Sunday, December 18, 2011

Monday Morning Radio: Obama's New Nationalism More Sukarno Than Teddy Roosevelt

I'll be talking with WWTN Radio's Ralph Bristol tomorrow morning (Monday) at 8 am cst about my American Thinker article "Barack Obama's New Nationalism More Sukarno Than Teddy Roosevelt."

You can listen live and call in from anywhere in the country here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Newt Gingrich, Champion of Hamiltonian Statism

On the Glenn Beck radio program today, Newt Gingrich once more confirmed his support for Hamiltonian industrial policies. In some instances, such as ethanol, Gingrich argued, the federal government should subsidize some industries over others. In other instances, such as the automobile industry, such subsidies should not be undertaken.

Gingrich failed to offer a convincing argument why subsidies are appropriate for some industries and companies, but not others.

When he cited the history of subsidies to manufacturers and other companies in America, the former professor of history got in to big trouble with those of us who support the three core values of the Tea Party movement: (1) Constitutionally Limited Government (2) Free Markets and (3) Fiscal Responsibility.

Gingrich pointed to two examples of “successful” industrial subsidies in our nation’s first century — Alexander Hamilton’s 1791 Report on Manufactures and the transconstinental railroad built during the 1860s.

He could not have found two better examples that illustrate the corrupting nature of the federal government picking winners and losers. In fact, “Professor” Gingrich seems to have either missed history’s lessons about the adverse affects of crony capitalism, or he’s emulating some big-government villains in American history.

As I point out in my new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, Alexander Hamilton was the original champion of crony capitalism. Indeed, before introducing his Report on Manufactures to the Second Congress in December, 1791, Hamilton had organized and raised capital for a private company called The Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. Though he himself was not an investor, he wrote the prospectus, and persuaded his many financial speculator friends in New York City to invest in the deal. Why wouldn’t they? With the public backing of the Secretary of the Treasury, it was a sure thing. Hamilton persuaded the State Government of New Jersey to invest, as well as numerous Congressmen, a future Supreme Court Justice, and the Governor of New Jersey himself.

In his Report on Manufactures, Hamilton asked Congress to subsidize this very company, without specifically naming it. The Chairman of SEUM, a financial manipulator by the name of William Duer, soon was caught up in the first national Wall Street financial scandal, emptied all the investor funds from the company, and went to debtors prison. Hamilton got his friends at the Bank of New York (where much of the federal government’s funds were invested) to loan $10,000 to the essentially bankrupt enterprise, and it limped along for another five years before it became, at least temporarily, a shell company.

SEUM purchased land in what is now Paterson, New Jersey, and the ruins of its buildings can be seen there today. Why did the enterprise fail ? Because neither Hamilton nor any of the investors in the company (the speculators and politicians) knew anything about manufacturing.

This is a project that Gingrich points to as an example we should emulate today?

It gets worse.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books’ Line of Fire here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Price of Civilization?

Many years ago, Columbia economist Jeff Sachs did me a personal favor. We had both just graduated from Harvard, and I was moving from a dorm room in one of the residential houses down by the Charles River to a very sparse apartment in Somerville. The floors in the apartment were covered by some form of linoleum and badly in need of a rug. Another friend offered to give me a rug if I would take it out of his apartment. It was about 8 feet by 10 feet long, and one person alone couldn’t handle the job. The catch was, I had to get it that night.

I couldn’t find anyone to help me, and as I wandered through Harvard Yard that evening, I bumped into Jeff, who even at that young age had quite a reputation as an economics genius. I knew Jeff, but not well, and after chatting a moment, he told me I looked like I was in a hurry. I explained the situation, and he offered to help. I was quite surprised by his generous offer.

So we headed up to one apartment, picked up the rug, and the two of us walked about a mile with it, carrying it over our shoulders as if we were a couple of stevedores–which we obviously weren’t–to my new apartment.

You can read the rest of the post on Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Gibson Guitar and the Resurrected Blue Eagle

In April, 1934, a 49 year old Polish immigrant, Jacob Maged, who had been operating a one man tailor and cleaning shop in Jersey City, New Jersey, was jailed for three days and fined $100. His crime? He had refused to comply with the National Recovery Administration’s “code of fair competition,” which dictated that no one in the cleaning business could charge less than 40 cents for pressing a suit.

