Monthly Archives: September 2009

Why Not The Sage From South Central The Senate?

California is a state that is not likely to elect a Republican to the Senate any time soon. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. Babs Boxer is up for re-election next fall, and the field is wide open. Unfortunately, the NRSC is determined to narrow the field, and has scuttled support for one potentially strong challenger in exchange for one whose main political qualification appears to be friendliness with McCain and Palin.

Who is the potentially strong challenger? None other than Larry Elder, Los Angeles talk radio host, accomplished author, and strongly libertarian-leaning Republican (self-described Republitarian). He’s got name recognition, a proper small-government philosophy that will appeal to the Republican base, a compelling life story, and enough media experience to be able to navigate the pitfalls of the California press.

So why did Jon Cornyn shut the door on him?

Elder is a serious name and presence among California Republicans. He just wrapped up his radio show. “Why,” you might ask, “doesn’t Larry Elder run for the Senate?”

There is an answer accorinding to many of Elder’s friends at the Republican Convention — Senator Cornyn and the NRSC told him not to.

Here’s the story that is circulating at the convention: Back in the spring, Elder went to Washington to sit down with John Cornyn and the NRSC, and ask for their support for a bid for U.S. Senate against Barbara Boxer. Cornyn and the NRSC told him the following:

  • If Elder chose to run, they would not support him.
  • The NRSC was already committed to supporting Carly Fiorina
  • The NRSC expected Fiorina to lose against Boxer, but expected her to tie up Democrat resources in the meantime.

How incompetent is this? The NRSC actually told a popular African-American with statewide name recognition to NOT run? Last I checked, our party isn’t overflowing with those.

Larry Elder was one of the formative voices in my post-collegiate political path. I think that over time, cutting my philisophical teeth in the blogosphere, I’ve taken the libertarian train a few stops farther than he has, so there are certainly areas where we disagree. Philosophically, though, he’d be a very strong advocate for small government coming from a state not known for its fiscal responsibility. He’s the type of candidate that California Republicans and libertarians could be energized by.

Carly Fiorina, on the other hand, is certainly an accomplished businesswoman, but little is known about her political acumen or philosophy. Her website, though, is not exactly encouraging. Her record as CEO of Hewlett Packard is a mixed bag, and about the only thing she has over other California Republicans is name recognition and two X chromosomes, but a new poll is showing that this might not be enough.

If California Republicans want to be a true thorn in the side of Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina appears to be nothing more than a demographic play. Larry Elder, on the other hand, has spent a decade and a half sparring with listeners on talk radio and has followed California and National politics over that time. He’ll know where Boxer is vulnerable and will know how to exploit the weakness. What was John Cornyn thinking?

Hat Tip: Co-contributor Jason Pye

PATRIOT Act – Much Ado About Drugs, Not About Terrorism

The PATRIOT Act was sold to the country as the line in the sand protecting us from the murderous hordes of Islamist terrorists. Passed in a hurry following 9/11, they told us that these powers were needed for terrorism only, and not for general law-enforcement. Civil libertarians didn’t believe this assertion, of course, and as usual when it comes to government power, we were right (link to PDF report).

In a traditional search warrant, the person/people/place being search are notified when the search is conducted. One aspect of the PATRIOT Act is the delayed notification warrant, aka the “Sneak and Peek”. For this, the search is conducted but the person being investigated is not told that the search was executed for some delayed time afterwards. For a terrorism surveillance case, this allows investigators to attempt to detect plots in the planning stage.

In the government’s FY2008 (Oct’07 to Sep’08), 763 new warrants were obtained. Of these new warrants, a mere 3 were for terrorism. What were the rest?

Table 2 presents the types of offenses specified in delayed-notice search warrant and extension requests reported in 2008. Drug offenses were specified in 65 percent of applications reported, followed by fraud (5 percent), weapons, and tax offenses (4 percent each).

Someday, the warnings issued by libertarians — rather than being ignored — will actually be heeded. On that day I will die of shock.

Hat Tip: David Rittgers, Cato@Liberty

Republican Senator Expresses Support For Mandatory Health Insurance

Former Republican Senator Bill Frist starts out the U.S. News And World Report article in which he comes out in support of a government requirement that each American have health insurance with what can only be described as a fair degree of irony:

I believe in limited government and individual responsibility, cherish the freedom to choose, and generally oppose individual mandates—except where markets fail, individuals suffer, and society pays a hefty price.

Or, to put it another way, I believe in individual government and individual responsibility, cherish the freedom to choose, and generally oppose individual mandates — except when I don’t.

While Frist spends much time in his article talking about the alleged benefits that an individual mandate would bring, he spends no time whatsoever addressing the fundamental issues that need to be talked about if we’re seriously going to pass what amounts to the Health Insurance Industry Subsidization Act of 2009.

