Our Nation Has Lost Its Way

Our nation has lost its way. The Rs and Ds trade in fear-mongering and scapegoating rather than rolling up their sleeves to solve real problems.


We have a national debt approaching $20 trillion with no end in sight.


We are fighting pointless, counterproductive wars in the Middle East in which everyone loses, and which further tarnish our nation’s stature in the world.


Our prisons are brimming with non-violent criminals, chewing up useful resources that would make us all wealthier and happier.


In the toxic brew, we are seeing a reversal of the color-blind society, as tribalistic hate seems to replace peaceful co-existence and goodwill toward all, regardless of race, creed, or religion.


We need to transcend these real challenges with a fresh approach, one that engages all at a higher level, above the pettiness and backbiting that keeps us mired in a vicious circle of fear.


-Robert Capozzi, Medford, NY

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Image Credit: Agenda-Setting Theory. (2008). Retrieved from https://mctheory.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/agenda-setting-theory/All voters, regardless of their political affiliations, have a direct interest in the upcoming presidential election.  And that election will be deeply affected by which candidates are invited to participate in the presidential debates.  Why?  Not necessarily because it will dictate who wins the election, but it will dictate the issues, arguments and suggestions that are placed into the public marketplace of ideas submitted to the voters.  As I hope you know, on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 Our America Initiative sponsored and filed a Complaint in the federal district court in Washington DC against the Commission on Presidential Debates, as well as the Democratic and Republican National Parties.  The thrust of the lawsuit is to force the Commission, which is completely controlled by the Republican and Democratic National Parties, to invite the presidential and vice presidential candidates of all serious political parties to participate in the final national debates.  Serious political parties is defined as any party that is on the ballots in enough states technically to win the presidency.  In 2012 that would have included the Libertarian Party and the Green Party, which were on the ballots in 48 and 40 states, respectively.  Liberty demands that all serious voices, and the issues they raise, be heard!  And, along the way, help to reduce the stagnation that has occurred during the last decades because of the predominance of only two political parties!  Unfortunately, the trial court judge recently dismissed our law suit, saying that we had no standing to present it.  Among other things, she concluded that the commission is a private entity that can invite whomever it chooses.  Furthermore, she argued, plaintiffs had not suffered any financial injury, and that the only reason they had not been invited to participate in the debates was that they had not garnered sufficient voter approval.  We violently disagree with those conclusions, and are presently considering our options.
During the 2012 election, there were some issues that President Obama and Governor Romney simply did not want discuss and, since their parties controlled the debates and their format, for the most part they didn't.  This included our government's irresponsible spending and military adventurism, and our failed policies on immigration, drug prohibition and Obamacare.  But had the candidates from the other two serious parties been involved, those issues and more would certainly have been openly and fully discussed.  Who would have won from this situation?  The voters, because they would be more completely informed.  Who would have lost?  Only the two main parties.  So please pass the word!  Help us; help yourselves; help our great country; and help Liberty! 


Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
Along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President
Please forward this on to your circle of friends for their consideration.  And, by the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray,
Twitter at judgejamesgray,
and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com
Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.      
Image Credit: Agenda-Setting Theory. (2008). [Image File]. Retrieved from https://mctheory.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/agenda-setting-theory/


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Ballot for President 2016

Ballot Access laws which impose additional burdens beyond the Constitutional requirements of the office in question, is an example of strategic tampering with the system performed by past winners. As the system began to be more and more geared towards the Republican and Democratic parties, ballot access laws became one of the few areas of bipartisan compromise. The two parties had accrued considerable power and largesse in the pursuit and maintenance of many offices and then agreed on various strategies to declare those holdings to be prerequisite.

The chosen hurdles are often of little strategic value for gaining partisan credibility and are even sometimes designed to make the newcomers appear strategically unsound. “Why is that new party so focused on that particular office? Don’t they know to start local?”. 
Yes, they know, but the performance in that race and meeting a minimum outcome might be a requirement to place someone in next year’s Township Trustee election.

In Indiana, I ran for Secretary of State, the role which oversees elections. I was lucky in that this was an office which fit my overall political goals. I believe that election reform is crucial to enjoying our liberty, however, the party should not have to bear that. Election of local candidates should be where the bulk of their efforts are able to go, but due to the requirement for two percent in that election most Libertarians in Indiana use their political funds to finance that particular race.

The Democratic and Republican parties both work to starve newcomer parties with non-strategic encumbrances to prevent the acquisition of truly strategic offices. This is why it is incumbent on new party members and leaders to always give voice to election reform.

About the Author: Karl Tatgenhorst is, first and foremost, a Libertarian. Karl is a veteran paratrooper from the US Army and has run for Indiana Secretary of State and Lieutenant Governor and has also served as Vice Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Indiana. Karl’s primary focus on politics is election reform and elimination of ballot access hurdles.

