freedom

Are Republicans either “freedom conservatives” or “liberty conservatives”? We can do better than that.

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Buzzfeed, not exactly known for its credibility on the right, this week contributed to what has been an ongoing project among our ranks for years now: how to describe and label the different wings of Republicanism. Ben Smith put forth a valiant effort, attempting to simplifying the right into two sides: freedom conservatives and liberty conservatives.

When we write about the right these days, we tend to use a set of dated shorthand, overlapping categories drawn from different eras: neocons and tea partyers, libertarians and hawks, the establishment and the grassroots. …

I propose replacing the messy old terminology with a simple new vocabulary, one that has evolved organically, which has deep and consistent intellectual roots, no pejorative implications, and which political leaders use effortlessly and without reflecting. The division that will define the Republican Party for the next decade is the split between Liberty Conservatives and Freedom Conservatives.

He describes freedom conservatives as those, like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, who have more moderate views and are comfortable with government expressing power both internationally and domestically to pursue a conservative agenda. Liberty conservatives, on the other hand, like Rand Paul of course, are more rooted in the originalist view of the Constitution limiting the federal government to a few specific powers and a more limited role in foreign affairs.

Freedom…It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

Last week, the Democrats held their Winter Meeting at the Capital Hilton, where Emperor Obama, Slayer of Insurance Companies, Defender of the Poor (and making more every day), the Duke of Deficits, addressed his faithful assembled minions, dispensing tidbits of propaganda like an imperial Pez dispenser, reeling them in with promises of endless supplies of government candy, assuring them it is oh so good for them.

Obama declared that “[a]s Democrats, we’ve let the other side define the word ‘freedom’ for too long…freedom for ordinary Americans to honestly pursue their dreams, that’s what we believe.” He went on to define freedom as the power of government to protect you from any adverse circumstance that may arise in your life, and as the ability for government to provide for your health care, your retirement, food, housing, and so on and so forth.

To quote the inimitable Inigo Montoya, the glorious Spaniard from one of my all time favorite movies, The Princess Bride…Mr. Obama, “You keep using that word [freedom]…I do not think it means what you think it means!’” What Obama is describing is not freedom; it is lifelong dependency on the gargantuan Nanny State, with promises of cradle-to-grave nurturing no matter how irresponsible the decisions you make in your life. Of course, the only way for government to protect you from your own mistakes is by forcing others to pay the price for you. Every action has a consequence, and just because you don’t suffer does not mean that someone does not suffer. Someone has to pay the piper. There is no free lunch.

72% of Americans See Big Government as the Greatest Threat

big government

Since Barack Obama took office in 2009, more Americans say that big government is a much greater threat to the country than big business. The latest Gallup shows that the number of Americans who believe that big government is the biggest threat to the United States has been increasing in a rather steady fashion.

According to Gallup, 72% percent of Americans now believe that big government is the number one threat to the country. The poll also demonstrated that only 21% of Americans now believe that big business is the major issue. The historical high choosing big business over big government or big labor, 38%, was registered in 2002.

The Domestic Cold War

Joel Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. Previously he worked in Washington, D.C. in public policy for organizations such as the Leadership Institute, the Cato Institute, and the White House Office of Public Liaison. He studied Statesmanship at the undergraduate level and Global Affairs at the postgraduate level.

The battle lines are drawn. The great war between America’s government and her people fast approaches.

No, this isn’t some dystopian near-future science fiction scenario. This is present-day America we’re talking about. There’s a growing hostility between the U.S. government and certain incorrigible freedom-loving citizens, with the live-and-let-lives caught on the side of their more rowdy fellows, despite best efforts to bury their heads in the sand.

But where are all the battles? Where are the troops filling the streets? Where are the tanks rolling across the countryside, steamrolling all dissidents in their path? In waiting, that’s where. This isn’t a traditional armed conflict I’m predicting; at least, not yet. It’s a cold war. Each side is building up its record of hostile actions against the other, all stopping short of the point of no return.

First there’s the war over control of information. The degree to which the U.S government has pursued whistleblowers, leakers, and all those who would enforce transparency is worrisome, almost to the point of making the American people out to be some sort of sworn enemy. Almost. As the Bradley Manning trial showed, they will prudently stop short of making that overt declaration of war.

America, Land of the Free (but get permission first)

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be tomorrow.” — James Madison, Federalist No. 62 (1788)

Having celebrated the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence this past Thursday, I was once again reminded of what a great country we live in; the “Land of the Free” where man is free to pursue happiness as he determines that to be, where you be anything you want to be and do what you want to do…anything at all!

