Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bombs Away!

It's 12:00 AM EDT on June 1st, which means... June 1st Rand Paul Money Bomb!

--->[Donate here!]<---


Thanks so much for bearing with me this past week here at THL as I heavily promoted this Money Bomb, and thanks so much for your support of Rand Paul today.

This week, I've got some great commentary and analysis planned in the mix in addition to some more info on the fantastic opportunities we have over the next two years for electoral activism.

I'll be live-tweeting the Money Bomb for a couple hours tonight and then all day tomorrow. Look forward to seeing ya there! Hashtags: #THL #$bomb #R&Paul

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UPDATE: Just made my donation-



And Rand's website sends you this neat little e-mail message afterward:

Thank you for your generous donation to Rand Paul for US Senate Exploratory Committee. Your contributions provide the fuel for a well coordinated, effective, and successful campaign. With your help, we will bring honesty, responsibility, and constitutional leadership to Washington D.C.

Honesty and Responsibility and Constitutional Leadership- oh my! We definitely need more of those in Washington.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Updates on the Rand Paul Money Bomb

Rand Paul campaigning for his father, Ron Paul in NH - Image by nicco (CC)

Updates on the Rand Paul Money Bomb

When Rand Paul announced his exploratory committee, he said that if incumbent Senator Bunning steps down he will absolutely run in the Republican Primary.

I am excited to announce that this Wednesday, Rand Paul took it a step further and said in an interview that if he raises a significant amount of money over the next several months, he would give serious consideration to challenging Bunning and any other potential contenders in the Primary.

In effect, Rand has presented a lofty challenge to local and national supporters. If they shower him with financial support, he will answer the call of duty.

Could this be a subtle hint aimed at us moneybombers? Then today, Dr. Paul posted this video to RandPaul2010.com, urging us to help him raise enough money to wage a successful campaign for Senate. See you guys on Rand's donation page this Monday!


Support From Notable Leaders

Also, we are getting a lot of support from some major leaders in the liberty movement. Shelly Roche is behind the Money Bomb this June 1st, and has placed a badge on her website, Break the Matrix, in addition to letting me post a featured update there to promote the Money Bomb.

Rand Paul also has the support of Congressional candidate Adam Kokesh, who put a badge on his own website in addition to featuring the Money Bomb in an update. We also got a link from the good folks at Liberty Maven (with some excellent comments).

There are some major players in the freedom revolution who want to see this Money Bomb raise Rand Paul enough to really embolden him. Let's answer the call!

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Humble Libertarian Announcements

Because of the Money Bomb on June 1st, THL's monthly libertarian webzine / blog carnival will not be posted on the first of the month as usual, but a day late on June 2nd.

Retraction: I apparently made a mistake in this article... scroll down to the comments to see the correction. Thanks Anonymous commenter!

The Case Against Judge Sonia Sotomayor


I have a guest post up today over at Eric Dondero's blog, Libertarian Republican. It features four main areas of analysis concerning President Obama's appointment of Judge Sotomayor to our nation's highest court. These are:

1. It was a cynical, racial pick calculated to prevent any real, legitimate, non-racial debate about how she would perform on the Supreme Court, because anyone who opposes her will be painted as racist whether it's true or not.

2. Judge Sotomayor herself expressed extremely racist and sexist sentiments in her now-famous 2001 quote, and we shouldn't take any chances on putting a racist on our nation's highest court.

3. Judge Sotomayor, it would appear, is not even very legally competent, certainly not legally exemplary, and most certainly not qualified for the SCOTUS.

4. Judge Sotomayor has an abysmal record on upholding our basic freedoms as enumerated in the Constitution. She is a friend of affirmative action and an enemy of gun-rights, free speech, free markets, private property, and most of all- empathy!

Here's my article. Check it out and please browse around Eric's site. He's got some great coverage up there (especially most recently- regarding Obama's "Chryslergate scandal").

Friday, May 29, 2009

Announcements: Bastiat Prize, Cato University


Here are a couple upcoming opportunities for any interested libertarians:

The Bastiat Prize for Online Journalism

"IPN's Bastiat Prize for Journalism was inspired by the 19th-century French philosopher and journalist Frédéric Bastiat.

The prize was developed to encourage and reward writers whose published works promote the institutions of a free society: limited government, rule of law brokered by an independent judiciary, protection of private property, free markets, free speech, and sound science.This year, the Bastiat Prize has been expanded and includes a new prize for online journalism (including blogs and self-published articles).

Bastiat Prize for Online Journalism
(One winner only, $3,000)

Sign up to receive a periodic email reminder about the competition between now and June 30, 2009, the final day that submissions will be received."


H/T: Greg, The Holy Cause


Cato University

"Cato University is the Cato Institute's premier educational event of the year. This annual program brings together outstanding faculty and participants from across the country and, often, from around the globe – business and professional people, retirees, small business owners, high school and college students, employees of large and small firms and many others who share a commitment to liberty and learning."

Main Page | Scholarships | Register | Schedule

H/T: Chris Moody

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Interview With Cato's Michael D. Tanner On Health Care Reform

Michael D. Tanner of The Cato Institute

Following up on Tuesday's critique of socialized medicine, which featured the work of Michael, D. Tanner, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute- blogger Chris Moody (also with Cato) hooked me up with an interview to bring you some more expert information on the state of American health care from Michael D. Tanner himself. Here it is:


Free Market Alternatives

THL: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions about health care. I truly appreciate it and I'm excited to hear what you have to say.

In your featured articles at the Cato Institute, you do an excellent job of exposing the flaws in the push for government-provided universal health insurance, but one thing we never stop hearing from social democrats these days is that their political opponents offer no real alternatives. Could you briefly outline a platform for health care reform that you would support? (We could call it "The Tanner Plan.")

