Sunday, February 28, 2010

Will libertarians Succeed?

Please check out my latest post at The Humble Libertarian. It begins:

Libertarians are often viewed as pie in the sky idealists, who sit around all day promoting ideas that could never take hold. There is some validity to this if one merely takes the musings of libertarians at face value, but that is not how they should be taken.

Just because we think that large parts of the government should be abolished or privatized, just because we want to do away with bloated entitlements, and just because our positions are principled and consistent, that doesn't mean that we are not realistic about how to achieve our goals. Most libertarians are both rational and realistic, realizing that incremental progress must be made toward our views of a free society, and that this progress will not come overnight...

But even if we aren't naive idealists, there is still a huge hurtle to the advancement of libertarianism. That hurtle is the unwillingness of the electorate to stand on principle and hold elected officials accountable; therefore, each election becomes one of "choosing the lesser of two evils" and each time the American people suffer.

Likewise, we see a flood of philosophical compromise flowing out of Washington on a daily basis as almost no one seems to stand for anything anymore. None of us are the better for it. So what is to be done when the system seems stacked against us? The simple answer is to act on the opportunities that present themselves.

Samuel Adams once noted, "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." Adams was right. Libertarians would do well to remember his advice. We need to be "an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." 

(Read the rest here.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Paulpocalypse by Brian Doherty

Here is a great article from Reason that deals well with Ron Paul's CPAC straw poll victory.
The straw poll victory of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, with a plurality of 31 percent, spurred a wide range of reaction and emotions. If you weren’t already a fan of the radically libertarian Republican congressmen, his victory wasn’t the thing to make you start taking him seriously.

Many agreed that Paul’s win, if meaningful, could only bode ill for the Republican Party’s prospects. David A. Harris at TalkingPointsMemo thinks Paul’s ascendance means the GOP is determined to give up on the Jews (since Paul has suggested that certain U.S. foreign policy decisions benefit Israel more than they benefit the U.S.). Earl Ofari Hutchinson at Huffington Post thinks Paul’s win means racism and nativism is on the rise in the GOP, as he fantasizes about non-existent race-based jibes in Paul’s CPAC speech.

In the real world, Paul’s speech was mostly about fiscal probity and saving the U.S. from a debt-driven dollar collapse. Paul applied principles of limited government and restrained spending to a place where most Republicans fear to tread: foreign policy. He stressed the vital importance of the free exchange of ideas, including a long shout-out to Eugene Debs, the socialist leader jailed by Democratic god Woodrow Wilson for saying the wrong things, and freed by Republican President Warren Harding.

Paul talked to the assembled activists of the unity of liberty, including the liberty to eat and smoke what you want. He harkened back to old Republican icons (such as President Dwight D. Eisenhower with his military-industrial complex warnings) to give his constitutionalist libertarian version of conservatism a usable past. His talk was rambly, perhaps not ready for prime time, but united by a bracing vision of a government that did only what its Constitution intended it to do. This makes him radical indeed. (The rest is here.)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Beltway Libertarianism vs. the Revolution: Part 2

Before I continue on with the topic of beltway libertarians vs. the Austrian libertarians, I wold like to clarify something that came up in the comments section for yesterday's post. The divide between the two strands is not merely one of demographics or some other superficial factor, it is a philosophic division.

I would also once again clarify that though I identify more with the Austrian brand of libertarians, I greatly appreciate mainstream libertarians and use their resources as well as communicate with them often. Our slight philosophical differences is not enough to put a significant wedge between us. What I do not enjoy is unfounded criticisms and ad hominem  attacks from either side. That is what brought this post about. I have seen the attacks go on for years, but the article The Ron Paul Delusion from Reason finally broke the camel's back--so to speak.

In the article, David Harsanyi goes out of his way to smear Ron Paul, who has single-handedly grew the libertarian movement in recent years by leaps and bounds.

His article begins by offering a legitimate point, which is that his CPAC straw poll victory does not mean that Ron Paul is the new leader of the Republican Party. But Harsanyi quickly turns from his subject to take a jab at the Texas congressman. After offering a rhetorical question as to whether the GOP will become the party of Paul, Harsanyi goes into the following:
Let's, for a moment, forget Paul (and how I wish this could be a permanent condition, considering the congressman is neither a serious politician nor—and I can't stress this enough—a serious thinker).
This is completely uncalled for and completely unfounded. Ron Paul is a serious politician. His not winning the presidency doesn't negate his multiple congressional race successes. If we are to measure "serious politicians" by those who have achieved the office of president, only 43 men in our history have been serious politicians.

Harsanyi then attacks Paul's credentials as as serious thinker--another unfounded claim with evidence to the contrary. Paul is an author of many works that go well beyond the level of reading many are willing to take on outside the walls of academia. Moreover, his positions are held deeply based on cohesive philosophical reasoning. That alone requires serious thought from a serious man. Moreover, the same should be said of his economic and historical scholarship. There is no reason for Harsanyi's statement. Apparently, most of us define "serious thinker" quite differently than Mr. Harsanyi.

After this tirade against Paul, Harsanyi get back on his topic, but not for long. I quote:
"Congressman Paul is committed to bringing the conservative movement back to its traditional platform of limited government, balanced budgets and a foreign policy of nonintervention," claims Jesse Benton, Paul's spokesman.

