Author Archives: Jason Pye

You can’t own property in California

Property rights took a hit in California yesterday:

Voters in California yesterday overwhelmingly supported Proposition 99, a ballot measure that will significantly empower state and local officials to seize private property via eminent domain, and rejected Proposition 98, which would have protected property rights and ended rent control. As legal scholar Ilya Somin noted in the Los Angeles Times, Proposition 99, though masquerading as a defense of private property, was actually sponsored by groups representing counties, cities, and other redevelopment interests who drafted it specifically to counter Proposition 98. Among other crimes, Proposition 99 will protect only owner-occupied residences from condemnation, leaving apartment buildings and other rental properties wide open for abuse.
Proposition 98, on the other hand, would have placed significant limits on such abuse. But while that might have gone over with the voters, ending rent control was far less popular, even though the law would only affect rent controlled apartments once they became vacant, thus leaving current tenants unaffected. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came out against Prop. 98, however, claiming it “would undermine California’s ability to improve our infrastructure.”

For someone who claims to have been influenced by Milton Friedman and witnessed the evils of socialism in Europe, he certainly has take a sharp turn to the left since becoming Governor of California.


Post-Debate Press Conference

Stephen and I attended the post-debate press conference last night where candidates fielded questions from media and bloggers. Stephen asked a question to the candidates about pardoning non-violent drug offenders.

The video is divided into two parts. The first is Mike Gravel. He was in the room before the other candidates and kind of took over the podium and took several questions. LP Media Communication Director Andrew Davis politely asked him to let other candidates come up and take questions and Gravel cocked an attitude. I’m not faulting Gravel, but he could have handled it better.

Here is Gravel:

Here is the second part of the press conference video. This has all of the candidates answering questions from the media:

Carey tackles immigration

“I think we should welcome all peaceful people to our country. They get to the pursue the ‘American Dream’ and we get to benefit from all the wonderful things that immigrants bring to our country—like good old fashioned soccer. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.” – Drew Carey

Drew Carey tackles immigration in the latest episode of The Drew Carey Project:

“PATRIOT” Act used against Spitzer

It was indeed the so-called PATRIOT Act that brought Elliot Spitzer down:

When Congress passed the Patriot Act in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, law-enforcement agencies hailed it as a powerful tool to help track down the confederates of Osama bin Laden. No one expected it would end up helping to snag the likes of Eliot Spitzer. The odd connection between the antiterror law and Spitzer’s trysts with call girls illustrates how laws enacted for one purpose often end up being used very differently once they’re on the books.

The Patriot Act gave the FBI new powers to snoop on suspected terrorists. In the fine print were provisions that gave the Treasury Department authority to demand more information from banks about their customers’ financial transactions. Congress wanted to help the Feds identify terrorist money launderers. But Treasury went further. It issued stringent new regulations that required banks themselves to look for unusual transactions (such as odd patterns of cash withdrawals or wire transfers) and submit SARs—Suspicious Activity Reports—to the government. Facing potentially stiff penalties if they didn’t comply, banks and other financial institutions installed sophisticated software to detect anomalies among millions of daily transactions. They began ranking the risk levels of their customers—on a scale of zero to 100—based on complex formulas that included the credit rating, assets and profession of the account holder.
The new scrutiny resulted in an explosion of SARs, from 204,915 in 2001 to 1.23 million last year. The data, stored in an IRS computer in Detroit, are accessible by law-enforcement agencies nationwide. “Terrorism has virtually nothing to do with it,” says Peter Djinis, a former top Treasury lawyer. “The vast majority of SARs filed today involve garden-variety forms of white-collar crime.” Federal prosecutors around the country routinely scour the SARs for potential leads.

One of those leads led to Spitzer. Last summer New York’s North Fork Bank, where Spitzer had an account, filed a SAR about unusual money transfers he had made, say law-enforcement and industry sources who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the probe. One of the sources tells NEWSWEEK that Spitzer wasn’t flagged because of his public position. Instead, the governor called attention to himself by asking the bank to transfer money in someone else’s name. (A North Fork spokesperson says the bank does not discuss its customers.) The SAR was not itself evidence that Spitzer had committed a crime. But it made the Feds curious enough to follow the money.

