Archive for February 2010
Glenn Greenwald is definitely one of the most indispensable commentators around when it comes to exposing horrible atrocities carried out by the United States government. I have always been impressed by his ability to see through partisan politics and call out democrats and republicans alike in areas dealing with the most important of civil liberties. However, I was even more impressed with his insight in one of his more recent articles, The GOP’s “Small Government” Tea-Party Fraud.
In it, Greenwald, once again, exposes the GOP for its latest attempt at deception in order to gain power. I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider Greenwald was the man who saw through every national security lie that sprang forth from the GOP’s mouth during the Bush years. However, Greenwald expresses a clear understanding of what the GOP is up to:
There’s a major political fraud underway: the GOP is once again donning their libertarian, limited-government masks in order to re-invent itself and, more important, to co-opt the energy and passion of the Ron-Paul-faction that spawned and sustains the ”tea party” movement. The Party that spat contempt at Paul during the Bush years and was diametrically opposed to most of his platform now pretends to share his views. Standard-issue Republicans and Ron Paul libertarians are as incompatible as two factions can be…
Right-wing mavens like Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin and National Review are suddenly feigning great respect for Ron Paul and like-minded activists because they’re eager that the sham will be maintained: the blatant sham that the modern GOP and its movement conservatives are a coherent vehicle for those who believe in small government principles.
I’m sure we’re all aware of this, but I thought Greenwald did a great job of putting it into words.
By: James Robertson
President Obama’s summit on health care reform today marks an unprecedented move by the administration to offer Republicans a final say on proposed health care legislation before it is inevitably forced through a divided Congress. While Obama claims that the summit represents a move by Democrats to “reach out” to Republican opposition and allow them to reconcile their differences with the reforms, the meeting more obviously represents a last-ditch effort on the part of the administration to ensure that their top domestic priority doesn’t die on Capitol Hill. Such a failure would undoubtedly cripple the public’s faith in the current administration and significantly reduce its ability to govern. Of greater importance, though, is not the success of health care reform for the sake of this administration, but the success (or failure) of this summit for the sake of policymaking in the American republic.
The founders established democracy in the America by vesting the main legislative power in a national congress. The bicameral design of the U.S. Congress evolved to ensure equal representation of individuals and states in the policymaking process. Today, the Congress finds itself plagued with a mountain of debt and deeply divided along partisan lines, seemingly incapable of addressing public concerns or accomplishing much of anything at all. While not advertised as such, Obama’s summit represents an executive effort to counter the legislature’s ineptitude by removing the policy discussion from the halls of Congress itself to an executive suite in the Blair House, right across the way from the Oval Office.
This summit carries with it the message of hope that pervaded Obama’s campaign for the presidency; a sentiment that has been called into question recently due to the stalling of health care reform. The President clearly seeks to portray the message that, although the legislature as a whole has proven itself unable to deal with the issue, he is willing to take matters into his own hands and force Congressional leaders from both parties to hammer out a proposal, compromised or otherwise. While this move might appear noble and altruistic on the President’s part, its inherent disregard of Constitutional structure poses some dangerous implications for the future of democracy in America.
The U.S. Constitution establishes Congress in Article 1, then moves on to lay out Executive powers in Article 2. This order was not coincidental. The Founders recognized the danger of an over-powerful executive and, for that reason, gave the Executive few explicit duties and left policymaking to Congress. In Constitutional debates, James Madison was quick to note the dangers of a ruling majority. The presidential veto, the bill of rights, and the senate filibuster rule are just a few safeguards that protect Americans from the tyranny of a malevolent majority. Moving policymaking outside of the Congress and into the realm of the executive ignores this structure, bypassing these protections and perilously endangering liberty.
Many will note that Presidents have long involved themselves in the formulation of American policies. The increasing use of Presidential signing statements most clearly reflects a Presidential attempt at policymaking. These informal declarations have become the President’s way of directing, or in some cases limiting, Congress’ actions. Also, legislators judge Presidential proposals on different merits due to their possible political ramifications. However, removing debate on an issue from the floor of the Congress itself and into an executive conference room adjacent to the White House lawn not only symbolizes more executive interference, but very clearly increases Executive influence over the crafting of domestic policies.
This problem, like most facing America today, could easily be resolved by simply obeying the Constitution. Failure to recognize and abide by Constitutional guidelines led Congress to subsidize and socialize American industries while sustaining a Cold War-era empirical foreign presence, both of which contributed to the current debt of astronomical proportions. Exceeding their Constitutional boundaries allowed Congress to act in ways that immediately benefited many Americans and bought them some good will in the short run. Ultimately, though, by ignoring their Constitutional mandate, Congress damaged this brilliant structure of American government and led us to the broken system we have today. The answer to this problem lies not in an Executive takeover of the legislature, but rather in a return to the rule of law and a government that acts within the limited structure set forth by the Constitution.
