Apparently, I’m A Racist

Like so many others across our country, I have been labeled a racist. Like so many others, it has nothing to do with who I am, my heritage, my history, what I believe in, the life I’ve led, my values, my thoughts, my words or my actions. Like so many others the label was given to me by people who do not know me. Like so many others the label was given because of my appearance. Like so many others I was given the label because of my current or past vocation. Like so many others the label was given because I refused to buy into the current mob mentality and kneel to it in some form of mock submission. And most importantly, like so many others it is not a reflection of who I am but who the accuser is. 

I’ve come up with two definitions of racism, one is factual and the other is from the mob mentality point of view. 

  1. The belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. Racial separatism is the belief, most of the time based on racism, that different races should remain segregated and apart from one another.
  2. Disagreeing with anyone about racism.

While you can also be labeled a racist based solely on the color of your skin and the color of your ancestors’ skin, anyone regardless of their skin color can be labeled a racist if they violate rule #2. Of course, the only surefire way to not be considered a racist is to admit you are a racist. It’s the 2020 version of Catch-22.            

Calling someone a racist is the simple solution to pressure them to think or act the way you want them to. We have become a world where simply disagreeing with someone makes you a racist. Presenting an opinion, even one backed up with research, well documented facts and credible witnesses, that goes opposite to the current mob mentality says is “truth” makes you a racist. 

If you think, so what, I am entitled to my own beliefs. Consider that people have been fired, had their businesses ruined, looted and burned to the ground, ostracized from their communities, extorted, had their lives, families and properties threatened, been assaulted – and worse for speaking out against the mob mentality. Imagine having the sheer audacity, or if you are white, the caucasity to dare say “All Lives Matter”. It’s no wonder so many people are afraid to speak their mind these days. 

I would never suggest that racism does not exist in our nation. It has existed since the beginning of mankind and exists in every corner of the world today. Anyone and everyone, from any race, gender, religion, vocation, status, wealth or appearance can be a racist. What I will suggest however is that not everything is racism and not everyone is racist. The epitome of human understanding is not being able to find racism in every situation, it should be to respect every human for who they are. 

The sad truth is I’ve been called a racist, and far more horrible things, in many languages, many times throughout my life. Each time it followed the same pattern of hate and anger used to deflect the blame from something they did to someone else, hoping for a better result for themselves. 

These are people who take one look at me or see something I have written or said which goes against the popular narrative of the time and immediately know enough about my life, my history, my beliefs to say, YOU ARE A RACIST. Which, in order to follow the stereotypical racist accuser pattern, is followed up by a litany of personal insults. 

Now if someone who actually did know me, who has spent time with me, has seen me interact with others, were to come to me and say, ‘Bob, I think you’re being a racist’, then I might have to take stock of what they are saying and take a good look at myself. Am I doing something that is being misinterpreted or am I really being racist? 

For me, the way I was raised, the values I was brought up with, it simply would not have been tolerated. Like so many others, I was raised to treat everyone the way I wanted to be treated, equally and with respect. You know, basic Golden Rule stuff. Race, gender, religion, vocation, status, wealth, appearance or anything else that could possibly set us apart are never an excuse for treating anyone else less than what we expect for ourselves.  It’s really that simple. 

I am by nature a very private person. Even among those who know me, very few know many details of my own or my family’s history. Even fewer know my original family name or the circumstances that caused it to be changed because of…. racism. But that’s okay because that is my own personal history and history is what you make of it. You can learn and grow from it, or you can attempt to erase it and pretend it never happened. But no matter your past or the collective past of our nation, you – and you alone – are responsible for your actions today.  

So, what am I going to do differently now that I have yet again been called a racist? NOT A DAMN THING! Like so many others the only kind of racism I am actually guilty of is the kind that doesn’t agree with the current mob mentality on racism. And that’s not racism, that’s integrity. 

I am going to continue to advocate for basic human rights, for everyone. I am going to continue to advocate for Constitutional protection of our inalienable rights, for everyone. I am going to continue to work for solutions to issues with family, education, employment, inequality, crime, justice, accountability and responsibility – for everyone. 

Like so many others, I’m proud of who I am and the nation I have been brought up in. I will continue to fight for the rights our nation was founded on, for everyone. Not because it’s easy or because it’s politically correct, but because it’s the right thing to do and what I would want for myself.

Bob

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Fourth of July Patriots

I’d like to thank all the patriots in my town who gave a big ol’ fashioned FU! to the crown Saturday night and participated in an impromptu community Independence Day fireworks display. With a 180-degree view, a full moon rising and a thunderstorm passing in the background, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect spectacle. And it was all done without burning the down the countryside. Imagine that… people celebrating freedom responsibly. 

That so many people were setting off fireworks at home this year is due to the insane gathering restrictions put in place by our Governor. With all of the COMPLETELY non-protest/riot related COVID-19 cases spiking, fireworks presentations across the state were cancelled, for our own protection. Protests/riots are of course still approved mass gatherings, as long as they are for the cause sponsored and supported by the angry mobs and extremist politicians. 

Much like mandate to wear non-medical, permeable cloth facemasks in public to stop the spread of a virus that can pass right through them, cancelling Independence Day celebrations across the nation was nothing more than another measure of extremist control and quite frankly, an insult directly targeted at anyone who values our nation’s history and freedom. 

To see so many fireworks in defiance of oppressive, do nothing orders in celebration of our nation’s independence confirms the silent majority is still alive and kicking. While the fringe of the nation continues acting out in violent temper tantrums carefully scripted to divide and distract us, real patriots are celebrating freedom. 

