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Posts Tagged ‘Justin Amash’

After Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster over the use of drones to kill American citizens, Senator John McCain responded by calling him and several other legislators “wacko birds“.  In answer, Representative Justin Amash offered an amusing response on Twitter, which reads:

Amash TweetAs you may know, while Senator Paul and other supporters of liberty launched this filibuster, Senator McCain and others in the establishment crowd were absent from the fight, instead enjoying dinner with President Obama.

I’ll applaud the efforts of any legislator who is willing to stand up for our civil liberties against the ever-expanding encroachment of the federal government.  However, even though it is several days old, to offer such a witty reply, as Rep. Amash has done, cannot pass without mention on this blog.

Now I’m sure some politicians (like Senators McCain and Graham) would like nothing more than for the liberty wing of the Republican Party to shut up and go away.  I’m just glad that there are folks like Rep. Amash and Sen. Paul in Washington who are able to lead with both principles and humor.

You call join me in following Rep. Amash on Twitter here.

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On February 15th, 16th, and 17th, Students for Liberty hosted the 6th Annual International Students for Liberty Conference, also known as the ISFLC.  I attended this event along with three students from Madison Liberty: fellow blogger Helen Shibut, Nick Farrar, and Reid Walker.

Rather than list every single event, person, and organization associated with this conference, which could take about as long as the conference itself, this article will highlight some of the more interesting and unusual aspects.

Party Milk
Dorian Electra

Friday kicked off with a rather bizarre performance called Party Milk by Dorian Electra.  Apparently, Students for Liberty awarded Ms. Electra a fellowship several years ago, but it was difficult to discern what connection, if any, the song has with the promotion of liberty.

John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, was the featured speaker that evening.  He spoke about the morality and history of the free market, and his new book on the topic, Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.

Saturday was easily the most jammed packed of the three days.  It featured six informational sessions where attendees could choose to learn about a wide variety of topics from a considerable range of speakers and organizations.

I first selected “The Teachings of Chairman Jim: The ‘Nuts and Bolts’ of Building a Libertarian Campus Organization” which was presented by Dr. Jim Lark, a professor at the University of Virginia and Chairman of the Libertarian Party from 2000 to 2002.  In this talk, Dr. Lark discussed, as indicated from the title, many of the challenges associated with both the creation and maintenance of a liberty group on college campuses.  Given that this topic would be vitally helpful to just about every student at ISFLC, it was a bit disappointing to find that more of them did not take advantage of this discussion.

IMG_1718
Jack Hunter

Second on the docket was “Why Conservatism is Worthless Without Libertarianism” by Jack Hunter.  Readers of this blog may recall that I first met Mr. Hunter while I worked for the 2007/08 Ron Paul campaign in South Carolina.  For those who don’t know, his work, first written under the moniker The Southern Avenger, was exceedingly inspirational to me and was one of the key factors that ultimately led to the creation of this blog in mid 2008.  He spoke at some length regarding the ideals and importance of constitutional conservatism as well as the damage done to both the Republican Party and the conservative movement by faux conservatives like Rick Santorum and Senator Lindsey Graham.

From there, I attended a taping of the Stossel Show.  Below is a short, introductory clip of this soon-to-be aired episode.

After lunch, I took considerable time to wander among the tables of the various libertarian organizations, speaking to a whole host of folks including: The American Conservative, Americans for Self Government, the Free State Project, and the Libertarian Party.  During this exploration, a man at one of the tables offered me a chance to drink raw milk.  Given that I had never had such an opportunity before, I accepted.  Worry not skeptics, so far I have not suffered any ill effects from this adventure.

Representative Justin Amash
Representative Justin Amash

Later, Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) chatted about “The Future of Liberty”.  The room where he spoke was filled well beyond capacity and some attendees had to listen from the hallway.  Although the representative did not spend too much time contemplating on the future, he did offer a number of unique insights of his service in Congress, such as his adherence to a political ideology when most of his colleagues simply bowed to the will of the party leadership.

After dinner, the Stossel Show filmed another episode, this one tailored for a much larger studio audience.  Over a period of a little more than an hour and a half, Stossel featured guests such as Gary Johnson, Dennis Kucinich, and Ann Coulter.

Ann Coulter & John Stossel
Ann Coulter & John Stossel

When he brought up his last interviewee, former U.S. United Nations ambassador John Bolton, a good portion of the crowd left in protest.  Mr. Bolton then spoke of his support of drone strikes, a position adamantly opposed by a vast majority of libertarians.

Jackie Bodner & Julie Borowski
Jackie Bodner & Julie Borowski

Sunday began at 10 AM with “How Libertarians Can Combat the Mainstream Media” with Jackie Bodner and Julie Borowski, also known as the Token Libertarian Girl.  They offered advice on ways to make an impact with local and college news sources, tips on the creation of a successful blog, and ways to connect with other like-minded thinkers.

