Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

Saturday, November 03, 2012

New International Trade Crossing: Bridge Math

NITC Bridge Math
Click cartoon to enlarge.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on November 3, 2012 in Canadian Politics, U.S. politics, Western Standard | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Filibuster: A note to Tea Party activists from the NAACP


J.J. McCullough writes:

The NAACP, one of America’s most eminent black civil rights groups, came out swinging at conservative Tea Party activists this week. In a resolution at their annual general meeting, the organization blasted the Tea Party for containing “racist elements,” and demanded the group fully repudiate the bigots within their midst.

“The time has come for them to accept the responsibility that comes with influence and make clear there is no space for racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in their movement,” declared NAACP president Ben Jealous after the resolution passed. Much of the racism allegations swirling around the Tea Party center on the sorts of protest signs many of its members have chosen to bring to their rallies. The NAACP website presently contains a little gallery of some of the most offensive ones, under the heading “don’t let hate divide America.” Among other crimes against humanity, we can see depictions of President Obama as Mr. T, or that jolly black chef from the cream of wheat box.

As a visual satirist myself, I have to say I find all of this a bit dopey. Unflattering visual analogies do not presuppose racist intent. Depicting the President of the United States as a witch-doctor or monkey is hardly new; practically every president has faced similarly unflattering analogies. I can particularly recall a lot of witch-doctor related parodying directed towards George Bush Sr., a man who coined the term “voodoo economics” to describe his own party’s fiscal philosophy. And of course we all remember how frequently his son was depicted as some sort of slope-browed chimpanzee.

We’re only reading more into this kind of stuff today because the president is black, so every bit of teasing that used to be regarded as innocuous is now scrutinized under the racial microscope.

While genuinely racist caricatures are obviously hateful and ignorant, I reject the premise that Obama’s race is completely off grounds for mockery. A public figure’s appearance is always a healthy source of material for satire. Again, we can think of all the times Dubya was teased for his vacant facial expressions, or the many grotesque caricatures of John McCain’s hideous neck-flesh. When making parodies, you compare people to things they look like, and the fact remains that Obama does look a lot more like the cream of wheat guy than Bush or Clinton.

Seems to me that a truly a non-racist political culture would see parody as parody, and not get excessively flustered trying to constantly find “hidden agendas” motivating everything. Sometimes a poster is just a poster.

J.J. McCullough is a political cartoonist from Coquitlam, British Columbia.

Posted by westernstandard on July 18, 2010 in Filibuster, U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Michael Moore's In-Action Plan

I used to be a fan of Michael Moore. I saw his film Roger and Me soon after it was released and liked his style of confronting people that were scuz-balls and putting them on the spot.

Bowling for Columbine was a great movie that took an interesting look at the culture of violence.

The Awful Truth was a fun series that exposed corporate entanglement with government and corruption.

Fahrenheit 9/11 was a disappointment, it seemed like a feature-length personal attack on George Bush, who likely deserved it, but I never saw the film more than once.

Sicko was a decent film, fun, interesting, though his conclusions about the government taking over health care (after he talked about how terrible government was in Fahrenheit 9/11) I think are faulty. Many Canadians who saw it noticed that the negative aspects of socialized medicine were not talked about.

Capitalism: A Love Story I haven't seen yet, though I can guess what the content will be like; moving Moore's editorial content further and further along the path of socialism.

That brings me to a recent blog post that Mr. Moore recently made. "Michael Moore's Action Plan: 15 Things Every American Can Do Right Now"

I'm going to focus on the first 5 things in this list, which would more accurately be called

"5 Things We Can Do to Control Other People and Businesses Against Their Will"

1. Declare a moratorium on all home evictions. Not one more family should be thrown out of their home. The banks must adjust their monthly mortgage payments to be in line with what people's homes are now truly worth -- and what they can afford. Also, it must be stated by law: If you lose your job, you cannot be tossed out of your home.

Mr. Moore doesn't believe in personal responsibility it seems, of course it the fault of the evil banks that people took out mortgages they couldn't afford. If your home is worth $200,000, but you can only afford to pay $300 a month, perhaps you should move into a less expensive home. If you lose your job, live within your means.

2. Congress must join the civilized world and expand Medicare For All Americans. A single, nonprofit source must run a universal health care system that covers everyone. Medical bills are now the #1 cause of bankruptcies and evictions in this country. Medicare For All will end this misery.

The civilized world is realizing that "free" health care is a laborious, bureaucratic system that is heavy on top end management and low on getting results, like any other government program. 50% of all health dollars in the U.S. is spent by the government already, increasing that closer to 100% won't make it better. The answer is to get government out of health care completely and let the free market handle it.

3. Demand publicly-funded elections and a prohibition on elected officials leaving office and becoming lobbyists. Yes, those very members of Congress who solicit and receive millions of dollars from wealthy interests must vote to remove ALL money from our electoral and legislative process. Tell your members of Congress they must support campaign finance bill H.R.1826.

So he wants to tell people what they can and can't do for work. Hey Michael, butt out and let people make their own decisions! He also wants the public to pay for the campaigns of the various parties. Ummm, no thanks, I have no interest in paying for the campaign of some politician who wants to run my life. If you want to remove the influence of lobbyists on government, reduce the power of the government and the lobbyists have less incentive to lobby.

4. Each of the 50 states must create a state-owned public bank like they have in North Dakota. Then congress MUST reinstate all the strict pre-Reagan regulations on all commercial banks, investment firms, insurance companies -- and all the other industries that have been savaged by deregulation: Airlines, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies -- you name it. If a company's primary motive to exist is to make a profit, then it needs a set of stringent rules to live by -- and the first rule is "Do no harm." The second rule: The question must always be asked -- "Is this for the common good?"

Message for Mr. Moore, SOCIALISM DOESN'T WORK! Eventually you run out of other people’s money! If the rule if "do no harm", then how about the government quit forcing the people of North Dakota to fund a bank that they may or may not have any interest in funding! Forcing people to fund your pet projects IS harming them. As for the common good, it is a meaningless statement. EVERYBODY is part of the common, some things that iare good for some may not be good for others.

5. Save this fragile planet and declare that all the energy resources above and beneath the ground are owned collectively by all of us. Just like they do it in Sarah Palin's socialist Alaska. We only have a few decades of oil left. The public must be the owners and landlords of the natural resources and energy that exists within our borders or we will descend further into corporate anarchy. And when it comes to burning fossil fuels to transport ourselves, we must cease using the internal combustion engine and instruct our auto/transportation companies to rehire our skilled workforce and build mass transit (clean buses, light rail, subways, bullet trains, etc.) and new cars that don't contribute to climate change. (For more on this, here's a proposal I wrote in December.) Demand that General Motors' de facto chairman, Barack Obama, issue a JFK man-on-the-moon-style challenge to turn our country into a nation of trains and buses and subways. For Pete's sake, people, we were the ones who invented (or perfected) these damn things in the first place!!

More socialism. How far above the ground do we own all of it? How far beneath the ground? Who decides what that number is? Do you own the sunlight above my house that I collect with solar panels? If so, do I need to cut you a check for having harnessed that power. This idea of "collectively" owning resources is silly. It is a matter of private property.

So Michael Moore's answer is "let the government take it over and run it", because of course the government has such a great history of running things smoothly, and on budget, and on time, without being influenced by lobbyists and special interests, etc. That was sarcasm BTW.




I welcome feedback and I ask for civility in the exchange of comments. Vulgarity is discouraged. Please express yourself creatively with other language. We discuss ideas here, attacks on a person are discouraged.

Posted by Freedom Manitoba on October 24, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's not who votes that counts but who counts the votes: Clerk of U.S. House Publishes 2008 Election Returns

From Ballot Access News:

Ever since 1920, the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives has published a booklet entitled “Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election” after each presidential election. The Clerk has just published the 2008 booklet. It is 77 pages long and can be seen here.

This booklet uses arbitrary standards. For example, in the presidential table at the rear of the book, the “Independent” column contains the Ralph Nader vote, and Nader is properly credited with votes from every state but Oklahoma (because Oklahoma bans write-ins). This is true, even though Nader had different ballot labels in different states. In most states it was “independent” but in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah, it was something else. But, the “Independent” column collected all of Nader’s votes, regardless of label.

However, in the next-door column, the “Libertarian” column does not include any votes for Bob Barr from Tennessee. Instead, the authors of the table put the Tennessee Barr vote in the “Other” column, because Barr’s ballot label in Tennessee was “independent.” Also the chart omits Barr’s Maine write-in votes, even though the Secretary of State tallied them.

Read the rest.

And who does count the votes? It's whoever fills the office of Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, in this case Lorraine Miller, former director of intergovernmental relations for Nancy Pelosi (the woman now second in the US Presidential line of succession after VP Joe Biden). But don't worry, the Clerk is not always a Democrat, when the Republicans are in charge, they put in own of their own. That's democracy folks, popular sovereignty--government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on July 29, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 03, 2009

Sarah Palin will resign as governor of Alaska


Former Republican vice-presidential candidate and governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, announced this afternoon that she will resign as governor effective July 25.

"Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional Lame Duck status in this particular climate would just be another dose of politics as usual, something I campaigned against and will always oppose," Palin wrote in a release on her website.

"It is my duty to always protect our great state. With that in mind, my family and I determined that it is best to make a difference this summer, and I am willing to change things, so that this administration, with its positive agenda, its accomplishments, and its successful road to an incredible future, can continue without interruption and with great administrative and legislative success."

Sarah Palin, who was voted the "most controversial celebrity" of 2008, will be replaced as governor by the current lieutenant governor Sean Parnell on Saturday, July 25th.

Some are speculating that this move will give her more time to focus on running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Politico reports:

By not running for re-election, Palin liberates herself from the political constraints that come with running for president while still in elected office.

Leaving office at the end of the month, the former vice presidential hopeful will be able to travel the country more freely without facing the sort of repeated ethics inquiries she’s been fending off since returning to Alaska earlier this year.

Here is initial video of her resignation:

This story is developing...

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on July 3, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (9)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SC Gov. Mark Sanford was cheating on his wife

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford

In a story that seems to get stranger by the day, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has admitted to having an extramarital affair.

The odd series of events began developing over the weekend when it became apparent that the governor's whereabouts were unknown and news surfaced that he did not spend fathers day with his children.

The media circus intensified when he failed to show up for work on Monday. The governor's office later issued a statement saying that he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

However, this morning, the governor was found at the airport on his way home from Buenos Aires. He initially told reporters that he had been vacationing by himself, but later admitted to having a long-running affair with a woman he met in Argentina.

While I don't generally think that a politician's sex life should be any of our business, the fact that he was caught in a series of blatant lies could be a career ending move.

This is really too bad because Sanford, a small government libertarian, was a rising star in the Republican Party and a potential 2012 presidential candidate. The Western Standard previously reported on Sanford here and here.

The moral of the story? Make sure you have an air-tight alibi before skipping town to have sex with your mistress. I thought this was cheating 101.

The governor held a press conference on this matter, which can be seen via the player below.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Posted by Jesse Kline on June 24, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, May 18, 2009

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford: "Throw me in that briar patch, I'm guilty. I love liberty."

Governor Mark Sanford (R-South Carolina) responds in this short video to criticisms that he might be "too libertarian" in a way that more politicians ought to.

Find some more of The Shotgun Blog previous coverage of Sanford here, here, and here.

Posted by Janet Neilson on May 18, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ron Paul has a good discussion on Morning Joe

Worth watching. It's good to see someone out there explaining sound economics. Ron Paul was not a "prophet" as Scarborough suggests, there were many people (especially economists influenced by Mises and Hayek's thinking on business cycles) who saw the trend and knew what was going to happen to the economy--now those free-market economists are speaking out against the crude Keynesianism that's evidently dominant among the self-proclaimed intelligentsia.