Libertatem diu vivere! 

Bob

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Where’s The Police When You Need Them?!

What better irony could there be than the words of the District of Columbia Delegate after she and a reporter were nearly attacked in the so-called ‘Black House Autonomous Zone’. This while standing on words “Black Lives Matter” painted on the street, looking for the police to protect them while advocating to defund the police. Politicians kowtowing to the mobs are doing all they can to defund, disband and abolish local law enforcement agencies across the country. They are more than willing to sacrifice your safety, but still demand the police protect them. It’s the future of law enforcement and it’s all about who controls it.  

It’s an injustice every Second Amendment supporter can relate to, all law enforcement officers are being blamed and punished for the actions of a single, bad officer. Without proof to support the accusations, and abundant evidence showing the opposite, the entire law enforcement community is being accused of systematic racism so severe that the agencies themselves cannot be salvaged and must be completely dismantled.  The pre-history of police in the Southern states going back to the days of slave patrols is being used as indisputable proof of their continued racial bias and support of white supremacy nationwide today. It doesn’t matter how many years have passed or how much progress has been made since then, the old ties to slavery is considered a fatal flaw that cannot be corrected. 

Again, I’ll state there is nothing more patriotic than exercising your First Amendment protected right to petition the government for redress of grievances along with the right to peaceably assemble. But what was a legitimate protest for justice has become a full-scale effort to erase history and reshape society to conform to some utopian dream. Eliminating local police departments, which has long been the goal of centralized government advocates, was ever so easy to slip into the current mob agenda.  

What we are seeing today are not peaceful protests, they are riots. The MOMENT these so-called peaceful protesters start shooting at police, throwing rocks, bricks, bottles filled with urine and other substances, breaking into stores and looting, vandalizing private property, tearing down statues, vandalizing public property, beating, raping and killing, you no longer get to call it a “peaceful protest.” 

We’ve already seen some of this new vision for our country. Those who can afford it will be protected by well-armed private companies. Example: The Minneapolis City Council’s hiring of a private security company for $4,500/day of taxpayer money to protect themselves, a job formerly handled by Minneapolis Police Department they are defunding. Elsewhere, gangs control their own neighborhoods as they have since the riots. Sharia patrols enforcing Sharia law in their communities. At the same time, private citizens who take up arms to defend themselves are ostracized and severely punished.  

Municipalities defunding their police departments will invest that money in the new “public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach”, “restorative justice” and social services. These massive new government agencies will in very short order, fail miserably.

Why they will fail is easy to understand. Criminals, thugs, gang members and terrorists who already don’t fear the police, the courts or prison systems, aren’t going to give a damn about what the community thinks about them or taking responsibility for their actions. These are the same people who attack, rob, rape or kill innocent people on a whim, steal whatever they want  and will fight an armed police officer to death if they get in their way. These are the same people who loot stores and burn down businesses in their own neighborhoods.  A “holistic, public health-oriented approach” isn’t going to turn them into better citizens, ever. 

At some point, the people and any remaining businesses in these communities are going to get tired of being victimized by the criminals, thugs, gang members and terrorists as well as the local government agencies. Local governments won’t ever be able to defund social services, even the ones that aren’t effective, and they won’t have the money to establish police departments again. Everyone then turns to the state for help. 

State law enforcement agencies who have been spared the accusations leveled at the local departments, will be tasked with limited law enforcement in these communities. All policy, direction, oversight, control and accountability will be taken out of the hands of local elected officials by a state level appointee. It will never be as timely or effective as the former local department, but it will be just enough to say the state is doing something. Welcome to the state-controlled local police. 

Of course, this is just my take on what will happen and it’s only one of many possible scenarios. Opening the government wallet to people who have no concept of public safety, criminal justice or history beyond their own vision of an ideal world is going to produce many costly and ineffective plans. When they fail, the lives and property lost can be blamed on the next scapegoat and another plan devised. 

Keeping your community from becoming a government funded sociology experiment where the conclusion has already been written means you have to speak up now. It is your safety and the safety of your family that is on the line, not the politicians or special interest groups who will always be protected. It means taking control back from a vocal minority of moral elitist politicians who are willing to sell their votes to the loudest mob and the biggest contributor, all at your expense. 

What do you want for your community?  

Bob

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Welcome to Mob Rule

In just a few short weeks, the United States, a republic with a Constitution and Bill of Rights guaranteeing individual freedoms unparalleled in the world has digressed to a country where public policy, law, criminal justice and societal norms are being set by the loudest mob. For anyone who still believes these so-called “peaceful protests” where public and private property is looted and/or destroyed and anyone who disagrees with them is beaten and even killed, I invite you to get your head out of your asses and look at what is going on. What began as a legitimate protest for justice has devolved into a full scale assault on American history and culture. No longer is there a grass roots effort to seek positive change, but instead an extremist political wish list to reshape society to meet their utopian dreams. Welcome to Mob Rule in the USA! 

As I’ve said before, when it comes to protesting our government, I fully and enthusiastically support it, even if I don’t agree with the cause. Just as I would expect someone who doesn’t agree with my cause to support my right to protest. There is nothing more patriotic than exercising your First Amendment protected right to petition the government for redress of grievances along with the right to peaceably assemble.

But that’s not what is happening now. We now have mobs of rioters, thieves and thugs doing whatever they please, often with the passive or even active support of the politicians whose only desire is to please them. After all, the mob is doing their work for them, attempting to reshape society into their new ideal image. 

