Author Archives: Jason Pye

Utah shuts out school choice

The bad news from last night…Utah rejected school vouchers:

Voters decisively rejected the will of the Utah Legislature and governor Tuesday, defeating what would have been the nation’s most comprehensive education voucher program in a referendum blowout.
More than 60 percent of voters were rejecting vouchers, with about 95 percent of the precincts reporting, according to unofficial results. The referendum failed in every county, including the conservative bastion of Utah County.

Voucher supporter chief executive Patrick Byrne – who bankrolled the voucher effort – called the referendum a “statewide IQ test” that Utahns failed.

“They don’t care enough about their kids. They care an awful lot about this system, this bureaucracy, but they don’t care enough about their kids to think outside the box,” Byrne said.

The opposition to the vouchers spent $4.4 million to defeat the referendum. Fund came from the NEA and other terrorist organizations teachers unions around the nation.

Milton Friedman lives on…

Mike Huckabee would hate this

Speaking of Milton Friedman…on November 2nd, PBS will be showing The Ultimate Resource, which focuses on individuals in five countries (Ghana, Peru, Bangladesh, Estonia and China) and how the ideals of individual choice, freedom, free trade and private property are successfully being spread throughout the world and improving quality of life and self-worth.

It’s not showing in Georgia, but there are some stations around the nation that are carrying it. If you live in one of these places please check it out.

Just to give you an idea of what the program is about…here is the story of Victoria and school choice in Ghana…

I was able to get a DVD preview of it from Free to Choose Media and it made me realize how much we take for granted the ideals that have made this country (individual liberty, free trade and free markets) as prosperous at it is.

Sorry, Doug…I had to the use the video as a segway.

Clinton and Executive Power

Hillary Clinton said she give up some expanded executive powers:

If elected president in 2008, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton would consider giving up some of the executive powers President Bush and Vice President Cheney have assumed since taking office.

In an interview published Tuesday in Guardian America, a Web site run by the London-based Guardian newspaper, Clinton denounced the Bush Administration’s push to concentrate more power in the White House as a “power grab” not supported by the Constitution.

Asked if she would consider giving up some of those powers if she were president, Clinton replied, “Oh, absolutely … I mean, that has to be part of the review that I undertake when I get to the White House, and I intend to do that.”
“There were a lot of actions which they took that were clearly beyond any power the Congress would have granted, or that in my view was inherent in the Constitution,” Clinton said. “There were other actions they’ve taken which could have obtained Congressional authorization but they deliberately chose not to pursue it as a matter of principle.”

My initial thoughts when I first saw this article were…since when did Hillary Clinton start caring about Constitutional limitations on government? The answer to that is….she doesn’t. And, if Congress approves some action that is constitutionally questionable, like sneak-and-peek or the NSA wiretapping program, does that justify it? The answer to that is…no. There is a process to amend the Constitution. Legislative action without the required Constitutional changes should be scrapped by the Supreme Court, especially one that claims to follow an “originalist” philosophy. But when a court uses the judiciary without textural support to justify the position of the executive branch, which is just as much a case of judicial activism as any liberal judge undercutting those “family values” that I can’t seem to find anywhere in the Constitution, conservatives seem to be perfectly fine with that.

I’ve already posted this article, but Radley Balko makes the case that Hillary Clinton will continue the same course that Bush has taken with regard to expanded executive powers, and argues that she will continue to seek expansion

:What about secrecy and executive power? It’s difficult to see Hillary Clinton voluntarily handing back all of those extra-constitutional executive powers claimed by President Bush. Her husband’s administration, for example, copiously invoked dubious “executive privilege” claims to keep from complying with congressional subpoenas and open records requests—claims the left now (correctly, in my view) regularly criticizes the Bush administration for invoking.

Hillary Clinton herself went to court to keep meetings of her Health Care Task Force secret from the public, something conservatives were quick to point out when leftists criticize Vice President Cheney’s similar efforts to keep meetings of his Energy Task Force secret.

“I’m a strong believer in executive authority,” Clinton said in a 2003 speech, recently quoted in The New Republic. “I wish that, when my husband was president, people in Congress had been more willing to recognize presidential authority.”

That jibes with a February 2007 New York Times article on Clinton explaining her refusal to back down from her vote for the Iraq war: “Mrs. Clinton’s belief in executive power and authority is another factor weighing against an apology, advisers said… she believes that a president usually deserves the benefit of the doubt from Congress on matters of executive authority.”

Such is why President Bush has recently had some nice things to say about Hillary Clinton, leading some to speculate that Bush sees her as the Eisenhower to his Truman—a candidate from the opposing party who criticizes his foreign policy during the campaign, but will likely pursue a very similar policy should she be elected.

Clinton is just more of the same…you’d think hawkish conservatives would love her as much as they love Rudy Giuliani.

GOP Debate Open Thread

There is another Republican debate tonight on Fox News (8pm EST). I’ve missed the last two or three, so I may sit down and live-blog this one.

The candidates that will be participating are: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo and Fred Thompson.

Winners – Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee and McCain
Giuliani, in my opinion, won the debate. He managed to hit Clinton pretty hard and he managed to voice his support for some issues that conservatives care about, such as school choice and private Social Security accounts. Romney is still managing to spin his position changes well and took his shots at Clinton as well. Huckabee is managing to hide his past record and getting along by being humorous. I’ll give the guy this, he is good at communicating a message, but that message belongs to someone else and is far different from the populist crap he espouses on talk shows and what his past record is…but the crowd responded to him. McCain had one of the best reactions from the audience this evening. He managed to stay on point and took some shots at Romney and Cinton.

Losers – Paul, Tancredo, Hunter and Thompson
I’m a Ron Paul supporter, but every time he speaks…I cringe. He manages to turn every question, not matter what subject into a rant about our foreign policy. I don’t disagree with him at all, but he is preaching to an audience that doesn’t want to hear him. Tancredo just isn’t clear. We know he is anti-immigration, but he has trouble communicating his opinion that or any other topic. Hunter needs to get out of the race. The guy is either intellectually dishonest or just doesn’t understand economics. Thompson is simply not the savior that conservatives wanted. The more they find out about him, the less they support him.

[7:56pm] Fox News is going through the pre-debate focus group, all of whom are saying that they want another Ronald Reagan.

[7:58pm] They just gave out the text voting information. I’m going to go ahead and declare Ron Paul the winner of that. It’s just a hunch I have.

[8:02pm] Brit Hume is getting it started along with Carl Cameron, Chris Wallace and Wendell Goler, as well as a welcome message from the Republican Party of Florida and Gov. Charlie Crist.

[8:04pm] The candidates are lined up like this: Tancredo, Paul, Huckabee, Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, McCain and Hunter.
» Read more

Coalition…what coalition?!

Erick Erickson tells us why Mike Huckabee is a threat to the Republican Party’s coalition than Rudy Giuliani:

The leaders of the social conservative movement who were present, the Arlington Group members you hear so much about, were ready and willing to get on board Romney’s campaign on Saturday morning. Then Huckabee spoke. Then the straw vote was tabulated. Then they realized that were they to do so, it would put them completely out of step with their members.

The social conservatives do not want to rally around Huckabee because he is as distasteful to fiscalcons as Rudy is to socons. Even Tony Perkins, the head of FRC, said he hoped the social conservative candidate would be palatable to the fiscal conservatives out there. Huckabee is not.
The fiscal guys see the writing on the wall. They see Hillary’s position. And they are just about ready to cut a deal. And then you have the Republican libertarians who are just about ready to really vote for Ron Paul, doing to the GOP in 2008 what Ralph Nader voters did for the Democrats in 2000.

Huckabee breaks the coalition more than Giuliani because the socons fear Hillary more than the fiscalcons do. And that is why we won’t see too many of the socon leaders rallying to the clear favorite of the socon base.

That last paragraph kind of sums up a conversation my mom (a Fred Thompson supporter and social conservative) and I (a fiscal conservative) had over dinner on Friday night. I despise Hillary Clinton. I believe her goal is take more individual liberty away and dramatically increase the size of government…but isn’t that what George W. Bush has done in two terms? My point to her was that the American voter, specifically a moderate and or an independent, is not going to be swayed by the anti-Hillary Clinton rhetoric because I don’t believe they can look at George Bush and say, “this woman is going to be so much worse.”

I wish I’d done it

I’m glad to see that someone destroyed this monument to a murderer:

A glass monument to revolutionary icon Ernesto “Che” Guevara was shot up and destroyed less than two weeks after it was unveiled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s government.

Images of the 8-foot-tall glass plate bearing Guevara’s image, now toppled and shattered, were shown Friday on state television, which said the entire country “repudiated” the vandalism.[…]
Police said they had yet to identify those responsible. The Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional published a copy of what it said was a flier found by the monument signed by the previously unknown “Paramo Patriotic Front.”

“We don’t want any monument to Che, he isn’t an example for our children,” the flier read. It called Guevara a “cold-blooded killer” and said the government should raise a monument in Chavez’s hometown of Sabaneta, in the nearby lowland plains, if it wants to commemorate the Argentine-born revolutionary.

Remember…Che was not a vicious murderer, he is a “revolutionary icon.”

I’ll stop before I say something that’ll get me in trouble.

H/T: Instapundit

Liberty and 2008 – Part One

You can’t help but sit back and look at the current field of Presidential candidates and be disappointed. It’s not like there aren’t distinguished individuals in the field. Out of the seventeen candidates there are some impressive credentials. Nine of them have served as United States Senators. Eight have at some time or another served in the United States House of Representatives. Three have served as Governors of their respective states. Two have been Mayors of major cities. You also have a former United Nations Ambassador and a former First Lady.

Despite those incredibly impressive credentials they have no demonstrated sense of Liberty…and no matter the outcome of the 2008 election, Liberty, and ultimately the American people, stands to lose.

There are a couple of definitions for Liberty. This is the best definition, in my opinion…Liberty is “freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.” I personally do not believe in moral responsibility, not to say that I don’t have certain causes that I feel are worthy of my time and devotion, but I don’t believe an individual has any moral responsibilities with the exception that they do not infringe on the rights of another sovereign individual. Virtually every candidate falls short of meeting this definition.

“Jason, you are just being pessimistic,” you say? I really do wish that were the case. I look at the Democratic field and I see a group of individuals that are so Red they would make Karl Marx proud. I see Republicans that are constantly willing to trade liberty for security, as well as severely overblowing the threat that faces our country…and that is just the beginning with Republicans.

So far there have been several proposals for a government take over of one-seventh of the United States economy through the socialization of the health insurance and healthcare industries. The cost varies between $75 billion to as high as a $150 billion. Some of the Democratic candidates have proposed some form of mandatory “citizen service.” All of them propose increasing the federal government’s role in education, though, to his credit, Mike Gravel did throw out the notion of competition in education, something that is heresy on the Left.

There has even been one crazy proposal Sen. Hillary Clinton to give newborns $5,000 “to help pay for future costs of college or buying a home.” I keep a copy of the Constitution handy and I’m can’t seem to find where one of the delegated powers of Congress (Article I, Section 8) is to give newborns taxpayer dollars.

The cost for this gem of a proposal? To give you some idea, there are around four million births each year in the United States, multiply that by $5,000 and the total comes to $20 billion per year, this doesn’t include interest that would be accrued over the course of eighteen years.

This is not to say that the Barack Obama or John Edwards are any better. Both want will continue to chip away at foundation of Liberty that was laid long ago. Edwards constantly stumps with his “two Americas” rhetoric in a desperate attempt to keep up with the frontrunners. While Obama looks lost on foreign policy and reminds us that no one really knows much about him…and what we do know isn’t anything to write home about.

There has been no mention of entitlement reform, only expanding and adding more entitlements. No mention of lessening the burden on taxpayers, but the plan to soak the rich with even more taxes. No mention of restoring the basic rights of property…and two candidates score very low in on my presidential scorecard on that issue, Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Bill Richardson.

Biden famously held up a copy of Richard Epstein’s Takings during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings and implied that if he supported the author’s views that he wasn’t fit to serve on the Supreme Court. By the way, eminent domain tends to hurt racial minorities worse than any other demographic. I wonder how Biden would respond to hard questioning on this issue.

Richardson vetoed a property rights measure that would have restricted use of eminent domain in New Mexico. He said the legislation would “bring New Mexicans more harm than good.”

Several of the candidates (Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Kucinich) voted (House Roll Call/Senate Roll Call)for the abortion that we call the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, or McCain-Feingold, which is blatant violation of First Amendment guarantee of free speech. Not to be out done, Rep. Dennis Kucinich supports further stifling by promoting the return of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.”

You can’t help but look over these candidates and see that individual liberty will be subverted, our free-market economy (or what is left of it) will be invaded, some civil liberties may be restored, rights that are actually mentioned in the Constitution, namely economic rights, will continue to be trampled on.

But with all this said most of the Republican candidates are no better. I’ll give my two cents on them next week.

Part of PATRIOT Act ruled unconstitutional

Another federal judge has ruled that sections of the so-called USA PATRIOT Act are unconstitutional:

Two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional because they allow search warrants to be issued without a showing of probable cause, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended by the Patriot Act, “now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment.”

Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield sought the ruling in a lawsuit against the federal government after he was mistakenly linked by the FBI to the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004.

The Patriot Act greatly expanded the authority of law enforcers to investigate suspected acts of terrorism, both domestically and abroad.

The Fourth Amendment says:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

You cannot simply throw the Constitution out the window. Individuals still have rights and the government still has limits.

Fred and the First Amendment (not a good record)

Fred Thompson tried to weasel his way out of his past support of McCain-Feingold today with Laura Ingram, but the Club for Growth did some fact checking on his claims:

Thompson says at about the 10:55 mark “the issue ad thing wasn’t even being discussed as far as I remember when the first debates were had and the first bill was proposed. It was a matter of whether you wanted to get rid of soft money.”

At 11:45, he says “they added on something that was a mistake — and that is the issue ad that you were talking about, and I voted for all of it. So I support the first part [the ban on soft money to parties], but I don’t support that.”

Fact: He did support it. You can debate about what you support when you vote for a bill on final passage that has warts, but when you sponsor a bill, it’s your work. No one makes you sponsor your own bill.

Take a look for yourself at title II of S. 27, the so-called “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001.” Title II has limits on issue ads.

Now the late Sen. Wellstone offered an amendment, and made the provision even worse.
Thompson filed an amicus brief (pdf., see pp. 26-30) to the Supreme Court defending not only the original language banning groups from running issue ads, but the toxic Wellstone amendment too!

So he sponsored it, voted for it, and then defended it in Court.

The “D” word back in the news

A top military adviser is floating the idea of a military draft:

Frequent tours for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the all-volunteer force and made it worth considering a return to a military draft, President Bush’s new war adviser said Friday.

“I think it makes sense to certainly consider it,” Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

“And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table. But ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation’s security by one means or another,” Lute added in his first interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in June.
The repeated deployments affect not only the troops but their families, who can influence whether a service member decides to stay in the military, Lute said.

“There’s both a personal dimension of this, where this kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living room conversations within these families,” he said. “And ultimately, the health of the all- volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions.”

Tancredo: Bomb Mecca and Medina

Tom Tancredo believes that bombing Muslim holy sites is a deterrent against future terrorist attacks:

On Tuesday, Tancredo warned a group of Iowans that another terrorist attack would “cause a worldwide economic collapse.” recorded his comments.

“If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina,” Tancredo said. “That is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they would otherwise do. If I am wrong, fine, tell me, and I would be happy to do something else. But you had better find a deterrent, or you will find an attack.”

How long have we been involved in the affairs of Middle Eastern nations? Has our involvement ever deterred any sort of terrorist attack? Given the history between our country and the Middle East, do you really believe bombing Mecca and Medina, two of the most revered Islamic holy sites, is going to do anything other than provoke Islamic radicals?

Brilliant logic, Mr. Tancredo.

Massive tax increases in our future?

Our entitlements are catching up to us:

Sen. Judd Gregg released (pdf) a Congressional Budget Office study (pdf) yesterday that attempts to quantify the tax rates needed to pay for the spending increases projected in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Average taxpayers would typically pay marginal federal income tax rates in the 30s, much higher than the 15% seen today. And that’s before payroll taxes of 15.3% and state and local income taxes that would boost many into tax rate brackets of over 50%.

CBO also notes that “the highest bracket would have to be raised from 35 percent to 92 percent. The top corporate income tax rate would also increase from 35 percent to 92 percent.”

The agency concludes “Such tax rates would significantly reduce economic activity and would create serious problems with tax avoidance and tax evasion. Revenues could fall significantly short of the amount needed to finance the growth of spending, and thus tax rates at this level may not be economically feasible.”

Yet, there are candidates running for President and other federal offices that want to increase entitlement spending as well as introduce new entitlements, in the form of socialized medicine. We cannot continue our current course without increasing taxes so much that it would bring economic development, which is brought about by lower taxes and less government regulation and spending, to a screeching halt.

Update on the “Fairness Doctrine”

“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”John F. Kennedy

The United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted against funding the Fairness Doctrine. This was presented as an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act by Congressman Mike Pence.

Score another victory for the First Amendment.

Spending cuts proposed

There were attempts to cut spending in the House of Representatives by up to four percent. I’m sure you can guess the outcome:

All of these votes were held this week on various appropriations bills. Notice a pattern? Notice the similarities in the vote tallies?

The House failed, 177-231, to pass an amendment that would cut a spending bill by 4% across the board.

The House failed, 168-252, to pass an amendment that would cut a spending bill by 1% across the board.

The House failed, 179-241, to pass an amendment that would cut a spending bill by 0.5% across the board.

NTU straw poll

Fred Thompson wins the straw poll at the National Taxpayers Conference, but guess who came in second place:

Every attendee of our Conference was given a chance to vote for any of the declared Presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat. After counting the votes, we can announce partial results.

Fred Thompson was the winner with 25.7% of the vote.

Ron Paul came in second place with 16.7%.

Rudy Giuliani placed third with 12.5%

Mitt Romney garnered 9.0% of the vote to snag fourth place.

The top five was rounded out by John McCain, who received 5.6%.

Also, Jim Gilmore kicked off a property rights initiative at the conference as well. Gilmore and Ron Paul are the only two candidates that have mentioned eminent domain and private property rights, at least as far as I know.

No confidence in Congress

A no confidence vote is looming for Attorney General Alberto “no right to habeas corpus” Gonzalez, and rightfully so…Gonzalez, much like the rest of the Bush Administration need to go. However, United States Senator Tom Coburn wants to add some language to the resolution on Gonzalez.

In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Coburn wrote:

I am requesting that I be consulted before the Senate enters into any unanimous consent agreements regarding a vote on any resolution or other legislation expressing a lack of confidence in any federal official.

If such a resolution comes before the Senate, I plan to offer an amendment expressing no confidence in Congress’ ability to cut wasteful spending or balance the budget.

As you know, the national debt of the United States of America now exceeds $8.5 trillion and just last week, Congress approved a $2.9 trillion budget resolution that includes $23 billion more in spending than was requested by the President.
Experts point out that the most important step an addict can take is to first admit you have a problem. It is obvious to everyone that Congress has a big problem. It’s time that we finally admit it and take responsibility. Unfortunately, the Senate has twice this year rejected amendments that expressed the sense of the Senate that Congress has a moral obligation to offset the cost of new Government programs and initiatives. Our nation can not afford for the Senate to live in such a state of denial.

It is hypocritical for the Senate to grand stand for political purposes while ignoring its own shortcomings that threaten the solvency of Social Security and Medicare and the standard of living of future generations.


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