The codes had been drawn up by the larger drying and cleaning businesses, in cooperation with the bureaucrats operating under the control of Hugh Johnson, the hard drinking profane administrator of the agency authorized by Franklin Roosevelt to implement the National Industrial Recovery Act, one of the cornerstones of the First New Deal. Compliance with the codes was signfied by the placement of a placard with a Blue Eagle–the symbol of the power of the NRA–displayed in the windows of businesses that voluntarily agreed to accept the codes.

For those independent businessmen who refused to voluntarily comply with the code, it was tough luck. The law allowed the Federal Government to imprison and impose stiff fines on “ruthless competitors” like Mr. Maged who wouldn’t play ball. The uncooperative Maged insisted on charging 35 cents –a pricing policy that had kept him in business for 22 years–and Hugh Johnson and his local minions were upset. How dare this independent operator defy the authority of the Federal Government? As a reward for his defiance, Mr. Maged, who was barely making a living to begin with, was jailed for 3 days and fined $100. He only earned his freedom by meekly accepting the government’s pricing rules.

Last week, when agents of the Federal Government raided the Nashville, Tennessee plant of Gibson Guitar, the premier guitar manufacturer in the world, memories of similar tactics of intimidation designed to force independent businesses into compliance came to mind. The circumstances were significantly different, but the tactics were the same.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Billionaire Offers the Country Unsolicited Political Advice

I like Howard Schultz, the billionaire who created the Starbucks chain from scratch.

I like Starbucks stores, and will occasionally spend some of my hard earned money on the over priced coffee and baked goods sold there. It’s an indulgence, I know, but I like the community atmosphere in the stores.

I used to buy Starbucks Coffee at our local grocery store, but I’ve switched recently. I got tired of paying $10 for eleven ounces of quality coffee when about $4 of that price was simply for the brand. I’ve found another brand for $6 and, to my taste buds, it’s just as good as Starbucks.

Now Mr. Schultz has decided to offer the country two pieces of political advice.

1. He’s asking everyone to forego their Constitutional rights to free speech by boycotting donations to all Congressional and Presidential candidates until our national debt issue is properly resolved.

2. He’s asking his fellow employers to start hiring new employees, not because the company needs them, but because the country needs fewer unemployed.

This sort of business “voluntarism” was popularized by Herbert Hoover back in the 1920s and early 1930s. Its prospects for success are as limited today as it was back then.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rachel Maddow and the Anti-Intellectual Left

I’ve been pondering for some time now the need for a Voices of the Tea Party e-book that points out the intellectual weakness of political and economic arguments advanced by the Left in the contemporary public dialogue. As someone who always tries to get the facts of history correct, regardless where they lead, I am frequently dismayed to see how truly anti-intellectual the Left is. They frequently claim to be “seekers of the truth,” but the reality is they’re “protectors of the faith.”

Now comes a challenge to Rachel Maddow, a very smart and clever propagandist employed by MSNBC, from an academic who is committed to the search for the truth. His name is Professor Steve Horwitz. He serves as a Professor and Economics Department Chair at St. Lawrence University, and he’s written extensively on topics of economic policy.

Professor Horwitz heard Rachel Maddow make a false statement on her program recently. Here, in part, is his challenge to her:

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Warren Buffet Takes a Page from Gerard Swope’s Plan

When captains of industry and billionaires offer pronouncements on public policy, their opinions often receive attention out of proportion to their merits. These wise sages must know what they’re talking about, mainstream media pundits argue. After all, they’ve succeeded financially far beyond the rest of us. The same skills that brought them wealth ought to be applicable to public policy, right?

To the contrary.

The acquisition of wealth demonstrates the exercise of skill, perseverance, and perhaps a tad of good fortune. It means that the achiever has a very deep, but narrow knowledge in one area of business endeavor.

Buffet, a savvy investor whose net worth is estimated in the vicinity of $45 billion, tells us that the wealthy should pay more in taxes. But as Tim Carney and Dan Mitchell point out, his knowledge may be deep, but it’s narrow to the point of parochialism.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Upton Redux

Like a bad penny, RINO Congressman Fred Upton (R-Michigan) keeps turning up in some very unexpected places.

In 2007, for instance, he turned up as the co-sponsor of an amendment to ban the current generation of incandescent light bulbs.

In January of this year, he turned up as the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on the promise that he would repeal the incandescent light bulb ban he had sponsored.

