Top libertarian activist responds to libel with truth bomb

It is a joke in libertarian circles that libertarians are their own worst enemies. As with many jokes, there is an element of truth to this.

Take for instance the case of 2016 vice presidential nomination loser Judd Weiss and his girlfriend spreading libelous smears about Chris Thrasher and other members of Gov. Gary Johnson’s 2016 team.  Despite the fact that Mr. Weiss has released essentially zero evidence to substantiate his claims, several outlets are talking about this story. Major questions linger about Weiss’ revelations particularly due to what some are calling biased reporting from  his girlfriend completed for The Libertarian Republic. As with any allegation, the veracity of any claims should be carefully questioned and examined.

Christopher Thrasher, a veteran of 5 presidential campaigns and the director of ballot access for Johnson/Weld 2016, was one of the people  targeted in the most recent drama. Apparently Mr.  Thrasher has had enough though, throwing down in a scathing repudiation of Weiss and his lover’s attacks in a lengthy Facebook message posted today.

Here’s the full statement from Thrasher below:

“To Whom It May Concern:

In a recent video, several unfounded accusations and slanders were thrown towards me regarding the 2016 Libertarian Presidential campaign. At first, I dismissed these as nothing more than sour grapes.
Unfortunately, these slanders have continued unabated, and I now have no choice but to respond.
During the first quarter of 2016, I served as the campaign manager for John McAfee’s bid for the Libertarian Presidential nomination. When I came onboard after an aborted independent run, there was no campaign team, no infrastructure, nor was there much in the way of resources available. Even still, as a political professional, I knew that there was a narrow path to victory. I began to set the campaign on track for a legitimate chance to clench the nomination, crafting a new platform, and engineering several earned media narratives that dominated the national news cycle for a time. The campaign took off and began to succeed.
In seeking supporters for McAfee, I approached Judd Weiss through mutual acquaintances with the idea of holding a fundraiser for the campaign. Weiss immediately inserted himself into the conversation for Vice Presidential running mate.
I was vehemently opposed to Judd Weiss’ candidacy for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was his 2012 arrest for Felony Sexual Assault, which culminated in his pleading no contest to a felony.
It was immediately clear that Weiss had no intention of engaging in any of the necessary legwork to actually win the nomination. In fact, were it not for my own (literally) last minute nomination at the California Libertarian Convention, Weiss would not have even been a delegate to the national convention.
Instead of engaging in the immediate crucial and time sensitive task at hand – appealing to delegates and focusing on the internal Libertarian campaign – Weiss chose to focus on marketing to a “movement” using online videos with dubious copyright status. While such a marketing campaign may have been effective in the general election, it did nothing towards the task of winning the Libertarian Party nomination.
Around this same time, I also began to notice that Mr. McAfee’s priorities had shifted. There are many factors that may have contributed to this. Mr. McAfee is an extremely intelligent man, and I believe he may have seen the writing on the wall. Now, Mr. McAfee is once again making money as the head of successful technology firm. I certainly hold no ill will towards him for possibly making a calculated decision that was arguably in his best interest.
With Weiss’ constant interference, and the continued de-emphasis on campaigning to delegates, I came to the realization that there was no longer a reason for me to continue with the campaign.
There was no doubt in my mind at that time that due to Weiss’ involvement, and to a lesser extent Mr. McAfee’s shift in priorities, the narrow path to victory had ceased to exist.
I attempted to leave quietly and cordially. When Mr. McAfee contacted Austin Petersen about my departure, Petersen’s team posted articles about my departure. I did not make any public comment until after the story was published. My intention was to simply transition out, quietly and professionally.
Weiss makes a claim of sabotage surrounding convention of the Libertarian Party of Louisiana. This was the week following my official departure, and yet I was still trying to assist the campaign during the transition. In fact, Mr. McAfee had committed to this convention quite early in the cycle, before other priorities came into view. I know where John was that weekend. John knows where he was that weekend. I am certain Weiss to this day has no idea. After getting no response from the supposed new campaign manager all week, I then contacted Weiss.
Thus began a continual narrative from the new campaign; making me the scapegoat for practically anything and everything that went wrong after my departure.
Weiss then goes on to make the ridiculous claim that I was “Paid Off” by the Johnson campaign.
Let me be clear: the reason I left the McAfee campaign was due to the detrimental change in philosophy and lack of cohesive political strategy that accompanied Weiss’ inserting himself into the campaign.
After sitting out several weeks, I was offered and accepted the position of Floor Director for the Johnson campaign’s convention efforts.
Make no mistake, despite Weiss’ dubious and unsubstantiated claims of impropriety, what won the nominations was superior organization and convention floor work. A plan of action, successfully conceived and executed by Apollo Pazell, myself, and others, won the day for our candidates.
Upon our successful convention victory, I chose to continue working on the campaign in a capacity where I would have a tangible goal, and be in the best position to further the Libertarian Party’s future.
As the Director of Ballot Access for the Johnson/Weld campaign, I successfully coordinated the effort to achieve ballot access in all 50 states. It was the first successful 50 State + DC ballot access drive for an Independent or Third-Party candidate in more than two decades.
Weiss makes the outrageous and untrue claim that the compensation I received for these efforts was a “Payoff” from the Johnson campaign. This is nothing more than a vicious slander from a failed candidate.
As a political professional, I am no stranger to baseless attacks. However, my professional reputation in politics also relies on preserving my name and accomplishments. It is for these reasons I have written this response, in an attempt to end the nonsense and rumors that have been so irresponsibly disseminated. -CT “

