Monthly Archives: April 2009

MD and AL: Two Tea Party items of interest

Maryland

It’s being reported that the Maryland National Guard issued an alert to be on the lookout for numerous entities which “have formed recently to express displeasure/anger over recent federal/state government actions: more taxes, increased spending, higher deficits, a surge of borrowing to pay for it all, bailout of the financial institutions.”

“This movement can be identified by different variations of “TEA Party” or “Tea Party.” Past “TEA Party” events have been peaceful. There was a “Tea party” event at Solomons, Maryland, on March 22, 2009. “TEA” stands for “Taxed Enough Already,”the report continues.

Following the Missouri Information Analysis Center report and the one issued by the Department of Homeland Security, this is beginning to look like a most disturbing trend.

Alabama

The following blog comment (from a source I personally know) illustrates that the Birmingham/Shelby County Tea Party stuck to their activist guns:

The highlight of the event in Birmingham was Beth Chapman, our Secretary of State.

Unbeknowst to most people, she showed up unannounced at the back of the stage and demanded to speak. Apparently she wasn’t there when I announced that no elected officials would be speaking and that at this rally politicians would listen to we the people.

As a matter of fact, she wasn’t there when the Rainy Day Patriots (25 in number) stood on 280 in the middle of a tornado warning with their protest signs. She wasn’t there during our organizational meetings. She wasn’t there during setup of the event. And she certainly wasn’t there during cleanup.

Needless to say, she wasn’t a very happy camper when she was told “NO”. I guess politicians are not used to being told no because she lingered for another 30 minutes quibling for a speaking spot.

It was a great day in Alabama when a group of citizens can grow their numbers from 25 to 7000 in a couple of weeks and tell our politicians “NO!”

Chapman is Alabama’s Republican Secretary of State. Commenter Marcelo Munoz is a local Campaign for Liberty organizer.

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A Question For The Tea Partyers

It’s fairly clear what your against and, by and large I agree, but what, exactly, are you for:

Protesting government spending is meaningless unless you say what you’d cut.

(…)

All protests against spending that do not tell us how to reduce it are fatuous pieces of theater, not constructive acts of politics. And until the right is able to make a constructive and specific argument about how they intend to reduce spending and debt and borrowing, they deserve to be dismissed as performance artists in a desperate search for coherence in an age that has left them bewilderingly behind.

It is, I think, an entirely fair question.

C/P: Below The Beltway

Alabama Tea Party Report

tea-party-photos-rpRobert Stacy McCain and I just got back from our second Tea Party of the day. First, we went to Tuscaloosa for the rally being held at the University of Alabama. McCain was the first speaker, and considering that he’s a DC-based Alabama football fan, he probably couldn’t have messed up his speech, even if he tried. There were about 500 people there. As we had to be in Hoover right after his speech, I can’t report very much about the rest of the event. I did grab some pictures, and here’s one of two Ron Paul supporters holding their signs.

We raced to the Birmingham event, and made good time until we hit a major traffic jam.  While I expected a good crowd, I wasn’t expecting nearly the amount of people who showed up.  McCain was insisting that it was Tea Party traffic, while I figured there was an accident ahead.  As this may be the only time he ever sees these words coming from my keyboard, he may wish to savor them a bit: Yo, McCain — you were right and I was wrong.

I’d estimate that around 7,000 people (there was another Birmingham area event held earlier in the day with around 1,000 people reported in attendence) were there.  As people were coming and going throughout the event, total attendance was even higher.

tea-party-photos-crowdIt was tough obtaining any photo which accurately depicted the amount of people in attendence.  Hopefully, when the Fox (or local television) video hits YouTube, it will provide a better indication of the crowd size than this picture on the right.

I’ve not seen any Birmingham News (the dominant local paper) coverage of the latter event, yet, but here’s one early report from a reporter who obviously left early.  McCain tells a bit more:

Famous Alabama radio personalities Rick and Bubba were doing a live TV remote with Sean Hannity. Alabama gubernatorial candidate Tim James spoke; leading Republican observers in the state say he’s the man to watch for 2010.

Next up was Birmingham talk-radio host Lee Davis, who did a James Brown hardest-working-man-in-show-business performance. By this time, I’d found my Samoan lawyer buddy Bert, who lives in Birmingham and joined me backstage. The lady came to tell me I was next up after Davis — a tough act to follow.

But hey, I’m Mack the Knife. I killed. I told ‘em how my buddy Stephen Gordon broke the story about the DHS report about “right-wing extremists,” and then:

Since I work in Washington, I contacted my source at the Department of Homeland Security and asked him what I should be on the lookout for. And I’ve got my notes from that interview with me. You might be a right-wing extremist if . . .
. . . you refuse to bow to Saudi royalty.
. . . you think the only good pirate is a dead pirate.
. . . you don’t think it’s a good idea for politicians in Washington to borrow another trillion dollars you grandchildren will have to repay.
. . . you think you know how to run your life better than a bunch of ‘experts’ in Washington.
. . . you believe in God, but don’t think that Obama is the Messiah.
. . . you believe the only reason you have First Amendment Rights is because of your Second Amendment rights.

That may not seem too funny just reading it on a blog, but the magic was in the delivery. It went over very well with a big fired-up crowd. Alabama people are the finest people on the planet.