If only it stopped there. Paul isn't a traditional conservative. His obsession with long-decided monetary policy and isolationism are not his only half-baked crusades. Paul's newsletters of the '80s and '90s were filled with anti-Semitic and racist rants, proving his slumming in the ugliest corners of conspiracyland today is no mistake.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of Paul is that thousands of intellectually curious young people will have read his silly books, including End the Fed, as serious manifestoes. Though you wouldn't know it by listening to Paul or reading his words, libertarians do have genuine ideas that conservatives might embrace.
Long-decided monetary policy? I am sorry, sir. But this establishment position on monetary policy may be popular, but things are far from decided. We have seen massive explosion of government spending and financial instability directly because of the rise of fiat currency. The monetary policy of Paul has been right all along and we are seeing the Austrian predictions unfold daily before our very eyes.

Isolationism? You must be talking about someone else. Ron Paul is far from an isolationist; he is a non-interventionist. Like Thomas Jefferson, Paul believes in "peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none." What he does not endorse is the reckless wielding of military might, imperialism, and unnecessary killing. If you hold a position counter to this, I am sorry that Paul won't play along with you war games.

I am not sure what is meant by "half-baked crusades," but I am sure based on each man's track record, I would land on the side of Paul.

Harsanyi then goes beyond attacking Paul to attacking Paul's supporters: "Perhaps the greatest tragedy of Paul is that thousands of intellectually curious young people will have read his silly books, including End the Fed, as serious manifestoes." I am sorry if we take him seriously because he speaks to issues that greatly affect us. We cannot help but take him seriously. He has seriously fought for liberty throughout his career. Mr. Harsanyi on the other hand seems content simply promoting liberty-lite. (Just read any of Harsanyi's previous work for examples.)

I believe Harsanyi is wrong to say, "Ron Paul as the leader of [the conservative movement]—or, actually, any—charge is a mistake for both parties." but I am also think that he is wrong to denounce Paul while praising Cato's David Boaz as a serious libertarian. I don't say this to downplay Boaz; has done good work for liberty. My point is merely that Harsanyi is picking a fight that need not be fought. You can have both your Paul and your Boaz and do just fine. I will do so myself, but I can't take much more of David Harsanyi or those like him.

There is a divide in libertarianism; it can be overcome. But name calling and unfounded position bashing will not do it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Doomed from the Start: The Myth of Limited Constitutional Government in America by Thomas DiLorenzo

Doomed from the Start: The Myth of Limited Constitutional Government in America by Thomas DiLorenzo--This Tom DiLorenzo article is an absolute must-read. Do yourself a huge favor and read this outstanding article.

It begins:

After spending a lifetime in politics John C. Calhoun (U.S. Senator, Vice President of the United States, Secretary of War) wrote his brilliant treatise, A Disquisition on Government, which was published posthumously shortly after his death in 1850. In it Calhoun warned that it is an error to believe that a written constitution alone is sufficient, of itself, without the aid of any organism except such as is necessary to separate its several departments, and render them independent of each other to counteract the tendency of the numerical majority to oppression and abuse of power (p. 26). The separation of powers is fine as far as it goes, in other words, but it would never be a sufficient defense against governmental tyranny, said Calhoun.
Moreover, it is a great mistake, Calhoun wrote, to suppose that the mere insertion of provisions to restrict and limit the powers of the government, without investing those for whose protection they are inserted, with the means of enforcing their observance, will be sufficient to prevent the major and dominant party from abusing its powers (emphasis added). The party in possession of the government will always be opposed to any and all restrictions on its powers. They will have no need of these restrictions and would come, in time, to regard these limitations as unnecessary and improper restraints and endeavor to elude them . . .
The part in favor of the restrictions (i.e., strict constructionists) would inevitably be overpowered. It is sheer folly, Calhoun argued, to suppose that the party in possession of the ballot box and the physical force of the country, could be successfully resisted by an appeal to reason, truth, justice, or the obligations imposed by the constitution (emphasis added). He predicted that the restrictions [of government power in the Constitution] would ultimately be annulled, and the government be converted into one of unlimited powers. He was right, of course.
This is a classic statement of the Jeffersonian states rights position. The people of the free, independent and sovereign states must be empowered with the rights of nullification and secession, and a concurrent majority with veto power over unconstitutional federal laws, if their constitutional liberties are to have any chance of protection, Calhoun believed. The federal government itself can never, ever be trusted to limit its own powers.
How did Calhoun come to such conclusions? One answer to this question is that he was a serious student of politics, history, and political philosophy for his entire life, and understood the nature of government as much as anyone else alive during his time. He also witnessed first hand or quickly learned about the machinations of the sworn enemies of limited constitutional government in America: men such as Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, John Marshall, Joseph Story and Daniel Webster. (Read the rest here.)

Ron Paul's Conservative Foreign Policy by the Southern Avenger

Health Reformers' Worst Idea

Here is a great post dealing with the current healthcare reform debate by Cato Institute scholar Michael Cannon.

His health-care overhaul adrift and increasingly unpopular, President Obama has invited Republicans to a televised summit today to discuss "all the best ideas that are out there." Odds are that Democrats will use the moment to exalt - and berate Republicans for blocking - one of their worst ideas: federal price controls on health insurance.
Both the House and Senate health-care legislation would prohibit insurers from discriminating against people with preexisting medical conditions. Insurers would have to charge everyone in a given age group the same premium - say, $10,000 - whether an enrollee costs $5,000 or $25,000 to insure. That's a price control...

...Price controls will not change the economic reality underlying high insurance premiums - i.e., that some patients file especially expensive claims. They will merely lead people to respond to that reality in even less desirable ways. And they will discourage innovations that actually help sick patients.
Price controls do poll well, though, and in Washington that passes for a good idea. Nevertheless, Summers is right and Obama is wrong: Price controls would heap additional miseries on the sick.
(Read the entire piece here.)

