On Sunday, my wife and I went to see Refused, a Swedish hardcore band that just recently got back together after 14 years. I’m not going to be a hipster about it, so I’ll admit that I didn’t get into them until around 2000, a couple of years after the split up, after seeing the video for “New Noise.” After listening to their last record, The Shape of Punk to Come (1998, Burning Heart Records), I realized that they were very anti-capitalist, going so far as to call it a “crime.”
So while I was at the show, I wasn’t surprised to hear Dennis Lyxzén, the band’s frontman, mention their views, even though it was incredibly brief. We paid around $70 for our two tickets, another $50 for two t-shirts, and walked into the show with a full awareness of what to expect. In fact, these viewpoints are common in the style of music to which I listen. Bands like Propaghandi, NOFX, and a slew of others all express an anti-capitalist point of view, whether it’s in their lyrics or activism. As a believer in free markets, I just happen to strongly disagree.
The same could be said of Chick-Fil-A. The Atlanta-based restaurant chain has once again come under fire over its stance on a hotly debated social issue. In an interview for the Baptist Press, Dan Cathy, President of Chick-Fil-A, expressed his company’s opposition to same-sex marriage:
In a departure from previous comments, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told a Baptist website that the Atlanta-based company is “guilty as charged” in its support of traditional marriage.
The recent discussion on Jim DeMint got me to thinking. I can’t help but look around at libertarianism, and how far we’ve come in just a few short years. We have become more a part of the political landscape than I thought we would be. We have seen more and more activism for libertarian causes and candidates than I ever thought I would see.
And yet, we still manage to shoot ourselves in the foot. Part of that stems from our choices of enemies and allies, and the idea that someone must be one or the other.
Take, for example, Jim DeMint. Yes, he seems to say he likes libertarians. He generally seems to like fiscal responsibility. He generally seems like he wants small government. We libertarians should love him…
…but a lot of us don’t.
You see, DeMint is not a fan of gay marriage. He is a fan of the Defense of Marriage Act. He also famously said that he didn’t see how you could be a fiscal conservative and not a social conservative.
Yeah, a lot of libertarians don’t like the guy. Others, however, do. Either is really fine with me. I honestly don’t have an opinion on DeMint, though I have opinions on his positions. Maybe, that’s the way libertarians need to start viewing politicians from other parties.
Even though you may not like the guy, can’t we stand with him as an ally on shrinking the national debt? We can then side with someone else on gay marriage. We’re talking politics here, not a long-term romantic relationship. There’s no need to be “faithful” to anyone here.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen Republicans begin to criticize President Barack Obama on various ancillary issues. Some of them are valid. Others not so much. Poll after poll shows that Americans are more concerned about the economy and jobs than other issues that may pop up in the news or the various memes that may arise from either the right or the left.
Here are some of the oft-repeated issues that have come up in recent days that conservatives and Republicans should stay away from if they hope to beat Obama and Democrats in the fall.
Social Issues: We’ve been over this one before thanks to the contraceptive kerfuffle earlier this year. It ended up being a bad issue for Republicans and they took a hit with women in the polls. They were largely right, in that taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund contraceptives and that the mandate was an infringement of the First Amendment on religious organizations that now have to pay for something to which they may have a moral objection.
More recently, however, it looks like they learned their lesson. When President Obama announced his support for gay marriage at the state-level, Republicans in Congress were mostly silent, though they did reinterate their support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is facing a legal challenge. That doesn’t mean that it won’t come up again during the course of the next several months, as we get close to November.
Polls show that social issues, such as gay marriage and abortion, are not on minds of voters, particularly independents. And perhaps even more of important are polls that show a majority of Americans are supportive of gay marriage.
A few months ago, conservatives sought to gain politically by going after the contraceptive mandate implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services. This immediately became an issue of religious liberty for conservatives because it would have required religious institutions to cover contraceptives even if it was against their teachings.
Thanks to some rather nutty comments by Rick Santorum, who openly questioned the use of contraceptives, Democrats were able to spin the issue into a so-called “war on women.” The situation was exacerbated thanks to comments by Rush Limbaugh aimed at Sandra Fluke, who had argued that taxpayers should fund contraceptives. Even though Fluke’s reasoning was flawed, taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize her contraceptives, Limbaugh’s comments were completely unnecessary and wrong.
The strategy was successful in the short-term, as wedge issues usually are. However, it eventually backfired on them when Hilary Rosen, a Democratic operative, said that Ann Romney, wife of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, had never worked a day in her life.
Romney took to Twitter to defend herself, setting off a firestorm that caused Rosen to later apologize. The argument from conservatives is that Democrats are waging a “war on stay-at-moms,” largely silencing Democrats on the issue and swinging momentum back to Republicans — at least temporarily.
Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee, unless he’s caught with a dead, Muslim, illegal immigrant boy. He will have the difficult task of facing Barack Obama in November. It is no secret that I have my differences with Governor Romney, however for the sake of wanting Barack Obama gone in November, I would like to offer him some free advice.
First thing you need to do Mitt is shut up about the sports team owners you know. We know you’re rich and successful in business, but the problem is, Obama is sending out his class warfare zombies in droves. They will use your success as their best weapon against you. Their goal is to paint you as out of touch with the American people. Also, along those lines, shut up about your dog and his road trip on the roof of your car.
Second piece of advice, be bold on the economy and fiscal policy. Be specific about your proposals and don’t be afraid to defend them. Don’t sugarcoat the fiscal problems we are facing. Propose bold tax reform including a flatter tax with a lot fewer deductions and credits. Eliminate a department or two. Propose real spending cuts and entitlement reform and more importantly, sell it. Outline a free market approach to healthcare as a replacement to Obamacare. Finally, start going after the Federal Reserve by supporting an audit of it.