In July, he was the mastermind behind the failed strategy to present the light bulb repeal ban for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives under “suspended” rules. This meant the ban needed a two-thirds vote to pass, which it did not receive. (It did, however, receive a clear majority.)

Now, having performed so well in his other duties this Congress, Speaker Boehner has rewarded Congressman Upton today by naming him to one of the three coveted Republican House seats on the “budget reduction” committee.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Hoover Democrats of 2011

At the height of the Depression in June, 1932, Republican President Herbert Hoover decided it was finally time to pay for the additional $1 billion of spending he had persuaded Congress to authorize earlier in the year. The economy was in a downward spiral, having shrunk 20% annually since the Crash of 1929. Unemployment was nearing 20%.

The fiscal year was just coming to an end, and it wasn’t a pretty site. Revenues had plummetted to $1.9 billion, as expenditures jumped to $4.6 billion. The resulting $2.7 billion deficit was the highest in the history of peace time America.

Hoover’s solution for the slide in revenue was to increase income taxes across the board, but especially for the “wealthy.” He persuaded Congress to pass the Revenue Act of 1932 just as the new fiscal year began, and he sat back, waiting for the extra revenues to start rolling in.

Why wouldn’t they?

After all, tax rates for those earning more than $1 million a year increased from 25% to 63%. At every level, the tax code was made “fairer” and more progressive. Estate taxes were doubled, and corporate taxes were also increased.

But a funny thing happened.

Total revenue didn’t increase a penny. The next fiscal year was a mirror of the previous pre-tax increase fiscal year–revenues remained stagnant at $1.9 billion, expenditures were kept at $4.6 billion, and an additional $2.7 billion was added to the deficit.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tweedle-dee, Tweedle-dum, and Tweedle-none

In Washington these days, there’s no oxygen left in the room to debate anything other than the faux debt ceiling issue. As the “deadline” draws near next week, every minute of talking head time on the cable networks is focused on the game of chicken being played between the competing plans offered by the Democratic and Republican leadership. Both plans are ineffective at dealing with our chronic spending and debt problems. Nonetheless, the debt ceiling appears to be occupying every minute of waking time in the days of the dinosaurs of political leadership currently responsible for resolving the issue.

But the key actors in this little farce remind me more of characters in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland than political leaders of vision and courage:

Strange all this Difference should be
‘Twixt Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee!
The contemporary version of Alice in Wonderland we see playing out before us in the halls of power in Washington has added a third member to the Tweedle cast. Let me introduce the actors now performing their roles in our nation’s capital:

Tweedle-dee has set forward a “debt reduction plan” that will cut a grand total of $6 billion from our $1.7 trillion deficit next year. That’s less than one half of one percent of the annual deficit. There’s no debt reduction in this plan.

Tweedle-dum wants to increase taxes and refuses to cut spending in any meaningful way.

Tweedle-none has no plan other than to step up to a microphone and petulantly complain about Tweedle-dee’s plan.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fred Upton Snatches Defeat From the Jaws of Victory in Light Bulb Battle

In my new e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, the condemned 100 watt incandescent light bulb has this to say about Fred Upton, the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who co-sponsored the offending amendment in the 2007 law, and concocted the inexplicably strategy that led to this evening’s 233-193 defeat of efforts to repeal the ban in the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act:

I stand wrongly accused and unjustly condemned, sentenced to die by the hand of Big Government . . .

What powerful industry executives, stuck selling me at low prices and low profit margins, deceptively manipulated the government to force my execution, so they could replace me with unsafe, high-priced, high margin, swirly spiraled Compact Flourescent Light Bulbs manufactured in China?

I accuse you, Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, as one of those industry executives who sacrificed my tungsten filament on the altar of your industrial planning.

I accuse you, Congressman Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan and now Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of moral cowardice and spinelessness. You denied me due process. You knowingly participated in my trial without allowing me the benefit of a defense attorney, the right to call my own witnesses, or the right to cross-examine witnesses brought by the prosecution against me.

