Recent Posts From Nate Nelson
Holly Robichaud of The Boston Herald is reporting that Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), U.S. Senate candidate and Lioness of Consumer Protection, may have helped Travelers Insurance cheat asbestos victims out of compensation. Robichaud writes:
One of the Harvard professor’s many well-com-pensated part-time gigs included consulting for Travelers Insurance. I know that it is hard to believe that on one hand, Democrats would be bashing an industry, and on the other hand they are making money from it. To be a Democrat is to be a hypocrite.
What did Lizzy do to earn $44,000 in compensation from the insurance company? She made it harder for claimants to collect. Warren helped establish the bankruptcy strategy for companies to avoid crushing lawsuits. In short, go bankrupt to avoid paying victims.
In court briefings, she supported the effort to protect Travelers Insurance from future lawsuits after agreeing to a $500 million settlement with asbestos plaintiffs.
This news should be greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism until more information becomes available. For example, it would be helpful to know in precisely what capacity Warren worked for Travelers. Robichaud’s rhetoric is beyond partisan even for an op-ed writer and at one point she refers to Brown’s 2010 opponent Martha Coakley as Marsha. So our readers should take these accusations with a grain of salt until we see some less biased reporting.
Occupy Wall Street activists should direct their anger over student debt toward the right target: government.
When the Occupy Wall Street movement burst onto the scene last fall, one of the chief concerns expressed by activists — especially younger protesters — was the debt that millions of American students are facing as a result of the exorbitant costs they’ve had to pay for higher education. Many Occupy activists have demanded a bailout in the form of debt forgiveness and some have even gone so far as to suggest that government should provide universal higher education. But if we’ve learned nothing else from these past few years, we should have learned that government bailouts do more to prolong problems than to solve them and that the more government becomes involved in solving a problem the worse the problem becomes.
Take the bank bailouts, for example. Rather than forcing banks to accept the consequences of their irresponsible practices and reform them, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the Federal Reserve’s more secretive bailouts only encouraged banks to continue behaving irresponsibly with the assurance that government will come to the rescue.
If government’s eagerness to subsidize irresponsibility with taxpayer dollars isn’t enough to convince you that government can’t solve our higher education problems, you may want to consider government’s role in creating the very problems that have plagued the banks. While many progressives like to blame banking deregulation for the mortgage crisis, the disaster actually occurred as a result of government misregulation, congressional affordable housing mandates, previous bailouts, and expansionary monetary policy by the Federal Reserve. Government both created the housing bubble and helped burst it.
Our own Chris Frashure blogged yesterday that Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Va.), a U.S. Senate candidate, has introduced a bill in the Virginia House of Delegates that would direct the state government to refuse to comply with the National Defense Authorization Act’s indefinite detention provisions. Chris writes:
Virginia Delegate and now U. S. Senate candidate Bob Marshall, author of the famous Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act, has introduced a bill into the General Assembly to address the indefinite detention prevision (sic) of the National Defense Authorization Act that President Obama has signed and codified into law. Specifically, the bill “[p]revents any agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the military of Virginia from assisting an agency or the armed forces of the United States in the investigation, prosecution, or detainment of a United States citizen in violation of the Constitution of Virginia.”
Marshall’s bill is just the latest way that opposition to Section 1021 of the NDAA is being expressed at the state level. As we reported earlier this month, Montanans have launched an effort spearheaded by Oath Keepers founder and president Stewart Rhodes to recall their entire congressional delegation for casting votes in favor of the NDAA. But Montanans don’t have to wait to be rid of Tester and Rehberg. They can reject them both in this year’s U.S. Senate election by drafting a viable GOP primary opponent to Rehberg before the June 5 primaries who can then take the fight to Tester over the NDAA.
Libertarians are often accused of being isolationists who are unconcerned about the people of other nations. While it may be true that some libertarians are isolationists, most are non-interventionists — and the two words are not synonymous. Isolationism advocates complete disengagement from foreign affairs. Non-interventionism, on the other hand, embraces engagement with the rest of the world but rejects costly and counterproductive economic, diplomatic, and military coercion.
Thomas Jefferson summed up non-interventionism when he argued for “[p]eace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.” These key components of non-interventionism are vital to the health of a free nation. Non-interventionism avoids the fiscal burdens of war and global policing as well as the collectivism that militarization so often inspires. But the components of non-interventionism enunciated by Jefferson also comprise a recipe for promoting liberty, democracy, peace, and stability abroad.
It’s no secret that the entangling alliances we’ve made with other nations have at times muted and even silenced America’s opposition to totalitarianism and authoritarianism. Our support for autocracies in Middle Eastern nations like Saudi Arabia and Egypt is infamous and has put us on the wrong side of history. Moreover, alliances we have made in the past are now presenting threats to our own national security. Decades before we declared war on the Taliban in Afghanistan we were supporting them in their rebellion against Soviet occupation. Twenty years prior to presiding over the invasion of Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld served as Reagan’s special envoy to express support for Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran. A non-interventionist would argue that we should avoid entangling alliances both for the sake of our national security and in order to be a consistent advocate for liberty and democracy on the world stage.
