Friday, April 30, 2010

Mandatory Organ Affront to Liberty

Checkout my latest post at The Humble Libertarian.
An alarming movement is afoot in New York. Already New Yorkers are told what they can eat and how they can defend themselves (among other things). Now they may lose total control of their bodies. Legislation is being proposed that will create mandatory "organ donor" status for all residents of the Empire State.

On the surface, this may not seem like a big deal. One may ask , "What's wrong with everyone being an organ donor?" But the issue is more than one of organ donor status; the mandatory nature of the legislation is what makes this bill so appalling. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Goldman Sachs is a Scapegoat for Uncle Sam

Over the past few days I have witnessed behavior in the halls of Congress that makes me sick to my stomach. The Goldman Sachs hearings are nothing short of a crucifixion. Without question the financial giant deserves both scorn and punishment, but this should come at the hands of wronged clients--not government minions. Even former President Clinton noted that while there was no perceived merit in Goldman's behavior, he was "not at all sure they violated the law." So how do we explain the actions of Congress?

What makes the harsh words and congressional ridicule levied at Goldman Sachs so upsetting is the misplaced blame across the board. Listening to the congressional hearings, one would think that the financial giant single-handedly caused the economic collapse. Apparently, Goldman has d-bags working for them; this fuel poor investment; that led to our economic ruin; and now we need to strictly regulate financial markets.

I'm sorry to sound like an apologist for the financial institutions, but their actions were mere symptoms of a greater evil, not the problem itself. Sure malinvestment was to blame, and that malinvestment was fueled by the government.

By continually betraying free-market principles and wedding the actions of these giants of Wall Street with those of the federal government, an atmosphere of poor business practice was created and rewarded. When failed policies are rewarded through bailouts, grants, loans, and unrealistic interest rates, there is little incentive for responsible business practice. And, of course, our old friend the Federal Reserve was the chief actor in causing the the economic turmoil we now face. It kept interest rates at ridiculously low levels, fueled malinvestment, and encouraged poor behavior.

So what is the solution proposed by Congress in the financial reform package before the Senate? More bailouts, more government intervention, and more power to the FED. Such would be a grave mistake!

Michele Bachman comments:
Sen. Reid thinks he can paint Republicans as in the pocket of Wall Street, but that’s not going to cut it because it’s flat out wrong. This bill is seriously flawed and only perpetuates a “too big to fail” mentality through permanent bailouts of Wall Street, with or without the $50 billion reserve fund. Sen. Reid has painted himself into a corner, and I think he is drastically overestimating the American people's support for his approach to financial reform. There are better ways to go about it like those proposed by Republicans that will stop the Democrats’ permanent bailouts, protect taxpayers and create jobs, address Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform, and rein in the out-of-control Federal Reserve.
Back to the Goldman Sachs hearings, it is obvious that the timing is a tool to stir up emotional support for the Democrat's reform package. People should be upset at the matter, but they should be upset across the board without letting emotion driving bad policy. Even President Clinton notes the timing of the Goldman Sachs suit is "suspect." He is right, and the approach of those behind this financial reform package is definitely suspect.

Once again we face misdiagnosis of the problem, a bad subscription, and another attempt for a Washington power grab by our "leadership."  

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ron Paul's Transition Plan

Here is a great video compiling Dr. Paul's words on what his transition plan would look like.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nothing is Sacred...Except Islam

In this morning's New York Times Op-Ed columnist Ross Douthat offers a great piece on the latest South Park/Muhammad depiction controversy.

For those not up to snuff, the creators of South Park recently received death threats/warnings for depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Facing the possibility of death, the show used alternative and comedic means to avoid showing the prophet's face--including dressing him in a mascot uniform and having him in the back of a U-Haul trailer. Leave it to South Park creators Parker and Stone to make censorship fun!

But the censorship isn't all fun and games. Douthat notes, "In last week’s follow-up episode, the prophet’s non-appearance appearances were censored, and every single reference to Muhammad was bleeped out. The historical record was quickly scrubbed as well: The original 'Super Best Friends' episode [a previous episode that featured the Muslim prophet] is no longer available on the Internet."

This sort of pandering to Islam is nothing new. It seems that time after time each religion is fair game for criticism and mocking, except for Islam. Anti-religious documentaries primarily sling mud at Christianity. The new atheists find their prime opponent in the Christian God. On and on the one-sided offensive behavior is railed. Islam is left relatively untouched, and the forced censorship continues.

It should be noted that the South Park "Super Best Friends" cast includes the leaders of every major world religion, including my savior Jesus Christ. I am often offended by the mocking and misrepresentation of my Lord and my faith in pop culture, but I would never support the censoring of such. I adhere to the classical Christian view regarding freedom of conscience, and I know that it is not my place to forcibly bring change in one's behavior. It is God who brings true, lasting change--not me, not censorship, not force. 