Another day, another drone bombing as strikes triple under Trump

Many Americans remain oblivious to the drones strikes that continue to rain down weekly around the middle east at an alarming rate. Just yesterday, another drone strike allegedly killed two children in Yemen. In early March, the Pentagon conducted over 30 airstrikes in Yemen over the course of just two days. This is a continuation of the bombing of Yemen which started sometime in Oct. 2016 in support of the Saudi’s war on the Iranian backed Houtis.

This involvement plunged America deeper into it’s involvement in the Yemen civil war beyond material support. Due to America’s involvement in Yemen’s civil war and other operations overseas, America is undergoing a massive escalation of the drone war under the Trump administration. Trump’s drone strikes have been estimated to be triple that of his predecessor.  Beyond the strikes themselves,  the U.S. has pledged to continue to it’s controversial massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia to wage war in Yemen. These sales have been criticized for their ties to civilian deaths.

Too often, civilian casualties have been underreported in the drone campaigns of the past 12 or so years. These civilian casualties could certainly radicalize more people towards hostility towards the United States. How careful of a cost/benefit analysis being conducted before these strikes occur? It is uncertain on account of  very limited oversight of these strikes by the legislative and judicial branch.

Several American citizens have been assassinated under the drone program without the  due process of the judicial branch. These include children such as 8 year old Nawar al-Awlaki. No matter one’s opinion on the war on terror itself, the state sanctioned killing of American children is certainly worthy of public scrutiny and debate. While some may call the deaths of civilians “collateral damage”, one person’s collateral damage is another person’s daughter, mother , or sister. Merely attacking the terrorists themselves fails to address the root ideology which causes anti-American sentiments and violence.

 

Wikileaks drops massive new bombshell about CIA hacking

News dropped this morning about another new Wikileaks dump, this time regarding the CIA and its massive cyber spying and warfare operations. The over 8000 pages released contain intimate details of things like cyber warfare locations, tools, and agency structure.  Vault 7 as it’s called paints a picture of an agency with a near boundless capacity to listen in on and monitor the communications of others, both in the U.S. and abroad.

The documents discuss things such as the CIA’s ability to intercept and read messages on apps that many in the information technology community once considered secure such as Signal and WhatsApp. Another alarming aspect is the acknowledgement that phones, smart TVs, and other internet devices are easily tapped into and used as microphones. This confirms what some have long suspected, and paints a disturbing picture of a state with the ability to spy on most anyone at anytime.

Included in the trove are the details of scores of weaponized “cyberweapons” which include any number of different computer viruses, malware, and exploits. While these weapons may have uses in the battlefields of today, one of the pages admits these tools have been compromised and are “in the wild” outside the agency. Could these tools now be used by foreign powers against American citizens due to a lack of oversight and carelessness?

While an executive order forbids the CIA to spy on American citizens, the CIA can ask another agency to do the spying and provide the necessary tools. Page 4 of the order states that “The CIA is, however, permitted to ask another federal agency to perform special collection techniques in the United States under that agency’s legal authorities. The CIA may also provide technical equipment or knowledge to another federal agency…”

The parallels between George Orwell’s 1984 and modern day America are even more undeniable today than before on account of this new information. The U.S. is engaging in endless war with robots, with the potential for the state’s ears and eyes to be everywhere at anytime. Serious questions about, as the leaker himself is said to have stated, the “security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.” are unanswered.  The leaker went further to question “whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency”. In addition to these questions, why is the CIA replicating capacity and work already assigned to the NSA? These are important questions for the republic to ponder as we the people consider the role of electronic privacy and personal civil liberties in our lives.

Continue mass surveillance without reform says Trump administration

If you thought that the current administration would be any better than the last on issues like electronic privacy and mass surveillance, you were sorely wrong. The Trump administration announced it wants the “clean reauthorization” of parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which permit some of the nations most intrusive and controversial mass surveillance programs.

