Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Did the Dems Know What They Were Doing?

In light of the passage of the Democratic healthcare reform package, many on the Right are sitting back smugly thinking Pelosi and company naively delivered the House right into the Republican's hands. While it may be true that the House will possibly lose many of its Democratic members come November, I doubt the Democratic leadership was oblivious to this before it took the healthcare vote.

What we are dealing with here is a movement that disregards public opinion no matter the opposition. If they were merely taking principled stands, defying what Alexis de Tocqueville called "the tyranny of the majority," this would be something to admired. Unfortunately, the passage of Obamacare has less to do with principle and more to do with a tyrannical power grab by the federal government and the Democratic leadership. If principle is involved at all, it manifests itself only in the belief that the state is king and liberty is a disposable commodity.

What I see here is a group of individuals intent on reshaping the face of America according to their own agenda. Yes, elections are important to their cause. Elections are what got them into power, but elections will come and go. Seats will be won, and seats will be lost. What is harder to do is to create a lasting government program that will forever effect the power of the federal government over the lives of individuals. The moment was at hand, and the objective had to be met. Besides, the creation of more government dependents is far more valuable to a statist agenda than control of Congress. 

As George Bernard Shaw noted, "A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul." With a whole new slate of dependents--and the return of many frequent offenders--Pelosi and her comrades may have created for themselves electoral support down the line. That is, unless we combat the prevalence of nanny state acceptance.

If we do not start properly understanding the Constitution and the tools it affords us to fight back, much of what is going on in DC cannot be undone. Rather, we will continue marching down the road to serfdom without a bit of protest.

It is time we step up and realize that one election does not matter, if we don't capitalize on the opportunities before us and advance our liberty principles. The Democrats have already wised up to this. That is why the scar of their leadership will last well beyond this Fall.

Rand Paul Calls Greyson on Lies

I have seen firsthand the lies perpetrated by the Trey Grayson campaign in Kentucky. Rand is getting sick of it, and the people of Kentucky deserve better. Spread this ad around, especially to Kentucky voters, to set the record straight.

Hat Tip: The Humble Libertarian

Dangerous Rand Paul by the Southern Avenger

For readers of this blog, it is no secret that I wholeheartedly support Rand Paul for Senate. This is not only because he is the best candidate in the race; he is the only conservative running. But I also am excited about what he means to the liberty movement as a true constitutional conservative. Once again Jack Hunter hits the nail on the head in his latest piece on Paul.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Non-Interventionists ARE Pro National Defense and Do Support the Troops

Please check out my latest post at The Humble Libertarian on why non-interventionism is both pro-troops and pro-strong national defense.
Can you be opposed to our current wars as well as the influence of the military-industrial complex and still be pro-troops and strong on national defense? Of course, you can! But you wouldn't know it, listening to many of the talking heads who claim to carry the mantel of conservatism but are really just neocons or neocon-influenced.

Opposition to preventable, unconstitutional war is nothing new to libertarians and conservatives who made up the Old Right. In the past, adherence to a strict non-interventionist foreign policy was a distinguishing mark of the Old Right, and any self-respecting libertarian/conservative was quick to be weary of war and what Murray Rothbard labeled "the warfare state."

Moreover, war was only to be fought according to a strict set of principles. Just War Theory conditions, constitutional parameters, and true defensive needs had to be met in order for those past champions of human freedom to endorse the United States taking military action.

Needless to say, much has changed in recent decades. Neoconservative influence and a general lack of consistently applied principles have led so-called libertarians and conservatives to abandon their non-interventionist heritage and endorse unconstitutional and unnecessary wars.

To make things worse, those who hold to traditional principles as small government advocates are called unpatriotic, anti-military, and anti-strong national defense by many who claim to be on the side of liberty. This deception has gone on for far too long, and it is time to set the record straight. (Continue reading here.)

What Will Novemeber Bring?

Besides my take on the passage of Obamacare, I have been most asked the following types of questions as of late by concerned citizens: Can we actually get some good guys in office this Fall? Do you think the Republicans will take back the House come election night? Will the Tea Party actually be able to have a positive effect on the conservative movement in November?

Well...I'm no soothsayer; so my knowledge of the future is just as good as the next guy. Moreover, I think that each of these questions, though they may overlap, are referring to different things. Nevertheless, I will attempt to unpack the political situation as I see it.

Yes, the Democrats have been engaging in very unpopular behavior for a number of years which has escalated over the past 14 months, and they have just passed a mammoth piece of unpopular legislation--Obamacare. But we need only look back to the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush to see that unpopularity and poor policy does not always guarantee electoral failure. Despite this reality, I see major gains for the GOP come November unless their is a drastic, unforeseen change in the political environment.

Therefore, if one is merely concerned with success for those running under the Republican brand, it will be a good year. This does not mean, however, that 2010 will be a great year for conservatism. As we can see from our current crop of Republicans, true conservatism and a commitment to limited government principles couldn't be further from many in the GOP's minds.

Indeed, 2010 should be a great year for conservatism and a great year for the restoration of the Republican Party to its conservative platform, but if early signs hold true, those of us who love liberty and the Constitution may be left wanting. I say this not for lack of opportunity nor for lack of strength in our cause. Rather, my doubts stem from both the party establishments' support of non-principled candidates and from movements like the Tea Party folks' perceived willingness to pick the "lesser of two evils." The establishment of both parties is powerful in its support of the status quo; since the current status quo is against liberty, the tide will not be easily turned. Moreover, if those who claim to want change side with "the lesser of two evils," there will be no hope for lasting change--unless the change one wants is a government full of liberals like Scott Brown and John McCain.

