Saturday, January 19, 2013

Welcome, New ECOMINOES Readers!

Welcome, New ECOMINOES Readers!
Two of the biggest names in the liberty movement, Lew Rockwell and Robert Wenzel, recently republished (with permission) my article entitled The Devil's In The (Lack Of) Details Of Obama's Gun Control Orders. As a result, traffic to this blog has skyrocketed. Some of you are undoubtedly visiting for the first time, and I welcome you! I encourage you to check out past articles (archive menu on the right side of the screen for desktop users), listen to episodes of ECOMINOES Radio, and "like" the ECOMINOES Facebook page. Thanks for reading (and listening)!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Irony: Worse To Be Unemployed In Blue States

Irony: Worse To Be Unemployed In Blue StatesHere's Bloomberg's breakdown of where it sucks especially badly to be long-term unemployed. Notice the number of blue states?

Irony: Worse To Be Unemployed In Blue States - benefit chart

If you happen to be unemployed in these states and you have the means, move. Red states typically have better employment opportunities. And weather.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy Trails: My Homage To Neal Boortz

Happy Trails: My Homage To Neal Boortz
Neal Boortz, the "Talkmaster", will sign off for the last time tomorrow. This saddens me. Neal was one of the few rational, intelligent voices in political talk radio. And he's a libertarian. Well, for the most part. But, ideological purist or not, Neal introduced me to libertarianism more than a decade ago. And then, throughout the years, he sparked within me the flame of activism.

Yeah, he was a blowhard on the air. That was his act. Unfortunately, that's the way popular political talk radio hosts have been since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene. But, with Neal, the vitriol was interspersed with impeccable logic. Boortz, you see, is a highly-intelligent man. He wasn't the Talkmaster because he was good at talking over people. He was the Talkmaster because he was good at overpowering people with well-formulated arguments. (He even co-authored a revolutionary tax plan. What other talk radio show host has done anything of the sort?)

Unfortunately, Neal strayed from his libertarian roots for several years. For some reason, he became seduced by neoconservatism. I don't know what he was thinking. Thankfully, he eventually saw the error in his ways, and he's ending his storied 40+ year career with a healthy disdain for the Republican Party. In the wake of the party's 2012 electoral disaster, he penned an epic diatribe about the GOP's social conservatism, and he recently posted some great pro-libertarian comments to his Facebook page. It's great to see Neal end on a high note.

Speaking of high notes, his last show isn't to be missed. (Listen live here Friday from 8:30 to 1 ET.) He's sure to tell it like it is, and who knows what he'll say now that he can basically say anything he wants without having to worry about being fired:

Happy Trails: My Homage To Neal Boortz - Facebook post

Me love you long time, Neal!

(Afterthought: Neal wrote an excellent farewell article that nicely sums up his career. I urge you to read it.)

Dissecting Juan Williams's Gun Control Claptrap

Dissecting Juan Williams's Gun Control ClaptrapI've always disagreed with Juan Williams, but I used to think that he at least brought half-way rational liberal arguments to the table at Fox. But, either the quality of Juan's arguments has since deteriorated or I've become more suspicious of what the "other side" says. Because, either way, I've recently caught Mr. Williams both making irrational arguments and flat-out lying. Yesterday, for example, he penned a ridiculous article regarding Obama's executive orders concerning gun control. The uber-rational Tom Woods dissected it, so I'll leave it to the master to explain how far off Juan was with it:
In an article called “What Everybody Needs to Know About Our Constitution and Gun Control,” Juan Williams of FOX News writes:
Gun control is completely consistent with the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. And President Obama is on target with the great American tradition of proposing gun control laws for Congressional approval as well as by issuing executive orders on gun control.
The only opinion that matters here is the Supreme Court’s opinion. And the high court has ruled, several times, that the president, the Congress, state and local government all have the power to regulate guns.
So we discover at the very beginning of this article that “what everybody needs to know about our Constitution and gun control” is precisely nothing. All that matters is what the infallible Supreme Court has said on the subject. According to Williams’ argument, there is in fact no need to know anything about the Constitution at all.
As for executive orders, Williams writes:
Article II of the U.S. Constitution clearly grants Obama and any other president the authority and the discretion to issue executive orders with the force of law over the sale of guns and ammunition.
“Clearly”? Williams might say Article II suggests that Obama has this power (and even here he’d be wrong), but come on — clearly?