We’ve gone from demanding justice for one individual, to use police use of force reform nationwide, restricting, disarming, defunding and eliminating police departments, eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement, and eliminating legal due process for law enforcement officers, all to address the alleged systemic racism running rampant in every agency in the country.  And that’s JUST as it pertains to law enforcement! 

But then, when you look at the actual facts, you find it isn’t true. Police departments around the country keep incredibly detailed accounting of enforcement activities and race to combat the very allegations being leveled at them today. Very much like the previous push to put body cameras on all officers to expose bad and illegal police behavior, when the recordings are made public, we find the that vast, VAST majority of contacts were exactly as the officers said and it was the public that was lying. But all that doesn’t fit the emotional narrative. It’s much better to take one bad example and use that undeniable proof that it exists everywhere with every officer. 

And for extremist politicians who have been unable to get symbols that offend them removed through the normal process; they simply have the mobs do it for them. The new woke politicians at the local, state and national level can now get all those Confederate statues and paintings torn down without having to waste public funds. And for those that aren’t torn down by the mob, the extremist politicians can have them removed for “safety”. The end result is still the same, things they don’t like are removed. 

By why stop there? Let the mob rid us of any other symbol that might offend someone, somewhere, or sometime. Statues of Christopher Columbus, the Texas Rangers, Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as well as General Ulysses S. Grant. Also vandalized, destroyed and removed have been law enforcement memorials as well as memorials for military heroes including Shaw’s 54th Regiment Memorial of Black soldiers marching into battle during the Civil War. If you ever wondered the downside of not teaching American history, well… there you have it. 

Not to be outdone, one Minnesota mayor is moving to remove the word “chief” from all city job titles because the term is offensive to Native Americans. For example, the chief financial officer will now be called the finance director. The mayor is still working on the titles for the heads of the police and fire departments since the usage there is so widespread in the nation. While there have been exactly ZERO public complaints about the titles, the mayor is trying to be proactive about this since “chief” is used as “a racial epithet, and it turns into a microaggression.”

Corporations have been quick to jump on the kowtowing bandwagon to appease the mob. NASCAR has banned Confederate flags at all their events, including those carried or worn by fans. Also banned, any firearm related advertising on race cars. 

Hollywood has done their part by pulling pro-police shows like COPS, Live PD and the pro police animated children’s show PAW Patrol. Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam will both lose their guns in upcoming episodes. Elmer will still be hunting rabbits, but he’ll now use a scythe. Because chasing a rabbit with the big ass sharp implement the Grim Reaper carries is a LOT less violent. 

The iconic product lines of Mrs. Butterworths, Uncle Bens and Aunt Jemima are rebranding their products and following Land of Lakes by removing the long-time symbols on the packaging. While these products and packages are part of Americana, the saddest part is the real-life people whose images and stories were the basis for them were inspirational and heroic figures for their time and beyond.  Look up the story of who Aunt Jemima really was and it makes you sad to realize Nancy Green’s story is being spun and erased for political correctness.  

In the ongoing coverage and glorification of mob riots, one woman’s statement struck me as telling about our current state of racism in our country. “F*ck white people, they owned slaves!” Again, we look to history that tells us slave ownership goes back as far as human history and across all race, color, ethnic and religious boundaries. It also tells us the European slave traders purchased their slaves from the black African tribal chiefs who already had a slave trade themselves. Horrifically, slavery continues to this day not only in Africa but in other parts of the world. Recent reports from Libya show a slave can be purchased for as little as $400. 

Like every other nation, our history has had its share of dark and turbulent times. There are things we look at now and wonder how could this have happened in our land of the free? But our history is just that, history. We don’t have to be happy about the dark times, but we must be proud of how far we have come and where we are going. We cannot – and should never try to – sweep our history away. As painful as the past may be, the only way to not repeat the past is to learn from it. 

Sadly, our nation’s political process is under mob rule. Pointing out logic and facts gets you labeled as a racist. Defending the history of our nation, the good, bad and the ugly parts, makes you insensitive, uncaring and an obstructionist to change. 

There are a few who are willing to stand up and saying no to mob rule. I encourage you to use your own mind, your own heart and your own conscience to decide what is right, not what the mob tells you to do. 

Bob

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Mostly A Protest

One of the most patriotic elements of the American way of life is the ability to protest your own government. So important, the Founding Fathers enshrined the right to petition the government for redress of grievances along with the right to peaceably assemble in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights along with freedom of speech and religion. It is just as critical today to support and defend those who choose to exercise these rights, even if we disagree with their message as the right applies to everyone or it applies to no one.  Yet what we are seeing in the streets of our major cities has nothing to do with protest, with redress of grievances or peaceable assembly.  What we are witnessing is pure agenda driven greed and violence. It does nothing but further drive a wedge into our communities and keep them from working together. But then, isn’t that the point? 

From what I’ve seen, there was an actual peaceful protest in Minneapolis following the release of the video. But that’s where the protests ended, and riots began. The “cause” was taken up by others who have been waiting for the right timing and event to push their agenda. Knowing the emotions of the community were raw, it took very little to spur them into violence.  The rage quickly engulfing and destroying their very own communities, neighbors, friends and families. 

How exactly does looting and burning your neighborhood businesses, the same ones that are owned by and / or employ the people around you help the cause of social justice?  How does  looting a stack of big screen TVs, appliances, cars, clothing, food or cash promote change in the criminal justice system?  How does burning cars and buildings help the community come together for solutions?  How does savagely beating shop owners trying to protect their property or innocent motorists trapped in traffic while rioters swarm the streets help heal your community? How does killing other people help the cause of justice for the person whose name you are rioting in? 