Not to sound overly pessimistic, I would like to clarify my opinion. I do think good things will come about this Fall. Good conservatives, like Kentucky's Rand Paul, will have success, and our country will benefit greatly from it. Likewise, many bad officeholders will be punished by losing their seats. Moreover, I think that the Tea Party movement and the whole host of other movements under the "liberty" banner have a great opportunity to do good and put constitutionalists into office this Fall. The time is ripe, and the moment should not be wasted.

But I have also been around politics long enough to know that people are often short sided and quick to sell out their principles. If the Tea Party movement uses its influence merely as an arm of the GOP, we as small government advocates will see electoral failure. Until shills like Sean Hannity are called out on their hypocrisy, rather than being celebrated as movement torch-bearers, their will be great difficulty in restoring a constitutional republic. Moreover, the GOP is not the conservative movement. This needs to be noted. I believe that working within the GOP provides the most promising electoral prospect, and as conservatives and libertarians, we can assert our influence to take back the GOP from neoconservatives and political progressives. But the acknowledgement that working within the GOP may be the best path to power, does not mean that we should wholesale endorse GOP candidates. Only those who share our values and principles deserve our support; others should e opposed. If we don't act accordingly, we will be doomed.

It is my fear that November will bring compromise and neglect of principle that will usher Republicans into office but leave conservatives and libertarians out.

The only way to combat this potential march of the RINOs is to hold strongly to principle. There should be no blind partisanship, no choosing "the lesser of two evils," and no room for selling out. If we do not demand a higher standard from our candidates and our representatives, we will continue to reap these poor results, and we may reap nothing but more bad governance come election day.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Quotation of the Day

I thought this quotation was especially pertinent considering the events leading to the passage of Obamacare. 
"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators." – P.J. O'Rourke

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Five Positives from Obamacare's Passage

Understandably so, many of those who consider themselves to be conservative or libertarian in philosophy have felt disheartened by the passage of Obamacare. Even though I saw it coming for some time, I share in everyone's being upset with our leaders and their actions. But I am here to tell you that not all that the passage of Obamacare offers is bad. There is a silver lining  for those of us committed to the cause of limited government and individual liberty.

Of course, on its face Obamacare offers nothing of worth to limited government and individual liberty activists. The legislation tramples upon the liberty of individuals, neglects our constitutional compact, and increases the size and scope of government to alarming levels. However, we must look beyond the codified effects and see what this bill's passage will offer to our movement.

Sure, some will feel disgusted and hopeless, but that is based on a misguided placement of hope in a single legislative battle. Such is both naive and foolish. We cannot be "Sunshine Patriots." For, our fight for freedom must be waged in both success and failure.

Here are five positives I see from Obamacare's passage.

1. We now know exactly who our enemies are. To be frank, most of the crooks in Washington are enemies to liberty, whether or not the voted for the health reform bill. But as far as coalitions go, there are those who may at times be our allies on key issues. For many, Bart Stupak and other "pro-life" Democrats were key allies in the battle to protect the rights of the unborn. Even though his previous comments should have alerted everyone to Stupak's true convictions, his vote Sunday let any doubters know where he and his commrads stand on the issue of life.

2. This already has and will continue to drive the GOP toward a more conservative direction. When the GOP is power, it does the exact things it is railing against at the moment. Remember when the GOP was passing the prescription drug legislation a few years back? I don't care about sincerity at this point as much as I care about action. If Lindsey Graham is opposed government run healthcare, it is not because he is philosophically committed to conservative governance. Rather, he opposed the bill because of public pressure and the frustration of being in the minority. That being said, I don't care why as long as he opposes it when it comes time to act.

3. It has forced us to consider the issue of healthcare reform on a national stage once again. Regrettably, the solution offered by the Obama administration will only make the problem worse, but healthcare reform is something that needs to be discussed. We need to head towards a no-government, market-based solution. Perhaps, this fight back against Obamacare will lead to a proper solution. But even if it does not succeed, it has already led to a discussion of the proper role of government in healthcare. And that is a good thing.

4. This could prove a valuable political tool in the midterm elections. I say this not in hopes for a mere GOP sweep; RINOs would prove no value to the cause of freedom. Rather, I am hoping for true liberty candidates to have a shot at office (or at least be able to shake things up) because of the neglect of freedom carried out by our current representatives--now truly displayed by the healthcare reform debacle. 

5. There will be a renewed emphasis on nullification and states' rights. This may be the most important of all. Our government has been out of control for well over a century. Rights have been trampled and the Constitution has been completely disregarded for far too long. It is a shame that talk of nullification and states' rights has gone unspoken for all this time, but it is good to see it now. States should resist this legislation, and nullification is the constitutional and proper answer. 

Make no mistake the passage of Obamacare is troubling, but there may be good things to come. People thought I was crazy when I said Obama would be good for the conservative movement, though I have never seen it so robust and vocal. The same effect may come about because of this despicable legislation and the public's reaction to it.

Shame on Everyone for Obamacare by the Southern Avenger

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!

On this day in 1775 Patrick Henry gave his famed "Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!" speech before the Virginia House of Burgesses, urging action against the tyranny of the British. Its words have long been an inspiration to me, and its conclusion is something we all must ponder: Are you willing to live a slave or die free? As for me, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

Listen to the words of Henry's famous speech and evaluate yourself.

Healthcare Video Roundup

Below is a roundup of videos found over at Young Americans for Liberty and The Daily Paul. There is some good stuff from the Judge and Ron Paul. Pay close attention to the Ron Paul butt-kissing on the first video--I don't mind it one bit!

Tennessee's Lt. Gov. Fighting Back

As a Tennessean I am proud to see my current Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate, Ron Ramsey, fighting against the unconstitutional health reform package passed by our federal government. Below is Lt. Governor Ramsey's recent press release calling on our state to assert its Tenth Amendment rights.
March 22, 2010                                                                                                          
The healthcare legislation passed yesterday is a disaster for Tennessee citizens and our constitutional requirement to maintain a balanced budget.  It will raise taxes on Tennessee citizens while stripping away the right to control one’s own medical decisions.