One of the sections set to expire, Section 702,  contains two of the mass surveillance programs exposed by Edward Snowden. These programs include the infamous PRISM program which allows the NSA to access information from private providers like Facebook and Google without warrant. The other program is called Upstream which allowed the federal government to collect raw data directly off the nation’s internet cables and information infrastructure.

The Trump administration’s support of warrantless mass surveillance of American citizens should come as no surprise considering past statements Trump has made about “erring on the side of security”  when it comes to the NSA’s domestic surveillance. This creates a false dichotomy though. America can continue to be secure and gather important intelligence with proper insight and safeguards in place.

Reforms to the law have been proposed from both sides of the aisle from legislators like Rand Paul and others. Rather than having a “clean reauthorization” of the act, processes could be put into place to further protect the privacy of Americans and improve oversight. Oversight could aide in answering questions that remain like how many Americans the NSA actually spies on with its programs.

Time will tell if members of the Republican controlled legislator will simply go along with the reauthorization of the act or put up a fight as in times past on the issue of NSA surveillance. Despite the outcry of legislators and the public alike, little has changed in regards to the laws and programs which facilitate the domestic spying.

Federal court rules semi-automatic rifles aren’t protected by 2nd amendment

A federal appeals court ruled in late February that a Maryland law banning many semi-automatic rifles was perfectly constitutional. The ruling states:

We conclude — contrary to the now-vacated decision of our prior panel — that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment.

The referenced banned weapons include “…semiautomatic centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds;” and  “AR-15″s among others.

These weapons are referred to as “weapons of war” in the ruling. The court seemingly misunderstands the concept of “weapons of war” though. The United States military uses rifles with burst and full auto fire capacity. Civilian semi-automatic firearms are fundamentally different, and these types of rulings are akin to calling every Chevy Monte Carlo a race car just because it looks like one on the outside. Beyond definitions though, what if they kind of are “weapons of war” anyway? Just in case?

When the original intent of the constitution is honestly considered is it more likely that the right to bear arms is meant to only protect the right of people to protect themselves from burglars and violent crime or are there greater possibilities? Could the 2nd amendment also be some type of doomsday provision for when all other rights have failed?

Consider for a moment what George Mason, who conceived the Bill of Rights, had to say on the matter:

… A well-regulated Militia, composed of the Gentlemen, Freeholders, and other Freemen was necessary to protect our ancient laws and liberty from the standing army … And we do each of us, for ourselves respectively, promise and engage to keep a good Fire-lock in proper order & to furnish Ourselves as soon as possible with, & always keep by us, one Pound of Gunpowder, four Pounds of Lead, one Dozen Gun Flints, and a pair of Bullet Moulds, with a Cartouch Box, or powder horn, and Bag for Balls.

That doesn’t sound like Mr. Mason was preparing to merely protect his home from criminals. Mason, like many of the founding fathers, understood that a general populace well enough armed to challenge standing armies was crucial to the protection of freedom and individual liberty. This ruling and the law in Maryland continue a dangerous precedent that may go all the way to the Supreme Court to determine if private citizens are “allowed” to own many kinds of semi-automatic rifles.

Brace yourself for the incoming war on recreational pot and states’ rights

Will Trump’s Justice Department focus its attention on caging and harassing non-violent marijuana users? A particular cabinet pick and revelations from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer point to yes.

In a recent White House press briefing a reporter asked what the administration’s position on marijuana legalization is when there is a conflict between state and federal law.

After discussing how medical marijuana is somehow federally sanctioned through a legal technicality called a rider (even though it actually isn’t), Spicer pivoted and equated marijuana to the recent opioid crisis.

“When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people, there is still a federal law we need to abide when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature. “

Wwhen asked by another reporter if we will begin seeing federal action around marijuana enforcement Spicer responded.

 “I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it,”

The current head of the Department of Justice is renown drug war advocate Jeff Sessions. Sessions has a long history of aggressively fighting the drug war and being one of it’s most vocal advocates. Sessions disdain for marijuana is well documented, including the gem where he stated he thought the KKK “were OK until I found out they smoked pot.” and more recently that “good people don’t smoke marijuana”.

Some may wonder if the Federal government has any business in usurping states’  rights in cases of legalized marijuana, particularly when it has passed as a referendum. Despite the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a Supreme Court ruling says yes, pointing to the Commerce Clause. That does not mean the states won’t fight back. In Washington, the state Attorney General has already commented that he is prepared to battle: ““I will resist any efforts by the Trump administration to undermine the will of the voters in Washington state”.

It is a shame that such action is being discussed in this day and age, especially considering that the marijuana industry is predicted to surpass America’s manufacturing and government in job creation by 2020. In addition to the economic impact of said crackdown, serious questions about individual liberty and states rights emerge from these revelations.