In Psalm 2 the Bible speaks of the heathens raging against God--mocking, disrespecting, and defying. The passage goes on to say that God "sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them [the mocking and self-assured world] in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury..." Knowing of His own sovereignty and the power of His Son, the LORD is no respecter of persons or their mocks. Knowing this same thing, Christians have no reason to fear the scorn of the world. Islamic fringe elements, on the other hand, lack that surety.

A large part of the censorship and egg shell walking surrounding Islam involves fear, and the only way to break this fear is to defy any attempts to squelch expression. In a country founded on freedom of conscience and expression, we cannot stand for this type of fear-induced censorship.

Douthat concludes:
In a country where the latest hit movie, “Kick-Ass,” features an 11-year-old girl spitting obscenities and gutting bad guys while dressed in pedophile-bait outfits, there isn’t much room for real transgression. Our culture has few taboos that can’t be violated, and our establishment has largely given up on setting standards in the first place.
Except where Islam is concerned. There, the standards are established under threat of violence, and accepted out of a mix of self-preservation and self-loathing.
This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.
Happily, today’s would-be totalitarians are probably too marginal to take full advantage. This isn’t Weimar Germany, and Islam’s radical fringe is still a fringe, rather than an existential enemy.
For that, we should be grateful. Because if a violent fringe is capable of inspiring so much cowardice and self-censorship, it suggests that there’s enough rot in our institutions that a stronger foe might be able to bring them crashing down.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ron Paul on Chris Matthews

This is a much watch video in which Dr. Paul defends the principles of liberty as well as the Tea Party movement, and touches on a number of other issues.

Hat Tip: The Humble Libertarian

Friday, April 23, 2010

What to Make of Cheney's Endorsement of Rubio

In what should be a kiss of death, former Vice-President Dick Cheney has officially endorsed Marco Rubio over Charlie Christ in the Florida senate race.

Politico reports:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney threw his support to Marco Rubio in the Florida GOP Senate primary Thursday, warning that "Charlie Crist cannot even be trusted to remain a Republican."

The Cheney endorsement represents the most significant national "get" to date for Rubio, and comes as Crist weighs bolting the Republican Party to run as an independent.

In a statement issued by Rubio's campaign, the former vice president urged Crist to stay in the primary or drop out of the race altogether. "The only winners from an independent bid by Crist would be Barack Obama and Harry Reid," Cheney said.

Crist's plunging poll numbers and open consideration of an independent run have prompted a stampede of previously neutral GOP figures to get behind Rubio. In less than a week, the former state House speaker has won support from 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and now Cheney.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Christian Perspective on Earth Day

Here is a great article from Pastor Kevin DeYoung, reflecting on Christians and Earth Day.
Today is Earth Day, the fortieth anniversary in fact. It’s hard for me to be excited.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible for Christians to celebrate Earth Day in the right way. I’m sure many do. We can thank God for the physical world, enjoy the beauty of creation, and think through ways to steward the earth God has put under our dominion.

But the official Earth Day movement rests on several debatable premises, like “the world is in greater peril than ever” and “climate change is the greatest challenge of our time.” More to the point, there are deep assumptions, unspoken assumptions, that too often provide the foundation for our basic thinking about the environment. And unless Christians are building on the right foundation, we will not think about environmental issues in ways that are most helpful and most biblical.(Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Policy Over Personality

Here is a great piece by Wes Messamore of The Humble Libertarian from Gary Johnson's Our America Initiative.
A lot has been said of “principle over party” by the tea party movement in the last year. They stuck to their guns so strongly as to support a third party candidate over the Republican candidate in New York’s special District 23 election, because they felt the Republican candidate didn’t align closely enough with the principles they held so dear.
Videos on YouTube abound of tea party protesters shouting down and booing Republican speakers who dared come to their events to speak after voting for 2008’s financial bailout package. Over and over again, tea party leaders stress that this is about principles, not partisan politics- they could care less who has what letter next to their name. They only want people who stand for the right principles: limited government, individual liberty, Constitutional rule of law.

But there’s an important aspect of “principle over party” that cannot be overlooked. If the tea party neglects this one important thing, it will be doomed to fail in its attempt to limit and reverse the relentless expansion of government into our lives. That one crucial factor in its success is for the tea party to remember policy over personality. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Victory for Free Expression...Court Upholds Unpopular Expression

The Washington Post  reports on the latest victory for free expression:
The Supreme Court struck down a federal law Tuesday aimed at banning videos depicting graphic violence against animals, saying that it violates the constitutional right to free speech.

Chief Justice John J. Roberts Jr., writing for an eight-member majority, said the law was overly broad and not allowed by the First Amendment. He rejected the government's argument that whether certain categories of speech deserve constitutional protection depends on balancing the value of the speech against its societal costs. 
"The First Amendment's guarantee of free speech does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits," Roberts wrote. "The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs. Our Constitution forecloses any attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it." 
The law was passed in 1999 in an attempt to prevent the sale of "crush films"--fetish films in which animals are crushed. The law, however, is so overly broad that it could be used against hunting videos and mere depictions of violence toward animals.