I believe the bill passed yesterday by the U.S. House is unconstitutional and I am calling on Attorney General Cooper to join the 11 state Attorneys General already planning to challenge the constitutionality of the bill.

Individual states must challenge this legislation immediately to halt its implementation.  The longer we wait, the more it will cost the state of Tennessee and her citizens.  Washington has forced this problem upon us – it is now up to state leaders to stop this unfunded mandate from breaking state budgets across the country. 

Rand Paul Money Bomb!

It is time for the Rand Paul March 23rd Money Bomb. So head on over to Rand's website and throw some support his way. I personally spent last week in Kentucky volunteering for his campaign with over a hundred other young people because I believe in Rand and I believe in the cause for which he fights--liberty and constitutional government.

Rand is the true heir to the rEVOLution his father started. Like his father, Rand is firmly committed to constitutional and responsible government, emphasizing individual liberty. Is he perfect on all issues? No, and neither is his father. But what is sure is this: he is solid on principle. He takes his marching orders from the Constitution, rather than our failed zeitgeist.

In many ways Rand is much better than Ron. (Not to say that I don't love Ron.) Rand is not only principled and committed to liberty like his father, but he is a great communicator. He can present his ideas clearly in a manner that builds support for his cause and allows him to bring others into the cause of liberty. Furthermore, he is solid on the issues, at times even being better than his dad. Moreover, he is a suave political actor, and his ability to campaign well has even impressed me--the jaded political fan boy. 

So once again, head over to RandPaul2010.com and make your pledge today.

(Rand and I)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stupak is a Man of his Word

This video shows that Stupak did not care about the abortion issue. He said he would vote for a pro-abortion bill all along.

Obamacare: Unconstitutional Legislation Passed on Unconstiutional Grounds

It comes as no surprise that Obamacare was passed yesterday by the House. From the start this bill has had the odds in its favor, backed by a majority whose dissenting members always find a way to cave into the administration's demands. If you are shocked by Obamacare's passage, you still have a lot to learn when it comes to the political process. (I advise you start educating yourselves about the concept of nullification, for it is our greatest hope to bring our nation back to its constitutional confines.)

One thing that should not shock, though it should disgust, is the deal cut between President Obama and so-called "pro-life" Democrats represented by Rep. Bart Stupack. Stupack and his associates agreed to support the legislation even though it doesn't prohibit federal abortion funding in exchange for President Obama signing an executive order addressing the issue. That is the true outrage of the entire healthcare fiasco. Not only is the whole of the legislation unconstitutional, the deal struck for its passage is founded on unconstitutional ground.

Democrats where right to criticize President Bush for his excessive use of executive orders; now their tune has changed. Only the legislature can make law. Any attempt by the other branches--be it executive or judicial--is a violation of the Constitution and an affront to our liberty.

Though it is de facto used as such, an executive order is not legally binding. It is nothing more than a operation memo for the executive branch. It is sort of like your boss sending out a memo saying, "I know shorts are against company policy, but we're gonna let Rob keep wearing them because he has a cast."

If the law is applied according to the books, executive orders are nothing but ink on  a paper. What Stupack and others have done is placed all their confidence in the Obama administration's claim that they will not use funds for abortion. Even if general funds were able to be separated and applied to non-abortion areas, which it can't, Stupack has betray all reason. Even if the Obama administration refuses to allow payment for abortions, what if our next president decides to consistently apply the legislation and allow for abortion funding?

Moreover, because executive orders have no legal weight, courts would be compelled to uphold abortion funding if ruling on the legislation--that is if they upheld the legislation itself as legitimate. Stupack's trust was put in application of the law, rather than the law itself.  And he may pay down the road for it.

The healthcare fight has been about neglecting constitutional authority from the start. The bill itself flies in the face of the Constitution. What makes things worse is the passage of the bill hinged on unconstitutional means. Until we start revering liberty and the Constitution which seeks to secure that liberty, we will continue to see this disturbing behavior and our liberties crumble.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lindsey Graham's Crappy Republican Party by The Southern Avenger

Planned Parenthood


The Patriot's Pledge

Realizing the enormous growth of government and shameful decay of liberties following the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, The Patriot's Pledge has come onto the scene--seeking to provide a voice for victims in the case of a potential terrorist attack in the future. It is a call for a constitutional response and the preservation of liberty, rather than the regretful aftermath of our last major domestic attack.

Hopefully, I will never need this pledge to speak on my behalf--but if I do--I want to make my position sound. I will not see the liberty of my countrymen eroded in a response by our government. I hope that you will not as well. And I hope that you will sign the pledge, affirming as much.

(Thanks to The Humble Libertarian for alerting me to this worthy cause.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Term Limits or Electoral Accountability?

Please check out my latest column at The Humble Libertarian on term limits.

It begins:
Whether at Tea Party events or in general political discourse, I often hear a great desire for term limits voiced by people frustrated with our out-of-control government. They hope that the implementation of congressional term limits would go a long way toward solving our political ills. I, however, am not convinced. In fact, I believe that we already have a system of term limits in place; we just don't use it. It's called elections.

Every politician has his day in court each election cycle. Sadly, we often neglect carrying out the sentence most politicians deserve- a trip back home. Instead, time after time, we reward those who trample our liberties and ally themselves with powerful special interests by sending them back into office to continue their misdeeds.

Indeed, the electorate is very much a part of the problem. Failing to punish unconstitutional action, we have encouraged a system of legal looting and constitutional neglect. Term limits might allow individual politicians less time to carry out their abuse, but they will not solve the problem. (Continue here.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Where I've Been...

