The Inexcusable Brennan Hearing

In light of a Department of Justice memo laying out the general rules for assassinating American citizens with drones via a presidential “kill list” - and consequently, without Due Process - it was believed yesterday’s confirmation hearing for John Brennan as Central Intelligence Agency Director, the architect of these strikes, would be contentious.  It sadly was not, and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s failure to press him on the assassinations of American citizens is nothing short of inexcusable.

As I stated in a post earlier this week, I did not expect the U.S. Senate to check the power it collectively usurped with the CIA; after all, they had a hand in constructing the legal framework for the extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens.  The precedence set by this policy endangers the checks-and-balances inherent within a typical constitutional republic.

Rand Paul outlines constitutional, conservative foreign policy

Rand Paul

There is a battle raging for the heart and soul of the conservative movement. While there is a near constant discussion over fiscal issues, also emerging is a debate over the foreign policy direction the United States should take.

Despite his anti-war rhetoric on the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama has largely continued the expansive foreign policy views of his predecessor. In 2011, Obama authorized a bombing campaign in Libya, which was aimed at deposing the regime of the country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

This campaign, which was waged without the consent of Congress, setoff a debate between the neo-conservatives and those who advocate a more restrained, constitutional foreign policy. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the non-interventionist views of Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and others, smearing them as “isolationists.”

It’s Sen. Paul who has largely become the voice of reason in the foreign policy debate. During the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, suggested that he could, as president, authorize military action against Iran without congressional approval. Sen. Paul responded forcefully, explaining that the “Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president.”

Gun Control is About Control, Not Guns

Barack Obama

Like a true leftist ideological warrior, this past Wednesday, Obama prepared for a speech on new gun control measures by surrounding himself with children who’d written him about gun-related violent crime. Like a soldier behind a wall of sandbags, the children were used as an emotional prop to protect Obama from the projectiles of logic and reason bombarding his weak position on the Second Amendment. The children were there to deflect the blows of contrarian facts which undermine his argument. They gave him the ability to make the argument, as the left is so masterful at, that opposition to his agenda was proof that his opponents don’t care about protecting children.

Hypocritically, just an hour after Obama surrounded himself with children to announce nearly two dozen Executive Orders meant to infringe on the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves, White House spokesman Jay Carney was whining to the press about an NRA ad which referenced the fact that Obama protects his own daughters by surrounding them by men carrying guns (as he should). Said Carney, “Children should not be used as pawns in a political fight.” If the irony was any thicker, you could pour it over pancakes.

Politico reporter apparently doesn’t know the definition of “federalism”


Twitter is full of morons. But today, the Moron of the Day is Politico senior writer Steve Freiss, who tweeted:

No, Steve, they’re not.

This is why we’re up crap creek without a paddle these days—because people just do not understand what terms used in politics actually mean. It is true that in the very beginning, back when we were still under the Articles of Confederation, that federalists wanted a stronger national, federal government. But they did not want “one size fits all” policies for the states, and were very adamant about having power distributed across the states, and between the states and the federal government.

Read up on Madison, Adams, and Jefferson, man. It’s not that hard. Or take a look at the Cato Institute. Or hell, Cornell University Law School. Or any number of other places. It’s pretty obvious what federalism means, and Steve Freiss is an ignorant fool to completely miss it.

Yet, as I’ve noted, he’s a senior writer at Politico. And these are the guys writing stories and feeding information to the masses—people who have absolutely no idea about American politics and what words actually mean. These are likely also the same reporters and writers crafting stories that are subtly pro-gun control.

Can we stop taking them seriously, now?

A Compact for America to Rein in Government

Written by Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

In 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that the one thing missing from the newly minted Constitution was some kind of limit on federal debt:

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

Now that Washington has kicked the can on our out-of-control spending yet again, isn’t it time to reconsider Jefferson’s wish?

It may be easier than previously thought, through an ingenious spin on the balanced budget amendment (BBA).  Compact for America, a Texas-based nonprofit advised by the Goldwater Institute’s Nick Dranias, is advancing an agreement among the states — called an “interstate compact” — to transform the constitutional amendment process into a “turn-key” operation.  That is, a single interstate compact can consolidate all the state action involved in the Article V process: the application to Congress for an amendment convention, delegate appointments and instructions, selection of the convention location and rules, and ultimate ratification.  It then consolidates all the corresponding congressional action, both the call for the convention and ratification referral, into a single omnibus concurrent resolution.

Another conservative plea to libertarians falls flat

Mitt Romney

In what is becoming its very own genre of blog post, another conservative voice has come out with a plea for libertarians to support Mitt Romney.  To those of us who were not born last week, this all seems quite humorous as most of the time libertarians are treated as irrelevant.  In this election, though, things have gotten tight and our votes count as much as those of the most hardcore Republicans.

As I wrote here two weeks ago, Republicans have a long way to go before they can make a truly credible case to libertarians.  For one thing, they need to understand that most libertarians do not see themselves in the same way as conservatives and liberals.  For the most part, both of these groups line up pretty well with a major party.  Sure, conservatives will say they want the GOP to be more right-leaning, and liberals will say they want the Democrat Party to veer more progressive, but they are both going to vote for their respective parties in the end.  Libertarians, though, mesh with elements of both parties - and find plenty to dislike about both as well.