Writing for the Court, the Chief Jusice noted that as written the law “creates a criminal prohibition of alarming breadth.”  The SCOTUS blog reported, "Noting that the government had given assurances that it would enforce the law only against commercial portrayals of “extreme cruelty,” the Chief Justice wrote that the Court would not uphold an unconstitutional law “merely because the government promises to use it responsibly.”"

The Cheif Justice is right to call into question reliance on responsible usage of the law. Any chance for abuse must be nipped in the bud when its knowledge arises. 

It should be noted that the Court's ruling was not against the ability of the federal government to legislate against animal cruelty. Rather, the ability to ban videos depicting such was called into question. The Court thankfully took the right stand refusing to further gut First Amendment protection.

It has long been noted that the First Amendment is not needed to protect popular expression. Rather, it is the unpopular which warrants protection. Indeed, those of us who value liberty are oft in need of the First Amendment's protection.

I find animal cruelty despicable, but so is the violation of First Amendment protection. If states want to enact laws against cruelty to animals, that is their prerogative. But banning a form of expression is outside the pale of acceptability. If we are to maintain a free society, let us fix these problems by changing the culture, not by changing the law.

In his magnum opus On Liberty, John Stuart Mill wrote, "Strange it is that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free speech but object to their being "pushed to an extreme", not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case." Write he was then, and so he is today. 

Smells Like Ron Paul Spirit by the Southern Avenger

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Is A Libertarian?

Checkout my latest at The Humble Libertarian.
Libertarians are those weird little guys who lurk in their parents’ basement—spouting out conspiracy theories, smoking funny things, and reading books many have never even heard of, right?

Well...some libertarians are those odd little guys and gals. But even more libertarians are average men and women, grandpas and grandmas, artists, business professionals, blue-collar workers, teachers, students, and people from all walks of life. Libertarians are everywhere you look. Some openly identify as such; others need to be alerted to the fact.

I am convinced that the average person on the street is open to libertarian principles. And many of them are libertarian to one degree or another. Perhaps it would take some explanation and flushing out of the issues for folks to identify as libertarian, but liberty is a popular idea. Most people want liberty and the government out of their business, however many do not realize that this is libertarianism. (Continue reading here.)

Federal Court Shows Establishment Clause Ignorance

On Thursday a federal judge in Wisconsin  ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, claiming it to be a call for religious action that violates our nation's supreme law. Needless to say, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb could not be farther off the mark in her ruling.

According the the Associated Press, Judge Crabb "wrote that the government can no more enact laws supporting a day of prayer than it can encourage citizens to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue or practice magic."

Actually, the government could do all of those things and still fall within the pale of the Constitution. Regretfully, the judge's ignorance of the Constitution's meaning is glaring. The First Amendment to the US Constitution merely forbids laws respecting the establishment of religion--an understandable concern for a nation founded as a refuge for religious liberty. Anything that falls short of an establishment of a national church/religion is not the least bit unconstitutional. Of course, the Court has over the years attempted to set up arbitrary barriers around Church-State interactions, but whether or not these barriers are good policy is beside the point. It is constitutionality, not the effects of policy, which should be the Court's concern.

I think it is personally bad policy for the event to happen, but that does not mean I can call such unconstitutional. I believe the National Day of Prayer is a superficial act which does nothing to further the Gospel or health of the Christian faith. To me it is an event that has turned into one big DC charade, therefore, I could care less if it was done away with. But, when it faces cancellation based on false rulings by a federal court, I will be quick to call foul.

Whether or not one agrees with prayer in a political setting is of no concern in the matter. The simple question is "What does the Constitution mean, and is this particular act a violation of such?" If properly approached, a ruling contrary to the Wisconsin court should be the result.

I hold to the classical evangelical position that goes beyond a forbidding of establishment and calls for a lack of mingling the business of church and state, believing that such causes harm to both and a compromise to the Gospel. But even if I think something is in poor taste, I would never be as foolish as to call such unconstitutional.The court system would be wise to follow suit.

Almost as bad as the misguided ruling of the court is the cry of many conservatives.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which represented 31 members of Congress who joined the federal government as defendants, called Crabb's ruling flawed and promised to appeal.

"It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it," ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said in a statement.

The Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based group of Christian lawyers, issued a statement saying Crabb's ruling undermines American tradition dating back to the nation's birth.
Completely missing the mark, these opponents of the ruling point to tradition for support. Tradition is not the final word; the Constitution is. The document's actual meaning should be their source of strength.

What we see in this case is failure on both sides to respect the Constitution. The court appeals to a need for a "significant secular purpose" to constitute prayer. (What could that even be?!?!) And the defendants point to tradition. I would merely like to see the document given the final say; apparently that is too much to ask.