I have been in Louisville, KY all week advancing liberty with Young Americans for Liberty. I will return Sunday and be back to regular blogging. It has been an exciting time in Kentucky as I have met with liberty lovers from across our nation. Yesterday, I was able to meet Rand Paul and was blown away by his mix of principle and political skill. Volunteering for Dr. Paul's campaign has been a true honor and privilege. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Supreme Court's Thomas: Conflict of Interest?...Nah

The internet has been buzzing with the Los Angeles Times article about the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas' political involvement. The article notes that Virginia Thomas "has launched a tea-party-linked group that could test the traditional notions of political impartiality for the court." Her organization, Liberty Central Inc., seeks to educate in Founding principles, motivate individuals around key issues, and engage in activism. From what I can tell by perusing around the organization's website, it seems to be your run-of-the-mill conservative activism non-profit.

What makes Liberty Central stand out is its president/CEO--Mrs. Clarence Thomas. I say this not to downplay her organization; I am sure they do fine work. My point is merely that Mrs. Thomas' husband's place on the highest court in the land is what makes this newsworthy--if, indeed, it is newsworthy.

I am not entirely convinced that Thomas' political involvement is a problem. Nowhere in the Constitution do we see a ban against such a situation. Moreover, legal experts have admitted that Mrs. Thomas' work violates no ethical rules. Nevertheless, there is still some concern over a potential conflict of interests. This concern is justified and should be something always guarded against. But so should it in all cases--regardless of whether a spouse is a judge, a legislator, or even a low-level bureaucrat. There is always potential for abuse, and we should safeguard against it. However, that reality should not forbid a spouse from pursuing a career. There is no need for one's ambition to be thwarted when another succeeds.Furthermore, we would be foolish to assume that judges' spouses are political neutral. I hate to break it to you, but the judges aren't even politically neutral.

Though the examples of spousal political involvement may be limited, their is a long history of members of the Court stepping aside to prevent conflicts of interests. I am sure that Justice Thomas would excuse himself from any proceeding involving Liberty Central, if a case happened to arise. Moreover, to suggest that Justice Thomas would use his position on the Court unethically to advance his wife's organization is both silly and unthinkable.

Virginia Thomas is no stranger to politics. She has over 30 years of beltway experience, including stints with Dick Armey and the Heritage Foundation. Nineteen of those years have been with her husband as a Supreme Court Justice. In that time we have seen no conflict of interests, giving us no reason to expect it now.

For now, we should remain vigilant (as we always should). If a problem arises, we should address it. But for I see no reason to worry. I don't say this because I like Justice Thomas, though I do in many ways. I say it because I am realistic. I know the Court, and I know that Justice Thomas is too bright and principled to unethically assist his wife.

Friday, March 12, 2010

National Standards Will Merely Produce National Dominance

The New York Times reports:
A panel of educators convened by the nation’s governors and state school superintendents proposed a uniform set of academic standards on Wednesday, laying out their vision for what all the nation’s public school children should learn in math and English, year by year, from kindergarten to high school graduation.  
The new proposals could transform American education, replacing the patchwork of standards ranging from mediocre to world-class that have been written by local educators in every state.
Don't be fooled. This is just another effort to subvert state sovereignty in the guise of "doing the right thing for our children." Whether it be the Carter-era formation of the Department of Education, the Bush-era "No Child Left Behind" legislation, or the Obama-era "race to the top" program, the federal government has over the past century led a concerted effort to fully extend its reach over the entire arena of education. The problem is that the federal government has zero constitutional authority to be involved in the business of education, and the expanded federal role has not led to positive results. These acts have merely been blind, unconstitutional power grabs--not improvements for education.

Alaska and Texas are the only states that refused to participate in the standards-writing process. I say, "GOOD FOR THEM!" They are exerting their right under the Tenth Amendment to manage their own education systems and refusing to participate in an unconstitutional program. If only they would do the same in a whole host of other areas, we might be getting somewhere.

By participating in this program, states will be opening themselves up further to a floodgate of federal influence, and that is not a good thing. As I have already said, the federal government has no constitutional right to be involved in education, but there are practical concerns as well.

Massachusetts is already finding the standards to be a problem. Their state standards are actually higher than the uniformed ones being offered up. Should they lower them to fit in with the masses? Moreover, should any state compromise its current pursuits by adopting a program that cannot guarantee success.

At the heart of a free republic is the concept of localization. That is, local entities know their needs better than a central government. It is simple enough. Localization better addresses local problems because solutions are carried out within a local context. I am not saying that all states are doing a stellar job in education. In fact, no state can or will succeed in education without proper competition and market incentives. Indeed, we must meet the challenges of education, but meeting them locally will be the key.

Another problem that plagues the unified standards plan is a neglect of human action in education. Not only is it unreasonable to assume children can all be held to the same standards and achieve at similar levels, it  is unreasonable to assume that students can achieve at all unless they are truly invested in their education. A Harvard-bound honor student and a slum-dwelling drug addict can be produced by the same schools with the same standards; it is the students, parents, teachers, and communities that make the difference. Until we realize that student achievement is not a direct result of dollars and programs, we will continue to see failed schools and wasted resources.

Look to the wealth of data if you are looking for empirical proof against government involvement in schools. There has been much policy research on the matter. I merely want to alert you to the fact that there is absolutely no convincing evidence that higher standards in education produce better results and point to the philosophical reasons you should be opposed to these latest educational developments.

The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby rightly notes:
[T]he very nature of American society - a nation of 300 million comprising a multitude of ethnic, religious, social, and ideological traditions - argues against the imposition of one-size-fits-all education standards. There is no uniform answer to the question of what parents want most from their children’s education. “The greater the diversity of the people falling under a single schooling authority,’’ McCluskey observes, “the greater the conflict, the less coherent the curriculum, and the worse the outcomes.’’
Anyone who called for legislation to establish mandatory national standards for television programming or restaurant menus would be laughed at: Americans don’t think the government is competent to decide what shows they can watch on TV or what they can order for dinner when eating out. Is it any less risible to think that government knows best when it comes to your children’s education? 
In fact, a uniform set of achievement standards will most likely have the same effect as more educational spending--public education will still produce the same results regardless of government influence. Only the cost and federal influence will increase.