It’s pop quiz time. Which of the following sounds least like the description of a Washington, D.C. establishment candidate?
a) A former one-term state governor never elected to federal office who spent decades prior to running for public office as a businessman in the private sector;
b) A former Speaker of the House who spent just eight years working as a college professor before serving for twenty years in the House of Representatives, who as Speaker was reprimanded and fined for an ethics violation, and who after resigning from Congress spent nine years as a paid consultant for Freddie Mac;
c) A former congressman and senator who spent just four years practicing law before serving for three years in the House of Representatives and another twelve in the Senate, who in 2004 offered a pivotal endorsement to an establishment squish (and later a party switcher) over a more conservative primary opponent, and whose work since leaving office has primarily included media commentary and political consultancy.
If you chose option a, you’re either a Mitt Romney supporter or perhaps simply an honest person. If you chose option b or option c, you’re probably a supporter of either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum who refuses to face reality. Because RomneyCare and stuff. You may also be one of the unfortunate folks who in 2008 voted for either former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.), a big government social conservative, or Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had at the time spent 25 years in Congress following distinguished military service but no time working in the private sector. Because abortion. And maybe Mormonism, just a little.
Irony. It’s what’s for dinner.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) has been under fire since last week’s South Carolina GOP primary debate for calling President Obama a “food stamp president.” Progressive critics have accused Gingrich of pushing hatred and racism to turn voters against Obama. But as a CNNMoney article makes clear, more Americans have been added to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) under Obama than under his recent predecessors and Obama’s stimulus package made it easier to qualify for SNAP. Approximately 14% of Americans — 1 in 7 — were on food stamps last year. We spent $75 billion on food stamps in 2011, an increase of about $40 billion in just three years, and according to Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Robert Rector overall spending on our 70 welfare programs has increased by one-third under Obama. These are facts and they would still be equally true if President Obama were white.
During last night’s Florida GOP primary debate, former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) blasted former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) for signing RomneyCare’s individual mandate into law in 2006. Apparently Sen. Santorum forgot that he supported individual mandates when he was running for the U.S. Senate in 1994:
Santorum and Watkins both called for a “comprehensive restructuring” of health care. But they differed sharply on what elements should comprise a basic benefits package.
Watkins would include mental health services, long-term care, prescription drug coverage, dental services and preventive care such as immunizations. Santorum would not. Both reject abortion services.
Santorum and Watkins both oppose having businesses provide health care for their employees. Instead, they would require individuals to purchase insurance. Both oppose higher taxes on alcohol or tobacco to help pay for care.
Santorum and Watkins would require individuals to buy health insurance rather than forcing employers to pay for employee benefits. Both oppose abortion services and support limits on malpractice awards. Santorum says non-economic damages should not exceed $250,000, adjusted annually for inflation, and lawyers’ contingency fees should be capped at 25 percent.
It’s become pretty clear that Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) isn’t going to win the GOP presidential nomination. Following his fourth place showing in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, Paul’s campaign announced that it would concentrate its efforts on the fourteen remaining caucus states. Even in the unlikely event that Paul sweeps the caucus states, he will receive no more than 500 delegates* — far short of the 1,144 needed to win the nomination. The best Paul can hope to accomplish through this strategy is a brokered convention at which he would unquestionably be rejected as the GOP nominee by the party establishment. Even this outcome is unlikely. Like it or not, it’s time to face reality: Ron Paul will not be the Republican candidate for president.
This leaves libertarians with a choice. We can choose to support either former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), or former Governor Gary Johnson (L-N. Mex.).
In the midst of last week’s protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate version, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), I suggested that “[w]e’re fighting an uphill battle” against the powerful forces that want to censor the internet in the name of anti-piracy. Since then, many pundits and bloggers have been striking a triumphalist note now that both SOPA and PIPA appear to be dead in the water. But the best rule of thumb when you think you’ve beaten those who would erase our civil liberties is to reject complacency and assume that you haven’t. When they look like they’ve lost they’re usually just regrouping. The recent MegaUpload bust should prove that.
But if you’re still not convinced, you probably haven’t heard of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The U.S. Trade Representative’s office declares ACTA “the highest-standard plurilateral agreement ever achieved concerning the enforcement of intellectual property rights.” A 2008 report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation makes clear that ACTA would accomplish at an international level what SOPA/PIPA were supposed to accomplish here in America. We, along with eight other nations, signed ACTA on October 1, 2011.
If you haven’t heard of ACTA before, here are five things you need to know:
Tonight President Obama will deliver his third State of the Union address, but something that happened yesterday illustrates the true state of our union far better than anything you’ll hear tonight. As we reported yesterday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was detained by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials at the Nashville International Airport. Paul was detained by TSA officials after refusing an invasive full body pat-down following some kind of anomaly in the body scanner’s reading. Some might argue that there’s nothing to get worked up about here. After all, shouldn’t we expect senators to be treated like everyone else? But it is precisely because everyday citizens are subjected to these invasive procedures on a daily basis that Sen. Paul’s detention is so alarming. His high-profile detention by the TSA serves as a reminder that Americans are having their privacy violated every day on their way through the nation’s airports.
You probably won’t hear about Sen. Paul’s detention by the TSA in President Obama’s address tonight. You’re not likely to hear anything about it in the GOP response delivered by Governor Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.), nor even in the Tea Party response offered by businessman and former presidential candidate Herman Cain (R-Ga.). You probably won’t hear about the National Defense Authorization Act, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or any of the other manifold ways that Washington has undermined the Bill of Rights. But whether our politicians want to raise these issues or not, these are the issues that define the state of our union in the 21st century. And the state of our union is dire.