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This Year's Best Idea! #DumpTheCPD

Because of the general public discontent with this year's election, third parties are much in the news. If they can get into the debates, who knows what may happen.
Hofstra starts classes on September 6, 2016. The first debate, at Hofstra, is scheduled for September 26, 2016.
We have 20 days to convince the Hofstra students they should demand the school 1) #KeepTheDebate but 2) #DumpThe CPD.
There is a student newspaper, but the first issue comes out on September 20, I believe. We can buy a full page ad for under $1,000 and a quarter page ad for $214.
There is a respected student run FM radio station. They cover politics and sent reporters to both DNC and RNC.
Hofstra is a private university so does not have to provide freedom of speech, and they do have the right to arrest anyone on campus who pisses them off. In 2012 they had Jill Stein arrested.
We need the Hofstra students on our side. They will have to be convinced.
The Help The Commission group plans to create a #FirestormOfAnger at the CPD. Only two parties debating each other ... Trump v. Clinton ... there are plenty of angry people, many of whom are young Hofstra students, and our job is to simply get their anger directed at the proper target.
We will Post on FB/email/Tweet daily. 1) Hofstra president, 2) Hofstra trustees, 3) radio station, 4) student paper, 5) whatever we can figure out.
Please ask.
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It was just a question of when, not if

According to the Pentagon, the Syrian Air Force dropped bombs in an area where U.S. Special Operations forces are operating on the ground. Naturally, the U.S. is incredulous. According to Captain Jeff Davis,the Syrians would be "well-advised" not to interfere with coalition forces on the ground in the future.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but ... WTF?

The area in question is Hasaka ... in Syria. So we're telling the Syrians what they can and can't do in their own country. Although it's perfectly OK for the U.S. to drop bombs in Syria.

Syria is just another example of ill-fated U.S. foreign policy and military intervention. Even though ISIS is not an existential threat, we persist in trying to destroy it since the group is in Syria. But we also don't very much like the Assad regime (admittedly, Bahsar Assad is a thug and a threat to his own people, but not a threat to U.S. national security). So while ISIS is a threat to Assad, we are loathe to let him deal with the threat as he sees fit (meanwhile, we turn a blind eye to the Saudis bombing in Yemen). Instead, we're arming so-called opposition forces who we hope (and hope is not a plan) will not only defeat ISIS but depose Assad. And of course, we have historical precedent (Iraq being the most recent) to know that (a) this will work and (b) if it does work that the result will be exactly as planned, i.e., liberal democracy in Syria ... not.

We never stop to think about how we would react if a foreign military power told us what we could and couldn't do in our own country. Instead, we're shocked -- like Inspector Renault in Casablanca -- when we're attacked for meddling in the internal affairs of a foreign country that does not threaten America.


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Charles (Chuck) Peña is a Senior Fellow with Defense Priorities, but the views expressed are his own opinions. He has more than 25 years experience as a policy and program analyst, as well as senior manager, supporting the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. He is the former Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute and author of Winning the Un-War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism.

Follow Chuck on Twitter at @gofastchuck

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Back to Basics

For years now, I have advocated that a reduction of government is the only way to rebuild individual liberty. To many people that have opened their eyes to a vision of reality, this concept is apparent. I consistently come up with examples of how most responsibilities can be managed more efficiently and performed more effectively with less inhibition of individual liberties by the private sector. Am I advocating anarchy? Not really. I bring these examples with the intent to re-shape the thought processes of the people that nearly every duty that the people have ceded to government does not need to be ceded to government.

I accept the constitution as the foundational basis of the United States of America, and with that choice comes the requirement of the existence of government. Certainly the government of today is completely out of the control of the people, and therefore the situation of today would be a sharp slap in the face to the founding fathers. While I accept the fact that government is indeed a necessary evil, I firmly believe that it needs to be sharply reduced back to the vision of the founding fathers, and that the requirements of the bill of rights be included without fail in all actions of government. Clearly this is not the case today.

Article 1, Section 1 of the constitution requires that all laws must be made by congress. Today, regulations are made which have the force of law by officials that were never on a ballot. Many of these actions are enforced without due process, clearly violating the 14th amendment, and likely several others as well. Rights of individuals nationwide are stampeded by the actions of government regulators which create regulations which are absent of many constitutional protections.

The founding fathers of this great nation were cognizant of the results of a government with excessive powers over the people, and did their best to design a framework in which the people remain in control. Today, the behemoth that we call government seeks its own growth in size and scope, at the detriment of the people that are constitutionally required to be in control of it.

In my book, “Take Everyman Down”, I have identified a 12 step program to enslavement of the populace and the destruction of the American Dream. The common denominator in this book is two-fold. First, that government uses issues that strike the passions of the people to keep them subservient. Second, that they use these passions to sanction their own continued growth, and as previously mentioned, this growth is inversely proportional to individual liberty.