 

White House: The Powers of the President Will Not Be Questioned

Was it Pinochet or a senior White House advisor that said “the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned”?

If you guessed Pinochet, sorry, you’re wrong.

The questionable statement was not made by an authoritarian dictator but by Senior White House Adviser Stephen Miller, raising troubling questions about the administration’s views on the power of the executive branch.

This attitude of not questioning authority and power lies in stark contrast to the views of the writer of the constitution, James Madison, who knew

The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.

 

But wait, that’s not all… The full exchange with “Face the Nation’s” John Dickerson tells us more:

“Dickerson: When I talked to Republicans on the Hill, they wonder, what in the White House — what have you all learned from this experience with the executive order?

Miller: Well, I think that it’s been an important reminder to all Americans that we have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become, in many cases, a supreme branch of government. One unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country. I mean this is just crazy, John, the idea that you have a judge in Seattle say that a foreign national living in Libya has an effective right to enter the United States is — is — is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.

The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”

So not only are Americans not to question presidential power, the judicial branch has now somehow become the “supreme branch of government”. Miller raises more questions about the administration’s view of constitutional government and the separation of power that is the basis of our republic.

What do you think, has the judiciary “taken far too much power… (to) become a supreme branch of government”?

Libertarian Party Vice Chair Throws Cato Institute Under Bus, Outrage Ensues

Libertarian Party Vice Chair Arvin Vohra got into some hot water over the weekend with some Libertarian Party members after comments he made on social media bashing the Cato Institute. The Cato Institute is perhaps the most widely known, respected, and trusted source of libertarian policy analysis.

Arvin stated that “Groups like The Cato Institute have condoned welfare increases through their support of the DREAM act, which expanded educational welfare… Instead of fighting the libertarian fight, they chose to seek a pat on the head from Democrat culture.” Here is the full post:

The DREAM Act is a legislative proposal that has evolved over the years that provides a path for undocumented immigrants to attain citizenship. Included within this framework is the ability for these immigrant children to access in-state education rates.

Some of the Libertarian Party’s most successful candidates this past cycle fired back at Vohra, including Thomas Simmons and Andy Craig.

Simmons, who ran one of the more high-profile campaigns of the year, netted interviews from national media and got nearly 9 percent in his race. When asked about what made him so outraged at Mr. Vohra’s attack on Cato Institute and immigration, Simmons stated:

“We are a massive and diverse nation, and there is room within libertarianism to craft nuanced approaches that resonate in with our constituents. Libertarians must work together to move us towards less regulation and increased liberty – and that happens from the ground-up, not by following an infallible catechism as viewed by a single spokesperson. Such an approach is both destructive and arrogant.”

Andy Craig got an incredible over 11% in his congressional race this year while at the same time working with the Gary Johnson Campaign. This writer asked him what rubbed him the wrong way about Vohra’s comment?

“My objection is simple: the existence of the welfare state does not justify mass deportation, bans on immigration, or all the expenses incurred and human misery inflicted by those things. It isn’t even true that immigrants are a net drain on the welfare state, and it wouldn’t justify banning immigration even if it were true. If your problem is the welfare state, take on the welfare state, not immigrants. “

The Cato Institute itself and David Boaz also responded to Vohra’s bash with comments that simply referenced an article titled “Building a Wall around the Welfare State, Instead of the Country”. The premise of the article is that the welfare state is the imminent issue, not immigration. Increasing immigration can help the economy if the welfare state is brought to heel.

Immigration is a hot-button topic right now, even in libertarian circles. Is this the growth of libertarians crying “false news” on their own outlets?

Did Justin Amash Hint at a Presidential Run?

Did Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, one of America’s leading libertarian-leaning Republicans, hint again at a Presidential run in 2020?

The twitter post from February 9th, posted that was retweeted by Rep. Amash stated:

This newest revelation further fuels speculation that the former lawyer and Austrian economics enthusiast will run. An interview in Feb. 2016 with rare.us revealed his willingness when he answered yes when asked about running for president.

Another tweet in April of 2016 has Rep. Amash responding about when the full 9/11 report would be declassified with a simple “when I’m President”.

If he isn’t running right now, it sure looks like he is. He has been packing auditoriums as of late. A recent event was so popular, people had to be turned away.

Rep. Amash has been establishing a record of resisting some of President’s Trump’s key policy areas. If Amash is contemplating a primary battle against the President, he is in for a fight. Trump has already begun to fundraise for his run in 2020, with nearly 10 million already stashed away.

It is also possible that Rep. Amash is planning something different. He could be stealthily preparing for a run with the Libertarian Party which seems to be more consistent with many of his views on things like trade and immigration. His ideas seem to align closely with many planks of the national party platform. Regardless of if Justin Amash will really run for President, people want him to. Do you?