Michael D. Tanner: There are two key components to any free-market health care reform. First, we need to move away from a health care system dominated by employer-provided health insurance toward one where health insurance is personal and portable, controlled by the individual themselves rather than government or an employer. Employment-based insurance hides much of the true cost of health care to consumers, thereby encouraging over-consumption. It also limits consumer choice, since employers get the final say in what type of insurance a worker will receive. It means that people who don’t receive insurance through work are put at a significant and costly disadvantage. And, of course, it means that if you lose your job, you are likely to end up uninsured as well.

Changing from employer to individual insurance requires changing the tax treatment of health insurance. The current system excludes the value of employer-provided insurance from a worker’s taxable income. However, a worker purchasing health insurance on his own, must do so with after-tax dollars. This provides a significant financial incentive towards employer-provided insurance. That should be reversed. Employer-provided insurance should be treated the same as other compensation for tax purposes: that is, as taxable income. To offset the increased tax, workers should receive a standard deduction (or in some plans a tax credit) for the purchase of health insurance, regardless of whether they receive it through their job or purchase it on their own.

Second, we need to increase competition among both insurers and health providers. Current regulations establish monopolies and cartels in both industries. For example, people should be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines. Since health insurance is largely regulated at the state level, one of the major reasons that costs differ so from state to state is because of the varying regulations and mandates that states have chosen to impose.

For example, New Jersey has imposed more than 40 mandated benefits, including in vitro fertilization, contraceptives, chiropodists, and coverage of children until they reach age 25. The state also has adopted community rating and guaranteed issue. In part as a result of this, the cost of a standard health insurance policy for a healthy 25 year old man would average $5,580 in the state. A similar policy in Kentucky, which has far fewer mandates and no community rating or guaranteed issue, would cost the same man only $960 per year. Unfortunately, consumers are more or less held prisoner by their state’s regulatory regime. It is illegal for that hypothetical New Jersey resident to buy the cheaper health insurance in Kentucky. On the other hand, if consumers were free to purchase insurance in other states, they could in effect “purchase” the regulations of that other state.

A consumer in New Jersey could avoid the state’s regulatory costs and choose, say, Kentucky, if that state’s regulations aligned more closely with his or her preferences. With millions of American consumers balancing costs and risks, states would be forced to evaluate whether their regulations offered true value or simply reflect the influence of special interests. Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) currently has a bill in Congress to do this.

We also need to rethink medical licensing laws to encourage greater competition among providers. Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, and other non-physician practitioners should have far greater ability to treat patients. We should also be encouraging such innovations in delivery as medical clinics in retail outlets.

There are other needed measures of course, such as radically cutting back on Medicare and Medicaid, the expansion of health savings accounts, abolishing “certificate of need” restrictions, etc. But the above would be good first steps.


Free Market Reform in Congress?

THL: You were critical of (and then gave some reserved praise with many qualifications to) the GOP alternative to health care reform. Is there any actual legislation out there materializing in Congress that looks anything like the platform you described in answer to the last question?

Michael D. Tanner: There is no single bill that reforms health care in the way that I would prefer. But there are bills that do bits and pieces of it. For example, Rep. John Shadegg has introduced legislation to permit the purchase of health insurance across state lines. Changes in the tax treatment of health insurance are included in the flawed Coburn-Burr-Ryan-Nunez bill. Se. Jim DeMint is reportedly working on legislation that would move things in the right direction. But free-market health care still lacks a true champion in Congress.


Spreading the Message: Talking Points

THL: On my blog, The Humble Libertarian, I try to emphasize to my readers the importance of "taking the message to the streets" so to speak, and changing individual hearts and minds through constructive dialogue. Could you share some ground rules for persuading social democrats that government health care is not the way to go? Any simple, persuasive, and easy-to-remember talking points?

Michael D. Tanner: Universal health insurance does not mean universal access to health care. In practice, many countries promise universal coverage, but ration care or have extremely long waiting lists for treatment. For example, at any given time, 750,000 Britons are waiting for admission to National Health Service hospitals, and shortages force the NHS to cancel as many as 50,000 operations each year. And in Canada, more than 800,000 patients are currently on waiting lists for medical procedures. many of these individuals suffer chronic pain and some will die awaiting the treatment they’ve been promised.

Those countries that have single-payer systems or systems heavily weighted toward government control are the most likely to face waiting lists, rationing, restrictions on the choice of physician, and other barriers to care. Those countries with national health care systems that work better, such as France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, are successful to the degree that they incorporate market mechanisms such as competition, cost-consciousness, market prices, and consumer choice, and eschew centralized government control.

The broad and growing trend in countries with national health care systems is to move away from centralized government control and to introduce more market oriented features. As Richard Saltman and Josep Figueras of the World Health Organization put it, “The presumption of public primacy is being reassessed.” Thus, even as the U.S. debates adopting a government-run system, countries with those systems are debating how to make their systems look more like the U.S.

But one needn’t look abroad to see that government health care doesn’t work. Just look at the inefficiency, high cost and poor quality of government-run health care systems here at home (Veterans Affairs health care is a national disgrace, Medicaid provides poor quality at high cost, and Medicare has tens of trillions of dollars in projected unfunded liabilities).


Free Market Health Care Activism

THL: I also try to blend commentary and analysis with activism: what specific actions can my readers take to spread the message, affect public policy, and avert a health care disaster in Washington?

Michael D. Tanner: Make your voices heard. The health care system represents one-sixth of the US economy. And health care decisions are some of the most important, personal, and private decisions that you can make. The current attempt by the government to take over the US health care system is one of the most important threats to our liberty that we have faced in many years. Anyone who loves freedom cannot sit this fight out.


Take 5 Minutes & Make A Difference

THL: If my readers were to do just one thing about health care- let's say if I were to ask them to do just one thing in five minutes as soon as they finished reading this interview, what would you recommend they do?

Michael D. Tanner: Let their elected representatives know how they feel.

THL: Thanks again for agreeing to this interview!

