Archives for February 2012

This Week in the Race for the GOP Presidential Nomination

This week will be the busiest that we’ll see in the race for the Republican presidential nomination this month. Coloradans and Minnesotans will be headed to the caucuses today while Missourians will be voting in the nonbinding primary that precedes their March 17 caucuses. We can also expect to see the results of the Maine caucuses this Saturday. After this week, we’ll see only a handful of caucuses and primaries in Guam, Arizona, Michigan, and Washington before Super Tuesday on March 6.

Public Policy Polling shows former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) with a comfortable lead in Colorado with 37%. Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) trails Romney with 27% while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) clock in with 21% and 13% respectively. It looks like we can expect another big win for Romney in the Centennial State.

The race could get a little more interesting in Minnesota, Missouri, and Maine. Santorum leads the field in a tight race for the North Star State, but that race is still very much up in the air with a range of only 13% between Santorum and Paul, who is polling in fourth place. Santorum looks to be headed for a win in the Show-Me State’s nonbinding primary; he leads with 45% to Romney’s 32%. Meanwhile, Politico is calling the race for the Pine Tree State a two man race between Romney and Paul.

If these numbers hold, what could all of this mean for the race going forward?

Alexander McCobin to Introduce Sen. Rand Paul at CPAC

Students for Liberty have announced that their president, Alexander McCobin, will be introducing Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this Thursday evening at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). You may recall McCobin as the young man who praised the American Conservative Union for including the LGBT conservative group GOProud at CPAC 2010. He was followed on stage by Ryan Sorba, then chairman of the California Young Americans for Freedom, who made a total fool of himself speaking out against GOProud’s inclusion. Let’s go to the video:

War on Meds: Mississippi Grandmother Faces a Year in Jail for Buying Sudafed in Alabama

Diane Avera, a 45-year-old grandmother from Meridian, Mississippi, whose record includes only a speeding ticket is facing a year in jail. Her crime? She bought a box of Sudafed in neighboring Alabama. From The Clarion-Ledger:

She is seeking a new trial in Demopolis, Ala., after being convicted of second degree intent to manufacture methamphetamine. If she loses, she plans to appeal to the Alabama Court of Appeals.

Crackdowns taking place across the nation on pseudoephedrine and other products used to make methamphetamine have caused her to become a “prisoner of the drug war going on inside America,” said her husband, Keith. “When common household medications and disinfectants are now illegal to possess, I believe we have gone overboard with the drug laws.”

Mind you, there appears to be no solid evidence that Avera was trying to make methamphetamine other than her purchase of Sudafed and her own seemingly coerced confession. And while Mississippi officials may be declaring this travesty “silliness” and claiming they don’t want to be responsible for “targeting grandma,” this is as much their fault as it is Alabama’s. Mississippi requires that Sudafed and other products containing pseudoephedrine be sold by prescription only, which is why Avera was buying her medication in Alabama in the first place. The makers of pseudoephedrine products have been leading a campaign to pressure state legislators to vote against RX Only laws.

Occupy DC planning potentially violent CPAC protest?

Yesterday, I noted that members of the DC chapter of the AFL-CIO were planning on protesting CPAC, the annual conservative conference, this Friday for what they call “Occupy CPAC,” a play off the unpopular Occupy Wall Street “movement.” It looks like there will be more than just labor goons and thugs protesting this weekend as Lachlan Markay reports that Occupy DC, which was recently booted from McPherson Square, is planning a separate protest on Saturday:

The “Occupy DC” protest group is planning to disrupt the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference using a range of potentially illegal tactics that could even include violence against participants, Scribe has learned.
During a Thursday meeting at McPherson Square, until Saturday the epicenter of the protests, Occupiers brainstormed tactics for shutting down or disrupting the conference, according to a source who was present at the meeting.

The protesters suggested pulling fire alarms in the hotel where the conference will take place, screaming “fire” during conference activities, “glitter-bombing” participants, cutting electrical power, and barricading entrances to the hotel, according to the source, who requested anonymity.

“Speakers will be physically assaulted, not just verbally confronted,” the source told Scribe in an email. Two Occupiers, who the source also identified as members of the New Black Panther Party, “said they would be disappointed if they didn’t get arrested and planned to ‘make it count.’”

Market Anarchism and the Future of Libertarianism

Yesterday, I read a scathing critique of the anarcho-capitalists associated with the thought of Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Lew Rockwell. Here’s an excerpt (the post itself is no longer available):

Anarchists are to libertarians as Occupy Wall Street is to the Tea Party. They’re both basically pissed off at the same thing. Their solutions are radically different.

Just as the occupiers have a Christmas wish-list of insane Marxist fantasies, the anarchist libertarians (see: anarcho-capitalists, Rothbardians, and people who read have their own catalog of misguided utopian fairytales about smashing the state. And they will be happy to prove to you just how great the world would be without any government, if you would just read one or two of Ludwig von Mises’s 1500 page pedantic treatises, or Murray Rothbard’s confused polemics (imagine reading Nietzsche’s Tumblr if he were into economics).

While I agree with the impracticality of anarchism and the basics of his critique of Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism, I note a glaring omission in his piece. He doesn’t even touch upon the existence of left-libertarians, like the market anarchists associated with the Molinari Institute and the Center for a Stateless Society.

Washington Post uncovers earmarks used near lawmakers personal property

The practice of earmarks has come under scrutiny in recent years and some members in both chambers have pushed for bans on the practice because of the propensity of their colleagues to use them for less than noble purposes. The House of Representatives did enact a moratorium, though it doesn’t seem to be all that effective.