I’m glad to see that the PATRIOT Act is being used to stop such crimes so detrimental to the national security interests of the United States.

Georgia Senate committee reviews “No knock” warrants

Last week the Judiciary Committee in the Georgia Senate backed a measure that would make it tougher to obtain a “no-knock warrant”:

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Vincent Fort, (D) Atlanta, would require officers who want to use so-called “no-knock” search warrants to go to a judge and prove that there is probable cause to believe that the officers’ lives would be in danger if they knocked first, or that there is probable cause to believe that evidence inside the home would be destroyed — such as drugs being flushed down a toilet — if they knocked first.

“For the government to go into your house, they ought to be held to a higher standard,” Fort said. “To go into your house without knocking, they ought to be held to a real high standard.”

This comes in response to the death of Kathryn Johnston, who gunned down in her home in 2006 during a paramilitary police raid.

You can view the legislation here.

DeLay criticizes McCain for being responsible

“Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we’ve pared [the budget] down pretty good.” – Former Texas Rep. Tom DeLay

As if you needed more evidence, here is proof that Tom DeLay cannot be taken seriously:

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay criticized likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain – and by extension some of the more conservative members of Congress – by calling McCain’s 2003 vote against the Medicare prescription drug plan a non-conservative vote.

If you’re going to beat John McCain up over something there are other things to choose from, but this just isn’t one of them. In fact, this is the dumbest criticism of McCain from the “establishment” that I’ve heard.

Bruce Bartlett, a Reagan Administration economist, estimates that the unfunded liability for Medicare over the next 75 years is $68.1 trillion, part D (the prescription drug benefit) accounts for $18.2 trillion of that number. However, ex-Congressman DeLay says that Medicare Part D is “good conservative economics.” What a joke.

Members of Congress file brief in Heller case

Here is some good news concerning District of Columbia v. Heller. US Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are filing a brief with signatures of 250 House members and 55 Senators, urging that the DC gun law be overturned by the Supreme Court:

“All of the congressional legislative history is assuming that the Second Amendment, which is in the Bill of Rights, is an individual right and for a city or state to thwart this by taking a person’s right in their home to have a loaded gun, just seemed to be a perfect opportunity for the Supreme Court to affirm this individual right that Congress has acknowledged throughout its history,” Hutchison said.

Tester said the writers of the Constitution did not intend for laws to be applied to some people and not others or to be applied some times and not others.

“We cannot restrict the right to bear arms just like we can’t restrict the right to practice religion or the right of a free and independent press,” Tester said.

The Bush Administration has filed a brief on behalf of the District of Columbia. However, the administration says that it supports the individual rights view of the Second Amendment.

Heller could settle the question as to whether the Second Amendment is an individual right (which is my belief) or a collective right. To learn more about the case, visit DC Gun Case or read this article by Robert Levy. You can also listen this event podcast from the Cato Institute that explains some of the details of the case and why the challenge to the ban was presented.

Oral arguments for Heller begin on March 18th.

H/T: Of Arms and the Law

[UPDATE] Here is the brief signed by Vice-President Dick Cheney, 55 members of the Senate and 250 members of the House.

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.


Why am I not surprised by this comment made by Mike Huckabee:

I have opponents in the race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the Word of the Living God and that’s what we need to do, is to amend the Constitution so its in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standard so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.

And he wonders why all the religion questions are always point to him in the debates.

All joking aside, that comment is scary. Some call it dominionism, Andrew Sullivan calls it Christianism (which I think is a more appropriate term). What Huckabee said highlights the problem with religious collectivism. It is no better than than its secular collectivist counterparts. Both seek to take away liberty from the individual by using the power of government to be more moral or compassionate.

We are electing a President, not a pastor.

[UPDATE] Here is the video, courtesy of Doug:

DoJ and DC Gun Ban

The Department of Justice has filed an amicus brief on behalf the District of Columbia. Yes, you read that right. The Bush Administration is supporting DC in the upcoming case on that will have a major impact on gun owner’s rights.

