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Lasting Effects of the Supreme Court’s Prop 8 Decision

Stephanie Rugolo is the editor of The Rugolo Report and holds an M.A. from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.

A strange thing happened in the Supreme Court’s recentHollingsworth v. Perry decision. Even though this case focused on California’s Proposition 8 that banned gay marriage, the court was split, with both liberals and conservatives comprising the majority and dissenting parties. It turns out that the rationale by which the Court’s majority decided the Hollingsworth case led to the justices’ scrambled ideological divisions. The Court’s reason for striking down Prop 8 limits civilians’ ability to legally defend initiatives, a disturbing limit to democratic liberties.

Proposition 8 was a citizens’ initiative passed in 2008 elections. A citizens’ initiative is unlike most laws passed by elected legislatures. Instead, these laws are initiatives of the citizens—that is, they are the result of independent citizens gaining enough signatures to get a proposed law on the ballot.

When gay couples brought a suit against Prop 8 that found the law unconstitutional, the State of California had no intention of appealing the decision. After all, neither the former nor current Californian administrations passed it in the first place, as it was a citizens’ initiative. Consequently, individual proponents of Prop 8 volunteered to appeal the decision in court. That raised questions of standing—whether Prop 8 supporters had a tangible stake in the case and thus a right to appeal. The Ninth Court found they did have standing before finding Prop 8 unconstitutional.

Big Brother Looking Out for Us or Just Looking at Us?

Mike Herrera is a songwriter and record producer from Bremerton, Washington. He hosts The Mike Herrera Hour every Friday night on IDOBI.com. You can catch more of Mike’s musings on Tumblr.

What if I told you that the government knows you are reading this? In an article on June 6, 2013 by Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian, more damning evidence surfaced that “NSA PRISM program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others. The top-secret PRISM program claims direct access to servers of firms including Google, Apple and Facebook.” However, one day before from Greenwald again, “NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily.” Did he say daily? With these two huge stories on top of all the recent White House scandals — including kill lists, Predator drones, and the IRS debacle — this could read as a racy Hollywood drama much like the aptly named TV show, Scandal.

The real life scandals are worse! I feel consciously detached from the fact that some if not all of us are being recorded by the government. Many US foreign policies and our ongoing policing of the world has made me nervous to be an American on foreign soil many times over. I’m suddenly hit from behind by the fact that a large majority of US citizens don’t have a clue and don’t really want to know that everything you search online is recorded, every email saved in a government file. Ignorance is bliss. But when it suddenly affects those individuals, it’s too late.

Jim DeMint Gets Milton Friedman’s Immigration Views Wrong

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, immigration, and land-use policy.

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint took to the pages of the Washington Post this morning to defend his institution’s latest report on immigration, in which the ludicrous claim that “amnesty” would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion is made.

I’ll leave analysis of the study itself to others (and boy, are they really piling on), but I take exception to the very first sentence of DeMint’s op-ed:  ”The economist Milton Friedman warned that the United States cannot have open borders and an extensive welfare state.”

Every now and again a particular clip from a larger Milton Friedman speech is brought up, and this debate is rehashed in libertarian circles. In it, Friedman says, “it is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both.” This is what DeMint is referencing, and he seems to think it supports either his general point of view or his immigration policy prescriptions. I believe that either is unlikely.

Nullify Now: The Case for State Action

Michael Boldin is the executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center, established in 2006 in response to endless attacks on liberty from both major political parties.

Want to stop the sociopaths in Washington DC?

Ron Paul told you how.  Judge Napolitano is on board.  Tom Woods provides intellectual firepower to back it up. And today, I’ll share six steps to get you started.

Obviously, it will take some work.  But what should a liberty lover actually do? March on DC? Lobby Congress? Support a campaign in the 2016 presidential election?

Answer: No. No. And, no.

RON PAUL’S ADVICE

Ron Paul said nullification would “reverse the trend and stop the usurpation of all the powers and privileges from the states to the federal government.”

