Monthly Archives: March 2007

Murtha And A Citizen — Legislature?

As Kevin pointed out, Jack Murtha is calling for a new draft. Of course, the military brass don’t want a draft, and every military member I’ve spoken to who has served in the conscript and the volunteer army doesn’t want conscription.

But if Murtha is so enamored of citizen service, why don’t we replace our legislature with a drafted body? At the age of 18, rather than registering for selective service, our young people will register for KP duty congressional service. Those who can pass a basic American history and civics test get put into the system.

The first thing we need is term limits. One term sounds like enough to me. The next thing we do is get rid of the elective process, and choose people from the “Congressional Service” pool by random. So we’ll be replacing our entire House contingent every two years, and 1/3 of our Senate contingent in the same period.

Sure, Murtha will be out of a job… But can we really say that our “volunteer” legislature has been a success? How can we expect our legislators to enact good policies when they’ve been outside the real world for most of their lives, and are trying desperately to ensure they never go back to it? At least if we’re turning over our Congress, the people who make policy know they have to go actually live under that policy. Some would say that with such high turnover, Congress wouldn’t get very much done. Considering what they’re usually doing, I’d call that a Good Thing&#153.

Think about it: a Congress full of plumbers, secretaries, engineers, nurses, cooks, bank tellers, etc. We’re talking about people who actually know how to put things together and make things happen. I think it’s be a damn sight better than a Congress that’s about 40% full of lawyers, a class of people trained to field a debate team, don’t you?

So, Mr. Murtha, I presume we can count on your support?

Guiliani, Kerik, and Corruption

The man who commenter and self-proclaimed neo-libertarian leader Eric Dondero holds up as a strong leader of our time has fallen into yet another scandal. This one concerns his good friend, Bernard Kerik:

Federal prosecutors have told Bernard B. Kerik, whose nomination as homeland security secretary in 2004 ended in scandal, that he is likely to be charged with several felonies, including tax evasion and conspiracy to commit wiretapping.

Kerik’s indictment could set the stage for a courtroom battle that would draw attention to Kerik’s extensive business and political dealings with former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who personally recommended him to President Bush for the Cabinet. Giuliani, the front-runner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination according to most polls, later called the recommendation a mistake.

Kerik rose from being a warden and police detective to become Giuliani’s campaign security adviser, corrections chief, police commissioner and eventual partner in Giuliani-Kerik, a security arm of Giuliani Partners, which Giuliani established after leaving office in 2001. Kerik resigned his positions in Giuliani’s firm after he was nominated to the homeland security job.

The former mayor is not in any legal jeopardy, according to legal sources directly familiar with the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is ongoing. He and his consulting firm have cooperated in the FBI’s long-running investigation of Kerik.

These allegations, while it is clear that Giuliani did nothing wrong, raise still more questions about the man’s character and competence. Guiliani hired a man to work for him both as New York police commissioner and as his business partner who is a shady character at best. This has shades of President Bush’s cronyism as exemplified in the picks of Harriet Miers for Supreme Court Justice, Alberto Gonzalez for Attorney General, and finally Mike “Heck of a Job Brownie” Brown for FEMA director. More cronyism and horrible decision making for subordinates is the last thing this country needs in a Commander in Chief in the Long War and this is yet another reason why Guiliani is not fit to be president.

EDITED: 10:36 AM CDT to fix link to mainstreamlibertarian.com

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

John Murtha Calls For A Draft

Not this shit again. Another liberal Democrat calls for slavery.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Porking Iraq

Thomas Schatz, from the Citizens for Government Waste, penned an editorial in the New York Times over the pork in the emergency Iraq appropriations bill:

Behind all their lofty rhetoric about the Iraq war and bringing home the troops, members of the House and Senate were busy tacking on $20 billion and $18.5 billion respectively in unrelated spending to President Bush’s $103 billion request. (He intends to veto the bill.)

Despite their campaign talk about earmark reform last fall, the new Democratic leadership shamelessly used pork to buy votes — before the vote, Representatives Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Peter DeFazio of Oregon acknowledged that add-ons for their districts would influence their decisions.

The heavyweights also led by example: the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, added $20 million to eradicate Mormon crickets, and David Obey of Wisconsin, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, came away with $283 million for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program.

Schatz also includeds a handy PDF of all the different pork projects included in both versions of the appropriations bill.