What the heck is Ron Paul talking about when he goes on about the Austrian theory of the business cycle? Let's hear it from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announcing the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics:

von Hayek's contributions in the field of economic theory are both profound and original. His scientific books and articles in the twenties and thirties aroused widespread and lively debate. Particularly, his theory of business cycles and his conception of the effects of monetary and credit policies attracted attention and evoked animated discussion. He tried to penetrate more deeply into the business cycle mechanism than was usual at that time. Perhaps, partly due to this more profound analysis, he was one of the few economists who gave warning of the possibility of a major economic crisis before the great crash came in the autumn of 1929.

von Hayek showed how monetary expansion, accompanied by lending which exceeded the rate of voluntary saving, could lead to a misallocation of resources, particularly affecting the structure of capital. This type of business cycle theory with links to monetary expansion has fundamental features in common with the postwar monetary discussion.

(h/t Lew)

Posted by Kalim Kassam on May 15, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

We're all statists now

As J.J. Jackson pointed out in an essay in Enter Stage Right this week, Americans (and Canadians, of course) talk a good game about smaller government but in reality most of them are as addicted to the government teat as the targets of their ire.

The reason why I bring this up is a new poll conducted by Fox News suggests that a huge majority of Americans want less government in their lives and think spending is out of control.

That's nice, but I imagine once you get down to a granular level, where we start addressing individual government programs that many Americans "benefit" from, I imagine the numbers demanding a shrinkage in government would rapidly diminish. No different from Canadians, of course, who complain about welfare queens but vociferously support things like socialized health care, the Canada Wheat Board and middle class entitlements.

Posted by Steve Martinovich on May 15, 2009 in Economic freedom, U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Are "Tea Parties" good, bad, or neutral?

On their face, grassroots taxpayer revolts sound like just the kind of thing we need. But a bit of careful observation brings into question the true motivation, nature and value of the now common "Tea Party" springing up across the U.S. (I talk about the U.S. because I don't know if Canada has anything similar going on).

Jack McHugh blogs about the possible pitfalls of these parties:

The Tea Party movement is a genuine bottom-up. grassroots protest. It’s fueled by angst and rage arising from a feeling of helplessness at the realization that the people have lost control of their government.


What many people don’t recognize yet is the proper target of their rage: a self-serving, self perpetuating, inbred and bipartisan political class.


Some in the Tea Party movement think that it’s a protest against Democrats. I refer them to “Government, massive expansion of, 2001-2006” – a period during which Republicans held all the marbles.

He goes on to mention the dangers of letting members of the partisan political class - namely Republicans - in on the party. They inevitably will try to hijack the spotlight and use their permanent political apparatus to claim credit for the movement.

A word to those truly upset about spending, bailouts, tax hikes and government largess: don't buy it. Don't give in to the siren calls of so-called conservative Republicans. Conservative grass-roots people, and even some libertarians, are like an abused girlfriend. They keep believing that this time, he really has changed. This time he'll be sweet. He's not such a bad guy underneath, he just loses control sometimes.  Witness the new found love for Republicans after they (reluctantly) voted 'no' on the stimulus.

Grassroots conservatives might need an intervention. It is not, nor will it ever be, by politicians that any salvation will come.  McHugh goes on, and posts one of my favorite quotes from Milton Friedman:

"Parties aren’t about principles, they’re about power – getting and keeping it.


Restoring limited, representative government will only happen when both political parties and all politicians are forced to align not just their words but their behavior with this goal. Here’s how Milton Friedman described how to accomplish that:


“The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.”

True. Will people take heed, and display a genuine revolt against the political class? Or will they simply vent frustration with one party, and accept a leader of the other party as savior?

McHugh has another earlier post on the value of rage vs. that of hope as a tool for long-term political change.  I'll give you a hint - hope is better.

UPDATE (from the General Manager): Welcome Instalanche hordes!

Feel free to stick around and poke about the website of the Western Standard, Canada's libertarian/conservative news outlet of record and this here Shotgun Blog.

Recently, we reviewed Gerry Nicholls' book about his former friend and colleague, Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in which he argues the importance maintaining a separation between the conservative movement and the Conservative Party of Canada (this point seems particularly important following Harper's atrocious stimulus budget and subsequent disavowal of fiscal conservatives and libertarians).

Other items of potential interest, our founding publisher Ezra Levant talking about his new book on Canada's anti-free speech Human Rights Commissions (coming to a jurisdiction near you?), a post exploring where in the world people are reading Rand and where they're reading Marx, and, naturally, Stalin vs. Martians: the videogame.

Posted by Isaac Morehouse on April 11, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (11)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tax day cat-fights in the U.S.?

Fans of freedom in the U.S. are gearing up for Tax Day Tea Parties and protests. But Fox News reports that tea parties might not be as cordial and friendly as planned:

On Fox News Channel’s April 7 “Your World,” host Neil Cavuto reported that the Tax Day tea party protests on April 15 will be “infiltrated” by their political opponents and led by left-wing activist organizations. He specifically named Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).

“Only eight days before a nationwide tea party, some over-caffeinated crashers aiming to lay waste to it,” Cavuto said. “Reports of very well-organized infiltrators trying to mix in and rain on this parade. Talk about taxing.”

Since Fox News is usually a little too lewd and crude for my taste, I typically get my Fox-fill via hearsay like the above. Given the usually-sensationalist nature of Fox News reporting, ACORN could be planning to do nothing more unfortunate than toss organic chicken eggs at Tax Day protesters. Or perhaps we have another civil war in the making. Either way, rest assured that no matter what happens, Neil Cavuto's jokes about it will fall flat. As usual.

h/t: Infowars

Posted by Alina on April 8, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Congressman Paul Ryan and the Republican road map

The ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. In it he blasts Obama for increasing the size of government and proposes four policies to help the economy.

- A pro-growth tax policy. Rather than raise the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, it should be dropped to 25%. The lower tax brackets should be collapsed to one 10% rate on the first $100,000 for couples. And the top corporate tax rate should be lowered to 25%. This modest reform would put American companies' tax liability more in line with the prevailing rates of our competitors.

- Guarantee sound money. For the last decade, the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy has helped fuel the housing bubble that precipitated our current crisis. We need to return to a sound money policy. That would end uncertainty, help keep interest rates down, and increase the confidence entrepreneurs and investors need to take the risks required for future growth.

- Fix the financial sector. A durable economic recovery requires a solution to the banking crisis. There are no easy or painless solutions, but the most damaging solution over the long term would be to nationalize our financial system. Once we put politicians in charge of allocating credit and resources in our economy, it is hard to imagine them letting go.

- Get a grip on entitlements. With $56 trillion in unfunded liabilities and our social insurance programs set to implode, we must tackle the entitlement crisis. President Barack Obama deserves credit for his recent efforts to build a bipartisan consensus on entitlement reform. But we can't solve the entitlement problem unless we acknowledge why the costs are exploding, and then take action.

I am glad to see that more and more Republicans are coming out and denying that they are Keynesians. I have great hope that the Republican Party will become a born again free market party.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on March 2, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oklahoma House passes 10th Amendment state sovereignty bill

Billofrights Earlier this month, I wrote that:

A spate of... "10th Amendment resolutions" at the state level seems to have been sparked with last year's failed HJR 1089 [pdf] in Oklahoma "claiming sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over certain powers; serving notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain mandates; and directing distribution." The sponsor of that bill, Rep. Charles Key (R) is working on introducing similar legislation (HJR 1003) [rtf] this year which he says is likely to pass as a Republican-controlled Legislature convenes for the first time in state history.

Rep. Key's bill is one of the eight similar pieces of legislation which have been introduced this year asserting state sovereignty under the US Constitution's 9th and 10th Amendments in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington; twelve more states are expected to follow suit.

WorldNetDaily reports:

Oklahoma's House of Representatives is the first legislative body to pass a state sovereignty resolution this year under the terms of the Tenth Amendment.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 1003 Feb. 18 by a wide margin, 83 to 13, resolving, "That the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States."

The language of HJR 1003 further serves notice to the federal government "to cease and desist, effectively immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers."

The sponsor of the resolution, state Rep. Charles Key, told WND the measure was a 'big step toward addressing the biggest problem we have in this country – the federal government violating the supreme law of the land."

"The Constitution either means what it says, or it doesn't mean anything at all," Key said. "The federal government must honor and obey the Constitution, just like the states and this citizens of this country are obligated to do, or our system of government begins to fall apart."

The Ninth Amendment reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The Tenth Amendment specifically provides, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

More details here.

Recently, the Shotgun Blog highlighted an appearance by Rep. Dan Itse, the sponsor of New Hampshire's House Concurrent Resolution 6 "affirming States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles," on Fox News' Glenn Beck Program.

UPDATE: The John Birch Society has a very useful tracking page with direct links and status updates for the "10th Amendment resolutions" in the various states.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on February 25, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (23)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Michael Steele's Gangsta Old Party

Everyone's having fun with newly-elected RNC Chairman Michael Steele's pledge, in an effort to revive the lumbering Republican Party by expanding its appeal to new younger constituencies, to rebrand the party with an "off the hook" PR campaign applying the principles of the "modern day GOP" to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings."

While the results of the Steele's campaign might be worth a few laughs, it can hardly turn out worse than the Republican Party's last attempt at minority outreach, the Bush/Rove "ownership society" plan to turn Hispanics into GOP voters by pushing low down payment home loans on them and other minorities, which further inflated the housing bubble with disastrous results. But in case you thought the rebranding effort ahead of Steele was impossible as well as comical, it may seem less far-fetched if you buy Eli Lake's arguments from a bloggingheads.tv discussion last October that the GOP is the natural party of gangsta rap:

Posted by Kalim Kassam on February 20, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Jeff Flake explains why Americans should be free to travel to Cuba

In "Congressional bill would end ban on travel to Cuba," The Miami Herald reports:

A bipartisan bill calling for an end to the 46-year-old ban on travel to Cuba was introduced in Congress by a group of representatives led by William Delahunt of Massachusetts.

The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, introduced Feb. 4 and referred to the Foreign Relations Committee, prohibits the U.S. president from regulating or prohibiting travel to or from Cuba by U.S. residents, except in times of war between the two countries or of imminent danger to public health or the safety of U.S. travelers.

During his campaign, President Barack Obama announced that he would roll back the restrictions on travel to Cuba imposed by the Bush administration.

Under that policy, Cuban Americans can send up to $300 in cash every three months and are allowed to visit the island once every three years, although they can send gift packages of food, medicine and other items. Bush also tightened the restrictions on visits by academics, students and religious groups.

Americans with no family in Cuba generally cannot visit the island, and the Obama announcement remained unclear as to whether the easing of travel restrictions will apply to them.

The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act would then go further than Obama's campaign promise by explicitly empowering U.S. citizens and legal residents to visit the island at will.

In addition to Delahunt, other sponsors of the bill include representatives Jeff Flakes[sic],R-Ariz.; Rosa Delauro, D-Conn.; Jo-Ann Emerson, R-Mo.; James McGovern, D-Mass.; Jim Moran, R-Kansas; Donna Edwards, D-Md.; Ron Paul, R-Texas; and Sam Farr, D-Calif.

Here's one of the bill's co-sponsors, Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake, speaking last year to reason.tv about why he thinks US-Cuba relations have got to change:

More videos of Jeff Flake, just plain ol' makin' sense, here, here, and here.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on February 10, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, February 09, 2009

What's next for Ron Paul?

Picture 3 We've been keeping pretty close tabs on Ron Paul, the Texas Republican Congressman who became well-known during his 2008 presidential campaign for his unconventional libertarian stances (he opposed the Iraq War and wants to abolish the Federal Reserve System) and his band of "r3VOLutionaries," supporters whose online organization was unlike any force seen before in US politics. They gathered in local meetup groups to make home-made campaign signs and hold events to spread their message, coordinated record-breaking online fundraising "money bomb" days, and even raised money for a Ron Paul Blimp.

Although Paul's presidential campaign quietly wound down in the spring as John McCain emerged as the Republican Party's nominee for president, in the last few months, Ron Paul is once again getting attention. The successor organization for his presidential run, the Campaign for Liberty, organized a "Rally for the Republic" across the river from the Republican National Convention. The Rally, the culmination of a three-day event described by many media as a "counter-convention," attracted 10,000 attendees and a distinguished group of speakers including MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, conservative movement heavyweight Grover Norquist, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, and former Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr.

Since then, Paul has become a mainstay on CNN, CNBC and Fox Business, where he is hailed as one of those, like his campaign's economic adviser Peter Schiff and economist Nouriel Roubini, who predicted the collapse of the US housing bubble.