After the rally, went to the Five Points Grill for a celebratory dinner with friends, where various right-wing conspiracies political plans were discussed. Between Gordo and his buddies, I’m pretty sure they’ve got the whole dang state locked up for the foreseeable future.

McCain was correct when he stated the the lines went over well.  The noise from crowd at both events provided the evidence.  He’s pictured here reading from the list of traits of right-wing extremists he acquired from his imaginary friend at DHS.  His shoes were likely muddied in our rush to get to the latter event on time.

tea-party-photos-rsm

It seems that everyone (while I was there, at least) followed the advice I offered about sticking to a fiscally conservative message.  Several people there told me that they had read and appreciated that blog posting.  It was appropriate, as there was a wide mix of conservatives, libertarians and Campaign for Liberty folks.   Of the speakers I observed, McCain deviated from the fiscally conservative role more than anyone else when giving the “You might be a right-wing extremist if…” portion of his speech, and I’m the one who suggested the God/Messiah line to him.

Obviously, there were a lot of fairly typical Republicans in attendance.  I recognized plenty of LP members, people I knew from the previous Alabama Tea Party, people from the Ron Paul campaign, and a few people that I think (note to self: follow up on this one) are Democrats.

I met quite a few people, including this conservative blogger with a blog title that’s almost as cute as she is in person.  Unfortunately, she didn’t keep her promise of becoming The Official Lady Godiva of the Tax Day Tea Party.

Quite a few people thanked me for my role in delivering the DHS report to the Internet, one nice lady literally shedding tears of gratitude.

Unlike some of the Internet responses I’ve received from some Republicans, people congratulated me for tackling what could have been a difficult television interview well.  One person thanked me for informing him that Mike Huckabee likes tax increases as much as Bob Riley does.  Some either didn’t seem to get the Alan Keyes point I made — or don’t care.

Some of the feedback from the Atlanta rally I’ve received so far was mixed, but I’m sure Jason Pye will fill us in when he gets the chance.  There were an estimated 15,000 people at the event and this article reports (not sure what the reporter meant at the end of the first sentence) the following:

Although they did take part in the tax protest, some Georgia Libertarians said they have no use for Sean Hannity, who they call a Republican “lackey”, for either the Republican or Democratic Parties.

“I’m no fan of Barack Obama by any means,” said Libertarian Christopher Barber, “but Bush grew government. The entrenched Republicans grow government.”

I did hear that libertarian radio personality Eric von Haessler delivered a great speech in Hotlanta.

From an activist point of view, the Birmingham event was clearly a success.  There was no astroturfing, despite the Sean Hannity media presence.  There were no big-government Republican speakers, unlike what I hear about other events.  I’m sort of confused about why folks in Columbia, SC invited Tax Hike Mike to speak at their tax rally.  Isn’t that the same as inviting Satan to be the guest preacher at church?

Today may go down in the history books as the day America reversed course on fiscal policy.  Alternately, today could be remembered as a day with good rallies, but nothing changed afterwards.  What this movement does in the future is still to be determined.

UPDATE: As to be expected, the Birmingham News under-reported participation. “At Hoover’s Veterans Park, police directed traffic as several hundred people gathered for one of more than a dozen rallies in Alabama and more than 500 around the country,” they wrote.

Later, they updated their report to say: Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos estimates the “Tea Party” rally at Veterans Park drew at least 5,000 people on Wednesday.

Petelos said he stopped by the rally about 8:30 p.m. after church. He noticed cars packed in Spain Park parking lot, lined on Valleydale Road and in the parking lot of a nearby Jefferson State Community College satellite campus.

Petelos said one resident told him it took him an hour and a half to get from the Interstate 65 exit at Valleydale Road to Veterans Park.

Petelos said attendance estimates were based on the number of cars the parking lot could handle. “I’d say there were 3,000 cars with two people to a car that’s about 6,000,” he said. “I feel very safe saying there were about 5,000 people.”

I’ll still stand by the 7,000 number I used, as there were a lot people both arriving and leaving throughout the event. Combined with the mechanism used by Petelos to estimate attendance and the amount of people coming and going I observed, this makes sense. Other organizers felt pretty comfortable with the 7,000 number, as well.

UPDATE II: Here’s a great photo I found on Flickr of two protesters.

UPDATE III: Local Campaign for Liberty leader reports in a blog comment:

The highlight of the event in Birmingham was Beth Chapman, our Secretary of State.

Unbeknowst to most people, she showed up unannounced at the back of the stage and demanded to speak. Apparently she wasn’t there when I announced that no elected officials would be speaking and that at this rally politicians would listen to we the people.

As a matter of fact, she wasn’t there when the Rainy Day Patriots (25 in number) stood on 280 in the middle of a tornado warning with their protest signs. She wasn’t there during our organizational meetings. She wasn’t there during setup of the event. And she certainly wasn’t there during cleanup.

Needless to say, she wasn’t a very happy camper when she was told “NO”. I guess politicians are not used to being told no because she lingered for another 30 minutes quibling for a speaking spot.

It was a great day in Alabama when a group of citizens can grow their numbers from 25 to 7000 in a couple of weeks and tell our politicians “NO!”