My favorites from the list are…
– $2 million for the Ugandan peace process (Senate)
– $5 million for breeding, rearing and transporting of live fish (House)
– $13 million for Ewe lamb replacement and pretension (Senate)
– $20 million for Mormon cricket eradication in Nevada (Senate)
– $24 million for Sugar beat production in Minnesota (Senate)
– $25 million for Spinach growers in California (House)
– $74 million for Peanut storage here in Georgia (House)
– $100 million for the Democratic and Republican National Conventions (Senate)
– $214 million for Kosovo assistance (Senate)
– $283 million Milk Income Loss Contract program (House)

This is how our tax dollars are spent by Congress. But God bless Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), who tried to get some of these wasteful earmarks stripped from the budget. Coburn sponsored a variety of amendments to get the pork stripped out. DeMint took to the floor of the Senate and urged fiscal responsibility.

Then there is George W. Bush. He has complained that the bill has too much pork, which it does…there is no denying that, but do not stand there at a press conference and complain about it after the spending spree Republicans had during your administration.

Hugh Hewitt’s Newspeak

Hugh Hewitt gave an interview to National Review Online where he was promoting his latest shit sandwich candidate for president. In the interview, he had this

But Rudy doesn’t care about the Marriage Amendment, and Mitt Romney does. Rudy doesn’t think there’s a problem with funding embryonic stem cell research, and Romney does. Romney’s a federalist, and I’m not sold that Rudy is. Rudy is more likely to get Soutered than Romney. That’s why, on March 28, 2007, I prefer Romney. That could change, but not in the next three months.

Now we all know that Hugh Hewitt is no intellectual giant, but I would like to think that as a lawyer he would know that advocating the use of the Constitution in order to promote social policy is anything but a Federalist approach.

The Federal Marriage Amendment is federalism can be added to such classics as:

War is peace

Ignorance is strength

Freedom is slavery

h/t: GOP Progress

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Seven Years for Shoving?

That’s the sentence 14 year old Shaquanda Cotton received in Paris, TX after shoving a hall monitor in a dispute. Now, while readers of this site certainly would be interested in such an apparent miscarriage of justice, I don’t think it’s too much to say that this wouldn’t get much play in the national media unless there was another angle.

Shaquanda Cotton is black. Another 14 year old girl in the same town received a sentence of probation from the same judge after burning down her family’s home. The other girl is white. It would seem the charge of racism is fairly easy to make in this case. That’s certainly the angle this Trib article takes:

And then there is the case that most troubles Cherry and leaders of the Texas NAACP, involving a 14-year-old black freshman, Shaquanda Cotton, who shoved a hall monitor at Paris High School in a dispute over entering the building before the school day had officially begun.

The youth had no prior arrest record, and the hall monitor–a 58-year-old teacher’s aide–was not seriously injured. But Shaquanda was tried in March 2006 in the town’s juvenile court, convicted of “assault on a public servant” and sentenced by Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville to prison for up to 7 years, until she turns 21.

Just three months earlier, Superville sentenced a 14-year-old white girl, convicted of arson for burning down her family’s house, to probation.

“All Shaquanda did was grab somebody and she will be in jail for 5 or 6 years?” said Gary Bledsoe, an Austin attorney who is president of the state NAACP branch. “It’s like they are sending a signal to black folks in Paris that you stay in your place in this community, in the shadows, intimidated.”

However, as in most cases of this nature, things are not so neatly cut and dried. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes in this one, and this article from the local paper that focuses on the Judge and his decision ties a lot of that together. Money quotes:

County Judge Chuck Superville says he fears for the community’s safety and is calling for the national media and other organizations to investigate the facts before drawing conclusions about the Shaquanda Cotton case.

The judge said a March 12 story in The Chicago Tribune unfairly painted the community as racist and a recent protest as well as the threat of future protests by organized groups with national media coverage could “spin this thing out of control.”

Superville said he has refrained from commenting until now because of his position as the judge in the Cotton case, but that he believes he has a higher duty as county judge to maintain order in the community.

“I call on the media and others involved to go to the public record to get the facts of the case before they rush to judgment,” Superville said Saturday.

< ...>

“If Shaquanda had been white, the outcome would have been the same,” Superville said. “My decision was based on facts and law and I am confident this was the correct decision based on the facts I was presented.”