Also in this book, I used an example of how people use prohibition as a means of control. My example, paraphrased, was that if someone chooses to eat their soup out of a shoe rather than a bowl, that is bound to look strange to others. Some people might be so bothered by this practice that they call it immoral. Some may choose to try to legally prohibit the practice. The end result would be that people would be locked in cages for this action which neither hurt nor affected anyone else... i.e, a personal choice.

The only laws that should have the ability to take away the liberty of a person would be in response to an action which which violates the rights of others. Prohibition NEVER WORKS! But today, politicians in the establishment political parties use this tool to solidify their power. By doing this, both of the old parties claim that they stand for freedom, but they still want to criminalize personal choices which fly in the face of their moral compasses, but affect no one other than the person making that choice.

The 2016 election represents a unique opportunity. The people seem to be awakening from their reverie and they are yearning for a return to a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The key to this election is the potential impact towards Liberty. Liberty is the reason the United States of America was created. I encourage the people to be mindful of this, and to open their focus on the situation of today. I encourage the people to recognize their responsibility and work toward a rebirth of the plans and goals of the nation's framers.

Government has become much too large. Many of us feel that the nation has reached a breaking point... So what does a wise problem solver do when something is broken? They go back to basics.... With regard to the USA... “back to basics” is a reduction in government and bringing the constitution front and center. Stay focused America... Let's get back to basics.

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We Do Not Need More Troops in Iraq

In mid-July, the Obama administration quietly sent more troops to Iraq -- bringing the total to just over 4,600. This despite President Obama's campaign pledge to withdraw from Iraq with the last U.S. troops leaving in December 2011. Only to return in 2014. To paraphrase from Love Story, apparently leaving means never having to say good-bye.

The rationale for beefing up the U.S. military presence in Iraq is to help the Iraqis liberate Mosul from ISIS (or ISIL or Daesh or whatever you chose to call the group). But U.S. troops can't actually engage in combat against ISIS so it's not clear how they will make a difference. In fact, they are in Iraq as trainers and military advisers. But that's a slippery slope if Vietnam is of any relevance. Two words here: mission creep.

More importantly, while Mosul may be important strategically to the Iraqis it is not strategically important to U.S. national security. In other words, the fight for Mosul is not America's fight.

Indeed, ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States that requires committing the U.S. military to combat it. ISIS is largely a threat in Iraq and the region immediately surrounding it. The group’s overarching strategic goal is to establish an Islamic caliphate in the heart of the Muslim world by waging a war within the Middle East. As such, it is up to the Iraqis and other countries in the region to confront ISIS.

Moreover, the more the U.S. intervenes in somebody else's civil war (ISIS is waging a war within Islam not against the U.S. or West writ large), the more likely it is that we become a target. Consider the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. An ISIS statement after the Paris attacks made clear that they were acts of revenge for France’s involvement in the U.S.-led coalition bombing of militants in Iraq and Syria. And it said Belgium was targeted as “a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State.” In other words, they were attacks in response to Western military intervention in Muslim countries.

More to the point: unnecessary military intervention because ISIS does not represent a direct threat to U.S. national security.
We need to remember the risk of unnecessary military intervention (or occupation). Why did Osama bin Laden make the U.S. target for al Qaeda terrorism? He couldn’t have been more clear: It was in response to the United States “occupying the lands of Islam” with 5,000 U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia -- the holy land of Mecca and Medina -- after the first Gulf War. Just as those 5,000 troops in Saudi Arabia were an unnecessary U.S. military intervention, so are the more than 4,600 U.S. troops now in Iraq. They will not make a material difference in the security situation in Iraq. But they will provide ISIS with a credible claim that the U.S. is waging a war against Islam, making it easier for the group to recruit and radicalize more Muslims to its cause and put America squarely in its crosshairs.

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Charles (Chuck) Peña is a Senior Fellow with Defense Priorities, but the views expressed are his own opinions. He has more than 25 years experience as a policy and program analyst, as well as senior manager, supporting the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. He is the former Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute and author of Winning the Un-War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism.
Follow Chuck on Twitter at @gofastchuck


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The Impact of the Election on Liberty

flowidealismThe 2016 election provides an opportunity to fundamentally change the lenses through which Americans view political life and the future.

I am a former progressive who realized, after learning economics, that most "progressive" policies make the poor worse off rather than better off.  The regulatory state almost always favors the establishment rather than the marginalized.  Innovators are always penalized (consider the ways in which taxi companies attack Uber and Lyft, hotels attack Air BnB, Big alcohol lobbies against marijuana legalization).

