November 23, 2014

Rand Paul filibuster: The libertarians are coming!

TAMPA, March 8, 2013 – If there was any question whether Senator Rand Paul could move beyond the “gadfly” role his father had played for over thirty years in the U.S. Congress, there is no more.

Rand Paul has arrived as a political force to be reckoned with.His filibuster of President Obama’s nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director had establishment leaders from both sides of the aisle scrambling to jump on the bandwagon before it left wheel marks on their chests. Marco Rubio showed up to support him.

Rush Limbaugh called him a hero. So did Van Jones, albeit reluctantly.

Attorney General Eric Holder said “uncle.”

Paul’s filibuster was a complete success from every perspective. He achieved his goal of shifting the focus away from Brennan personally and onto the larger question of executive power, specifically the power to kill an American citizen without due process. He timed his gesture and articulated his argument in such a way that no one dared oppose it.

Paul’s argument against the use of drones against Americans is a purely libertarian one, because the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments are rooted in the libertarian principle of non-aggression. Those Amendments are there to see that the government does not initiate force against the innocent.

All of which is ironic because Paul does not even self-identify as a libertarian.

When asked directly about it, he said that he considers himself a “constitutional conservative.” He has raised the ire of his father’s libertarian followers on more than one occasion, particularly his endorsement of Mitt Romney and his votes for sanctions on Iran.

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Feinstein’s assault weapons ban would abolish the 2nd Amendment

TAMPA, December 18, 2012 –U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has vowed to introduce a bill to ban assault weapons nationwide, similar to existing legislation in California. In doing so, she will effectively abolish yet another of the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

To many, Feinstein’s argument might sound very reasonable. She isn’t looking to ban all guns. “The purpose of this bill is to get just what Mayor Bloomberg said, weapons of war off the streets of our cities,” the senator told Meet the Press.

Having weapons of war on the streets is the whole point of the 2nd Amendment. The amendment wasn’t drafted to ensure that Americans could hunt. It wasn’t drafted so that Americans could protect themselves, although the natural right to defend one’s life was never as compromised as it is in the modern gun control era.

Like most of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment was drafted to prevent an abuse of power that American colonists had suffered under the British. The 4th Amendment was passed with Writs of Assistance in mind. Lexington and Concord inspired the 2nd.

The left loves to reduce the American Revolution to one issue: taxation without representation. That works for well for their agenda, because they can then say, “Well, you’re represented, so now we can tax the living daylights out of you.”

It wasn’t that simple, of course. There were many long term and short term causes for the American secession from Great Britain. But the straw that broke the camel’s back, the most immediate cause for armed resistance, was the British attempt to disarm the colonists.

That’s why the British marched to Concord. That’s the only reason the colonists cared where they were marching.

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Election 2012: Was Obama the lesser of two evils?

TAMPA, November 8, 2012 – “We’re all socialists now.”

If all of the pre-election hype about the presidential election being a choice between socialism and capitalism was true, then that statement must be true.

I doubt most Americans believe it.

In fact, Obama is no more a socialist than Romney is a capitalist. Obama has not called for state ownership of the means of production. Romney has not called for a laissez faire economy. Absent the rhetoric, they would both be most accurately described as European social democrats.

For libertarians, the choice between them was “heads the government wins, tails libertarians lose.” It is generally assumed that libertarians would consider Romney the “lesser of two evils.” I don’t think that’s true.

Romney’s rhetoric employed buzz words that both libertarians and conservatives respond to, like “free markets,” “small government” and “less taxes.” Obama’s rhetoric employed universally recognized code words for wealth redistribution like “fairness,” “fair share” and “investment.”

However, when you strip all of that away, the policy platforms of the two men were virtually identical.

Obama wants to raise taxes on the wealthy to help balance the federal budget. Romney does not disagree. Romney stated – over and over again in the first debate – that his plan to lower the income tax rates while simultaneously “closing loopholes” (translation: eliminate deductions) was aimed at getting the wealthy to pay more while giving small business and the middle class a tax break.