Today, the Atlantic Monthly's politics blog caught up with the Congressman's staff to ask "What's Ron Paul Up To?" and take a look at the future:

It's an economic crisis he largely predicted -- so what's former presidential candidate / Rep. Ron Paul up to these days?  He's thinking about the long-term. His  campaign for Liberty will start training activists at eight regional summits this year while it continues to urge followers to work against the stimulus and bailout measures in Congress.

More than 500 activists are expected to attend the first summit in St. Louis from March 25 to 27. The second summit is scheduled for April in Jacksonville and a third tentatively set for Seattle. Campaign for Liberty's Senior Vice President Jesse Benton said five more summits will be held if the first three are successful.

Paul will attend the St. Louis summit, as well as Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News legal analyst and former New Jersey Supreme Court justice, and Tom Woods, best-selling author of the "Politically Incorrect Guide to American History."

Benton said the summits will educate activists on the principles of the Constitution and train them in how to influence politics, from organizing, educating, lobbying and running for office. Already activists are getting involved in running for Republican Party leadership races in different states, Benton said.

The campaign is already fighting against the growth of government by urging hundreds of thousands of supporters to write and call Congress to oppose the stimulus package. Benton said the organization has experienced a bump in interest since the original bailout was debated last September, but that Paul's supporters have been loyal for a long time.

"I think that people who have been with us have been with us in large part," he said, adding that the campaign is re-recruiting Paul's supporters from the presidential campaign.

Benton said the campaign regularly communicates with 115,000 people and has a total roster of 500,000.

The Shotgun Blog recently spotlighted a lengthy interview with the Campaign for Liberty president John Tate, who shares more about the organization's plans, operations, and activities.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on February 9, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (5)

SC Governer Mark Sanford on the stimulus and the "savior-based economy"

South Carolina Governer Mark Sanford speaks out against the stimulus in this discussion with CNN's John King. Sanford is in fine form here, conveying his arguments with a steady sort of clarity. Sanford's principled stand to oppose money which would flow into his state is positioning him as the leading voice of fiscal conservatism in America -- and possibly for a presidential run in 2012.

From CNN Political Ticker:

As many state and local officials clamor for their share of the billions of dollars in federal aid in the stimulus bill under consideration in Washington, South Carolina’s Republican governor is sounding a note of dissent about federal efforts to help the economy.

“A problem that was created by building up of too much debt will not be solved with yet more debt,” Gov. Mark Sanford said Sunday, making a reference to the federal deficit spending that will likely finance the federal stimulus package.

“We’re moving precipitously close to what I would call a savior-based economy,” Sanford also said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

The South Carolina Republican said such an economy is “what you see in Russia or Venezuela or Zimbabwe or places like that where it matters not how good your product is to the consumer but what your political connection is to those in power.”

“That is quite different than a market-based economy where some rise and some fall but there’s a consequence to making a stupid decision,” Sanford said after pointing to the powers granted to the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to help deal with the current economic crisis.

Read Mark Sanford explain why "bailouts are awful" and hear The Southern Avenger's thoughts on the choice between Bobby Jindal and Mark Sanford facing Republicans in 2012.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on February 9, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Ron Paul: US must repudiate philosophy of "government intervention, socialism, paper money and welfare dependancy" to get back on its feet

Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul joins us from his desk to talk about the the Senate version of the "stimulus package" (really just a plain ol' pork-filled spending package), "born-again budget conservatives" in the Republican Party, and how the US can get back on its feet:

UPDATE: The top story on CNN.com "GOP senators 'caved in' on stimulus, Paul says":

Paul, a Republican representative from Texas who sought the GOP nomination for president, said that although some people call Obama's plan to jumpstart the economy a "stimulus package," he thinks it is a "pure spending package."

The message came on a video posted on YouTube.

Paul praised his fellow House Republicans for unanimously voting against the plan but expressed disappointment that three Senate Republicans "caved in and went with the Democrats."

He didn't mention the GOP senators by name but was referring to Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine, and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

In the video, Paul said he wondered whether Republican opposition to the spending is too little, too late.

"It is like they're born-again budget conservatives," Paul said. "Where were we in the past eight years, when we could have done something? And you see our last eight years that has set this situation up. So we can't blame the Democrats for the conditions we have.

"We have to blame both parties and presidents of the last several decades to have generated this huge government."

Posted by Kalim Kassam on February 7, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Terence Corcoran on Barack's big ideas for restoring confidence

When US President Barack Obama announced a $500,000 limit on high-level executive pay at firms receiving government assistance, Western Standard associate editor Terrence Watson didn't think it sounded like such a wise plan:

Can you say "unintended consequences"? Chasing skilled executives away from companies that are already in trouble seems like a GREAT idea.

Terence Corcoran, editor of the Financial Post, agrees:

A Washington-led campaign, spearheaded by the President himself, to impose populist controls on the compensation of executives at all public companies, not just bankers, is about to take hold. Canadian bankers are already covering their tracks, with self-inflicted compensation reductions. “It’s only the beginning of a long-term effort,” Mr. Obama said.

Great populist strategy, but like all government price controls, the $500,000 Obama compensation plan for bankers is guaranteed to produce a rash of destructive consequences.

If the big idea in executive compensation is that the incentives were all wrong, what exactly is the incentive impact of forcing executives to work for less than they can somewhere else? The greatest risk is that the very banks the government is trying to save will face an exodus of talent just when they need talent most.

University of Chicago compensation expert Steven Kaplan, in an interview yesterday, called the plan “ill-advised” and “very dangerous.” He predicts a “mass exodus” over time as employees leave in search of higher cash compensation elsewhere. [...]

At AIG, the insurance company, there is evidence that executives at healthy branches of the company, now under de facto government control, are fleeing for other, healthy insurance firms. “You will see over time a huge exodus from the companies that take money from the government.”

At banks such as Bank of America, executives of healthy parts of the company will have many options. “Strange as it sounds,” said Prof. Kaplan, “$500,000 is way below what they can get elsewhere.” Another complication is the internal corporate inequities that will emerge if the top 30 executives are frozen at $500,000, while others in lower levels earn more. [...]

No wonder investors have yet to regain confidence in the U.S. financial system and the stock market.

Barney Frank, the influential chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said yesterday that "Congress will consider extending the $500,000 salary cap to executives of all financial institutions and perhaps to all U.S. companies."

If this salary cap is really "only the beginning," and Obama will continue the bailouts and seriously consider applying these sorts of major structural changes to the entire economy, the time has come to think seriously about what economist and historian Robert Higgs calls "regime uncertainty," which "pertains above all to a pervasive uncertainty about the property-rights regime — about what private owners can reliably expect the government to do in its actions that affect private owners’ ability to control the use of their property, to reap the income it yields, and to transfer it to others on voluntarily acceptable terms."

Because, as Higgs meticulously documents, businessmen and investors in the 1930s didn't know what sorts of significant changes might be sprung upon them at any time -- and because those changes could undermine the free-enterprise-based economic system and threaten the safety of their capital, investments predictably dried up, resulting in a lengthening and deepening of the Great Depression.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on February 6, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (15)

Is Jeff Flake Robin Hood?

Depressed about the current political climate throughout the world, I turned to YouTube videos of Congressman Jeff Flake to cheer me up.

This video isn't the Congressman at his most awesome, but he still is far more impressive than most politicians these days. The key point that he made was near the end, "this is the biggest shift of wealth from those who are less powerful to those who are more powerful."

People think of Robin Hood and think; take money from the rich and give it to the poor. They then try to apply this principle to government. But they forget that Robin Hood was not taking money from wealthy industrialists. He was taking back tax dollars that had been unfairly collected by a tyrannical monarch. Robin Hood, if he was real, was a leader of a tax revolt.

The truth is that government spending will benefit the ruling elite far more than anyone else. We need a new Robin Hood who will protect people's money from an ever growing and ever more tyrannical state.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on February 6, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

New Hampshire and Washington legislators reaffirm states' rights UPDATE: 8 more states

Picture 3 I'm having difficulty deciding which recently-introduced legislation I like better: New Hampshire's House Concurrent Resolution 6 "affirming States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles" or Washington State's House Joint Memorial 4009 "claiming state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment"

On initial inspection, the New Hampshire resolution is superior. It's a beautifully written document and by far the more radical. The preambulatory clauses tell the history of New Hampshire's contribution to the US Constitution's Ninth and Tenth Amendments and the active clauses lay out and affirm an effective, detailed, and well-explained case:

That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes, -- delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government

My favourite part of the resolution is the end, which asserts the doctrine of nullification and calls for a dissolution of the Union should the US Government extend its reach beyond certain limits:

That any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America. Acts which would cause such a nullification include, but are not limited to:

I. Establishing martial law or a state of emergency within one of the States comprising the United States of America without the consent of the legislature of that State.

II. Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

III. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

IV. Surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government.

V. Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press.

VI. Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition; and

That should any such act of Congress become law or Executive Order or Judicial Order be put into force, all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually. Any future government of the United States of America shall require ratification of three quarters of the States seeking to form a government of the United States of America and shall not be binding upon any State not seeking to form such a government;

The Washington resolution is much shorter, less elegant, and is directed towards the US President, not the several states like New Hampshire's. But there is much to be said for concision. Though the 18th century literate American provincial may have been at ease with the embellished language of the New Hampshire resolution, to the average 21st century reader it may pass from articulacy to prolixity; for him, NH HCR6 might as well be as incomprehensible and protracted as the USA PATRIOT Act or the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

The preamble of the Washington resolution lays out a simple textual and historical case for a states' rights reading of the US Constitution that should be intelligible to any college graduate (but not to any Supreme Court Justice):

WHEREAS, The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States specifically provides that, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”; and

WHEREAS, The Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being those powers specifically granted to it by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and

WHEREAS, Federalism is the constitutional division of powers between the national and state governments and is widely regarded as one of America’s most valuable contributions to political science; and

WHEREAS, James Madison, “the father of the Constitution,” said, “The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.”; and

WHEREAS, Thomas Jefferson emphasized that the states are not ”subordinate” to the national government, but rather the two are “coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole. The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government.”; and

WHEREAS, Alexander Hamilton expressed his hope that “the people will always take care to preserve the constitutional equilibrium between the general and the state governments.” He believed that “this balance between the national and state governments forms a double security to the people. If one [government] encroaches on their rights, they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits by [the] certain rivalship which will ever subsist between them.”; and

WHEREAS, The scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be limited in its powers relative to those of the various states;

You can read each resolutions below the break and decide which you prefer for yourself.

UPDATE: A spate of these "10th Amendment resolutions" at the state level seems to have been sparked with last year's failed HJR 1089 [pdf] in Oklahoma "claiming sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over certain powers; serving notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain mandates; and directing distribution." The sponsor of that bill, Rep. Charles Key (R) is working on introducing similar legislation (HJR 1003) [rtf] this year which he says is likely to pass as a Republican-controlled Legislature convenes for the first time in state history.

Also in 2009, "10th Amendment resolutions" have been introduced in Arizona (HCR 2024), Michigan (HCR 0004), Missouri (HR 212), while in Montana, HB 246 uses 10th, 9th, and 2nd Amendment reasoning for "an Act exempting from federal regulation under the commerce clause of the constitution of the United States a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and retained in Montana..."

With New Hampshire and Washington, that brings the total number of these resolutions introduced in 2009 to 7.

UPDATE 2: Dave Nalle writes, in "State Sovereignty Movement Quietly Growing":

As things stand right now it looks like Oklahoma, Washington, Hawaii, Missouri, Arizona, New Hampshire, Georgia, California, Michigan and Montana will all definitely consider sovereignty bills this year. They may be joined by Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Alaska, Kansas, Alabama, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania where legislators have pledged to introduce similar bills. Twenty states standing up to the federal government and demanding a return to constitutional principles is a great start, but it remains to be seen whether legislatures and governors are brave enough or angry enough to follow through. As the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress push for more expansion of federal power and spending that may help provide the motivation needed for the sovereignty movement to take off.

If you're keeping count, that brings us up to 10 states.