After learning economics, I realized that equality of opportunity plus free markets was the approach that would provide the best hope for the marginalized.  I therefore went into education in hopes of taking constructive steps to improve equality of opportunity.  By 2002 I moved to New Mexico to create a charter school in rural New Mexico, in part because of the educational freedom supported by Governor Gary Johnson.  Despite being ranked the 36th best high school in the U.S., under the regime of Bill Richardson I was forced out for not having conventional educational credentials.

I then co-founded FLOW, a predecessor to Conscious Capitalism, with John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods.  I invited Gary Johnson to the first meeting at John's ranch, but unfortunately he had just had a hang-gliding accident and couldn't come.  But our effort at FLOW was to promote liberty-friendly policies so that entrepreneurs could solve critical human problems.  Mackey had created Whole Foods, I had created several innovative schools, microfinance was becoming well-known, the social entrepreneur movement was becoming high profile.

At the time, journalism only recognized "right" and "left."  As someone who identified as "none of the above" I found it very difficult to open people's eyes to serious solutions.  Finally, in 2016, people are realizing that there is a reasonable "libertarian" direction that is entirely distinct from "right" and "left."  I'm hopeful that now that the American public can perceive a fresh new option, we can begin to move forward towards a better, more just world for all.

Michael Strong

Co-founder FLOWConscious Capitalism, and lead author of Be the Solution:  How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalism Can Solve All the World's Problems.


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Donald Trump's Foreign Policy Team

Trump Foreign PolicyWe already know what Hillary Clinton's foreign policy will likely be -- a combination of liberal interventionism with a healthy dose of neoconservatism. If you're a fan of Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight, it would seem that Clinton is likely to be the next president of the United States. But what if Donald Trump becomes our next commander-in-chief? What would his foreign policy look like?

Here is Trump's April foreign policy speech. Stephen Walt has written a scathing piece about Trump that demonstrates the GOP candidate's views are all over the map -- from what could be considered measured to reckless. Based on what Trump himself has said, his views run the gamut from realist (he's opposed to "dumb wars") to interventionist (including a seemingly willingness to use nuclear weapons) to isolationist (building a wall).

Whatever one thinks of Trump's views on foreign policy, an even bigger question is -- if elected -- who would be his foreign policy team? My former Cato Institute colleage, Chris Preble, has asked the same question.

This could be a very real problem for a would-be President Trump. This will not be like auditioning for The Apprentice. He will need to fill cabinet and other political appointee positions with people who share his views and know how the federal government works to implement policy.

That will be a tall order to fill.


UPDATE: Here's the latest on Trump's foreign policy.

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Charles (Chuck) Peña is a Senior Fellow with Defense Priorities, but the views expressed are his own opinions. He has more than 25 years experience as a policy and program analyst, as well as senior manager, supporting the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. He is the former Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute and author of Winning the Un-War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism.

Follow Chuck on Twitter at @gofastchuck

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Trump Is Right That the Election Is Rigged, Only Not Why He Thinks. It’s From a Lack of #FairDebates.

Fair DebatesEarly in August Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shocked (yet again) the world by blaming a “rigged” election in case he loses this November, giving as an example (without specifics) the rigging of the primary against him. Trump is right that the election is rigged, just not in the method he thinks (if he even has no method in mind). What comprises the election rigging stems from the control of his own party along with the Democrat Party of his opponent, Secretary and Senator Hillary Clinton, on the debates without participation in which effectively dooms any competition for the support of voters.

Since 1988 the two major parties have signed agreements to refuse participation in any debates outside the Commission on Presidential Debates which they created, and use polling criteria nearly impossible to reach to protect their duopoly from competition for control of America’s government. The polling the Commission would use, further, wouldn’t be required to practice fairly with third parties. Pollsters can, for example, exclude the names of third parties that represent, according to still other polls, majority opinion. Polling companies also can order questions to bias down the results of third parties. The duopoly rigs the election to keep out a threat to their lock on government power, to the detriment of citizens’ rights and economic opportunities. It should be noted that prior to 1988, debates were controlled by the League of Women Voters, who left the new duopoly Commission, refusing to participate in a fraud perpetrated on the American people”.

The duopoly’s limit on debate choices led Our America Initiative to create a petition calling on the Commission to allow third party candidates that demonstrated viability by qualifying on enough state ballots theoretically to win fifty percent of the Electoral Votes. We filed also a lawsuit just dismissed to effect the same result. Our attorney, former Reagan Justice Department official Bruce Fein, criticized the Judge’s dismissal as full of factual errors, and would consult with OAI for a next step. We urge all OAI supporters to sign the petition for #FairDebates. With eight thousand signers including a thousand this year, let’s try to get another 1,000 by November!

In addition to signing OAI’s petition for #FairDebates, we urge supporters’ submitting to your local newspaper a letter to the editor, using the sample at the link as the base text. Stay tuned for future events to raise awareness of the lack of #FairDebtates which constitutes a fraud on the American people and rigged elections.

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