When Obama says it, he’s a socialist. When Romney says it, crickets.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Do Americans still believe that government is evil?

TAMPA, October 28, 2012 – Nine days before Election Day, Americans are hunkering down into their traditional Republican/Democratic camps. Supposedly, the future of American society rests upon which corporate-backed candidate wins the presidency. Americans of the past would have regarded this as complete nonsense.

In late 1775, the shot heard ‘round the world had been fired and the American colonists had Boston under siege. Still, most Americans either favored reconciliation with Great Britain or were undecided.

Then, in January 1776, Thomas Paine released his instant bestseller, Common Sense. It is this pamphlet that is credited with persuading a critical mass of American colonists to support American independence from Great Britain. In it, Paine laid out his arguments about the role of government and why the British constitution failed in fulfilling this role for American colonists.

The very first plank he laid down in his argument was that government was evil.

“Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil;”

Paine, Jefferson and other founding fathers recognized government for what it is: the pooled and organized capacity for violence of the whole society. This idea comes straight out of John Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government. There is no law, no matter how minor, that is not ultimately backed up by the threat of violence.

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 Read Free Chapters from A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Obama and Romney on reviving the economy: Blow up the education bubble

TAMPA, October 18, 2012 – Mitt Romney has been able to cruise through two debates with Barack Obama by utilizing a surprising strategy. When Obama has gone on the attack, citing the “draconian cuts” that the delusional on both sides of the aisle imagine Romney would propose as president, Romney has completely defused the president by simply telling the truth.

He’s not cutting anything.

He went a step further during last night’s debate. Like Obama, Romney is not only refusing to cut a single penny from any government program (other than Big Bird), but he’s now on the record that expanding the welfare state is a key plank in his “job creation” plan. In addition to stating “I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing,” Romney went on to emphasize the importance of keeping student loans available.

Forget the supposedly conservative principle that it is immoral for the government to force one citizen to put up his money to guarantee loans taken out by another, much less force that citizen to pay another’s tuition outright. That principle is long, long gone from the conservative psyche.

What is disturbing is that neither candidate seems to have any idea that their plans for education will exacerbate a bubble that has all of the same characteristics of the housing bubble.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Gary Johnson and the empty chair at the first presidential debate

TAMPA, October 5, 2012 – The first presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama was staged by professional television producers. The podiums were positioned such that they were turned three quarters toward each other but still facing the cameras and just the right distance apart to make for a good wide shot of the two candidates.

In addition to an informative debate, the producers also wanted to deliver a first-rate television production.

The results were up to the standard one would expect on such an occasion, but if the producers really wanted to make the most effective use of their medium, they should have taken a page from Clint Eastwood’s playbook. There should have been an empty chair right in the middle of the stage, between the two podiums.

Philosophically speaking, it might have represented the entire range of opinions and ideas that fall outside of what best-selling author Tom Woods calls “the Mitt Romney-Hillary Clinton Continuum.” They are all of the ideas that we little people are apparently not allowed to even hear.

More specifically, the chair would have represented Gary Johnson, a former two-term Governor of New Mexico and Libertarian Party nominee for President.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Romney-Obama debate as competitive as professional wrestling

TAMPA, October 4, 2012 — The early consensus after last night’s debate between President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is that it was a win for Romney. That depends upon how you define “win.”

Certainly, Romney came off as more confident in his answers, while the president seemed distracted at times. However, if this was a battle of ideas, then the outcome was about as uncertain as professional wrestling. Anyone who was listening could tell that this wasn’t a real fight. Big government was the predetermined winner the minute that Romney was nominated.

Yes, Romney made a few references to “competition” and “private markets,” as did Obama. But neither of them is interested in giving free markets a try. In that sense, Obama was at least a little more honest, except when he made the ironic statement that “the genius of America is the free enterprise system.”

