The Fretts Perspective

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The Fretts Perspective

The Fretts Perspective will be a source for articles, addresses, position papers, responses, and other observations from Calen.

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Recently, the Northwest Florida Daily News published an article called "Seven Things That Will Cost You More." The article talks about things that will go up in price in the next year, and as I read this it occurred to me that the hand of Congress is written all over these cost increases, even though the newspaper did not spell these out. This is what I saw when I read this article.

First, it looks like floods in Thailand will result in a shortage of computer hard drives here, forcing up their price. Of course there is no mention of tax laws made by Congress that favor companies that build overseas instead of America. That's not a free market, and destroys local competition. Add to that the decline in the value of the dollar caused by a combination of Congress borrowing money and unlimited credit creation by the Federal Reserve, and imported hard drives become even more expensive. By the way my opponent, Jeff Miller, authorized a two trillion dollar debt ceiling increase requested by President Obama only six months ago, which only makes this process worse. Jeff Miller calls this being "conservative."

Second, air travel will get more expensive because of fuel surcharges cleverly disguised as "travel fees." But Congress subsidizes the airlines too. Again, my opponent Jeff Miller just approved in the latest FAA budget at least $13 billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies for airports. That’s about $40 for every man, woman and child in the country. So for an average family of four, your government forces you to give at least $160 a year to an airport or airline, and you aren't even taking a trip. And this has nothing to do with security, by the way. Not to mention the fact that the bill "authorizes spending at levels that exceed the limits of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, which funds FAA operations." So Congress is now deficit spending the FAA's trust fund away. Does this sound "conservative" to you?

Third, gasoline will get more expensive and some analysts are predicting $4 gas by summer, and $5 by end of the year. Oil depletion is a big part of these cost increases, but the debasement of our currency, government regulations that stifle free market competition, and the uncertainty of official government energy policy all contribute to the rising costs. The idea that government has to dictate energy policy is itself flawed, and if a free market were allowed to operate you might see things like coal or thorium fueled nuclear plants take greater hold. Did the free market lead to the ridiculous government ethanol program? Of course not. But the way things are regulated now, only the biggest companies control the market, and this country is forced to demand more and more fuel from unstable parts of the globe. Have no doubt, this is the work of Congress.

Fourth, coffee is going to cost more. The USA imports almost all of everyone's favorite morning brew. Of course, importing things requires a lot of, you guessed it, fuel, and a cheaper dollar also makes imported coffee more expensive.

Fifth, food prices are going up again. Oil is a big part of food production, and if oil goes up the cost of food will go up. But Congress also passes agricultural subsidies that make food cost more for you, and has been doing so for decades. The USA actually pays farmers NOT to farm land to keep the prices of food higher. If you are a farmer and you need a subsidy to grow something, should you grow it? These costs are built into your daily food bill. How long do you want to keep paying many times more than you should?

Sixth, mobile phone and tablet access costs are going to go up. I can only speculate here, but this may actually be a true result of greater demand for high speed networks and the convenience they provide. But if prices go down, instead of up, expect every major network operator to come running for government protection. You can count on that.

Lastly, gold is going higher. When you have Congress borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar they spend, and the total government debt is greater than what everyone in the country makes in a year, there is a strong possibility government will turn, either legally or illegally, to printing more money. If Congress enforced the rule of law, and a stable currency, this of course, would not happen, but history says that won't happen. Just remember Jeff Miller’s voting to increase the debt $2 trillion in one shot six months ago, and most of that is spent already. And with regard to the rule of law, Congress would rather be exempt than be like you and me. They exempted themselves from insider trading laws, the Freedom of Information Act, and the same hiring practices they impose on businesses, just to name a few. I find the fact that Congress can legally do things that are crimes if you or I do them to be intolerable, and an invitation to corruption. This has to stop.

So there you have it. High costs due to Congress are everywhere.

So whenever you hear that Congress should fix the economy, unless they mean stop all the special favors and enforce the rule of law, please disregard. The role of government is not to grant special favors, or own businesses, but to protect individual rights and a free market.

I am Calen Fretts. I may be a lone voice in Congress, but it will be a voice in your favor, and I ask for your support.

The two-party system, that is. And it has to, if our Republic is to survive.

It's dying for good reason. Citizens across our great nation are realizing that the Republicans and Democrats in Washington no longer represent their interests, and they're ready for a severe change to the political status quo. No longer is the concept of "throwing your vote away" relevant. What does it really matter, if the alternatives - the Republicans and Democrats - have become two wings of the same party, the Big Government party?