< ...>

Superville said he gave the 14-year old an indeterminate sentence up to seven years — her 21st birthday.

“Once I set the indeterminate sentence, Shaquanda holds the key to her jail cell,” Superville said. “It is up to the child and TYC.”

< ...>

“The juvenile officer said the mother refused to cooperate and said he had no reason to believe the mother would cooperate if Shaquanda received probation,” Superville said.

“That theme was repeated witness after witness—that the mother made it impossible to help Shaquanda,” Superville said. “She blamed everyone except the child for misbehavior.”

So we have a mother that refuses to hold her child accountable and, if I may indulge in a stereotype, appears to be playing the “angry black woman” card. We have the national media and organizations like the NAACP getting ahold of the story and turning it into a federal case. We have a town with apparent race issues. But none of that matters. At the end of the day, we have a now 15 year old girl who will quite possibly be in jail until her 21st birthday because everyone failed her. The system, her community, and her family. How is Shaquanda doing now? From the Trib story:

Inside the youth prison in Brownwood where she has been incarcerated for the past 10 months–a prison currently at the center of a state scandal involving a guard who allegedly sexually abused teenage inmates–Shaquanda, who is now 15, says she has not been doing well.

Three times she has tried to injure herself, first by scratching her face, then by cutting her arm. The last time, she said, she copied a method she saw another young inmate try, knotting a sweater around her neck and yanking it tight so she couldn’t breathe. The guards noticed her sprawled inside her cell before it was too late.

She tried to harm herself, Shaquanda said, out of depression, desperation and fear of the hardened young thieves, robbers, sex offenders and parole violators all around her whom she must try to avoid each day.

“I get paranoid when I get around some of these girls,” Shaquanda said. “Sometimes I feel like I just can’t do this no more–that I can’t survive this.”

Shaquanda needs someone to give her the help she’s not received from the places I listed above. Somehow I doubt playing the race card and turning this into a national Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton media spectacle is going to get her that. On top of that, a system that allows a 14 year old with no prior record to be sentenced to 7 years in prison for shoving is seriously broken, regardless of race.

A lot of stuff is wrong in this case, and it doesn’t appear that any of it is going to get better anytime soon.

h/t: Chap. More here, including some good thoughts about the failure of the community to help Shaquanda.

The United Nations Is A Fraud

For the past week, the world’s attention has been focused on the simmering crisis centered around 15 British Navy seamen taken into custody by Iran for allegedly violating Iranian territorial waters.

Let’s leave aside the fact that all of the available evidence demonstrates conclusively that the sailors were in Iraqi territorial waters when they were seized and consider for a moment this fact —- under international law, even if the boat that these sailors were on was inside Iranian territory, what they should have done what warn the boat away. Taking the men and women on the boat into custody was, and is, a violation of international treaties and about as close to an act of war as you can get.

Rather than immediately declaring war on Iran, the United Kingdom first, and quite properly, took it’s concerns to the United Nations, the supposed arbiter of international disbutes. The result was, you might say, far from satisfactory:

Britain escalated international pressure Thursday in its week-old confrontation with Iran over the seizure of 15 naval personnel, winning from the U.N. Security Council a statement of “grave concern” over the capture.

But in five hours of intense debate at the council, Britain failed to get tough language it proposed that blamed Iran and demanded the immediate release of the 14 men and one woman. Russia balked at wording that the British had been seized in Iraqi waters while serving under a U.N. mandate. China, Qatar, Indonesia, Congo and South Africa also resisted blaming Iran, which contends the British trespassed into its waters, according to U.N. diplomats.

The softened version, which is nonbinding, instead appealed to Tehran to provide consular access to the sailors and marines, which has so far been denied, and an “early resolution of this problem.”

I haven’t been a fan of the United Nations for a long time. And this is one of the reasons why. Even in the face of pure evil, and a clear violation of international law, the United Nations, once again, proves itself impotent in the face of evil.

Update: Apparently, it’s not just the U.N. that’s dropping the ball on this one, Amnesty International hasn’t even spoken out against what is clearly an illegal seizure.

The Democrats In Congress: History Repeating Itself

I can’t say that I’m surprised but it looks like the days of tax-and-spend are due for a comeback:

The new Democratic majority begins dancing the next phase of the tax-and-spend minuet in the House of Representatives today. Following the example set by their Senate brethren last Friday, House Democrats will adopt a budget resolution containing the largest tax increase in U.S. history amid massive national inattention.

