Monthly Archives: January 2008

Hillary Clinton = Tracey Flick

Sometimes it’s like Slate Magazine reads my mind.

If you haven’t seen the movie “Election” (the 1995 film), it’s a political classic…surprisingly enough, a political classic produced by MTV.  I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Hillary Clinton was their inspiration for Reese Witherspoon’s obsessively sociopathic character.

I Can’t Think Of A Catchy Title

I suppose the best way to describe myself would be to say that I have a problem with authority. I’ve always disliked when people told me what to do, even as a young child, and I’ve always preferred to find my own path through life and make my own decisions, even if it occasionally went against the conventional wisdom and sometimes worked to my short-term disadvantage. My dad said I inherited it from him, but that I’ve taken it to a whole new level. When I was young I wanted to be a journalist, until I got to college and realized that journalism was less about the search for objective truth than it was about writing the stories that best suited your employer’s interests, whether they were true or not (which didn’t sit well with me at all). So I drifted aimlessly through a couple of years of college as an indifferent (often drunk) student, unsure of what to do with myself until one of my fraternity brothers gave me a copy of “The Fountainhead” and I got hooked on the ideas that success and a refusal to conform to societal standards were not mutally exclusive, and that the greatest evil in the world was society and government’s failure to recognize or accept individuality and individual freedom as a strength, not a weakness. So I threw myself into studying politics and history, worked in a few political campaigns after college, had some success, and thought about doing a career in politics until I realized that most of the people I knew who had never had a career outside of politics had no comprehension of how the real world actually worked and tended to make a lot of bad, self-absorbed decisions that rarely helped the people they claimed to be representing.

That didn’t sit well with me either, so I decided to put any thoughts of going into politics on hold until I’d actually had a life and possibly a real career, and I spent the next couple of years drifting between a series of random yet educational jobs (debt collector, deliveryman, computer salesman, repo man, dairy worker) that taught me the value of hard work, personal responsibility and the financial benefits of dining at Taco John’s on Tuesday nights (2 tacos for a buck) when money got tight.

After awhile, however, the desire to see the world (and the need for a more consistent and slightly larger paycheck) convinced me to join the Army, where I spent ten years traveling around the world on the government dime working as an intelligence analyst. I generally enjoyed my time in the military, despite the aforementioned problem with authority (which wasn’t as much of an issue in the military as many people might think it would be), and I got to see that the decisions our political leaders make were sometimes frivolous, often ill-informed, and always had unforeseen repercussions down the road…especially on the soldiers tasked with implementing those decisions. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my 10 years in the military doing jobs I enjoyed, traveling to countries that I always wanted to see (Scotland is the greatest place in the world to hang out, Afghanistan is very underrated) and working with people I liked and respected, until I finally decided that at 35 it was time to move into a job where I didn’t have the threat of relocation lying over my head every two or three years, where I didn’t have to worry about my friends being blown up, and where I didn’t have to work in any capacity for George W. Bush.

I work now for a financial company in Kansas where I’m responsible for overseeing, pricing and maintaining farms, commercial and residential properties, mineral assets, insurance policies, annuities, etc. In my spare time I like to read books on economics, history, and politics (I’m preparing to tackle Murray Rothbard’s “Man, Economy & State” and Von Mises’ “Human Action”…should take me about a year at the rate I’m currently finishing books), watch movies, and destroy posers on “Halo 3″ (where I’m signed in under “UCrawford” for anyone interested in taking a shot at me some time). I used to play rugby until age, inconsistent conditioning, and a string of gradually worsening injuries finally convinced me to quit. I’m a rabid fan of the Kansas Jayhawks in general and their basketball and football programs in particular and I’m also a devoted fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. I’m also fond of going online and debating/picking fights with people on the merits of the philosophy of individual freedom…sometimes to the point of being an asshole (but hopefully a reasonably well-informed asshole). I’ve been a big fan of The Liberty Papers ever since finding it online, I respect the body of work they’ve put out, and I’m honored that Brad Warbiany invited me to join his jolly band of freedom fighters. So cheers, Brad, and to everyone else I look forward to reaching consensus or locking horns with you in the near future.

FacebookGoogle+RedditStumbleUponEmailWordPressShare

Al-Qaeda’s “Number Three Man” Killed…Again

I think this brings us up to seven or eight “number threes” killed in the al-Qaeda hierachy since 2001.  Must be a hell of a corporate flow chart they have.  I wonder what country the next guy will be situated in when our government decides to “promote” him.  Somehow I think it will end up being whatever country the president’s taking the most criticism on that particular day.

 Update:  According to the updated version of CNN’s story on the death of al-Qaeda “number three” Abu Laith al-Libi:

In October, the U.S. military’s anti-terror Combined Joint Task Force-82 announced rewards ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 for al-Libi and 11 other mid-level Taliban and al Qaeda leaders.  The military distributed posters and billboards with pictures and names of the insurgents around eastern Afghanistan.  Al-Libi and the others were described at the time by CJTF-82 spokesman Maj. Chris Belcher as “mid-level bad guys.” (emphasis mine)

Translation:  “Mid-level” is not generally a classification for a high-value target, which means there’s pretty much no difference between al-Qaeda’s recently deceased “number three man” and a couple dozen other schmucks running around out there on the AF/PAK border except that the military and the press happened to have a photo and a name for this guy.