Here is the analysis from David Hardy:

As I read this, the (Bush) Dept of Justice is asking that the Court hold it to be an individual right, but not strike the DC gun law, instead sending it back down to the trial court to take evidence on everything from how much the District needs the law to whether people can defend themselves without pistols and just what the DC trigger lock law means. THEN maybe it can begin another four year trek to the Supremes. That is, the DoJ REJECTS the DC Circuit position that an absolute, flat, ban on handguns violates the Second Amendment, and contends that it might just be justified, it all depends on the evidence.

There was a saying during my years in DC that the GOP operated on two principles: screw your friends and appease your enemies. Yup.

The DoJ brief is here. You can view other case filings here. You can read more about the Heller case here.

This is bad news. The lower court decision to overturn the ban was very well written and address the heart of the issue head on:

To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad). In addition, the right to keep and bear arms had the important and salutary civic purpose of helping to preserve the citizen militia. The civic purpose was also a political expedient for the Federalists in the First Congress as it served, in part, to placate their Antifederalist opponents. The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty. Despite the importance of the Second Amendment’s civic purpose, however, the activities it protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual’s enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia.

I don’t see what part of the right of people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed is so damned hard to understand.

An Open Letter to Neal Boortz

Mr. Boortz, I am writing this letter as a plea for you to reconsider your support for Mike Huckabee‘s candidacy for Republican nomination for President.

I’ve listened to you since I was fourteen years old. I remember my mom telling me when I was eight or so that I was going to like your show when I got older because I was just as opinionated, and for the most part she was right.

You single-handedly sparked my interest in classical liberalism/libertarianism and the Libertarian Party. My involvement in the Libertarian Party went as far as getting elected as the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Georgia in 2006 at the age of 25. I have since left that post, and I consider myself to be an independent, but still very much a believer in the libertarian philosophy (limited government, capitalism and the Harm Principle).

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see your endorsement of Mike Huckabee, in an Athens newspaper. No doubt the endorsement is because of his support of the FairTax, a cause that you’ve taken up over the past few years. I have no comments to make on that issue, other than the fact that the only two reasons you are supporting Mike Huckabee is because he performed reasonably well during the GOP debates. He never really answers tough questions, choosing instead to make a joke and avoid the issue. The most obvious reason you have backed his campaign is because he supports the FairTax.

I do not intend this to be an attack on you because when it comes down to it, I respect you, but I disagree with you. I believe that you have betrayed your principles and ultimately your belief in limited government due to your support of Mike Huckabee.

There are several political commentators that have pointed out that Huckabee is a populist candidate. He is using some of the same class warfare rhetoric (the same rhetoric that John Edwards has used) in order to appeal to the emotions of individuals that simply don’t know better or they refuse to acknowledge reality…and it disappoints me when I think that you may have fallen into one of those categories of voters.

Huckabee’s record is troublesome for anyone who claims to be a fiscal conservative or a limited government conservative. As John Fund and have noted, the taxpayers of Arkansas saw their tax burden increase by 47%, an increase of more than $500 million.

He has signed into law or supported numerous tax increases ranging from an increase in the state sales tax on several occasions, gas tax, taxing nursing home beds and opposed repealing sales taxes on groceries and medicine. Spending increased by more than 65%, triple the rate of inflation. Huckabee likes to say that he left the state with budget surplus, but he also left the state with $1 billion in new debt. One Arkansas newspaper put together an editorial which shows that Huckabee is more of a tax hiker than Bill Clinton.

The Cato Institute gave Huckabee a grade of “F” in fiscal policy in 2006 (16 Democrats received higher grades), and a “D” for his entire tenure as Governor of Arkansas.

Reason magazine probably put it best, “The vision of ‘compassionate conservatism’ promised by George W. Bush was actually practiced by Huckabee, with all the flaws that entailed. He’s the GOP candidate who’d probably get along best with a big-spending Democratic Congress.”

He has been hostile to school vouchers and has even managed to pick up the endorsement of a state branch of the NEA. You’ve been hostile to teachers unions, even saying that they pose a greater threat than al-Qaeda. This is a man that called No Child Left Behind, “the greatest education reform effort by the federal government in my lifetime.”

During his campaign he has been hostile to the concept of free trade, a fundamental human right, Huckabee instead has ignored the benefits of free trade, latched onto the protectionist “fair trade” rhetoric and opposed trade agreements that may not be perfect, but have had an overall positive effect on the American economy. I find it ironic that the candidates that support the FairTax (Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter and Mike Huckabee) are all anti-free trade.

