How America’s Courts Are Threatening the Rule of Law

How America’s Courts Are Threatening the Rule of Law

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With the Supreme Court unwilling to rule on Second Amendment gun rights, the lower Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals took the law into its own hands.

When Neil Gorsuch was nominated to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, conservatives were ecstatic. Rightly so, I would add, since Judge Gorsuch has represented the crucial quality of choosing to put the authority of the Constitution above his own moral preferences. Yet at the Trumpet, we asked: “Will Justice Neil Gorsuch Make a Difference?

Even while alive, Antonin Scalia was fighting a losing battle against judicial activism—which is choosing to put the results of laws above their constitutional process. Judge Gorsuch won’t be able to stop the intellectual flow in that direction. And the Fourth Circuit’s latest ruling on the Second Amendment proves that judicial activists don’t even need a monopoly on the Supreme Court to continue their work.

The Supreme Court has recently avoided hearing cases on the Second Amendment’s “right to bear arms,” so the Fourth Circuit’s verdict will likely stand. In its 10-4 decision made on Feb. 21, the court decided to uphold a ban on “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines” in the state of Maryland. In doing so, the court not only managed to rewrite the Supreme Court’s previous District of Columbia v. Heller decision and weaken the Second Amendment, but it also spread some fake news about rifles like AR-15.

Though the Second Amendment protects the rights of citizens to bear arms, the courts have traditionally placed some limit on the types of weapons available. In the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller case, the late Justice Scalia gave the guidelines that the Second Amendment would protect all weapons that were “in common use at the time.” The exception to the rule would be those weapons which were “dangerous and unusual.”

We can let David French, an attorney who writes for National Review, explain the reasoning:

Why the addition of “and” unusual? Because every single working gun ever made is dangerous. To illustrate his point, Scalia then provides examples of specific types of “dangerous and unusual” guns—“M-16 rifles and the like.” Here’s a news flash: The M-16 isn’t the same as a civilian “assault weapon” like the AR-15. The M-16 variants in use in the United States military are capable of being fired in both semi-automatic and fully automatic (three-round burst) modes. If you think that the M-16 and AR-15 are alike, then walk to your local gun store and try to buy an M-16.Go ahead. I’ll wait.

In order to uphold Maryland’s semi-automatic weapon ban, the Fourth Circuit tried to equate the fully automatic M-16 with the civilian semi-automatic AR-15. In what French calls a “spit-out-your-coffee sentence,” the majority opinion published that: “Semiautomatic weapons can be fired at rates of 300 to 500 rounds per minute, making them virtually indistinguishable in practical effect from machine guns.” Remember, a semi-automatic weapon will only load the next round. The trigger must be pulled again in order to fire. The Fourth Circuit would have you believe the millions of citizens of citizens who own these weapons are can also pull their triggers 6 times a second for a minute. That’s not possible.

But forget Heller’s “dangerous and unusual” criteria, because the Fourth Circuit created a new one. Judge Traxler, who wrote the dissent, said in order to circumvent this precedent, the majority opinion simply created “a heretofore unknown ‘test,’ which is whether the firearm in question is ‘most useful in military service.’” Judge Traxler continued in his dissent, showing how the ruling would have affected a citizen at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification:

Under the majority’s analysis, a settler’s musket, the only weapon he would likely own and bring to militia service, would be most useful in military service—undoubtedly a weapon of war—and therefore not protected by the Second Amendment. This analysis turns Heller on its head. Indeed, the Court in Heller found it necessary to expressly reject the view that “only those weapons useful in warfare are protected.”

The “most useful in military service” test is ridiculous because you could use it to theoretically ban any weapon. Writing last year in a unanimous Caetano v. Massachusetts decision, Supreme Court Justice Alito ruled that although a “Supreme Judicial Court’s assumption that stun guns are unsuited for militia or military use is untenable,” it didn’t mean that they could be banned.