Naturally, there can’t be a national crisis without a political blame game. Big city mayors and governors have been quick to point to out-of-town/out-of-state agitators as being the ones responsible, even as they have been encouraging their own citizens to act out. Blame has been placed on white supremacists, criminal gangs and even drug cartels “trying to take advantage of the chaos”, all without proof on the ground. 

Of course, nobody wants to blame Antifa, even as they claim to be involved and in control. The irony of Antifa is the very same progressive, far left politicians who have supported and protected them, now realize they can’t control them or the violence they bring as they destroy their own cities.

Thank goodness for the media who have been on scene with critical, non-biased reporting. As an example, one on camera report said, “I want to be clear on how I characterize this. This is mostly a protest. It is not generally unruly” as he stands in the middle of a riot with a building burning behind him. The press has also been quick to condemn any use of force by law enforcement even as they demand more be done to quell the violence and officers are assaulted and literally dragged through the streets. Politicians have also blamed people who have been forced to defend themselves, since law enforcement is unable or unwilling to help them right now, for instigating more violence.  

Personally, I am disgusted at the actions of people who choose to riot in the name of justice. But I’m more disappointed the people are so easily lead into senseless, random violence believing that this is the way to achieve peace in their community. You can blame outside agitators all you want, but it takes a voluntary conscious decision on the part of those in the community to attack and kill innocent, non-involved bystanders, loot their businesses and burn their buildings to the ground. 

What isn’t being commonly reported are those who have chosen to protect their lives, the lives of their families, and their properties with firearms. As with every day, non-riot life, very few will every have to discharge their firearms, but they are nonetheless effective.  About the last thing in the world any law-abiding firearm owner wants to do is use it against another person. But they all know this is just one step below allowing someone to harm them or their families. 

As for why this has erupted so quickly across the country, sadly I fear it has nothing to do with justice for Mr. Floyd, it has everything to do with politics and power.  Just as the country was beginning to turn the corner from the COVID-19 economic shutdown, this incident – not other earlier ones with equal or greater social and radical injustice – was chosen to ignite the next fire. I’d like to say we as a nation are better than this, but it really appears we are not. Those who wish to fan the fire for their own purposes are still given far too much attention.  

In the meantime, we all need to stay safe. Your safety really is up to you. Nobody is every going to be there to protect you and your family, in times of riot or otherwise. All lives are important, but you are the only one who can, and will, take care of you. 

Bob

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This Is NOT The New Normal

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to wind down and businesses start reopening, we are still faced with overly oppressive restrictions on where we can go, what we can do and how many people can be in one place at a time. In many places, wearing facemasks (of highly questionable effectiveness) are mandated for anyone out in public, and businesses and houses of worship must collect information on people who enter for contact tracing. Politicians and the media now tell us this is the “new normal” until a cure can be found. In reality, it is nothing more than another way for tyrannically inclined politicians to control us, strip away our rights and make us more dependent on the government for our daily existence. 

In many parts of our country, it’s as if the Constitution and Bill of Rights has been shredded.  Mandatory Stay At Home orders, closing businesses, restricting the ability to travel outside of your own neighborhood, prohibiting the ability to practice your religion, associate freely with those you choose, the ability to protest your government and purchase a firearm or ammunition have been eliminated. 

Governors and local politicians have made winners and losers by deciding who is essential and who is not. Big box retailers are essential, mom & pop shops are not. Alcohol and marijuana retailers are essential, firearm retailers are not. Purchasing food at a grocery store is essential, growing your own food from seeds or fishing by yourself in a lake is not. 

When the pandemic closures began, the forecast for closing our country was two weeks, a month at the most to flatten the curve.  We are going on three months in many areas, with no end date in sight. In contrast to the need to “flatten the curve” before reopening the economy, we are now told it will not happen until there is a cure, an upgraded goal from having a vaccine available or the population developing “herd immunity”.  What is crystal clear is the politicians who are keeping their states, counties or cities closed are going to do everything they can to drag out the pain suffered by their constituents. 

So what are we supposed to expect in this so-called “new normal”, projected to be at least 12 to 18 months?  No gatherings of 100 persons or more, effectively eliminating sports, concerts and conferences. Dine-in restaurants, businesses and theaters will only be able to operate by restricting capacity to 25% to 50% to enforce social distancing.  Patrons will be required to have their temperature taken and provide identifying information for contact tracing in order to enter.  Schools, if allowed to reopen, will stagger the arrival and departure times throughout the day and dramatically restrict movement of students who will spend their class, lunch and recreation time in the same room with the same teacher. Airlines will screen all passenger’s temperature, block middle seats (unless it prevents the flight from being profitable) and may require “immunity passports” proving they have had and recovered from COVID-19, or have been administered the as of yet available vaccine. 

What I want to know is how exactly businesses that operate on small margins are going to be able to survive? We’ve already seen thousands of small, medium and large businesses across the nation close permanently due to the losses incurred from the economic shutdown while the big box retailers deemed essential and awarded a monopoly in their communities are thriving.  Millions of “non-essential” employees are out of work and now fully dependent on the government to pay their rent and feed their families. 

Consider also that health departments in about two thirds of the states are now sharing the addresses or names and addresses of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 with law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services. While this would normally be considered a massive HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violation, “guidance” from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services simply dismisses this legal concern.  It’s amazing how many states have readily accepted this federal guidance yet ignored the Department of Homeland Security guidance on firearm retailers being essential. Nor is it a violation of your privacy for your cell phone company to provide tools to health departments to conduct “digital contact tracing” with or without your consent.  Snitch lines are available around the country so you can report your neighbors for not following social distancing guidelines. 