In Section 1 of Article II, Clause 1 vests executive power in the president. Regulating firearm ownership was not considered an inherent executive power in the eighteenth-century context in which the Constitution was drafted.

Clauses 2, 3, and 4 deal with the selection of electors.

Clause 5 says only natural-born citizens are eligible to serve as president.

Clause 6 deals with what is to happen if the president dies while in office, etc.
Clause 7 deals with his salary.

Clause 8 deals with the oath he has to take.

Section II, Clause 1 declares the president to be the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Clause 2 covers the making of treaties.

Clause 3 deals with filling vacancies during the Senate’s recess.

Section III reads: “He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.”

Finally, Section IV deals with impeachment.

In what you have just read, Juan Williams finds “clear” authority to issue executive orders, circumventing Congress, on issues pertaining to firearm ownership. Do you find it?

Williams concludes by citing three presidents who issued executive orders involving guns. Once again, the Constitution is omitted. Three presidents have done this, so it just has to be constitutional. I mean, you wouldn’t actually be opposed to three presidents, would you?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Devil's In The (Lack Of) Details Of Obama's Gun Control Orders

The Devil's In The Details Of Obama's Gun Control Orders
Apart from the fact that executive orders are intended to direct the staff of the Executive Branch, not impose laws on the citizenry, the real malfeasance in the 23 orders regarding gun control Obama is expected to sign is, ironically, their generality. That is to say, they are subject to wide interpretation and have to the potential of being used to greatly expand the government's power over the American people without congressional authorization. The following are the orders that have the most potential for abuse:
Order #1: Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system. 
"Relevant data" is a highly subjective term. I wouldn't put it past enterprising bureaucrats to include web search history and Facebook activity in the "relevant" list. Order #1 is a Pandora's Box.
Order #2: Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
Again, the key word in this order is another highly subjective term. What is an "unnecessary legal barrier"? Privacy laws? Is HIPAA an "unnecessary legal barrier"? Another Pandora's Box.
Order #4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
This is some scary shit here. This is basically an order to profile innocent people to acertain the probability that they will use a firearm illegally. And again, subjectivity: the profile of a killer is in the eye of the beholder. If someone massacres a school "dressing metal", does everyone who dresses that way get placed on a list?
Order #14: Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
This order directs the CDC to discard scientific principles and start making *guesses* (which, of course, would be influenced by ideology). Correlations can be drawn regarding gun violence, but there are far too many variables in this world to determine a *cause* of any complex cultural phenomenon. (And, make no mistake, gun violence is an American cultural phenomenon.)
Order #16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes. 
Excuse me? Why would my doctor have any business knowing whether or not I own a gun? This order makes medical providers government snoops, whose information could be accessed by more easily as per order #2.
Order #21: Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
It would seem that medical benefits have nothing to do with the price of tea in China, but I could imagine that this order, in the context of gun control, opens the door to blacklisting. Those placed on "The List" authorized by orders #1 and #4 could potentially be denied coverage based on this order.

I'm sure some of the other orders could be abused as well. The Land of the Free gets freer every day!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wife Of Medical Pot Grower Begs DEA Obama For Pardon

Wife Of Medical Pot Grower Begs DEA Obama For PardonObama, like Patrick Kennedy, is just another politician who has been bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. As such, he has reneged on his promise to not go after medical marijuana providers. As a result, a lot of decent, hardworking people face prison sentences for nothing but having operated legitimate businesses in compliance with state laws. One such person, Matt Davies of California, faces 10 years for supplying medical marijuana. Here is Davies's wife Molly's heart-wrenching plea to the anti-pot president (h/t Reason):
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to you as a wife and mother of two young daughters, whose 34-year old husband, Matthew Davies, faces10 years or more in federal prison for providing medical marijuanato sick people in California, even though he complied with state law concerning medicinal cannabis. My questions to you are simple:
  • What has my husband done that would justify the federal government forcing my young daughters to grow up without a father?
  • How can your Administration ignore the will of the California people and prosecute this good, law-abiding man for doing exactly what state law permits?
Mr. President, my husband is not a criminal and shouldn't be treated like one. Matt is not a drug dealer or trafficker. He's not driving around in a fancy car and living in some plush mansion--trust me. My husband is a regular guy, and we're a regular, middle-class family. Yet even though Matt took great pains to follow state and local law, he is currently facing a severe prison sentence. This all seems so surreal.
Last month you told Barbara Walters that federal law enforcement authorities would not go after people in Colorado and Washington for marijuana-related crimes because it makes no sense for the government to "focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that's legal." You said that the federal government has "bigger fish to fry."
If that's true, why are federal prosecutors in Sacramento threatening my husband, Matt, with 10 years to life in federal prison for providing medical marijuana to California patients who are legally allowed to possess and use it? Matt did nothing illegal under our state and local laws. He has no criminal record. He is a hard-working family man and a loving, kind husband and father.
We are confused and absolutely terrified.
We'll see if the White House responds to this plea or just ignores it as it has ignored so many. Remember, often times, the casualties of the pharmaceutical industry-sponsored War on Drugs are innocent people with families.