Pulling out new criteria from thin air to support a decision which already goes against a Supreme Court ruling is practically the definition of judicial activism. But that won’t stop gun-control activists from hailing it as a Constitutional victory. Indeed, the executive director of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, Elizabeth Banach, cheered that the Fourth Circuit’s ruling was “overwhelming proof that reasonable measures to prevent gun violence are constitutional.”

No. Sorry, but having a court rule that something is Constitutional doesn’t make it Constitutional. Judges, as the currently eminent Judge Richard Posner would tell you, “dress up their theories in an elaborate way” to fit their feelings—political, moral, emotional—on the case at hand.

We could discuss more reasons why the majority’s decision is merely their moral preference rather than a ruling on the law, but you can read that in Judge Traxler’s official dissent. It’s clear enough from the start of the majority’s opinion, where the brutal details of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre and other shootings are laid out to set the moral scene. It reads as if they took notes from former President Barack Obama’s speeches on gun control, making sure emotion gets the center stage.

Gun violence is sick, horrifying and far too prevalent. Preventing another Sandy Hook is imperative. But the consequences of eroding the rule of law are worse. Right now, to those who support gun control, an activist judge seems like a blessing. But what happens when activist judges are on the other side? What happens when the rule of law becomes the rule of the judge’s opinion? After being infamously and disgracefully blocked from a position on the U.S. Supreme Court for thinking the Constitution mattered more than his own opinion, Robert Bork wrote the following: “[T]he principles of the actual Constitution make the judge’s major moral choices for him. When he goes beyond such principles, he is at once adrift on an uncertain sea of moral argument.” The judge who looks outside the Constitution for guidelines, he wrote, can only look “inside himself and nowhere else.”

The Trumpet reminded readers of a quote from editor in chief Gerald Flurry over the “Ninth Circuit Coup D’état” earlier this week: “If we as a people don’t obey the rule of law, then we fall victim to the rule of man. This leads to the horrifying rule of brute force.”

President Donald Trump says the U.S. will begin to “restore the rule of law.” The liberal left says he is threatening it. In the meantime, while the Supreme Court sits in limbo with eight judges, the U.S. Court of Appeals has meted out judicial activism on immigration and gun control. The result, no matter the executive branch, is a chipping away at the rule of law: and eventually, freedom.

Why North Korea Gets Away With Firing Missiles at Japan

Why North Korea Gets Away With Firing Missiles at Japan

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‘The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation.’ —Kim Jong-un

North Korea fired four missiles toward Japan on March 6. Three of them fell within 200 nautical miles of Japan’s coast. Japan was incensed, of course, as any nation having missiles launched in its direction would be. North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un gloried in the launch, “[f]easting his eyes on the trails of ballistic rockets,” according to North Korean state media. “The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation,” he said.

What are we to make of all this? It seems each month you can count on another missile launch, exclamations of outrage, declarations of “sticking by our allies,” talks of upping sanctions, and a plethora of arguments on how to stop North Korea’s nuclear program. Clearly, North Korea’s state media is not known for its honesty, and its supreme leader’s boasting would be comical if it weren’t so tragic. Yet there is so much we just don’t know in this situation. Is Kim Jong-un insane? Or is he just playing the part to scare everyone? Does North Korea really want to start a war? Or is it bluffing in order to keep the international community guessing? Is it truly close to a nuclear weapon? Or is its technology still wildly deficient?

These are all hard questions, and ones that George Friedman from Geopolitical Futures has asked for years. After North Korea’s four missile launches on Monday, Friedman revisited his theory on its behavior. In order to survive after the fall of the ussr, North Korea tried convincing the world of “three somewhat contradictory things”:

The first was that North Korea was an extremely dangerous country, and that it was powerful and likely to strike a devastating blow at any action. This would deter any attempt to attack North Korea or destroy the regime. Second, the North Koreans sought to project an air of insanity. Random, pointless acts of violence and bizarre pronouncements were designed to convince the world that not only is North Korea dangerous, but it is also quite mad. This was intended to persuade everyone that they should not try invading North Korea or even consider it. Even the whiff of danger would push the North Koreans over the edge. Finally, and paradoxically, North Korea sought to appear weak. Widely publicized famines, ancient factories and the other accoutrements of misery indicated that trying to destroy North Korea’s regime would be pointless. It might topple any day.