I Can’t Think Of A Catchy Title

I suppose the best way to describe myself would be to say that I have a problem with authority. I’ve always disliked when people told me what to do, even as a young child, and I’ve always preferred to find my own path through life and make my own decisions, even if it occasionally went against the conventional wisdom and sometimes worked to my short-term disadvantage. My dad said I inherited it from him, but that I’ve taken it to a whole new level. When I was young I wanted to be a journalist, until I got to college and realized that journalism was less about the search for objective truth than it was about writing the stories that best suited your employer’s interests, whether they were true or not (which didn’t sit well with me at all). So I drifted aimlessly through a couple of years of college as an indifferent (often drunk) student, unsure of what to do with myself until one of my fraternity brothers gave me a copy of “The Fountainhead” and I got hooked on the ideas that success and a refusal to conform to societal standards were not mutally exclusive, and that the greatest evil in the world was society and government’s failure to recognize or accept individuality and individual freedom as a strength, not a weakness. So I threw myself into studying politics and history, worked in a few political campaigns after college, had some success, and thought about doing a career in politics until I realized that most of the people I knew who had never had a career outside of politics had no comprehension of how the real world actually worked and tended to make a lot of bad, self-absorbed decisions that rarely helped the people they claimed to be representing.

That didn’t sit well with me either, so I decided to put any thoughts of going into politics on hold until I’d actually had a life and possibly a real career, and I spent the next couple of years drifting between a series of random yet educational jobs (debt collector, deliveryman, computer salesman, repo man, dairy worker) that taught me the value of hard work, personal responsibility and the financial benefits of dining at Taco John’s on Tuesday nights (2 tacos for a buck) when money got tight.

After awhile, however, the desire to see the world (and the need for a more consistent and slightly larger paycheck) convinced me to join the Army, where I spent ten years traveling around the world on the government dime working as an intelligence analyst. I generally enjoyed my time in the military, despite the aforementioned problem with authority (which wasn’t as much of an issue in the military as many people might think it would be), and I got to see that the decisions our political leaders make were sometimes frivolous, often ill-informed, and always had unforeseen repercussions down the road…especially on the soldiers tasked with implementing those decisions. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my 10 years in the military doing jobs I enjoyed, traveling to countries that I always wanted to see (Scotland is the greatest place in the world to hang out, Afghanistan is very underrated) and working with people I liked and respected, until I finally decided that at 35 it was time to move into a job where I didn’t have the threat of relocation lying over my head every two or three years, where I didn’t have to worry about my friends being blown up, and where I didn’t have to work in any capacity for George W. Bush.

I work now for a financial company in Kansas where I’m responsible for overseeing, pricing and maintaining farms, commercial and residential properties, mineral assets, insurance policies, annuities, etc. In my spare time I like to read books on economics, history, and politics (I’m preparing to tackle Murray Rothbard’s “Man, Economy & State” and Von Mises’ “Human Action”…should take me about a year at the rate I’m currently finishing books), watch movies, and destroy posers on “Halo 3″ (where I’m signed in under “UCrawford” for anyone interested in taking a shot at me some time). I used to play rugby until age, inconsistent conditioning, and a string of gradually worsening injuries finally convinced me to quit. I’m a rabid fan of the Kansas Jayhawks in general and their basketball and football programs in particular and I’m also a devoted fan of the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals. I’m also fond of going online and debating/picking fights with people on the merits of the philosophy of individual freedom…sometimes to the point of being an asshole (but hopefully a reasonably well-informed asshole). I’ve been a big fan of The Liberty Papers ever since finding it online, I respect the body of work they’ve put out, and I’m honored that Brad Warbiany invited me to join his jolly band of freedom fighters. So cheers, Brad, and to everyone else I look forward to reaching consensus or locking horns with you in the near future.

Quote Of The Day: Inadvertently Telling The Truth Edition

Bill Clinton in Colorado:

“We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions ’cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.”

And there you have it, the progressives are anti-progress.

Update: It would appear that Clinton’s quote was taken out of context. Here’s the full quote:

“Everybody knows that global warming is real,” Mr. Clinton said, giving a shout-out to Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize, “but we cannot solve it alone.”

“And maybe America, and Europe, and Japan, and Canada — the rich counties — would say, ‘OK, we just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions ’cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.’ We could do that.

But if we did that, you know as well as I do, China and India and Indonesia and Vietnam and Mexico and Brazil and the Ukraine, and all the other countries will never agree to stay poor to save the planet for our grandchildren. The only way we can do this is if we get back in the world’s fight against global warming and prove it is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy that saves the planet for our children and grandchildren. It is the only way it will work.

I stand corrected, and Jake Tapper is apparently an idiot.