While the courts have been mixed in their reactions to challenges of the economic and social shutdowns, the people themselves have been making their objections extraordinarily clear. As I’m writing this, I’m seeing news feeds of citizens around the country exercising their constitutional rights to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances, all in defiance of the oppressive and arbitrary closure orders in their area. The people are saying it is time to reopen the country and allow them to take care of their families themselves.  

I refuse to believe the way we are being forced to live is going to be the new normal. With every communicable disease from the common cold and flu to H1N1 (Swine Flu) of 2009, we have been able to effectively keep our country running and take care of our sick. Yet with COVID-19, we’ve been told our entire way of life must change for the foreseeable future. Or perhaps, if we vote ‘correctly’, it will only last until the elections are over.

It does NOT take increasingly draconian control measures from oppressively inclined government officials to keep you from passing on or catching COVID-19. The most basic level of personal responsibility, social distancing and sanitation, is enough to stop this, without giving up our rights. 

Bob

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Contact Tracing

As our nation begins to emerge from the overly hyped COVID-19 pandemic and businesses and recreational venues open, a new front in the fight against the virus is being touted, contact tracing. So critical is this new (basically really old) tool that it is now a requirement for many businesses and houses of worship to open. What is it? At the basic level it is interviewing infected persons to determine who they have been in contact with and getting assistance to those individuals.  If that was it, there wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, it is being taken to a frighteningly new electronic level using our own possessions against us.  Quite bluntly, this level of intrusion on our privacy scares the crap out of me. Once it’s an accepted practice during a pandemic, it will become accepted practice in everyday life. 

Contact tracing itself is an old concept. When someone is diagnosed with an infectious disease, health officials interview the person to determine who they have had contact with in order to get that person the appropriate medical treatment. Think the stereotypical VD (venereal disease) clinic diagnosis and telling the doctor all the people you’ve had sex with. Embarrassing yes, but it helps to stop the spread of the disease. 

To meet the needs for COVID-19, states have already hired thousands of new contact tracers with a projected goal of approximately 100,000 nationwide. This new army of public employees is tasked with tracing the movements and contacts of every individual diagnosed with COVID-19. 

If that was all there was to it, there wouldn’t be a problem. But as tyrannical governors, county, city and health officials around the country have learned, they can infringe on every one of your constitutionally protected rights under the pretext of a “health emergency”. As such, your privacy means absolutely nothing them.  

How they plan on achieving their contact tracing is where the privacy concerns begin. In some areas, a precondition to allowing businesses and houses of worship to open is mandatory recording of everyone who enters.  Name, address, phone number and email addresses must be recorded as well as the time they enter and leave. Houses of worship have been required to compile and turn over lists of all their members.  

For houses of worship, it’s easy to see how this information might be used to infringe on First Amendment rights. Even a cursory look at current events and history will show numerous abuses, suppression and elimination of those who hold certain religious views.  Beyond that, tracking customers of any business can not only lead to abuse but stymie businesses efforts to reopen as potential customers won’t want to give up their personal information just to purchase a product or meal. 

But even this isn’t enough. The CDC’s (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) own guidance is that digital monitoring will be necessary.  The mechanism for this is already in place and simply needs to be enabled. It is of course, the smartphone.  

An estimated 81% of the US population owns a smartphone. Most smartphone users carry their devices with them 24/7, everyplace they go – including the bathroom. We wouldn’t dream of going to the store or even the mailbox without our phones.  Contrast this to a time when we used to drive across the country with nothing but a roll of dimes for payphones. 

Given this reality of our smartphone appendage, it’s easy to see how valuable they are as a tracking device. With GPS and Bluetooth features, your location and who you associated with can be determined anytime, anywhere.  Keep in mind, every byte of data about your location is recorded somewhere. A number of states have already tapped into these features to measure the effectiveness of their Stay At Home orders. While using supposedly anonymized data, they can see how many people are leaving their homes every day and how far they are going. Of course, knowing you left your home isn’t exactly randomized. 

But this new frontier in contact tracing isn’t using anonymized data, it’s looking directly at YOU and your movements.  Apple and Google, the largest providers of cell phones, have joined forces to modify their operating systems and infrastructure to allow digital contact tracing. New apps have been developed by government entities using the Apple and Google toolkits to allow individuals to track their own movements and proximity to other cell phone users. This is currently voluntary in the United States but mandatory in other countries.  Once someone is determined to be infected, it sets off a chain of notifications for anyone who has been near them.  Note that it will not be necessary to have a contact tracing app installed on your own smartphone for you to be tagged and notified of a potential infectious contact. 

Apple and Google have vowed that this is a temporary measure and will only be used for health purposes and for the duration of the pandemic. Once it is over, they have promised the infrastructure will be dismantled. Of course, we all know that no public emergency will ever be over and there will always be another ‘emergency’ down the road.

So what do the health authorities do when they identify a contact of someone who has tested positive?  If the system is working the way it should, medical assistance should be offered in case they are infected.  But that’s not exactly what is going on.  Mandatory testing and 14-day quarantine orders are made with the help of law enforcement and National Guard troops. 

Health departments around the country are constantly threatening and walking back claims they will remove infected individuals, adults or children, from their homes. So far, violators of quarantine orders have been arrested and incarcerated or fitted with tracking devices like common criminals. What we haven’t seen yet is what will happen to individuals who do not cooperate with testing or quarantine orders based solely on either manual or digital contact tracing. 