As I wrote last week in this space, Upton erred by failing to hold committee hearings on this bill, reporting it out of committee properly, then scheduling a floor vote that requires a majority, not two-thirds, to pass. Traditionally, only non-controversial bills take the special orders route. Upton’s poor strategy put Henry Waxman of California, of all people, on the moral high ground when he complained –quite properly — that this method was not appropriate for bringing the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act to the floor of the House for the vote.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Fred Upton Shows Us How Not to Repeal the Light Bulb Ban

On Wednesday of this week, Congressman Joe Barton introduced the “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act,” HR 2417 , in Chairman Fred Upton’s House Energy and Commerce Committee, for the purpose of repealing the light bulb ban. You can read the bill here.

The rushed manner in which this bill is being brought to the floor of the House, however, is reminiscent of the “rush to legislation” that characterized the Stimulus and Obamacare legislation passed in Nancy Pelosi’s 111th Congress. Depending on what press report you read, the bill — after some possible last minute behind the scenes “deals” — will be introduced on to the floor of the House for a vote as early as Monday of next week — July 11. Upton’s plan is to skip public committee hearings and deliver the bill for a complete up or down vote to the entire House.

Section 2 of the bill repeals the offending sections of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that established energy standards that effectively banned the current generation of incandescent light bulbs.

So far, so good.

Sections 3 and 4 are troublesome, however, and give opponents arguments to oppose the bill.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Glenn Beck Makes the Wrong Original Argument

Despite his recent departure from Fox News, Glenn Beck remains a media phenomenon. He’s created an organization that grinds out new books at an amazing pace. His latest, The Original Argument: The Federalist Case for the Constitution Adapted for the 21st Century, is already a New York Times bestseller.

Beck is to be credited for popularizing the discussion of Constitutional issues fundamental to the founding of our republic. However, I think it’s fair to criticize his recent effort on several grounds.

I was surprised that by the second page of his introduction Beck made a significant historical error of the sort he ought to take pains to avoid. He cites a quotation by William Byrd II as an example of the kind of dischord that existed among the thirteen states at the time of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and subsequent state ratification debates:

Those opposed to the new constitution, collectively called the “Anti-Federalists,” were generally wary of the power wielded by the larger states and were concerned that the structure being proposed–a true republic–could never work in practice . . . Then you had groups like the Puritans, Virginians, and Quakers, who seldom agreed on, well much of anything. As Virginian William Byrd II said of the Puritans, ” A watchful eye must be kept on these foul traders.”

Byrd, it turns out, died in 1741, almost half a century before the Constitutional Convention. A well known Virginia politician and writer, Byrd’s critique of the Puritans was probably one of the last made while such a clearly identifiable culture existed. It’s an argument, applied to a world in which there were still those in New England who could be called “Puritans.” By the Constitutional Convention of 1787, however, the “Puritan” culture of New England had disappeared, replaced as it was by the “Yankee” culture. I was surprised that this anachronistic error was caught by neither Beck nor the fairly large staff that worked on this project.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Did the Texas Light Bulb Two Step Bring Fred Upton to the Dance?

The encouraging headlines this weekend that the Texas Legislature had passed and Governor Rick Perry had signed into law a bill that allows Texans to make and sell within the State of Texas the 100 watt incandescent light bulbs banned throughout the entire country by the federal government, effective January 1, 2012, quickly gave way to a realistic assessment of the actual impact of the bill.

Don’t count on the passage of this bill resulting in the manufacture or sale of a single banned incandescent light bulb anywhere in Texas.

The devil, as they say, is in the details, and here are the devilish details of the law:

It simply authorizes the Attorney General of Texas, upon receiving notice that a resident of Texas intends to manufacture the banned incandescent light bulbs in Texas for sale exclusively in Texas, to request a ruling from a Federal District Court Judge based in Texas on the Constitutionality of the proposed manufacturing plan. Only upon receiving a green light from the Federal District Court Judge will the Attorney General allow the proposed manufacturing project to proceed.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Many Texas Tea Partiers Aren’t Thrilled With a Rick Perry Presidential Campaign

Since the beginning of the Tea Party movement, I’ve frequently pointed out that much of the energy of the movement emanates from Texas. In many respects, the Lone Star State stands as the last bastion of American individualism. The steadfast commitment of its straight talking, no nonsense, “Don’t Mess With Texas” citizens gives encouragement and inspiration to the rest of us around the country.

For this reason, when my tea party friends in Texas talk to me about anything, I listen with great interest.