Although I could write additional pages about ISFLC, I believe that I’ve offered you some of the more interesting tidbits.  It was surprising that Campaign for Liberty was absent and a bit disappointing that no Republican group was present, especially the Republican Liberty Caucus.  Nevertheless, given that Students for Liberty brought together over a thousand students and activists from across the globe to network, hear from dozens of knowledgeable speakers, and learn about a multitude of important topics, I would rate the event as highly worthwhile. 

Schedule permitting, I look forward to seeing you at ISFLC 2014!

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Do you believe that the greatness of our country was founded upon the principles of a limited and constitutional government, personal responsibility, and the free market?  Do you sometimes think that the Republican Party and the nation as a whole have lost their way?  And does your adherence to these principles of liberty ever make you feel like a political outcast?  Well, if you answered yes to any of these questions and live in or around the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I have some good news for you!

On September 16th, the Republican Liberty Caucus of the Shenandoah Valley will be holding a meeting in Staunton.

Although some of you may not know of the Republican Liberty Caucus, you are, no doubt, familiar with some of the leaders that they have endorsed.  Here is a short list:  2012 Senate candidate Ted Cruz of Texas, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, and Representative Ron Paul of Texas.  I think you will agree that each of these individuals are some of the best leaders that this nation has to offer, statesmen who promote the values of limited government conservatism and liberty.

As mention earlier, starting at 4 PM on September 16th, the Republican Liberty Caucus of the Shenandoah Valley will be gathering.  It will take place at Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant in Staunton, Virginia, just off of the 222 exit on Interstate 81.  Although the guest list is still tentative, it is confirmed that Robert Kenyon, the chairman of the Virginia Republican Liberty Caucus, will be there.

So, no matter where you happen to live in the Shenandoah Valley, or even if you reside just outside the area, I hope that you can join us in September as we seek to build a coalition of like-minded activists.  Please RSVP on the Facebook page so that we reserve enough space for all.

Working together, we can reclaim our party, restrain our government, and restore our nation.

See you on the 16th!

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Photo thanks to RonPaul.com

There is no doubt in my mind that Representative Ron Paul is currently the most important figure in the liberty movement today.  His actions over the last several years have awakened a multitude of activists and cured the apathy of countless others.  However, we must keep in mind that it is likely that Ron Paul’s spotlight will diminish once his current House of Representatives term expires next year.

It’s time for a bit of history.  For those who don’t recall, late 2006-2007 was a bleak time for many conservatives.  The Democratic Party captured both the House and the Senate, establishing the Pelosi/Reid era in Congress.  Although a Republican still sat in the White House, it became increasing apparent that George W. Bush had little desire for promoting conservative principles like a constitutionally limited government, rolling back the size and scope of federal agencies and departments, and reducing the ever inflating national debt.  It seemed as if many of my fellow conservatives turned a blind eye toward many odious policies, even though they ran contrary to our principles, simply because a Republican leader promoted them.  Many of the same conservatives who once opposed the military adventures of President Bill Clinton now applauded Bush for an even more aggressive policy of nation building.  In short, principle had taken a back seat to party.

As for myself, I was feeling pretty depressed about the direction of my party and the state of politics in America in general.  Early 2007 found me in Tennessee, working a three-month contract with Students for Life of America, a pro-life organization based in Northern Virginia.  Promoting important causes, like the pro-life issue, allowed me to advanced my principles, even when it seemed as if my party had lost its way.

After this position ended, I considered returning to campaign work.  In 2006, I was employed by the Republican Party of Virginia.  Prior to that time, I had volunteered on many campaigns and so I felt as if I had a pretty good understanding of the ins and outs of campaigning.  I had never worked on a presidential campaign and considered it to be a logical conclusion to my time in the field.  But who was the best choice?  Who was the candidate who best advocated my principles, the values of a liberty-minded conservative?

Based upon familiarity, I first considered former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.  But I quickly found a few key areas of policy disagreement.  Next on the list came pro-life favorite Senator Brownback of Kansas.  But again, he was less than ideal.  Well-known politicians like Mitt Romney, John McCain, or Rudy Giuliani, didn’t seem like very good choices either.

Digging deeper into the field I came across Representative Ron Paul.  I must confess that I didn’t know too much about him at that time.  Given the fairly establishment circles in which I ran, I believed what I was told, that Dr. No was little more than a cantankerous old man from Texas who didn’t get along with most of his fellow Republicans.  But the more that I read about him, the more I realized that he represented just what my party needed and my principles demanded.  He fought against the expansion of the federal government and sought to shrink it, he cherished the Constitution and the rule of law, he was a voice for the unborn, and opposed installing leaders of other nations and meddling in their domestic affairs.