UPDATE IV: This local blogger provides a lot of pictures from earlier in the day while we were in Tuscaloosa or stuck in traffic. She also notes what she thinks the tea party was about:

To sum up the rally, I think most of us were there because we want something to change in Washington:

* Taxes are too high
* Government is TOO big
* Spending money like there’s no tomorrow
* Our future as a great nation is at risk
* Get back to our Constitution that was founded by our forefathers

UPDATE V: TheRightRant provides more photos and adds: “Ayn Rand signs were every where. The people see where America is headed and they don’t like it.”

UPDATE VI: The AmericanConservativeDaily reports:

Birmingham- 5,000
Huntsville- 2,500
Montgomery- 2,300-2,500
Mobile- 1000
Trussville- 1,000

There were other, smaller events in Alabama, as well. 300 participants were reported in Hueytown.

UPDATE VII: WYDE has some photos here. Shana Kluck provides more details from Alabama events here.

It appears that the Tea Parties held in Alabama yesterday were a rousing success.  It’s reported by ABC News (and my friend and attendee Shirrell Roberts) that the Montgomery Tea Party held at noon on the Capital steps had about 1,000 people.  Great job, Matt Givens and Cindy Wright, in organzing and promoting this event!  This is what Shirrell said after the event-

It really fired me up just seeing common everyday folks give a rip about the direction this country is headed.  Sometimes it is easy to become cynical. Yesterday restored my faith in the people of this country.

In Tuscaloosa, David Steele, Wells Robinson and Jeff Galle (law students at UA and bloggers at SquareWon.org) organized the Tea Party on the Quad at the University of Alabama.  There was a crowd of at least 300 people there by the time the first speaker, Robert Stacy McCain, was finishing up, and it looked like more were on their way in.

Immediately following Stacy’s speech, we headed over to the Birmingham Tea Party, where Stacy would be addressing the crowd there as well.  Traffic to the event was backed up for miles and it was no surprise to hear it announced from stage that the crowds were estimated to be around 7,000.  Stacy wowed the crowd again with his ‘You might be a right-wing extremist’ routine.  My favorite quote?

You might be a right-wing extremist if you believe in God, but don’t believe that Obama is the Messiah.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James also spoke about fiscal responsibility and the necessity for Alabamians to hold DC to a higher standard.  The crowd was obviously receptive, excited, positive and hoping for better things for the future.

UPDATE VIII: Doug Mataconis wants to know what government spending Tea Partiers would like to see cut.  Let’s give him a big list.

UPDATE IX: The Tuscaloosa News covered our earlier, smaller protest of the the day.  According to a local friend who called, the picture of McCain covers most of the front page — both above and below the fold.  They also provided this video footage, with a quick interview of McCain at the end.  His two-part message: Organize! Roll Tide!

UPDATE X: McCain and I just spent an hour on the air with Birmingham 101.1FM talk show host Lee Davis.

UPDATE XI: Here’s video of McCain’s speech.

Debts, Deficits, Taxes, and Tea Parties

In watching the MSM coverage of the Tea Party protests, the following arguments are used to try and debase the factual arguments of the protests:

  1. Obama plans to lower taxes on the majority of Americans while raising them on the rich.
  2. Obama’s budget cuts the deficit in half over the next 10 years.
  3. Right now tax rates are the same as they were when Obama took office.
  4. Most Americans are OK with their taxes.

These are all true, but none invalidate the point of the protests.  The protests are not talking about current taxes, they are talking about future taxes.  Each and every dollar borrowed today is a dollar taxed out of the economy at some point within the next 30 years.  This is a simple, undeniable fact.

When trying to figure out bad our future tax burden is, one number concerns us:  The National Debt.  This number is staggering, standing at $11,176,642,012,673 at the moment I type this.  According to the CBO, Obama’s budget will increase this debt by over $1,800,000,000,000 in just the next year.   So, while Obama is correct that his budget cuts the yearly budget deficit in half by 2019, that means that his spending plan will add a mere $900,000,000,000 to the national debt that year.  If the CBO estimate holds, the debt will top $20,000,000,000,000 in 2019.  This means that between 2009-2019, the amount of money borrowed against the full faith and credit of the US taxpayer will almost have doubled.

Say it to yourself… twenty trillion dollars.  That’s the massive future tax liability for the citizens of the United States being protested today.  The anger about this future tax liability is very real among those who see it.  While the tea party movement might get co-opted by big-spending Republicans and fade away, the sentiment that started it is as genuine, grassroots, and truthful as any protest movement in American history.

DHS Responds To Uproar Over Report On “Right Wing Extremism”

In light of the uproar that we’ve seen over the report that Stephen Gordon brought into the public light earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security has issued this press release:

Release Date: April 15, 2009

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

The primary mission of this department is to prevent terrorist attacks on our nation. The document on right-wing extremism sent last week by this department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis is one in an ongoing series of assessments to provide situational awareness to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies on the phenomenon and trends of violent radicalization in the United States. I was briefed on the general topic, which is one that struck a nerve as someone personally involved in the Timothy McVeigh prosecution.

Let me be very clear: we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States. We don’t have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence.

We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources.

I am aware of the letter from American Legion National Commander Rehbein, and my staff has already contacted him to set up a meeting next week once I return from travel. I will tell him face-to-face that we honor veterans at DHS and employ thousands across the department, up to and including the Deputy Secretary.