PS: In case you were wondering, the Obama administration is not backing down and intends to go ahead with the National Day of Prayer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Great Article on Austrian Economics

This article is well worth the read.
“Peter, you have been mocked on all of these financial shows going back to 2005. Going back to 2005! Not only did you predict problems, you actually explained what was going to happen. Why didn’t anybody listen? You were Cassandra!” — MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough to “Austrian school” economics adherent Peter Schiff on Morning Joe, March 25, 2009

Scarborough’s reference to Cassandra — the character from Greek mythology given the gift of prophecy and the curse that nobody would believe her predictions — was particularly apropos to the Austrian school of economic theory until the latest economic crash. The name of this free-market economic school acknowledges the fact that many of the school’s “founding fathers” were Austrian nationals and disciples of the Austrian economist Karl Menger. Of course, the “Austrian school” is not a school in the traditional sense of the word denoting a physical structure; the term defines those who believe in pure free-market economics and laissez-faire principles. The Austrian school has a long history of amazingly accurate economic predictions while at the same time being completely ignored by the political establishment and virtually ignored by the mainstream media. (Continue reading here).
Hat Tip: Lew Rockwell

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea Party Speech

For any interested in my speech from yesterday's local Tax Day Tea Party. Here it is.

Regulatory Reform Support Shows Misunderstanding Across the Board

Politico reported yesterday:

The Republican rhetoric sounded tough on financial regulatory reform early this week...

...But behind such tough talk is a realization within Republican ranks that several of their own may find themselves voting with Obama when the final Wall Street reform deal comes together.
Of course, this sort of behavior is nothing new. In it we see more evidence of talk lacking action in Washington, and we see that principle has little place in the actions of many in government. When pressed on the issue I would venture that many of those who support the financial regulatory reform package would claim to support free market economics. Their support for such a measure, however, points in the opposite direction.

More than just lacking principle, anyone supporting the proposed legislation must also lack sound economic understanding. Simply put, the regulatory reform bill is indicative of the incorrect diagnosis going around as to what cause the recent financial collapse.
William L. Anderson correctly notes:
The meltdown did not occur for lack of regulation, but because of moral hazard. When the government agreed both tacitly and openly to backstop Wall Street losses, and when huge pyramids of "investments" were piled on mortgage securities (also tacitly backed by the government) that turned bad, a meltdown was inevitable.
The meltdown did not occur in a "free market orgy." Indeed, the market exposed the foolishness on Wall Street, which long ago had jumped into bed with the politicians.(Wall Street has been a major campaign contributor, and politicians don't want to lose their cash cow.) Furthermore, the bailouts have not prevented us from going into a depression; they only have prolonged the financial agony.
Dr. Anderson is dead on. An incorrect storyline is going around regarding to the cause of the economic collapse. The free market was not to blame for our crisis, contrary to the cries of statists and economic fools. Rather, the free market was not even able to operate! Instead, the government's involvement in the market drove malinvestment and created moral hazard. This resulted in economic ruin, just as the Austrian free market folks predicted years in advance.

In addition to the failed reasoning behind the bill, it is also bad policy (here's why)--plain and simple. Folks on the left and right both fear that the bill will harm upstart businesses, and others are concerned about the impact it will have on the greater world of business, investing, and on our economic system itself. Still others feel that more government influence is not the solution. Indeed, it was the government that brought about our problems in the first place.

The Republican senators looking to jump on-board the Obama Administration regulatory reform wagon, should do their homework before they support poor policy based on bad information. And if they do support such a measure, they should never claim support for the free market system again. Instead, they will forever show their statist colors.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day Quotations

In honor of our beloved tax day, here are some quotations on the subject...

Congress can raise taxes because it can persuade a sizable fraction of the populace that somebody else will pay.--Milton Friedman

The point to remember is that what the government gives it must first take away.--John S. Coleman

Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.--Herman Wouk

America is a land of taxation that was founded to avoid taxation.--Dr. Laurence J. Peter

There is no such thing as a good tax.--Winston Churchill

To force a man to pay for the violation of his own liberty is indeed an addition of insult to injury.--Benjamin Tucker

Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.--Calvin Coolidge

 Taxes may be levied for public necessity, but beyond this “to impose them upon the common folk without cause is tyrannical extortion.”--John Calvin

"To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." --Thomas Jefferson

"To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare of the United States, that is to say, 'to lay taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare.'For the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union." --Thomas Jefferson

"What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue." --Thomas Paine

"If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute."--Thomas Paine
“Taxation: how the sheep are shorn.”--Edward Abbey

   “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”--James Madison

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sanctions Will Not Stop a Nuclear Iran...It's Bad Policy

Continuing down a path of poor policy, President Obama has made it clear that he supports tough sanctions on Iran to prevent nuclear arms development. The policy is misguided not because Iran cannot prove to be a threat; it very well could, and its leadership is less than trustworthy--to put it lightly. Rather, sanctions are never good policy!

If the goal of the Obama administration is to defend the United States, then sanctions against Iran will do little to provide for it. Contrarily, Iranian sanctions will merely provide for innocent people suffering and the emboldening of Iran's leadership.