Reagan Library Debate Roundup And Reaction

Before I get into the analysis of what happened in Simi Valley tonight, I’ve just got to say —- best debate backdrop ever.

I mean, seriously, how can a stage somewhere in Florida, New Hampshire, or Podunk, Iowa compete with a stage that looks out on the plane that served as Air Force One for nearly two decades and a beautiful California sky ? Quite literally, it seemed as if Ronald Reagan himself would come down the stairs, walk into the hall and tell all four of these losers to go home and let a real man lead the country.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and we’re stuck with the candidates we’ve got, so let’s take a look at what we have.

So what the heck do we have ? In one sentence, we have the coronation of John McCain as the Republican nominee even if nobody wants to admit it yet.

John McCain: Less than an hour after an endorsement that pretty much guaranteed he would score huge victories in California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut on Tuesday, McCain pretty much did what he needed to, which is not make a mistake. He did reveal his relative economic ignorance in the first question, but, quite honestly, I don’t think anyone noticed or that it will make that big of a difference. At this point, it’s all about winning primaries and getting delegates and McCain is set to score big on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney: Given the fact that he’s got guys like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin egging him to take McCain on, one would’ve thought that Romney would have been far more combative tonight than he was. Yea, he challenged McCain on tax cuts and got into an argument with him over a negative ad that McCain ran in Florida (which got so confusing that I honestly lost interest), but he didn’t really do much of anything to distinguish himself from McCain in a way that would make a difference to the people that will be voting next Tuesday. Romney will be in the race for awhile if only because he can afford to be, but he’s not going to be able to stop McCain.

Mike Huckabee: Apparently, not only does Mike Huckabee want to spend billions of dollars on a make work project to add two lanes to I-95 on the East Coast, but he’s open to spending billions more to do the same thing to highways all over the country. That, pretty much, was the only thing that Huckabee said that differentiated him from the other candidates. When I listen to him, I just can’t shake the feeling that he’s interviewing for the position of John McCain’s running mate, and judging from the reaction shots of McCain that I saw when he was speaking, he seems to be making some progress in that regard.

Ron Paul: What can you say ? He scored some points when he talked about the economy, but this debate made even clear than others that Ron Paul just isn’t an effective communicator of the philosophy of freedom in a political context. That, more than the newsletter story or anything else, is probably the main reason that conservative/libertarian voters who might otherwise agree with him haven’t voted for him and aren’t likely to anytime soon.

At this point, I don’t think that anything that happened in this debate is going to change the nature of the race. It’s more important the McCain has received endorsements from Rudy Giuliani and, reportedly, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, both of which will go a long way toward making Super Tuesday a big day for the Senator from Arizona.

Paul, Bloomberg Would Hurt Republicans More Than Democrats

A new Rasmussen Reports poll seems to suggest that third-party runs by Michael Bloomberg and Ron Paul would hurt Republicans more than Democrats in the General Election:

In a head-to-head match-up between Romney and Obama, Obama currently leads by nine percentage points. When Bloomberg and Paul are added to the list of possible candidates, Obama’s lead grows to twelve points, 42% to 30%. Paul attracts 8% of the vote, Bloomberg 6%.

Hillary Clinton leads Romney by five in a head-to-head match-up, but her lead grows to fourteen points with Bloomberg and Paul in the mix—Clinton 46% Romney 32% Bloomberg 7% Paul 7%.

In a McCain-Obama poll, the Democrat leads by five. That grows to seven points with the third party options—Obama 40% McCain 33% Paul 11% Bloomberg 5%.

The pair of third party candidates attract from 13% to 17% of Republicans in each match-up. They earn only 5% to 10% of the Democratic vote.

This is, of course, merely a snapshot in time and doesn’t necessarily reflect how things will pan out in November.

If Bloomberg does get into the race — by no means a given at this point — he is likely to do a lot better than he’s polling right now largely because he has the financial means to get his message, whatever it is, out to the public. That is going to pay off with increased support.

With Ron Paul, on the other hand, I think the numbers he’s polling here actually over state what he’d get in a General Election campaign. I get the sense that Ron Paul’s campaign peaked with the December money bombs. Except for finishing a distant second in Nevada, he hasn’t done better than fourth place in any contest yet and actually did worse in Florida than he’s done anywhere else. Oh, his core supporters will follow him to the gates of hell if necessary, but they aren’t going to be enough to get him more than maybe 3 or 4 percent of the vote in a heavily contested nationwide election with high turnout, which is what I expect we’ll see in November.

Of the two, the Republicans need to worry about Bloomberg far more than Paul at this point. Paul’s supporters aren’t going to vote for McCain anyway, so the fact that they might vote for Paul if he runs as an independent isn’t going to change things significantly. Bloomberg, on the other hand, has the potential to pull away large numbers of moderate independents that might otherwise vote for McCain.

Cato’s Ed Crane On The Presidential Race

Today’s Washington Examiner has an interesting profile of Cato Institute President and founder Ed Crane in which he gives his assessment of the Presidential field:

“I’m amazed that people take a candidate like [Mike] Huckabee, who doesn’t believe in evolution, seriously,” said Crane, who presides over a Washington think tank famous for telling the government to butt out of people’s lives.