As the department responsible for protecting the homeland, DHS will continue to work with its state and local partners to prevent and protect against the potential threat to the United States associated with any rise in violent extremist activity.

I’ll leave it to others to comment more fully, but I will say that it’s worth remembering that Timothy McVeigh got his start with the so-called militia movement, and he ended up killing hundreds of people.

H/T: Little Green Footballs

Hey IRS & DHS, Suck On This!

I’m not going to make it to any Tea Parties today, because frankly I think my personal time is far better spent earning money at my job than engaging in a bit of populism that will likely be forgotten and ignored by the mainstream media — at least those portions of the MSM that don’t actively deride the movement.

But in the wake of this, and of the recent DHS report, I thought a little picture was in order:

My office when I worked from home:

Don't Tread, Bitches!

Some might call it extremism. I call it inspiration. Does that mean my name will end up on a list somewhere (if it hasn’t already)?

A Refresher on Philosophy

In comments I have been asked to explain further my philosophies of liberty, government etc…

I’ve written extensively on the subject before, both here, and on my personal blog; and when I say extensively I’m talking tens of thousands of words; so I thought I just post some of the more comprehensive and important links here:

My Philosophy:

  1. What the Heck is a Muscular Minarchist?
  2. The Politics of Liberty
  3. Rights Penumbras and Emanation
  4. Citizen or Subject?
  5. No Philosophy?
  6. The Fundamental Problem with Involuntary Collectivists
  7. Authoritarian, Libertarian, Anarchist?
  8. -isms Part One
  9. A Couple of Sad Truths
  10. To Amy, and Others who Believe that Government can do Good
  11. I Can’t Bleieve I haven’t Explicitly Stated this Here Before
  12. Differing First Principles

Read them all and you’ll get a pretty solid idea of the philosophical, moral, and practical underpinnings for the ideas I present here.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Stephen Gordon On Rachel Maddow

As Jason noted last night, our own Stephen Gordon appeared on Rachel Maddow’s show last night discussing the rift between conservatives and libertarians over the Tea Party’s.

Here’s the video:

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

UPDATE: Huffpo on Gordon’s appearance here. HotAir here. Raw Story here. Maddow fan site here.

Tax Day Protestors — Time To Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

A few weeks ago, I asked those who were interested in fighting back against the forces of taxation to actually do something tangible to make a difference. I asked for a real Tax Day protest.

The idea was simple. Decrease your tax withholding to the minimum level to avoid penalties, in order to ensure that the FedGov doesn’t get your money until it’s absolutely required. I even gave a simple metric, for those of you who work standard salaried corporate jobs, claim me, myself, and I, plus spouse and/or dependents. For me, that number is 6 (me, myself, I, wife, son, soon-to-be-born-son).

In my case, that resulted in my claimed exemptions moving from 4 federal, 3 state, to 6 federal, 6 state.

What I want to know is — who’s coming with me? Who’s actually changing their claimed exemptions to reduce their withholding?

Frankly, folks, this will mean more than showing up to some mass protest today. If you’re joining the Tax Day Withholding Party, post your changes in the comments section.

The Trouble with Involuntary Collectivists

… and in fact leftists of any stripe (and some on the far right for that matter), is that everything they believe is wrong.

Yes, I mean that directly, literally, and completely. Everything they believe is wrong. Incorrect. False.

Everything they believe in is wrong, because it all flows from absolutely wrong first principles, which can best be summarized as:

  1. If it makes me feel good, it must be alright
  2. If it makes me feel bad it must be wrong
  3. If I can get enough people to go along with me, we can do whatever we want, because we say so
  4. If someone is very intelligent, and gets a lot of people to agree with him, I should agree with him too or there’s something wrong with me
  5. If we want something to be true bad enough, no matter what, it is true, because we say so
  6. Anyone who disagrees with any of this is wrong and bad
  7. Everything we do is right because we say so, and anyone who disagrees with is wrong and bad; therefore anyone who wants to stop us is stupid or evil
  8. Anything goes so long as we get what we want

These are not principles at all of course; merely an attempt to rationalize doing what they want to do.

This, fundamentally, is evil, because it abnegates human liberty and the human spirit; and because it recognizes neither morality, nor ethics (one cannot call such notions ethics). Not only does it allow for the tyranny of the majority, it requires it. The will of the collective outweighs all.

Oh and never mind the inherent contradictions there. They are obvious and irreconcilable to a non-collectivist; but somehow not to a collectivist (though at least some distinction has to be made here between involuntary collectivists, and voluntary. The voluntary are still incorrect, but they aren’t forcing anyone else into it, so that’s OK).

Simply put, the coercive restraint of human liberty is inherently evil. Control of ones person, property, and behavior should be the exclusive province of the sovereign man. The only legitimate limitation of liberty is that which prevents transgression on the liberty of others, or which compensates those transgressed upon.

Collectivism purports to advocate for human liberty; but it does so through restraining it for the good of the collective? Only by giving up your freedom to all can you be free?

Doublespeak, and nothing more.

All they are really saying is, “Give up all your freedom and liberty to us, and we’ll LET you do, what WE think you ought to do, when WE think you should do it”.

It is entirely about command and control; just as is fascism, or any other kind of totalitarianism. They believe that if you give the “right” people, total control, then all the “right” decisions will be made, and everyone will be better off and happier.

This, frankly, is evil.