The game-plan is right in front of you. It’s nullification.

That bears repeating: if you want to stop federal thugs, Ron Paul advises you to nullify.

I can’t think of a stronger endorsement for libertarians than this powerful statement from the man who brought the principles of liberty to the mainstream.

Think about it.  Nullification isn’t just an interesting theory or some historical oddity for study.  It’s a method Ron Paul himself endorsed as a path to “stop the usurpation of power.”  That’s serious business, and a call for you to take action.

DEFINITIONS

What is nullification?  In order to share a plan of action, you must first understand what nullification is.  When Thomas Jefferson called it the “rightful remedy,” he didn’t specifically define it.

We Look to the Founders for their Expertise, Not for their Skin Color or Wealth (or “On Respecting Your Elders”)

Dr. Nathan Griffith is an associate professor of political science at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. He teaches constitutional law, European politics, political economy, and methodology. He is currently on sabbatical while he finishes a forthcoming textbook on American government.

On the last day of the year past, Louis Michael Seidman wrote an op-ed in the New York Times advocating that we “give up on the Constitution,” as our following it had left us “teeter(ing) at the edge of fiscal chaos.”  He asks why “a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, (should) have a stranglehold on our economy?  Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?”  The heart of his objection comes with this:

“Imagine that after careful study a government official—say, the president (sic) or one of the party leaders in Congress—reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country.  Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action.  Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?”

Let’s have a discussion about the Second Amendment

This post was written by Richard Schrade, an attorney from Georgia and member of the Libertarian National Committee, and gun rights proponent.

This current meme being circulated by those that even seek to think about the real reasons for the Second Amendment is that no matter how well armed the populace that a tyrannical repressive government will always have superior firepower.  That being the case, so goes this meme, there is no reason to allow assault weapons, high capacity magazines etc. in private hands.  That argument is welcomed so far as it is intellectually honest in recognizing that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect the citizenry from the government and has little to do with hunting.  However, the argument is fundamentally flawed.

If revolution ever visits this country again, the central government will be better armed and better organized (as it was in 1775); the early participants in the revolution will represent less than 50% of the citizens (as in 1775); and the ultimate fate of the revolution will rise and fall on the tenacity of the revolutionaries (as with nearly every revolution in western history).

Revolutions are necessarily asymmetrical.  The government always (nearly always) has the upper hand in financing, organization and manpower.  Often the revolution will be loosely organized – sometimes for ideological reasons (St. Petersburg in February 1917) and sometimes for reasons of safety (Chechnya 1990s).  Sometimes the revolution seeks to throw off a colonial ruler (Vietnam 1950s), sometimes a tyrannical government (France 1789).

Attempt to Ban “Bullet Button” in California

Written by Brandon Combs, Director of the Calguns Foundation (@CalgunsFdn), and posted with permission.

In a press release issued by his office on Tuesday, California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) announced that he has introduced a new piece of legislation, SB 47, modeled after a bill he introduced last year [SB 249] but that was held by the State Assembly. The bill prohibited semi-automatic weapons like AR-15s and AK-47s from having devices known as bullet buttons and mag magnets….SB 47 will also prohibit add-on kits that allow high-capacity magazines.”

The text of the bill as it stands today is simply: “It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation relating to assault weapons.”

We’re not yet sure what “add-on kits” will defined as in SB 47 - the bill is currently a “spot bill” - but we are betting that Yee chief of staff Adam Keigwin will find some way to make a mess of the bill like he did last round.  Sen. Yee’s SB 249 gun ban attempt, which stalled in the Appropriations Committee after significant efforts by the STOP SB 249 campaign (a project of CGF and dealer association) as well as groups like NSSF, would have forced gun owners to reconfigure their firearms as “featureless builds” and use detachable magazines (including lawfully-possessed large capacity magazines) or dispose of the firearms before the bill would have taken effect.  If you haven’t seen the SB 249 YouTube videos by Wes Morris of Ten Percent Firearms and Jeff M of PRK Arms, be sure to check them out.