Beltway Libertarianism vs, the Revolution: Part 1

I am at times identified as a conservative by some and a libertarian by others. Personally, I don't  mind either label taken within context, and I frequently self-identify as both. However, when talking to someone who understands the massive web of ideological labels about my libertarianism, I often admit to being a paleolibertarian. Moreover, I don't only self-identify; I've tested this way in a number of ideological tests set to determine political ideology. So I guess I really am.

So what does all this mean? Why is it important? be honest, it is not always important. Whether I call myself a conservative, a libertarian, a paleoconservative, or a paleolibertarian, after talking with me about political policy and theory, it soon becomes quite clear that I merely believe in the unalienable rights of the individual and the strict restraining of the state. Therefore, what I am called will in no way affect my beliefs, my stances, or your agreement with my positions. But that does not mean there are not times that when it is very important to properly show where we hang our philosophical hat. (I hang my beside Jefferson on the rack of classical liberalism, by the way.)

The reason for different ideological identifiers is simply to offer distinction among differing positions. Some think that by not calling themselves conservative, and instead identifying as libertarian, they have solved their identity problem. Sadly, I am here to tell you that such is not the case. Not all libertarians are created equal...heck, some aren't even really libertarians.

There are a number of different movements and segments that fall underneath the libertarian banner, but there are two main groups that represent the libertarian movement of today--beltway libertarians also known as mainstream libertarians and what are called laissez faire libertarians, paleolibertarians, or Austrian libertarians. The former group is made up of those from places like the Cato Institute, the Reason Foundation, and some in the Libertarian Party. The latter is made up of Mises Institute scholars and associates as well as other economic Austrians. The former represents more mainstream libertarianism and the actors that go along with that like Koch and Friedman. The latter is represented by those like Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard, F.A. Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises.

Needless to say, Beltway libertarianism is feeling a little left out by the current rEVOLution going on among many, spurred on by Ron Paul's 2008 presidential bid. However, this is no new divide. Long before Congressman Paul came to national prominance, he was known in libertarian circles. Some liked him, but some of our beltway brothers were less than enthusiastic about the good doctor from Texas. The reason: many of them are not interested in philosophical purity. While many of them might at one time might have held positions of the Old Right, they have long since abandoned them. Many are now pro-war, pro-partisanship, and (dare I say) pro-state. Corrupted by the plagues of Washington, they now despise anyone who hasn't been themselves corrupted.Therefore, they never miss an opportunity to trash Paul and others who still remain committed to anti-statist policies.

Just look at the Cato Institute's Brink Lindsey's comments:

“Though Paul defines himself as a libertarian and attributes the dedication of his young supporters to libertarian positions — such as allowing people to opt out of Social Security and Medicare — many libertarian pundits say Paul isn’t in sync with younger, more ‘modern’ libertarians...He’s sort of an old-style, old-right libertarian candidate. Paul departs from younger libertarians with his opposition to abortion rights and free trade agreements, for example.”

I would have to disagree with Mr. Lindsey based on the vast display of evidence. Young people are the very lifeblood of Paul's movement. Moreover, Linsey's pro-war position has done nothing to rouse youth support for himself or his organization. 

Lindsey is not alone in his dislike for Ron Paul and libertarians of his kind (Though the above quotation seems harmless, I assure you Lindsey is no fan of a number of Paul's policies.) Reason magazine editor, Nick Gillespie notes the following:

“[Paul] has a set of principles applied consistently. He’s not a bulls**t artist...I think that’s very attractive to younger voters who are too stupid to realize that’s not how politics works.” 

There you have beltway libertarianism in a nutshell--proud of compromise and condescending to those that are not. Well...Mr Gillespie, Ron Paul supporters are far from stupid, and politics isn't working; that is the problem. These guys have snuggled up to the state and are awfully upset that others have not.

I rather enjoyed Justin Raimondo's commentary on Gillespie's words:

"Yeah, those poor dumb jerks, who actually believe that principles matter, and individuals can act to make history: they’ll soon learn! This is the typical mantra of the Beltway know-it-alls, who have no real connection to the actually-existing libertarian movement—Gillespie came out of a short-lived online magazine entitled “Suck”—and wouldn’t lower themselves, either. That doesn’t stop these generals without an army from pontificating, judging, and often belittling the movement, and especially cultural conservatives like Ron Paul, who don’t fit into their own narrow little cultural paradigm."

So, as you can see from the above examples, there is a quite a divide between beltway libertarians and movement purists like the Paulites. This does not mean that the divide cannot and is not often overcame. Moreover, just because someone is affiliated with Cato or Reason that doesn't mean that they are beltway in their thinking and actions. Even if they are, that doesn't mean they are not good folks with good ideas. Many fine people are involved with both organizations, and I am a fan of each. I profit from their resources and value their contributions to liberty. However, I often have to keep a closer eye on them as I know what some in the beltway movement pursue and support.

This post came about as I read this article Wednesday. I thought some might question why a Reason article would be so harsh on Ron Paul, and I wanted to provide an answer. Tomorrow, I will provide a response to the article and more on the beltway libertarians. But for now I have taken enough of your time. Just remember that not all libertarians view things the same way, not even broadly. You can support both (and I encourage you to do so,though I obviously identify with the Paul movement more myself), but know that each side is not necessarily supporting each other all of the time.

 To be continued...

PS: If you have any questions or concerns on the matter, I cannot promise to have all the answers, but I'll address them the best I can. Just leave questions or comments in the comments.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brown Should Offer No Surprise

I was an opponent of Scott Brown even before he was named victor in the recent Massachusetts special election. I didn't drink the Kool-aide so to speak and warned friends and family early on that Brown was far from a conservative--even though he was a bit of Tea Party poster boy. He may have offered another Republican vote, but he offered nothing positive for the conservative movement.