If history has taught us anything about sanctions, it is this: The innocents of a sanctioned country suffer while the corrupt leaders thrive, and the goals of the sanctioning country are never truly met. Likewise, the so-called "targeted sanctions," which have gained popularity in the past few decades, have proven both ineffective in meeting security goals and in shielding the populace from suffering.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul rightly noted on the House floor back in December:
As we have learned with US sanctions on Iraq, and indeed with US sanctions on Cuba and elsewhere, it is citizens rather than governments who suffer most. The purpose of these sanctions is to change the regime in Iran, but past practice has demonstrated time and again that sanctions only strengthen regimes they target and marginalize any opposition. As would be the case were we in the US targeted for regime change by a foreign government, people in Iran will tend to put aside political and other differences to oppose that threatening external force. Thus this legislation will likely serve to strengthen the popularity of the current Iranian government. Any opposition continuing to function in Iran would be seen as operating in concert with the foreign entity seeking to overthrow the regime. 
Dr. Paul could not be anymore right. The harm in sanctions go beyond the pain inflicted upon the populations of targeted nations; our national defense is put in jeopardy as well. 

Osama Bin Laden, himself, noted US sanctions as one of three main reasons for his holy war against the United States. In his evil response, one thing is evident: Nations remember when a hegemonic power causes suffering. Misguided policy will breed ordeals in the future which we will be forced to face, and the scars of the past are hard to overcome. 

It is clear that sanctions do harm. The evidence cannot be hidden, and even the government itself has defied its own policy and confirmed that sanctions don't work.

Jacob Hornberger notes:
Recall the brutal sanctions that the U.S. government enforced against Iraq for more than 10 years. Every year, they were causing the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children from infectious illnesses, malnutrition, etc. Those deaths didn't cause Saddam Hussein to leave office, which is what the U.S. government wanted. Equally important, U.S. officials were indifferent to the deaths of all those Iraqi children. In fact, the official U.S. position was that those deaths were "worth it," the term used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright when asked about the deaths by "Sixty Minutes."
 Because we know the track record of sanctions as one of failure and harm to civilian populations, those who value liberty and a strong national defense should be the first to come out against them. No conservative, libertarian, or constitutionalist can consistently support these brutal and ineffective measures.

If Iran poses a true threat, sanctions will only heighten that threat. The Obama Administration would be wise to consider a vastly different policy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson!

On this day in 1743 my hero, Thomas Jefferson, was born. Jefferson's contribution to the cause of liberty is one of the greatest of all time. Author of our Declaration of Independence, our third president, and our greatest Founding Father, Jefferson holds a place near to my heart. As a Jeffersonian, I draw my inspiration from this man. He was deeply flawed, and he did not always govern in the best way possible. But Tom Jefferson is to me an ultimate source of wisdom.

Here's to you Mr. Jefferson!

Slaves to 'Settled' History by the Southern Avenger

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Reflection on J. Stevens and the Future

On Friday news broke that Justice John Paul Stevens, leader of the Supreme Court's liberal bloc, is retiring. Despite President Obama's claim, Stevens has been far from an "impartial guardian of the law."

The CATO Instiutite rightly notes:
While a friend of liberty in certain limited circumstances, he ultimately hangs his hat on supporting government action over the rights of individuals in contexts ranging from property rights (Kelo v. New London) to the Second Amendment (D.C. v. Heller) to free speech (Citizens United and Texas v. Johnson, the flag-burning case) to executive agency power (Chevron).  And even on those issues where friends of liberty can disagree in good faith as a matter of policy, such as abortion and the death penalty, Stevens admittedly and unabashedly asserted his own policy preferences instead of following the law.
I could not agree more with this assessment. Justice Stevens, consistently a friend to liberal policy, did much harm to the Constitution during his time on the bench--the second longest in the Court's history. Even though I most often, though not always, found myself an opponent of Steven's jurisprudence, he was a good natured fellow. But this good personal constitution is no excuse for his neglect of the US Constitution.

Of course, President Obama's intent will be to fill the vacancy with another reliable liberal vote. So not much should change in the Court's ideological composition. Hopefully, Stevens' replacement will not forsake the sound positions held by his predecessor. While Stevens may have been wrong 97% of the time, that is much better than 100%. May his successor not fail in the other 3 percent!

One valuable thing each modern judicial nomination process brings is a reevaluation of proper jurisprudence. Questions will be asked to determine judicial philosophy, and the proper guiding philosophy will be considered.

As an originalist I believe in a strict adherence to the Constitution, interpreted according to its original meaning. I could care less about intent, outcome, or pragmatism. But I realize that no one who President Obama nominates will share my Jeffersonian views. So what is the job of the Senate in this nomination process?

As legislators who have sworn to defend the Constitution, each senator has a responsibility to oppose any candidate who does not adhere strictly to the Constitution--regardless of their party allegiance. Of course, most will neglect this duty, and those who do attempt to defeat poor nominations may ultimately prove unsuccessful. But bad appointments still should be opposed, and a fight should still be put up. Likewise, if the president nominates a good candidate, both parties should offer support.