Rudy Giuliani’s approach to civil liberties “scares the hell out of me,” Crane said, and Mitt Romney doesn’t know the difference between being a president and being a dictator. Ron Paul is a friend, he added, but “I mean, he wants to build a wall. How can a libertarian be anti-immigration?” John McCain “is disdainful of free speech” and “hawkish,” Crane said, “and there’s a certain pomposity about the guy I find unattractive.”

On the Democratic side, he derides John Edwards for posing as “the candidate of the downtrodden and getting $400 haircuts, the hypocrisy reeks.” Hillary Clinton, Crane said, is “dishonest and shrill … calculating, manipulating.” Barack Obama “seems like a nice guy,” but then again, “do you want this guy standing up to al Qaeda?” If he absolutely had to vote, which he wouldn’t and never does, Crane said, “I guess I’d vote for Ron Paul, because he’s for the market and against the war.”

Two points.

First, isn’t it interesting that the guy who runs the Cato Institute — which some on the paleo-wing of the libertarian movement have accused of being part of a statist conspiracy — finds Ron Paul to be the only nearly palatable candidate in the race ?  I’d also note that Crane’s admission that he doesn’t vote and never has would seem to contrast with those who say that Cato isn’t “radical” enough, whatever that means.

Second, doesn’t it say a lot about Ron Paul that one of the founders of the libertarian movement can’t bring himself to whole heartedly endorse him ?

John McCain: The Good, The Bad, And The Really, Really Ugly

Cato’s Michael Tanner takes a look at the guy who will, barring something truly extraordinary, be the Republican nominee for President:

While Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity sometimes portray McCain as a virtual clone of Ted Kennedy, the fact is that he is a true fiscal conservative—certainly more of a fiscal conservative than, say, Mitt Romney. He is well known as an opponent of earmarks and pork barrel spending. But perhaps more importantly, he has long been an advocate of entitlement reform. He was early an ardent support of personal accounts for Social Security, and has pushed for serious Medicare reform, including means-testing. Almost alone among Republicans, he opposed the disastrous Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Tanner also argues that McCain has good proposals, from a free market perspective, on health care and taxes and that, unlike guys like Mike Huckabee, he’s a free trader.

But it’s not all rosy:

John McCain frequently makes Dr. Strangelove look like a peacenik. Its not just his desire to remain in Iraq “for a hundred years.” It’s his bellicosity toward every enemy and perceived enemy from Iran to North Korea. He’s a true believer in the neoconservative goal of remaking the world to fit our desires and beliefs. At best on foreign policy he would be a competent Bush. At worst, he appears a recipe for perpetual conflict.

On domestic policy, he has shown a disturbing predilection for elevating every personal pet peeve, from steroids in baseball to airplane service quality, to a federal issue. And, he has embraced heavily regulatory environmental policies and compulsory national service

And then you get to the fact that McCain seems to view the First Amendment as optional and that he is, Tanner notes, a friend of government:

Most worrisome of all appears to be McCain’s basic philosophy, which is unapologetically statist, as Matt Welch points out in his new book McCain: The Myth of a Maverick. McCain once said “each and every one of us has a duty to serve a cause greater than our own self-interest.” McCain believes that cause to be the good of the collective, often defined as the nation or the national community.

Tanner ends up saying that McCain is, at best, a “mixed bag” but I think it’s worse than that. As I noted back in March 2007, John McCain is not a friend of liberty. Unfortunately, he’s got a very good shot at being the next President of the United States.

Florida Primary/State Of The Race Wrap-Up And Wednesday Open Thread

Given the news that’s breaking this morning, about which there is more below, it’s fairly clear that the race for the Republican and Democratic nomination have both entered their final phase, and things are turning out far differently than we thought they would one month, or even two weeks, ago.

Republicans

John McCain is now the frontrunner in the Republican race and, thanks to Rudy Giuliani’s pending endorsement, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine a scenario where he won’t be the nominee after the dust clears. Of the remaining candidates, Mitt Romney is the only one in a position to beat McCain but, as long he continues splitting the anti-McCain vote with Mike Huckabee, he’ll slip further and further behind. By the time next Wednesday rolls around, McCain won’t be the nominee yet, but he’ll be pretty darn close.

So get used to it folks, John McCain will be the Republican nominee.

Democrats

Outside of Hillary making it fairly obvious last night that she intended to go back on her promise and fight to have Florida’s delegates seated at the convention, it didn’t seem like there’d be any big news about the Democratic race today.

Then, John Edwards decided to drop out of the race. He’ll announce his decision today in New Orleans and apparently won’t be formally endorsing anyone at this time. Nonetheless, his withdrawal will change the nature of the Democratic race significantly as people try to figure out where his supporters will go.