Now, by joining 5 other Republicans in voting for the disastrous and unconstitutional "jobs bill," Sen. Brown is being met with rebuke from many of the very ones that helped get him elected.(I would like to note that the jobs bill has little to do with jobs and goes about the entire matter in the completely wrong way, in case some would think that I am opposed to job creation.)

A Washing Post headline reflecting on the vote reads,"GOP's Brown Branded Turncoat for Jobs Bill." Moreover, Politico offers the following, "Scott Brown Vote Draws Anger, Shrugs."  He is no turncoat; he did what he always does--supported statist policies. Moreover, the only ones to be angry at are the ones who betray principle and supported Brown.

I hate to say I told you so...I really do in this manner. There shouldn't be a reason to, and I shouldn't have to. Brown's voting record should have prepared those who are now left with egg on their face for this type of disappointing behavior. I called Brown a liberal neocon from day one because that what he is--that is what his record showed. So I'm not at all surprised by his vote. The only surprising thing is how surprised so many seem to be.

As I said in a previous entry, Brown could run to the left of Olympia Snowe. So why be surprised when he supports leftist positions? I don't mind that he does; he's being true to hiimself. What I do mind is the following: Brown parades around like some type of conservative. Just look at his presence at last weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference for proof. Moreover, I despise the support he received from the Tea Party movement and other so-called conservatives. It was unjustified and reckless.

If you are going to go on being a Massachusetts liberal, fine. Just call yourself one, Mr. Brown. If you are going to support liberals without concern for ideological ties, do not say you support conservatism, Tea Party movement and other so-called conservatives. It is that simple.

Perhaps this will be a learning experience for all those deceived by false hype and empty "conservatism." We may not get many more chances to affect real change, if we continue to give elections to statists who hide behind labels for support.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Ron Paul People" by the Southern Avenger

Pay close attention to the closing line of the Southern Avenger's latest video.
"And despite the constant media spin and gnashing of teeth, Ron Paul and his “people’s” onward march does not represent some sort of confusion within the conservative movement-but the only conservative movement."

Ron Paul on Morning Joe

Texas Congressman Ron Paul appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe this morning and ones again showed why he has such a large, enthusiastic following (video below). While being consistent and humble, Dr. Paul is the mouthpiece of an entire movement. He is popular because he is alone in Washington; he stands for constitutional government even when others fail. Dr. Paul sounds different from the other guys simply because he holds to a consistent philosophical line when failed pragmatism is the norm in our government. That principled stand is something that can truly be appreciated. Let the rEVOLolution continue!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thoughts on CPAC

Now that this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has wrapped up, I'd like to offer a brief word that is on my mind.

Overall, I would say CPAC was a success for those of us in the liberty movement. Liberty activists made a good showing, provided Dr. Ron Paul with his straw poll victory, and let the establishment know that the love of liberty is far from dead with a great slate of speakers and supporters.

That being said, CPAC still suffers from its same establishment problems. Though it is a slightly smaller tent than the GOP at large, it is still unable to sustain a consistent, conservative message. Yes, many true conservatives were in attendance, but so were many who merely label themselves as such--the whole time betraying the very principles of the Old Right conservative movement. Does this mean that our battel cry should ring, "off with their heads?" Not at all, but we should call for consistency in our positions and fidelity to our labels. The liberty movement is a prime candidate to bring this about, but it will take time and sustained influence like that of this past weekend.

What those in the liberty movement should not do is write off things like CPAC completely without attempting to bring change from within. Yes, there are people involved with CPAC that I despise...I mean despise, but there is still value in bringing our voice to the table and presenting our ideas as part of the public discourse.

Some people at CPAC may not have all that we are looking for and some may represent the very ideas we oppose, but that doesn't mean that we should abandon CPAC and things like it all together. Who knows? Maybe one day the neocons will be upset that CPAC is so libertarian. Mike Huckabee already is.

It should be noted that even the liberty movement contains factions I am ardently opposed to and continuosly frustrated by. Though I have friends who are so-called "911 Truthers" that are involved with the liberty movement, I believe they are trodding down the wrong path. Yes, they frustrate me, but I will not abandon liberty movement functions just because of their presence. We should extend the same grace to other "conservative" events

Let's not compromise our beliefs, but let's also not think that we are above fraternization with people who at times share our concerns.

PS: I'm fully aware of the absurdity in some of CPAC's going-ons. When I learned that obviously-unqualified John Ashcroft won the Defender of the Constitution Award (after vomiting a gallon of blood) I quipped, "With prime candidates like Ashcroft, Cheney, and Bush I am never going to win the Defender of the Constitution Award! Darn it!"

Join the IDOTC Fan Page on Facebook

Please join the In Defense of the Constitution fan page on Facebook. And please invite your friend list as well. Here is the link.

George Will at CPAC

I have not listened to too many of the CPAC speeches, mainly just bits here and there. But I did listen to this witty and laudable speech by George Will. I recommend you follow the links to all three parts. It is worth your listen.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The GOP's "small government" Tea Party Fraud

This article is a must read. Mr. Greenwood gets it, plain and simple.

He writes:
There's a major political fraud underway:  the GOP is once again donning their libertarian, limited-government masks in order to re-invent itself and, more important, to co-opt the energy and passion of the Ron-Paul-faction that spawned and sustains the "tea party" movement.  The Party that spat contempt at Paul during the Bush years and was diametrically opposed to most of his platform now pretends to share his views.  Standard-issue Republicans and Ron Paul libertarians are as incompatible as two factions can be -- recall that the most celebrated right-wing moment of the 2008 presidential campaign was when Rudy Giuliani all but accused Paul of being an America-hating Terrorist-lover for daring to suggest that America's conduct might contribute to Islamic radicalism -- yet the Republicans, aided by the media, are pretending that this is one unified, harmonious, "small government" political movement...