New Hampshire, Washington, Michigan, Hawaii and California all voted for Obama in the 2008 presidential election and have one or both houses under Democratic control. Oklahoma, Arizona, Missouri and Georgia voted for McCain and have legislatures controlled by Republicans.


State of Washington 61st Legislature 2009 Regular Session
By Representatives Shea, Klippert, Condotta, Kretz, Anderson, McCune, and Kristiansen


We, your Memorialists, the Senate and House of Representatives of  the State of Washington, in legislative session assembled, respectfully represent and petition as follows:

WHEREAS, The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States specifically provides that, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”; and

WHEREAS, The Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being those powers specifically granted to it by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and

WHEREAS, Federalism is the constitutional division of powers between the national and state governments and is widely regarded as one of America’s most valuable contributions to political science; and

WHEREAS, James Madison, “the father of the Constitution,” said, “The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.”; and

WHEREAS, Thomas Jefferson emphasized that the states are not ”subordinate” to the national government, but rather the two are “coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole. The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government.”; and

WHEREAS, Alexander Hamilton expressed his hope that “the people will always take care to preserve the constitutional equilibrium between the general and the state governments.” He believed that “this balance between the national and state governments forms a double security to the people. If one [government] encroaches on their rights, they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits by [the] certain rivalship which will ever subsist between them.”; and

WHEREAS, The scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be limited in its powers relative to those of the various states; and

WHEREAS, Today, in 2009, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government; and

WHEREAS, Many federal mandates are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, The United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v. United States, 112 S. Ct. 2408 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states; and

WHEREAS, A number of proposals from previous administrations and some now being considered by the present administration and from Congress may further violate the Constitution of the United States;

NOW, THEREFORE, Your Memorialists respectfully resolve:
(1)That the State of Washington hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States; and

(2) That this serve as a Notice and Demand to the federal government to maintain the balance of powers where the Constitution of the United States established it and to cease and desist, effective immediately, any and all mandates that are beyond the scope of its constitutionally delegated powers.

BE IT RESOLVED, That copies of this Memorial be immediately transmitted to the Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of each state’s legislature of the United States of America, and each member of Congress from the State of Washington.



A RESOLUTION affirming States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles.

SPONSORS: Rep. Itse, Rock 9; Rep. Ingbretson, Graf 5; Rep. Comerford, Rock 9; Sen. Denley, Dist 3

COMMITTEE: State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs


This house concurrent resolution affirms States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles.




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nine

A RESOLUTION affirming States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles.

Whereas the Constitution of the State of New Hampshire, Part 1, Article 7 declares that the people of this State have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State; and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right, pertaining thereto, which is not, or may not hereafter be, by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in congress assembled; and

Whereas the Constitution of the State of New Hampshire, Part 2, Article 1 declares that the people inhabiting the territory formerly called the province of New Hampshire, do hereby solemnly and mutually agree with each other, to form themselves into a free, sovereign and independent body-politic, or State, by the name of The State of New Hampshire; and

Whereas the State of New Hampshire when ratifying the Constitution for the United States of America recommended as a change, “First That it be Explicitly declared that all Powers not expressly & particularly Delegated by the aforesaid are reserved to the several States to be, by them Exercised;” and

Whereas the other States that included recommendations, to wit Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia, included an identical or similar recommended change; and

Whereas these recommended changes were incorporated as the ninth amendment, the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people, and the tenth amendment, the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people, to the Constitution for the United States of America; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:

That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes, -- delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force; that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress; and

That the Constitution of the United States, having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies, and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations, slavery, and no other crimes whatsoever; and it being true as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” therefore all acts of Congress which assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Constitution are altogether void, and of no force; and that the power to create, define, and punish such other crimes is reserved, and, of right, appertains solely and exclusively to the respective States, each within its own territory; and

That it is true as a general principle, and is also expressly declared by one of the amendments to the Constitution, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people;” and that no power over the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press being delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, all lawful powers respecting the same did of right remain, and were reserved to the States or the people: that thus was manifested their determination to retain to themselves the right of judging how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom, and how far those abuses which cannot be separated from their use should be tolerated, rather than the use be destroyed. And thus also they guarded against all abridgment by the United States of the freedom of religious opinions and exercises, and retained to themselves the right of protecting the same. And that in addition to this general principle and express declaration, another and more special provision has been made by one of the amendments to the Constitution, which expressly declares, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press:” thereby guarding in the same sentence, and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press: insomuch, that whatever violated either, throws down the sanctuary which covers the others, and that libels, falsehood, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religion, are withheld from the cognizance of federal tribunals. That, therefore, all acts of Congress of the United States which do abridge the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, are not law, but are altogether void, and of no force; and

That the construction applied by the General Government (as is evidenced by sundry of their proceedings) to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate to Congress a power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imports, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” and “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof,” goes to the destruction of all limits prescribed to their power by the Constitution: that words meant by the instrument to be subsidiary only to the execution of limited powers, ought not to be so construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument: that the proceedings of the General Government under color of these articles, will be a fit and necessary subject of revisal and correction; and

That a committee of conference and correspondence be appointed, which shall have as its charge to communicate the preceding resolutions to the Legislatures of the several States; to assure them that this State continues in the same esteem of their friendship and union which it has manifested from that moment at which a common danger first suggested a common union: that it considers union, for specified national purposes, and particularly to those specified in their federal compact, to be friendly to the peace, happiness and prosperity of all the States: that faithful to that compact, according to the plain intent and meaning in which it was understood and acceded to by the several parties, it is sincerely anxious for its preservation: that it does also believe, that to take from the States all the powers of self-government and transfer them to a general and consolidated government, without regard to the special delegations and reservations solemnly agreed to in that compact, is not for the peace, happiness or prosperity of these States; and that therefore this State is determined, as it doubts not its co-States are, to submit to undelegated, and consequently unlimited powers in no man, or body of men on earth: that in cases of an abuse of the delegated powers, the members of the General Government, being chosen by the people, a change by the people would be the constitutional remedy; but, where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non foederis), to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them: that nevertheless, this State, from motives of regard and respect for its co-States, has wished to communicate with them on the subject: that with them alone it is proper to communicate, they alone being parties to the compact, and solely authorized to judge in the last resort of the powers exercised under it, Congress being not a party, but merely the creature of the compact, and subject as to its assumptions of power to the final judgment of those by whom, and for whose use itself and its powers were all created and modified: that if the acts before specified should stand, these conclusions would flow from them: that it would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights: that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism -- free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power: that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go. In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. That this State does therefore call on its co-States for an expression of their sentiments on acts not authorized by the federal compact. And it doubts not that their sense will be so announced as to prove their attachment unaltered to limited government, whether general or particular. And that the rights and liberties of their co-States will be exposed to no dangers by remaining embarked in a common bottom with their own. That they will concur with this State in considering acts as so palpably against the Constitution as to amount to an undisguised declaration that that compact is not meant to be the measure of the powers of the General Government, but that it will proceed in the exercise over these States, of all powers whatsoever: that they will view this as seizing the rights of the States, and consolidating them in the hands of the General Government, with a power assumed to bind the States, not merely as the cases made federal, (casus foederis,) but in all cases whatsoever, by laws made, not with their consent, but by others against their consent: that this would be to surrender the form of government we have chosen, and live under one deriving its powers from its own will, and not from our authority; and that the co-States, recurring to their natural right in cases not made federal, will concur in declaring these acts void, and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories; and

That the said committee be authorized to communicate by writing or personal conferences, at any times or places whatever, with any person or person who may be appointed by any one or more co-States to correspond or confer with them; and that they lay their proceedings before the next session of the General Court; and

That any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America. Acts which would cause such a nullification include, but are not limited to:

I. Establishing martial law or a state of emergency within one of the States comprising the United States of America without the consent of the legislature of that State.

II. Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

III. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

IV. Surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government.

V. Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press.

VI. Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition; and

That should any such act of Congress become law or Executive Order or Judicial Order be put into force, all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually. Any future government of the United States of America shall require ratification of three quarters of the States seeking to form a government of the United States of America and shall not be binding upon any State not seeking to form such a government; and

That copies of this resolution be transmitted by the house clerk to the President of the United States, each member of the United States Congress, and the presiding officers of each State’s legislature.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on February 5, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (15)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

John McCain on the 'Stimulus Package'

I'm still getting the occasional John McCain 'supporter' blast e-mail, and a few minutes ago I received one about his position on the 'Stimulus Package. (note that I am using capitals as if it was a proper noun. I figure that it was only appropriate since it is larger than the GDP of more than a few countries)

Yesterday, the Senate began debate on an economic stimulus package that is intended to get our economy back on track and help Americans who are suffering through these difficult times. Unfortunately, the proposal on the table is big on the giveaways for the special interests and corporate high rollers, yet short on help for ordinary working Americans.

This is true. Anytime that there is a lot of money being spent by government, those with connections are the ones that get first dibs on the cash flow. This is one of the key faults with Keynesian theory. Governments, of any form, simply cannot be trusted to spend money without political considerations.

Our country does not need just another spending bill, particularly not one that will load future generations with the burden of massive debt.

If I would change one phrase in that sentence I would change 'does not need' to 'can not afford.' That load is already a heavy burden for the future generations to bear. I am glad that Senator McCain recognizes the problem of debt in the United States.

We need a short term stimulus bill that will directly help people, create jobs, and provide a jolt to our economy.

Oh, never mind. It's not that spending is bad it is just the way that Obama is spending that is bad. It is not that leaving a burden for the future generations is a bad thing; it is that Obama is leaving that burden in the incorrect manner.

Suddenly I feel like that whole election thing was an exercise in futility. McCain would be using the exact same failed strategy, with a slightly different tactic.

My head hurts.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on February 3, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

US House of Representatives passes $819-billion Obama stimulus, Republicans sit out

CBS news reports:

The House of Representatives late Wednesday passed President Barack Obama's $819 billion plan to stimulate the economy and curtail the nation's year-old recession.

The 244-188 vote proceeded along party lines as expected. Only 12 Democrats opposed the measure, and no Republicans supported it.

Senate committees have been working on a separate version of the measure. It is not clear how quickly the Senate version will be completed, passed, and reconciled with the House measure, but Congressional leaders have promised Mr. Obama they would send him a completed bill by mid-February.

The House vote came after days of intense lobbying by the new president, including personal appeals to congressional Republicans. GOP lawmakers spurned Obama, saying the bill contains too much spending and not enough tax cuts.

Republican critics say the bill was little more than the fulfillment of a long-standing Democratic wish list. Those critics pointed to $1 billion for Amtrak, $41 billion for local school districts and $127 billion for health care for the poor and unemployed, reports CBS News chief White House correspondent Chip Reid.

[...] The legislation includes an estimated $544 in federal spending and $275 billion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses. It includes money for highway construction and mass transit.

The Obama recovery package would be the largest spending bill ever to move through Congress. The House measure had been estimated to cost $825 billion, but the Congressional Budget Office updated the bill's price tag to $816 billion after accountants recalculated the cost. That total rose by $3 billion when the House approved a Democratic amendment for mass transit.

Gentlemen, start your printing presses!

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 28, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

VP Joe Biden's wife reveals Obama may have broken campaign laws

Here's the story from aol.com, and I though Joe was the one prone to gaffes:

Appearing on Oprah Winfrey's show this afternoon [ed: yesterday], Jill Biden, wife of Vice-President elect Joe Biden, made a verbal gaffe that could land the Obama Administration in some hot water. Mrs. Biden let slip that her husband Joe was offered a choice of either the Secretary of State's position or the Vice-Presidency.

The potential problem for the Obama Administration goes far beyond the obviously embarrassing revelation that Hillary Clinton was actually the second choice for Secretary of State, however. Promising an appointment to a federal office by a candidate in exchange for support is a crime.

Title 18 chapter 29 section 599 of the United States code is very specific about such promises, and the punishment that goes along with making them [Hat tip: RedState].

"Whoever, being a candidate, directly or indirectly promises or pledges the appointment, or the use of his influence or support for the appointment of any person to any public or private position or employment, for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

If Jill Biden is telling the truth, and from Joe Biden's reaction, quickly shushing her, she apparently is, somebody in the Obama campaign has some questions to answer. Who offered Biden the positions of Secretary of State or Vice-President? Did Barack Obama know about the offer or make it himself?

Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander has issued the following statement.

"Dr. Biden's point to Oprah was that being vice president would be abetter fit for their family because they would get to see him more and get to participate in serving more,'' the statement said. "To be clear, President-elect Obama offered vice president-elect Biden one job only - to be his running mate. And the vice president-elect was thrilled to accept the offer.''

I suppose that will put an end to that. No more questions. Still above the law.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 20, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (8)

(Video) Political Ad Watch: Iraq Veterans Against the War message to Obama

This ad from Iraq Veterans Against the War aired on NBC in the major-media markets of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Albuquerque, New York City, and Washington DC three minutes before Obama took the Inaugural Oath:

In his speech Obama echoed his election promises on Iraq and Afghanistan saying "we will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan."

Even with this strong rhetoric and repeated commitments to put an Iraq drawdown high on his priorities, it doesn't seem likely that US troops will be completely withdrawn from Iraq as the Iraq Veterans group would like. Though Obama may technically fulfill his promises, his plans seem to allow for tens of thousands of "non-combat troops" to remain in Iraq. Announcing his foreign policy team on December 4th Obama explained:

"I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary – likely to be necessary – to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq."

Obama's comments today seem to have had little effect on online predictions markets, below is a graph of the the contract price for the outcome “Number of US Troops in Iraq (given a Democratic president) as of June 2010” on Intrade.com, a popular website whose members bet real money to speculate on the outcomes of future events:
Price for Democratic President and US Troop Levels in Iraq (see contract rules) at intrade.com
According to the contract rules, the current trading price price of 36.6 means the market expects 73,200 US troops to be remaining in Iraq in June 2010, approximately 60% down from present levels.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 20, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Obama's words paint pretty pictures

A word cloud of President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address:
Picture 1
The message? As far as I can tell: "Today America people must work new nation common world."

The word "less" is a pretty prominent, with "liberty," "freedom" and "market" quite a bit less so.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 20, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mises on democracy: "a peaceful adjustment of the system of government"

In her opening remarks for the Inauguration ceremony, Senator Diane Feinstein noted that the event was a demonstration of a "peaceful transition of power." I'm normally not long on the virtues of democracy or optimistic about its compatibility with liberty, but as I watch the pomp surrounding what Sheldon Richman calls "the peaceful transfer of violent power," I thought of this virtue of majority rule under democracy and the comments of Ludwig von Mises in his "Notes & Recollections"

Technical proposals for changes in the election system ... would be no solution. If the masses of people oppose an administration that was formed by a minority, it cannot indefinitely survive. If it refuses to yield to public opinion, it will be overthrown by revolution. The preferability of democracy consists in the fact that it facilitates a peaceful adjustment of the system of government and government personnel to the wishes of public opinion.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 20, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Live online video of Obama's Inauguration

Above is the Associate Press' live stream (via UStream) of the Obama Inauguration spectacular. The official inaugural site and Hulu (if you're in the US) are probably your other best bets for reliable high-quality live streams of the action. If you're on-the-go, just can't miss that historic speech, and in possession of an iPhone, you can download the free UStream application from Apple's App Store.

Lifehacker and Kottke have roundups of everywhere else including C-SPAN and the US cable networks where you can watch the $170-million inauguration online.

Here's the timeline for the day and a look at the gold-embossed programme from the Macleans blog.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 20, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Excerpt from Ric Dolphin's latest posting...

Back home with our scotches, waiting for the last year of the decade to dawn, my brothers-in-law and I considered how the Zeroes or the Oughts - or whatever this decade will be called - will be remembered. What will define it in people's memories? Probably terrorism and its offshoots: 9/11 and the aftermath, the War on Terror, Homeland Security, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan ... the Great Satan squaring off against the Lions of Islam.

It will doubtlessly be a more definable decade than the 1990s. None of us could figure out the defining characteristic of those final ten years of the 20th century. Most other decades seemed to have had vivid identities - the roaring Twenties, the Dirty Thirties, the wartime Forties, the prosperous, grey-flannel Fifties, the hippy-dippy Sixties, the Me-generation 1970s, the Greedy 1980s. But what were the 1990s? Grant suggested The Internet Decade, but then dismissed the idea because the Internet really didn't become commonplace until the current decade. Ditto cellphones. So although true that the digital communications revolution started in the 1990s, I don't think you can say it defined them. The final decade of the millennium should have something to define it. Maybe its lack of identity defines it. The Lost Decade? I welcome your thoughts.

As for the prospects going into 2009, your guess is as good as mine. The economic predictions are so dire it could happen that the recession helps define the decade, along with the terror stuff. Decade of  Woe?  Regarding the financial meltdown, there is a perverse part of me that says, Bring it on. Let's see what a real Depression is like. Give us the kind of privations with which to bore our grandkids that our grandparents bored us with. Hey, Ma, we cain't afford meat this month. Let's fry up the dawg...

To read more of Dolphin's blog, click here

Posted by Ric Dolphin on January 12, 2009 in Aboriginal Issues, American History, Canadian Politics, Current Affairs, Economic freedom, Humour, Media, Television, U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ron Paul interviewed on Russian TV: "We're broke and we can't afford this foreign policy"

US Congressman Ron Paul interviewed in the lobby of Congress by Russia Today's Dina Gusovsky on US foreign policy:

This was Ron Paul's first statement on Israel/Gaza where he explained why he thought that there was no benefit for the US to be involved in the conflict, here's a video of Paul speaking up in Congress in opposition to a pro-Israel resolution and a brief explanation of his preferred foreign policy of non-intervention.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 11, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (9)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Ron Paul in Congress on Israel Resolution: Blowback bites!

Ron Paul recounts a little history in his speech to Congress on House Resolution 34 Recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza, reaffirming the United States strong support for Israel, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process introduced by Nancy Pelosi and others.

Dr. No is, unsurprisingly, opposed to this and all such resolutions which pass judgment on conflicts in which the U.S. is not a party:

As Ron Paul sees it, there is no benefit for the U.S. to take sides in the Israeli-Gaza conflict. To understand why, a look at his brief piece of foreign policy advice to the incoming administration of Barack Obama is instructive on his preferred policy of non-intervention:

Our interventionist foreign policy stands ready to be put on a new course with the new administration. Unfortunately, it seems the new administration is likely to continue the mistakes of the past. I've often discussed interventionist foreign policy and the resulting blowback. The current administration's foreign policy, I'm afraid, has created a huge impetus for blowback against the United States. However, I truly believe much of the world stands ready to look beyond our nation's recent blunders if the new administration proves to be heading in a more reasonable direction.

Other nations around the world find our interference in their affairs condescending, and it is very dangerous for us. We may think we have much to gain by inserting ourselves in these complex situations, but on the contrary we suffer from many consequences. Other countries have their problems, to be sure. But how would we feel if China or Russia came to our soil and tried to depose our problematic leaders or correct our policies for us? Our problems are ours to solve, and we need to give other countries that respect as well. Instead, we have been turning alleged, phantom threats into real, actual threats.

We should follow the foreign policy advice of the Founders – friendship and commerce with all nations. One positive step would be to end our destructive embargo of Cuba, which deprives our farmers of a market just 90 miles from U.S. shores while strengthening the Communist regime. We've seen 50 years of statist restrictions not accomplish anything. A change is needed. Other countries should decide how to govern themselves. Even if we don't necessarily approve, it's none of our business. If other people foolishly choose to live under statist experimental regimes, they need to fail in their own right, and not have us as a scapegoat. We need to focus on our own affairs.

However, the pressures exerted on our leadership from the military-industrial complex and big business is not in favor of peace or freedom, or especially nonintervention. Intervention is big business. Defense contracts topped $300 billion last year, and total spending on war and our overseas empire is up to $1 trillion per year. That represents a lot of people earning a living off of war and conquest. But rather than adding to our economy, all of this money is taken from the economy in order to wage war and destruction. Imagine if those resources were put to creative, productive use here at home!

We need to rein in our overseas empire, as quickly as possible. We need to bring our troops home and get our economy back into the business of production, not destruction. The smartest thing we could do is admit we don't know all the answers to all the world's problems. If the new administration can take a closer look at real free trade and no entangling alliances, we would be much better off for it. Economically, we could save hundreds of billions of dollars each year! The new leadership has the opportunity and the political capital to do this. But unfortunately, it is not likely to happen.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 9, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (17)

Peter Schiff on U.S. Bond markets and his possible 2010 Senate campaign

I've been watching his commentary on CNBC panels since late 2006, but I still just can't get enough of Peter Schiff. Here he is on Canada's BNN sounding bearish about the state of the economy, U.S. bonds markets and fiscal stimulus plans:

Schiff's getting plenty of airtime here at the Shotgun Blog and all over the business channels because of his unrelenting warnings over the past few years of a coming US housing bubble collapse and financial crisis, but he's also attracting attention of another sort. Schiff, you may recall, was an economic advisor for Texas Congressman's Ron Paul's campaign for the Repubican presidential nomination. Although Paul did not fare very well in the primaries, he energized a large activist base and met with historically unprecedented levels of online fundraising.

Near the end of 2008, I contacted the team behind a sleek new website, Schiff2010.com which was trying to draft Peter Schiff to run as a Republican Senate candidate in 2010 in his home state of Connecticut. Connecticut's senior Senator Chris Dodd, chairman of the Banking Committee, has been recently implicated in a scandal involving receiving favourable rates from Countywide Financial and has also come under criticism his proclamations on the soundness of and Fannie and Freddie Mac and his status as the number one recipient of donations from the government-sponsored (now government owned) mortgage companies.

Chad Pearce, one of the Schiff2010.com grassroots website's organizers told me how the project to draft Schiff came about:

Last July, we spoke with Schiff at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas for quite awhile. During conversation, we asked him about running for office and "what would you do if a grassroots movement tried to get you in office?"  He said he would be interested and would respond positively if someone tried, and more or less, "at the very least I would take the publicity," implying that he would enjoy it even against extreme odds. We have also talked with people close to Peter at EuroPacific Capital (we are young investors) and they are very excited about the project. 

The website has been bouncing around the blogosphere and social networking sites like Digg, while adding new content and building up a mailing list. The "Peter Schiff for Senate 2010" facebook page now has about 500 supporters.

In the first of his Wednesday weekly radio broadcasts of the New Year, Schiff commented at length on the website and the committee behind it, saying that while he was not planning to run for Senate, he could be convinced and wouldn't rule it out. He wished the effort well in their organization and fundraising but expressed his doubts about the difficulties of running a successful campaign and the effectiveness of holding a seat in the US Senate:

I'm not running for anything, but apparently there's an effort to convince me to run or to draft me. They are trying to put together an organization and raise funds -- and they're hoping, in the field of dreams "if you build it they will come" -- and if they can create an organization and fund it that they might be able to convince me to run for Senate.

I have no idea whether or not I would make myself a candidate for Senate, even if they did put together an organization to raise some money, I don't know. But it's not a hundred percent that I wouldn't do it.

I don't even know if they could even be successful, I have no idea how much they could raise, or how much is needed to try to have a legitimate campaign for Senate. But the problem for me in deciding whether or not I wanted to run for Senate would be "what could I accomplish if I won?" Although I think winning would be a lot tougher than running -- but you know running -- anybody can run. But I don't know what I would be able to do as a Senator. I know Ron Paul is in Congress and hasn't been able to accomplish much as far as legislation; he's accomplished a lot recently, I think, with his campaign and his message has resonated with a lot of people, and I think that's great, particularly a lot of younger people, and I was surprised because you generally think that the young people are more left-leaning; the old expression was if you're not a socialist by the time you're 22, you don't have a heart and if you're not a conservative by the time you're 28, you don't have a head. But a lot of young people are gravitating to Ron Paul. I know myself [that] a lot of people on college campuses know who I am, and a lot of them know who I am because of my affiliation with Ron Paul. I know its more powerful as a Senator -- instead of being one out of four-hundred-and something, you're one out of a hundred -- but still, even if I had a Senate seat, I'm one percent of one half of the Congress. So what can you actually do?

I'm not trying to discourage this grassroots movement. I wish them well, you never know if they can organize and if they can raise some money. Worst case scenario if I don't run, maybe they can find a productive use for the money in other candidates who do run, but that's what's going on.