This is an influence that we cannot afford. To solve our educational woes, the state should be getting out of the education business altogether. Funds should be returned to the taxpayers to educate according to their own desires. Private schools and home schooling already does an overall better job for a fraction of the price per student. It is prime time for privatization, but that will not occur in the near future. Until then we should be fighting back against centralized education attempts and unconstitutional federal action in a state's matter.

As Jacoby concludes so will I:
Rather than centralizing even more government authority over the nation’s schools, genuine reform would move in the opposite direction. It is parents - not local, state, or federal officials - who should control education dollars. School and state should be separated, with schools being funded on the basis of their ability to attract students and teach them well. The primary responsibility for children’s education should be vested in the same people who bear the primary responsibility for their feeding, housing, and religious instruction: their mothers and fathers.

More government control is not the cure for what ails American schools. The empowerment of parents is. No teachers’ union, no school board, no secretary of education, and no president will ever love your children, or care about their schooling, as much as you do. In education as in so much else, high standards are important - far too important to hand off to the government.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not Necessarily a Neocon If...

In light of yesterday's article, I thought it might be beneficial to provide a list of things that don't necessarily make one a neoconservative. Some may say, "Of course, that does not make one a neocon. I share that belief myself." Well...you would be surprised with what some who recklessly throw around the term "neocon" use to pin down so-called neocons.

1. If someone believes that there can be a just cause for war, that does not make them a neocon. Believing in classical liberalism does not prohibit one from supporting just, constitutional wars and true national defense. However, foreign adventurism and unjust wars of aggression cannot be supported by a true conservative. Moreover, I would even go far enough to say that one can be in support of our current wars and not be a neocon. That is not to say that they are not wrong in that support; they are. But some legitimately believe the wars in the middle east are legitimate acts of national defense, rather than being motivated by neoconservative desires for global domination.

2. If someone does not think 9/11 was an inside job, that does not make them a neocon. You are free to your opinion, but many of us do not believe that 9/11 was a government-crafted conspiracy. I don't , and neither does the enemy of all neocons, Ron Paul.

3. If you have ever read The Prince, that does not make you a neocon. Yes, neocons are Machiavellian, and they do revere his work. But who has studied political theory and hasn't studied Machiavelli? I have. I've also studied The Communist Manifesto, but that doesn't make me a communist.

4. If someone is pro-military, that does not make them a neocon. Being against unjust war and against the military-industrial complex does not necessitate one being anti-military. Just because someone supports the troops, that doesn't mean they are a neocon. Some of our greatest liberty movement activists are or were in the military. Besides, someone has to support the troops; our government sure doesn't--whether it be on the battlefield or here at home.

5. Just because someone has been influenced by neocons, that does not make them a neocon. Let's face it, the neocons control the agenda and have defined what it means to be "conservative" for over a decade--almost two decades. Therefore, they have had a heavy influence on weak-minded and misguided "conservatives." We need to rescue these people from their wrongs, not write them off as neocons.

6. Just because someone believes differently than you, that doesn't make them a neocon. This is the most important one. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone called a neocon for the simple reason that they hold differing views. "You don't believe we should legalize drugs...neocon." "You don't believe in trying terrorists in civilian courts...neocon." Sometimes this frustration is properly directed, but neocon cannot become the auto-response for "wrong!" Neoconservativism is always wrong, but wrong is not always neoconservative.

Make no mistake, I do not want to defend neocons or downplay the hoards of them out there. I can't stand them. Furthermore, I don't want to defend those who share neocon views and are wrong on the issues. I want them to be taken to task. But I think it is important that we are careful in throwing around the "neocon" label. If we make proper distinctions, we can better work to bring conservatives back to what the claim to believe in--limited government and personal liberty--the very things the neocons stand firmly against.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Don't Be Neoconned into Thinking Everyone is a Neocon

Neoconservatives are a plague--a great illness that has brought pain, suffering, and misguided policy to our nation. Sadly, they have shaped the minds of the modern conservative movement in a similar way as Hayek, Mises, and other libertarians shaped it at its outset. Neocons crave war, promote the ends over means, and have little use for decency or conservatism in politics. They are Machiavellian in approach, care little for our Founding principles, and see liberty as a hurdle rather than a virtue.

With all of this said, it is easy to see that we should be careful in our use of the label. However, I see the term thrown around way too often in far too reckless a manner. I think it is time we remedy this.

The fuel for the neoconservative machine is foreign interventionism, but that does not mean that all who support our current wars or are more hawkish than ourselves deserve the "neocon" label. Moreover, the neocons profit from the so-called "War on Terror" as a means to further executive power, but that does not mean that all concerned with terrorism are in the class of neocons. Likewise, we must note that some similarities in policy with neocons does not make one a neocon. Neoconservatism is a distinct worldview and philosophical position; therefore, it takes more than a desire for attacking Iran to be one.

Because of it prominence in recent decades, neoconservatism has been the guiding force behind the minds of "conservative" politicians. Therefore, many who are not full-blown neocons still hold some neocon positions on matters like foreign policy and globalization, while holding more traditional conservative positions on economic and domestic policy. Look to someone along the lines of a Jim DeMint or a Tom Coburn for such an example. These two men are not neocons, though their foreign policy outlook has been warped by neocon influence. They have much more in common with someone like Ron Paul or John Duncan than they do with Paul Wolfowitz or Dick Cheney.