------------------------------

You heard him! Call your elected representatives in Congress or one of these ranking members of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions:

Ted Kennedy - D, Chairman
(202) 224-4543

Mike Enzi - R
(202) 224-3424

Chris Dodd - D
(202) 224-2823

Judd Gregg - R
(202) 224-3324

Tom Harkin - D
(202) 224-3254

Lamar Alexander - R
(202) 224-4944

Do it now. Take less than five minutes to leave a message. Here's a sample script:

I am a concerned American leaving a message for _____________ regarding health care reform. I encourage _____________ to introduce or support legislation that will discourage the waste and insecurity of employer based insurance by making private insurance tax deductible. I would also like to see Congress work toward encouraging competition by requiring states to allow their residents to purchase insurance across state lines. Thank you for your time and have a great day!

------------------------------

Michael D. Tanner will be speaking at the Cato Institute Conference On Health Care Reform this June 17. If you're going to be in the area check it out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Libertarian Wallpapers For Your Computer Desktop Backgrounds

[Edit, 22 May 2013: Yeah, this needs to be updated. I've got that on my radar for sometime in the next few weeks... will announce in new blog post]

As I've been working on various libertarian causes lately, it has been encouraging to change my desktop every couple of days to a different libertarian-themed wallpaper. Here is a selection of the ones I've been using.

PC users- just click on each image to get the full-sized version, then right-click on the full-sized version to select "Set as Desktop Background..." from the drop-down menu.

Of course if you know of any other awesome libertarian wallpapers, let me know in the comments so I can include them here.


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Problems With Universal Health Care Plan

If you like the DMV, you'll love Universal Healthcare. Photo by Charlie Reece (CC)

Michael D. Tanner, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, has published some good criticisms recently of the health care policies taking shape in Washington. Take for instance his piece last Thursday over at the National Review, which begins:

"Drip by painful drip, the details of the Democratic health-care-reform plan have been leaking out. And from what we can see so far, it looks like bad news for American taxpayers, health-care providers, and, most important, patients...

The net result would be an unprecedented level of government control over one-sixth of the U.S. economy, and over some of the most important, personal, and private decisions in Americans’ lives."

He proceeds to outline seven major areas of change that will stomp out individual liberty and distort the operation and ability of the marketplace to bring us the best quality at the lowest prices. Here is his brief summary of the Obamacare to come at Cato's website along with my headings and commentary in bold:

  • Hurting Small Businesses: "At a time of rising unemployment, the government would raise the cost of hiring workers by requiring employers to provide health insurance to their workers or pay a fee (tax) to subsidize government coverage." -Seriously, this is in effect, a war on small business.
  • Restricting Your Right To Choose: "Every American would be required to buy an insurance policy that meets certain government requirements. Even individuals who are currently insured — and happy with their insurance — will have to switch to insurance that meets the government's definition of "acceptable insurance." -Obama apparently doesn't believe every woman has the right to choose what she thinks is best for her own body.
  • Creating An Insurance Monopoly: "A government-run plan similar to Medicare would be set up in competition with private insurance, with people able to choose either private insurance or the taxpayer-subsidized public plan. Subsidies and cost-shifting would encourage Americans to shift to the government plan." -Monopolies are universally reviled, unless they're government monopolies. I'm weird: I prefer a high market share that results from great quality and pricing, rather than the use of legislative force.
  • Dictating Medical Practices: "The government would undertake comparative-effectiveness research and cost-effectiveness research, and use the results of that research to impose practice guidelines on providers — initially, in government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, but possibly eventually extending such rationing to private insurance plans." -Let's just call this what it is. Socialized medicine doesn't quite paint a clear enough picture. This is what Fascist medicine looks like.
  • Enacting Strangling Regulations: "Private insurance would face a host of new regulations, including a requirement to insure all applicants and a prohibition on pricing premiums on the basis of risk." -This doesn't even make sense! Force businesses to assume risk and then prevent them from pricing that risk accordingly? That's what we did to banking institutions, causing the housing crisis.
  • Expanding Government: "Subsidies would be available to help middle-income people purchase insurance, while government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid would be expanded." -Bureaucrasaurus just getting bigger and bigger.
  • Violating Your Privacy: "Finally, the government would subsidize and manage the development of a national system of electronic medical records." -I doubt you'll be given the choice to opt out. This part really makes me ill.

Spread the Word


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H/T: Chris Moody

Monday, May 25, 2009

How You Can Make The June 1st Rand Paul Money Bomb A Success

Rand Paul campaigning for his father, Ron Paul in NH - Image by nicco (CC)

Enthusiasm For The Rand Paul Money Bomb

Hey folks! I'm happy to see the enthusiasm this Money Bomb has started to generate. Within hours of getting up the post, I was getting links from some people at DailyPaul, discussion at RonPaulForums, and shares on Facebook (where someone had put up a Facebook event that same day).

I've also been getting messages and phone calls about it. Apparently Rand Paul is now aware of it. This is of course, our own grassroots effort and it was my idea to start a small money bomb for Rand Paul's exploratory committee on June 1st. Rand and his committee were surprised to hear about it, and they are okay with us moving forward and making it a success.

That's what I love about this political movement! We've got passion and we take initiative. We did it in 2007 to spectacular effect, and we have come full circle to another campaign season with exciting prospects for real leadership in Washington.


What You Can Do To Make This A Success

  • Commit to donating on June 1st by signing the pledge.
  • If you are a blogger, please write a short post on the June 1st Rand Paul Money Bomb with a link to the Money Bomb page.

The truth is, a lot of the people who supported Congressman Ron Paul's run in 2007-08, aren't aware that his son, who shares many of his political views, is considering a Senate run out of Kentucky. Talk to the people you know who are Ron Paul fans.

Pick just three people who were outspoken advocates of the Ron Paul campaign and e-mail or Facebook message them to tell them what's going on and how important it is. If we can get Rand Paul a bunch of media buzz and a solid day of fundraising, we will vastly improve his chances.