Monday, January 14, 2013

"Recovery": 7,000 Apply For 200 Target Jobs In Albuquerque

"Recovery": 7,000 Apply For 200 Target Jobs In Albuquerque
Contradicting the government's (and the MSM's) narrative that the employment situation is improving in this country, Americans continue to apply by the thousands for menial jobs during hiring blitzes at national retail chains and service providers. The latest example of this phenomenon took place this past weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where 7,000 applied for 200 jobs at a Target job fair. From KOAT:
Thousands of people applied for 200 new jobs at Target over the last three days in Northeast Albuquerque.
KOAT Action 7 News went to Target's job fair at the Marriott Uptown every day and continued to find lines snaking around the building.
Candidates only have a one in 35 chance in getting a job, but many have said they're confident they can stand out from the pack...
The list of events similar to this is as long as it is depressing. Here are some highlights:

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ron Paul's Legacy And The Future Of The Liberty Movement

Ron Paul's Legacy And The Future Of The Liberty Movement
Reason's notes that, while the liberty movement currently has no figurehead, it does have a number of possible "heirs". To me, an "heir" to the movement is an oxymoron. I believe that true American liberty has grown from one man's vision into the nation's next manifest destiny. Indeed, the absence of a single "leader" or handful of "leaders" is in itself a revolutionary concept that's fitting (and healthy) for the movement in this stage of its development.

Anyway, here's what Doherty said. My commentary continues after the article:
Ron Paul is officially no longer a congressman. Gone from the Washington scene is his tendency to cast lone votes, his unique willingness to point out that government is inherently basedon violence. Paul will continue to be a public spokesman for liberty—about the only part of his job as congressman he liked anyway. 

He leaves behind a contested legacy. As Paul’s detractors will tediously point out, being one of 435 in Congress with views vastly different from your colleagues’ means you will neither pass many laws, nor prevent many laws from being passed, nor shape the ethos of the House. Paul did, though, succeed in shifting “Audit the Fed” from an issue no one knew or cared about to a bill that has passed the House twice.

Through his Republican presidential runs in 2008 and 2012, he conjured a large and dedicated army of libertarian activists and politicos where one hadn’t existed before, though we don’t know how many of the 2.1 million people who voted for him in GOP primaries in 2012 are as hardcore libertarian as Paul. Two thriving organizations, Campaign for Liberty and Young Americans forLiberty, arose from those campaigns and survive his congressional career.

But can lasting change within our sclerotic political system arise from a movement as insurrectionist and outside the mainstream as Paul’s? And will he have any heirs to keep what he started rolling? A vote total of 2.1 million is a surprisingly impressive number, to be sure, especially for such a harsh critic of empire, drug wars, and fiat money. But it still represents a decidedly losing portion of what was, nationally in 2012, a losing party.

What the Paul revolutionaries are trying to do, they insist, has been done before. They are trying to use a rowdy, young-skewing throng to force a major party to embrace ideas that seem fanatical to existing party hierarchies. Remember the Barry Goldwater kids in 1960, uniting fervently behind a strongly anti-government author of a best-selling book of popular political philosophy, freaking out the party powers with their youth and outsider enthusiasm? It’s impossible to read a history of the Goldwater movement without seeing how similar the Goldwater and Paul stories are—the anti-state energy, the mistrust and warring with the hidebound establishment, even the streaks of weird paranoia among some of the activists.