A nuclear program firing random ballistic missiles (as we saw this week), insane threats and evidence of extraordinary poverty and political instability all combined to prevent any action that someone might want to take, assuming anyone wanted to take action.

Friedman readily admits that he could be wrong about North Korea. If Kim Jong-un is not insane, and he is using his nuclear program to deter international action, doing nothing is a “low-risk bet.” Suffering continues, but there is no war. If Kim Jong-un is insane, then it’s all a “high-risk bet” and anything could happen.

At the same time, we should ask: How can North Korea get away with firing four missiles into Japan’s ocean territory? One of the reasons is described above by Friedman: No one wants to take the chance that he is insane and trigger a war with massive casualties by stopping him. And yet is it not the whole world against North Korea? Can’t we stop the suffering of millions of people in a country smaller than most American states?

The reason the world can’t is China.

China is North Korea’s closest friend, and nearly one of its only friends. Around 70 percent of North Korea’s trade is with China. When the international community (through the United Nations) has tried to exert more pressure with harsh sanctions, China has opposed it. “China is currently North Korea’s only economic backer of any importance,” wrote Nicholas Eberstadt, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute.

Listening to the analysts talking about why China maintains relations with North Korea, you would think countries don’t have selfish ambitions. China doesn’t want a toppling regime to flood refugees into its territory. And that’s true—but it’s not the whole truth. Mu Chunshan, a journalist in Beijing, described China’s reasoning in the Diplomat in similarly doting terms:

Turning completely away from North Korea, however, is not in line with [Chinese President Xi Jinping’s] policy of developing normal relations with China’s neighbors. Normal relations involve a willingness to negotiate and resolve differences. The two parties might be displeased with each other, but they should not damage their basic diplomatic contact or their mutual interests.

Apparently China is just showing a willingness to “negotiate and resolve differences.” Is that true? Or is it just like Xi’s speech in Davos 2017 where he proclaimed China as the champion of free trade and international peace? All this while Xi himself maintains an authoritarian government.

To answer the question, we’ll refer to an article written by the Trumpet seven years ago: “Why China Won’t Stop North Korea.” The intermediate time hasn’t changed any of the basic facts. North Korea is still belligerent. China still funds it. The surrounding nations still get scared by every new missile test. Just replace Kim Jong-il with Kim Jong-un.

The reality is more sinister: China’s leaders support Kim Jong-il’s regime because a rogue North Korea serves China’s ambitions, both within the region and in the global arena!

First, the existence of an unpredictable, highly volatile nuclear aspirant is a distraction to China’s competitors in the region. “Apparently, [Chinese] President Hu Jintao finds Kim useful in the short term for keeping Japan and South Korea off balance,” wrote [Gordon] Chang …. China employs North Korea in Asia in much the same way Iran employs Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon: as an instrument to push, pry and distract Western-aligned governments, thereby undermining and countering U.S. interests in Asia.

But the ultimate and most worrying reason Beijing sustains North Korea is that Kim Jong-il’s ideologies and ambitions align perfectly with China’s top global priority: undermining the United States!

When you hear news that North Korea has fired four missiles into Japanese waters, it means that China endorses North Korea firing those rockets. When North Korea announces advances in its nuclear program, it means China allows it to. China may not like everything that North Korea does, but it allows it to continue. Changing North Korea means changing China. To fix a drug-user problem, the police would have to go after drug suppliers. To fix a problem like North Korea, the world would have to go after its supplier: China. That’s not happening, and it won’t happen. And that’s why North Korea got away with firing missiles at Japan last Monday.

A World Primed for Conflict

A World Primed for Conflict

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Listen to the Trumpet Daily radio program that aired on March 8.