Our goal is realistic and attainable, but Rand Paul needs your hard work and dedication right now to make the June 1st Money Bomb a success. Thanks!


Rand Paul Speaks at Rally in Frankfort

And this is a phenomenal clip from Rand Paul's Freedom Rally in Frankfort on May 23. These are the words of a true statesman and visionary.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

June 1st Rand Paul Money Bomb

Help make Rand Paul's run for Senate a reality by participating in and promoting the June 1st Rand Paul Money Bomb!


--->[On June 1st donate here!]<---


The Goal of the June 1st Money Bomb

To get Rand Paul's fundraising to $50,000 and beyond, which means we need to raise over $25,000 in one day.

If 1000 people each give just $25 on June 1st, we will likely hit $50,000. Easy. If only twice that number- 2000 people- give $40 each, Rand Paul's exploratory committee will have raised over $100,000 in its first quarter (nay- first month!) of existence.

But in order for it to work, we have to give! And we have to promote this in as many ways as we can!


Why A June 1st Money Bomb?

Because Ron Paul's son, Rand Paul is running for the U. S. Senate in Kentucky, which officially became a commonwealth and was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1792.

It's also the perfect time to get a quick little money bomb in early on to jump start Rand Paul's funding, garner state and national media attention, and get a viral Internet marketing campaign going. The more often Kentuckians hear Rand Paul's name, the better his chances of running, winning the Republican primary, and carrying the state.

But this will only happen if you help make it so with your dedicated promotion and your willingness to put your money where your mouse is this June 1st!


Promote The June 1st Rand Paul Money Bomb

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  • Digg this page up, Twitter it, Facebook it, e-mail it to your friends, family, and co-workers, and notify your favorite bloggers to link to and promote it.
  • Sign the June 1st Rand Paul Money Bomb Pledge here and easily share the pledge page via e-mail and other social media here.
  • Promote the Rand Paul Money Bomb in the real world by calling local radio stations, handing out these ready-made flyer cut outs, and putting up these posters.
  • Remember you don't have to be a Kentuckian to donate and participate. This is about getting a true patriot and defender of liberty into office this 2010.
  • Be sure to make your donation only on Rand Paul's official Exploratory Committee website here, and NO WHERE else.
  • Help promote the June 1st Money Bomb by putting the following badge on your blog, website, or Myspace page. You can use the code below:



Rand Paul June 1st MoneyBomb




UPDATE (12:24 AM CDT June 2, 2009)

The Money Bomb was a success
!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Case For Rand Paul in 2010

Screenshot from RandPaul2010.com

I wrote a piece for Rand Paul's official campaign website entitled "The Case for Rand Paul." Here it is in its entirety, but please also visit the official website, browse around, do some learning about Dr. Rand Paul, and take just five minutes and as little as five dollars (or more- your budget permitting!) to donate to his campaign if you think Americans need another advocate for true freedom and common sense government in our nation's capitol and if it seems to you that Rand Paul would exemplify those principles. It certainly does to me:

"The Case For Rand Paul"

The Commonwealth of Kentucky is known for its bluegrass pastures and music, rich culture, vast resources, and down-to-earth, hardworking Americans. In this time of great change and greater challenges, Kentucky needs a common man, with common sense, to represent the commonwealth. That man is Dr. Rand Paul of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Dr. Paul has owned his own business, performing eye surgery in Bowling Green, KY, for 18 years. He is also the founder of the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic, an organization that performs eye exams and surgery for less fortunate patients. He is not a career politician, he is not a Washington insider, and his entrance into politics follows the pattern of his life’s work: a desire to diagnose problems, and provide practical solutions.

Kentucky's Common Man


Perhaps more than at any other time in the last century, Americans are growing increasingly frustrated with an unresponsive government in Washington. They feel that their voices are no longer being heard and that their best interests are not being fairly represented by the people in our nation's highest offices. They are alarmed by the growing power of career politicians and unelected bureaucrats who seem to disregard the Constitution to implement an agenda that is good for Washington politicians and bureaucrats, but bad for average Americans.

America doesn't need more career politicians who are adept at playing political games, but who have never had a real job or operated a real business. Instead we need more leaders like Dr. Rand Paul. As a practicing eye surgeon, Rand Paul understands first hand, the issues facing the medical community and its patients at a time when our nation's health care policy is in a state of crisis. As a small business owner, he knows what it means to lead, to work hard, and to struggle under the heavy burden of Federal taxes and regulations. As the founder in 1994 of Kentucky Taxpayers United, Rand Paul has been a friend of hardworking, taxpaying Americans, rating the Kentucky general assembly's tax honesty and opposing any and all increases in marginal tax rates for Kentuckians.

A Friend To Kentucky Industry


The most successful automotive manufacturing in America happens in the Bluegrass State. Kentucky is home to several Ford and Toyota plants. The Toyota Camry- the #1 selling car in the United States- is manufactured in Georgetown, Kentucky. The Ford F-Series, which is the #1 selling truck in the entire world, is manufactured in Louisville. Kentucky needs a voice in the U.S. Senate that will firmly oppose taxpayer-funded bailouts of auto companies in other states, which subsidize and reward their inefficiencies at the expense of Kentucky's hardworking and successful autoworkers as well as all American taxpayers and consumers.

One reason Kentucky has attracted so many Ford and Toyota factories is that it has the lowest industrial energy costs in the nation, a result of its abundant coal reserves. Kentucky needs an advocate in D.C. who will fight back draconian environmental regulations and steep emissions caps that will cripple Kentucky's coal industry and raise the price of energy (and therefore the price of everything else) for everyone. And even more than coal, Kentucky's economy hinges on agriculture and requires freedom from overbearing Washington policies in order to prosper...