What makes this deceit particularly urgent for them now is that their only hope for re-branding and re-empowerment lies in a movement -- the tea partiers -- that has been (largely though not exclusively) dominated by libertarians, Paul followers, and other assorted idiosyncratic factions who are hostile to the GOP's actual approach to governing.  This is a huge wedge waiting to be exposed -- to explode -- as the modern GOP establishment and the actual "small-government" libertarians that fuel the tea party are fundamentally incompatible...
Continue reading here.

Libertarians and Responsibility

Please check out my latest post at The Humble Libertarian on libertarians and responsibility.

It begins:
With its laissez-faire approach to economics and “get the government out of my business” attitude, libertarianism often gets a bad rap as an ideology of unconcerned and uninvolved citizens. This could be true of some libertarians, but no truer than it is for people of all ideological stripes.

For the most part, libertarians are responsible members of society. In fact, they must be, because libertarianism necessitates responsibility. A free people must have personal responsibility, while slaves to Leviathan have no desire or need to be responsible. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ron Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll

Courtesy of Young Americans for Liberty

Ron Paul has won the CPAC straw poll -- arguably by a land slide!  You can check out the full poll, but here are the presidential poll results:
Thinking ahead to the 2012 Presidential election,who would you vote for as the next Republican nominee for President?
  • Ron Paul -- 31%
  • Mitt Romney -- 22%
  • Sarah Palin -- 7%
  • Tim Pawlenty -- 6%
  • Mike Pence -- 5%
  • Newt Gingrich -- 4%
  • Mike Huckabee -- 4%
  • Mitch Daniels -- 2%
  • Rick Santorum -- 2%
  • John Thune -- 2%
  • Haley Barbour -- 1%
  • Other -- 5%
  • Undecided -- 6%
Yes, Ron Paul got more votes than the next two candidates combined.

The Census and the Constitution | Tenth Amendment Center

The Census and the Constitution | Tenth Amendment Center--I do not control the giving of census data in my home as I now living with my parents, but I am trying to influence my dad's actions. That is not an easy task as he is not too concerned with privacy in these matters, but we'll see how it turns out. However, my thoughts and would be actions are very much along that of this article.

He concludes:

Americans need to stand up to Washington’s intrusion into our private lives. What business of government is the number of times a citizen has been married or what he paid for electricity last month? For those who find such intrusion acceptable, I’d ask them whether they’d also find questions of their sex lives or their marriage fidelity equally acceptable.

What to do? Unless a census taker can show me a constitutional requirement, the only information I plan to give are the number and names of the people in my household. The census taker might say, “It’s the law.” Thomas Jefferson said, “Whensoever the General Government (Washington) assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Mount Vernon Statement

The Mount Vernon Statement is a statement crafted by a number of conservatives from different backgrounds (i.e. fiscal, social, cultural, and national security). I will post the text below, and would encourage you to comment your thoughts and reactions--even if it is a short one. I would like to see what you think and get a dialogue going in this vital time that we seek to properly define the so-called conservative movement.

The Mount Vernon Statement
Constitutional Conservatism: A Statement for the 21st Century
We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding.Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.

These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.

Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The selfevident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?
The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.

The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.

A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.
  • It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
  • It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
  • It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
  • It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.
  • It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith.
If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose.
We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.
February 17, 2010

What do you think? Thoughts, comments, criticisms?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scalia and Secession

This has been making its way around the internet recently; so I thought I would comment. Apparently, in 2006 Supreme Court Justice Scalia responded to a screenwriter's request for an opinion on the constitutionality of succession in which he said there was no right to secede.

Justice Scalia replied to the man:
"I am afraid I cannot be of much help with your problem, principally because I cannot imagine that such a question could ever reach the Supreme Court. To begin with, the answer is clear. If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede. (Hence, in the Pledge of Allegiance, "one Nation, indivisible.") Secondly, I find it difficult to envision who the parties to this lawsuit might be. Is the State suing the United States for a declaratory judgment? But the United States cannot be sued without its consent, and it has not consented to this sort of suit.
I am sure that poetic license can overcome all that -- but you do not need legal advice for that. Good luck with your screenplay."
Scalia is right about one thing: such a question would more than likely never go before the Supreme Court. The Court would not want to touch this issue with a ten foot pole. And even if it did, a state willing to secede surely would not be bound to the decision of the Court as if it opinion mattered. Why waste your time? Would the state really just rejoin the union based on a Court ruling?

What is alarming about his response is Scalia's insisting that the issue was settled by the so-called "Civil War". Of course, the Constitution itself must be the authority--not the Court and definelty not a war. If went to war over the freedom of the press and those who seek to do away with free press proved the victor, surely we would not exclaim, "There is no right to a free press. The free pressers lost the war." Such a reliance on victory in war is outrageously absurd. Might does not thwart the rule of law. That is tyranny of the majority, which is just as vile a despotism as tyranny of a single agent.

The disturbing factor continues as Scalia looks to the pledge of allegiance as his source of confirmation. The pledge has no connection to the Founding, was written by a self-admitted socialist, and is merely a modern invention to show submission to the state. Surely, fans of liberty should not be fans of the Pledge. "One nation...indivisible" may be a post "War of Northern Aggression" truism, but it is not binding in any manner.

Of course, we know that based on the nature of the Constitution--a voluntary compact among states--that secession is constitutionally permissible. The triumph of might does not mean that the issue has seen the prevalence of right. Moreover, our history is one of secession; we have done it ourselves and often supported it by others. Talk of it is healthy, and we should not dismiss it quickly without being truthful to our own history and our own founding documents.