The U.S. government borrows more than $40,000 per second. So if you're an average American, the U.S. government added to your tab more than you make in a year in the time it took to read this sentence. What they don't borrow, they print. And what they don't print, they take from you, in the form of taxation.

As if that weren't enough, Congress seems intent on making life hard on the American people. From the drug war, to the Patriot Act, to the TSA, to the NDAA, their assaults on the civil liberties of nonviolent, innocent American citizens seem to be intensifying at an exponential rate.

The rule of law in America is deteriorating, as white collar banksters are rewarded for defrauding billions of dollars out of blue collar America while blue collar America is harassed and imprisoned for nonviolent crimes that affect no one else. All this has been enabled by both Republican and Democrat politicians alike for decades. At best, they give lip service to the Constitution, while trampling all over it and the principles for which it stands.

But there's a new party in town.

The Libertarian Party has only been around for about 40 years, but the principles it stands for go back centuries. America's Founding Fathers were the first modern Libertarians. They sought a life free of the King's dictates. So they wrote the Declaration of Independence, testifying that all men are created equal, and that rights come from the Creator - not from kings, governments, or anyone else.

But men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would be shocked at our modern government. They grew hemp and made moonshine, both of which are illegal today. They did not ask for permission to own and carry a firearm. They certainly did not obtain a permit to wager a bet on a friendly game of cards. By all accounts, Washington and Jefferson, those symbols of American liberty, would be common criminals in modern America. Our Congress has stacked the deck in this way, because it enables them to play out the game in their favor.

The message of Liberty was, and is, about individual empowerment. The ability to live free of force from others. To live in a nation of laws, not of men. To enjoy the comfort of one's own castle, where every man is his own king. The government's role is not to give us rights (which it cannot do), nor to infringe upon them; but rather, simply to protect our natural rights.

That's why people of all races, creeds, and colors are leaving the two-party system and joining the Libertarian Party in droves. It is the only party whose registrations are growing. It is the only party that knows that all citizens, and especially minorities, are not served by special rules or government favors, but by the law being equally applied to all. It is truly liberating to finally release oneself from the confines of the two-party box; to no longer be required to make excuses for one politician or another's repeated shortfalls; to have real choice. The Libertarian Party is the real populist party, the party of We the People.

Perhaps our cry can best be summed up by five words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "We want to be free."

We just want the opportunity to live the American dream.

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On Thursday, December 15 - the 220th anniversary of the Bill of Rights - Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which can be used by the President to indefinitely detain Americans without charge or trial; an utter eradication of the Fifth Amendment, without apology. Our Congress decided the President needs more power at the expense of the people and the Constitution.

Is this what our veterans and our forefathers fought and gave their lives for? Is this what Americans want their Congress to do? Place power like this in the hands of one man - the President - to do as he wishes with American citizens?

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution recognizes your right to due process: "No person shall... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." The Fourth Amendment, for what it's worth, also recognizes that your right to be secure in your person and in your house (among other things) cannot be infringed by sidestepping the legal process. The explicit recognition of these rights by our government is one of the things that has always made our country exceptional. But this new law is a misguided attack on our country's 220-year recognition of these inherent rights.

Let us look at the final text of the bill. In "Subtitle D--Detainee Matters", Sec. 1031, "Congress affirms that the authority of the President...includes the authority...to detain...any person...who was a part of or substantially supported...enemy forces." The keyword here is "substantially supported." This designation is extrajudicial - that is, at the President's discretion. Sec. 1032 says, "The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States." The keyword here is "requirement." In other words, the President has the authority to indefinitely detain any person who "substantially supported" the enemy, and is in fact required to do so - unless it is a U.S. citizen, in which case it is at the President's discretion.

What if opposition to certain government policies - the Patriot Act, or the TSA, or certain military actions, for example - is deemed "substantially supportive" of the enemy? What if a President's discretion, in lieu of a Constitutionally-guaranteed jury trial, is faulty and harms innocents? Obama himself, and those who succeed him, will now decide whether to send government agents to your living room to apprehend and detain you, without charges, for whatever duration they wish (or for as long as there is a War on Terror), under a Congressionally-condoned false pretense and color of law. Did we not learn from Russia, China, and Germany in the past century?

The so-called "conservatives" in Washington who are, at least in public, constantly at odds with the Obama agenda are the majority of whom voted for this bill. How dare they give this (or any) administration even more broad unilateral power to unequivocally control the very lives and liberty of We the People?