Here’s what many of them are telling me about the possibility of their Governor, Rick Perry, running for the Republican Presidential nomination:

Tea partiers in Texas aren’t crying out for Rick Perry to run for President, and they definitely aren’t referring to him as a tea party candidate. Instead, it’s a very savvy and experienced Rick Perry media team that is promoting the “meme” of Perry as a tea party Governor.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fred Upton’s Broken Light Bulb Promise Another Example of the Failure of Republican Leadership

Late last year, Republican Congressman Fred Upton, who co-sponsored the infamous ban on the current generation of inexpensive incandescent light bulbs included in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, was desperate to secure conservative support for his bid to become Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the same committee in which he had introduced the despised ban three years earlier. He therefore promised that one of his first acts would be to advance legislation that would repeal the very light bulb ban he had once championed.

Upton’s ploy succeeded, and in January of this year, Speaker of the House John Boehner named Upton to his treasured chairmanship. More than four months later, Upton has not held the promised hearings. Several dozen members of the House, including Joe Barton, Michele Bachmann, and Thad McCotter, have co-sponsored legislation to repeal the ban, so there’s plenty of support for it among true conservatives. And since the ban on the current generation of 100 watt incandescent bulbs is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2012, prompt action is required. There are only six and a half months left!

Journalist Virginia Postrel recently wrote that the Republican leadership in the House has no intention of actually repealing the incandescent light bulb ban, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a different matter in the Senate, where the Republicans are in the minority. The Senate held hearings back in March, but despite a few rumors to the contrary, there’s no indication that the House, where Congressman Upton controls the path, will hold hearings.

That this ban is an egregious violation of free market capitalism is beyond dispute. I document this case in my new e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, which will be released next month.

Howard Brandston, the internationally recognized lighting expert who wrote another e-book for our series on this topic, The Disastrous Light Bulb Ban, was not invited to testify before the Energy and Commerce Committee when it passed this ridiculous ban back in 2007. In fact, no one who opposed the ban was asked to testify back then. The Senate wisely corrected this error when it invited Mr. Brandston to testify when it held hearings on repealing the ban in March of this year.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why Congressman Dan Boren Should Challenge Obama for the 2012 Democratic Presidential Nomination

In the 19th century, the Democrats were the party of limited government, and the Republicans were the party of big government and crony capitalism. As I argue in my new book, Covenant of Liberty, Grover Cleveland, who was in office from 1885-1889 and 1893-1897, was the last President who could accurately be described as a Constitutional Democrat. He was famous for vetoing Republican efforts to give federal funds to special interest groups. He was also a free market proponent, who strongly advocated the reduction of protectionist tariffs supported by the Republicans. Little wonder that Cleveland is one of Congressman Ron Paul’s heroes, so much so that I’m told a photograph of Cleveland hangs in Congressman Paul’s office.

Then came Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the party leadership of the Democrats abandoned the limited government traditions of Jefferson, Madison, and Cleveland.

A few limited government Democrats remained in steadfast opposition. One of them was a Democratic Congressman from Oklahoma, Lyle Boren. First elected in 1936, family tradition claims that he posed this question to some of his fellow Congressmen in 1938:

“The greatest problem in America today is to erase the question in the minds of men, ‘What is the government going to do for me?’ and replace it with the question, ‘What can I do for my country?’ ”

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Fareed Zakaria and the Meaning of American Citizenship

A video clip of Fareed Zakaria, the liberal CNN host, criticizing the Constitution in a recent interview by Charlie Rose has been going viral on the internet the past few days. In Zakaria’s own words:

“Whenever we have a problem we tend to think our Constitution is the best ever created in the history of the world, the people who created it were demi-gods, it never needs to be changed, we have the best political system in the world, the Senate is the marvel of the world. The truth is we have a pretty complicated, antiquated system that has gone pretty dysfunctional, the role of money has been so large, our tax system is a joke; you have a 14,000 page tax code which is basically institutionalized corruption…Why can’t we do best practices? … Are we willing to accept other people know a lot about what’s going on?”

Watching this clip, it struck me that a Voices of the Tea Party e-book on what it means to be an American citizen would be a worthy undertaking, especially in light of the fact that so many talking heads inflicted upon us by the mainstream media have a poor understanding of it.