I had nothing to do with the website, I had no idea or intention to run for anything. My main goal is to build up my brokerage firm, EuroPacific Capital, and to spread the word of freedom and capitalism every avenue that I can, just as an American and a patriot, to get the word out -- and also as a businessman to try to promote my company and what I'm trying to do through my company, which is trying to protect the wealth and the savings of as many Americans who understand what's going on and who want to take actions to preserve their wealth before its gone.

UPDATE: Here's is a video clip with the audio of some of that response:

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 9, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Candidates for Republican National Committee Chair bash Bush and embrace the Ron Paul wing

Updated below the fold

In the discussion over the future of the Republican Party, there may yet be some hope for small-government conservatives and other advocates of free markets and limited government. Yesterday Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform group hosted a debate between the six candidates for chairman of the Republican National Party: incumbent chairman Mike Duncan, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Michigan state party chair Saul Anuzis, former Tennessee chair and Huckabeeite Chip Saltsman, South Carolina chair Katon Dawson and former Maryland Lieutenant Governor and Fox News contributor Michael Steele

It just makes plain strategic sense to repudiate aspects of the legacy George W. Bush, one of the most unpopular presidents in memory, and to embrace the leader of the most vibrant, activist and youthful wing (which just happens to contain the best fundraisers) of a party whose members are both shrinking in number and quickly aging. Nonetheless, for a party whose leadership has consistently defended and praised Bush's disastrous big-government agenda while deriding and excluding libertarian Congressman Ron Paul, the fact that every single candidate for RNC Chair seemed to sense these truths is an encouraging sign.

Here's how the candidates answered questions about the failings of the Bush administration and Ron Paul's presidential nomination campaign and Campaign for Liberty organization:

The Wall Street Journal's politics blog says that Ron Paul is finally getting his due; If that were really true we would hear a recognition of the ability of Ron Paul's constitutional platform to unite disparate conservatives and invite support from libertarians, the left and minority constituencies traditionally weak for the GOP as well as an acknowledgment that Paul, along amongst Republican figures, predicted and warned of the coming financial collapse, but Ron Paul and his supporters are being embraced for those things a party chairman should be most concerned with: their organizational power, enthusiasm, and willingness to part with their hard-earned moolah:

For much of the 2008 campaign, Texas lawmaker and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and his supporters served as a thorn in the side—or a punching bag—for the mainstream GOP establishment.

Yet today, the six men vying to run the Republican National Committee praised the grassroots enthusiasm Paul tapped into during his campaign—and discussed how they would like to capture that enthusiasm to expand the party’s appeal.

“Ron Paul certainly brought a whole new generation of voters and I think it’s important going forward that we recognize the strengths and the attributes of these individuals who are out there actively building the party and building a movement, a consensus if you will, on certain issues. We can’t look that in the eye and say ‘No, we don’t want that,’” said former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, adding that the RNC needs to find “creative ways” to work with candidates supported by Paul and his followers, and to work with Paul directly to that end.

“I think, at this stage at this party, everyone who can help us should be brought into the room to help us,” Steele said.

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson recalled memories of Paul’s supporters campaigning during his state’s early primary.

“I witnessed early on the Ron Paul army in South Carolina,” Dawson said, stressing the importance of building new coalitions. “I want people involved in my party that will hang off bridges and paint on their cars and make up t-shirts. There was a passion that I saw of those people for him and his ideas. Do we agree with all of them? No, but we are a party that has to embrace differences.”

Saul Anuzis, Michigan Republican Party Chairman, touted his outreach to Paul supporters, attending campaign functions and talking to supporters. “I think you treat [Paul supporters] like everybody else—if they want to be part of the Republican Party, if they want to participate, we have to welcome them in.”

Former Mike Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman recalled seeing the passion behind Paul’s operation on the ground while the two former rival campaigns shared office space in Iowa. (Saltsman also identified Paul, an obstetrician, as “Dr. Paul”—a key distinction among his supporters.) “Dr. Paul…he is a wonderful man with wonderful ideas,” Saltsman said, “Do we agree with him all the time? Absolutely not.”

Incumbent RNC Chairman Mike Duncan agreed the GOP has to broaden their appeal, and noted that he has met with Paul on two occasions. The key, Duncan said, was respect. “I personally have treated leaders of his campaign with respect, I’ve met with them. I personally treated his foot soldiers with respect whether it was at our convention in Kentucky or whether it was the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, St. Paul,” he said.

Only Ken Blackwell did not praise Paul by name, although he agreed with the overall sentiment of broadening the party’s base. “We are a federation that invites differences,” he said, “The RNC can no longer be a social club, it must be the flagship Republican organization in this nation.”

As for Paul, he spent Monday doing what he does best—railing against federal intervention and regulation of the free market during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the alleged $50 billion Ponzi schemes of Bernard Madoff.

“It’s not the fault of the individuals at the [Securites and Exchange Commission]. They have an impossible job and they have to pretend they’re doing something to feel relevant, the same way we do here, in the Congress. We have to feel relevant in this,” Paul said, “Instead of saying what we need is the market to work, we need to get rid of the bad policies, the monetary system, and this mountains of debt. We say, well, we’re relevant because we’re going to hire more bureaucrats and we’re going to appropriate more money that we don’t have and we’re going to solve all our problems.”

Watch the whole debate here at C-SPAN.

UPDATE: I'm not well known for giving politicians too much credit in the 'smarts' department, but that's Brian Doherty of Reason Magazine's take:

While Kassam frames it as if they are all smartly recognizing the potential importance of Ron's libertarian, anti-interventionist, anti-fiat money crew to the GOP, the quotes he presents sound a lot more hesitant and grudging than that to me--less "these Ron Paul people are a valuable part of our coalition and should be heeded" and more "we ought not utterly and firmly bar these strange and disturbing people from crossing our threshold, if they really, really wanna help us out."

Talk is cheap and this debate was part of a political campaign -- you know, those things where politicians pretend they're going to do stuff they never even intended to do. That, plus the fact that they haven't actually promised to do anything nor has there been any acceptance of the value of Paul's libertarian ideas, should blunt any blind optimism. Even so, almost anything is better for Ron Paul than being snickered at during the debates by Giuliani, Romney and McCain, being excluded from a Fox News presidential forum without protest from the RNC and not being properly seated and credentialed for the party convention.

I should also mention that the Ron Paul question was asked as the result of a well organized effort, or "internet coup" in the words of AOL News, on the part of activists organized through the Campaign for Liberty and other websites.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 6, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (8)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

U.S. Libertarian Party comes out against Prop. 8

The federal Libertarian Party in the United States recently came out against Proposition 8, an amendment to California's state constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriage.

Andrew Davis, the LP's director of communications, posted on the party's official blog:

Proposition 8 represents the ultimate failure in direct democracy and majority rule—when the people vote against more freedom, rather than for more freedom.
As far as California goes, the people have spoken, even if it's not what some wanted to hear. So long as people are allowed to put referendums on the ballot, there will be times when the majority wins at the cost of minority rights. Does it make it right? Of course not, but that is the risk one takes when transferring direct power from the legislature back to the citizens.


Posted by Terrence Watson on January 4, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (20)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Your awesome Obama photo of the day

If you haven't heard it by now, Time picked U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama as its 2008 Person of the Year.

Accompanying the article in Time are several great photos of the man, but I like the one Drudge put up better:


Cigarette or joint?  What do you think?

UPDATE: My mistake. This was one of the photos Time included in its coverage. It just happens to be the one Drudge felt the need to highlight.

I kind of hope it is a joint, but it's probably not.

Some at the Western Standard still think this guy should have been picked as Person of the Year.

Posted by Terrence Watson on December 17, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 11, 2008

(Video) Ron Paul in Congress: "Eight trillion dollar bailout: on the road to nationalization without a wimper"

Congressman Ron Paul from Texas gets an interesting introduction before beginning this four-minute speech during the House of Representatives' debate on the auto bailout Wednesday night.

Ron Paul is explaining what many people only realize superficially: that the auto bailout, under which the President would have control over the business decisions of the Big 3 through a "car czar," amounts to nationalization.

Thought they tiptoe around the term, the folks on CNN and CNBC know it too and occasionally have to confront their rationalizations of Soviet-style central planning economics whenever an outspoken guest calls a spade a spade.

I'm glad that some Republican Senators and Fox News conservatives have been shaken awake after they rolled over for Henry Paulsen and George W. Bush's previous bailout billions. Matt Drudge is neither shy nor subtle; he postered the word "NATIONALIZATION" across the top of the Drudge Report on Tuesday when new details emerged about the proposed auto bailout.

In case anyone is trying to keep track of the magnitude of the 2008 bailouts to-date, the pie-chart highlighted by Shotgun blogger Omar Abu Hatem is illustrative (click for full size):


While some in the Grand Ol' Party have been making noise and a handful of Senators have proposed to filibuster a vote on the auto bailout, the latest news from Washington is that Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker is close to reaching a compromise deal for a $14-billion auto bailout with Senate Democrats which "would overwhelmingly pass" the chamber.

It's clear that Obama is dead set on bringing about a new era of even bigger spending and a possible "New New Deal," and all of this in an era of what Justin Raimondo is aptly calling the new "plutocratic socialism." Now that John McCain the pinko Republican is no longer the spokesman for the party, the remaining question is whether the opposition Republican Party will be obstructionists of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi Democratic agenda or repeat the mistakes of the past eight years and continue to be willing dupes to yet another big government presidency.

If the US government continues as they have, bailing out firms and sectors which are deemed "too big" or "too important" to fail, not only will this provide no lasting solution to unemployment and other economic problems and risk complete economic and currency collapse, but the US economy will be transformed into something completely contrary to the American ideal of free enterprise.

Update: Ding-dong the witch is dead! At least for now. Reuters reports:

WASHINGTON  - The U.S. Senate failed on Thursday night to reach a last-ditch compromise to bail out automakers, effectively killing any chance of congressional action this year.

The $14 billion legislation officially died in the Senate late on Thursday after supporters failed to get enough support in a procedural vote.

Republican-brokered talks faltered, leaving the chamber at a dead end on an approach for extending $14 billion in loans to avert a threatened collapse of one or more automakers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in remarks on the floor.

"It's over with," Reid said.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on December 11, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Randy Marsh effect is starting

After the US election I wrote about the Randy Marsh effect. The good people at Politico are already starting to feel it. People believed that Obama was going to bring about a revolution. There was serious feeling that he was going to part the skies and bring Jerusalem to this our green and pleasant land. I for one have never heard of a revolution where the most passionate stalwarts ended up happy with the results.

(I originally saw the link to Politico at Celestial Junk)

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on December 8, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

(Video) Ron Paul interviewed by Russia Today: Democrats and Republicans represent Big Business and foreign interventionism

Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul had a good interview with Dina Gusovsky of Russia Today on the relationship between US economic and foreign policy:

(h/t Shotgun blogger Omar Abu Hatem)

Posted by Kalim Kassam on December 3, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 27, 2008

More from Alan Keyes on his Obama citizenship suit

On November 14th, Matthew Johnston reported that Alan Keyes, who opposed Barack Obama as the Republican nominee in the 2004 Illinois Senate Race and in 2008 as the presidential nominee of America's Independent Party (a splinter party formed primarily by the California affilliate of the Constitution Party after Keyes lost the party's nomination to Chuck Baldwin) "filed suit in California Superior Court in Sacramento seeking to stop Secretary of State Debra Bowen from certifying the election results until proof is produced and verified showing that Senator Obama is a “natural born” citizen of the United States, and does not hold citizenship of Indonesia, Kenya or Great Britain."

In an interview with the African-American women's magazine Essence, Keyes explains why he feels questions about Obama's citizenship have not been adequately addressed and why he thinks it necessary to pursue the suit:

ESSENCE.COM: What exactly do you want to accomplish with this lawsuit?
ALAN KEYES: I had read a little bit about the issues that were being raised about Obama back during the primary season. At first I thought, like a lot of people, "There's nothing to this. It's just a matter of fact. You can establish what the facts are." The Constitution specifies that a citizen who is naturalized, rather than born into the status of being an American citizen, cannot be president. That was done in the beginning because people feared a foreign takeover of the United States government by the process of immigration. Staid as it is, we again are in a situation where a lot of foreign entities have influence or control over U.S. policy.