With America in full-scale retreat, the post-World War II global order has been completely upended. Iran is expanding its sphere of influence throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Russia and China are taking aggressive military actions to dominate their respective regions. And Europe is talking about building its own military in order to compete on the world stage. These emerging power blocs are steering the world toward war! On today’s program, Stephen Flurry examines these hot spots under the clear light of Bible prophecy.

Listen to or download Trumpet Daily Radio Show on:

http://app.stitcher.com/browse/feed/68064/details

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/trumpet-daily-radio-show/id1003885427

http://kpcg.fm/shows/trumpet-daily-radio-show

Iranian Navy Conducts Expansive Drills in Vital Sea-lane

Iran is now including the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in its military exercises.

JERUSALEM—Iran was conducting a large-scale naval exercise in the northern Indian Ocean on Sunday. Operation Velayat 95, which runs from February 13 to March 1, includes drills operating in an area of nearly 800,000 square miles from the Strait of Hormuz leading into the Persian Gulf, around the Saudi Peninsula to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait leading into the Red Sea.

Both the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait are choke points for world shipping. Thirty percent of seaborne oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, which is only 33 miles wide, and most of that shipping continues through the 20-mile-wide Bab el-Mandeb en route to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. Controlling these sea gates means controlling the passage of the precious commodity into Europe.

According to the Press tv, an Iranian news source, the exercises will be far-reaching:

Surface and subsea vessels and naval helicopters have been deployed in operational formations to carry out missions across the waters.The drill also involves special forces stationed across the Makran coastal strip on the Sea of Oman to rehearse defending Iranian waters.Additionally, reconnaissance patrol aircraft, hovercraft and drones are on the lookout, monitoring the movements of foreign troops.

During the second day of the exercises, Iran successfully test-fired its Dehlaviyeh antiship missile for the first time. This laser-guided missile system created by Iranian technicians is designed to fire from land and target passing ships. Such a weapon puts at risk shipping traffic navigating the narrow sea passages of the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. See the video below:

The naval exercises are the first of this kind since United States President Donald Trump was inaugurated. Iran has also conducted land-based exercises in the past three weeks. Harvard scholar Dr. Majid Rafizadeh told the Associated Press that the exercises are a message to Mr. Trump:

“The reformists, moderates and hard-liners believe that this is a tactically and strategically intelligent move,” Rafizadeh said. “Iran is sending a message to the Trump administration and regional powers that it will not alter the core pillars of its foreign and regional policy even if there is a new administration in Washington.” …”Tehran is also sensing a signal that it holds power over Strait of Hormuz where a third of all oil traded by sea goes through. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has previously harassed U.S. navy ships in this area. Finally, by acting tough, Iran’s military is attempting to set the tone with the Trump administration in an attempt to intimidate and push the U.S. and its allies into pursuing appeasement policies with Tehran.”

Traditionally, the United States 5th Fleet stationed in Bahrain inside the Persian Gulf has ensured the freedom of maritime traffic through the Strait of Hormuz and others in the surrounding area. Three weeks ago, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Australia conducted exercises in these same waters, including live fire drills. With these exercises, Iran is sending the message that it is prepared to counter the U.S. and allies, and that it can project power outside the Persian Gulf and into the Red Sea.

The huge geographic area covered in the games also speaks to Iran’s desire to assert its future control over these choke points. In 2011, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry warned that Iran had a strategy to control these waterways. Since that time, the Trumpet has watched Iran take over western Yemen through its backing of the Houthi militia and, through that connection, destabilize shipping through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. When the Houthis took over the capital of Yemen in January 2015, Mr. Flurry wrote:

The Houthi takeover in Yemen proves that Iran is implementing a bold strategy to control the vital sea-lane from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

Confirming this Iranian strategy, Jacob Shapiro wrote for Geopolitical Futures that the inclusion of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in this year’s exercise is an addition that “offers a window into Iran’s strategy.” He wrote,