Intelligent leftists then spend all their intellectual energy creating increasingly convoluted, twisted, circular, and inductive arguments… no, to call them arguments gives them too much credit, they are in the main, mere tautologies; to justify what they believe in, and why they believe in it; even though reality shows again and again that their ideas are incorrect.

Amazingly, they often reach the same point as non-leftists do, by twisting their reasoning enough to reconcile their false first principles with the way the world really works. After all, at some point you have to say that an orange is an orange, don’t you?

And that really is the proof of the thing. Leftists ideas simply do not work. They are not true. They are false. Reality disagrees with them.

When your theory does not match the facts, you must change the theory. Reality doesn’t give a damn about your feelings.

The collectivist theory fails utterly. It doesn’t match the facts at all. Twisting both the theory and the facts out of all semblance to reality to “prove” your pet theory, does not make it true.

Individualism in a relatively loose collective (a society, no matter the size), is the natural state of man. We are social individuals, but we are individuals.

We may band tighter together at time, when it is to our advantage to survive; but we do so out of enlightened self interest, not of a collective nature.

We may sacrifice, so that others might live, or live better lives; but we do this for the benefit of other individuals, and for that which we believe in; not for the collective.

In all things, we are individuals.

Capitalism is what naturally happens when people get together freely to exchange goods and services.

Private property and competition are what naturally happens when people seek to improve their lives, and their situations.

Unless people are artificially restrained from doing so, their natural condition is one of competition, and markets.

Yes, there are those who will seek to gain advantage by restraining competition, gaining monopolies, imposing laws and regulations… but those are not failures of liberty, failures of markets, failures of capitalism; they are the failures of command and control.

Command and control will always fail. It cannot succeed, because in order to work the commander and controller must have perfect information and perfect reason. Such a thing does not exist. There is no perfect man, nor any perfect collective of men, and there cannot be.

Not only that, but humans by nature are both rebellious beasts, and greedy beasts.

Yes, many are content to be… even crave to be… controlled. Many crave to control others (even if it si only as part of a collective). This is proven to us more and more every day. It was proven quite convincingly just a few months ago; when the great masses voted for a “perfect man”, “the one”; the man on a horse, coming to simply sweep in and “heal us all”.

There are always enough however who are willing to take advantage, or gain a little extra comfort, or just get a bit ahead, a bit more power, a bit more advantage… On the other side of things, there are always enough who chafe at the yoke, who jump the fence… There are always enough who refuse to be controlled, that the “perfect” system will be taken down from within.

Collectivists, your very foundational ideas are evil and wrong. They don’t work. They are proven false every moment by the reality we live in. imposing them on us inevitably fails, and causes incredible misery, death, and destruction along the way.

Of course, this only makes them all the more dangerous. A man who is proven wrong at every turn, but who simply WILL NOT give up… well that is man who will do ANYTHING.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Quote Of The Day

“I believe that people who fall in love should have the option to get married. Lest we forget, our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, grants the same rights to everyone in this country—“All men are created equal.” If you think certain rights should not apply to certain people, then you are saying those people are not equal. People may always have a difference of opinion on certain lifestyles, but championing a position that wants to treat people unequally isn’t just un-Republican. At its fundamental core, it’s un-American.”

Meghan McCain, in an op-ed for The Daily Beast.

H/T: The Pajama Pundit

Funniest Tea Party poster I’ve seen so far…

There is a long trail of trackbacks to credit on this one.  Starting with Mark Thompson, we move to Andrew Sullivan and then Wonkette to reach our final destination at Creative Loafing. Thomas Wheatley explains:

Turns out Hannity and some of the various dignitaries who’ve signed on for the event might not get the warmest of welcomes. A tipster tells us that some members of the state Libertarian Party — have they gone rogue?!? — have printed more than 600 signs that scold the talk show host and politicians for turning their heads during Bush-era bank bailouts and excessive spending. (Even if you disagree with their policies, Libertarians have an incredible sense of humor. The Allen Buckley radio ads during the U.S. Senate race gave that grueling contest a much-needed jolt of excitement.)

(UPDATE: Just spoke with Daniel Adams, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Georgia. He wanted to stress that these signs were made by individual party members and not endorsed or approved by the party. Adams says the state party is co-sponsoring Atlanta’s April 15 protest to show support for the grassroots movement that’s organized these events. He says the website listed on the signs is a mirrored site belonging to the national party, not that of the state’s.)

Here’s one their posters. Others here.

shitsandwich1

Speaking of Tea Parties, Robert Stacy McCain hanging out with me and speaking at two Alabama Tea Party events on the 15th and then we’ll be heading over to Atlanta to speak at the Georgia Libertarian Party Convention on the 18th —  where we’ll be hanging out with Dan Adams and The Liberty Paper‘s very own Jason Pye.

The White House responds to DHS report

Every since we provided a .pdf document of a Department of Homeland Security report (subsequently verified by Michelle Malkin) which paints pretty much anyone opposed to big government as a potential terrorist threat, our server has been hiccupping a bit.  Not as bad as the the Washington Times site, though.  After twenty or so tries, I was finally able to obtain the White House response to allegations that the DHS report is politically motivated:

The White House has distanced itself from the analysis. When asked for comment on its contents, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said, “The President is focused not on politics but rather taking the steps necessary to protect all Americans from the threat of violence and terrorism regardless of its origins. He also believes those who serve represent the best of this country, and he will continue to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and benefits they have earned.”