My guess is that Edwards supporters are more likely to go to Obama than Hillary. By supporting Edwards to begin with, they’ve already demonstrated that they are against Clinton to some extent so the idea that they’d run happily into their arms seems unlikely. Moreover, Obama’s message has been more similar to Edwards’ than Clinton’s has to the extent that, at recent debates, it sometimes seemed like Edwards and Obama were double-teaming Hillary. Combined with the Kennedy endorsement and all the resources that provides, this could be enough to put Barack Obama over the top.

So, here’s the question, in a race between Barack Obama and John McCain, and assuming for the moment that Ron Paul will not run on a third-party ticket, which one would be the better choice, assuming there is one ?

Vote buying package clears House (we’re all Keynesians now)

The so-called “economic stimulus package” passed the House of Representatives this afternoon and will move over to the Senate for final passage, assuming there are no changes, before heading to the President’s desk:

The House, seizing a rare moment of bipartisanship to respond to the economy’s slump, overwhelmingly passed a $146 billion aid package Tuesday that would speed rebates of $600-$1,200 to most taxpayers.

The plan, approved 385-35 after little debate, would send at least some rebate to anyone with at least $3,000 in income, with more going to families with children and less going to wealthier taxpayers.

It faced a murky future in the Senate, though, where Democrats and Republicans backed a larger package that adds billions of dollars for senior citizens and the unemployed, and shrinks the rebate to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples. That plan, written by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, would deliver checks even to the richest taxpayers, who are disqualified under the House-passed measure.

Both versions would provide tax breaks to businesses to spur equipment and other purchases.

Republicans from the Georgia Congressional delegation voted against the plan, and rightfully so due to the fact that this type of Keynesian economics has been disproven time and time again.

You can view the roll call vote here.

Here in Georgia, State Rep. Chuck Martin has proposed legislation that would supposedly exempt the rebates from the state income tax:

Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) is pushing legislation co-sponsored by leaders of both parties to make sure Georgians don’t have to pay state income taxes on the stimulus checks they might be receiving from the federal government.

And, unlike the stimulus plan, Martin said his bill doesn’t have any income caps. So more affluent Georgians who don’t receive a check would also get a tax break if the measure is approved.

The savings: on average about $72 for individuals, $144 for couples without children, a little more for families with kids.

However, the Tax Foundation casts doubt on Martin’s proposal:

We’ve read the text of the bill (which just adds a one-year income exclusion, without changing any other laws) and the relevant statute, and we can’t figure this out. When filing taxes, Georgia instructs filers to start with federal adjusted gross income and then subtract state deductions. The stimulus rebate check, as an advance on the 2008 tax refund, would not increase or decrease federal adjusted gross income, so why would it affect state taxes?

It may well be that Georgia legislators want to give taxpayers a one-year cut in their income tax. But if they’re doing that, they might want to get rid of the bottom five income tax rates which apply to income earned under $7,000.

Georgia has $1.6 billion in reserve, and the best tax relief the state can come up with is this small exclusion on a cash advance against a future federal tax hike and the Governor’s weak property tax cut proposal.

Quote Of The Day

Why libertarians always seem frustrated by the Republican Party, from Cosmo’s Brain:

I have come to learn something very important about the Republican Party and libertarians: the big tent welcomes libertarians only when it suits their convenience to do so (which is about every even numbered year). When those same libertarian principles Republicans champion are applied to issues like drugs or morality, then Republicans do not want to hear what libertarians have to say. Rudy Giuliani believes in expansive executive power; Mitt Romney is more pro-business than pro-free market (somebody should tell Mitt that being a businessman and being an economist are not the same thing); John McCain would gladly sacrifice civil liberties in the name of “clean government;” and Mike Huckabee, well, he is a statist who calls himself a conservative. To add icing to the cake, none of them truly care about unity or bringing about any real, significant changes to Washington. None of them seem to share Barack’s desire for unity and change. Like Hillary and Edwards, I feel that they would rather go down in flames and claim they stuck to principle than compromise with others to reach a viable solution (or trade-off) concerning some of America’s problem; whether anything gets down is of secondary importance to them.

Yea, that about sums it up.

H/T: Publius Endures

Renouncing Earmarks

Andrew Roth at The Club for Growth writes today about a group of eight Congressmen who have taken a pledge not to request earmarks:

Shortly after joining Congress in 2000, Rep. Jeff Flake swore off earmarks forever. Others have followed. GOP Leader John Boehner was arguably the first among current House members. He shunned earmarks way back in 1990 (who said accepting earmarks was necessary for getting re-elected?). And with the earmark crisis reaching a feverish pitch nowadays, fiscal conservatives are realizing that something radical needs to be done. Real reform needs to be enacted, and the first step is to lead by example.

Here’s the complete list:

Jeff Flake (AZ-06)
John Campbell (CA-48)
Jeb Hensarling (TX-05)
John Shadegg (AZ-03)
John Boehner (OH-08)
John Kline (MN-02)
Tom Price (GA-06)
Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03)

Missing from the list is a certain Presidential candidate who calls himself the Taxpayers Best Friend.