I am sure Justice Scalia's statement was made in haste and wit, not expecting it to surface publicly. If he is ever truly called upon to rule on the issue, I hope the Constitution--not Union military success--will be his guide.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quotation of the Day

“The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”--Thomas Jefferson

Monday, February 15, 2010

Free the Market

There is little doubt that most in our government actually believe they are acting for the good of the people. However, as C.S. Lewis once noted, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” Such is the case with our current economic tyranny. In an attempt to craft a prosperous economy, our government has created perhaps the worst economic environment since the Great Depression. What was and continues to be exercised for our good has no doubt been our ruin and will be so for some time to come.

                Throughout our modern history the federal government has been actively intervening in markets. With the monetary supply and interest rate manipulation of the Federal Reserve, the massive deficit spending and booms and busts brought by adherence to Keynesian economic policy, as well as the control of wage rates and labor contracting by twentieth century progressives, the last hundred years or so have seen little of true free market practice. What we have seen is false prosperity, dangerous economic cycles, and the trampling of our liberties.

                Truly, the government’s intervention in the economy has left us with crippling consequences. To make things worse, instead of correcting our economic woes with proper action, our politicians seem intent on more of the same government interventionist policies that created the “Great Recession” in which we find ourselves. With talk of another “stimulus” program in development each of us should be prepared to voice opposition.

                No government can create prosperity; any attempt to do so will prove futile. But governments can create an environment suited for prosperity—a society in which free people benefit from a free market. Sadly, it appears that our government is unwilling to create such a prosperous atmosphere. Instead, there seems to be a concerted effort by politicians across the board to thwart any attempt at true prosperity and economic freedom.

                If the goal of the federal government is to combat unemployment by stripping away private sector jobs and employing individuals as virtual wards of the state, then its mission may very well be accomplished. If its goal is to get Americans back to work in an economy that is strong and vibrant, however, the government’s current policies are paving a path to failure.

                Government intervention has already failed according to its own benchmarks. The current unemployment rate proves a prime example. Claiming the necessity of massive government spending to keep the unemployment rate from surpassing 10 percent, Washington intervened massively in the market from the banking sector to public works and everywhere in between. The result was even more job loss and more debt.

The federal government continues to pour money into the problem as if there is an unlimited spring from which cash flows and as if its efforts will prove successful. Unfortunately, it is the American taxpayer which provides the government with its funds, and if trends continue, we will totally be robbed of the fruits of our labor as will future generations. As for the success of our government’s spending spree, none is to be found.

The true path to prosperity involves less, not more, government. Taxes and spending must be slashed. Toxic assets must be liquidated, not bailed out. Deregulation must occur, and economic decision making must be made by the private sector alone. Until we allow the free market to do its work the boom and bust cycle will continue, and we will continue to put off our problem to bite us down the road.

The message we should send to politicians at all levels is clear: get out of the free market’s way!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Criticisms of Judicial Review

Check out my newest post at the Humble Libertarian in which I criticze the concept of juducial review.

It begins:

On February 24, 1803, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down arguably the most important decision in its entire history—Marbury v. Madison. It was Chief Justice John Marshall—a Hamiltonian and no fan of limited government—who provided the opinion, which would change the face of the Court and its power forever.

The ruling itself is not what makes this case so significant. Rather, it is the power that the Court assumed while delivering this ruling that begs our attention—the power of judicial review. To most, the concept of judicial review is nothing controversial. Why would it be? Judicial review is merely the practice of the judicial branch overturning legislative and executive action it deems unconstitutional. In fact, a number of courts throughout the democratic world have this power expressly noted in their foundational documents. So what is the big deal?

First, the Constitution allows for no such judicial power. In fact, I am certain it forbids such power. Second, it is a dangerous doctrine that eats away at the very heart of our system of checks and balances. (Read the rest here.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Tyrant is Born

A tyrant was born on this day in 1809. That tyrant's name is Abraham Lincoln. No doubt many would be shocked that I am throwing insult at good ole "Honest Abe." Indeed, from the cradle to the grave we hear praise lavished on our 16th president--our greatest president, the one who "freed the slaves," the one who refused to let our Founder's vision be broken. But I would argue that it is not warranted.

Lincoln was not our greatest president, unless you consider one who tramples upon the Constitution to be great. He did not "free any slaves" either. The Emancipation Proclamation was a mere political gesture that freed no one. Moreover, according to his own words, Lincoln would have even tolerated slavery to preserve his union and forward his political agenda. Lastly, Lincoln did not preserve the views of the Founders. Rather, he dismantled the constitutional system of our Founding and tread upon the ideas that fueled our Revolution.

Sadly, the record on Abe is not an honest one. To the victor belongs the spoils, and the victory of the federal state allows for state-glorifying revisionist history to be the norm. States' rights are bad; Lincoln is good. We all know the drill. I heard all the official lines myself. As a child Lincoln was my hero; that is long behind me.

The more I learned about the man, the less respect I had for him.

What is true of Lincoln is this: he did not respect liberty. He instituted blockades against the South (think sanctions), suspended the writ of habeas corpus even in lands far from the battle field, executed Southern sympathizers merely for their political sympathies, used to power of the state to fend off political opponents, spent money without congressional appropriation, imprisoned anywhere from 15,000-18,000 people without trial for sympathizing with the Southern cause, illegally went through citizens' mail, and implemented a host of other anti-liberty policies.

Lincoln should not be revered he should be looked at for what he was--a tyrant. As a lover of liberty, I am completely against the idea of slavery. Likewise, as a lover of liberty, I am completely against President Lincoln and his policies of despotism. So should you be.