Putting aside for a moment my irritation at once again being lectured by a talking head from CNN who knows little about America beyond the walls of the Ivy League, New York City, or Washington, D.C. ( Zakaria’s colleague Eliot Spitzer and his former colleague Christiane Amanpour come to mind), let’s examine the merits of his argument, and the authority with which he makes it.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Madison and Jefferson Defended the Constitution, Hamilton Usurped It

This article is part of my continuing dialogue and debate with author William Hogeland on the Constitution and the Founding Era. You can read the complete article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.


You’ve previously indicated your surprise that I trace the origins of the modern Tea Party movement’s critique of our federal government’s Constitutional usurpations to the actions of Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton during George Washington’s first term as President. Starting with his successful support of the establishment of a national bank, using the “necessary and proper clause” of the Constitution in ways both Madison and Jefferson deemed to be far beyond that document’s original intent, Hamilton supported policies that suggest many of the arguments he advanced just a few years earlier in The Federalist Papers were more tactical sophistry than sincerely held beliefs.

To me, Madison and Jefferson were the defenders of the Constitution, Hamilton the usurper. In his old age, years after Hamilton’s death, Jefferson said of Hamilton’s financial system that “[it] had two objects, 1st as a puzzle, to exclude popular understanding and inquiry; 2nd, as a machine for the corruption of the legislature . . . men thus enriched by the dexterity of a leader [Hamilton], would follow of course the chief who was leading them to fortune, and become zealous instruments of all his enterprises…”

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Boehner's Weakness Enables Geithner's Contempt for Congress

As the absurd theater surrounding the debt limit issue plays out in Washington, Secretary of the Treasury Geithner continues to display his contempt for Congress, while Speaker of the House John Boehner talks tough but fails to use any of his Constitutional powers to compel the Secretary to act responsibly. The Speaker has already frittered away his electoral mandate to cut spending by brokering a deal to “cut” the Fiscal Year 2011 budget by–at best–an insignificant $329 million. Now, when strength of action is called for as the so called debt limit crisis looms, he continues his pattern of tough talk and weak action by failing to push Geithner to produce a fall back plan for the country if Congress doesn’t raise the debt limit.

When confronted with a budget crisis, most families and small businesses develop a contingency “worst case” plan. If income is down, which are the least important expenditures we currently make that we will cut out? Several Republican members of Congress have individually called on Secretary Geithner to produce such a plan for the country in the event the debt limit is not raised, but he has refused to do so. The Secretary’s intransigence is not only fiscally irresponsible, it also shows his contempt for Congress. The Speaker’s failure to formally request such a plan from the Secretary is yet another sign of the Speaker’s weakness and unwillingness to back tough rhetoric up with tough but needed action.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Romney Chooses Pandering Over Principle With Support for Ethanol Subsidies

Last week, on the heels of rival Tim Pawlenty’s call for an end to ethanol subsidies, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney stepped up and told an audience of Iowa voters that he, in contrast, supported ethanol subsidies.

“I support the subsidy of ethanol. . . I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution for this country.”
Romney’s rejection of free market principles in favor of this politically expedient pandering is yet another example that illustrates why the tea party will never support him in the primaries. If he wins the Republican nomination, any subsequent backing from the tea party will come with the same kind of nose holding fervor shown by those unenthusiastic conservatives who voted for John McCain in 2008.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Keith Raffel's New E-Book, Drop by Drop, Is a Great Thriller

I highly recommend Keith Raffel's new e-book thriller, Drop by Drop. You can purchase it at Amazon here. At $2.99, its a great value.

Keith continues to prove he's one of the finest writers of mysteries and thrillers in the country. If you liked his earlier thriller, Dot Dead, you'll love Drop by Drop.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Constitution is America’s Covenant of Liberty

In my ongoing discussion with author William Hogeland over at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire", he asks “[i]s “covenant” a reference to the incontrovertible fact that the document was written via delegation and ratified via representation?”

I use the term “secular covenant” to describe the binding nature of the Constitution. It represents an agreement between the citizens, the state governments, and the federal government as to how we consent to be governed. The terms of this secular covenant are contained in the words of the Constitution and its subsequent amendments, and their meaning is the plain meaning of those words. The method of changing the terms of the secular covenant is found in the amendment process of the document itself. No other means of changing the terms–either expansive judicial interpretrations or executive usurpations–are authentic.