His reasoning for agriculture subsidies is because it is a “national security” issue. Subsidies are misguided for a number of reasons, but the main problem with them is they drive up the cost of food, which only hurts American consumers.

He has offered no plan to reform the unfunded liabilities (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) that pose a threat to the stability of our economy. He supported the 2003 Medicare drug benefit and was the only GOP hopeful that didn’t support Bush’s veto of SCHIP.

This is a candidate that supported an increase in the minimum wage in his state, as well as an increase in the federal minimum wage. He believes that it is a biblical duty to fight global warming and supports cap-and-trade policies. Not to mention that he rails against Wall Street and the salaries of CEOs, going so far as to deem them to be “immoral.”

Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg shined some light on Huckabee’s view of government. He said, “The problem with someone like Huckabee is that he much like, in my mind, a liberal sees no dogmatic constitutional limits on the “do-goodery” of the federal government. Whatever he thinks is the right thing for the federal government to do, if he thinks there’s a good thing that can be done by the federal government, he wants the federal government to do it whether it’s constitutional or in accordance with principles of limited government. And maybe what he wants to isn’t what a cultural liberal would want to do but he still wants to use the government the same way. It’s big government conservatism.”

This is your candidate, Mr. Boortz. I haven’t even touched on his social authoritarianism and nanny-statism, his comments about AIDS patients and homosexuality, his commutations, his ethics issues or the Wayne Dumond scandal. This is just limited to his fiscal record. And please don’t hand me the ramblings of a political mercenary as a response.

I know that if you happen read this, you’ll probably just brush it aside and continue your blind support for Mike Huckabee based solely on the FairTax, no matter how irresponsible and dangerous it is. It’s no different than a religious collectivist basing their vote on the issue of abortion or someone basing their vote due to their opposition of the war in Iraq. You have made yourself into a single issue voter.

It disappoints me to no end that someone who introduced me to the ideals of liberty and principle can abandon those beliefs so quickly due to his stance over one issue to support the candidacy of someone who antithesis of those values. Mike Huckabee is no fiscal conservative. He is no believer in limited government…and he is playing you for a fool.

Huckabee wanted to isolate AIDS patients

Tax Hike Mike advocated isolating AIDS patients in a previous campaign:

Mike Huckabee once advocated isolating AIDS patients from the general public, opposed increased federal funding in the search for a cure and said homosexuality could “pose a dangerous public health risk.”

As a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, Huckabee answered 229 questions submitted to him by The Associated Press. Besides a quarantine, Huckabee suggested that Hollywood celebrities fund AIDS research from their own pockets, rather than federal health agencies.

“If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague,” Huckabee wrote.

Let’s see…Mike Huckabee lobbied to free a convicted rapist who later murdered a woman but now blames , but AIDS patients and homosexuals…they are the real threat in his eyes.

I am anxiously awaiting for Andrew Sullivan (a conservative, a homosexual and an AIDS patient) to chime in with his opinion.

Right-wing Progressivism

Jonah Goldberg wraps on Mike Huckabee on NRO TV.

Here is part of the transcript:

I think people are focusing way too much on Ron Paul when the real threat is Mike Huckabee.
He believes that the government, the federal government, the government in Washington is there to be used to do any and all good things wherever, whenever he can. And it is essentially, in terms of it’s methodology and means, it is very, very similar to what conservatives see in liberalism. This use of big government to create the ideal society. I think the best example of that would be his support for a nationwide, federal smoking ban…enforced by the federal government, which I think is an outrageous sort of sacreligious affront to traditional conservatism’s understand about the role of the federal government.
When it comes to economic issues, he is hard to distinguish from all sort of different brands of liberals. He is hostile to free trade. He is very friendly to raising taxes. He believes in regulation wherever necessary. He thinks abortion must remain a federal national issue, can’t send it back to the states. And that’s what I mean by “right-wing progressive.” He wants to use government towards conservative ends. He says it’s a biblical duty to fight global warming. The problem with someone like Huckabee is that he much like, in my mind, a liberal sees no dogmatic constitutional limits on the “do-goodery” of the federal government. Whatever he thinks is the right thing for the federal government to do, if he thinks there’s a good thing that can be done by the federal government, he wants the federal government to do it whether it’s constitutional or in accordance with principles of limited government. And maybe what he wants to isn’t what a cultural liberal would want to do but he still wants to use the government the same way. It’s big government conservatism. And that, I think, is the real threat these days to conservatism.