Iran’s recent naval exercises indicate that Iran could be preparing to take advantage of a distracted United States should conflict in the South China Sea or elsewhere take place. If the U.S. does not have the resources necessary to prevent Iran from projecting power in the region, Iran wants to be sufficiently prepared to take advantage of the situation. Therefore, we can conclude that Iran considers the Bab el-Mandeb important enough to increase its capabilities to project force in that region. …Iran is adding the Bab el-Mandeb to the theaters in which the country feels it must be capable of operating. There are no precise details on what Iran has deployed, but in this case the specifics of the deployment are less important than observing that Iran now considers the Bab el-Mandeb part of its immediate strategic environment.

Already, the Iranian-backed militia has jeopardized naval traffic in the Red Sea through numerous attacks. In 2016, the frequency of the attacks picked up and included targeting both Saudi and American naval vessels.

https://twitter.com/Stratfor/status/835943105648025601

After the attack on the Saudi frigate earlier this year, the Trumpet wrote, “Now with the Houthis controlling virtually all of Yemen’s western coast, the Iranians have shifted their focus off the land and into the Red Sea.” These naval exercises confirm that shift. While the drills may look symbolic in nature, Iran is conducting a valuable reconnaissance mission in those waters. The information it gains will be used in the future.

If you would like to understand Iran’s goal in dominating this sea-lane, read Mr. Flurry’s article “Iran Gets a Stranglehold on the Middle East.”

Drug Killings Surge in Mexico

Drug Killings Surge in Mexico

EDUARDO MURILLO/AFP/Getty Images

The bloodiest suffering right now is south of the border, but it is being caused by those north of it.

Three police officers were tortured and beheaded in southeastern Mexico this past January. Authorities found the decapitated bodies of Anita Contreras López, Benjamín Montejo Avalos and Alvaro Navarrete Alducin on a roadside in the municipality of Huimanguillo on January 28—a day after the officers were kidnapped during a routine patrol in the nearby Veracruz municipality. López was the mother of three children, Avalos was a father of two children, and Alducin was a new recruit who had worked for the police department for just over a year.

The perpetrators have not been caught, but this was almost certainly a drug cartel attack on Mexican law enforcement.

Decapitation is a terror tactic that Mexican drug traffickers have used since at least 2006, when armed criminals from the La Familia Michoacana cartel dumped five heads from plastic garbage bags on a white tile dance floor in the Sol y Sombra nightclub in the town of Uruapan. It is reported that drug cartel operatives adopted decapitation from al Qaeda terrorists as an intimidation tactic. In 2012, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office estimated that 1,303 people were decapitated by drug cartels in the previous five years. The grisly tactic is used to terrorize local populations, intimidate rivals cartels, and send a warning to Mexican police.

In the seven-year period between 2007 and 2014, over 160,000 people were murdered in Mexico, more than the total number of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Since the Sinaloa drug cartel split last year, the murder rate has grown even worse. Nationwide, January murder rates jumped 34 percent from 1,442 homicides in 2016 to 1,938 homicides in 2017. If this trend continues, Mexico could soon experience a wave of violence on par with the Syrian civil war.

It is estimated that 55 percent of all Mexican homicides—and 7 percent of all United States homicides—are related to drug trafficking. These killings are committed by over 100,000 drug traffickers working directly for Mexican cartels.

The primary reason these criminal cartels are so successful, however, is that approximately 10 percent of Americans over the age of 12 are addicted to illicit drugs. That means 24.6 million U.S. drug users are fueling a $100 billion per year industry that directly causes over 21,000 overdose deaths and 12,000 drug-related homicides every year.

U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to “break the back” of the cartels by building a wall on the Mexican border and declaring a war on crime. You can’t fault the president for trying to do the job that he was elected to do: enforce the nation’s laws. But North America’s drug problems are deeper than a wall can fix. It is a principle of economics that where there is a demand there will be a supply. As long as there is a $100 billion per year demand for drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines, in the United States, drugs will flow north and drug money will flow south.