Although it is only the 37th largest state in land area, Kentucky has the 5th most farms of any U.S. state and more farms per square mile than any other state. Most of these are small farms- the average Kentucky farm is only 153 acres. Small farms are small businesses, and Rand Paul is a friend to small business. As an advocate of free markets, he will work to defeat legislation that creates more fees, taxes, and regulations for agriculture. He will not sell out Kentucky's farmers to the interests and heavy-handed rule of Washington's regulatory agencies.

The Kentucky GOP's Best Choice


For some time now, the GOP has pressured incumbent Senator Jim Bunning to decline running for a third term. Bunning's first run for Senate in 1998 was an extremely close call- he won only by a narrow margin of 6,000 votes. The results were 569,817 for Bunning and 563,051 for his Democratic challenger, Scotty Baesler (that's 49.75% to 49.16%, a very narrow margin!). Then in 2004, as an incumbent, against an unknown State Senator, and riding George W. Bush's 20% lead over John Kerry in Kentucky, Bunning still only managed to pull out another narrow victory of 873,507 to Daniel Mongiardo's 850,855 (which is 50.66% to 49.34%).

At Senator Bunning's suggestion, Kentucky's Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a former Democrat, formed an exploratory committee to run for Jim Bunning's Senate seat. His dubious political history however, will likely pose a liability to a successful bid for the U.S. Senate. As a former Democrat and active Clinton supporter, he may be unable to energize the Republican base. His convenient switch to the GOP during the height of Republican power in national politics may give Democrats and Independents reason to question the integrity of his political ideology. And his longstanding association with prominent Washington insiders should be ample cause for concern among the electorate.

The Rising Tide


The Kentucky GOP has a major asset in Rand Paul because of the soundness of his beliefs at this unique time in American history. There is a rising tide of grassroots, populist discontent with the Washington establishment and its mismanagement of our economy and tax money. This rising tide manifested itself strongly in Congressman Ron Paul's meteoric presidential campaign for the Republican nomination, raising him more than any other Republican presidential candidate during 2007's fourth quarter because of his message of free markets, limited government, a smarter foreign policy, and a return to the Constitution. Dr. Rand Paul's name, relationship, and political similarity to his father, Ron Paul, is a powerful asset to him at this point in our nation's history.

If Rand Paul enjoys half the fundraising ability that his father did in his 2007-2008 bid for the Republican Presidential nomination, he will easily dwarf the fundraising of any primary or general election opponent, making his election to the U.S. Senate very likely. Here's why: Rand Paul will garner substantial donations from non-Kentucky residents who supported his father in 2007 and 2008, and who believe in the principles that Paul would bring to the United States Senate. Remember the moneybombs for Ron Paul's presidential campaign? Just imagine a nation-wide moneybomb for Rand Paul's senate campaign and what that would do to his likelihood of securing the GOP's nomination and the Commonwealth of Kentucky's vote. Additionally, if Congressman Ron Paul's success with donations from active military members and veterans is any indicator, Rand Paul has a potentially enormous fundraising and voting base in the many Kentucky residents who are also active duty military personnel, and who want policies that keep both our country and our troops out of harm's way.

Rand Paul For U.S. Senate 2010


Dr. Rand Paul of Bowling Green, Kentucky is the right man for the job. He is the Republican Party's best pick. He will make a powerful and effective advocate for the people of Kentucky. And he will be a principled and courageous statesman at a time when America needs one most. Please make his success a reality (whether you are a Kentuckian or a patriotic, freedom-loving American from another state) by making your most generous donation to the Rand Paul for Senate Campaign, finding or starting a local grassroots Meetup group, and staying up-to-date on campaign news.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rep. Henry Waxman's Cap and Trade Climate Bill in Committee

Coal Gas Plant Photo by Joel Mabel (GFDL)

We're in trouble.

Congressman Henry Waxman's Cap and Trade Energy Bill is just as big and just as bad as the Stimulus Bill and TARP Bailout- and it's about to come to a vote in committee on Capitol Hill in less than 48 hours. Apparently, Rep. Waxman has skipped over a subcommittee vote to push his bill through for a full vote by the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week.

What this bill would do:

  • Mandate that 25% of U.S. electricity come from "renewable" sources (and nuclear doesn't count). "This kind of renewable portfolio standard directly contradicts the putative flexibility of cap and trade, which is supposed to allow businesses to reduce CO2 how and where it is least expensive."
  • Regulate everything from roofing to "furnaces, laundry machines, dishwashers, showerheads, faucets, water closets, and urinals even (or especially?) jacuzzis."
  • By 2020, "the manufacture of any general service lamp that does not meet a minimum efficacy standard" will be prohibited. That includes fixtures "designed only to be mounted directly to an art work and for the purpose of illuminating that art work."
  • Allows the government to "bring legal charges in U.S. district courts against 'any person . . . distributing in commerce any covered product which does not comply.'"

The WSJ editorial makes this key observation:

Despite political favoritism and billions in subsidies, wind still only accounts for about 1% of U.S. net electric generation, and solar all of one-hundredth of 1%. So now the liberal solution is simply to force people to buy them, a la the ethanol mandate. Yet it will be difficult for renewables to ever reach 25%, given their inherent limitations (intermittency) and, ironically, green opposition (no new power lines). That won't stop Congress from punishing utilities that fail to meet an impossible goal.

Take Action Now

Grassfire.org (not the most libertarian organization, but our goals do align on this issue) is circulating an e-mail with the following list of key representatives to call on the Energy and Commerce Committee:

Rep. Michael Ross (AR) 202-225-3772
Rep. Charlie Melancon (LA) 202-225-4031
Rep. G. Butterfield (NC) 202-225-3101
Rep. Zack Space (OH) 202-225-6265
Rep. Michael Doyle (PA) 202-225-2135
Rep. Bart Gordon (TN) 202-225-4231
Rep. Charles Gonzalez (TX) 202-225-3236
Rep. Gene Green (TX) 202-225-1688
Rep. James Matheson (UT) 202-225-3011
Rep. Rick Boucher (VA) 202-225-3861
Rep. Peter Welch (VT) 202-225-4115
Rep. Jay Inslee (WA) 202-225-6311

And some talking points:

1. I am disappointed that Rep. Waxman is rushing the 1,000-page cap-and-trade Carbon Tax through the Energy and Commerce Committee this week.