Two things this brings to mind. The first is that I had a conversation several months ago with a State Senator from here in Georgia where he said that Giuliani was the real threat to the Republican Party, mainly due to his stance on abortion, and that Huckabee was never going to have any impact on the race so there was no real need to worry about his liberal record on fiscal issues. Fast forward to today…I was right.

The second is that Goldberg’s point about what “right-wing progressivism” and Mike Huckabee is right on target. The idea that government should shape and mold the type of society that we should live in pretty much defines the progressive era.

Chavez threatens property of opponents

Atlas continues to shrug in Venezuela:

The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, today threatened to strip the country’s industrialists of their assets if they continued to oppose his indefinite presidency.

Chávez faces a vote at the weekend on his proposals to change 69 articles of the constitution, including scrapping the limit on the number of terms a president can serve.

Venezuela’s largest business chamber, Fedecámaras, to which thousands of large and small businesses belong, has called the planned reforms an “illegal act”, and called on voters to oppose their passage “by every possible legal means”.

Where’s Jimmy Carter when you need him!!!

Reason interviews Andrew Napolitano

Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano recently gave an interview to Reason magazine to promote his new book, A Nation of Sheep. I have to say that this is one of the best interviews I’ve read in a very long time.


The Patriot Act’s two most principle constitutional errors are an assault on the Fourth Amendment, and on the First. It permits federal agents to write their own search warrants [under the name “national security letters”] with no judge having examined evidence and agreed that it’s likely that the person or thing the government wants to search will reveal evidence of a crime.

Remember that the British government permitted its soldiers to execute self-written search warrants. They called them “writs of assistance,” and they were one of the last straws that caused American colonist to rebel. It’s bitterly ironic that 230 years later a popularly elected government would authorize its own agents to do the same thing that when a monarchy did it, we fought a war of rebellion in reaction—which we won!

On Ron Paul:

Congressman Paul has rejuvenated almost single-handedly the Goldwater wing of the GOP. Now Reagan tried, before [James] Baker and his boys advised him on how to behave. Now, I loved the man, but if you look at his record and rhetoric, they are two different things. But Ron Paul had made it legitimate again for small government, maximum individual liberty, Goldwater Republicans to come forth and complain about big government, and I am the recipient of lots of those complaints.

On natural rights:

This is more than an academic debate. If our rights come from government, then the Patriot Act is lawful and constitutional because the government that gives freedom can take it away just by having the president sign a bill into a law. But if rights come from our humanity, as I argue almost every day on Fox, than government cannot take freedom away absent due process and a fair trial, where you are charged and convicted of violating someone else’s freedom.

The president had said he believes in natural rights. Unfortunately when he signs these bills that take away our rights, he reveals he either doesn’t know what he’s doing or he doesn’t really believe in natural rights. The Patriot Act is not only unconstitutional, it’s unnatural, since it purports to take away that which naturally belongs to us.

“Thanks” for a tax increase

This is where the nickname “Tax Hike Mike” comes from:

Governor Mike Huckabee addressed the Arkansas General Assembly, pleading with them to pass a tax, any tax. He ticked off a list of various taxes that he would find acceptable, a tax on tobacco, a surcharge on the income tax, a sales tax… “I will very happily sign that,” he proclaimed.

Jump forward to the present day, Mike Huckabee running for the Republican presidential nomination has signed a no-tax pledge and jumped on the Fair Tax bandwagon.

You’d never know that as governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee’s solution to every government spending “need” was higher taxes. He never suggested using funds we had from the tobacco settlement. He never suggested cutting wasteful spending. To him, most of the time, there was no such thing as wasteful spending. In fact, there wasn’t enough spending. He pushed hard to make sure that the state would keep giving taxpayer funded benefits to illegal aliens and even advocated giving illegal aliens college scholarships. The list is goes on and on.

I refuse to vote for a Presidential ticket that this guy is on.
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