PS: I would recommend Tom DiLorenzo as a great source to dispel Lincoln myths. Look him up; you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jeffersonian Wisdom

I would like to draw attention to a portion of my blog that may often go unnoticed. I am referring to the quotation on the upper right-hand side by the great Thomas Jefferson laying out the proper position on government and constitutional authority. I keep it there because I love it and I love the man who said it.

In it we see a strong reliance on the individual, a strong reliance on the rights of states, and a strong reliance on the rule of law. I encourage you to read it, savor it, and put its ideas to practice.

I have included the quotation below for easy readability.

"The several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes [and] delegated to that government certain definite powers and whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force. To this compact each state acceded as a state, and is an integral party, its co-states forming, as to itself, the other party. The government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself, since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution the measure of its powers." --Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hurtling Down the Road to Serfdom by John Stossel

Government is taking us a long way down the Road to Serfdom. That doesn't just mean that more of us must work for the government. It means that we are changing from independent, self-responsible people into a submissive flock. The welfare state kills the creative spirit.

F.A. Hayek, an Austrian economist living in Britain, wrote "The Road to Serfdom" in 1944 as a warning that central economic planning would extinguish freedom ( The book was a hit. Reader's Digest produced a condensed version that sold 5 million copies.

Hayek meant that governments can't plan economies without planning people's lives. After all, an economy is just individuals engaging in exchanges. The scientific-sounding language of President Obama's economic planning hides the fact that people must shelve their own plans in favor of government's single plan.

At the beginning of "The Road to Serfdom," Hayek acknowledges that mere material wealth is not all that's at stake when the government controls our lives: "The most important change ... is a psychological change, an alteration in the character of the people."

This shouldn't be controversial. If government relieves us of the responsibility of living by bailing us out, character will atrophy. The welfare state, however good its intentions of creating material equality, can't help but make us dependent. That changes the psychology of society.

(Read the rest of Stossel's article here.)

Sarah Palin's Bad Tea by the Southern Avenger

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Constitutionally illiterate -

Constitutionally illiterate -

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Ron Ramsey Attacks Loose Monetary Policy

I am often disappointed with those running for governor in my state of Tennessee. I have spent a good amount with both Zach Wamp and Ron Ramsey over the years, and both are decent guys with whom to have a conversation. Ron is really personable and has been know to say some quite conservative things to people when not overtly politicin'. However, his voting record is a mixed bag, like all the "conservatives" in the TN legislature. Despite his flaws, he is quite conservative and appears to be a strong supporter of states' rights.

He has done some good things lately, like writing to assert state sovereignty. I just received the following short message in regard to his recent participation in a healthcare forum and was pleasantly surprised.

Last week, I was pleased to take part in a special forum on healthcare hosted by Steve Gill. It was a privilege to share my thoughts and concerns about the current reform efforts.

As our nation faces record deficits, Washington continues to print money as fast as they can. Now, with issues like healthcare, they're trying to pass the costs on to the states. We shouldn't be forced to pay for irresponsible legislation in Congress that will not produce the actual reforms we need. (My emphasis)

I find it so interesting to see Lt. Gov. Ramsey go out of his way to address our monetary woes. Could we have a hard currency man on our hands? Another FED fighter?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tea Partiers Should Be Weary of the GOP

The Tea Party movement needs the Republican Party like one needs a shotgun blast to the head. It is that plain and simple.

I say this as someone who has interned for the state GOP and has served in a number of leadership positions in the local party for over 7 years (The entire time I refused to walk a party line--even voting Libertarian in 2008). Needless to say, the party system is geared toward compromise of principles and the creation of governance problems.

The Republican Party, in its current practice, is not committed to liberty, smaller government, or the Constitution. Rather, it is committed to electoral victory regardless of principle. Look no further than the election of Massachusetts liberal Scott Brown for proof. If the Tea Party is truly committed to limited constitutional government, they do not need a partner in the GOP that is not.

Sadly, the very GOP establishment that has forsaken the Constitution and got us into our current mess is now attempting to wed itself with the Tea Party movement--quite successfully I might add. Moreover, I believe that the Tea Party movement represents more than just Republicans; it is made up of a number of dissatisfied voters from a number of different backgrounds. But if there is not a concerted effort to fight this partisan influence and stand firm on principle, the Tea Party will fail.

Now is not the time for compromise in order to win elections. Electing more of the same will not reverse the tides; it'll merely provide us with a fresh set of actors.

Sarah Palin's speech at the Tea Party Convention showed that her concern is with furthering Republican politics and her own ambition, not with restoration of liberty in our republic. All this occured while thousands cheered on. Sadly, it appears the Tea Party movement is blind to this move toward co-optation. If the Tea Party wants to merely act as a midterm Republican Convention, then that avenue is open. But if it wants to bring back constitutional government, then it must distance itself from candidates and a party that will not advance liberty. Don't look to the parties as the power structure to be obeyed. Rather, force the parties to look to the grassroots as those with the power and listen to the voice of the people.

If the Tea Party movement refuses to stand on principle and instead caves into the GOP, the party structure will have the upper hand, knowing that they can continue to field neocons and other liberals while counting on the Tea Party's support. May it not be so.

I have seen these co-optation attempts with my own eyes, and I don't like it. This is one Tea Party that needs to keep a close eye on the guest list because to pick party over principle one would have to be as mad as a hatter.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why I'm Libertarian and a Constitutionalist

Please head over to the Humble Libertarian and read my latest guest post on why I am both a libertarian and a constitutionalist.