Nobody’s tax payment will increase immediately, but the budget resolutions set a pattern for years ahead. The House version would increase non-defense, non-emergency spending by $22.5 billion for next fiscal year, with such spending to rise 2.4 percent in each of the next three years. To pay for these increases, the resolution would raise taxes by close to $400 billion over five years — about $100 billion more than what was passed in the Senate.

It had been assumed that the new Democratic majority would end President Bush’s relief in capital gains, dividend and estate taxation. The simultaneous rollback of Bush-sponsored income tax cuts was a surprise. This reflects Democrats’ belief that they can survive a long-term commitment to bigger government. Here is an audacious effort to raise the banner of fiscal responsibility while increasing spending and taxes.

Now, let’s be perfectly clear. The Republican Party deserved to lose control of Congress. As I said in many posts in the wake of the 2006 elections (see here, here, here, and here) they had abandoned any pretense of abiding by the limited government ideas that they had campaigned on in 1994 and had become lap dogs to a President who is more like LBJ thank Ronald Reagan.

That said, I was under no illusions about what we would be getting from a Democratic majority. The fact that they are already starting down the road toward higher taxes and higher spending should surprise nobody.

Politics And The Iraq War Funding Debate

Kevin and I have been having a discussion in the comment thread to my earlier post about the Senate’s passage of an Iraq War funding bill that contains a timetable for withdrawal. The basic question is whether the Bush Administration or the Democratic Congress has the most to lose in what looks like it will be a showdown over funding the war.

Apropos of that disucssion, I though these poll results were interesting:

1. A solid majority of Americans want Congress to fully fund the war in Iraq.

When asked if they favor or oppose Congress fully funding the war in Iraq, 56% favor fully funding the war in Iraq, while just 38% oppose. In fact, more voters STRONGLY favor (40%) Congress fully funding the war in Iraq than out-right oppose it (38%).

Support for funding our troops is consistent across the board:

  • Republicans are unified with 87% support. A majority (55%) of Independents support fully funding the war in Iraq. Despite the party line vote in Congress, more than one in four Democrats support funding for our military in Iraq.
  • Across the country, majorities of Americans support funding our troops – including 51% in the Northeast, 56% in the Midwest, 58% in the South, and 59% in the West.

and…..

3. Voters point the finger of blame squarely in the Democrats’ direction for not fundingthe troops.

We read voters the following statements and asked them to pick which statement they agreed with the most.

President Bush has declared that he will veto the bill because it sets a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq and includes billions of dollars in non-emergency spending. By vetoing this bill, a spending bill for the troops will not be passed.

In thinking about this, which position do you agree with most? (ROTATE STATEMENTS)

  • 40% (SOME/OTHER) people say that if President Bush vetoes the Democratic spending bill then Bush should be blamed for not funding the troops because his veto will mean that there is no spending package available for the troops.

…OR…

  • 50% (OTHER/SOME) people say that if President Bush vetoes the Democratic spending bill then the Democrats in Congress are to be blamed for not funding the troops because they attached restrictions on the President and military commanders in Iraq along with billions of dollars in pork barrel spending to a bill intended to help the troops.

If this poll is to be believed, then the public at this point is on the side of the Administration, or at least opposed to the idea of defunding the war, and that they would blame the Democrats in Congress if a clean Iraq War spending bill did not pass by the April 15th deadline.

Given, this I think my earlier conclusion that the Democrats are taking big political risk here is well-supported.

H/T: James Joyner

George Will On The D.C. Vote Bill

George Will has a column in today’s Washington Post about the bill making it’s way through Congress to give the District of Columbia a vote in Congress which I wrote about last week. As only he can, Will deftly points out the real motivation behind this bill, and it has nothing to do with voting rights:

If Congress’s “exclusive legislation” power concerning the District can trump one constitutional provision, it can trump any provision: Congress could establish a religion, stifle free speech or authorize unreasonable searches and seizures in Washington. And if Congress’s power over the District allows it to award full House representation, why could it not also award two Senate seats? Today’s Congress is pressing House representation for the District partly because of that predictable next step: The District would be a reliable source of two Democratic senators.

