125,000 pages of law governing everything from treason, to the type of light bulbs you can purchase and the type of toilet you can install and how much water your faucets can flow. These laws are used to enforce, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act, the Firearm Owners Protection Act and thousands of other laws currently on the books at all levels of government that we are subject to. A Book by Harvey A. Silverglate titled Three Felonies a Day documents how people commit crimes, unknowingly just because there are so many laws governing so many different things that most people would never consider a crime, it becomes impossible to know for sure we are not doing anything illegal. It is very likely that anyone could be arrested for a crime any day of their lives. Laws are written so broadly that they may be interpreted by authorities to arrest anyone. With the use of domestic spying on all of us through our electronic communications, we are all in danger of coming under the scrutiny of authorities, who could make our life a living hell if they so choose. We’re all Criminals by C.M Sturges discusses how the vast array of laws we have, are meant to suppress and control us, not maintain safety and freedom.

Some laws we have are for another purpose though, they are meant to protect the interests of the ultra rich who have a strangle hold on those we elect to represent us. Companies such as Dupont , Monsanto, General Electric, Westinghouse, General Mills that are held and controlled by the elite in society, with names like Rothschild and Rockefeller that meet in secret locations to discuss and decide on world policy and direction. Remember the Monsanto Protection Act that ensures that it will be near impossible to challenge the use of genetically modified foods or seeds.

The war against marijuana is no different. Our government hides and ignores evidence that shows hemp and marijuana to be a benefit to society and a safer alternative to alcohol use, to protect businesses such as the pharmaceutical industry, the cotton industry, the pulp wood and timber industry, the drug testing industry, the drug rehab industry, the prison industry and the petrochemical industry. Lets not forget the DEA with its multibillion dollar tax funded budget which employs a multitude of drug enforcement officers who want to keep their jobs and that the war on drugs is the main justification for the militarization of our police forces and the main justification for paramilitary raids on civilian homes. The United States government is also using their advanced surveillance, secretly to initiate drug busts and directing police to cover up where the initial evidence for the investigation came from. Circumventing rights and freedom is just another tool in the pursuit of total control over the population. More laws governing everyday activity are incrementally employed , gradually reducing freedom and creating a population that will cower to the will of the government. Will we continue to say the loss of freedom and privacy is not that bad until it effects us, instead of someone else? Or will we rise up and demand that our rights and freedoms are honored by the people we elected and who swore an oath to uphold them, the members of Congress and the President of the United States?

Randy Johnson

Whats Wrong With Paramilitary Raids

The war on drugs has led this nation to a point where citizens should have a real fear of encounters with police. All too often innocent people are shot in their own homes in a violent raid at the hands of paramilitary police looking for drugs. All too often these raids are at the wrong address. The police typically enter the home in the wee hours of the morning when people are asleep. When startled awake by police, breaking down your door and yelling, while storming through your house with flash bang grenades, assault weapons and lights, the victims of these invasions are in real danger. For one thing the police are likely scared and are looking for anything that may be perceived as a threat and ready to respond with deadly force to make sure they are not harmed. But people do not always react the way you would expect them to, especially when startled, scared, and half awake. Many people have firearms in their homes for self-defense, others may have a bat or a golf club and we all have the right to defend our homes. But anything in your hand, like a phone, or just having your hands where the police cannot see them is likely to cause them to panic and start shooting. The justification for this type of raid seems to be that the suspect may try to destroy evidence. In my line of thinking, if they have enough evidence for a paramilitary raid on someone’s home, then why are they worried about further evidence? This type of raid puts the whole family at risk. Typically the family dog is shot, the family is herded into one room in their underwear and held at gunpoint while the house is torn apart. Sometimes family members, even children are shot by mistake.  Wouldn’t it be safer to arrest the person at work or in a traffic stop, and then go search their house without the violence of a home invasion that endangers everyone involved. More and more we are treated as though we were the enemy of America instead of citizens. I think it is a pretty heavy hand in fighting a war against people who rarely ever fight back. In fact, I can’t remember a violent protest against marijuana prohibition, ever. The only violence I have seen would be from the crime syndicates who supply the drugs because our government won’t allow a legal source. Most of that violence is infighting between drug gangs that are fighting for turf to protect their market or settle disputes. All the other violence in the war on drugs is directed towards the users at the hand of law enforcement. It’s a very one-sided war, where drug users are not even allowed to own guns or ammunition by Federal Law. A right I might add, that was stripped from them without trial, representation or justification over a decade after the government declared war on them.

Police are almost never held accountable for mistakes in these raids. Accidental shootings are said to be justified if the police say they perceived a threat, even when they get the wrong house. Police have lost respect for our privacy and our rights against illegal searches and the Supreme Court has ruled that dogs may authorize searches. Some people have tried fighting back, by video taping the police’s actions as evidence of abuse, but this often brings wrath from law enforcement. People are arrested and phones or cameras are confiscated even though the Supreme Court has ruled that police can have no expectation of privacy in public law enforcement and video taping of police is legal. Congress seems to support these paramilitary raids by making military equipment and weapons available to local police either free or heavily discounted and offering grants for police departments to train for and conduct these raids. The Cato Institute tracks these raids and even has an interactive map highlighting errors made by law enforcement where innocent people are targeted by these raids and where needless deaths and injuries have occurred.