Regrettably, even if one is not a neocon, many in the liberty movement are quick to give the label. We should be weary of this misnaming. The simple reason for this is that neocons are our philosophical and political enemies; those who hold some neocon positions are not. They are merely wrong on the issues. Since neocons are fundamentally opposed to the principles of liberty, their is no common ground to be found with them. They will forever be our political opponents. However, the many who share neocon sympathies should not be viewed as lost-cause enemies. They should be seen as misguided souls who are dead wrong but can possibly one day see the light. In fact, some have already started to change their tone.

It is important to note that I am not saying we should not call people out on misguded and wrong positions. We should. I am merely saying that we should be careful who we label a neocon. For, the neoconservative position is one that can and should writen off, while a misguided understanding of foreign policy is something that can be combated and remedied. Though I have never been a complete hawk, I once was once supportive of the Iraq War myself--until I realized that we were never under a threat from the Hussein regime. Now I am completely against the war and am a consistent noninterventionist. Likewise, I have heard a number of testimonies from others whose support for the warfare state was changed based on their lack of support for the welfare state. Are these people neocons turned libertarians? Nope. They are merely liberty lovers who were called out on their philosophical inconsistency and corrected their position.

Calling out philosophical inconsistencies will be the key to victory. If someone claims to be a conservative, let's hold their feet to the fire and make them live up to the standards of the Old Right. We are in an ideological war. Right now the neocons have the mouthpieces, the majority, and the power. But we have the truth and the Constitution on our side. So I know we will prevail at the end of the day. 

By far, there are tons of neocons around. So I am not trying to downplay their influence or numbers. They are everywhere! But I want to note that there are some conservatives out there who are dead wrong on foreign policy but don't qualify as neocons. Instead of writing these folks off, we need to get them to see the light and hold firm to true traditional conservative principles. Until we do everyone will be a de facto neocons as part of a nation that pursues neocon policies.

Please check back tomorrow for a post on who/what a neocon is and is not.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Senseless Census

In my mail yesterday was a less than delightful little gift from our out-of-control government's Census Bureau. Was it the census form? Nope. It was merely a one page letter informing our household that a census form would be coming by mail in a week, encouraging us to comply. Needless to say, I was a little angered.

I am no fan of the modern census. The US Constitution in Article 1 Section 2 calls for a counting of heads every 10 year to determine representation in the House. That is the end of it's legitimacy. Anything beyond that duty is a violation of the rights of our citizens.

Sadly, the modern census asks questions related to race, religion, income, water usage, jail visits and a whole host of other things depending on whether you are cursed with either the "short" or "long" form. The short one is bad enough; I couldn't imagine what evil lurks in the long version.

Of course, our government claims we have no reason to fear as our information will remain confidential and in no way will be used against us. Just tell that to the long line of poor saps who have bought that bill of goods in the past. Tell it to the Japanese-Americans ratted out by the Census Bureau during WWII. Or tell the FBI who has used the information obtained through the census numerous times. The list goes on and on regarding the violation of privacy and the tyrannous acts carried out using census data. But never mind that because the Census Bureau wants you to take comfort in knowing every one of their employees takes an oath not to compromise your information. Considering that all government employees and elected official swear an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution, please forgive me if my faith in their oaths is on shaky ground.

But the issue of private information being compromised is not the only problem we should have with the modern census. There are constitutional and philosophical matters at play as well.

Constitutionally, as I have already said, the proper role of the census is to provide a head count. When Congress goes beyond this, it is violating its just duties. It is betraying the consent of the governed, and that is a big problem. The rule of law is designed to protect us from tyranny, and we must fight its violation at all turns.

Philosophically, we see why the census has gone beyond its proper role. Rather than desiring to properly represent the people of the United States, those now conducting the census want to spread the wealth around--looting from all and spreading to some.

I quote from the mailer sent out by the Census Bureau:
Your response is important. Results from the 2010 Census will be used to help each community get its fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities, and many other programs you and your neighbors need. Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive its fair share.  
First, where is the mention of the constitutional reason for the census? Nowhere in the mailer--and above is the bulk of the letter--is there one mention of representation. It is all about the largess of the state and getting your turn at the government trough. What shame, and what a ploy!

No where in the Constitution is even one of the above items mentioned as a rightful role of the federal government. I don't want each "community [to] get its fair share of government funds for highways, schools, health facilities, and many other programs" because each of these should not be getting federal funds, lacking constitutional authority. Moreover, how does the government decide what we "need?" That should be the task of local communities. For, only they can truly accomplish such.

Moreover, the only way to have a "fair share" is for the government to get out of this type of central planning and provide for the protection of liberty. As F. A. Hayek eloquently showed in his Road to Serfdom, the government's attempt to create fairness only breads unfairness and injustice.

So what should be our response? We should demand constitutional government, which includes a proper census. If that is not given us, we have the right and responsibility to resist. Furthermore, educate yourself and let others know the proper role of the census.

I'll end with something I heard recently from Ron Paul in regards to the laundry list of questions the government seeks answered in the census. "From a constitutional perspective...the answer to each of these questions is: “None of your business.”

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Great Neo-Con: Libertarianism Isn't 'Conservative' by the Southern Avenger

Also, check out an earlier blog of mine regarding libertarianism and conservatism here.

What Would a Ron Paul Presidency Look Like?

Putting the Constitution Back into the Oval Officeby Ron Paul

Since my 2008 campaign for the presidency I have often been asked, “How would a constitutionalist president go about dismantling the welfare-warfare state and restoring a constitutional republic?” This is a very important question, because without a clear road map and set of priorities, such a president runs the risk of having his pro-freedom agenda stymied by the various vested interests that benefit from big government.