If majorities in both houses of today’s Congress want the fewer than 600,000 District residents to be fully represented, they can accomplish that with legislation shrinking the city to the core containing the major federal buildings and monuments, and giving the rest back to Maryland. Democrats are uninterested in that because it would not serve their primary objective of increasing their Senate seats.

So the next time you hear Steny Hoyer or some other member of the leadership talking about how this is all about voting rights, ask them why they feel like they have to violate the Constitution in order to give someone voting representation in Congress.

Bush vs. Congress: Let The Confrontation Begin

Following on the heals of the House of Representatives, the Senate has approved, by a narrow margin, an Iraq War spending bill that sets a deadline of roughly one year from today by which American forces must be out of Iraq:

WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Senate ignored a veto threat and voted Thursday for a bill requiring President Bush to start withdrawing combat troops from Iraq within four months, dealing a sharp rebuke to a wartime commander in chief.

In a mostly party line 51-47 vote, the Senate signed off on a bill providing $122 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also orders Bush to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days of passage while setting a nonbinding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008.

As with the House vote the margin in the Senate is far short of what would be needed to override a Presidential veto, and it is unlikely that any of the 46 Republicans plus Joe Lieberman who voted against the bill would cross over and vote to override and expected veto. The bill is dead in the water.

I generally support the idea that the United States needs to start thinking about an exit strategy in Iraq, and that we need to do so sooner rather than later. I also think that the war itself, and the way it’s been handled since virtually day one, have been a colossal series of mistakes. But the way the Senate has gone about doing this is totally unconstitutional. First of all, Congress simply doesn’t have the authority to order the President to follow a specific military strategy. They authorized the use of military force and the President is Commander in Chief. As CiC, he has the authority to decide military strategy. Not only that, he is the head of a co-equal branch of government and is not subservient to Congress.

There really is only one way for Congress to exercise authority over America’s policy in Iraq. They would have to exercise the power of the purse and vote to defund the war. By all indications, the Democrats on the Hill have neither the political courage nor the support among their own members for such a move. Additionally, polling seems to indicate that while the public wants American troops to come home, they would not support cutting off funding to those troops as long as they are there.

Both practically and politically, the opponents of the war are in a very difficult position unless they can convince the President to change his mind. Given what we’ve seen from George W. Bush over the past seven years, that seems highly unlikely.

Quote To Ponder

“Psychologically, it is important to understand that the simple fact of being interviewed and investigated has a coercive influence. As soon as a man is under cross-examination, he may become paralyzed by the procedure and find himself confessing to deeds he never did. In a country where the urge to investigate spreads, suspicion and insecurity grow.”
— Joost A. Merloo
Source: The Rape of the Mind, 1956

Do I really need to add any commentary to this? It seems obvious and self-evident. Worse yet, it is a daily feature of government in this country.

War Policy And Pork: Perfect Together

The Senate is debating the Democrats’ Iraq spending plan, which includes a call for the withdrawal of all troops before the 2008 elections and, as Dana Milbank reports, they’re talking about more than the Iraq War:

It’s common for lawmakers to complain that a spending bill is “loaded up like a Christmas tree” with pet projects. But the Iraq Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act going through the Senate this week is unusual in that it is loaded up with Christmas trees.

Specifically, it includes $40 million for a Tree Assistance Program that provides help for Christmas trees and ornamental shrubs. Also in the Senate’s version of the Iraq bill: $24 million for sugar beets, $3 million for Hawaiian sugar cane, $13 million for the Ewe Lamb Replacement and Retention Program, $100 million in compensation for dairy losses, $165.9 million for fisheries disaster relief, and money for numerous other “emergencies.”

And what of the Coburn Amendments that Brad wrote about earlier this week ? Well, at least one of them has already gone down to defeat:

[T]he senators could not dwell on matters of war — Vietnam or Iraq — for long. They had to take up an amendment from Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who demanded to know why $100 million in security for the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions was included in the “emergency” Iraq legislation. “This isn’t sudden,” Coburn argued. “It’s not unpredictable, and it wasn’t unanticipated. There have been nominating conventions since 1832 in this country.”

Coburn lost the vote. For the Senate, even an American political convention qualifies as an Iraq emergency.

I’m beginning to think that the legislative process in this country is irretrievably broken. When Congressmen and Senators can add subsidies for strawberry farmers to a bill that is supposed to be about America’s involvement in a war, then the probability of ever getting control of an out-of-control budget seems to me to be pretty low.