Goldwater and Paul were both legislators known more for sternly saying “no” than passing laws. Like Paulites today, the Goldwater movement in the Republican Party in 1960 was “experienced by the old regulars as if it were an alien invasion,” in the words of Rick Perlstein in his great history of the Goldwater movement, Before The Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of theAmerican Consensus. When Goldwaterites took over state parties, like in Nebraska, the old party regulars fought back to change rules to blunt their opponents’ victory. Both candidates lived off a huge number of small donations, cared more about being right than being president, and were blessed with masses of young, passionate volunteers willing to overturn their lives to knock on doors for their man in bitter cold. Both even saw their delegates involved in scuffles where cops got called at state conventions. And both, their admirers insisted, were leaders of a new American revolution to purify and revive the first one.

From 1960 to 1964, Goldwater morphed from dangerous joke to candidate. And his '64 defeat famously bore fruit in the form of Goldwater supporter Ronald Reagan's rise to world power 16 years later. It’s a story whose echoes sound encouragingly in the heads of many political operatives surrounding the Paul revolution.

A more recent development in the Republican Party—and a more cautionary tale for the future of Paulism—is the aftermath of Pat Robertson’s failed 1988 run. United in outsiderhood, Paul partisans such as Drew Ivers from his Iowa operation were often former Robertson supporters. Robertson advised his people to organize and try to take over the GOP from the grassroots. Thanks to Robertson’s campaign and its aftermath, the Republican Party of the past two decades has been influenced by the Religious Right more than their raw numbers might justify.

The fate of the Christian right reveals a trap the Paul movement must avoid, even as it emulates the Christian right's tactics of inhabiting the party from the bottom up—tactics that have given Paul forces significant control already of state parties in Iowa, Nevada, Alaska, Maine, Colorado, and Minnesota. For giving electoral fealty to the GOP without question, the religious right received little but lip service to its traditionalist ideas, and few actual achievements. The libertarian wing could easily see itself similarly neutered, voting for Romney manqués as far as the eye can see and getting in return just a contemptuous, “What are you going to do? Vote third party?”

Goldwater is not the only example of “radical outsider to candidate” in postwar American politics. While their ideology matches directly only on opposition to war, Paul’s style and success most emulates the Democratic Party’s antiwar challenger Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.) from 1968. McCarthy’s youth appeal, anti-war stance, intellectuality, and fights with the party establishment on the caucus and state convention level over delegates, all track Paul’s story closely.

Both were being trounced within their own party, yet polled strongly against or ahead of their presumptive other-party competitor in the general election. Both ran more as themselves than faithful or committed Party members; Paul never endorsed Romney, and McCarthy only endorsed Hubert Humphrey grudgingly in the last week before the election.

Lawsuits over proper delegation allocation were filed on behalf of both McCarthy and Paul. Both were supported by young zealots who were willing to tear down their existing party and build it anew. Both had unconventional, intellectual political styles, and were aware that what success they had came from decentralized efforts of fans more than their own official campaigns. Both saw their active campaigns fizzle in the summer without ever dropping out, and both felt it necessary to steel their supporters for disappointment by admitting they knew they couldn’t win before it was all over (though Paul did so much earlier). And both saw their campaigns as ultimately educational, and about creating a reform movement within their respective parties.

While McCarthy himself fizzled when he tried to run again in 1972, George McGovern’s winning ’72 campaign was in most respects the rise to power of Eugene McCarthyism: anti-war, anti-establishment, and opening up the Democratic Party’s rules and delegate selection in a more populist manner.

Historical analogies don’t prove further victories for Paulism are destined; just that we know it isn’t impossible for factions seen as small, outré, failed, and repudiated to quickly dominate a political party. If Paul’s general outlook has any validity, history is on his side. The problems he and his movement provide unique insights into and solutions for—overstrained fiscal and monetary policy, overreaching foreign and domestic mission—are not likely to disappear in the next decade unless a Paul-like solution is attempted.

