Monthly Archives: October 2009

Off Topic – Halloween Humor

I’ve been looking for a reason to share this video for a long time.


Because its one of the funniest videos I’ve seen on YouTube for awhile.

Yeah, I realize that this video has little to nothing to do with the theme or purpose* of The Liberty Papers but sometimes a little humor can go a long way.

This video was made from a group of friends who call themselves Jake2Matt. This was the winning video that was entered in a home video contest that the band Avenged Sevenfold (a.k.a. A7X) held for their song “Scream.”

Warning: The video contains crude humor and likely NSFW.


» Read more

The Cult Of The Imperial Presidency


Over the past 30 years, America has seen Presidential scandals ranging from Watergate to Iran-Contra to Travel-gate, Whitewater, the Lewinsky scandal, and the Valerie Plame affair. We’ve learned the truth about some of the truly nefarious actions undertaken by some of most beloved Presidents of the 20th Century, including the iconic FDR, JFK, and LBJ. And, yet, despite all of that, Americans still have a reverential view of the President of the United States that borders on the way Englishmen feel about the Queen or Catholic’s feel about the Pope.

How did that happen and what does it mean for America ?

Gene Healy does an excellent job of answering those question in The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power, making it a book that anyone concerned with the direction of the American Republic should read.

As Healy points out, the Presidency that we know today bears almost no resemblance to the institution that the Founding Fathers created when they drafted Article II of the Constitution. In fact, to them, the President’s main job could be summed up in ten words set forth in Section 3 of Article II:

he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,

The President’s other powers consisted of reporting the state of the union to Congress (a far less formal occasion than what we’re used to every January), receiving Ambassadors, and acting as Commander in Chief should Congress declare war. That’s it.

For roughly the first 100 years of the Republic, Healy notes, President’s kept to the limited role that the Constitution gave them. There were exceptions, of course; most notably Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War but also such Presidents as James Polk who clearly manipulated the United States into an unnecessary war with Mexico simply to satisfy his ambitions for territorial expansion. For the most part, though, America’s 19th Century Presidents held to the limited role that is set forth in Article II, which is probably why they aren’t remembered very well by history.

As Healy notes, it wasn’t until the early 20th Century and the dawn of the Progressive Era that the idea of the President as something beyond what the Constitution said he was took forth. Healy documents quite nicely the ways in which Presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Woodrow Wilson to FDR went far beyond anything resembling Constitutional boundaries to achieve their goals, and how they were aided and abetted in that effort by a compliant Supreme Court and a Congress that lacked the courage to stand up for it’s own Constitutional prerogatives. Then with the Cold War and the rise of National Security State, the powers of the Presidency became even more enhanced.

One of the best parts of the book, though, is when Healy attacks head-on the “unitary Executive” theory of Presidential power that was advanced by former DOJ official John Yoo in the wake of the September 11th attacks and the War on Terror. As Healy shows, there is no support for Yoo’s argument that the Founders intended for the President to have powers akin to, or even greater than, those of the British Monarch that they had just spent seven years fighting a war to liberate themselves from. The dangers of Yoo’s theories to American liberty and the separation of powers cannot be understated.

If the book has one weakness, it’s in the final chapter where Healy addresses only in passing reforms that could be implemented to restrain the Cult Of the Presidency. I don’t blame Healy for only giving this part of the book passing attention, though, because what this book really shows us is that no matter of written law can stop power from being aggregated in a single person if that’s what the people want and, to a large extent, we’ve gotten the Presidency we deserve.

Healy’s closing paragraph bears reproducing:

“Perhaps, with wisdom born of experience, we can come once again to value a government that promises less, but delivers far more of what it promises. Perhaps we can learn to look elsewhere for heroes. But if we must look to the Presidency for heroism, we ought to learn once again to appreciate a quieter sort of valor. True political heroism rarely pounds its chest or pounds the pulpit, preaching rainbows and uplift, and promising to redeem the world through military force. A truly heroic president is one who appreciates the virtues of restraint — who is bold enough to act when action is necessary yet wise enough, humble enough to refuse powers he ought not have. That is the sort of presidency we need, now more than ever.

And we won’t get that kind of presidency until we demand it.”

And, if we don’t demand it we will find ourselves living in a country where the only difference between President and King is merely the title.

Coming Next Week At Reason TV: Honoring Ayn Rand And Her Ideas

This promises to be very interesting:

Coming November 2, will debut “Radicals for Capitalism: Celebrating the Enduring Power of Ayn Rand’s Ideas,” a new video series featuring segments on the novelist’s continuing presence in American culture and exlcusive interviews with Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, Reason Foundation founder Robert W. Poole, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and many others.

For more details and an archive of recent Reason-related stories on Rand, including reviews by Brian Doherty and Nick Gillespie of two new biographies of Rand, go to

Hubris – Above The Law

I hate excerpting entire blog posts, but this one at Radley Balko’s place is short and can’t be done justice without the full text:

If you follow with any regularity the police misconduct stories I post on this site, you’re no doubt familiar with the phrase “paid administrative leave.” No matter how serious the alleged misconduct, cops nearly always get paid while they’re being investigated, a period that typically takes months.

But last week Stockton, Utah police officer Johsua Rowell was actually put on unpaid administrative leave.

His transgression? He issued a traffic citation to the son of Stockton Mayor Dan Rydalch.

Go ahead and read the news account linked… It’s as bad as (or worse than) Radley makes it sound.

Street Value


Last week the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that bong water is an illegal drug. Under state law, a controlled substance includes any “mixture” containing that substance, “regardless of purity.” The consequences of reading that definition literally can be severe. In the case before the court, a woman whose bong contained 37 grams of water with traces of methamphetamine will now be treated as if she possessed 37 grams of speed, which converts possession of drug paraphernalia, a petty misdemeanor punishable by a $300 fine, into a a first-degree drug offense, punishable by seven or more years in prison.

Wow… According to such a ruling, and since the old wives’ tale is true, I must be carrying cocaine with a street value of $35 around with me (one Jackson, two Lincolns and five Washingtons). Good thing I’m not carrying any c-notes today! A Benji would certainly push up the mandatory minimum!

1 2 3 10