Couple that with the fact that Predator drones are now being used inside the United States as police tools, and we are looking at an outrageous reality. We must be honest with ourselves: America is becoming a police state. It cannot be overstated how serious of an offense this is. All those in Congress who supported this legislation must be voted out of office for violation of their oath to uphold the Constitution. That is the least that should happen in response to such an egregious assault on our liberties.

We cannot allow the slow death of our Republic.

Over the past decade, our rights have slowly been dissolved. Some say, "It couldn't happen here. This is America!"

Wake up. Congress just made it happen.

This has got to stop.

After a Washington Post article on November 9, the United States Air Force recently admitted that from 2003 to 2008 it had dumped the cremated remains of at least 274 servicemen who had died in America’s overseas wars in a landfill in Virginia. The USAF stopped that secret practice and is now burying such remains at sea.

It is beyond words to express the outrage of such a practice. Not only does it denigrate the dead, it shows just how poor the judgment of government-led bureaucracies can be. To them, they weren’t people, they were remains. Add to that the fact that this was kept secret even from officials in the Pentagon and it well and truly should shake your confidence in the ability of the government to competently do anything. What other gross ineptitudes are out there that are protected by official secrecy?

One of the valid functions of government is defense - and caring for the living, as well as the dead, is a central task of the Department of Defense. Our defense budget this year alone will top $650 billion, $2000 per citizen, and yet the DoD could not find the time, money, and leadership to give a proper burial to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Heads should roll over this, and the matter of burying our dead should not be a state secret.

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The people of the panhandle should rightly be proud of their important role in defending our nation. All four of our armed services have missions in this area, and serving in the military is an esteemed chapter of family histories for thousands that live here.

I am not a soldier, but I can understand such pride. From my brother who currently serves in the Army, to my grandfathers who served in the last century, I am honored to come from a long line of servicemen to the country; in fact, going all the way back to the Revolution. I deeply respect the sense of duty and commitment to the principles of our Constitution that are found in our military.

But things in the military are not as they used to be in our great Republic.

In 1776, our forefathers were fighting an imperial British occupation force in their own back yards. In 2011, our friends and loved ones are asked to fight a faceless enemy as an occupation force in foreign lands.

Why is that? America was attacked by terrorists on 9/11. The military mission was to bring to justice those who perpetrated this crime.

But Osama bin Laden and his cronies are now dead. Enemy organizations have been shattered. Yet our military remains abroad, now engaged over a decade.

The United States military now accounts for almost half of total world military expenditures, and is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world. During many missions, the U.S. cedes its military sovereignty to international organizations such as the UN and NATO, putting its troops under foreign commanders and foreign flags.

In a terrible example of collateral damage, the war on terror became a pretext to expand government control, violate individual rights, and erode the Constitution at home. Since 2002 there are precedents for the assassination of U.S. citizens abroad without trial, a blatant violation of the Fifth Amendment. There are plans for virtually all travelers in our country to be searched as a matter of course. The rule of law continues to be battered by a President who neither sought the Constitutionally-mandated approval of Congress to engage in war on Libya, nor complied with the War Powers Act passed by Congress. To cap it off, the Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act (S.1867/H.1540) - a bill that will let the government use the military, as Congressman Justin Amash stated, to "indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil, without charge or trial, at the discretion of the President." The House has already passed this bill.

In the name of safety, broad powers might not seem so bad when their custodian is someone you trust, but what happens if and when someone unchecked by conscience, the rule of law, and the Constitution takes office?

But take heart, because we are not there yet. We can still bring the troops home to reunite with their spouses, children, and families, by forcing Congress to uphold its Constitutional accountability for the wars. Our troops can rest and recuperate, in case the U.S. faced a legitimate threat, while spending their money here at home and spurring the domestic economy. We can cut the foreign spending and welfare by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. We can defend our own borders from illegal immigrants and Mexican drug cartel terrorists. All it takes is your voice.

America's Founding Fathers envisioned a revolutionary ideology for the New World; one where the nation would refrain from offensive and interventionist wars, one even without a standing army, where force would only be justified in defense against imminent attacks. Sadly, the U.S. today could not be further to the opposite side of the spectrum. Now fighting multiple wars in the Middle East with no end in sight, the cost of incessant war is being unnecessarily paid every day with American lives and American dollars - blood and treasure.

How many veterans fought for more debt, less freedoms, and endless war?

This is not the nation America's Founding Fathers envisioned. It is time to restore the U.S. military to its rightful place as the defender of sovereignty and beacon of liberty worldwide.

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