Update: Roth has updated the list from his original post after receiving telephone calls from several Congressional offices. Here’s the updated list:

HOUSE MEMBERS
Jeff Flake (AZ-06)
John Campbell (CA-48)
Jeb Hensarling (TX-05)
John Shadegg (AZ-03)
John Boehner (OH-08)
John Kline (MN-02)
Tom Price (GA-06)
Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03)
Virginia Foxx (NC-05)
Trent Franks (AZ-02)
Michele Bachmman (MN-06)
Marsha Blackburn (TN-07)
Eric Cantor (VA-07)
Patrick McHenry (NC-10)
Marilyn Musgrave (CO-04)
Peter Roskam (IL-06)
Paul Ryan (WI-01)

SENATORS
Tom Coburn (OK)
Jim DeMint (SC)
John McCain (AZ)
Claire McCaskill (MO)
Richard Burr (NC)

McCaskill is the only Democrat on the list.

Don’t Watch The Watchers

A lawyer in Massachusetts faces wiretapping charges for recording a drug arrest on his cell phone:

A 2006 graduate of New England School of Law will stand trial on Jan. 29 in Boston Municipal Court on charges of wiretapping, aiding an escape and disturbing the peace for allegedly using his cell phone to record the arrest of a 16-year-old juvenile in a drug case.

The matter, which stems from an Oct. 1 incident, has drawn the ire of local legal heavyweight Harvey A. Silverglate — who has penned an op-ed on the case for the Jan. 28 issue of Lawyers Weekly — and others who worry about the consequences for “concerned citizens” who choose to record possible police misconduct.

According to a police report obtained by Lawyers Weekly, Officer Peter Savalis alleges that attorney Simon Glik was walking in the Boston Common at 5:30 p.m. when he used his phone’s camera to videotape him and two other officers investigating a teen.

“[He] reached out and placed his arm into the officer’s way and held out a phone,” according to Savalis’ police report — an accusation that Glik denies.

The report then states that the Moscow-born lawyer, who graduated at the top of his NESL class and was on the law review, walked around the officers and continued recording the scene.

When one of the officers asked if he was using audio and video on the phone, Glik reportedly said: “I sure am using audio.”

The officers were not amused with the response and handcuffed and arrested the 31-year-old, who has aspirations of being a prosecutor.

And now the prosecutors, instead of dismissing what is clearly a bogus charged filed by a pissed-off police officer, are going ahead with prosecuting Gilk for committing the “crime” of filming the police in the performance of their official duties while in a public place.

The moral of the story — Big Brother is watching you, but don’t watch Big Brother

H/T: Cato@Liberty

Bush, Congressional Republicans Cave On Earmark Reform

It looks like Republicans in Washington are backing down on the fight against Congressional earmarks, the latest example being the White House’s decision to back away from issuing an Executive Order aimed at stopping earmarks altogether:

The White House is now confirming that President Bush won’t be signing an executive order that could stop the vast majority of earmarks. Instead, he’s going to sign one  “directing agencies to ignore any future earmarks included in report language but not in the legislation, which is traditionally how they end upon the books,” according to White House spokesman Dana Perino.

Bush will also threaten to veto any appropriations bills that don’t cut the number of earmarks in half when they come to him during the remainder of his days in the White House.

Confirmation of Bush’s decision comes hard on the heels of the House GOP’s weekend letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposing a six-month moratorium on earmarks and the appointment of a joint Senate-House committee to study the issue. And last week the Senate GOP Conference Chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, made clear his intent to cooperate with Democrats rather than confront them.

In view of the collapse of the GOP leadership on all three fronts, it is absolutely fitting that Pelosi most accurately explains what it means: “I think Republicans have pulled their punch on earmarks. It looked like a very lukewarm approach. They want to beat a loud drum, but when it comes down to it, they want their earmarks.”

Precisely. With few exceptions, the Republicans in the nation’s capitol are toothless wonders. They talk a good case for conservative reform but they don’t walk it. They want to keep the perks of power and position, even if doing so means betraying the principles they profess to believe and for the defense of which their constituents voted for them.

On all but a few issues, America no longer has a two-party system – It has only the Party of Government with two wings cooperating “to get things done.” We conservatives are a base without a party.

Given how the Republicans governed during the first six years of the Bush Administration, can anyone honestly say that they’re surprised by this ?

Quote/Question of the Day: McCain Edition

Quoted from a John Samples’ article McCain vs. Madison

The election of a Progressive like Clinton or Obama would deprive conservatives of power. The election of a Progressive like McCain would deprive conservatives of both the government and the means to resist Progressivism. Which is the lesser evil?

Ditto for Huckabee, Romney, and Giuliani.

Monday Open Thread: Florida Primary Predictions

One of these days, I’m gonna get this right, and I think hope today may be the day.

Here’s how I think things will pan out in Florida tomorrow.