The reason an issue has been raised about Obama is because of the simple question, which can be answered with a birth certificate that shows he was born in the United States, or born to parents who had the capacity to transmit U.S. citizenship. When the question was asked, he danced around it. If the most important office of the federal government can be occupied by someone who is not qualified under the United States Constitution, that destroys the authority of the Constitution. I think it's something that needs to be dealt with in a clear, straightforward way. Eventually the case will get to the Supreme Court, establish the facts, and clear the air. It's really all very simple. [...]

ESSENCE.COM: To a lot of people, your lawsuit looks like a case of sour grapes because you lost. Your response?
I think politics is irrelevant to this, actually. I don't see how it is showing fondness for Barack Obama to let him enter into office with a question that could be raised. He should not have to operate under that burden. I think the officials need to clear the air for his sake. From my point of view, it is a bad idea to have a president of the United States enter office with a cloud hanging over his head, where every time he tries to do something, he would end up frittering away time because of that objection. So let's get it over with. Let's resolve it and move forward with a clear an undisturbed mandate for the new president.

Read the rest.

In an article for the Western Standard, Mark Steyn called Keyes "the magnificently conservative African-American speechifier;" for a lively battle between two brilliant orators, take a look at some video from a 2004 debate between Barack Obama and Alan Keyes after the break:

Opening statements:

On race:

On Christianity:

On homosexuality:

On abortion and the death penalty:

Posted by Kalim Kassam on November 27, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Bush legacy: the end of economic liberty

In a quotation found in the column “Atlas Blinked” by David Weigel of Reason Magazine, Competitive Enterprise Institute president Fred Smith talks about the real Bush legacy in light of the $700 billion bailout and other interventionist responses to the current financial crisis:

"This does ensure that President Bush will have a legacy," laughed Competitive Enterprise Institute president Fred Smith after that Americans for Tax Reform meeting. "It's a legacy that will set back the concept of economic liberty by a century. The free market, for all intents and purposes, is dead in America."

Weigel has written an excellent column of the failure of conservative Republicans to stop the biggest corporate bailout in American history. You can read it here.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on November 22, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday, November 21, 2008

Kathleen Parker to GOP: Get rid of the "oogedy-boogedy"

Kathleen Parker was one of the first conservative pundits to turn against Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin (she counsels Palin to drop out here.) This didn't really endear her to the other conservatives.

Her recent column in the Washington Post might get her excommunicated.

The title: "Giving Up on God."

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.


Michelle Malkin's response to Parker's column was concise: "Don't feed the troll. It is an abject waste of time, energy, and capital to do otherwise." At National Review's Corner blog, Jonah Goldberg pleaded with Parker:

Please stop bragging about how courageous you are for weathering a storm of nasty email you invite on yourself by dancing to a liberal tune. You aren't special for getting nasty email, from the right or the left. You aren't a martyr smoking your last cigarette. You're just another columnist, talented and charming to be sure, but just another columnist. You are not Joan of the Op-Ed Page.


Parker's claim is basically that, as long as the Republicans cater to the religious right, they're going to lose the support they need to get from other groups. The three legged stool has turned into a choir that is "absurdly off-key."

Even shorter: the oogedy-boogedy wing of the Republican party is scaring off everyone else.

Strangely enough, the Economist recently published a piece with a similar theme. If anything, the article in the Economist is even harsher than Parker's.

The GOP, according to the article, has willingly, even gleefully, become the "stupid party." In the past, the party was able to unite "brawn"  -- the working class, I think -- with the "brains" of people like William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman, and so on (these are my examples of conservative intellectuals, or those usually perceived to be such.)

Now, unfortunately:

Conservative brawn has lost patience with brains of all kinds, conservative or liberal. Many conservatives—particularly lower-income ones—are consumed with elemental fury about everything from immigration to liberal do-gooders. They take their opinions from talk-radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and the deeply unsubtle Sean Hannity. And they regard Mrs Palin’s apparent ignorance not as a problem but as a badge of honour.

I told you the Economist piece was harsher than Kathleen Parker's column.

Okay, so here's one piece of good news: assume that the economic policies of an Obama administration and an overwhelming Democratic Congress fail in spectacular fashion. This is what most of us are predicting anyway, right?

But we do need to keep track. Force the Democrats to offer clear benchmarks for success. When the whole thing blows up in their faces, people should get the message.

They'll turn back to the free market. Eventually. Will they also reverse course on gay marriage and other social issues, becoming more conservative? Maybe not. Probably not. Why would they?

So what do you call a socially liberal person who favors free market solutions over big government?

Why yes, indeed, there is a name for such a person:


Or people could just decide they like welfare statism. That wouldn't surprise me, either.

Posted by Terrence Watson on November 21, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ron Paul interviewed in the New York Times

Ron_paul_profile_2 The folks at the New York Times are pretty smart. Like us, they know how to milk Ron Paul traffic (if you're wondering, it's not that difficult. You simply mention Ron Paul and streams of liberty-lovers flood your website).

That's why Stephen Dubner, co-author of the bestselling pop economics book Freakonomics, solicited questions for an interview of Ron Paul two weeks ago at his Times blog of the same name. That's also why he waited one week before releasing the first part of the interview, and another week before releasing part two today.

The entire interview (both parts) is worth reading and full of interesting questions and answers, but my favourite was Paul's balanced and sensible answer about global warming:

Q: Do you deny global warming? Is Obama right to invest money in green technology? If you don’t deny it, and don’t think Obama is right, what is your solution?

A: I try to look at global warming the same way I look at all other serious issues: as objectively and open-minded as possible. There is clear evidence that the temperatures in some parts of the globe are rising, but temperatures are cooling in other parts. The average surface temperature had risen for several decades, but it fell back substantially in the past few years.

Clearly there is something afoot. The question is: Is the upward fluctuation in temperature man-made or part of a natural phenomenon. Geological records indicate that in the 12th century, Earth experienced a warming period during which Greenland was literally green and served as rich farmland for Nordic peoples. There was then a mini ice age, the polar ice caps grew, and the once-thriving population of Greenland was virtually wiped out.

It is clear that the earth experiences natural cycles in temperature. However, science shows that human activity probably does play a role in stimulating the current fluctuations.

The question is: how much? Rather than taking a “sky is falling” approach, I think there are common-sense steps we can take to cut emissions and preserve our environment. I am, after all, a conservative and seek to conserve not just American traditions and our Constitution, but our natural resources as well.

We should start by ending subsidies for oil companies. And we should never, ever go to war to protect our perceived oil interests. If oil were allowed to rise to its natural price, there would be tremendous market incentives to find alternate sources of energy. At the same time, I can’t support government “investment” in alternative sources either, for this is not investment at all.

Government cannot invest, it can only redistribute resources. Just look at the mess government created with ethanol. Congress decided that we needed more biofuels, and the best choice was ethanol from corn. So we subsidized corn farmers at the expense of others, and investment in other types of renewables was crowded out.

Now it turns out that corn ethanol is inefficient, and it actually takes more energy to produce the fuel than you get when you burn it. The most efficient ethanol may come from hemp, but hemp production is illegal and there has been little progress on hemp ethanol. And on top of that, corn is now going into our gas tanks instead of onto our tables or feeding our livestock or dairy cows; so food prices have been driven up. This is what happens when we allow government to make choices instead of the market; I hope we avoid those mistakes moving forward.

Read the rest.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on November 20, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen threatened martial law if bailout bill was not passed

Remember when Congressman Brad Sherman of California gave a speech on the House Floor claiming that "a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no" on the $700 billion bailout bill as first proposed? The revelation was shocking, and the video of the speech quickly shot around the web.

Now Jim Inhofe, a Senator from Oklahoma (and one of that body's most conservative members) in an interview on Tulsa 1170 KFAQ points to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen as the source of the threats about an economic collapse, civil unrest, and the imposition of martial law if the bailout bill was not passed quickly.

Pat Campbell: “Somebody in D.C. was feeding you guys quite a story prior to the bailout, a story that if we didn’t do this we were going to see something on the scale of the Depression, there were people that were talking about martial law being instituted, civil unrest….who was feeding you guys this stuff? Because clearly it worked on [Oklahoma Congressman John] Sullivan, clearly it worked on [Oklahoma Senator Tom] Coburn, it didn't work on you.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe: “That was Henry Paulson. We had a conference call early on, it was on a Friday I think -- a week and half before the vote on Oct. 1. So it would have been the middle … what was it -- the 19th of September, we had a conference call. In this conference call -- and I guess there’s no reason for me not to repeat what he said, but he painted this picture you just described. He said, ‘This is serious. This is the most serious thing that we faced. This is going to be far worse than the Great Depression in the 30s' -- and all these things, he was very descriptive -- if we didn't buy out these toxic assets, which he abandoned the day after he got the money.”

Here's a short audio clip from the conversation:

Posted by Kalim Kassam on November 20, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jeff Flake, the lone man in the room

This is well said by Rep. Jeff Flake, who is one of the few fighters for fiscal responsibility in the US Congress. I like this video for the imagery as much as anything else. The reasonable man talking to an apparently nearly empty room. The few that are there are not paying attention.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on November 13, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama: as bad as I thought

We've heard a lot about Obama's plan to sweep into office and reverse everything. Some of his proposals I full heartily support. Such as ending the ban on stem-cell research. There is one thing, however, that is driving me crazy.

(From the Globe & Mail)

Already, talk on the Hill is that any new stimulus package, originally slated to come in at around $100-billion, could instead reach $300-billion or even $500-billion, focusing on unemployment relief, infrastructure spending and help for the auto industry.

I look at this and think to myself, what about the deficit? Then John Ibbitson was kind enough to reply;

After all, once your deficit tops $1-trillion, you might as well just keep going.

I'd like to think that this was sarcasm, but given the tone of the rest of the piece I doubt it. Canada has an economy of $1.5 -trillion. It is now not unreasonable to think that the United States could have a deficit the size of Canada's economy. I marvel that they don't see the danger of this.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on November 11, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Iowahawk on Obama

Humorous/serious take on recent developments south of the border:

Although I have not always been the most outspoken advocate of President-Elect Barack Obama, today I would like to congratulate him and add my voice to the millions of fellow citizens who are celebrating his historic and frightening election victory. I don't care whether you are a conservative or a liberal -- when you saw this inspiring young African-American rise to our nation's highest office I hope you felt the same sense of patriotic pride that I experienced, no matter how hard you were hyperventilating with deep existential dread.

Read the rest here

Posted by Craig Yirush on November 11, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, November 08, 2008

An Election Day meditation

My alter ego wrote this on the morning of the election for an excellent Christian blog called The Crux . It was written in response to all the fear and anxiety over what the new president elect would or would not do. Here are some highlights (you can read the entire post here):

As I write this, people are voting. Every major news organization seems to have the good sense to avoid equating exit polling with delegate predictions. Barring a nightmare like 2000, when you read this, we will have a new president-elect. I don’t know who it will be. I dumped my tea leaves in the trash along with my enormous pile of election mail. I’ve already voted. And like a lot of people I didn’t like my choices. I however did not vote for the lesser of two evils. Somehow I’m just not sure that’s what Jesus would do. I also don’t think this election is any more spiritually important than the last election.

They are all spiritually important. . .

What I do find interesting is the political landscape for Christians in the 21st century looks remarkably like the political landscape of first century Jews. I’ve been reading a cutting-edge commentary on Church and State . . . from 1956. Oscar Cullman writes about Jesus’ navigation of the political landscape of the 1st century in The State and the New Testament.

Cullman vividly describes the political landscape Jesus walked into. There were two major parties and everyone was concerned about religion and politics. There was tremendous pressure for Jesus to identify with one of these parties. The Pro-Roman Sadducees questioned him about the resurrection. The Anti-Roman Pharisees questioned him about what taxes belong to the State. And Cullman notes with irony that Jesus was sentenced by a Pro-Roman mob as an Anti-Roman Zealot. Yet as Cullman notes:

Jesus and the emergent Christianity never joined in this unreserved submission to the Roman State

or the fervor of the Zealots. The “emergent” is my emphasis I couldn’t resist the emphasis on the emergent Christianity resisting reliance on the state for well . . . anything. Oh that the new emergers would be as wary!

