Limited Government

Point vs. Counterpoint: Chick-fil-A, Gay Marriage, and Boston Mayor Tom Menino

Cross-posted from Friction Tape.

//creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In a blog post yesterday morning, my former Cato Institute colleague Tom G. Palmer, who is openly gay and who once “brandished a pistol to scare off several men who he feared were about to attack him because of his sexual orientation,” discussed Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s reaction to Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s on-the-record remarks about his company’s multi-million dollar support for traditional marriage causes and advocacy. Mayor Menino, in an interview with the Boston Herald, subsequently threatened to lean on city planners to deny Chick-fil-A business licenses it would need to operate within the jurisdiction:

“If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies,” he warned.

Menino also told the Herald that

“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”

Tom Palmer concluded his post, writing

Aurora: Let’s Use Reason, Not Hyperbole

Blogger-in-chief Jason Pye has already written a great post on not giving in to hype and emotion over what happened in Aurora. What happened there was a terrible tragedy, and it was only made worse by baseless accusations and shoddy reporting on “both sides” being multiplied dozens of times over. (Personally, I think ABC’s Brian Ross should be fired for his incredibly inept rush to judgment, trying to pin the tragedy on a Tea Party member who had nothing to do with it, but that’s another post.)

There are just a few points I myself want to make:

Politicizing Tragedy

Nearly everyone who hasn’t jumped on this political bandwagon or another has jumped on the “Don’t politicize this tragedy!” bandwagon. Doug Mataconis has a very good post on Outside The Beltway about just this, and for the most part, I agree with him. I think it is dirty and disgusting to try and score political points over the deaths of a dozen people, including a six-year old. It’s just wrong, period, and we should be mourning, not trying to use it as evidence in political trench warfare.

Yet, the problem is one of law and order—and one of government’s legitimate functions is the protection of lives and property. Many ask—rightfully so—what can be done to prevent this from happening again, and inevitably, that discussion involves government to some extent. When you have that sort of situation, it’s impossible for it to stay un-politicized. Complaining about it is about as useful as complaining about how bad an Aaron Sorkin feature is. It’s going to be that way.

DISCLOSE Act’s Lead Sponsor: We Need Campaign Finance Reform to Protect Incumbents

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. Photo courtesy of the Office of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.

Following up on my piece last week on the newest version of the DISCLOSE Act, which failed a cloture vote to overcome a GOP filibuster last night, and which will face another cloture vote around 3pm Eastern today, I wanted to share this interview of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), the lead sponsor of S.3369, conducted by progressive talk radio host Sam Seder at this year’s Netroots Nation conference.

Around the 1:35 mark, Sen. Whitehouse says (emphasis added)

Senate Democrats Try DISCLOSE Act Once More before Election

DISCLOSE tweet

That’s a tweet from Roll Call Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski just after breakfast this morning. Instead of taking up annual appropriations, a rudimentary function of annual fiscal business in Congress, Senate Democrats are instead choosing to attempt to squelch political participation before the November elections.

It’s Time to Rethink Fusionism

Two weeks ago, I wrote not one, but two posts about how conservatives had basically foisted Obamacare upon the populace. About how conservatives wanted libertarians to join them again, and vote for a conservative…who wrote Obamacare. About how conservatives had lost any sense they principles they had.

This is an addendum.

Since the end of World War II, libertarians and conservatives have been allied in a loose coalition known as “fusionism.” The idea was that, as communism and social “democracy” was on the rise, anyone who believed in free markets had to ban together, at the expense of other ideas. It originally began with Frank S. Meyer, an American philosopher, who believed that libertarian free market concepts worked hand in hand with conservative traditionalism.

However, it has become clear to me, and to growing numbers of libertarians, that this is false. That the entire fusionist experiment was really born out of necessity, not principled ideology, as a way to survive the Cold War. And especially the last few years have shown, the conservative “movement” has come utterly unhinged.

The birthers. The Kenyan anti-colonialist crap. The accusations our president is a secret Muslim. The now ludicrous defenses of bigotry against homosexuals, transgendered, and those who do not believe. And then there is the vehement and heated arguments against spending…but on the same front, conservatives themselves spend and spend and spend. They just want to spend a tad less than liberals.