A look at how other countries are handing digital contact tracing and quarantining provides a glimpse into our future. Taiwan uses their telecom providers to track all those in quarantine and integrates it with their police systems to check if people are out of quarantine. Poland uses a mandatory smartphone app to track those in quarantine. 

China fits everyone coming into the country with a digital wristband and required smartphone app install to track their mandatory 14-day quarantine. China has recently added a color coded “health code” that must be scanned to allow access to public facilities or transit. The exact requirements for a green (likely COVID-19 free), yellow (at risk of COVID-19), or red (likely COVID-19 positive) have not been disclosed but are believed to incorporate the user’s location and their medical and travel history. 

What this boils down to is how much of our privacy, our basic natural rights, we are willing to give up in a health or other public emergency.  Our experiences so far with COVID-19 has shown a huge national tolerance for infringements on just about all our First Amendment, Second Amendment and Fourth Amendment protected rights.  But that tolerance has worn incredibly thin as the nation’s economy and way of life have been shut down for two months. 

If you believe the opinion polls, our nation’s population is equally split over the use of digital contact tracking. Even the CDC notes there will be resistance to this approach, but it may be more accepted in the future.  Personally, I disagree there is that much acceptance to 24/7 government tracking of every place we go and everyone we are in close proximity of. I see this as just another COVID-19 related excuse to infringe on the rights of American citizens. 

Our Constitution and Bill of Rights contain no provisions for suspension of rights in case of a “health crisis”.  If fact, our natural rights take on more significance as tyrannically inclined governments pick and choose what rights can be exercised, and whom among us are allowed to enjoy them. 

Bob

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California Freedom Week V2 – NOT!

For a very brief period, law-abiding California residents were free from the draconian ammunition purchase restrictions imposed by Proposition 63. A federal judge ruled the ammunition restrictions were unconstitutional and issued an injunction.  But alas, that freedom was quickly taken away. After being denied a stay from said federal judge, the State appealed to the Ninth Circuit who issued a stay the very next night. Of course, if this was about keeping ammunition from prohibited persons as the State argues, it would be one thing. But California’s motives and design behind their so-called “ammunition background check system” are more far reaching than they admit. And it is all designed to strip more of your rights away from you. 

By the by, for those of you who don’t think this will impact you since you don’t live in California, think again. Ammunition restrictions are the future of gun control and every gun control extremist in every state wants it. 

On Thursday, April 23rd around 3:00 pm, United States District Judge Roger T. Benitez issued a preliminary injunction against the State of California in Rhode v. Becerra prohibiting the enforcement of the ammunition restrictions imposed by Proposition 63. This included the requirement for a background check for the purchase and transfer of ammunition as well as the restriction on the purchase of ammunition from out-of-state vendors delivered to the purchaser’s home. 

It is worth noting this is the same federal judge who ruled against California’s so-called “large capacity” magazine ban in March 2019. For one week before Judge Benitez issued a stay on his own ruling, Californians were free to possess, sell, purchase, trade, give and most importantly, use standard capacity magazines. Conservative estimates place the number of magazines acquired by Californians at between one and two MILLION. While selling and purchasing standard capacity magazines is once again banned while the stay is in place, the possession and use of them is still allowed in the state. 

In this case, Judge Benitez issued another masterfully worded 120 page ruling against the state, essentially picking apart the State’s argument piece-by-piece, calling out “onerous and convoluted” regulations that violate the constitutional right to bear arms. It’s lengthy, but it’s worth reading to understand the reasoning behind the injunction. A link to the document is at the end of this article. 

But the State was ready this time. The following morning, the State filed a motion to stay the preliminary injunction with Judge Benitez. It also set a time limit of 3:00 pm that day, for Judge Benitez to issue a ruling or the State would consider an appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Judge Benitez denied this motion, again with a well-crafted rejection of the State’s argument. Not to be outdone, the State did appeal to the Ninth Circuit and a stay was issued at 9:54 pm on April 24th.  Thus the duration of the stay, and California ammunition buyers freedom, lasted only about 30 hours. 

So why is this NOT about keeping ammunition out of the hands of prohibited persons? If that was the objective as the State insists, they would have adopted a simple check of prohibited persons similar to what most states use with NCIS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). Instead, California chose to piggyback the existing DROS (Dealer Registration of Sale) system which is tied into a number of sub-systems including the error prone APPS (Armed and Prohibited Persons System).  Other than creating a system with an error rate of 16.4 % and blocking over 101,047 law-abiding citizen purchases over 10 months, it allows the state to register each and every ammunition purchase to the buyer.  Now why in the world would they want to do that? 

To answer that, look no further than previously proposed legislation in California that was unable to be implemented as the system to support it was not in place, until now. 

Limits on the amount of ammunition you can purchase in a given time period

California has long wanted to limit how many rounds you can buy in a day/week/month, etc. Cries of ‘You shouldn’t be able to walk in and buy an arsenal’ have been around for years. The state has successfully implemented limits on how many handguns and semiautomatic centerfire rifles you can purchase thanks to the DROS entries. Ammunition registration enables this. 

Limits on the type of ammunition

California has outlawed the use of lead ammunition for hunting and has proposed that ban be extended for all shooting ranges. They’ve even proposed that only lead-free ammunition, as certified by the State DOJ (Department of Justice) be available for sale. In other words, think handgun roster for ammunition. Without a registration system for all approved ammunition, this would not be possible. 