No Knock Raid preformed by Lindy (caution graphic images)

It all seems to swing on the premise that we as a society must eliminate drug use. Is it really that important to have the illusion of a drug free society that no one actually wants anyway? We all use drugs in one form or another. Anyone who claims otherwise in just not being honest. We use drugs to feel better. Most of the drugs we take are not curative, but only designed to alleviate some symptom and anyone who still believes alcohol is not a drug is delusional. We take drugs as a social catalyst, to relax, to correct sexual dysfunction, for restless legs, depression, pain relief, weight loss, to stay awake and for energy just to name a few reasons. It’s almost impossible to turn on a television without seeing an ad for some drug or a law firm wanting to represent people to sue a drug manufacturer for some unwanted side effect of a drug. Just because people use a drug, doesn’t mean they are sick or criminal, any more than you would consider that for those who use alcohol. We’re just people trying to get through life the best way we know how. What is so horrible about using marijuana that would justify a war against us?

Randy Johnson

If Obama Wants To Combat Racism He Should Start With The War On Drugs

The Justice Departments insistence on pursuing an investigation into George Zimmerman on the basis of a racial hate crime is misguided. The jurors who struggled with the verdict about the guilt of Mr. Zimmerman claimed they did not believe race was an issue in the actions of George Zimmerman and the double jeopardy clause in the fifth amendment of our Constitution should allow their verdict to stand. If the Justice Department wants to combat racial intolerance, they should start with the war on drugs, where people of color and the poor are far more likely to be searched, arrested and incarcerated than whites or wealthy Americans.

Randy Johnson

We Have Rights Our Government Refuses To Honor And Obligations We Have Neglected

Recently I have noticed that a large percentage of people I have talked to, did not know who Edward Snowden is. Most would add that news is depressing and they try to avoid it. Even my wife has told me the same thing. She avoids news because it is depressing. But we all suffer from information overload. In our society, we are constantly bombarded with new and often unimportant information mixed with information that we need, so it is not in our best interest to ignore it. We take it all in and filter what we believe is relevant or important and ignore the rest. We also live in a society where communication is almost as easy as looking at a watch and entertainment is as close as our phone. We can play interactive games, text, watch movies and surf the internet virtually anywhere, yet we have become disconnected from the things I believe are most important. Keeping watch over those we elected to lead us and protect our freedom.

Those we elected to represent us in government have failed to protect our rights and to uphold their oath of office. They refuse to acknowledge our second amendment as a right and treat it more as a privilege that can be legislated away incrementally, locally as well as at the federal level. All Constitutional rights and natural rights should be the same in any state or territory in our union. It is the job of Congress, the President and the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution of The United States of America as the supreme law of the land and protect our freedom, yet those in office are constantly looking for ways to circumvent the Constitution. Greed and corruption are rampant and it has become business as usual for Congress to pass laws favoring one business over another to create wealth and reward campaign contributions. A revolving door system of bureaucrat’s go back and forth from the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve, the same can be said for companies like Monsanto and Cargill and the Department of Agriculture and the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies. Lobbyists from the richest and most powerful industries meet in private with members of Congress and the President and form federal policy and law without the voice of the people. If and when our rights, get in the way of this profit machine, government lawyers look for ways around the Constitution and our freedom suffers. Our fourth amendment rights against unlawful searches has also been attacked. Our elected leaders have allowed and likely encouraged the NSA, FBI, DHS, CIA and who knows what other government agency to view and record all of our phone, text, email, banking records and now the IRS will have access to all of our medical records. Even the Supreme Court which is supposed to be the last line of defense against unconstitutional laws passed by legislature, unanimously decided that dogs can authorize searches.

We have failed as well, in our obligations as citizens of society and to our government. We must work if we can and support our government by paying taxes, obey the laws and be willing to serve as jurors in the judicial process. We also are obligated to watch over those we elect to lead us and hold them accountable when they fail to uphold the Constitution. We are also obligated to come to our country’s defense if needed in time of war or any other national calamity. Regardless of whether we agree with one another, we have to live in this country together and find a way to get along. Yet we continue to push our elected officials to pass laws to keep us safe or to keep us from being offended. That leads them to pass laws that restrict freedom in almost all cases. Free people are no longer allowed to act on their freedom for fear of offending someone or getting sued. Communities are passing laws preventing all kinds of things such as smoking, gardening, clothes lines and lemonade stands. Our children were put on a diet by Federal mandate and one child was expelled from school for chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun. Reason and common sense have given way to panic and hysteria where knee jerk reactions from our leaders further our loss of freedom. Discipline among our children has been lost and the judicial system has become the backup plan and we have the largest per capita prison population of any nation on earth. What happened to the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”?