It’s clear to me that the writer of the post, Mr. Brady Cremeens, didn’t read that post, and doesn’t understand the first thing about libertarians.  His entire piece is premised upon the idea that libertarians are just another element of the Right that simply needs to be brought back into the fold.  In Cremeens’ world, we really are just “conservatives who smoke pot” as the saying goes.  With his initial premise being flawed, then, it does not bode well for the rest of what he says.  If he does not understand where libertarians are coming from, how can he possibly make a convincing case?

TSA Profiling, Security Theater, and the Fourth Amendment


Written by Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

This weekend, The New York Times reported that the Transportation Security Administration’s “behavioral detection” program at Logan Airport has devolved into a racial profiling program, according to complaints from 32 federal officers who’ve seen up-close how it works. And yet to my eye, racial profiling isn’t the only constitutionally problematic aspect of the program revealed in the article (emphasis mine below):

In interviews and internal complaints, officers from the Transportation Security Administration’s “behavior detection” program at Logan International Airport in Boston asserted that passengers who fit certain profiles — Hispanics traveling to Miami, for instance, or blacks wearing baseball caps backward — are much more likely to be stopped, searched and questioned for “suspicious” behavior.

“They just pull aside anyone who they don’t like the way they look — if they are black and have expensive clothes or jewelry, or if they are Hispanic,” said one white officer, who along with four others spoke with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity. […]

Apparently, The NRA Only Cares About One Part Of The Bill Of Rights


Based on this from Cato’s Roger Pilon, apparently, the National Rifle Association only cares about some parts of the Bill of Rights:

NPR ran a story this morning, “NRA Targets One Of Its Own In Tenn. Race,” that nicely illustrates the perils of single-issue politics, although you’d never learn the principle of the matter from the NPR account. It seems that the NRA has launched a $75,000 ad campaign against state Rep. Debra Maggart, a long-time NRA member and avid gun-owner who a year ago had an “A+” rating from the NRA. Her sin? She and several other Tennessee Republican officials opposed a bill that would have allowed employees to keep guns in their cars while parked in their private employers’ parking lots.

The NRA’s Chris Cox, who’s spearheading this political vendetta and, in the process, is supporting Maggart’s tea-party backed opponent, invokes both “our First Amendment right to assemble to petition our government” and, of course, the Second Amendment, seemingly oblivious to the fact that neither is relevant here. In fact, the issue could not be simpler: individuals, including employers, have a right to determine the conditions on which others may enter their property.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Vote for Barack Obama

Note: This is part two of a three-part series that will cover reasons that a voter may choose to support a specific presidential candidate. Part 3 for Gary Johnson will be online tomorrow. Part 1 for Mitt Romney is available here.

I never thought I’d be writing a post of reasons why someone should vote for Barack Obama, but I’ve given it some thought and have found that even though Obama has zero chance of getting my vote in November, there are some reasons voting for him might make sense. He won’t get my vote, but maybe he’s the guy for you. Here are some reasons you might want to vote for him.

You believe a Democrat victory is all that matters.

If you think Democrats are generally “for the people” and that Republicans are generally “against the people,” you’re wrong. (They’re both usually against the people.) But if you think that the Democrats are the good guys, you don’t have much of a decision to make. Vote Obama, and hope for the best.

You want division between the executive and legislative branches of government.

If the latter years of the Bush presidency proved anything, it’s that leaving one party in charge of the House, Senate, and White House is a recipe for runaway government. The GOP is going to keep the House in November and is expected to gain good ground in the Senate. If Obama is pushing for big government, Republicans will oppose it; but if Romney is pushing big government, Republicans will (for the most part) be cheering him all the way. Dividing government is a sure way to stall the erosion of freedom.

You and Obama are the same color.

The Unseen in the Gun Debate

Second Amendment

The recent Colorado theater shootings made the news again – tragic, visceral. But it seems that any discussion of guns revolves around a very strong selection bias, where all we see is violence, school shootings, highway snipers. This leaves the conversation incomplete.

These shootings constitute the “seen”. But what if—like economic processes—the issue of gun violence and gun control also has a “not seen” component?  And what if the “not seen” is of equal importance as the “seen”?  This recalls 19th century French political economist Frederic Bastiat’s famous essay, “That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen”, where Bastiat critiqued contemporary economic thinking by noting that for every economic process that is “seen” there are other equally important processes taking place that are “not seen” (his famous “broken window fallacy”).

There is therefore opportunity to stop viewing the gun control debate only through Constitutionality or even the “seen” and rather, to also address the “unseen.” Currently, most gun arguments are centered on the 2nd Amendment, especially its use of the word “militia.” Did the Founders purposely use “militia” in order to confer only a “collective” right to bear arms, or was the Amendment meant for individuals? The Supreme Court answered this question in its landmark Heller vs District of Columbia case, when the majority found that the Second Amendment indeed applied to individuals.

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