This also allows bans of other non-desirable ammunition such as so-called “assault bullets”, otherwise known as common defensive hollow point rounds, or ammunition in certain calibers such as 5.56, .223, 7.62×39 or 5.45×39, ammunition commonly used in AR or AK pattern rifles. 

Limit ammunition purchases to calibers matching your registered firearms

Let’s say of all your firearms registered with the state, none shoot 5.56 / .223. So why then would you need to purchase ammunition in that caliber? The logical conclusion from the state is you have an unregistered firearm. Never mind that it’s possible and completely legal to have firearms that were never registered or even required to be registered now, but that means the state doesn’t know about it. By limiting your purchases to firearms registered in DROS, you can either not shoot that firearm, or you have to register it to get ammo for it.  

Ammunition bans and restrictions are the new promised land in the world of gun control since firearms without ammunition are just expensive clubs. They also know this area is currently very lightly regulated and small, incremental steps to restrict and eliminate it, such as licensing ammunition vendors, restricting internet purchases with consumer direct shipments, background checks and registration will dramatically increase the costs and give them more control over how much ammunition you can have and use.  

Of course, you can’t help but appreciate this short-lived ammunition law injunction being a cruel joke on so many levels. Not only did it only last for about 30 hours, but it occurred at a time when a lot of Californians were out of work and didn’t have any money, many of state’s guns stores were closed as non-essential, ammunition was scarce because of the panic buying over the last month and what was available was priced so high it wasn’t affordable.

As with all legal cases, this one will not play out for years to come. During this time, California resident’s Second Amendment rights will continue to erode and the only ones enjoying the ride will be the lawyers. The ONLY way to keep this from happening again in other states is to STOP electing people who will not protect our natural, Constitutionally protected rights. 

Bob

https://michellawyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-04-23-Order-Granting-MPI.pdf

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United Socialist States of America

In a little over a month into our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen our entire economy shut down resulting in 26.5 million Americans, representing 20.6% of our workforce, losing their jobs.  It is currently the highest level of unemployment in our country since 1934 following the Great Depression. With each passing week of our workers being locked in their homes and out of their jobs, it becomes worse. You would think at a time like this our government would be doing everything they can to get us back to the robust economy we had before. Instead, what we have seen is a systematic loss of our rights, our jobs, our freedom and our way of life as opportunistic, power hungry politicians have seized the chance to implement extreme progressive changes they could never have done before without this crisis. The mantra of “never let a crisis go to waste” is quickly turning our nation into the United Socialist States of America. 

At first, the media stoked fear of COVID-19 convinced us that the only way to effectively react to this unknown was to shut down the country except for so-called “essential services”. The first hints of socialist favoritism came when the definitions of essential services varied across the nation. Large and small communities alike granted themselves extraordinary powers to shut down commerce, restrict purchases of goods and services and even permanently seize private property. Statewide restrictions followed and the essentials list grew more restrictive, even to the point of what products could be purchased. Shortages of basic food and other staples spread across the nation. While big box, large chain stores were allowed to remain open, smaller family owned businesses were forced to close. Permitted commerce now only benefits these large stores. 

Health care was limited to essential, COVID-19 relates services. Any other health services are prohibited. Hospitals were cleared out and huge field hospitals were constructed in preparation for the huge influx of patients that never arrived. 

At the same time, shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders were introduced and it became a crime to leave your house except for a strictly defined list of essential needs. Travel outside your immediate neighborhood was outlawed. Travel between some states was restricted. Roadblocks on the highways questioned everyone with out-of-state plates. National Guard troops in one state went door-to-door looking for out-of-state residents who had left their home state.  Those breaking the rules have been fined, arrested or put into mandatory quarantine. 

Traffic and cell phone data have been collected so authorities can determine if people are staying in their homes. Law enforcement agencies have been using drones to monitor the public. Newer drones can now determine if someone has a fever, is coughing and their heart rate from hundreds of feet away. Heavy handed police tactics have been used to deal with mothers, fathers, families and others who dare to break the most minor of state or local rules.  

In the interest of public health, prisoners have been released on mass. Over 17,000 in 21 states, many times as the result of secret, non-public hearings or rulings, with some prisoners even provided with free cell phones and hotel rooms. Keep in mind, this isn’t a temporary furlough where they’ll be coming back when the crisis ends, this is a permanent, get out of jail free card. 

This comes as law enforcement agencies are reducing the type of calls they respond to. The results are what you would expect. Burglary and violent crimes including rape, robbery and murder have increased, many committed by these released convicts. Under the new rules, most who are now arrested must be immediately released. 

“Snitch lines” have been established so you can report non-essential businesses who are open and your neighbors who are defying social distancing rules. One mayor has even proudly proclaimed that ‘snitches get rewards’. 

In different parts of the country, law changes have been administratively altered including such things as extending the time frame for an initial hearing following a red-flag firearms seizure from 10 days to 100 days (California) and eliminating the right to open carry a firearm (Mississippi). 

Perhaps the most egregious rules are those that directly infringe on First and Second Amendment rights. Prohibiting the free exercise of religion, the freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances and the right to keep and bear arms. 

Still waiting in the wings is a proposed follow-up to the one-time stimulus payment, is monthly payments to all residents, legal and illegal, for at least a year – in other words, a universal basic income. 

If you’re wondering how this all equates to socialism, it’s really rather simple. The government is determining who is allowed to work and who is not. The government is determining what goods and services can be offered and by whom. The government is determining who can make a profit and who will be required to live on government payments. The longer the economy is shut down, the more small businesses will close forever and the more people will be forced into poverty and will need to rely on government assistance. 