If the president isn’t focused on politics, would he please be so kind as to cease taking from my children and grandchildren money they haven’t yet earned.

One left-wing response which links to this site is entitled “Because Payback Is A Bitch.” The writer ranted:

Cry me a fucking river you bunch of hypocrites. This is America – love it or leave it. Our side of the debate was told that repeatedly for the past eight years and now that the tide has turned, the right has got their panties in a bunch.

First of all, this is a libertarian site and not a Bush-loving Republican one.  If the writer will recall, libertarians were screaming about the Patriot Act while a good chunk of Democrats were voting for it.  We also protested Bush, albeit with a different flair than the left:  Considering the First Amendment our permit, we didn’t obtain permission from the government to stage our “unauthorized” event.

The right of political dissent trancends party lines or any artificial left-right ideological continuum.

DHS Report: “…has likely spurred African Americans—as well as law-abiding Americans…”

My friend Dave Weigel seems to be less upset with about the DHS reported entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Environment Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” than pretty much everyone else in the blogosphere.  He notes:

Seriously, though, I struggle to find anything wrong in a close — not a willfully obtuse — reading of the report. I’m nine days out of a huge machine gun show in Kentucky. I know that all of the gun stuff in this report is true. For example:

Open source reporting of wartime ammunition shortages has likely spurred rightwing extremists—as well as law-abiding Americans—to make bulk purchases of ammunition.  These shortages have increased the cost of ammunition, further exacerbating rightwing extremist paranoia and leading to further stockpiling activity.  Both rightwing extremists and law-abiding citizens share a belief that rising crime rates attributed to a slumping economy make the purchase of legitimate firearms a wise move at this time.

I’ve agreed with Weigel (specifically about the gun show to which he refers, even) about how bad the more extreme folks who tend to show at gun shows can make the movement appear.  However, there is a major distinction between making a movement look bad and breaking a law.

To help Dave find what’s wrong with the report, I’ll suggest a little mental exercise.  Let’s break down one little piece of the report he provided: “…has likely spurred rightwing extremists—as well as law-abiding Americans…”

What would the public reaction be if I had written “…has likely spurred African Americans—as well as law-abiding Americans…”?

The implication is obvious.  Had I written this, I would have suggested that African Americans are not law-abiding Americans.  The same logic applies with “rightwing extremists,”  who are defined elsewhere in the report with such a broad brush that it includes pretty much any believer in small government.

UPDATE: Dave graciously notes that I’ve whacked him upside the head and agrees with me, in part.  He also adds, “I don’t think the political correctness in short government reports is as big a problem as, say, people shooting cops.”

Shooting cops is certainly immediately worse.  However, when the government begins to define lawful political dissent, the slipperly slope begins — one which certainly could lead to catastrophic consequences.

Addressing some Tea Party concerns

Believe me, I certainly understand the reluctance of libertarians and some fiscal conservatives to become involved in Tea Parties.  Legitimate concerns abound regarding big-government Republicans astroturfing the movement and about other issues and players being added to the agenda.   I’ve written a lot about these issues, and likely will in the future.  I’d like to approach a different group of concerns right now.  For those of you sympathetic with small-government ideals but concerned about “the futility of protesting” or that they will be “ineffective“, consider the following.

In promoting one of the Alabama Tea Party events, I sent out an e-mail which began like this:

On December 16, 1773, a group of colonists boarded ships and dumped tea into the Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea Party was the symbolic start of our battle against British tyranny and taxation. On Saturday, August 9, 2003, the Alabama Tea Party was the symbolic beginning of our overwhelming defeat of the largest planned tax increase in Alabama’s history.

On April 15, we’ll be throwing another Tea Party – this one to begin the overthrow of the greatest expansion of federal spending in our nation’s history. In conjunction with other Tea Parties to be held across the nation on April 15, the Birmingham and Shelby County Tea Parties have merged in order for Alabamians to provide the most incredibly successful event possible.

It’s important that as many people as possible attend so we can ensure that our elected representatives in Washington hear our demand for limited government and a return to our constitutional roots. We’ll be holding a family-friendly rally starting at 6:30PM on Wednesday, April 15th. It will take place at Veteran’s (Spain) Park on Valleydale Road in Hoover. Additionally, Sean Hannity will be running a live stream from Tea Parties across the country and the Birmingham Tea Party will be one of them…

While driving to Birmingham to meet with a candidate for an upcoming city council race I’ll be working, I heard WYDE’s Lee Davis repeat the same general reason I provided above.  Davis is perhaps the biggest GOP cheerleader in Alabama radio and obviously I’m not.  However, Davis will be speaking at the same event I was promoting. While we may disagree on much, we certainly agree about this.

Tonight, 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim James sent out his Tea Party email.  I should note that James has been a consistent fiscal conservative.  His note states:

People are fed up with out-of-control government spending, regulations and taxes. It’s time to stand up and be counted. Support your local tea party and send a message to the politicians in Montgomery and Washington DC that you’re fed up with irresponsible spending and taxation.