Regardless of who is appointed, the next justice will have a major impact on our nation as we continue forward. Whether the result will be good or bad, the nomination process will truly show that it matter who governs and elections have consequences.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Principle, Not Preference Should Inform Policy

Please check out my newest post at The Humble Libertarian.
So often when arguing against statist programs and privacy violations I hear many of the same contentions: "It doesn't bother me, personally." "I don't mind it, so why should I care?" "I am too busy to do it myself, so I'm glad to let the government handle it for me." "I have nothing to hide." "As long as someone's not breaking the law, they have nothing to fear." The list goes on and on, but the gist of each is a lack of concern for liberty violations based on personal opinion.

However, one's personal feelings should never guide policy and never trump the protection of liberty. Yes, personal feelings are at play in any matter. They inform our decision making processes and are important in a number of ways. But in the ultimate scheme of things, principle--not preference--should be the deciding factor in all we do.

In order to flush out this idea, let us look to some examples. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

What to Look for at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference

This weekend Republicans from across the country will flock to New Orleans for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. The likes of Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Ron Paul, and a host of other top Republicans will be giving speeches in order to garner support for themselves and their causes. Moreover, for those GOPers looking at a presidential run in 2012, a SRLC straw poll victory would be a great thing to take away from their time in The Big Easy.

Here are five things to look for during and right after this weekend's festivities in Louisiana.

1. Look for each speaker to try to out-conservative the other. Obviously, this will be quiet hilarious for a number of reasons. Sadly, Dr. Ron Paul will be the only consistently true conservative in attendance; the others will merely be putting on a show. Evidence of such will come in speakers mistakenly flexing their war muscles, believing such is traditional conservatism; it isn't!

2. Look for very little mention of George W. Bush. This will be the complete opposite of the 2006 SRLC when John McCain urged his supporters to write in the former presidents name to show their support and Lindsey Graham called Bush "the Churchill of our time." Don't worry, The GOP establishment still loves W. They just know that real conservatives do not.

3. Look for more calls for war. Iran needs some bombing and many at the SRLC will be happy to give it to them. Look for talk of Obama being soft on defense, soft on the War on Terror, and soft on Iran. Of course, the president is almost identical to Bush, so don't believe it for a minute.

4. Look for a condemnation of Obama policies across the board. I am in agreement with most of this. Obama has failed pretty much in every area. He is an enemy to constitutional government, does everything bad that Bush did, and has lied time after time by not keeping his promises to the American people. The problem is that the same things can and should be said of most of his GOP opponents. Hypocrisy will be the true theme of the SRLC. The GOP will call Obama out on policies of which they themselves are guilty.

5. Finally, if Ron Paul wins the straw poll, look for it to be downplayed. If he losses, look for a big deal to be made of the winner.The establishment does not look favorably on Dr. Paul's success; CPAC showed that. Therefore, I am looking forward to Paul supporters ticking them off.

Though their will be a lot of hypocrisy and neoconary going on in New Orleans this weekend, the liberty movement will be there as well. So keep an eye out, point out wrongs, and celebrate victories!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Global Force for Good?

Have you seen the new slogan for the US Navy: A Global Force for Good? (in the video above)

I am not attempting to call the Navy a force for evil, but I do take issue with the slogan. It is not the job of the US Navy to be a global force for anything; it is to be a force for US national defense--nothing more and nothing less.

Sadly, this slogan is symptomatic of the way foreign policy is viewed in our modern age. National defense is no longer the goal of our military actions. Rather, nation building, world policing, and global power grabs fuel a foreign policy that jeopardizes our safety and causes the loss of innocent life. Unfortunately, what was once viewed as a noble goal--the defense of one's citizenry--is now viewed by many as selfish and misguided.

Alexis de Tocqueville noted that America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceased to be good it would cease to be great. He recognized that greatness depended on goodness, not the other way around. Regretfully, today it is often claimed that it's the opposite as if being great somehow makes us good and gives us a mandate to spread our influence through military might. Many do not realize that the best way for us to effect good in the world is to be good ourselves. Good cannot be achieved through might, nor should it be.

But more than might, I am sure the Navy's intent in the slogan stems partially from their humanitarian actions across the globe. But should the military be doing humanitarian action across the globe? I am a huge proponent of humanitarian aid; I've done my fair share. But I do not support the military doing so. It is not in their job description; their role is one of national defense.

Moreover, we must look to the global nature of the slogan. Even if the Navy is to be a force of good, it should not be a global force. What we see in this slogan is the continuation of a globalist agenda which neglects American interests and sovereignty. The fact that your tax dollars are paying to propagate such makes it all the worse.

Perhaps the Navy will one day change properly to being A National Force for Defense. For now, that is not the case.

Confused Confederates

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Actions Fall Short of Words

I came across the following article in which an self-proclaimed "old Republican" laments the party abandoning him by pursuing too conservative an agenda. (He must  see a GOP that I do not. Contrarily, I lament a party that has left me because it refuses to be conservative.) The author has some legitimate concerns, but for the most part, I believe his argument fails to hold water. He looks back to the Rockefeller Republicanism of the past that has long been cast to the fray--at least in open speech. Of course, the liberals never left, but the Reagan coalition put an end to much of their influence. But that is beside my point.