I elaborate on this theme in greater detail in my upcoming book, which will be released by Broadside Books in spring 2012, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement. In the limited space of this blog, here’s the thumbnail sketch of the definitions of different concepts relevant to my argument:

You can read the rest of the article here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

For the Tea Party, the Meaning of the Founding Era is in the Words of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights

Author William Hogeland is an honest historian who, despite his apparent left wing proclivities, doesn’t distort the historical record. He also seems to appreciate the unique self-organizing character of the Founding Era civil rebellions that continue to inspire modern Tea Partiers. Where we disagree is in our view of the Constitution. In his guest article published here today in Broadside Books’ “Line of Fire,” Hogeland argues that the Tea Party movement“makes a claim on history that I think distorts, to a damaging degree, realities of the American founding period, and what those realities might mean for us today.”

To the contrary, our claim that the Constitution, as ratified and amended, is a secular covenant by which we are all bound is the strongest, most democratically rooted claim on history that emerges from the American founding period. As I argue in my upcoming book, The Covenant of Liberty, this secular covenant was formed in an intense, elaborate national discussion that took place over four long years from 1787 to 1791. Perhaps the most important outcome of that exhausting but authentically democratic process is that Congress’ powers are limited to those enumerated in Article I, Section 8.

You can read the rest of this article here at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Newt Gingrich is Not a Tea Party Guy

Wednesday, in the least suspenseful press conference of the political season, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich announced that he is running for President. Gingrich’s announcement, which was greeted across the country with a loud yawn, points again to the need for a Voices of the Tea Party e-book that rates the 2012 Presidential contenders, as Jon Friesch and Conrad Larson have suggested in this space previously.

Lacking such a guide currently, I’ll offer my own view of Gingrich’s candidacy from a tea party perspective. Despite his best efforts to associate with the movement for well over two years, Gingrich is not a tea party guy. He deserves credit for volunteering early on to co-sponsor the April 15, 2009 Tax Day Tea Party through his group, American Solutions. But from a tea party perspective, it’s been all down hill since then for the former Speaker.

You can read the rest of this article here at Broadside Books' Line of Fire.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What Salon and William Hogeland Ignore About the Tea Party Movement

William Hogeland, a frequent contributor to Salon and the Huffington Post, has written several excellent books on the Revolutionary Period. His 2006 book, The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels Who Challenged America’s Newfound Sovereignty, has been a valuable resource which I’ve used while writing my upcoming book on the ideological roots of the Tea Party movement. Mr. Hogeland, therefore, despite his association with blogs of the Left, is someone whose work always attracts my attention.

I was more than disappointed by his recent article in Salon, What Tea Partyers Ignore About the Founders. Regrettably, he appears incapable of applying the kind of historical objectivity he applies to the Revolutionary Era to the modern day Tea Party movement.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Limits of Libertarianism

A friend of mine, a prominent fixture in the conservative movement during the 1960s and beyond, once told me that he attended a convention of the Libertarian Party. “It reminded me,” he said, “of the bar scene in the Star Wars movie.”

That one line captures the essence of the problem of Libertarianism as a political force in modern America. On the one hand, most elements of the Libertarian philosophy–the emphasis on the importance of individual liberty in opposition to the power of the state being the most significant–are entirely consistent with American Constitutionalism, and the three core values of the Tea Party movement. On the other hand, at the extreme, Libertarians can be very inflexible and unbending in their adherence to the sanctity of their principles. This tends to limit their ability to work cooperatively with others.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Constitution vs Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as Civil Religion

Most tea partiers view the Constitution as a secular covenant whose terms the citizens and institutions in our republic are bound to honor. As Professor Randy Barnett argued in his 2004 classic, Restoring the Lost Constitution, we observe the meaning of the words in that document, as they were written. We are “originalists” and consider proponents of “a living constitution” to be usurpers of that original intent.

A more modern variation of the “living constitution” school was presented in a 2009 New Republic article by Damon Linker, who argued that “moralistic therapeutic deism,” which he called “theologically insipid,” is perfectly suited to become our new civil religion. In effect, Linker called for this philosophy to replace the Constitutionalism to which the Tea Party movement and the rest of America adheres.

You can read the rest of the article at Broadside Books here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Donald Trump and the Little Pink House

As one of many tea party activists who find the current crop of 2012 Republican Presidential contenders uninspiring, I’ve followed Donald Trump’s recent statements about a potential Presidential run as a Republican with great interest.

Last week, he spoke before a tea party group in Florida and claimed that he supports tea party values.