WAPI’s Matt Murphy will be speaking, as well.  He was so upset with John McCain and the Republican Party that he endorsed Bob Barr on the air last Election Day.  Another Barr supporter, Robert Stacy McCain, will be leaving D.C. for my house tomorrow.  He’ll be speaking in Birmingham, as well.

Sorry for all of the background, but I needed it to make three points.

For the skeptics out there, most Tea Parties haven’t been taken over by the big-government Republican machine.  Some have.  Most are grassroots-driven activities with a broad spectrum of conservative and libertarian participation.  As I’ve noted before, even GOP Chairman Michael Steele couldn’t bully his way into a speaking slot at the upcoming highly publicized Chicago rally.

The second point is that while the left may deservedly take jabs at some crackpots on the right and the media coverage may not be as great as some people desire, the political impact of a successful Tea Party may indeed provide something more important: A date for the history books marking the beginning of the overthrow excessive taxation and spending.  Both with the original Tea Party and with the 2003 Alabama Tea Party, I’ll suggest that those dates above were pivotal moments in our history.

My final message is for organizers and speakers.  Mark Thompson writes:

To them, the Tea Parties aren’t just an outlet for expressing frustration over the recent orgy of government spending, they are an opportunity to complain about gay marriage, affirmative action programs in government hiring policies, and just about everything else that movement conservatives oppose even more vehemently now that they’ve been beaten – badly – in consecutive national elections.  Never mind that the original point of the Tea Parties, so far as I can tell, was completely libertarian in nature and was to be as much a protest of the Republicans as it was of the Democrats.

The successful Tea Party in Alabama was the rallying point which turned into a major defeat of the largest tax hike (proposed by a Republican, no less) in our state’s history.  Some organizers tried to hold similar events in later years.  However, the rallying cries became more about issues like abortion and especially immigration.  Not surprisingly, the movement fell apart.

If you are an event organizer or speaker, keep in mind that pretty much everyone will agree with your fiscally conservative message.  The Second Amendment is probably pretty safe turf, but not necessary for the purpose of this coalition.  Conservatives or libertarians wandering off into territory such as abortion, gay rights, immigration, medical marijuana, and the Iraq War will be creating unnecessarily divisive issues.

As Brad Warbiany writes: “The art of politics is knowing where coalitions can be formed, and making use of them.”

The Tax Day Coalition

A lot of digital ink has been spilled on these pages over the tax day “Tea Party” protests. Not all of it has been supportive, but I think there’s to some extent a need to clear the air and explain our position. Granted, this is a group blog and I can’t quite speak for everyone here, but we’ve had some backroom discussions so hopefully I’ll give a general enough overview.

The Liberty Papers has signed up to be a part of the Tax Day Coalition.

There are a lot of conflicting thoughts about this. There is some concern over whether the Tea Party has been co-opted by the type of folks who had no problem with the big spending of the Republicans over the last 8 years, and only seem to have that “come to Jesus” moment when they realize that it’s the opponents who are holding the purse strings. To some extent, of course, the levels of spending we’re seeing are a pretty significant expansion on those of the Bush administration, and many of those on the Right applauded his big war spending and national security spending, and forgave the NCLB and Medicare Part D spending as politically necessary to keep “the agenda” moving forward.

Either way, we see a large group of people opposed to high taxes and high spending. And that’s a good thing. The art of politics is knowing where coalitions can be formed, and making use of them. We see the populist appeal of this movement, and we see this as the tangible reaction of a group of people who have been betrayed by their own party but were too internally conflicted to organize resistance until they were out of power. They’ve come back to the correct side of the debate now, so it’s a good idea to work together rather than fight them out of a libertarian purity purge.

The Liberty Papers has been fighting against this taxation and spending since we formed this blog in 2005. We’re not joining the Tax Day Coalition, we’re excited that the Tax Day Coalition is joining US.

If you are reading this, you may well be a terrorist

Last night, I uploaded a document I had received by e-mail and wrote the following:

According to this new Homeland Security report, all it takes to fit the terrorist profile is to have general anti-government feelings or prefer local/state government to federal control over everything.

The federal Homeland Security Department document entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Environment Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” contains the following definition:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.  It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

Also targeted in the report are veterans, folks anticipating additional restrictions to their Second Amendment rights, and those concerned about the loss of U.S. sovereignty.

This report implies that one harboring these sorts of views is a racist as well as a potential terrorism suspect.

Michelle Malkin has followed through and verified that the Department of Homeland Security takes credit for the report:

The “report” was one of the most embarrassingly shoddy pieces of propaganda I’d ever read out of DHS. I couldn’t believe it was real.

I spent the day chasing down DHS spokespeople, who have been tied up preparing for a very important homeland security event later today: The First Lady is coming to visit their Washington office. Priorities, you know.

Well, the press office got back to me and verified that the document is indeed for real.

They were very defensive — preemptively so — in asserting that it was not a politicized document and that DHS had done reports on “leftwing extremism” in the past.

As Malkin suggests in her posting, it’s time to make a few last minute signs for April 15th Tea Parties.

UPDATE: The White House responds:

The White House has distanced itself from the analysis. When asked for comment on its contents, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said, “The President is focused not on politics but rather taking the steps necessary to protect all Americans from the threat of violence and terrorism regardless of its origins. He also believes those who serve represent the best of this country, and he will continue to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and benefits they have earned.”