Some say that restricting earmarks is unconstitutional because it cuts in on congressional spending authority in Article I, Section 8. Others say that earmarks represent a fraction of the budget and eliminating them does nothing in the way of restoring fiscal responsibility. The former has some merit, but we know how James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, felt about spending for pork projects. It’s hard to see that he would find funding peanut research meets any constitutional litmus test.

The latter is true; however, earmarks are the epitome of what is wrong with Washington, DC. Yes, reforming entitlements and cutting spend elsewhere is incredibly important, but earmarks are a symbolic part of the battle. If we can’t cut this fraction of spending out of the budget or reform the earmark process, are we naive enough to believe that we can reform entitlements?

Back in 2006, at the height of the discussion about ethics in Congress, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) explained that earmarks are the “currency of corrpution.” Not only were members using them to steer business to donors and friends, they were being used by leadership of both parties to sway votes on legislation.

Filming of “Atlas Shrugged Part 2” set to begin in April

On Friday, the producers behind Atlas Shrugged Part 1 announced that production of the second installment of the film series had been given the green light and will begin filming in April.

Atlas Productions, LLC announced today that “Atlas Shrugged Part 2”, the second installment of the Atlas Shrugged movie trilogy, has been officially greenlit with principal photography to begin this coming April in Los Angeles, Colorado, and New York.

Based on Ayn Rand’s (Feb. 2 1905 - Mar. 6 1982) 1957 novel, ATLAS SHRUGGED is set in the near future when a dystopian United States finds its leading innovators, from industrialists to artists, mysteriously disappearing at an alarming rate resulting in the “stopping the motor of the world.”

Joining the production is Duncan Scott, a four time Emmy® award-winner, who worked extensively with Rand on the restoration of her film classic “We the Living.”

“Rand has long been the focus of Duncan’s work. He brings invaluable experience to the table as well as an incredible depth of knowledge regarding Atlas. We’re thrilled to have him on the team.” stated Producer John Aglialoro.

Rand’s 1,100 page novel is being produced by Atlas Productions as a trilogy which follows the three part structure of the bestselling book.  Part 1 was released theatrically on April 15, 2011. Part 2 is set to be in theaters October 2012 amidst what is sure to be a fever pitched presidential election season.

Prisons: Where the Government Should Remain

As libertarians, we frequently argue that the government should privatize this, privatize that, decrease spending in other areas, and so on. Some of us are anarchocapitalists; others are minarchists, who believe in a minimal state; and still more are just limited government types, who do not go to either of those extremes but simply want a smaller government in general that protects civil liberties.

One place where libertarians may say we’ve won is in the area of prisons. In the United States, many states have contracted with private companies to manage and run the prison system. These often take the form of “public-private partnerships,” known to many people as “the worst of both worlds” (or “privatize the profits and socialize the losses.”) Some may argue that privatizing prisons would be a good idea because it reduces government, but I would argue this is actually one of the few places where government is justified.

The issue arises thanks to a bill before the Florida Senate on prison privatization, which has led to some unusual legislative shenanigans in order to push it forward:

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos on Wednesday removed a veteran GOP legislator from a budget panel after he fought a plan to privatize prisons, saying he had lost confidence in the lawmaker’s willingness to cut government costs.

Haridopolos said he was stripping Sen. Mike Fasano of his chairmanship of the Senate budget subcommittee that oversees spending on prisons and the courts. He was also removed from the main budget committee.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn’t a fan of the Constitution

In an interview with a Middle Eastern television station, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, perhaps the most reliable Leftist vote on the Supreme Court, said that the United States Constitution should not serve as a basis of law in Egypt:

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has caused a storm of controversy by saying in a television interview that the people of Egypt should not look to the United States Constitution when drafting their own governing document because it’s too old and there are newer examples from which to draw inspiration.

“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” Ginsburg said in the interview, which aired on Jan. 30 on Al-Hayat TV.

Her comments have stunned writers across the conservative blogosphere, though many major media outlets have not given much attention to it.

In the interview, she argued that the United States has the “oldest written constitution still in force in the world,” so instead “you should certainly be aided by all the constitution-writing that has gone one since the end of World War II.”

“I might look at the constitution of South Africa,” Ginsburg said. “That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary.”

Ginsberg’s comments are reprehensible for a couple of different reasons. While our Constitution is imperfect, the Founding Fathers did include a mechanism for changing it via the amendment process in Article V. This process wasn’t supposed to be easy, but the process has served us well. Ginsburg failed to note this, at least in the comments that I’ve read.

The death of Baseline Budgeting?

I didn’t put it in my “14 Fixes for our Messed up Country” list, since I thought it was long enough, but one of the things I really think needs to be reformed is the utterly insane institution of “baseline budgeting,” aka “Washington accounting,” aka “DC moonbattery.”

Apparently, though, according to CNS News (no, that’s not a typo) baseline budgeting might be on the ropes:

The House approved a potentially sweeping budget reform Friday that would force federal agencies to justify an annual increase, as opposed to getting an automatic increase under current budget law.

“What we are about to do could be the most responsible financial thing this Congress has done, this House has done in the whole last year,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said before the vote. “It could be $1.4 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years and all we’re doing is just stopping the automatic increase.”

The Baseline Reform Act of 2012 passed the House by a near party-line vote of 235-177. However, the bill will likely have a difficult time passing the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Under current federal budget law, the amount of money a federal agency will automatically get for the next year is based on the current year’s amount, plus inflation, which is the “baseline” for the next budget year.

Read that last paragraph again, and then ask yourself: where, outside of the federal government, does that sort of accounting work? Do you ever give yourself a budget equal to last year plus inflation automatically? I don’t even think Warren Buffet, as wealthy as he is, does that, nor Mitt Romney. Probably not even Trump, but who really knows what the Donald does.

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