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.