2. This bill deserves full deliberation and should not be rushed.

3. I oppose the cap-and-trade Carbon Tax. This is an outrageous power grab by the federal government that will greatly expand government control and increase my taxes.

4. Especially in these difficult economic times, Congress must not pass this tax on the American people!

Please take just one minute and call just one of these representatives, especially if you live in one of their districts. Let's defeat this bill in committee before it ever comes to a vote on the floor of the House.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Obama to Announce Stricter Mileage and Fuel Emission Standards for Automobiles

Obama's new fuel standards will smash the auto industry. (photo)

It's just one insane policy after another these days. When I argued against the auto bailouts last December, I wrote:

When a group of automobile industry executives who are intimately acquainted with the particulars of their own industry are apparently not able to return a profit on their operations, it is downright absurd to think that a group of politicians (who are hardly exemplars of efficient spending or financial management themselves) can dictate operational policies that will return profits from these auto companies.

Today's announcement from President Barack Obama calling for stricter fuel and emissions standards is just more evidence to substantiate my concern:

President Barack Obama will announce new vehicle-emission rules tomorrow, setting the first-ever nationwide limit on greenhouse-gas pollution from autos, people familiar with the plan said.

The move would force automakers to meet a fuel-economy standard for 2016 models of slightly less than 35.5 miles a gallon, a target Congress has said wouldn’t have to be met until 2020.

Crippling the Auto Industry and Hurting Consumers

And just what would this do to the price of automobiles? It will cost consumers an extra $1,300 per vehicle by 2016. To be clear, Congress' standards are already going to cost consumers an extra $700 per vehicle regardless of what the Obama Administration does, and Obama's new, stricter policy to be announced today will add $600 on top of that.

At a time when the automobile industry is struggling to stay alive, and after the two most recent White House administrations and members of both parties in Congress claim that it is simply "too big to fail" -that the costs to our country would be too catastrophic and that it must be kept alive even if that means illegally and unconstitutionally extending to it billions of dollars of taxpayers' money- it is utter madness to hurt automobile sales by slapping $1,300 on top of each new vehicle's price. This is especially true when consumers are already so strapped for cash.



Schwarzenegger & Granholm

This part is just too funny for words:

Obama will announce the moves Tuesday at a huge White House ceremony designed to underscore cooperation among automakers, environmentalists and the two governors whose states have most closely watched the fate of U.S. auto-making -- Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Democrat Jennifer Granholm of Michigan.

So the two cheerleaders we have in attendance at the ceremony to endorse this policy are the governors of the two states whose economies have been the most wrecked by their governments' over-regulation, confiscatory taxation, and mismanagement? Could they make it any more obvious to the rest of us that this policy will crash and burn? This is not about global warming, it's not about cleaning up the environment, and it's not about energy independence. This is about more power, prestige, and money for the Washington establishment.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rand Paul Announces Senate Bid

Late last week, it was exciting to hear Dr. Rand Paul of Kentucky (Congressman Ron Paul's son) announce his exploratory committee for a 2010 Senate bid. Here's a video of his official announcement on the Rachel Maddow show in case you missed it.



You can expect plenty of commentary on and enthusiastic support for Rand Paul's campaign in the coming weeks and months. Get ready for it. This is going to be really exciting.

Here's some more information on Rand Paul, which I posted in late February when Dr. Paul expressed interest in running. You can visit his campaign website and make a donation here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The American Tea Party 2009 - Why Protest?

Feb 27th Tea Party Protest - Nashville, TN © 2009 W. E. Messamore

I mentioned on Twitter early this week that the Tennesseean got in touch with me to do an hour-long interview on the motivation behind the Tea Party protests. After scheduling the interview, I put together a one page explanation listing the reasons behind our activism and brought that to the interview for the journalist to keep and use.

Here it is below. As soon as the Tennessean publishes some of the information from the interview, I'll be sure to let you know in an update.

----------
UPDATE (1:27 pm) - It seems that this post and the Tennessean's Tea Party article went up at roughly the same time today. Check it out; the part with information from my interview is on page 2.
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The American Tea Party 2009 - Why Protest?
W. E. Messamore | ***.***.**** (c) | wemessamore@gmail.com
http://www.humblelibertarian.com

Oligarchy-

Many Americans no longer feel that their voice is being heard or that they’re being fairly represented. Here’s why:

  • The secrecy and closed door committee meetings surrounding passage of the stimulus bill, and the fact that like many other bills, none of our representatives were given adequate time to read it.
  • Spending bills in D.C. have become so large that they necessarily indebt children and future generations of American citizens who do not have representation in Congress.
  • Unelected officials in the Treasury and Federal Reserve system have wielded enormous and vastly increasing power in recent years.
  • The Constitution is routinely ignored and defied by our elected officials in Washington.


Spending-


The Tea Partiers are aghast at the fiscal irresponsibility of Congress and both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

Principles

From the Humble Libertarian (http://www.humblelibertarian.com/2009/03/american-tea-party-2009-goals.html)

“The proper role of a government is to maintain a civil society, meaning a society free from aggression, a society in which no human being can threaten any other by aggressing against them to destroy, diminish, or expropriate their lives, or their liberty or property- which are necessary preconditions of and corollaries to a human being's right to his or her own life. When government forcibly takes from some in the form of exorbitant taxes (or inflation) to give to others, it does the very thing it exists to safeguard against happening. When it takes such an action, it becomes an aggressor. It ceases to be an impartial arbiter between free and equal citizens to ensure their liberty, and it becomes a biased, partisan advocate for some people, using the legal power and force of its laws to favor them at the expense of the lives, liberty, and property of others without their consent and voluntary cooperation, which is morally outrageous.”