Profiles in Liberty: Grover Norquist, Anti-Tax Warrior

As a long-time leader in the conservative movement, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform become famous in recent years for his Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

The Pledge, which was rolled out in 1986 with the endorsement of President Ronald Reagan, requires office holders to oppose increases in the marginal income tax rates (personal & business) and to vote against any net reduction or elimination of deductions unless the changes are matched, dollar for dollar, by further reducing tax rates.

With signers in every state, more than 1,100 state officeholders, from state representative to governor, have signed the Pledge. Liberals and wayward Republicans blame it (and Mr. Norquist personally) for deadlock in Congressional budget debates.

Mr. Norquist is also involved in many center-right organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, the American Conservative Union, ParentalRights.org, and GOProud. He is also a Contributing Editor of The American Spectator.

Recently, Mr. Norquist co-wrote a book with Professor John Lott, Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future. It is a brilliant take down of President Obama’s radical policies, and you should buy multiple copies today.

With a dry sense of humor, Mr. Norquist tweets @GroverNorquist.

Grover Norquist

Morning After: More SCOTUS Reflections from a Non-Lawyer

In reaction to my post yesterday, and lots of other punditry around the web, my friend Rusty Weiss of Mental Recession fame (he recently celebrated six months of blogging!) emailed me to say he’s tired of having to settle for silver linings — that he want points on the board.

A lot of us — political activists, policy geeks, and court watchers alike — were disappointed with the outcome of yesterday’s ruling. We wanted a full takedown of Obamacare, for both substantive and political reasons. Instead, we got a ruling that the president’s signature legislative achievement passes constitutional muster, even if it was most peculiarly reasoned.

Silver Linings in SCOTUS Obamacare Ruling

[Editor’s note: This post should not be construed as an endorsement of Mitt Romney or of Republican candidates for U.S. Senate or U.S. House in 2012. The author is a political media strategist by trade.]

Regular readers know I am not a lawyer, and that I do not specialize in health policy. I also did not come to Washington through Capitol Hill and am therefore no expert in parliamentary procedure. Still, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare — some original, some not — and they’re not all bad.

First, here’s the opinion itself (PDF).

Second, the greatest legal minds on the left have spent the last couple of years arguing that the individual mandate is constitutional under authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause. The Court summarily rejected this argument, and that is great for individual liberty. Congress does not, as Obamacare opponents have argued all along, have the power to force you to buy health insurance, broccoli, or anything else. It does not have power to regulate economic inactivity.

Third, the mandate was upheld because Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the penalty for not purchasing health insurance can reasonably be construed as a tax. Because the power to tax is an enumerated power of Congress as outlined in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, this provision of the law was upheld.

An interesting political point — in September 2009, fearing political blowback from pushing so hard for the law, the president flatly rejected that Obamacare constituted a tax increase on Americans during a recession:

Opinion: “First, they came for the donor lists…”

Emboldened by the response to my piece last week, I put on my political theorist hat this weekend and penned another editorial that has now been published in The Daily Caller. Here’s an excerpt:

“Don’t we all have a right to know,” asks Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a recent fundraising email, “exactly which corporations and individuals are spending millions in attack ads to influence elections – and what their agendas are?” While we should expect this type of rhetoric from bullies who think that the government should force workers to give up their right to a secret ballot in unionization proceedings, making it easier for Democratic supporters to rake new campaign funds from their peers’ paychecks, this is one of those times when “No” is a complete, forceful, and declarative sentence.

But in fairness to Messina, to whom I wish a swift and humiliating trip to the unemployment line this November, we should (for a moment) take his claim at face value. We should ask, “Upon what moral principle” – we’re talking about rights, after all – “is this ‘right to know’ predicated?”

Profiles in Liberty: Phil Kerpen of American Commitment

Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of Democracy Denied: How Obama is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America - and How to Stop Him.

The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a “Top Grassroots Lobbyist” in 2011. His op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.

Prior to joining American Commitment, Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. He also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.

Kerpen blasts out spirited, pro-liberty tweets @Kerpen.

Phil Kerpen


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