My point is not to challenge this man for his Republicanism. Rather, I would like to draw on the fallacy found in his opening paragraph.  
I am an old Republican. I am religious, yet not a fanatic. I am a free-marketer; yet, I believe in the role of the government as a fair evenhanded referee. I am socially conservative; yet, I believe that my lesbian niece and my gay grandchild should have the full protection of the law and live as free Americans enjoying every aspect of our society with no prejudices and/or restrictions. Nowadays, my political and socio-economic profile would make me a Marxist, not a Republican.
Truly, I doubt he would be considered a Marxist. Rather, I think he would be considered for party leadership. Remember, it was Bush not Obama who abandoned free market principles in order to save the free market.

The author claims, "I am a free-marketer; yet, I believe in the role of the government as a fair evenhanded referee." Well,sir, you are not a free-marketer!

This type of statement is so flawed. It is like saying, "I'm no murderer, but I do murder people."

If one believes in market intervention, one cannot be committed to free markets. Such betrays the term "free market." (Moreover, it must be added that if he expects the government to fair and evenhanded in anything, he will always be found wanting.)

It is time that we hold people accountable for what they label themselves. If you claim to be a conservative, just be conservative. If you claim to be a libertarian, just be libertarian. If you claim to be a modern liberal, just hate America. (I jest, of course...sorta.)

Many problems in politics stem from people not holding to consistent worldviews and positions. People assume that everything should conform to them and their view of reality, but that cannot be the case. I cannot call myself a black American and expect people to accept my white tail as such. So why can I call myself a free marketer and not hold to free market economics? Likewise, I cannot expect free market economics to conform to my meaning. I am limited to its meaning, not the other way around.

When people make statements like this or betray what they claim to be, we must hold them accountable. We must correct the error. Lack of doing so has left us with a government full of "conservatives" but little conservative governance, an anti-war president who escalates the wars in the Middle East, and "supreme law of the land" that is disregarded at every turn.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fiscally Conservative and Socially Responsible

Please checkout my latest post at The Humble Libertarian.

It begins:
Often, libertarianism is defined as "fiscally conservative and socially liberal." I believe it is time to put a stop to this misnomer, and replace it with something that holds true all of the time.

There is no denying that many in the libertarian camp are both fiscally conservative and socially liberal. But that by no means insists that all libertarians are socially liberal. (Some even claim to be libertarians who are economically "liberal" -I just call them wrong.) In fact, many libertarians are both economically and socially conservative.*

For example, we find evidence of socially and fiscally conservative libertarians in folks like Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, and Mark Sanford. In fact, the Ron Paul Revolution is based around a movement heavily influenced by socially conservative free marketeers. I know many of those who ran Dr. Paul's presidential campaign and those who now run Campaign for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty. They are not social liberals; far from it!

Sure, there is some tension between some "right" and "left" libertarians. I have blogged about the rift between beltway libertarians--who lean socially liberal--and the Austrian/paleo libertarians--who lean socially conservative, myself (here and here). But, for the most part, both camps get along well together and strive for the common goal of human freedom.

So how do we explain the compatibility of these socially liberal and socially conservative fiscal conservatives? How can two groups of individuals who differ widely on social issues reconcile their differences? The answer is that both are libertarians, and libertarianism is not about social liberalism or conservatism. Libertarianism is about social responsibility. (Continue reading here.)

Questions for TN's 4th District

I am heading up a committee for an upcoming debate put on by the Lincoln County Republican Party. The debate will be among the GOP candidates vying for Tennessee's 4th District US House seat. My committee's responsibility, among other things, is to craft the questions for the candidates. That is where you come in.

We are now accepting question suggestions. If you can think of a good question or topic for a question to ask these congressional hopefuls, please send it my way before 10pm on April 9th.

Please email suggested questions to

The debate will be held on April the 20th at 6pm on the campus of Riverside Christian Academy in Fayetteville, TN. It is open to the public, so come join us!

Learn About Liberty

Learn About Liberty at the Humble Libertarian Blog

I would like to draw your attention to Wes Messamore's free e-book Learn About Liberty--a fantastic, short primer on the ideas of liberty. Wes is the editor and chief of The Humble Libertarian--where I am a contributor. His writing is clear, concise, and has been of great value to me. Please checkout  his work and peruse his site.

Learn About Liberty begins:
Libertarianism is more inspiring, compelling, and interesting now than at any other time in human history. Our world truly faces a deepening and urgent moral crisis and its people are searching for an answer to the problems we face. Many of us wonder about the "obscure" philosophy of liberty and its adherents, the libertarians.

Who are libertarians and what do they believe? How do they propose to solve our world's problems? Where did libertarian ideas come from and when did they ever succeed? Why does it matter? Are libertarians a bunch of pie-in-the-sky idealists? Or are they reactionary cynics? Do they give humanity too much credit? Or are they all selfish, anti-social miscreants? (Read the rest and the entire e-book here.)