Purpose

From the Humble Libertarian (http://www.humblelibertarian.com/2009/03/american-tea-party-2009-goals.html)

  • Voting out each and every single incumbent up for re-election in 2010 who voted for the Stimulus Package and/or the 2008 Wall Street Bailout.
  • Electing to office only candidates who promise to support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution (without any exceptions -e.g. in the case of war, emergency, or a 3/5ths vote in Congress) in an act that also requires spending reductions only (no raising taxes) for the first four years to balance the budget, as well as:
  • The transition of Social Security from a mandatory pay-as-you go system to an optional system of private pensions.
  • A permanent repeal of the payroll tax.

Parallels

From the Humble Libertarian (http://www.humblelibertarian.com/2009/04/defending-tax-day-tea-parties-from.html)

“The situation in 1773 was eerily similar to ours today. The British Empire had run up heavy debts from a long war with France. The global economy was shaky. High taxes and heavy regulations were taking their toll on British companies, and one of them in particular- the East India Trading Company- seemed in danger of going under due to a "near term liquidity crisis." After determining that it was "too big to fail," the British Parliament passed the Tea Act, a bailout of the East India Trading Company. Incensed about the taxes levied under this plan in violation of the principle of taxation without representation, the colonists erupted in protest.”

Saturday, May 16, 2009

An End to the War on Drugs?

Photo by splifr (CC)

Chris Moody e-mailed me the other day to tip me off to the Cato Institute's coverage of the White House drug czar's decision to stop using the phrase "War on Drugs." Reports the Wall Street Journal:

The Obama administration’s new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting “a war on drugs,” a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.

"Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country."

Cato Institute scholar Ted Carpenter is correct to give very reserved praise with an important qualification for this change in White House terminology:

Well, that’s at least a modest step in the right direction. However, I want to see how policies change (if they do) under the Obama administration. A change in terminology won’t mean much if the authorities still routinely throw people in jail for violating drug laws.

Given his present record in office, I am skeptical about how much real change we're going to see on drug policy out of President Obama's administration. Arianna Huffington writes:

But when it comes to putting its rhetoric into action, the Obama administration has faltered.

Just a week after the Attorney General said there would be no more medical marijuana raids, the DEA raided a licensed medical marijuana dispensary in California.

Obama's '09-'10 budget proposes to continue the longstanding ban on federal funding of needle exchange programs.

The current budget is still overwhelmingly skewed in favor of the drug war approach -- indeed, it allocates more to drug enforcement and less to prevention than even George Bush did.


And she asks the key question:

So the question becomes: is the Obama administration really committed to a fundamental shift in America's approach to drug policy or is this about serving up a kinder, gentler drug war?

When the Obama Administration decided to recast the Global War on Terror as an Overseas Contingency Operation, I was very opposed to it. The name change hampers our ability to fight the irrationality of the GWOT as a foreign policy by minimizing it and glossing over the magnitude of its cost and destruction.

After making the name less big and scary, the Obama Administration continued to pursue the quite big and truly scary foreign policy of massive overseas military intervention, sending tens of thousands of more troops to Afghanistan and requesting tens of billions of more dollars from Congress for defense spending.

It looks to me like we can expect the same pattern all over again with the War on Drugs. I certainly hope I'm wrong, but Obama has done too many blatant 180 degree turns on campaign promises to reform U.S. policy. In the meantime, we must remain vigilant and not simply trust that our leaders will do the right thing or suit action to words. We must stay involved and demand that they do so.


And now your Moment of Zen:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Miss California, Carrie Prejean's Freedom of Speech Has Not Been Violated

Miss California, Carrie Prejean Source (CC)

This week Carrie Prejean has been making headlines once again because of an investigation into some semi-nude photos that may have disqualified her from retaining her crown as Miss California. As it turned out, pageant owner Donald Trump allowed her to retain her crown, saying "We've made a determination that the pictures taken were acceptable. Some were risque, but we are in the 21st century."

Furthermore, he defended her answer to Perez Hilton during the Miss USA Pageant and started another controversy by saying "It's the same answer the president of the United States gave. It's the same answer many people gave. She gave an honorable answer. She gave an answer from her heart, and I think for that she has to be commended."

Last month when the controversy broke, I wrote in defense of Carrie Prejean, arguing that her answer exemplified perfect tolerance and noting that she "did not say that gay marriage should remain illegal in the other states. She said in fact, that she thinks it's great that Americans can choose one or the other." Though I did criticize her for fumbling over the answer, not directly addressing the question, and not offering the best possible answer (which I formulated at the end of the post). Well today I have some sharper criticisms for her, particularly for the speech she gave at the press conference with Donald Trump.

She said: "On April 19 on that stage I exercised my freedom of speech, and I was punished for doing so. This should not happen in America," thereby turning her loss of the Miss USA title into a free speech issue. But it's not! The government did not punish her for her answer, a private organization did and that is not a violation of her freedom of speech.

Over at Big Hollywood, Melanie Morgan compares the media controversy over Miss Prejean's answer to 1950s era McCarthyism:


Leo Penn, the father of famous actor Sean Penn, was hauled before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (the McCarthy hearings) during the 1950s and harassed, spied upon and ultimately blacklisted for his political views.

But no one is dragging Miss Prejean before Congress to testify about her beliefs, and the government is not involved. A private beauty pageant and several private media companies are. The Miss USA pageant does not owe Carrie Prejean a crown and it is free to award or not award her a crown according to whatever criteria it chooses, including disliking her political beliefs. That criterion may be wrong and you may disagree with it (as I do in this case), but that doesn't mean Prejean's rights are being violated.

In her editorial, Morgan goes on to ask: "So where are the free-speech warriors? How about Sean Penn and the rest of the Hollywood elitists who think the First Amendment was written solely for their benefit?" How were her free speech rights being violated? Because the rest of the media has exercised its free speech rights in criticizing what she said? The way the article reads, Morgan seems to be suggesting that Carrie Prejean's freedom of speech somehow nullifies the rest of ours. That to criticize her for speaking is a violation of her freedom of speech. But what about our freedom of speech?