Randy Johnson

Why Do We Go To War

A few days ago, as I ate lunch at the park in front of the Hutchinson County Veterans Memorial. I started wondering what we fight for as a nation and individually, and why we send our sons and daughters to war. Words come to mind like, duty to country, honor, national defense, and security. Today our armed forces are all voluntary, but many of the soldiers honored here were drafted into service. Does that change the reasons we fight? Society needs to be able to assemble armies in its defense, even a conscript army if needed. The survival of our nation and way of life may demand such action. We faced real threats to our sovereignty and security in WWI and WII and so did our allies, but what about Korea and Vietnam? Was our sovereignty and security in danger then, or was that just our attempt to stop communist aggression amid the Cold War? Were we able to achieve those goals? I would call Korea a partial success. South Korea is a democratic country with an economy built on free enterprise and it is prospering. But the Korean people are divided, with their kin to the north governed by a desperate and aggressive despot, who rules his people with fear and punishment. And they are technically still at war with a real threat of the violence ensuing again. If we had not maintained a military presence there, it is very likely all of Korea would be under communist control today. None of our goals were met in Vietnam with the communists taking control of Saigon as we were leaving and yet, today they are a united, peaceful people. Who decides when we go to war and what the motivations are? The reasons to go to war are never simple and may cover any variety of considerations from economics to survival but certainly the preservation of our freedom should be one of the reasons we fight. Our nation was born with a struggle for freedom from the rule of England. Our Declaration of Independence lists a number of violations of basic human rights by the King and extols our right to shed that rule in favor of self-rule as all men are created equal with rights granted to us by God and not men. This was an act of treason under English rule and those who signed that document did so knowing that it put their lives and fortunes at risk, yet those brave men and those who fought by their side, did so willingly. Our Constitution goes further describing our rights as a people, by enumerating them in the bill of rights, to ensure that government would not be able to take them away. These are important rights that ensure that we can live safely and securely among others without the worry of being governed by tyrants.

All of our servicemen take an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But how many of the recent wars we have been involved in were about a threat to our Constitution or the sovereignty and security of our nation? Were we defending an ally from a threat to their sovereignty or security? Certainly if our country is attacked we should respond in defense. Even preemptive strikes against known threats are justifiable, but all acts of war have consequences. Because of the brutality of war, some of our young will always be killed or wounded. And then there are the mental scars from being witness to the horrors of war. The fear of death or injury and seeing your friends killed or injured are hard to imagine, let alone learn to live with. Just the longing for home to reunite with the ones we love tends to wear on most people. And then there is the memory of the killing of others and watching the enemy suffer or die. Is it any wonder that the suicide rate among our servicemen is so great. War is a terrible thing for both sides of any conflict and even when the hostilities end, the painful memories of war endure. War should always be a last resort.

Our Congressmen and Senators also take the same oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, yet rarely do they face imminent danger in their daily lives. But their responsibility to defend the Constitution is just as important because they write the laws governing all aspects of our lives. They are on the front lines of protecting our freedom in the laws that they vote for or against. Their responsibility to ensure that all laws passed, maintain our freedoms as described in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence cannot be overstated. These  documents should be the guiding principle in all laws passed by Congress or signed into law by our President.

Often as I read the news and study current events I am reminded that not all members of Congress share the same reverence and respect for the Constitution of the United States. The recent debates about the right to keep and bear arms are a perfect example of that. Even before the Sandy Hook massacre, our right to keep and bear arms was seriously infringed and it was all done at the hand of Congress and backed up by past and current Presidents and supported by the Supreme Court. My second amendment right to keep and bear arms should be the same in any state or territory of these United States, yet our Congressional leaders have allowed a patchwork of differing laws governing our rights to bear arms to become the law of the land. Even if we follow the safe passage clause of the Firearm Owners Protection Act, we can still be in violation of state or local laws if we are delayed because of car trouble or if we are too tired to continue our journey. In order to pass through a state with restrictive firearm laws a person must unload and lock the gun in the trunk of their car and are not allowed to stop except for food and gas. Would we surrender our right to a trial by jury or our freedom of speech so easily? What about our freedom of religion? Isn’t our right to self-defense one of those rights granted by God?                                                                                                  And what about the tenth amendment where the powers not delegated to the United States as described in the Constitution are reserved to the states or to the people? Do our Congressional leaders understand that? Where in the Constitution do they get the power to tell states that they cannot experiment with medical marijuana laws or even recreational marijuana laws? Our Congressional leaders should be actively defending our rights, not circumventing state law to keep us under the thumb of oppression. Since Congress authorized the oath of office for all Federal employees, they should know that they are obligated to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and our rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. We, as Americans, should demand and expect as much from them. Their obligation to preserve our Constitution and freedom should be no less important than that of our sons and daughters that we ask or require to risk life and limb in war.

The Constitution does not provide the wording for this oath, leaving that to the determination of Congress.  From 1789 until 1861, this oath was, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” During the 1860s, this oath was altered several times before Congress settled on the text used today, which is set out at 5 U. S. C. § 3331.  This oath is now taken by all federal employees, other than the President:

“I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.  So help me God.”

The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights

Randy Johnson