It begins:

I am a libertarian, and I am a constitutionalist. But should I be? Not that I shouldn’t be a libertarian. I am sure most of the readers here at THL would maintain that we should all be libertarians. But should I- being a libertarian- also be a constitutionalist? I contend that I should for good reason.

First, let me note that I in no way want to give the impression that a libertarian must be a constitutionalist. Many true libertarians shun the Constitution (and sometimes the very existence of government altogether), and I can sympathize with their reasoning. However, I would like to explain why I personally feel comfortable as a libertarian and a lover of the Constitution.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Taking the "Neo" Out of "Conservative" by the Southern Avenger

I listen to each of the Southern Avenger's video posts on his youtube channel as they are released. It has been a wise investment of time. I rarely am in disagreement, find them quite thought provoking, and appreciate the detailed analysis.

Checkout his recent entry about my mortal enemies: the Neoconservatives.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bring Our Marines Home by Patrick J. Buchanan

Bring Our Marines Home by Patrick J. Buchanan--A fantastic article by my favorite paleocon.

He concludes:

With the exception of the Soviet Union, few nations in history have suffered such a relative decline in power and influence as the United States in the last decade. We are tied down in two wars, are universally disliked and are running back-to-back deficits of 10 percent of gross domestic product, as our debt is surging to 100 percent of GDP.

A strategic retreat from Eurasia to our own continent and country is inevitable. Let it begin by graciously acceding to Japan's request we remove our Marines from Okinawa and politely inquiring if they wish us to withdraw U.S. forces from the Home Islands, as well.

Harold Ford Jr. Should Look to the GOP

Even if you are not from Tennessee or New York, chances are that you have heard of Harold Ford Jr.'s possible Democratic primary challenge in New York. And if you watch the Colbert Report you have probably seen the recent interview in which Colbert gave the former candidate for Tennessee senator quite a hard time. This hard time stems from both Ford's relatively little time spent actually living in New York and his recent change of heart on a number of positions.

When running for senator in the Great State of Tennessee, Ford positioned himself as a true Southern Democrat, boasting of his pro-life and pro-traditional marriage positions. Now as a potential challenger in New York, Ford claims he has always been pro-choice and has recently had a change of heart on gay marriage that has positioned him left of President Obama himself.

I don't blame Ford. He comes from a family of political opportunists and is making the best of a situation put in front of him. Never being a principled man, I don't expect anything different from him now.

What suprises me is his desire to run as a Democrat. Even if he is now pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, he could still run to the right of Scott Brown--the GOP's latest poster boy. Since the Republican Party is so willing to compromise principle for the sake of a win, surely they would back Ford in New York.

Mr. Ford, you are barking up the wrong tree. The GOP loves running liberals for office. Just look at the '08 presidential ticket. Let them know you are fine with bombing brown people and the GOP will have its supporters sending you money and supporters in no time.

Morgan Freeman on Black History Month

Here is a clip of my favorite actor Morgan Freeman talking about his distaste for Black History Month.

Hat Tip: The Humble Libertarian

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Inalienable Right To Secede by Scott Lazarowitz

The Inalienable Right To Secede by Scott Lazarowitz-I thought this was a good article.

He notes:
Within the inalienable rights to life and liberty, as recognized in the Declaration of Independence, is the right to independence. People have a right not to be compelled to be dependent on the federal government’s monopoly of territorial protection and jurisdiction. If people within a particular territory have a right of independence and a right of self-determination, then they have a right to secede from the federal “union.” This is reinforced by the Declaration of Independence, which states that “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” And Thomas Jefferson later noted, “...If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers a continuance in the union....I have no hesitation in saying, 'let us separate'...”

Enumerated Powers Act: A Step in the Right Direction

My attention was recently drawn to some good news. Though it's not the first time it has been proposed, I can't remember seeing such support for the Enumerated Powers Act in the past. Today, the senate version has 22 co-sponsors, while the house version boast 60 co-sponsers of its own. Sadly, it is only Republicans who have thrown their support behind the legislation thus far, but Democrats should remedy this lack of support quickly as S. 1319 and H.R. 450 are a huge step in the right direction.

If you are unfamiliar with the legislation, here is a basic rundown.

The Enumerated Powers Act would require each bill that goes before Congress "to contain a concise explanation of the specific constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act." If an explanation cannot be provided, a point of order is called in which the chamber must acknowledge that constitutional authority could not be found for the proposed legislation.

I see two major benefits of this bill. First, it will cause lawmakers to reevaluate what they think about constitutional authority. They must actually turn to the document in their law-making process and see if their actions are constitutional or not. (A novel, I know!) Second, if they refuse to submit to constitutional law-making, it is brought to the attention of everyone as a point of order is called. Image these words: "The senator would like to propose the follow legislation even though he lacks any constitutional authority to do so."

In essence, unconstitutional bills will be noted as such for the record, the public would be made aware of constitutional infidelity, and the sponsor would be exposed on the chamber floor.

The bill wouldn't stop the passage of unconstitutional bills, but it will expose unconstitutional bills in a way that is currently lacking. Hopefully, this exposure could lead to a lesser volume of unconstitutional proposals.

Of course, the likelihood of the Enumerated Powers Act passing is slim, especially lacking Democrat support. But who knows in the current climate? If one where to say just a little over a year ago that a bill to audit the Federal Reserve would experience massive bipartisan support and make it out of committee, one would be laughed at as a fool. But we now see what has happened with H.R. 1207.

What stands in the way? Our elected officials hate to the constraints of the Constitution, and as we have failed to hold them accountable, they know they can get away with their infidelity to the rule of law.

But, like I said, the times are changing. So lets see if we can get our elected officials to support the Enumerated Powers Act.