Everyone has the right to say what they want about Carrie Prejean's political beliefs no matter how wrong, stupid, or ugly. And everyone else has the right to say that those criticisms are wrong, stupid, and ugly. So far, I have exercised my own freedom of speech to defend Prejean, to criticize her critics, to criticize Prejean, and to defend her critics. Figure that out! It's amazing how the fierce pursuit of truth leads you to see all the nuance in controversies such as this.

Hopefully the world will come to understand that the proper exercise of our freedom of speech, is in the earnest pursuit of truth, uninhibited by forcible interference from others. Hopefully we will all begin to see that misunderstanding and misrepresenting this fundamental human right does great injury to it. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ron Paul Warns Against Runaway Inflation



Congressman Ron Paul gives an interview on FoxBusiness earlier this week, warning against the dangers of runaway inflation and criticizing the policies of the Obama Administration and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Curiously, at 1:18 he says that it's a good thing (or at least it seems from the video- the most reasonable thing) for the U.S. government to pay off its astronomical debt through inflating the money supply. Huh? I thought he was against that. And he does immediately seem to contradict himself a moment later by saying how bad inflation is and how much better it would be to cut spending and simply pay off our debt with revenues.

Can someone help me figure this out? Any big Ron Paul fans/apologists who might have an insight into what he meant? Was that a slip up when he said it's a "good thing" for government to liquidate debt by printing money? Or did he mean it and have some solid, though somewhat sophisticated reasoning behind it? Or is he just plain wrong and confused here? Thoughts anybody?

I am a pretty big Ron Paul fan myself, so I'd kind of like to figure this out. Puzzling.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mail Fail

Looks like more of the inevitable is happening at the post office. When will we understand that this government enforced monopoly is pointless and wasteful? If we opened first class mail up to competition, FedEx and UPS would almost certainly thoroughly and quickly replace the post office, probably reducing the price and certainly preventing the steady stream of price hikes created by the current enforced monopoly.

The silliest part of it all is the notion that the Forever Stamps, which allow people to buy stamps that can be used any time, even after a price increase, will do any good. These stamps have no effect on the problem. The problem is not that the American people are paying too much. The problem is that we don't have a true price system, so we have no clue what "too much" is. The post office, like every enforced monopoly is constantly aware that they can simply raise prices to cover costs, and never have to worry about competition. Even a monopoly in a market is less problematic that this, for a monopoly arising under normal conditions always has to consider the possibility of emerging competition. A government enforced monopoly is the most parasitic possible business arrangement and will almost inevitably lead to inefficient production that creates a steady increase in prices.

Furthermore, the arguments behind the monopoly are simply outdated. There was a time when it made some sense to say that if the government doesn't send mail certain places, and make sure the price is low, then mail will simply never get there. Whether this factual claim justified the normative claim that the USPS should exist (of course it did not) is now irrelevant, because the factual claim at the root is no longer true. If we eliminate the USPS monopoly we are not likely to see a failure to deliver mail to large parts of the rural US. I imagine UPS, FedEx, and others would have to compete among themselves for public image, and thus would avoid significant rate differences to rural areas. The USPS is simply outdated and overpriced and needs to go. Step one is opening it up to competition. When it flounders before its superior competitors whose production costs and prices are driven down by the profit motive the USPS lacks, the next step, the total elimination of the USPS, will be obvious.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Hayek's Birthday

If the man were as immortal as his ideas, Friedrich Hayek would be 110 years old today. His words, from The Road to Serfdom, are as relevant today, in a world of bailout and stimulus packages as they were in his day:


It is often said that political freedom is meaningless without economic freedom. This is true enough, but in a sense almost opposite from that in which the phrase is used by our planners. The economic freedom which is the prerequisite of any other freedom cannot be the freedom from economic care which the socialists promise us and which can be obtained only by relieving the individual at the same time of the necessity and of the power of choice; it must be the freedom of our economic activity which, with the right of choice, inevitably carries the risk and the responsibility of that right.


The key words for us today are "the risk and responsibility of that right," concepts that are entirely alien to bailouts or stimulus. Responsibility means consequences. And apparently the Obama administration doesn't believe in consequences, at least not consequences that it doesn't dole out. The question is: are the American people adults or children? Adults have to deal with the consequences of stupid actions. Children are prevented from performing stupid actions, and then parental punishment provides lesser consequences to replace the natural ones. Bailouts and regulation treat business like children. We bail people out when they make bad business decisions, and then try to regulate them to provide some sense of accountability. We are treating them like children! We're babying them! And in doing so we have abandoned one bit more of the freedom which Hayek so rightly noted "inevitably carries the risk and the responsibility of that right."

See, Hayek is always relevant!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Star Wars Is Libertarian [Deleted Scene]

Photo by Chris Hack (CC)

A Deleted Scene With Libertarian Content

Yesterday was Star Wars Day or Awesomely Nerdy Pun Day- May the 4th (be with you... get it?), and in honor thereof, I want to share with you a rare, deleted scene from Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope: The Anchorhead Sequence (named after a town Luke Skywalker visits to hang out with his friends).

The scene was unfortunately deleted to improve the flow of the movie, but in it is a powerful and explicit critique of big government policies and government nationalization of industry. The value of this scene is to put in more explicit terms the underlying libertarian quality of the Star Wars movies, which pit the revolutionary remnants of a peaceful and free Old Republic against a warmongering, socialist Galactic Empire that has supplanted it.

As you view the scene in the embedded video below, look out for this quote by Biggs Darklighter:

"What good's all your uncle's work if the Empire takes it over? You know they've already started to nationalize commerce in the central systems? It won't be long before your uncle is just a tenant, slaving for the greater glory of the Empire."