Of course, just as the welfare-warfare state was not constructed in 100 days, it could not be dismantled in the first 100 days of any presidency. While our goal is to reduce the size of the state as quickly as possible, we should always make sure our immediate proposals minimize social disruption and human suffering. Thus, we should not seek to abolish the social safety net overnight because that would harm those who have grown dependent on government-provided welfare. Instead, we would want to give individuals who have come to rely on the state time to prepare for the day when responsibility for providing aide is returned to those organizations best able to administer compassionate and effective help – churches and private charities.

Now, this need for a transition period does not apply to all types of welfare. For example, I would have no problem defunding corporate welfare programs, such as the Export-Import Bank or the TARP bank bailouts, right away. I find it difficult to muster much sympathy for the CEO’s of Lockheed Martin and Goldman Sachs.

No matter what the president wants to do, most major changes in government programs would require legislation to be passed by Congress. Obviously, the election of a constitutionalist president would signal that our ideas had been accepted by a majority of the American public and would probably lead to the election of several pro-freedom congressmen and senators. Furthermore, some senators and representatives would become “born again” constitutionalists out of a sense of self-preservation. Yet there would still be a fair number of politicians who would try to obstruct our freedom agenda. Thus, even if a president wanted to eliminate every unconstitutional program in one fell swoop, he would be very unlikely to obtain the necessary support in Congress.

Yet a pro-freedom president and his legislative allies could make tremendous progress simply by changing the terms of the negotiations that go on in Washington regarding the size and scope of government. Today, negotiations over legislation tend to occur between those who want a 100 percent increase in federal spending and those who want a 50 percent increase. Their compromise is a 75 percent increase. With a president serious about following the Constitution, backed by a substantial block of sympathetic representatives in Congress, negotiations on outlays would be between those who want to keep funding the government programs and those who want to eliminate them outright – thus a compromise would be a 50 percent decrease in spending!

While a president who strictly adheres to the Constitution would need the consent of Congress for very large changes in the size of government, such as shutting down cabinet departments, he could use his constitutional authority as head of the executive branch and as commander in chief to take several significant steps toward liberty on his own. The area where the modern chief executive has greatest ability to act unilaterally is in foreign affairs. Unfortunately, Congress has abdicated its constitutional authority to declare wars, instead passing vague “authorization of force” bills that allow the president to send any number of troops to almost any part of the world. The legislature does not even effectively use its power of the purse to rein in the executive. Instead, Congress serves as little more than a rubber stamp for the president’s requests.
(Read the rest here.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Underwater Mortgages

Please check out my latest post at The Humble Libertarian in regards to "underwater" mortgages and contractual obligation.

 It begins:
The “Great Recession” has hit almost every sector of the economy. Times are tough, people are out of work, and paying the bills is no easy task for most. Therefore, many are falling increasingly behind on their mortgages, paying for homes that are worth substantially less than when they were first purchased. In light of this, Washington Post columnist Brett Arends advises readers behind on their mortgages to stop making payments altogether in his recent article.

Mr. Arends contends that you should neglect your payments, offering that “No, you shouldn't feel bad about it, and you shouldn't feel guilty. The lenders would do the same to you—in a heartbeat.” Likewise, he claims that you should not worry about meeting your obligations because “the economy is fundamentally amoral.”

Needless-to-say, I am fundamentally opposed to Mr. Arends’ opinion. I understand the hardship, and I do not want people to suffer in order to make payments. Moreover, many of these people are victims of the government’s intervention into the economy, which makes the situation even worse. But the solution is not to shirk responsibility. Rather, if a contractual agreement was made, that needs to be honored. We should sympathize with those who have legitimately fallen on hard times, but we should not encourage bad behavior.

Contracts are an important part of a free society. They protect our relationships and property, while providing for commerce and employment. In fact, our Founders valued the right of contract so much that they inserted a safeguard against the government violating contractual obligations into Article 1 Section 10 of the Constitution. That being said, a free society can only operate when contracts are honored—whether it be a contract between the government and the governed or between individuals conducting business. Therefore, when we refuse to uphold contractual obligations, there are always consequences.

(Read the rest here.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"A Supreme Court with a Mission is a Tyranny."

Here is a short statement delivered by European Parliament Member Daniel Hannan on sex equality and judicial activism. Top-notch stuff. Give it a listen and pay close attention to his conclusion.

Starbucks Sees the Value in Guns?!?!

A couple of weeks ago my world was shaken. For the first time in my life I found myself lavishing praise on my archenemy, Starbucks.

I hate Starbucks. I hate their cultural influence, and I hate their product. In fact, the only time I've even purchased something from the coffee Leviathan was when I needed to spend the last of my Chinese currency before flying out of Beijing. I bought a water and sandwich, grumbling the entire time, and haven't been back since.

So why the change of heart all of the sudden? It's because of Starbucks' recent stance on gun carrying.

If you are not familiar with the situation, here is a quick rundown. An upscale coffee chain in California named Peet's banned the carrying of firearms on their property--even by officially permitted carriers. (That is fine, and they are well within their rights to do so. Surely, we who value gun rights should also value property rights.) Seeing a chance to appeal to a newly marginalized customer base--the firearm carrier--Starbucks made it known that they would not forbid licensed carriers from exercising their gun rights in Starbucks establishments. They made it quite public that if you carry a gun within the confines of the law, feel free to stop in at Starbucks and bring your gun with you.

This has been a brilliant act on their part to attract gun rights supporters to their establishments, but it has also been a firestorm of controversy among the anti-gun groups, including the Brady Campaign, who demand that Starbucks stop accommodating its gun-toting customers. Thankfully, Starbucks has ignored the cries of “espresso shots, not gunshots" and has stuck to its guns--so to speak (editor's note: that was not intentional in the original draft).

What we see here is classic free-marketing. Two coffee shops with roughly the same product are going after two different markets by taking two different stances. Peet's has decided that the business of gun carriers is not needed in their establishment, while Starbucks has reached out to that demographic. Both have seen results one way or the other for their decisions.