The first segment concerned the economy and “creating jobs,” something the government has no role in whatsoever in a free market. The only valid government policy to create jobs from a free market perspective is one that stops the government from doing what it’s already doing. Neither man proposed this.

For many decades, the federal government has employed the same ruse in an attempt to centrally plan the economy while at the same time claim it is fostering free enterprise.

Step One: Tax the living daylights out of everybody and everything.

Step Two: Give “targeted tax cuts” to firms in sectors the central planners think should grow.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

A skeptic’s case for Gary Johnson

TAMPA, September 26, 2012 – You may be an independent that finds the major party candidates for president particularly weak this year. You may be an “Old Right” conservative that can’t bring yourself to vote for Mitt Romney. You may be a died-in-the-wool liberal who thinks Barack Obama’s presidency has been just a little too similar to Dubya’s.

Or, you may be a libertarian.

If you belong to any of those groups, you might be considering voting for Gary Johnson. Ironically, if you are a libertarian, you may need the most convincing.

Gary Johnson isn’t well-grounded in libertarian theory and it results in him taking some positions that libertarians don’t like. I made the argument myself that Johnson is not really a libertarian at all. In two subsequent interviews (here and here), Johnson didn’t allay those concerns.

Regardless, Gary Johnson is the best choice for president this year for voters from all over the political spectrum.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Why does Ron Paul insist on a declaration of war?

TAMPA, August 14, 2012 – Ron Paul insists that the U.S. government shouldn’t go to war without a declaration of war by Congress. His son Rand has also taken this position, as have a few other libertarian-leaning Republican candidates. The U.S. Constitution delegates the declaration of war power to the Congress, but they have not exercised this power since WWII.

Why is this important?

Most people misunderstand the declaration of war power as “permission” to start a war. By that definition, George W. Bush argued that H.J. Res. 114 (October 16, 2002) fulfilled this constitutional requirement regarding the Iraq War. With that resolution, Congress authorized the president to use military force in the war on terror.

The declaration of war power is not the power to start a war. It is the power to declare that a state of war already exists. This can only be true if the nation in question has committed overt acts of war against the United States.

Each time the U.S. Congress has declared war, the resolution has followed the same format.

1. Congress cites the overt acts of war committed by the nation in question against the United States.

2. It recognizes the existence of the war because of those overt acts.

3. It directs the president to utilize the military to end the war.

The process is some what analogous to a criminal trial. The president “makes his case” to Congress that certain actions by a foreign nation amount to acts of war. Congress then deliberates, renders its verdict and passes sentence. The president is directed to execute the sentence.

Here is just one example. When James Polk asked Congress to declare war on Mexico in 1846, he said,

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Obama Romney debate could be a staring contest

TAMPA, July 16, 2012 – Since this is a presidential election year, everyone is focused on the White House. As usual, this election is being hyped as some sort of crossroads in American history: The American electorate will either choose to make an irreversible turn down the road to socialism or conservatives will save the country by electing a Republican president who will restore the American principles of free enterprise and individual responsibility.

It all makes a pretty good story until one attempts to back it up with tangible evidence: Why is Barack Obama a “socialist?” Why is Mitt Romney different?

The first answer you’d get on Obama from most conservatives is Obamacare. That was virtually the single issue for most Tea Party rallies in 2010. Yet Republicans are going to nominate the former governor who pioneered the same program in Massachusetts. If Obamacare makes the president a socialist, then why doesn’t Romneycare make his opponent one also?

Romney answered that question throughout the Republican nomination debates by taking a states rights position. He had signed a healthcare program into law in Massachusetts that was good for that state, but president Obama had been wrong to impose it upon the whole country.

Why the program is socialist when the federal government imposes it nationally but not when the state government imposes it on its millions of citizens is unclear.

However, that point is moot given other facts that came to light following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare. It turns out that despite repeatedly stating that Obama was wrong to impose the healthcare program on the  whole nation, Romney actually told Obama to do exactly that just three years ago.

Oops.

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