Republicans

  1. John McCain
  2. Mitt Romney
  3. Rudy Giuliani
  4. Mike Huckabee
  5. Ron Paul

Over the weekend, John McCain received endorsements from Senator Mel Martinez and Governor Charlie Crist, both of which are likely to be just enough to help him overcome a last minute surge from Mitt Romney. Depending on how big the margin of victory, this could be the beginning of the end of the Republican race. Giuliani has fallen behind, but there are also reports that he has benefited a lot from Florida’s early voting — I don’t think it’s going to be enough to push him past third place, though. Huckabee continues to do well in southern states like Georgia and Tennessee, but Florida’s influx of Northerners is cutting down on his support there. As for Ron Paul, well from what I’ve seen it doesn’t seem like the campaign has paid any attention at all to Florida — again making me wonder what they’re doing with all that money they raised.

Democrats

  1. Hillary Clinton
  2. Barack Obama
  3. John Edwards

Technically, there isn’t really supposed to be a Democratic Primary in Florida tomorrow, or at least not one that counts. When the Florida Democratic Party decided to move it’s primary up to January 29th, the National Committee responded by stripping the state of all of it’s delegates. And each of the candidates promised not to actively campaign in Florida as well and support the DNC’s decision. Unless your name is Hillary Clinton, of course:

This is a very, very, very big deal. From the Clinton campaign:

I hear all the time from people in Florida and Michigan that they want their voices heard in selecting the Democratic nominee.

I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan. I know not all of my delegates will do so and I fully respect that decision. But I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention.

I hope my fellow potential nominees will join me in this.

I will of course be following the no-campaigning pledge that I signed, and expect others will as well.

Hillary is going to win Florida, basically by default, just like she won the meaningless primary in Michigan. Between those two states we’re talking about over 200 delegates that wouldn’t be seated if the DNC’s resolution stands. Does anyone not think that Hillary will make an issue over this if the nomination fight ends up being as close as some think it will be ?

Libertarians For Obama ?

Mark at Publius Endures explains why he could support Barack Obama:

I find myself drawn to supporting him – passionately, even – because his goals are liberal in the classical sense. I repeat – I do not think his means are libertarian in any way, and are arguably not even classically liberal means. But the goals, so far as I can see, ARE classically liberal. His are not goals centered entirely around maximizing his own political power, and thus he is a candidate worthy of my deep respect. These ultimate ends are the same ends as exist for us perjoratively-named cosmo-libertarians (as well as for other derivations of classical liberalism).

(…)

Much of Obama’s appeal to me is in his apparent desire to encourage rather than require moral behavior. If government is necessary, a libertarian should be much happier with a government that relies on encouragement more than mandates. Though this is nothing compared to a lack of any government or a government confined to truly libertarian principles, it is still a vast improvement over most politicians’ views of government.

This, I think, is one reason that many people, regardless of their political ideology support Barack Obama. Rhetorically, he’s a great speaker and he’s basing his campaign on a vision of America that resonates with the electorate. In that respect, Caroline Kennedy is right to compare him to her father. As with Kennedy, we are witnessing in Barack Obama something that has the potential to shift the ground in American politics significantly.

The question is whether there’s anything there that libertarians and classical liberals can admire, or even support.

Politically, the answer has got to be no. Rhetoric aside, Barack Obama is as much of statist as Hillary Clinton. While he seems like he’d be more open to free market ideas, it’s clear from his positions and his rhetoric that he views governments as a force for good, rather than the cause of problems. Yes, he’d be better on civil liberties than George W. Bush, but you can forget about reducing the size of government if Barack Obama is President.

That said, I will admit that I agree with Mark on some level. There is an appeal to Barack Obama. For me, it’s the appeal of watching someone slowly but surely bring the Democratic Party around to realizing just how poisonous the Clinton Machine really is (and for evidence of that, just consider Bill Clinton comparing Obama’s overwhelming win in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson’s win 20 years ago). Every time Obama beats Hillary, I raise a toast and I wouldn’t mind raising a lot more toasts between now and the Democratic Convention.

Right now the Presidential choices for those who believe in liberty are grim indeed. On the Republican side, the race is down to a man who believes the First Amendment is optional and one who changes his positions the way most of us change socks. On the Democratic side, it’s down to Hillary and Obama and, given a choice between those two, I’d rather spend the next four years with the Senator from Illinois than the Senator from New York.

Quote Of The Day: Broken Party Edition

From the always enjoyable to read Peggy Noonan:

George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues.

Were there other causes? Yes, of course. But there was an immediate and essential cause.

And this needs saying, because if you don’t know what broke the elephant you can’t put it together again. The party cannot re-find itself if it can’t trace back the moment at which it became lost. It cannot heal an illness whose origin is kept obscure.

At least as far as 2008 is concerned, it seems far too late to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Florida Debate Wrap-Up And Commentary

Given the fact that it took place only five days before the last big primary prior to Super Tuesday, and that recent polls show the race to be very tight, I was expecting last night’s Florida debate to be much more confrontational than it was. After all, if McCain wins in Florida, there’s a fairly good argument that the race for the Republican nomination will effectively be over — if Romney, Huckabee, or Giuliani are going to make stand, it needs to be in the sunshine state.