Unless…

You want to choose your own health care plan, one that meets your needs and doesn’t force you to pay for coverage that you don’t need, that doesn’t make you pay for alcoholism coverage even if you don’t drink, coverage for smoking-related illnesses even if you’ve never smoked, pre-natal and maternity coverage even if you are a single man or a great-grandmother whose child-bearing years ended sometime around the Carter administration (sorry, you can’t do that).

Justice Anthony Kennedy is not a libertarian

Anthony Kennedy

Over the last few years, there has been much discussion about the philosophical leanings of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Long considered a moderate on the High Court, Kennedy has been the deciding vote in many 5 to 4 decisions, leading John Tabin of The American Spectator to note that “[i]t’s Anthony Kennedy’s world; we’re just living in it.”

Some legal scholars have surmised that the Supreme Court may be in some sort of “libertarian moment,” thanks in part to Kennedy. This is not necessarily a new theory. Shortly after the Court issued its decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), a ruling that struck down sodomy laws in 13 states based concerns over privacy, Randy Barnett praised Kennedy’s “presumption of liberty” approach.

Kennedy’s ideology was again the topic of discussion in 2012 after he sided with the minorty in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, in which the majority upheld the individual mandate in ObamaCare.

After the Court’s decision last month in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the federal provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act, Kennedy’s ideological views are, once again, being discussed by legal scholars.

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.

Dysfunctional Bedfellows: Free Speech, Capitalism and Social Media

Enjoy Capitalism

Libertarians and conservatives alike either are intimately aware of problems with speaking out on social media, or they are residing under virtual rocks. In spite of the proliferation of liberty-minded individuals on networks like Twitter and Facebook, those platforms are anything but welcoming to freedom-oriented content.

On Twitter, there is the hated “gulag” that silences conservatives by exploiting an auto-account suspension rubric, or at least that is the explanation offered by the company. As for Facebook, it’s often turned into page suspensions and deletions for gun dealers, and conservative or libertarian commentators.

Now, Facebook has ended up in the headlines over problems with questionable content. They are now going to take a much more proactive stance when it comes to hate speech on their network. Of course this was at the behest of at least one feminist organization. That is not to say that this wasn’t necessary. Of course, there should be serious action taken to prevent content that promotes violence against anyone. However, this is definitely political pandering, and arguably for the benefit of the least profitable portion of Facebook’s “clientele.”

Understanding Freedom

Freedom shouldn’t be all that complicated.  Unfortunately, it apparently is.

Far to many people feel that freedom really only means freedom for the things they like.  Oh sure, the Second Amendment is sacrosanct, but the freedom to not have to hear Christianity rammed down someone’s throat?  No, that’s a whole other ballgame. The fact that the First Amendment prevents the establishment of a state religion - and Christianity is a relgion - appears lost on many of these folks.

For a nation to be free, and I mean truly free, then we must tolerate things which we may find objectionable.  Drug use, prostitution, alcohol consumption (and yes, there are people who still want alcohol prohibition), or whatever.  It doesn’t matter, because real freedom must mean that people have the freedom to do a certain amount of bad things.

Should that mean people are free to rape, murder, rob, or anything else?  Absolutely not. Those all involve violating the rights of another, and that should always be off limits. I can’t think of a living soul who argues otherwise though I’m sure such fools exist.

However, there are a lot of laws that dictate what I can and can’t do with my own body.  Take, for example, laws that prevent me from consuming raw milk.  Personally, I think it’s not a smart thing to do.  However, I still believe I should have the right to consume it if I so choose.  After all, consuming non-pastuerized milk hurts no one but myself.

Many people can see that, and agree with me.  However, many of those same people will argue that drug use is a whole other ball game.  After all, they say, drugs create a whole world of crime around it.  That is true…but only because of prohibition.  There is zero evidence that legalizing drugs would do anything but decrease the crime that surrounds drugs.

Decline of American Power – Is that a bad thing?

A lot of conservatives lament the decline of “American Power” around the World. Just this week Bill O’Reilly had a rant about that. But to those who love Liberty, American Power is just another phrase for Government Power, and the less Government there is at home and abroad the better the lives of all individuals around the world will be.

Thoreau had a great quote about that:

“I heartily accept the motto,—“That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,—“That government is best which governs not at all;” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have”.

I look forward to the day when men are prepared for a government that governs none at all. But until then the Leviathan that is the State with its Coercive Power will be with us. Our job for those who love liberty is to educate ourselves and others about the True Nature of the State and the Blessings of Liberty.

Franz Oppenheimer made it crystal clear the difference between how the State acquires what it desires and the way free individuals voluntarily trade to gain what they desire:


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