Mugabe Desperately Tries To Avoid Just Desserts

Zimbabwe detains opposition chief ahead of summit

Police surrounded the main Zimbabwean opposition party headquarters and briefly detained its leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday as African leaders met in Tanzania to debate Zimbabwe’s escalating political crisis.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said officers arrested 10 MDC officials on suspicion of links to recent petrol bombings, bringing the number since Tuesday held on these charges to 35.

Government sources said more arrests were likely in the coming days, including of opposition figures and journalists authorities accuse of trying to incite a coup against Mugabe.

One said: “Some people have just gone too far, talking and writing recklessly and they are going to be held to account.”

“The terrorist acts we are seeing are how civil wars start in any part of the world and this is how a country descends into anarchy,” Bvudzijena said.

Anarchy would be an improvement, buddy.

Giuliani Is Not A Libertarian

On this blog, a lot of typing has gone on attacking Rudy Giuliani, and some (but a lot less) has been spent defending him. Some, such as commentor Eric Dondero, suggest that Rudy Giuliani is a Libertarian Republican. As evidence of this, he refers to OnTheIssues.org, who rates Rudy as a “moderate libertarian”.

The question, then, falls down to whether Rudy is a candidate that libertarians should support. On the surface, one might think so. He’s appears to be a fan of fiscal liberty, with his constant attempts to cut taxes and balance spending in New York. As for social liberty, he’s a long way ahead of his rivals on the conservative wing of the Republican party.

But all of these platforms are balanced by a twinge of authoritarianism. If you read through his quotes that are the basis for the ontheissues.org characterization, you start to see an underlying problem: Rudy Giuliani does not believe in a libertarian relationship between individual and state.

From an external examination, libertarians look like pot-smoking Republicans. After all, the mainstream characterization of us is as a group of people who want low taxes, small-government, but without some of the social restrictions the Republicans would enact. Watching as folks like Eric Dondero (and another acquaintance) support Rudy while claiming to be Libertarians, I believe that those folks are nothing more than the caricature of libertarian.

But there’s a much deeper basis for libertarianism. I’ve pointed out before that libertarianism, at its core, is a moral system, not just a political party. Doctrinaire libertarians believe in a very limited relationship between the individual and his government, and that relationship does not find individual liberty subservient to collective security.

So when you look at Rudy “on the issues”, you see that he supports some libertarian policies, but his overall attitude is one that suggests the state should “maintain” our economic growth, that the government should use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a method to smooth gasoline prices, and– while he claims to support school vouchers– pumped city dollars even further into government education. On the social side, he appears to be a serious drug warrior, a staunch supporter of the Patriot Act, has no compunction about government DNA databases, and supports forcing people to take written tests before allowing gun ownership (and presumably supports registration).

Rudy Giuliani appears to hold some libertarian stances on issues, but at the same time, I don’t see how he can be called a libertarian. Rudy’s libertarian stances on certain issues may give him allure to some libertarians, but he is reflexively pro-government on other issues. If he were elected to the highest office in the land, I’m simply not sure that he would advance individual liberty.

It’s still early in the campaign, and if Rudy holds his lead, I think we might get to find out quite a bit more how much of his ontheissues.org profile was a relic of his tenure as the Mayor of New York, and how much coincides with his core beliefs. But at the moment, I don’t see Rudy as having the same understanding of the relationship between an individual and the state as I do.

Until I see some major changes in his rhetoric and stated positions, I am not ready to support his candidacy. Although his general libertarian stances make me somewhat willing to keep an open mind, he’s got a long way to go before I’d actually consider voting for him.

Tom Coburn Taking Aim At Supplemental Pork

Proving once again that he cares more about the American taxpayer than Ted Stevens’ health, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has offered up some amendments to strip the “emergency” pork out of the supplemental appropriations bill:

Coburn Amendment No. 648 would strike $100 million in emergency funding for the 2008 political party conventions.

Coburn Amendment No. 649 would strike a $2 million earmark for the University of Vermont.