Hard-core drug legalization advocates will say that the solution is to legalize marijuana and decriminalize “hard drugs” like heroin and methamphetamines, even though both history and common sense show that drug legalization further increases addiction rates. The truth of the matter is that police are getting their heads sawed off in Mexico because a spiritual sickness has taken root throughout North America.

In the U.S. and Canada especially, the majority of children grow up in broken homes that do not teach them about self-mastery, restraint, moral uprightness, integrity or lawfulness. Millions of these children grow up with no sense of hope in their lives, and so they try to fill the spiritual void with drug-induced moments of fleeting euphoria. But the fruits of drug addiction only lead to more violence, domestic abuse and family breakdown.

This isn’t a problem that’s going to be solved by the White House; it is a problem that must be solved in the 168 million houses spread across Mexico, the United States and Canada. If there isn’t repentance on a nationwide scale, the ripple effects of family breakdown will continue to spread until the entire North American continent experiences a tsunami of violence even worse than the horrific crime wave that has already inundated Mexico.

Europe Seeks Collective Nuclear Strategy

More Europeans are accepting the idea that the Continent must develop a consolidated nuclear weapons command.

On Monday, the New York Timesreported on the growing conversation in Europe about the need to develop some sort of collective European nuclear weapons program.

European officials are discussing a plan, writes Max Fisher, in which,

France’s [nuclear] arsenal would be repurposed to protect the rest of Europe and would be put under a common European command, funding plan, defense doctrine, or some combination of the three. It would be enacted only if the Continent could no longer count on American protection.

The fact that Europe is even discussing this subject is remarkable. Post-war Europe is famously pacifist and, at least until recently, has been at the vanguard of global nuclear disarmament. That this issue is now being openly and seriously discussed by European leaders, the mainstream media, and by a growing number of European citizens speaks to the anxieties pulsing through the Continent. Anxieties that include a resurgent, combative Russia to the east, a retreating U.S. presence in regions critical to European strategy, and a more independent Britain.

As informative as it was, the Times article didn’t get to the heart of this issue. While the notion of bringing France’s nukes under a “common European command” sounds rational, the fact is, when it comes to European integration on any issue, there is no “common European command.” Germany is Europe’s largest nation and the most powerful economically and politically. Germany’s mere presence in any collective European entity makes it the de facto leader. Granting nukes to a “common European command” means granting nukes to Germany.

This is the issue we really ought to think on: Is Europe—is the world—okay with Germany getting nuclear weapons?

We are still early in the conversation and, as Fisher explains, some significant hurdles have to be overcome before Europe forms any sort of common nuclear strategy. But the fact that this discussion is even underway—that it hasn’t been flatly dismissed, or that there hasn’t been a massive public outcry—is extremely revealing. That this conversation is even taking place shows that there is an growing appetite for some sort of overarching pan-European nuclear and military strategy. Consider too that the factors compelling Europe to think in this direction are not going away anytime soon. To the contrary, world conditions and conditions inside Europe will intensify the urge to develop some sort of nuclear security blanket.

This is a major development that needs to be closely watched. As Fisher wrote,

Though no new countries would join the nuclear club under this scheme, it would amount to an unprecedented escalation in Europe’s collective military power and a drastic break with American leadership.

Today nuclear weapons are seen primarily as a geopolitical issue. Whenever nuclear weapons are discussed, it’s generally in the context of strategy and leverage. Many will probably learn of Europe’s developing nuclear strategy and think, America has nukes, Britain has nukes, and Russia has nukes. Isn’t it fair that Europe also have nukes? The answer is simple: Europe’s history is fraught with competition and conflict. Germany, in particular, has been unable to exist peacefully with its neighbors for longer than a few decades. Today, multiple factors are converging over Europe that are resurrecting the historic tendencies that inevitably resulted in war.

The development of some sort of European nuclear strategy would mean that Europe’s next major conflict will be nuclear.

And that ought to arouse more than a little worry. To learn more, read Europe’s Nuclear Secret.