But his ideas won’t march on in a vacuum; actual human individuals and groups need to further them. Various possible and presumptive heirs remain or are arising in Washington—including, most literally, his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Ron Paul had a very precise and detailed set of positions, attitudes, and strategies that no single remaining politician shares precisely. But it’s not just Rand Paul and second-term Paul fan Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) around now; an entire mini-caucus of people Paul explicitly endorsed (which he didn’t do a lot of) are currently in D.C., including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Reps. ThomasMassie (R-Ky.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) and Steve Stockman (R-Texas)
Most of them have already shown their insurrectionist stuff by feuding with House Speaker John Boehner, refusing to vote for his preferred fiscal cliff settlement, or for his continued speakerhood. The Paul-identifieds are just one faction of a larger bunch of new Republicans who Politico is calling the “Hell, No!” caucus. They are, Politico writes, “opposed to any new spending, willing to risk default to force spending cuts, dismissive of new gun laws and deeply skeptical about immigration reform…. Many in the media…often underestimate just how conservative and how impervious to criticism and leadership browbeating these members are when appraising the chances for change in the next two years.” The fact that such Paulite tendencies, at least when it comes to taxing and spending, stretch beyond his self-identified admirers is key to those tendencies sticking and thriving in the GOP.

Because, make no mistake, Paulism or even any kind of mild support for tougher, less compromising, more small-spending measures is under attack from the party and its media enablers (and even its media detractors). Amash was booted from his Budget Committee seat, and John Podhoretz in the New York Post characterized the mini-rebellion against Boehner as “cannibalism.” Michael Tomasky at Daily Beast considers them “vandals” and David Frum is appalled the Republican Party is so full of maniacs that it can’t get its members to vote for crappy bills that barely touch spending. With self-identified Tea Partiers shrinking and losing independence, there is room for a new dominant anti-establishment wing of the party, and Rand Paul and Justin Amash are well-positioned to lead it.

On the national level, a former Maine Paul delegate, a George Mason University law graduate and former U.S. Army Security and Intelligence Command man named Mark Willis, is running an insurgent campaign against Republican National Committee Chair Reince Preibus, vowingto repeal various rules passed at the Tampa convention last summer that centralize power over rules and delegates nationally. Willis vows to return power to the insurgent grassroots. But being from the Paul team does not necessarily mean one is a bomb-thrower in the party—former Paul Iowa campaign worker A.J. Spiker, who recently won re-election as Iowa’s state party chair (and is still dueling with the old guard), is sticking with Preibus.

The GOP is staggering, and proving itself incapable of meaningful change in the direction its core voters are supposed to care about. Some strong shift from Romney/Boehnerism is desperately needed, though some suggest instead a doubling down on the GOP’s social conservatism rather than flirting with libertarianism. Liberal journalist Peter Beinart has made a convincing case that a confused Republican Party will be primed for a convincing “political outsider” to dominate in 2016. With Ron Paul gone, few people of any political heft are more outside the general Washington attitudes about spending, taxing, and foreign policy than Rand Paul.

Ron Paul both embodied and inspired a no compromise libertarian radicalism, one that no one on the scene now fully embodies. Rand Paul upsets some of his dad’s foreign policy fans by seeming too solicitous of Israel on his trip there this week; Justin Amash admits he’d consider tax hikes as part of a serious entitlement cut deal; Kerry Bentivolio explicitly denies being a Paul guy—he’s a Reagan man. Thomas Massie told me in an interview in the forthcoming March Reason that he doesn’t want Ron Paul’s mantle.

Ron Paul is gone from American politics. But important aspects of Paulism—a willingness to seriously cut government spending and functions, an unwillingness to be a good party member at all costs, a willingness to rethink our foreign military and aid commitments and respect civil liberties—still have a scattering of staunch defenders, one of them also named Paul. And if federal irresponsibility on spending and debt continues as it seems it will, these radical solutions may start seeming sensible and necessary to more than just the 11 percent of the GOP primary voters who made Ron Paul a legend.
Clearly, the liberty movement faces pushback from "traditional" conservatives fighting to retain power and maintain the status quo. Dr. Paul's delegates and supporters were treated like second-class citizens in the 2012 GOP primaries, and, now that liberty-minded people are starting to change the face of the GOP, some old-guard conservatives are crying about a "fracture" developing in the party. Indeed, there is a fracture developing. The GOP isn't a monolithic party of Big Government, neoconservatism, and social conservatism any more. The development of a fracture might cost the party national elections in the short-term, but the leaderless liberty side of the fracture grows while the other side shrinks. It may take a generation, but mark my words: the liberty movement and the GOP will eventually be one and the same. That eventuality just makes sense. And, eventually, the nation's next manifest destiny will come to pass. The liberty movement will eventually transform America into the Land of the Free it's supposed to be.