Coburn Amendment No. 656 would require public disclosure of all reports provided to the appropriations committees by this act

Coburn Amendment No. 657 would provide crop disaster and livestock assistance with offsets; also removes “emergency” spending for sugar beet, sugar cane, and Christmas and ornamental tree assistance

Coburn Amendment No. 717 would strike all non-war and non-veterans spending from the bill

Coburn Amendment No. 718 would strike all non-war and non-veterans spending from the bill except for funding for abestos abatement around the Capitol

If your Senator is a Democrat, call their office and suggest that supporting these amendments would go a long way to proving how “fiscally conservative” they claim to be. If your Senator is a Republican, call their office and suggest that if they are able to kill some of these earmarks, it might dry up support amongst Democrats who were bribed into voting for a timetable.

No matter what party your Senator is from, you can use this to try to score a win for the American taxpayer. At the very least, I think it’s clear that the 2008 Political Party Conventions don’t need $100M in “emergency” funding in a war supplemental bill. That’s one bit of blatant arrogance that I think we need to call them all out for.

Is Rudy Giuliani A Fiscal Conservative ?

I’ve been pretty hard on Rudy Giuliani lately, but he appeared on Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program and had some interesting things to say:

KUDLOW: When you were a US attorney, you were very, very tough. You had a successful record. You were tough on the mobsters. You were tough on the drug pushers and the narcotics people. You were also tough on the white collar criminals. Let me ask you some of the hot button issues in the business community on this. First, CEO Perry and back dating stock options.

Mr. GIULIANI: CEO Perry to me is a question of private governance. That’s what you have corporations for. That’s what you have stock holders for, directors for. That gets corrected that way. That isn’t–unless there’s some fraud involved. It’s not for the government to start evaluating how much money should be paid in a private business. Back dating stock options is a different thing. I mean, if someone committed fraud, they should go to jail. If they are pretending that the stock options were given on a certain date and they were actually given on another date, that’s kind of straight out and out fraud and that’s something the government has to be involved in. If there’s an accounting dispute about the period of time you can select and it’s a legitimate accounting dispute, then you probably handle that civilly.

(….)

KUDLOW: How would a President Giuliani reform the tax code?

Mr. GIULIANI: I think it needs a massive simplification. If we were doing income tax for the first time. In other words, if we were starting off new back at the beginning of the last century, then probably we should go with a–we probably should’ve gone with a flat tax, maybe two levels of tax, but really simple. Our economy has kind of grown up now on depreciation and deductions and industries have grown up around that and so I don’t know exactly how much you can simplify it, but you sure have to make a stab at it. And I think Reagan got it right. I felt that what Reagan did was, I kind of think of it as like cleaning out the forest. You got–the tax code was this big, he got it down to a simple code, reduced the top rates. Kind of leveled out the rates a little so there weren’t as many. The tax code needs a simplification in addition to lowering your sum taxes. Another tax that has to be dealt with is the death tax. That’s a double tax. People get it twice and it has a major impact on lots of people who aren’t really wealthy. You know, people who have their money in land or they have they money in real estate or they have they have their money in the family business or the family farm and they’ve got to sell the darn thing or they get in a big dispute with the IRS about what it’s worth on paper.

There’s more, to the point where Stephen Moore from Cato declared himself “very impressed” with what Giuliani had to say on Kudlow’s show. At the very least, it’s interesting, and encouraging that the front runner for the Republican nomination is at least talking like a fiscal conservative.

Another interesting Giuliani-related development came out today:

The Rudy Giuliani Presidential Exploratory Committee today announced that Steve Forbes, President and Chief Executive Officer of Forbes and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine, has endorsed Rudy Giuliani for President of the United States. Mr. Forbes will serve as a National Campaign Co-Chair and Senior Policy Advisor.

“I am honored to support Rudy Giuliani for President,” Steve Forbes said. “As Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani showed how exercising fiscal discipline, including tax cuts, lowers deficits, spurs economic growth, and increases revenue. It is time the rest of the country benefit from a true fiscal conservative leader who gets real results.”

I’ve always been a Steve Forbes fan and his affiliation with the Giuliani campaign may at least be a sign that fiscal conservatism is making a comeback in the GOP.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I have been pretty hard on Giuliani here in the past. I still have serious, significant doubts about him as President. I consider him far too authoritariam and I suspect that when it comes down the a balance between individual rights and expanding the power of the state, especially in the law enforcement area, he will side with the state every time. He may be talking a good game on economics, but when it comes to the entire package, he still doesn’t measure up to what America needs in the White House right now.