Quote Of The Day

TJIC, ripping on the consumers of sound-bite “news at 11″ science:

I love (”love”) the phenomena (seen so much in the global warming political debate) of people who never ever ever read primary sources, but instead read fluff articles in the Boston Globe or Self magazine drawing these crazy conclusions way beyond what the confidence intervals on the studies support, and then reorder their lives based on some craziness written up by an scientifically illiterate English major making $31k/year and spending almost all of it on shoes, Cosmopolitans, and Barrack Obama bumper stickers.

It’s one of my pet peeves as well. When my wife saw the vaccine-autism reports from “Jenny McCarthy, MD”, she immediately got worried about the prospect of giving any vaccine to our son. I then took it upon myself to read three books on the subject, perform my own risk-benefit analysis of specific vaccines based on the data in those books, and decide which vaccines I thought were worthwhile based on the risk of the disease, the risk of adverse reaction to the vaccine, and the likelihood of contracting the disease.

Sure, it’s not a political point, but it’s this same sort of soundbite science that causes people to think that the “Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2003″ was about reforming campaign finance.

People who refuse to think, or are incapable thereof, shouldn’t watch the news.

You are “The Rich”, and you didn’t even know it

Video From Reason.TV:

A lot of folks hear numbers like “the top 5%” of income earners, and they think that means Bill Gates, and fortune 500 CEOs etc…

No, although that’s exactly what the government, and the media, would love for you to believe.

It’s how they pit us against one another. It is a very deliberate divide and conquer strategy for class warfare; and the fact that 52 million people voted for it shows just how well it’s working.

It works, because “The Rich” is always the other guy. You aren’t “The Rich” after all, you’re “working class” or “middle class” whatever those mean (and who exactly says the “middle class” don’t work?).

Nobody wants to pay more taxes (well, except some of the extreme left), and very few people would vote to increase their own taxes; so they employ this class warfare rhetoric to get you to support tax increases on “The Rich”, which will supposedly favor you, and “the less fortunate”.

The only problem is, according to the government, there’s a pretty good chance that You (yes You, with a capital “Y”) ARE “The Rich”.

How can that be? They’re always talking about the “top 1%” or the “top 5%”, and again people start thinking about Bill Gates, and bank CEOs, and Wall Street traders…

Actually, the top 5% likely includes a lot of folks you know. Theres a fair chance it includes you. It almost certainly includes people you interact with every day.

When we get down to as low as say, the top 15%, most folks would think that got to be people making like $250,000 a year right?

No, actually people who make $250,000 a year are the top 1% (in fact, anyone over about $180,000 a year is in the top 1%. $250,000 puts you into the top .8% or so).

Wait a sec… the top 1% is just $180,000 a year?

Yes, yes it is.

The estimated individual income numbers for 2008 (actuals wont be available for another two years. Also don’t confuse these with household numbers, which account for multiple incomes) look like this:

The “top 1%” of earners in this country, is everyone who makes over about $180,000 a year.

The top 5% is everyone who makes over about $152,000 a year

In case you were interested, $100,000 is the top 5.63%

The top 10% is everyone who makes over $76,000 per year.

The top 15% is everyone who makes over about $64,000 a year.

The top 25% is everyone who makes over about $46,000 a year.

The top 50% is everyone who makes over about $32,000 a year.

So when somebody says “we’re going to tax the richest 15% to pay for the other 85%” what they’re really saying is anyone who makes more than $32 an hour.

Ayup, if you make more than $32 an hour, guess what, YOU are “The Rich”.

If they say “we’re going to tax the richest 25%” that means anyone who makes more than $23 an hour.

So, let me ask you, are you rich?

The top 15% pay more than 85% of all income taxes.

The top 50% pay more than 96% of all income taxes.

The bottom 50%, pay less than 4%.

The bottom 40% pay nothing at all.

The bottom 30% are actually PAID BY THE GOVERNMENT (and I don’t mean civil servants).

Plumbers, carpenters, electricians, mechanics, pretty much anyone with more than 10 years experience in any mid-level or higher job, in any professional career field or trade; that most likely puts you into the top 15% or so. Are you rich?

If you own your own business, the government ALMOST CERTAINLY classifies you as earning in the top 10% or higher… of course how much of that you actually KEEP is another story. Are you rich?

If you’re reading this right now, demographically speaking, it’s very likely you are in the top 15%. Are you rich?

If you have a college degree, live in or near a major city, and have more than 10 years experience in your career field, you are very likely to be in the top 5%, and almost certainly in the top 15%. Are you rich?

I’ll tell you right now, I’m in the top 5% of income earners, and with my wifes income we’re in the top 5% of household earners (in fact, the top 3%); and we are very definitely not rich.

We don’t live an extravagant lifestyle. We have a 1600 square foot house in an old neighborhood in Scottsdale (not one of the McMansion areas), two used cars that were both under $30,000 each when we bought them, and we send our two kids to Catholic school that’s subsidized by the parish, or else we couldn’t afford it. We don’t have a vacation home; no RV, no boat, no vacations to Switzerland every six months…

We’re not rich.

As far as the government is concerned though, we are “The Rich”.

In fact, it’s very likely that you are “The Rich” too.

What they’re really saying when they talk about “taxing the rich”, is taxing you. Because as far as the government is concerned, unless you’re taking money from them, hey, YOU’RE RICH.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

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