Nate Nelson

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An Open Letter to GOP Primary Voters From a Libertarian

Dear Republican primary voters and caucusgoers:

Yesterday, some of you in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri delivered stunning victories for former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. You may have thought in caucusing and voting for Santorum that you were dealing a blow to the big government establishment. Unfortunately, you weren’t. Santorum is and has always been a card-carrying member of the Beltway GOP. Santorum’s record in the U.S. Senate reveals consistent opposition to the principles of limited government, fiscal restraint, and individual liberty. That’s why libertarians can’t support him now or in the general election and why you shouldn’t either.

Rick Santorum has consistently voted in favor of big government, budget-busting programs. He has slammed former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) for signing RomneyCare into law, but RomneyCare and ObamaCare are hardly the first examples of big government intervention in the health care market. Another recent example was the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 establishing the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. While libertarians and limited government conservatives were busy arguing for the reduction of government health care entitlements, former President George W. Bush was busy expanding them — and Rick Santorum was happy to vote in favor of Medicare Part D along with other big government establishment Republicans in the U.S. Senate.

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.

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 LewRockwell.com) 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.

In Praise of Kindergarten Style Payback

Virginia State Senator Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier County) introduces a bill to require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. In protest, State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) introduces an amendment requiring a cardiac stress test and rectal exam before men can be prescribed erectile dysfunction medication. Vogel’s bill passes by voice vote while Howell’s amendment narrowly fails. Glenn Reynolds, A.K.A. Instapundit, declares himself “okay with abortion” but reserves all of his outrage for the failed amendment, insisting that what we’re seeing here is “a false equivalence” and “kindergarten style payback.” Something is very wrong with this picture.

In a way, Reynolds is right. We are seeing a false equivalence. While there is absolutely no medical reason to require women to have ultrasounds before undergoing abortion procedures, there are good medical reasons to require men to undergo rectal exams and cardiac stress tests before being prescribed erectile dysfunction drugs. Included among the side effects of Viagra, for example, are rectal bleeding, colitis, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat. I don’t know if Howell had any of these side effects in mind when she proposed her amendment or if she was instead purely interested in kindergarten style payback, but either way her amendment actually makes more sense from a medical perspective than does Vogel’s.

Gary Johnson Could Be a Problem for Everybody

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is often viewed as a bastion of liberalism. It’s regularly excoriated by Republican politicians and pundits alike who want to pander to social conservatives because the ACLU has often led the opposition against SoCon attempts to impose their religious practices and moral values on the entire nation. Even libertarian and libertarian-leaning Republicans are often afraid to make nice with the ACLU. One libertarian who’s not afraid is former Governor Gary Johnson (L-N.M.), who met recently with the ACLU executive board and a group of staffers. From Reason:

It wasn’t until he got started on legalizing marijuana that the crowd (figuratively) lit up. A steady stream of applause followed Johnson’s declarations after that.

“I support gay marriage equality. I support repealing the PATRIOT Act. I would have vetoed the Department of Homeland Security, because I think it’s redundant. I would’ve never established the department of—the TSA agency. I think we should end the practices of torture. Period. I can understand the complexities in the following, but I think we should end the practices of detainment without being charged. There is nothing I want to see the government come in and fix with the Internet.”

Johnson also emphasized differences between himself and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.):

 

“I don’t think that Ron Paul is going to win the Republican nomination. For the most part, we are talking about the same message, but we do have differences. And when he drops out, or finds an end to the Republican primary, I don’t see this agenda moving forward,” Johnson said.

Libertarians Should Reject Anti-Capitalist, Statist Campaign Tactics

The race for the Republican presidential nomination has turned ugly over these past few weeks thanks primarily to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), whose campaigns have resorted to an “everything but the kitchen sink” smear campaign to destroy former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.). Both Gingrich and Santorum have attacked Romney’s success in the private sector by criticizing his work at Bain Capital and relentlessly demanding that he release his tax returns. Gingrich’s campaign upped the ante when it unleashed a robocall slamming Romney for vetoing additional funding for kosher kitchens in nursing homes as Governor of Massachusetts. Apparently fiscal restraint has now joined business success in this race’s growing list of taboos.

Ron Paul Could Have a Very Good Weekend

Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) was the big winner last night in Florida. The Sunshine State is a winner-take-all state, which means that Romney took all fifty of Florida’s GOP delegates and is now leading in the delegate count. But as The Christian Science Monitor points out, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) could emerge as another big winner by week’s end:

This week, Ron Paul is likely to win more delegates to the 2012 GOP convention than either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. In fact, he’s likely to win more delegates than Gingrich and Santorum combined.

 

“Hold it”, you’re saying, “How can that be? Rep. Paul’s polling in single digits in Florida. He’s going to finish behind Gingrich and Santorum, as well as Mitt Romney, in Tuesday’s Florida primary. How can that translate into beating any of his rivals at all?”

 

We’ll tell you how – because he’s not winning those delegates in Florida. He’s winning, or will probably win, at least a few delegates in Maine.

Indeed, while the other three remaining Republican candidates have been busy in Florida, Paul has been focusing his time and energy on a strong finish if not a win in the Pine Tree State and in Nevada. Solid performances this weekend could give Paul momentum and energize his supporters headed into the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses next Tuesday.

What Would a Brokered GOP Convention Mean for Libertarians?

If libertarians don’t want the Republican establishment to choose this year’s GOP nominee, a brokered convention is the last thing they should want.

Writing at The Fiscal Times, Ed Morrissey takes on conservatives who are hoping for a brokered Republican convention this year, arguing that a brokered convention is not only unlikely but undesirable because it would pave the way for the GOP establishment to choose a nominee who is more to their liking. Morrissey writes:

But let’s say for the sake of argument that no one candidate has a majority of the delegates, and none manages to wangle (sic) a majority on the first ballot at the convention.  How does this benefit conservatives, who have fought the “establishment” that has pushed Romney for the nomination?  The nominating process will then fall into the hands of the Republican National Committee, comprised of state party chairs and other power brokers, where the Tea Party has little or no influence. The fantasy in this case will be that the assembled party bosses and delegates, many of whom are part of state-party establishments, will crown a completely new candidate.

Who would that candidate likely be?  It’s not going to be Sarah Palin or Herman Cain, who are the antithesis of this kind of back room wheeling and dealing and who aren’t necessarily trusted by the people negotiating the question. Assuming that it’s not one of the candidates who couldn’t close the deal in the primaries, it might be Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, or another establishment figure that chose not to run and get vetted in the first place.

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