But, does he really?

As a developer, Trump is certainly familiar with the legal principle known as eminent domain, a notorious violation of individual liberty, which allows the state to seize the property of a private individual (usually at below market prices) in order to use that property for what the state determines to be a “public purpose.” Though the “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment was intended to prevent the possibility that “ private property be taken for public use, without just compensation,” the state in 20th and 21st century America often uses its overwhelming power to define “just compensation” quite differently than the owner of the private property being taken.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Tim Geithner Should Know About Alexander Hamilton

Dartmouth-educated Tim Geithner, our current Secretary of Treasury, has either forgotten or never learned the lessons from Alexander Hamilton’s first year as our inaugural Secretary of Treasury.

Hamilton is no favorite of the Tea Party movement. Indeed, it can be argued that no figure in the early years of the Republic did more to usurp the Constitution than Hamilton. He was, after all, the man who persuaded the First Congress to pass and Washington to sign the National Bank Bill that both Jefferson and Madison considered unconstitutional. He followed that up with a vainglorious show of force in the Whiskey Rebellion, and, while out of office, vigorously supported the unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts. And did I mention his notorious speech at the Constitutional Convention where he argued in favor of a life time appointment for the head of the Executive Branch and the members of the Senate? If ever there was an American champion of centralized federal power, it was Hamilton.

You can read the rest of this column at Broadside Books Voices of the Tea Party blog here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Former Commander, USS Cole, Embraces the Tea Party, Set to Challenge Angle

Kirk Lippold, who served as the commander of the USS Cole until his retirement, announced today that he intends to run for Congress in Nevada. He will be challenging Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle in the Republican primary. Here’s what he had to say about the Tea Party movement in the Daily Caller today:

“I embrace the Tea Party. I think that the organization, when you really stop and look at it, the tea party and what they stand for is a wonderful organization. I, quite frankly, am an independent proponent of limited government and citizen sovereignty. I’m very supportive of any citizen that takes up the charge to make the government more responsive to the people, and also I believe we need to begin to limit the amount of government intrusion into our lives. And that’s what the Tea Party stands for.”

You can read the rest of this blogpost at Broadside Books "Voices of the Tea Party."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What Wisconsin Democrats Forget: Collective Bargaining Violates the Rights of Teachers Who Don't Want to Join the Union

The 14 Wisconsin Democratic State Senators who have fled the state in order to prevent the State Senate from acting on Governor Walker's proposal to have state workers contribute to their health and retirement benefits the way private sector employees do keep hitting the disingenuine talking point that their actions about protecting individual rights.

The unions, they say, are willing to concede some financial points, but insist on preserving collective bargaining. It's a sacred individual right, they say.

This is Orwellian double-speak, 21st century version.

For decades, collective bargaining, which forces every teacher in the state and every state employee in the state to pay union dues and join the union, has been one of the most egregious violations of individual liberties allowed in American history.

There are many teachers in Wisconsin--and the rest of the country for that matter--whose individual rights to choose whether or not they will join a union have been violated by this union forced law.

Individual rights mean freedom of choice. Teachers, state workers, any worker for that matter, should be free to choose whether or not they will join a union.

If the 14 Wisconsin Democratic State Senators really believed in individual rights, they would support Governor Walker's legislation.

Don't hold your breath, because the truth is, they have long opposed individual rights. Collective bargaining is the ultimate weapon for the enforcement of collective rights. And, collective rights, by definition, can not co-exist with individual rights.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Obama Says Mubarak Should Listen to a Million Egyptian Protesters While He Ignored a Million American Protesters

What's wrong with this picture?

The Obama Administration is advising Egyptian President Mubarak to prepare for a transition from power because, among other things, a million Egyptians are expressing their dissatisfaction in public demonstrations today.

It's worth noting that President Obama isn't following this advice when it comes to his own policies.

On April 15, 2009, more than a million Americans in nine hundred cities protested the irresponsible spending of the Obama Administration's $800 billion "Stimulus" package. Obama ignored these protesters.

Then a majority of Americans around the country protested their opposition to Obamacare, and in March 2010, Obama ignored them by signing this unconstitutional intrusion into the individual liberties of American.

Selective enforcement of his own advice, however, is nothing new for Obama.

Apparently, Egyptian protesters merit attention, while Iranian and American protesters do not.