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RealClearPolitics posted an article this morning pointing out how recent court decisions have upheld libertarian values in the areas of campaign finance, gun control, climate change legistlation, and drug policy. These judicial victories coupled with Rep. Ron Paul’s, R-Texas, straw poll victory at CPAC offer a hopeful future for liberty in American politics. Below is an excerpt from the article; follow the accompanying link to read more.
“The last several years have not been easy for libertarians to stomach. The U.S. government, which had bloated under President George W. Bush and a Republican Congress – the annual budget had climbed from $2 to $3 trillion under Bush and that didn’t count much off-budget military spending – has grown even more under President Barack Obama and his Democrats.
The U.S. now has nationalized industries, out-of-control deficits, and a looming entitlement crunch to deal with. And that’s before we factor in Obama’s calls for even more stimulus and new programs. America, the joke goes, doesn’t have the change to afford hope any more. So why are so many libertarians smiling?”
Read the full article here.
By: James Robertson
The recent “Tea Party” phenomenon has exploded in the mainstream media, heralded by some as a rebirth of the Republican Party and vilified by others as an outlet for lunatics. While the significance of the movement has yet to be determined, it has certainly increased awareness of certain political values. Among them are limited government, personal liberty, and most importantly, adherence to the Constitution. While Tea Partiers and Republicans both like to pepper their speeches with these buzzwords, their voting records tend to call into question their actual adherence to these principles.
Angela McGlowan, candidate in Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District Republican Primary, recently spoke at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville. In her speech, she took swipes at Democratic incumbent Travis Childers, calling for a move to the right on Capitol Hill. McGlowan held a press conference onthe University of Mississippi campus Friday in which Judge Joe Brown of daytime television stardom endorsed her candidacy. Before the event got underway, McGlowan was chatting with students near the podium on the front steps of the student union, where the conference was to take place. It was here that McGlowan was approached by a student member of the campus organization Young Americans for Liberty.
Throughout the week, Young Americans for Liberty had a table set up inside the union advertising their group. They offered prizes to passerby who could name all of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the safeguards commonly referred to as the Bill of Rights. Students and faculty alike tried their hand at reciting all ten, along with several University Police Department officers and Dean of Students Sparky Reardon.
The student group member who approached Mrs. McGlowan asked if she could name the first ten amendments in exchange for a prize, to which she responded that she could but would not do so while standing in the sun on the front steps of the Student Union. The student then replied that Mrs. McGlowan’s response led him to believe that she could not in fact name the first ten amendments. At this remark, the Congress hopeful became noticeably perturbed and summoned UPD officers to have the student removed from the area. Knowledgeable of the situation and the students’ rights, UPD did not remove the student from the area and simply sought to cool the situation down. One officer even remarked that he didn’t see what all the fuss was about, as he had tried to win the prize at the group’s table earlier in the week.
Mrs. McGlowan’s reaction might be indicative of her future in politics. Stating that she can indeed name the first ten amendments yet refraining from doing so at the request of a constituent does indeed cast doubt upon the veracity of her claim. While the midday sun might have been a little warm, she was waiting to begin a half-hour press conference in the same location, suggesting that her aversion wasn’t necessarily driven by comfort, but possibly embarrassment at her own lack of knowledge.
This is not to say that all members of Congress should be expected to recite the Bill of Rights verbatim on the spot. However, inquiring as to whether or not a candidate knows about the document he or she would be expected to defend upon election seems like a fair request. The Congresswoman-elect could have even attempted to salvage the situation by admitting that she did not know the amendments and that that was an area she planned to work on. Instead, she summoned security and requested that the student be removed.
While McGlowan’s Tea Party speech was very well received by the delegates in Nashville, that kind of national publicity does not necessarily translate to votes in North Mississippi. The fact that she showed such unabashed hostility towards a student group that champions conservative values demonstrates her propensity to alienate her home base. Her primary challenger Alan Nunnelee is from Tupelo, the most highly populated city in the 1st District. Stir in a very liberal stance on gun control you have Mrs. McGlowan facing an uphill battle in the primaries. If this incident on the University campus is indicative of McGlowan’s style, it could spell an early end to her general election hopes.
I’m sure all you liberty lovers out there are aware of the Mises Institute. This organization has already done so much for liberty. However, they are not stopping. They have recently put their entire collection of scholarly works on Itunes U.
They have audiobooks with the full text of Human Action by Ludwig Von Mises down to audio and video lecture series given by minds such as Thomas Woods. All of these priceless works are totally free of charge and ripe for the taking. Go here to link to the Mises Institute’s Itunes U page and begin the downloading. Cheers.