A Moment of Silence

Charlie Harper is editor of Peach Pundit, Georgia’s most-read political blog, and a columist at The Courier Herald. This has been reposted with permission.

I attended Sunday’s Falcons game at the Georgia Dome.  In addition to the usual presentation of our nation’s flag and the singing of The National Anthem, there was a moment of silence.  In days gone by, it would have been a public prayer.  Instead, we were instructed to be quiet for a moment of reflection on the lives lost last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.  It was brief, but lasted long enough to make me wonder if we didn’t need a longer one, not just at football games, but across the whole country.

I became consciously aware of the shooting just after 1:00 pm Friday, not from the breathless news reports, but while reading Twitter and Facebook.  I made the decision not to turn on the television right away.  Unfortunately, this has become too familiar that I knew what to expect by doing that.  There would be pictures and stories of unimaginable tragedy, told with incomplete and often incorrect information for the first few hours.  I decided I could actually postpone reality for a bit, though I pieced together enough thoughts to post a request for “prayers for Connecticut” on my blog at Peach Pundit.

Then I checked out for a couple of hours.  It was time for a moment of silence.

Facebook and Twitter are now the rapid response sites for citizen-based commentary during all events.  When observing initial reactions there is a one general rule of thumb: You will lose faith in humanity reading knee-jerk responses and political solutions from instant experts while first responders are still trying to treat the wounded and remove bodies.

Land-use policy needs to rely on markets

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, drug legalization, immigration, and land-use policy.

“The plans differ; the planners are all alike.” — Frédéric Bastiat

It’s common to hear libertarians pejoratively referred to as “Republicans who smoke pot,” the idea being that libertarians don’t really favor freedom in areas where it would lead to outcomes they do not like. For the most part this is false. There is one policy area, however, where this is an accurate criticism: land-use policy. On this issue, the dominant libertarian narrative does not live up to its name.

The narrative, to put it briefly, is that most Americans prefer detached, single-family homes, and zoning laws reflect this for the most part. Save for eliminating certain regulations aimed at curbing sprawl that make homes expensive such as open space rules or growth boundaries, it says  policymakers should avoid making major changes to traditional zoning laws lest we fall into the hands of the “planners” and have to live under “smart growth” policies. The narrative associates suburbs, homeownership, and cars with mobility and better living. Libertarians main goals, so it goes, should be relatively inexpensive (or at least not “artificially expensive”) single-family homes and decent traffic. Note that libertarians who support traditional zoning do not consider themselves planners

This narrative is not only wrong, but distinctly unlibertarian. Before I attack it, two small concessions:

First, smart growth is something that libertarians should oppose for both philosophical and utilitarian reasons.

FDA Wants To Roll the Cigar Industry

Jeff Edgens is a member of the Executive Committee for the Libertarian Party of Georgia and a member of the Cigar Rights of America.  He lives in Statesboro, Georgia.

Cigars have a family tree that can be traced back like that of a pencil. I,Pencil - the classic article written by Leonard Reed describes how a pencil is made.  In his essay, Reed chronicles the business transactions seen and unseen in the manfuacture of a pencil. He distinguishes between the invisible hand of the marketplace that brings willing buyers and sellers together from that of the planned economy foisted on to the marketplace by a regulatory agency.

I, Pencil reminds us that no single person has the knowledge to make a pencil and the same holds true for making a cigar.  Both are made by a myriad of individual business transactions that cooperate and bring to bear their respective talents toward a final product.

In this case, besides rolling the cigar there are all of the steps that come before the final product reaches the hands of the customer.  There are those who provide the raw materials to build the tools used to harvest the tobacco.  There are those who harvest the leaf, those who ship it, those who buy the leaf, those who roll it, those who market it, and those who sale the final product.  Other steps are unseen and those are the ones that take place long before a cigar ever reaches the marketplace. There are entirely too many transactions for one person or an agency of people to know how to direct or control.

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