As with all socialist economies, there is an elite class that thrives. As we’ve already seen, the wealthy and the high-level politicians are not only exempt from the daily restrictions placed on the rest of the population, they are able to profit from it too. The politicians pick and choose what industries and what businesses are allowed to operate and which are not. The restrictions on the population keep them at arm’s length and the elimination of their rights keep the elites safe. 

Is this the future you want for yourself and your country? Are you willing to give up not only your natural, constitutionally protected rights as well as your ability to provide for yourself and your family as you see fit?

Yes, COVID-19 is a serious health issue, but it can be mitigated without the draconian control measures being used in some areas of the country. The most basic level of personal responsibility, social distancing and sanitation, is enough to stop this, without giving up our rights.

Bob

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Liberty Is Essential

While breaking my self-imposed isolation yesterday for a supply run, I saw an older gentleman beside the road in a lawn chair with two flags, an Old Glory and a Gadsden. He was holding a sign that read, “Liberty is Essential”. I couldn’t help but think to myself how appropriate this was right now. Around the country from Maine to California, everyday people are coming together to protest the draconian restrictions, loss of business and the loss of their civil liberties that have become so synonymous with COVID-19.  They are demanding that their states begin to reopen their economies and let people get back to work and take care of their families.  Seeing these loud but peaceful protests springing up, and this one man sitting alone beside the road, makes me proud of what our country can be. 

No doubt you have seen how quickly our rights have been stripped away in the interest of “public health”. Businesses not defined as “essential” by their state or local government have been ordered closed. Of course, there is no standard definition of what essential is. In some areas even those allowed to stay open cannot sell so-called non-essential items such as vegetable seeds or plants. Large retailers are allowed to remain open while small mom & pop shops are ordered closed. Health care has been limited to emergency care only. “Outside is for a brief respite” only. Otherwise, you are expected to remain in your home. 

Yet the worst infringements have attacked our natural, constitutionally protected rights. Religious services banned. The ability of the people to assemble banned. The right to petition our government banned. The right to bear arms banned. 

All of this has been done in the name of public health. Yes, I know. With no effective means to treat or vaccinate against COVID-19, the current best way to prevent the spread of the disease is isolation, social distancing along with protective masks, gloves and good old-fashioned hand washing. Yet all of that can be accomplished without taking away our rights. 

It’s important to keep in mind our constitutionally protected rights don’t have an asterisk next to them. There is no condition, natural or manmade that suspends our rights. In fact, in times of a local, regional or national crisis, I would argue our constitutionally protected rights are even more important. 

Yet our history tells us our governments have done just that. Notably during Hurricane Katrina when personally owned firearms were confiscated from everyone, even those trying to protect their lives and property or attempting to flee the city. Residents were not allowed to congregate and were forcibly removed from their own homes and property seized.  By all accounts, Katrina was a human rights disaster. As a result, laws were passed to prevent abuses like this in the future. Somehow, all this seems to have been forgotten today. 

This crisis has seen the same overzealous enforcement of emergency executive orders as we saw during Katrina. Leaving your home for anything not expressly listed as an essential activity subjects you to arrest. Examples from around the country have shown clearly inappropriate uses of force to enforce social distancing and stay-at-home orders.  

In a protest rally at the capitol in South Carolina, a protestor was arrested, and others dispersed by the State Capitol Police. The Raleigh Police defended the action by putting out a statement “Protesting is a non-essential activity.” 

In Mississippi and Kentucky, among other places, people attending religious services in parking lots, while sitting in their cars, windows rolled up and listening to the services on low-power radio stations, were cited or reported to health departments for mandatory 14-day quarantines. 

Firearms and ammunition retailers have been forced to closed in numerous states and localities as they are not considered “essential”. At the same time, liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries in the same areas have been allowed to operate. 

Probably the most telling comment comes from the Governor of New Jersey when questioned about why he allowed arrests at religious services to be part of coronavirus quarantine enforcement. Asked; “By what authority did you nullify the Bill of Rights in issuing this order? How do you have the power to do that?” The governor responded, “That’s above my pay grade, Tucker, I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this.”

So there you have it. Enacting laws and executive orders without considering the Constitutional implications OR, not giving a damn about the Bill of Rights or just plain figuring they can do anything they want. Either way, our rights are being stripped away. 

If you’re thinking, well… this is just a temporary measure for everyone’s safety and protection, isn’t it better to give up our rights for a while? Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Rights taken away are seldom fully returned. There are always asterisks, conditions and exceptions that come along with it that allow rights to be taken away again and taken further away. This year it’s COVID-19. Next year it could be an earthquake or flood, or a bad year for the seasonal flu, or a small group of protesters marching to the capitol. Are you willing to give up your rights during any time of crisis? 

Our natural rights were so important that our Founding Fathers listed them in the Bill of Rights, a document that doesn’t grant those rights, but rather limits our government’s ability to restrict them. This nation was founded during a time of crisis, when we were fighting for our independence from an oppressive government. Men and women were putting their lives on the line and dying so that we could live free.  Knowing our history, how can anyone believe our Constitution and Bill of Rights do not apply in a time of national emergency?  

I’d like to thank that gentleman sitting beside the road yesterday for reminding me and everyone who went by of what is really important. Unfortunately, I’ll likely never know his name and I was only able to give him a couple of beeps of my horn as I passed, but if he provides a little inspiration for just a few us of, then his time very well spent.  

Liberty is Essential 

Bob

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