I love it. We see in this simple example a testament to self-regulation by the market. Private property owners are determining the gun policies on their premises, and consumers are able to reward or discourage businesses based on their beliefs. No government had to step in to protect gun owners from discrimination; the money did the talking. 

I speak of the theory behind market-based regulation (as opposed to government mandated regulation) on a daily basis. It is vital to true constitutional government and a truly free society. Therefore, I'm quite glad to see yet another real world example of principle in action.

So for the time being, in regard to your position on gun carriers, bravo Starbucks. Who knows? Maybe I'll stop in and get a muffin sometime--gun in tow--for no other reason than to show my support for this policy.

Now maybe we can get you to allow the words "Laissez Faire" printed on your customized Starbucks cards.

PS: Here is Chuck Baldwin's take. Haven't read it yet, but I'm sure it's good.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Glenn Beck and the Nolan Chart

This was alerted to my attention by the fine folks at Young Americans for Liberty.

Apparently, on his show Friday, Glenn Beck went over the famed Nolan Chart with his audience. The surprising thing is that he actual did a top-notch job.

I've said in the past that I am not sure of Beck's actual commitment on the issues (he is obviously a flip-flopper), but even without that commitment, if he plays the part well and shares his thoughts with the politically ignorant across the country, he can be quite the useful idiot. This clip from his show is proof. Good job, Glenn.

Debra Medina: A True Conservative Voice

Today is a historical day for the liberty movement as Texas Republicans decide their candidate for governor. More than just a gubernatorial election, what is going on in Texas will affect the future of conservatism and thereby the future of the country as a whole.

The race is currently being fought by 3 key players: Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and Debra Medina. The two former are establishment choices who fail to hold to a consistent conservative line; the latter is a strong constitutionalist who has command of the issues and a true, principled approach to politics.

Debra Medina is a breath of fresh air to the political world. She is principled and intelligent. She deeply understands the proper role of government and does well to voice her positions. I have watched the debates and seen enough speeches to know that she is the right one for the job. Not being a Texan, I only wish she was running in Tennessee. I would be honored to have her as my governor.

Medina may not taste victory in this primary, but she has already succeeded in one important manner. She has caused the establishment to take notice of constitutionalist candidates. Rand Paul has done the same in race to serve Kentucky in the U.S. Senate. This is vastly important for future elections. Rome was not built in a day, and neither will victory for liberty come in such a short time. However, the splash that Debra Medina has maid in the Texas governor's race is an important one that hopefully will build up to a massive wave that will usher future liberty candidates into office.

It is time that the voices of those who revere the Constitution are heard. We must continue to make a racket, build on our momentum, and restore the republic to its constitutional limits. We may not always win, but our voices will be heard. (Fear not. We will win some. I am convinced that Rand Paul will take KY.) Medina's run has caused the voters of Texas to consider exactly what it means to be conservative and what should be demanded by so-called conservative candidates. We must continue this crusade, if true conservatism is to persist.

We have been silent for far too long. So let's take a note from Debra Medina and not set idly by as our liberties are tarnished and our Constitution destroyed. Let's add our voices to the debate.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Time to Start Acting Like Patriots, Not Patriot Acting

In case you missed it: this weekend saw the extension of the unconstitutional and misnamed "Patriot Act"--an affront to our liberties and a failure at keeping us safe. It was politics as usual with the re-authorization flying under the radar, disguised as a vote to approve Senate amendments to the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act.

Those familiar with the legislation know its history (composed of failed leftover power grabs from the Clinton administration, it was rushed through in the fearful aftermath of 9/11) and its contents (an unprecedented allowance of government intrusion and constitutional infringement, including the ability to bypass the constitutional requirement for warrants in a number of cases).

Benjamin Franklin once stated, "Those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither." Sadly, in post 9/11 America, we seem to be getting exactly what we deserve. Our feeble attempt to subvert our liberties in the name of security has made us neither freer nor safer.

Now the Supreme Court is dealing with another aspect of the massive piece of legislation. With its broad ability to crack down on those offering support to "terrorist groups," the Patriot Act may actually be being used in the cracking down on humanitarian groups and those seeking peace--all the while in a violation of First Amendment guarantees.

Warren Richey reports:
The law makes it a crime to provide “material support” to a known terrorist organization. It is designed to isolate terrorists by making it more difficult for them to receive assistance, services, and recruits.

But critics say the government has adopted such a broad reading of “material support” that even peace activists working to persuade a terror group to pursue nonviolent methods of political change would themselves be liable for up to 15 years in prison for providing “support” to terrorists.

“[The law] imposes criminal liability on speech and association without any showing that the speaker intended to incite or promote terrorist activity in any way,” writes Georgetown Law Professor David Cole in his brief to the court on behalf those challenging the law.
In my humble opinion, the problem goes even further.With the government's already embarrassing and bloated terror watch list proving to be deeply flawed, there is little hope that much faith can be put in Uncle Sam to not abuse its new-found authority and suppress innocents here at home. We already know actual terrorists don't make the list, while innocent citizens do. So can we truly feel comfortable while the government is viewing its own innocent citizens as "domestic terrorists?" I think not.

The Patriot Act leaves too much room for abuse, too much room for persecution of innocents, and has done too little to achieve its goal of making us safer (plus it is unconstitutional!) . Just look at the piles of evidence for proof of the former and to the number of recent terrorist attacks on American soil as proof of the latter.

I applaud those who voted against the measure, and am deeply ashamed of those who refused to stand for the Constitution. If we want to be safe and free, we do not need the Patriot Act; we need to follow the Constitution.

What's sure is this: increased government power and decreased individual liberty is not the answer in keeping us safe. Rather, we should promote our national defense through constitutional means; that's the actions of a true patriot.