First, there’s the issue of why a mandate is necessary. Frist does not address at all the “market failure” that he claims exists which would be remedied by forcing everyone to purchase health insurance. What he does do, though, is reveal what the individual mandate is really all about — forcing young, healthy people who otherwise might choose to forgo the several-hundred-dollars-a-month worth of premiums they’d have to pay:

When healthier people opt not to carry insurance, only those with poorer health, and thus higher costs, remain in. This leads insurance prices to spiral up. And it further impedes markets’ ability to mitigate risks and prevent personal economic catastrophe. The “free-riders” who do not purchase insurance and the “voluntarily uninsured” who depend on emergency room care paid by others would then pay their fair share for services received.

What Frist doesn’t address, of course, is the fact that an individual mandate is likely to create upward pressure on premiums for one very simple reason — once insurance companies know that you have to buy their product whether you want to or not, they have zero incentive to keep premiums down. That’s the reason why, for example, auto insurance rates (which in most states are mandatory if you want to own a car) are higher than most other forms of insurance that individuals typically purchase.

What the individual mandate really does is to force the young and healthy to subsidize the older and sicker. It’s worth noting that hat’s the same logic that Social Security and Medicare are built on, and they’re in the process of going into an demographically inevitable bankruptcy. One can foresee much the same thing happening under an individual-mandate health scenario.

First goes on to cite Massachusetts as an example of an individual mandate plan that “works,” but that isn’t necessarily true:

The Massachusetts experiment with the same scheme has left the state with the nation’s most expensive insurance, with program spending up 70 percent in just three years and with a third of the uninsured remaining so. The cheapest insurance we can find in Massachusetts for an average family of four is $906 per month. In Iowa, it’s $145. Different coverage, certainly, but at least in Iowa cheaper coverage choices exist.

That’s what could come to America if we adopt the individual mandate.

Frist also fails to address a more important issue — what right does the Federal Government have to force me or you to buy health insurance ? I don’t just mean to ask what Constitutional provision authorizes it, although that is certainly important, but also why should the government be allowed to do this at all, even if it technically had the power to do so ? As a Republican who claims to “believe in limited government and individual responsibility, cherish the freedom to choose, and generally oppose individual mandates,” that’s a question that should be relatively easy for Frist to answer.

His silence, and the silence of other Republicans, is deafening.

Updated to reflect my failure to note that Frist is in fact a former Republican Senator

Why You Should Support Auditing The Fed

The Fed is tasked with the dual goals of price stability and restraining inflation. Folks like myself would suggest it hasn’t done a very good job of either, but that’s not crucial to the question of whether we should be able to determine how they’re attempting to fulfill their mission.

Particularly irksome when we’re talking about an audit is the fact that they’ve just admitted to engaging in gold swaps, influencing the gold price, in opposition to past denials and with the assertion that they should be able to continue hiding the specifics:

The Federal Reserve System has disclosed to the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc. that it has gold swap arrangements with foreign banks that it does not want the public to know about.

The disclosure, GATA says, contradicts denials provided by the Fed to GATA in 2001 and suggests that the Fed is indeed very much involved in the surreptitious international central bank manipulation of the gold price particularly and the currency markets generally.

The Fed’s disclosure came this week in a letter to GATA’s Washington-area lawyer, William J. Olson of Vienna, Virginia (http://www.lawandfreedom.com/), denying GATA’s administrative appeal of a freedom-of-information request to the Fed for information about gold swaps, transactions in which monetary gold is temporarily exchanged between central banks or between central banks and bullion banks. (See the International Monetary Fund’s treatise on gold swaps here: http://www.imf.org/external/bopage/pdf/99-10.pdf.)

Gold has been flirting with the $1000/oz level for several weeks (topping it a few times). Those in the gold market have long believed that central banks are suppressing the price to keep fears of inflation from hitting the roof.

How much longer do we have to allow the fed to lie to us, and then when we catch them red-handed, assert that they know well enough that we have to let them hide details on top of their lies?

I say we audit the fed. Then End The Fed.

Sorry Granny, “But For The Good Of Everyone, The Law Was Put Into Effect.”

I tells ya, sometimes ya just gotta to make an example of ‘em:

When Sally Harpold bought cold medicine for her family back in March, she never dreamed that four months later she would end up in handcuffs.

Harpold is a grandmother of triplets who bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy. Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week’s time.

Those two purchases put her in violation of Indiana law 35-48-4-14.7, which restricts the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or PSE, products to no more than 3.0 grams within any seven-day period.

When the police came knocking at the door of Harpold’s Parke County residence on July 30, she was arrested on a Vermillion County warrant for a class-C misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. But through a deferral program offered by Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina Alexander, the charge could be wiped from Harpold’s record by mid-September.

You know the only thing worse than a police force given the discretion to determine whether or not a lawbreaker is a real threat to society and should be arrested for a crime — a situation which can lead to unintended consequences of racist enforcement, letting cronies off the hook, etc? A police force which enforces horrible, no-good, very bad laws evenly.

H/T: Reason

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