Despite all of that, though, this debate was, by and large, a snoozefest. Neither Romney nor Giuliani directly confronted McCain, and Huckabee, who is so obviously running for the Veep slot at this point, continued his John McCain love-fest. Like it or not, and I frankly don’t like it one bit, it’s looking more and more likely that John McCain will be the Republican nominee.

So here’s where I think the candidates stand as we head toward January 29th:

John McCain: The only thing McCain needed to make sure he did last night was not mess up, and he didn’t. He’s just come off a convincing victory in South Carolina, has a decent shot of winning Florida, and is leading in most of the major Super Tuesday states like California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. As I noted yesterday, it’s a mathematical certainty that no candidate will win enough delegates on February 5th to win the nomination, but John McCain is better positioned than any of the other candidates to come close to closing the deal before Valentine’s Day.

Mitt Romney: Of all the candidates, Romney is best positioned to benefit from John McCain’s rise. At some point, the Republican establishment is going to wake up, look around, and realize that the guy they stopped in South Carolina in 2000 is on the verge of blowing away the rest of the field. When they do, they’re going to look for a candidate, and, right now, the only real alternative to John McCain is Mitt Romney. Last night, Romney needed to look solid enough for these voters for them to start reconsidering guys like Giuliani and Huckabee. Whether he was convincing enough is something we won’t know until Tuesday, both January 29th and February 5th.

Rudy Giuliani: Considering that Giuliani once referred to Florida as his firewall, one would have thought that he would have come out fighting last night. Make no mistake, Giuliani can fight — he did it when he ran for office in New York, and it worked. At the very least, he needed to find a way to bring back the support he’s lost over the last month. And he failed miserably on both accounts. Giuliani will limp on through Super Tuesday, but he’s practically a non-entity at this point.

Mike Huckabee: Huckabee’s low on cash and falling in the polls, and one wonder why he’s still in the race. One theory is that he’s angling for the Vice-Presidential slot if McCain is the nominee. The fact that he’s been relative nice to McCain over the past week or so lends some credence to that theory. In either case, it’s fairly clear right now that Huckabee is not going to be at the top of the ticket. He’ll win some Southern states on Super Tuesday, perhaps, but that will be about it.

Ron Paul: Eighteen minutes into the debate, Paul was handed a nice, big fat softball question. All the other candidates had been asked their position on the “bipartisan” economic stimulus package and, predictably, they all endorsed it. Paul was asked the following question:

Congressman Paul, you often have a different view of these issues. So I’ll ask a vastly different question. Does government — should government, in your view, have any role at all in stimulating the economy like this?

And instead of answering it, Paul goes off on a rambling discourse about interest rates, the dollar, the Fed, and, yes, Iraq. And he repeated that hard-to-believe assertion that we could save $ 1 trillion from the Federal Budget by ended the American “empire”, whatever that is.

Don’t take my word for, it, here’s how Stephen Green put it:

7:18pm Woo-hoo! A question for Paul. “Should the government have any role in stimulating the economy?” A GREAT question for a libertarian candidate. And how does Paul respond? With a quickfire, rambling answer covering everything from the Fed to the weak dollar to a “trillion dollar a year foreign policy.” Folks, we have a two trillion dollar Federal budget, most of which is transfer payment. Paul is, in short, a big fat, high-pitched liar.

Nobody’s ever really challenged Paul on this trillion dollar claim, but the fact is that the numbers in the Federal Budget just don’t justify it.

I’m beginning to think that we’re seeing the beginning of the end of Ron Paul, at least as a visible candidate. He’s invited to the California debate before Super Tuesday, but I’d be very surprised if we see him in a single debate after that. It’s too bad, really, because he’s really the only guy on the stage who comes close to making sense when it comes to issues like economics.

In the end, I don’t think that the debate will have any appreciable impact on the race, either in Florida or nationally. Slowly but surely, this is coming down to a contest between the “maverick” and the Mormon, and I can’t figure out for the life of me why I should support either of them regardless of who the Democrats nominate.

Hershey Succumbs To Drug War Insanity

An American icon, the Hershey Chocolate Company, has succumbed to what seems like an entirely insane drug warrior fantasy:

HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) — The Hershey Co. is halting production of Ice Breakers Pacs in response to criticism that the mints look too much like illegal street drugs, the company’s president and chief executive officer said Thursday.

Hershey (HSY, Fortune 500) CEO David J. West disclosed the decision during a conference call about the company’s newly released fourth-quarter earnings report.

Ice Breakers Pacs, which first hit store shelves in November, are nickel-sized dissolvable pouches with a powdered sweetener inside. The pouches come in blue or orange and bear the Ice Breakers logo.

Members of Philadelphia’s police narcotics squad said the mints closely resemble tiny heat-sealed bags used to sell powdered street drugs. They charged that the consequences could be serious if, for example, a child familiar with the mints found a package of cocaine.

In other words, Hershey is producing an entirely legal product that some ninny somewhere thinks looks like illegal drugs.

Yea, makes sense to me,

1 2 3 5