Jesus neither favors nor fears either party or the Roman State that would kill him. He pals with Zealots and Pro-Roman tax collectors. And he chastises both. In Luke 22:25, Jesus uses a little SNL style satire to describe the rulers and powers that be. He says, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves benefactors."

You see they called themselves benefactors on the coins of the realm that they confiscated at the point of a spear. Now that’s irony. Jesus stubbornly refuses to be pigeon-holed, type-cast, or stereotyped. And he endorsed no one. He wasn’t a community organizer. . . .

He didn’t register voters, he trained disciples. He didn’t protest the lack of government aid, he fed 5,000 people. He didn’t demand universal health care, he healed the sick. He didn’t rail about a woman’s right to choose, he just warned us it’s better to wear a millstone as a flotation device than harm one of his little ones. And in the centuries following his departure, his disciples were bringing home and raising abandoned babies (their solution to infanticide), founding hospitals and freeing slaves with their own money, often at the expense of their status, as well as their income, and in some cases their lives. . . .

I just can’t imagine Jesus having any anxiety whatsoever at the turning of some political appointment. I can’t see him crying over the new Roman governor that was appointed or biting his nails over a super-majority in the Roman Senate . . . Prophesying and denouncing the evils of the world, yes. Thinking that any part of the solution involved some magic ruler keeping Jesus’ seat warm till he and the father decide to rule themselves–not so much.

So after reading Cullman, I’ve been trying to think about what’s our role as Christians in the new regime. My first inclination is to recall the words of the Who from their cynical masterpiece, “We Don’t Get Fooled Again” which, if you haven’t heard it, is one the many opening themes for the C.S.I franchise.

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

I’m trying to think of what the Christian equivalent is of “pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday” The line connotes going on about one’s life in freedom. I think implied in the image is “Thank goodness I can still get on my guitar and play–even with all this change” Who knows what would happen if “they” came for the guitars as well?

So the question is what is the Christian analog to “pick up my guitar and play”? For the most part, I will leave that to readers who can comment. But I will say this, I got up this morning. I prayed for the same things I did yesterday: my son Wesley to grow in virtue and wisdom, My wife to have wisdom and patience raising the toddling giggle monster, and for myself to trust God today just like yesterday. Actually more than yesterday since my trust this week has stunk worse than Ben Affleck doing Hamlet.

What would Jesus do? He would go about his father’s business. That’s what we should do. And as for getting on my knees and praying? Tonight as I go to bed long before I know who won this little exercise of democracy, I will pray that the new regime protects our freedom to do what Jesus commanded us to do...

Posted by Jay Lafayette on November 8, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Randy Marsh Effect

I can see it happening already. The supporters of John McCain are coming out of their bunkers and wondering if they overreacted. Perhaps Obama will not be the end of American society. He could do alright after all.

At the same time a citizen of small town Colorado is waking up to the worst hangover of his life. He realizes that someone has stolen his television. Then his son tells him that his boss called. Randy Marsh is fired. 

Mr. Marsh comes to a realization. Maybe it does not matter so much who the President is. Maybe no one can make the world a better place the way he thought that Mr. Obama could. Perhaps reality is simply too much for Mr. Marsh. In his disappointment he turns on Mr. Obama.

Eventually most people in America, and throughout the world, will wake up and do as Randy Marsh has done. The expectations that people have are much too high. If history has proven anything, the world sometimes gets a little better and sometimes gets a little worse. But the world never changes.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on November 8, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Good News

Well, the good news is as follows:

1) The economic mess is pretty serious, and Obama is already getting terrible advice.  It was going to be hard for whoever won this year to win in 2012, I think that even the sycophantic and slavish media won't be able to cover for Obama for that long.  See Massachusetts, 2006-2007.

2) We've got some scandals waiting for us.  I think we'll get another whack at Rezko.  There's some interesting stuff to come out about how Obama financed his campaign.  Also, if you've really studied Obama, you'll notice that his wife is a vain, jealous, and acquisitive woman. There's no way that she doesn't cause trouble down the line.

3) Iraq is won, at this point in time.  We won the war there - or, rather, George Bush and General Petraeus won the war there against all of the efforts of the Democrats to force a surrender.  Obama won't be able to surrender in Afghanistan, given his commitments and a need to appear "strong."  I also enjoy that Obama is pretty much stuck letting a Republican General become the victor in not one, but two, major wars.  But more on that in a moment.

4) It looks like the Republicans will end up, depending on what the Democrats can steal, with something like forty-two to forty-three seats in the Senate.  That'll be enough to hold the line on some things.  At the very least, I think that can inflict an early defeat by stopping card-check unionization from going through.  I think that they should wage an epic "No New Taxes" battle against Obama - but I don't know if some of the weak sister Republican Senators will have the guts to go through with that.  Of course, at the same time, some of those Democratic Senators in Red States might have pressure put on them.

5) Universal Health Care is already a dead letter.  A blessing of the financial crisis.  There's no way it, or anything resembling it, can be paid for at this point in time - not without massive tax increases that would force a larger number of Democratic Congressmen to join with the GOP for the sake of their own preservation. 

6) The Democrats are going to overreach.  They can't help themselves. I haven't decided where, yet.  There are two obvious options - if they go for the Fairness Doctrine, they'll absolutely unify and enrage the right.  There's another, perhaps more dangerous one - they might try to prosecute Bush Administration officials for imagined "crimes" relating to the War on Terror (more on that as well, in a moment).

7) The 2010 Senate outlook is, at this moment, very favourable to the GOP.  Look up and down the list of Democratic seats up in 2004 - and there's not a single one that they cannot, with the right candidate, take a serious run at.  Think of the "Dream Team" of challengers that could be lined up: Gov, Rell in CT, Huckabee in AR, Schwarzenegger in CA, Bill Owens or John Elway in CO, Gov. Lingle in HI, Mark Kirk in IL, Michael Steele in MD, Gov. Hoeven in ND, Gov. Guinn in NV, Rudy Giuliani in NY, Senator Smith in OR, Jim Douglas in VT, Dino Rossi in WA, and Paul Ryan in WI.

Credibly, with the money and the right candidate recruitment - there are people in place who could make a credible run at every single Democratic Senate seat.  We wouldn't win all of them, of course, but we could make the fight on their ground.

That means the right man at the RNC - who, personally, I think is Newt Gingrich.

8) The Presidential field is also very strong for the GOP in 2012.  As I've stated elsewhere, my first choice is General Pertaeus - as a historic rule Generals who are identified as war-winners get to be President.  But there are other good options - Sarah Palin, with the right management, could make a credible run.  If we follow the rule that "the runner-up last time is the nominee the next", which has mostly held true for the GOP in the last few decades, then we have to take another look at Huckabee and Romney.

There are also a host of strong, conservative, reformist Governors who could well be Presidential material - Bobby Jindal, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, and Mark Sanford all immediately come to mind.  Though, personally, I don't think that Jindal's time is in 2012.  His problem is simple enough - if Obama is popular, then he'll be seen as a Republican imitation.  If he's unpopular, then a lot of people will look at him and wonder about his own capability.

And there's another name we shouldn't forget, given the schizophrenic nature of the American people.  Suppose the economy gets worse and things go disastrously abroad and the American people swing wildly in the opposite direction again.  Well, there's one guy who can let them do exactly that - former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Of course, there's still some bad news out there.

1) The best hope that we have for the economy is that the GOP Senate stymies Obama's most odious measures (tax hikes, universal health care, etc) and that he loses focus and ends up devoting time to pointless liberal pieties (the environment, poverty, etc, etc.).  There's no chance, for at least four years, of the kind of serious regulatory and fiscal reform that's required.  And, in the long term, that really is a serious loss - since year after year as the Baby Boomers age and retire we draw closer to financial armageddon.

2) There's a smaller but real chance that Obama will be able to do something beyond stupid and convert recession into depression.  In that category, I would include any large tax increase, anything that throws up new major trade barriers, and anything Kyoto-like.  I'm pretty confident that the GOP will be able to hold the line against that sort of nonsense.  But there are no guarantees in life.

3) Obama's election makes another major terrorist attack pretty much a certainty.  The reason for this is simple enough - Obama is going to end up staffing the DOJ, DHS, and DOD with ACLU-type liberal lawyers who are going to obstruct necessary measures to combat terror, such as various surveillance programs and a thousand little black ops that we know nothing about.  One of the key insights of the counter-terror strategy of the Bush years has been to realize that al-Qaeda insists on mounting large-scale, dispersed, and spectacular operations - operations which can be best disrupted through dispersed efforts against the various elements of the organization.

Obviously, this will be bad for many people - most of all the people who are going to be killed when the attack or attacks that Obama's incompetence brings on.  Will it be bad for the people who opposed that man from the beginning?  Well, I suppose that's another - and an entirely inappropriate - question.

4) A lot of people are going to lose their freedom during the Obama years.  I'd expect, at a minimum, we're looking at the loss of Ukraine and Georgia to the Russians.  Probably more.  If I were the Chinese, especially since they're facing increased domestic dissension with the economic crisis, I'd take the once-in-a-lifetime chance of having a cowardly weakling in the White House and grab, at a minimum, Taiwan. And if I were the rest of Asia, I'd be watching my back as well - the Chinese leadership is riding a dragon at this point.

Of course, I'd add, that this is kind of a good news/bad news thing. While I'd hate to see Ukraine and other places fall and their people be enslaved under foreign tyranny, I also have to admit - as someone whose first published work was about what the war on Central Europe might have been like if the Cold War had gone hot - it wouldn't exactly break my heart to see the Cold War come back.  Any excuse for new fleets of Aircraft Carriers, new Tank Divisions, and new long-range bombers would be something of a happy occasion for me.

There's also the vexing question of a nuclear Iran.  Well, I'll get to that one in a moment.

Remember, there are still two and a half months of the Bush Administration left.  That's time that can be put to good use.

Let's get real.  We know a lot about the character of Barack Hussein Obama.  He's not a strong man.  He has never shown any temperamental inclination towards courage over timidity.  The greatest thing he's ever done in his life is to barely win a Presidential election with the entire media on his side against a guy saddled with a President with 25% approval ratings in the midst of the greatest financial crisis in decades.  We have no reason to trust him - President Affirmative Action is a creation of a toxic combination of media bias and white liberal guilt.  We should expect him to prove to be as shallow, race-baiting, and useless as he was during his own campaign.

So, while George Bush has time, he should do what he can to limit the damage that he can do.

First of all, we need to take out Iran's nukes.  If the Israelis are willing to do it, fine.  If not, then the United States has to act. Indeed, it should probably be the United States that does it since the United States has more and better weapons than the Israelis do.  Many of those bunkers are buried quite deeply, after all.  As well, there's another obvious point that people have missed - the weak line in this, like any enterprise, is human rather than material.  The main objective of the assault against Iran should be to kill as many of the scientists and engineers who are working on the program as is humanly possible. Getting the home addresses of a bunch of mid-level scientists and technicians shouldn't be a particularly difficult intelligence task.

The second thing that President Bush ought to do - indeed, I think he really owes it to the people who served him that he does - is to issue a wide range of pardons for people who have been involved in the conduct of the War on Terror.  While I don't quite think that the more responsible elements of the left are deranged enough to go after the senior people in the Administration, I can very clearly see that there's a real possibility that they might go after people like John Yoo and others in relation to "torture" and other such nonsense.  The President should spare these people the possibility of any sort of trial or other legal ordeal by granting a blanket pardon with regard to "crimes" allegedly committed during the War on Terror.

I would note further that the President doesn't even have to do this publicly.   The Constitution provides no limits on the Presidential power to issue pardons and requires no particular form no nor no formal process of notification.  Before he leaves office, the President can simply have a series of pardons signed and witnessed and then hidden away somewhere (perhaps better of have multiple copies in multiple locations).  Then, if the circumstances ever require them, they can be produced.

Well, there we go.

Posted by Adam T. Yoshida on November 7, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 06, 2008

(Video) Ron Paul on the Obama Presidency and the future of the GOP

Posted by Kalim Kassam on November 6, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack