Category Archives: Corruption

2008 Guide To Government Waste

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has published a guide giving a snapshot of the most wasteful programs enacted by the Federal government this year. The programs highlighted total a little over $1.3 billion (which is small potatoes in a year where the budget deficit is hovering around $1 trillion).

Some of the programs highlighted are:

National Drug Intelligence Center – Pennsylvania ($39 million)
In 1992, Congress created, the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown to collect information on drug activity around the nation. Since then, though, it has been labeled a “boondoggle” and, according to U.S. News and World Report, “been rocked by scandal, and been subjected to persistent criticisms that it should have never been created at all.”76 Attempts have been made in recent years by the Department of Justice to shut down the center because of concerns related toduplication, overlap and wasteful spending. None of this stopped Congress from awarding NDIC $39 million in 2008.77 One former NDIC director said, “I recognized that a lot of reports were [awful], poorly written, poorly researched, and, in some cases, wrong.”

This program is a snapshot of the entire War on (some) Drugs. By the way, the Congressman for Johnstown, Pennsylvania just happens to be John Murtha.

Kanjorski Center Parking Garage ? Pennsylvania ($5.6 million)
That the Kanjorski Center, a 32,000 square foot office building in Pennsylvania, has stood completely empty since 2005 did not prevent Congress from trying to funnel $5.6 million in transportation money to add a large parking garage to it.83 Officials at the Department of Transportation opposed the project, noting that current law prohibits the department from funding parking garages unless they serve mass transit needs – and this parking garage would not meet the test. Angered by the rules, one local congressman is fighting to keep the project alive, saying, “I don’t think the rule should have any attention paid to it. Because in Congress we have our own rules.”84 When challenged by a reporter that the parking garage is costly to federal taxpayers, he replied, “For the community, it is free money.”

Paul Kanjorski, a corrupt Congressman who was reelected in November, has found yet another way to steal from taxpayers.

Field Trips for School Teachers – Illinois ($918,600)
Field trips aren’t just for students anymore. Teachers from Illinois were given a grant of nearly $1 million by the Department of Education Teaching U.S. History program for vacations in the name of “continuing education.” Upcoming outings are planned for New York City, while past trips to New Orleans, Boston, California and Washington, D.C. were paid for with federal funds. High school teacher, Chris Johnson, a veteran trip?taker, feels that excursions to other cities help to give teachers “ownership” of the material they teach. “I’m a better teacher today than before I started these trips,” he said.

Government workers taking yet another taxpayer funded junket.

2010 Decennial Census Bailout – ($210 million)

Since 2004, the Census Bureau has embarked on an effort to bring the 2010 Census into the 21st Century, but wound up in the 18th Century. One of the significant challenges facing the Census is the collection of information from 300 million Americans entirely by pper and pencil. To do so, the Bureau awarded a $600 million contract to the Harris Corporation to develop handheld computers that would help census takers collect data electroically. The devices were problematic from the start, and although they rely on basic technology found in nearly all cell phones, the agency was never able to get them working properly. When asked in 2006 whether it would be appropriate to have a backup plan in case the handheld computers did not work, then?director Louis Kincannon responded, “They will work. They have worked. You might as well ask me what happens if the Postal Service refuses to deliver the census form.”93 Despite enormous cost overruns, the devices will only contain half of the functionality originally intended. As a reward, Congress gave the Census Bureau a $210 million bonus in the form of an “emergency” bailout.94 $800 million later, the 2010 Census will still be collected, not electronically but by paper and pencil, just like the first census over 200 years ago.

$800 million pissed away just to count people.

Billings Mustangs Minor League Baseball Stadium – Montana ($328,300)
In 2008, the Billings Mustangs – a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds – moved out of Cobb Field and into its new home, Dehler Park. While constructing the new stadium, which cost $13 million, came in under budget and completed its first season of operations, the federal government is sending the team a check for $328,300. Funds will come from the Community Development Block Grant program despite the fact that local citizens fully funded the stadum with municipal bonds and more than $2 million in private donations, making federal money unnecessary. “But I have plans for it,” insists Mike Whitaker, director of the park. He would like to use at least $100,000 of the extra cash to put up a foul ball net that the stadium does not need, “We feel we need to put netting along North 27th Street, even though it’s not required.”

 
Now the Federal government is getting involved in building stadiums…

Senator Coburn has some solutions for fighting government waste:

1.Eliminate programs that do not work. Federal programs do not often disappear, but that does not mean they all work well. If a determination is made that a program is not achieving results, it should be eliminated.

Federal programs are power, for Congressman to buy votes and for bureaucrats to run citizens’ lives. I do not see the government giving up this power anytime soon.

2.Eliminate or consolidate duplicative existing programs. Those that duplicate existing government programs and are no longer needed and should be eliminated.

See item 1.

3. Eliminate earmarks. Earmarks, otherwise known as “pork,” are pet projects that members of Congress single?handedly direct, often to bring home money to their district. While that might seem like a good idea, or even a congressman’s job, the earmark process is corrupt, wasteful and non?transparent. Tax dollars are routinely directed into questionable projects, as seen in this report, which benefit lobbyists, special interest groups and the well?connected. They are not required to have a meritorious purpose or to demonstrate results, and should be eliminated.

The problem with earmarks, as Senator Coburn writes above, is not the amount of money given (which is quite small in the big picture), but the fact that earmarks are often the currency of corruption.

The rest of the items are:

Implement stronger transparency measures. Transparency in government should allow the taxpayer to know how every penny of federal money is spent. The advantages of this are obvious, and include the accountability brought to officials who know that poor spending decisions will be found out and penalized. Taxpayers should be able to track every federal expenditure on loans, grants and contracts down to the penny.
 
Conduct more congressional oversight. Congressional oversight and hearings provide an opportunity to exert Congress’ “power of the purse” on the actions of the government. Oversight should ensure money is spent wisely and in line with objective performance standards. Members of Congress should be held accountable for how tax dollars are spent, and they in turn should agencies accountable for how they spend tax dollars.

End automatic budget increases. Too often, Congress increases the budget of every government agency without regard to the previous year’s performance. This practice must end with resources being directed only to those programs performing well and not to those that fail, as well as to only those programs that are true national priorities.

Require Performance Metrics for All Programs. Many federal programs operate with objectives that are illdefined or nonexistent. Every program should be given performance metrics that are measureable and enforceable.

All of the above require an informed and engaged citizenry that believes in liberty or at the very least an efficient government. That is something we do not have in this country. Until that happens, abuses like ones outline above will continue..

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Che, Mao, and Pop Culture

One thing that disturbs me to no end is the way despotic Communist serial killers like Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Mao Zedong are iconic figures in American pop culture. When I see someone wearing Che’s ugly mug on his/her chest, I want to ask him/her: “Do you really have any idea who this man was or what he did?” I suspect that if I were to ask, I’d get a blank stare.

This short video below from reason.tv features interviews with two individuals who lived under the thumbs of Che and Mao. Neither are what you would call fans of these pop culture icons.

25 More Reasons for Criminal Justice Reform

20 months ago I wrote a post (click here) to recognize the successful efforts of The Innocence Project in exonerating 200 wrongly convicted (14 of which were on death row). In the time between that post and this one, the Innocence Project has helped 25 more wrongfully convicted regain their freedom! If this trend continues, we could see 275+ wrongfully convicted set free by the organization’s 20th anniversary in 2012. While this is all very good news for these individuals and their families, much more needs to be done to prevent others from being victimized by the state.

Many states offer nothing with regard to compensation for the wrongfully convicted. Of those which do, the IRS insists on collecting taxes from this compensation (a complete moral outrage). The Innocence Project is working to correct this injustice.

25 states do not have laws which require forensic evidence to be preserved post conviction. For those who wish to appeal and challenge their convictions, the chances of proving their innocence are much dimmer. One of the main reasons these states refuse to preserve biological evidence is the costs associated with storage.*

There are many other reforms which need to be made with regard to the use of informants (who have an incentive to tell the authorities what they want to hear to shorten their sentences), government fraud and misconduct, and unsound science (among other needed reforms).

I would also submit that it is time to revisit the issue of the death penalty. We now have 225** reasons to demand a national moratorium on the death penalty; 225 cases where the system failed, convicted the wrong person, and allowed the real perpetrators walk free. Even one innocent person killed by the state is too many.

In closing, the following is statistical data about the 225 exonerations In the Innocence Project’s winter 2008 Newsletter: The Innocence Project in Print.

Innocence by the Numbers: Eyewitness Misidentification

Percentage of wrongful convictions cases later overturned through DNA testing that involved eyewitness misidentifications 76%

Percentage of those misidentifications that were cross-racial 51%

Percentage of those cross-racial misidentification cases where a Caucasian witness’ misidentification led to the wrongful conviction of an African-American or Latino defendant 90%

Percentage where an African-American or Latino witness’ misidentification led to the wrongful conviction of a Caucasian defendant 1%

Percentage of all the misidentification cases where eyewitness testimony was the central evidence used against the defendant (without other contributing evidence like false confessions, invalid or improper forensic science, or snitch testimony) 20%

Percentage where more than one eyewitness misidentified the same innocent defendant 37%

Highest number of eyewitnesses misidentifying the same innocent defendant 10

States where eyewitness misidentifications have contributed to a wrongful conviction 32

States that have passed reforms to improve eyewitness identification procedures 7

States Legislatures considering eyewitness identification reforms for 2009 12 and the District of Columbia

» Read more

Ted Stevens, William Jefferson, Rod Blagojevich, And The Corruption Of State Power

In light of yet another example of the eternal truth that power corrupts, and absoulte power corrupts absolutely, Steve Horwitz wonders why we’re still talking about handing yet more power over to the government:

I simply do not understand how those who are in favor of giving government all of these new powers because they sincerely believe that doing so will work out the way their blackboard designs intended can keep a straight face. What kind of cognitive dissonance must it take to believe that the people YOU are handing power over to are “not like” Ted Stevens or Rod Blagojevich? How deeply must one be in denial or engage in rationalization to believe that they are “different?” How blind must one be to think that trillions of dollars in bailout money won’t go to the highest bidder (as the lobbyists line up on K Street…) in a process different only in its wink-and-a-nod courtesies than Blagojevich’s auctioning off of a Senate seat?

For me, the key insight of public choice is the same insight that underlies Austrian economics: it is the institutional framework that is the key to understanding the choices people make and the unintended outcomes they produce. As I said to a class last week: “Governments can’t act like businesses because businesses only act like businesses because they operate in the institutional environment of private property, monetary exchange, and competition.” In the same way, getting politicians to stop selling off their power isn’t a matter of ethics or psychology, rather it’s about changing the rules of the game such that they do not have as much power to sell. Unfortunately, the current bailout mania is changing those rules in utterly the wrong direction.

Look at it this way: the bailouts are already becoming just a legal form of the essentially the same behavior for which the governor has been indicted.

Why should we ever accept “Oh, but he’s different” as an answer to the claim that explicit bribery and selling off power are just a less subtle form of politics as usual?

The examples of Ted Stevens, William Jefferson, and, now, Rod Blagojevich make clear that the answer is that we shouldn’t.

We shouldn’t trust the Treasury Secretary with unrestricted, unreviewable authority to spend $ 700 billion in taxpayer funds.

We shouldn’t trust a “car czar” to oversee a government-run auto industry in a manner that gives priority to making a profit rather than being politically correct.

For the very reasons that the Founding Fathers enunciated 232 years ago, we shouldn’t trust government with the power we seem all to willing to give it.

There are lessons that can be learned from the political scandals that we’ve seen over the past few years, but I doubt that most people will recognize them.

H/T: Hit & Run

Cross-posted from Below The Beltway

I’m Not Saying… I’m Just Insinuating.

I’m sure one has nothing to do with the other:

Wikipedia: In October 2008, Cuban started Bailoutsleuth.com as a grassroots, online portal for oversight over the US government 700 billion dollar “bailout” of financial institutions.

And today:

Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban charged with insider trading

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban, owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks, was charged Monday by the Securities and Exchange Commission with insider trading.

According to the SEC, Cuban sold 600,000 shares of Internet search company Mamma.com in June 2004 using non-public information. Cuban is accused of calling his broker and instructing him to sell all of his stock from the Mamma.com after receiving confidential information from the company.

The SEC said Cuban knew the stock price was about to fall.

I’m sure there was no revenge involved. It must be just a coincidence, an accident of timing. Right?

Justice Department: Indicting Spitzer is Not in the “Public Interest”

Last March New York governor Eliot Spitzer resigned because of his involvement in a prostitution scandal. This is all well and good; I was among many others who called for Spitzer to resign. But should his resignation from office be enough? I think not.

Apparently federal prosecutors disagree.

Washington Post, November 7, 2008

Former New York governor Eliot L. Spitzer will not face criminal charges for his role in a prostitution scandal that drove him from office this year, prosecutors announced yesterday.

Investigators for the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service uncovered no evidence that Spitzer had misused public or campaign money to pay women employed by the Emperors Club VIP, a high-priced New York prostitution ring.

Justice Department guidelines disfavor indictments against clients of prostitution rings, even those who transport women across state lines to have sex in violation of the Mann Act. Spitzer acknowledged making payments to the service, which amounted to “acceptance of responsibility for his conduct,” said Michael J. Garcia, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“We have concluded that the public interest would not be further advanced by filing criminal charges in this matter,” he said in a statement issued yesterday.

What “public interest” is ever served by prosecuting an individual who makes a peaceful business transaction with another consenting adult? But as long as there are vice squads throughout the country investigating and arresting individuals who happen not to be in positions of power who participate in activities such as prostitution, it seems to me that our public servants should be held to at least the same standard if not a higher standard.

And if the Justice Department “disfavors” indicting Johns who violate the Mann Act, this suggests to me that government officials can pick and choose the laws they wish to enforce and against whom they will enforce them (which does not surprise me).

So much for the rule of law!

I disagree with the Justice Department; there most certainly is a public interest being served when hypocrites in positions of power like Eliot Spitzer are treated like any other citizen of this country.

Porker Steps Down

In some worlds, this would be seen as good news:

A passing of the baton happened Friday. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W. Va., announced he will step aside as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Byrd is 90. He has served in the Senate since 1959 – the most senior member of the Senate.

It is invalidated, though, by this:

He will be replaced by Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.

One porker replaces another. I suppose this is the “change we can believe in”, huh? But hey, I guess politicians don’t feel any need to live up to promises of accountability, considering that a man convicted of 7 felonies is leading in his reelection bid

Stevens Convicted

40 years of corruption down the drain. Might as well have joined the f’in Peace Corps:

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted of seven corruption charges Monday in a trial that threatened to end the 40-year career of Alaska’s political patriarch in disgrace.

The verdict, coming barely a week before Election Day, increased Stevens’ difficulty in winning what already was a difficult race against Democratic challenger Mark Begich. Democrats hope to seize the once reliably Republican seat as part of their bid for a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Stevens, 84, was convicted of all the felony charges he faced of lying about free home renovations and other gifts from a wealthy oil contractor. Jurors began deliberating last week.

The senator showed no emotion as the jury foreman said “guilty” seven times. After the verdicts, Stevens sat in his chair and stared at the ceiling as attorney Brendan Sullivan put his arm around him.

Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each count when he is sentenced, but under federal guidelines he is likely to receive much less prison time, if any. The judge originally scheduled sentencing for Jan. 26 but then changed his mind and did not immediately set a date.

What federal guidelines allow him to be convicted of multiple felonies and not face prison time? Is that the “you get billions in earmarks for my state, I’ll scratch your back” sort of guideline?

A slight profundity

A question was asked of me recently: “Why don’t libertarians and real conservatives win elections”.

Simple really.

True libertarians and conservatives share the same electoral disadvantage:

True libertarians and real conservatives, CANNOT win electorally, in a climate where everyone is allowed to vote; and that “everyone” includes the huge politically created classes (both underclass, and “elite”) that exists because of governments meddling, and live at government sufferance.

True libertarians and conservatives only have answers that make those folks, and those who “support” or worship them, feel bad about themselves; and solutions that are against their short term interests.

Until these permanent classes of government dependents are eliminated (or at the least, politically neutered); government will continue, with the active support of these people (and those who “support” and worship them); to vote in the GOVERNMENTS interest:

That is, to increase the size, scope, reach, and power of the government, and to use that power to redistribute ever more wealth; making the class of government dependents ever larger, and reinforcing that dependency ever more.

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” — Alexis de Tocqueville

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

The Credit Crisis: A Bipartisan “Achievement”

First, President Bush in 2002 pushes for increased home “ownership” regardless of creditworthiness.

Second, despite what Nancy Pelosi says, the Democrats most certainly did their part to help President Bush succeed in his “ownership society.” These Democrats who scream that this credit crisis is a result of lax regulations didn’t much appreciate the regulators when they warned that Freddie and Fannie were in trouble as early as 2004.

The recent rescue package bailout was also a bipartisan “achievement.” Despite these bipartisan efforts, as of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped to 9720 (-235 so far today).

In tonight’s debate we can almost certainly count on John McCain and Barack Obama talking about “bipartisanship” and how each will “reach across the aisle” to get things done. As McCain and Obama reach across the aisle, we’ll be reaching for our ankles and say “Thank you Mistress Helga, may I please have another?”

That’s exactly what we are going to do. We are going to elect one of these two collectivists into the White House in just a few weeks and we are going to send Democrats and Republicans back to the House and the Senate and ask them to abuse us more.

Make no mistake: this credit crisis is a bipartisan government achievement. What it is NOT is a failure of the free market.

Welcome to the U.S.S.A.

For those of us who value the concept of life, liberty, and property, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to be optimistic for America’s future. Last week we saw one government (taxpayer) bail out after another. The price tag seems to grow a couple of hundred billion dollars each day (depending on which figures one chooses to believe); by some estimates the taxpayers will be on the hook for over $1 trillion. According to the Libertarian Party, $1 trillion could buy the following:

• To buy everybody living in Los Angeles at least one Lamborghini Gallardo.
• To buy 88,052, 394′ custom mega yachts; enough to stretch around ¼ of the world.
• To buy everyone living in Belize and Malta a Manhattan apartment.
• To get half of the Democratic Party into a fundraiser for Barack Obama at the $28,500 admission price.
• To give one out of every two men in the United States a Men’s Presidential Rolex watch.
• To buy every woman in the United States a Tiffany Diamond Starfish Pendant.
• To get two Mitsubishi 73″ HDTVs for every household in America.
• To buy four copies of The Office: Season Four on DVD, to every person on earth.
• To send everybody in America on an all-inclusive vacation to Tahiti (and some people can stay a few extra days).

Anyway you want to look at it, $1 trillion is a lot of money ($3, 278 for every man, woman, and child in America).

And how do our so-called leaders wish to ultimately “solve” this problem which they have created? More government, of course! Joe Biden is calling on “the rich” to do their “patriotic duty” to pay more taxes, not only to pay for the already bloated federal government (which grew by leaps and bounds under the so-called compassionate conservative George W. Bush) but also to pay for the government programs that he and Barack Obama wish to impose on us (programs such as fighting global poverty among others).

But it gets even worse than that. The current Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson has proposed that he should have the absolute authority to purchase any mortgage-related assets as he sees fit (obviously with our money). Section 8* of the proposal reads as follows:

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Section 9 puts a time limit on this absolute power provision but even placing this much power in the hands of one person for a two-year term is a very frightening thought. Perhaps the one good thing about having power hungry politicians in congress in both parties is that they would likely not support this measure as it would take power away from them.

Welcome to the U.S.S.A. What’s left of our free market system is all but dead. While one can make a libertarian case for both John McCain and Barack Obama in certain aspects of their policy proposals, neither are what I would call champions of capitalism (to put it mildly). Personally, I don’t find the arguments for McBama to be persuasive. I will proudly support Bob Barr knowing full well that he will not win this election and knowing full well that whomever wins, we will be in for difficult times.

Is America’s best days behind her? Is there any way that we can restore our Republic to what it once was?

As always, the answer will depend on how “We, the people” will respond.

» Read more

Iraqi Foreign Minister: Obama Asked Iraqi Leaders to Delay U.S. Troop Withdrawal Agreement Until After the Election

If this turns out to be true, this could be the most damning scandal exposed of any of the candidates seeking to be the next president or vice president. According to an article in The New York Post, Sen. Barack Obama told Iraqi leaders to delay a U.S. troop withdrawal agreement until after the presidential election:

WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview.

[…]

Obama has made many contradictory statements with regard to Iraq. His latest position is that US combat troops should be out by 2010. Yet his effort to delay an agreement would make that withdrawal deadline impossible to meet.

Obama has made ending the war in Iraq a hallmark of his campaign. Is he more concerned about bringing the troops home sooner than later or does he really want the troops to remain in Iraq just long enough so he can take credit for fulfilling a campaign promise? The idea that a presidential candidate would try to keep the troops in harm’s way any longer than he believes necessary is truly disturbing.

Regardless of my political differences with Sen. Barack Obama, I sincerely hope this turns out to be untrue. Perhaps those in the MSM can get over their “tingly feelings” for a moment and actually do their jobs and follow up to find out if this is true.

Inconvenient Convention Facts and Fictions Exposed

Now that the conventions are over, it’s time to separate the facts from the fiction. With so much misinformation being peddled by the political campaigns (not to mention rumors spread through e-mail, the internet and the MSM), this is very often a difficult task. My approach is to be skeptical until I am satisfied that I have looked at a variety of sources which I believe to be objective. Snopes and Factcheck.org are among the sources I use as a starting point.

The video below comes from factcheck.org. I generally trust this site because, in my judgment at least, they seem to be very even handed in their analysis,* they cite their sources, and go into detail as to how they arrive at their conclusions. This video provides an overview of the misleading statements made in Denver and in St. Paul; the website goes into more detail about these statements complete with sources.

(If the video fails to play, click here to watch)

A few observations:

This b.s. about “giving tax breaks to Big Oil companies” is maddening. Businesses, whether large or small, should neither pay taxes nor be subsidized. Businesses only pay taxes on paper; taxes are passed down to employees in the form of lower wages and higher prices for consumers. Why do we assume that the money that companies or individuals make belong to the government in the first place? If McBama was truly interested in creating jobs, reducing the price of groceries and gas, and improving the overall economy,** he would eliminate taxes and subsidies for all businesses. This would encourage businesses to bring jobs back to America rather than leaving America to escape the tax code. If the practice of subsidizing failing businesses ended, companies would have to survive by producing goods and services people actually want. Now that’s the “change” that I believe in!

Mike Huckabee. What can I say? As bad of a choice as John McCain is for the Republican ticket, the Republicans would have done much worse with Huckabee. Either Gov. Huckabee is insanely bad at math or he deliberately lied to the G.O.P. delegates and the country about Sarah Palin receiving more votes as Mayor than Joe Biden did in the Democrat primaries. Did he really think that no one would check? Did he really think that he was helping the McCain campaign?

» Read more

Ron Paul’s Speech at the “Rally for the Republic”

Ron Paul spoke in front of a crowd of approximately 10,000 at the “Rally for the Republic” (AKA the “Ron Paul Convention”) across the river from the Republican National Convention.

Below are the first 3 parts of his speech, the full text of the speech can be read here.

Other speakers on the last day of the rally included Tucker Carlson, Lew Rockwell, Gov. Jesse Ventura (who hinted that he might make a presidential run in 2012), and Barry Goldwater Jr.

Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr was also in attendance at Ron Paul’s big show but Barr said he was not disappointed that Paul did not make an official endorsement of his campaign:

Barr, a former GOP congressman, told ABC News he respects Paul’s intent not to make an endorsement in the general election, and is “here today because there are thousands of people who believe we need to shrink the power, the size, the scope of the federal government.

“These are liberty-loving Americans, and those are my kind of people,” Barr exclaimed.

[…]

“We’re all in this together — we believe in the same things,” Barr said.

“Ron has chosen to work within the Republican Party, I’ve chosen to work through the Libertarian Party through the electoral route, but we all want the same thing,” he added.

http://www.campaignforliberty.com/

http://www.bobbarr2008.com/

Biden And Pay For Play

First, a disclaimer. I’m not singling out Joe Biden for the below piece for any reason other than that he’s now become a vice-presidential candidate. I firmly believe that situations like the below are quite common in our government, at all levels. That being said, this one is particularly conspicuous.

Joe Biden, breaking ranks with many Democratic senators (and his running mate, Obama) at the time, voted in favor of the 2005 bankruptcy bill, widely favored by the banks and credit-card companies.

A principled move by a maverick willing to buck the party line? Perhaps, but as we follow Occam’s razor, petty corruption seems more likely:

A son of presumed Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden was paid an undisclosed amount of money as a consultant by MBNA, the largest employer in Delaware, during the years the senator supported bankruptcy legislation promoted by the credit card industry and opposed by consumer groups.

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign said Biden helped forge a bipartisan compromise on the law, which makes it harder for consumers to obtain bankruptcy protection in the courts.

MBNA’s consulting payments to Hunter Biden, first reported by the New York Times, followed his departure in 2001 from the company, where he had been an executive.

MBNA employees have given more than $200,000 to Biden’s Senate campaigns over the last two decades, making donors working for the credit card company the senator’s largest source of campaign money.

Sounds like something I’d expect from the Chicago/Daley political machine. Perhaps that’s why Obama chose Biden? Nah, it’s just a matter of how the system works– i.e. the system’s goal is to perpetuate itself, not to enact the best policies for us.

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