Third, take a page from the Obama playbook. Set up a version of their “Fight the Smears” web page that they set up in 2008. Eventually Obama and his surrogates will drag the Mormon religion in this race and there needs to be something to address the nonsense they will be putting out.
Fourth, stay out of the social issues trap. The left will try to bring up abortion, gay marriage, birth control, and Lord knows what else to try and change the narrative. Yes, address the issues when they come up but don’t let the media trip up the message. The message needs to be about the economy and jobs first.
Various media outlets are reporting that Rick Santorum, who received a boost late in the presidental race from social conservatives, is suspending his presidential campaign. The announcement comes just days after Santorum met with prominent conservatives about his campaign and his young daughter’s hospital stay.
Santorum’s decision to put his campaign on hold leaves only Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich as challengers to Mitt Romney, who is, for all intents and purposes, the presumptive Republican nominee.
Porn, particularly internet porn, may well find itself an endangered species should Rick Santorum somehow find himself as President. How do we know this? Well, because he’s said as much apparently:
Santorum says in a statement posted to his website, “The Obama Administration has turned a blind eye to those who wish to preserve our culture from the scourge of pornography and has refused to enforce obscenity laws.”
If elected, he promises to “vigorously” enforce laws that “prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier.”
As the above linked article points out, porn is a tricky thing. Obscenity laws are very vague, with no real legal definition that one person can point to and things be clear that whether something is obscene or not. Instead, it uses things like “community standards”, which are also incredibly vague.
That’s not to say Santorum wouldn’t have any success. However, whether he has success or not is rather irrelevant.
Take a look around for a moment. We have a nation that is falling apart. The constitution is practically on life support, and Congress is doing it’s best to pull the plug on it. American citizens can be detained indefinitely thanks to the NDAA. There are constant assaults on the internet through laws like SOPA. Now, the Secret Service can declare anywhere it wants as being off limits to free speech, and speaking your mind can constitute a felony. And where does Rick Santorum’s line in the sand fall? Apparently, on yet another action that involves consenting adults.
ObamaCare’s massive increase of government involvement in health care is already causing its share of problems. You simply cannot give government a bigger role in something so personal without creating all sorts of conflicts about what should be covered, and what should not. There are simply too many competing groups with values and needs that do not overlap. The current health care system is already a mess because of this, and further nationalization will only make it far worse.
It’s also not terribly surprising that the first major battle of this war has to do with reproductive health. During the passage of the law this was already a fierce debate. Now, the storm that is consuming much of the public discourse is regarding the coverage of contraceptives. Some argue that they should be covered under the mantle of “preventive services”, while others object to this for religious or fiscal reasons. Whether we like it or not, this is a matter of public interest now. While most libertarians and some conservatives want to eventually remove government from the issue, it is there for the foreseeable future. So it’s a debate we must have.
Over the last week, this debate has all revolved around the testimony of Sandra Fluke, a 30-year-old law student at an expensive university who nonetheless found it outrageous that she and her fellow students should have to pay for their own birth control. Her statements brought up a number of issues, and, in my mind, provided an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the mess that government involvement in health care creates, and the entitlement mentality that has pervaded our culture. This mentality is all around us; just last week I witnessed a woman throwing a near fit at my local Rite Aid because her $9 over-the-counter allergy meds were not paid for by her insurance.
Peter Mains is a blogger, political activist and technology consultant living and working in the Phoenix metro area. In his free time, he enjoys writing music, reading voraciously, and trying exotic food.
Rick Santorum’s comments to George Stephanopoulos about John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech to the Houston Ministerial Association are making the rounds. Apparently, the speech so unnerved Rick, that he wanted to throw up. He thinks you should be just as offended as he is, In the interview, Santorum encouraged people to look the speech up and decide for themselves. Having followed Santorum’s suggestion, I couldn’t disagree more.
The worst part is, I want to root for Rick Santorum. Recent revelations paint Kennedy as something of a moral monster. In contrast, Rick Santorum seems like a good family man. When it comes to religious matters, one might think that Santorum would come out on top. Nevertheless, JFK wipes the floor with Santorum — even from beyond the grave.
The one point where I am ambivalent in regard to Kennedy’s speech is his insistence that government not give any funding to religious institutions whatsoever. Bush’s faith-based initiatives and various voucher programs show that public funds can be redirected to religious institutions without creating a de facto established church or violating freedom of religious exercise. Nevertheless, such issues could be completely avoided if we were to reform education, healthcare and so on such that government gets out of those businesses altogether.
We’re almost there, folks. Tomorrow, Iowans will head to the various caucus locations to cast there ballots for the Republican nomination for president. Who is the favorite right now? It’s hard to say, because three candidates are in a dogfight for the top.
On New Year’s Eve, the Des Moines Register released their final poll for the caucus showing Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum rounding out the top, in that order:
- Mitt Romney: 24% (+8)
- Ron Paul: 22% (+4)
- Rick Santorum: 15% (+9)
- Newt Gingrich: 12% (-13)
- Rick Perry: 11% (+5)
- Michele Bachmann: 7% (-1)
- Jon Huntsman: 2% (—)
While the poll shows Romney and Paul in a virtual tie for the top, here is the kicker; Santorum took 21% in that final two days of the poll, which is leading many pundits to say that he is the likely favorite heading into tomorrow.
Public Policy Polling also released their final poll for the caucus. They too show Santorum surging, though still in third. There is bad news, despite leading in the poll, for Paul:
- Ron Paul: 20% (-4)
- Mitt Romney: 19% (-1)
- Rick Santorum: 18% (+8)
- Newt Gingrich: 14% (+1)
- Rick Perry: 10% (—)
- Michele Bachmann: 8% (-3)
- Jon Huntsman: 4% (—)
We’ll go over more in these polls in our rankings.