H/T: Hit & Run

Somebody’s Gotta Say It (Book Review)

(Cross posted here at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds)

As a regular listener of The Neal Boortz Show, I find this book every bit as hard-hitting, insensitive, informative, and entertaining as his show. The High Priest of the Painful Truth pulls no punches in his assault on ignorance whether from the Right, the Left, or Center. The Libertarian Party (the party that most closely reflects his views) is even skewered on a number of fronts.

It’s difficult to know how people who do not listen to his show will respond. You will likely find this book near books with a conservative political bent but conservatives who expect to find yet another book which relentlessly attacks the Left while keeping their sacred cows protected will be sorely disappointed. While Boortz dedicates a significant portion of the book to the lunacy of the Left, the Right is criticized for pushing their religious anti-science agenda on the American public (especially in government schools), their homophobia, and their continuous chipping away at the limited government platform they claim to embrace.

Boortz has many targets in this book but none receive more of his ire than government schools. Teacher’s unions exist solely to keep mediocre to incompetent teachers in a job; they will fight tooth and nail to prevent any kind of competition from private schools. But government schools are even more harmful that what we can see on the surface. Want to know why the American public has lost its love for freedom in exchange for security from an ever expanding government? According to Boortz, government schools are to blame. Government schools teach school children from a very young age that government is good and is the solution to every problem. There is even a chapter dedicated to how school children learn their first lesson in communism. Have you ever taken your child to the store and bought school supplies on a list only to have the teacher take those supplies away from your child to be donated to the class? If you don’t believe this to be a big deal consider the lesson your child is learning: he or she must give up his or her private property (school supplies in this case) for “the greater good” of the whole society (the classroom in this case).

Is it any coincidence that most Americans erroneously believe that America’s government is a democracy rather than a constitutional representative republic? Is it any coincidence that most Americans don’t know the difference or know why this distinction is important? Boortz contends that this is not by accident but by design. The purpose of government schools is not to educate students but to indoctrinate them into obedient citizens subjects.

Eventually, these school children grow up to be voters (Did I mention that the author finds no constitutional guarantee to the right to vote? Sounds crazy but once you read his arguments and consult the U.S. Constitution, he makes a compelling case). After thirteen years of government indoctrination, many of these adults see no problem with wealth redistribution, the welfare state, the nanny state, and have no genuine appreciation for liberty. This makes it very easy for politicians to pander to the American public to meet all of these needs which far too many people believe to be birthrights. Those who believe this the most tend to vote Democrat which leads me to his chapter “The Democrats’ Secret Plan for America.”

Boortz mockingly calls the Democrat plan a “secret plan” because of how Democrats typically scare various constituencies about Republican secret plans to kick old people into the street, burn black churches, and starve babies. Much of the secret plan is no secret at all however. So what do the Democrats have in store for America should they retain congress and win the presidency? According to the author we can expect the entire tax burden to be shifted to the wealthy, imputed income (which would put most all home owners in a higher tax bracket), place caps on income for those who “make too much,” add taxes to 401k and other investment vehicles which are not currently taxed, womb to the tomb universal government healthcare, the reinstatement of the “fairness doctrine” (which would effectively put an end to talk radio), the repeal of the Second Amendment, and several other such wet dreams of the far Left. If you don’t read any other chapter in this book, read this chapter.

Certainly, this book isn’t one which will leave the reader thinking “Its morning in America” but it does offer a fair amount of humor, positive solutions (such as what should be taught in government schools; provides his own citizenship test), and an inside peek of the talk radio business. Boortz opens the book by introducing himself, his interests and how he got into talk radio (under rather tragic circumstances). Even in the chapters that contain a discouraging outlook have a healthy dose of humor. But if you are overly outraged after reading the chapter about government funded art or the Democrat Party’s war on the individual, skip to “Chasing Cats” or “Terrorizing the Mailroom.” I won’t give away what these chapters are about but I assure you that you are in for a good belly laugh (that Boortz is quite the prankster).

Somebody’s Gotta Say It is a refreshingly honest, sober view of the body politic, American culture, and state of our world. Boortz presents a variety of original controversial ideas on a variety of issues. Such proposals would certainly make the political debate more productive if not more interesting (a number of these proposals can be found toward the end of the book in a chapter entitled “No Way in Hell.”). I highly recommend this book for anyone who is not easily offended. Anyone who is easily offended should skip this book in favor of a selection from the Oprah Book Club.

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