Learn About Liberty at the Humble Libertarian Blog

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen!

Have a blessed Easter from In Defense of the Constitution.

Death is dead, sin is punished, and adoption exists for all believers. Praise Him, for He is Risen!
1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men andbe crucified and on the third day rise." 8And they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. (Luke 24)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday Reflection

I know this is a political blog. But being a son of the most high God, I must share with you the following on this "Good Friday."

On this day almost 2000 years ago Christ Jesus, fully God and fully man, willingly gave up his life for guilty sinners like myself, according to his divine plan and for his glory. On that day, Jesus acted as my substitute, absorbing the penalty of my sin and the sin of any called according to his holly will. Christian, "[Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24) Oh, what grace...what love!

I am so unworthy of his calling. I am so guilty of my sin (as are all), and I am so thankful to Christ for being my Savior.

For all those who are known by Him, let us praise Jesus for all he has done and all he continues to do.

For those who are not believers in Christ, I urge you: repent and turn to Jesus as your sole source of hope. "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

Lastly, remember Sunday's coming!

Are Tea Partiers Racist?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools from the NRSC

Now, this is funny!

Hat Tip: Matthew Hurtt

Evangelists Suffer Fourth Amendment Violations for Phony Money

We have another one to file under ridiculous and unconstitutional government action.

WorldNetDaily reports:
A federal judge has ruled the seizure of thousands of Gospel tracts from a Texas ministry by U.S. Secret Service agents not only was illegal, it violated Fourth Amendment protections against an overbearing and intrusive government.

The decision [Monday] by Judge Jorge Solis of the Northern District of Texas came in the long-running dispute over a tract deliberately made to look like a $1 million bill. 
The Gospel tracts in question can be viewed at this link and are harmless pieces of paper used by a number of evangelists in sharing their faith. I have even passed them out myself. Don't tell the feds; I have some in my room as I write.

The tracts bear the image of Grover Cleavland--a nice classical liberal president--so you know they would never put him on a real bills, they are for the amount of $1 million, and they explicitly state that it is not legal tender. Problematic, I know...not.

The judge correctly noted, "The Million Dollar Bill, taken as a whole, poses no reasonable risk of deceiving an honest, sensible, and unsuspecting person. First and foremost is the fact that the Million Dollar Bill purports to be worth a million dollars. There is no genuine curency in this amount."

Only a federal bureaucrat could be fooled by such a harmless device. And only the government would use force against such an undeserving party. And boy did they use force!
According to the court's opinion, the agents then threatened arrest if the workers did not cooperate.

"Agent [Mickey] Kennedy was not subtle in the manner by which he implied that he was taking the Million Dollar Bills with him no matter what – even if it meant arresting Mr. [Timothy] Crawford in the process. The facts and circumstances surrounding Agent Kennedy's statements to Mr. Crawford on June 2, 2006, leave no doubt that Mr. Crawford believed he would be arrested if he did not retrieve the Million Dollar Bills from the closed closet in which they were hidden out of the agents' sight," the judge ruled.

Further, the judge concluded that the agents involved in the seizure later "conspired together to cover up the actual events that took place at GNN's office.

"Agents Kennedy and [Erin] Erdman persisted in covering up these events by being untruthful when they took the witness stand during the bench trial for this case," the judge concluded.
This is nothing short of despicable behavior. Lacking a warrant and realizing that they could intimidate the Christian evangelists, the agents knowingly violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the victims. Then they lied on the witness stand to cover their tracks.

So besides the blame that rightfully should fall upon the agents who carried out the illegal seizure, is there more blame to go around? Sure there is.

First, this happening reveals the ridiculous monopoly our government has on money and the outrageous lengths it will go through to maintain that monopoly. What we have is a government that prints worthless money attacking citizens for handing out worthless money. Can you see how crazy this is? Not only were the tracts not real money, they were not even trying to be real money. But that is not enough for our government. We are obsessed with legal tender laws, we are obsessed with monetary manipulation, and now we must be obsessed with putting a stop to the equivalent of Monopoly money.

Second, this event shows our government's disrespect for the Fourth Amendment. For far too long our civil liberties have been trampled in the name of security and justice. But violation of the Constitution can only lead to insecurity and injustice. When civil libertarians have come out against these types of violations in the past, those on the Left and Right have called paranoia and claimed that only the bad guys would suffer. Is this still the case? Are Christian evangelists the hardened criminals or vile terrorists one expected to "deserve" Forth Amendment violation? I would think not!

Thomas Jefferson once said,  "It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own." The same is true of any tenet of liberty. We must defend liberty at all turns, for another's case may, by change of circumstances, become our own someday.

We see in the aforementioned case an example of a government gone awry. It has done so because we have allowed it. If we do not truly value liberty and contend for it, we will see more of the same. Moreover, we see that not only the "bad guys" suffer when the government goes beyond its constitutional bounds; we all do.