These were some of my thoughts before Paul.  You may find it odd that I use the term “before Paul” given that he has been in elected office since the mid 1970’s.  But let me explain.  Although it is true that Ron Paul has been involved in politics since before many of us were born, his greatest impact in the national political dialogue began with his 2007/2008 run for the GOP nod for president.  This primary catapulted him to the forefront of the liberty movement and established a near cult-like following among some of the faithful.

But now, after five years, we are faced with the grim reality of a movement without Paul.  After all, he is not running for re-election to the House of Representatives in November and, unfortunately, will not be the Republican nominee for president.  I won’t say that I know his plans, he could host a talk show or be a regular on Fox News like Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin, but I expect that his role will diminish as the years pass.

I wish I could say that the movement has transcended national leaders, that a sufficient portion of the population is educated and energized to take back their country from the statists who have led us down this troubled path.  I wish I could also say that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were the GOP leaders who fully embraced our philosophy, but neither statement would be true.

Fortunately, there are other leaders in Congress, leaders like Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, Representative Scott Garrett of New Jersey, or Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina who have been fighting the good fight for liberty.  The best well known, Senator Rand Paul, has also drawn a good bit of flak, tarnishing him in the eyes of some Ron Paul supporters for endorsing Mitt Romney recently.  I won’t go into that argument again, but you can find my thoughts here.

I suppose my take home point here is that there has been a time before Ron Paul was there to share his wisdom, inspiration, and leadership.  Whether it happens today, tomorrow, next year, or fifty years from now, there will come a time when Ron Paul is no longer with us.  Therefore, although Ron Paul is currently an important force and should be remembered and honored as such, for the sake of the future of the movement, we must become something more than a cult of personality based around Dr. Paul.  When he leaves us, we cannot allow ourselves to be lost in the wilderness once more, waiting for the next great leader to serve as our guide.

The future belongs to all of us.  Ron Paul has made his mark and, God-willing, he will continue to do so for a long time to come.  But, like Barry Goldwater before him, the time of Ron Paul is coming to a close. So what will you accomplish to further the ideals of liberty in this great nation of ours?

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Like many folks, I too support the idea of a balanced budget.  The federal government must get its finances in order to prevent the country from spiraling deeper into debt.  Every state government except the socialist-leaning Vermont requires a balanced budget, so why should D.C. be any different?  My Representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6), is working hard to pass a balanced budget amendment.  Currently, he is promoting two differing versions and you can listen to his commentary on this issue here:

This morning on Facebook, Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) offered a few of his concerns regarding the specifics of the proposal:

I appreciate the efforts of leadership and Rep. Bob Goodlatte to improve the version of the balanced budget amendment coming to the House floor. However, I still have serious concerns about how this BBA will function if ratified.

First, its design will cause big spikes and dips in the federal budget, which means it doesn’t sufficiently protect against sudden, dramatic tax hikes and doesn’t lend itself to long-term policy making. This BBA would not permit multi-year averaging of revenues to smooth out the curve, not even through separate implementing legislation.

Second, it allows a simple majority (of the whole) to authorize unlimited deficit spending whenever the country is in a military conflict. Fortunately, the revised version limits deficit spending to the extent required for the specific military conflict.

Third, the balance requirement takes effect five years after ratification, with no gradual phase-in. The way Congress works, it’s unlikely that serious efforts at spending reform will occur until the last minute. With the balance requirement looming, Members of Congress will feel immense pressure simply to raise taxes (massively) to avoid violating the Constitution, or, perhaps more likely, the BBA will be ignored.

Amending the Constitution is a serious matter with monumental implications. I support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, but it’s critical that we do this the right way and not just to make a political statement.

My biggest concern is point number two that Amash raises.  Given that this nation has more or less been in constant military conflict for the last decade, can’t Congress easily ignore the principles of this balanced budget amendment?  And if the answer were yes, would a balanced budget amendment serve much of a purpose at all?

We need to stop spending our future, our children’s future, and yes, even our grandchildren’s future.  America must have a balanced budget amendment for it is abundantly clear that if given a blank check, Washington will spend and borrow like there is no tomorrow.  I just want to make sure that if we manage to pass a BBA, it has sufficient teeth to properly restrain those in power.

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Is anyone else troubled by the recent developments regarding Libya?  Now I’m not talking about the clashes between pro-Gaddafi forces and the rebels who seek to overthrow him.  I assume we can agree that Gaddafi is an unjust despot, as are many of the leaders of non-democratic countries around the world.  We can freely disagree concerning whether or not the U.S. should intervene in this conflict.

Instead, the most disturbing element of current events was President Obama’s unilateral decision to launch a military strike against the nation.  Be they no-fly zones, missile attacks, or a ground force invasion, any violation of Libyan sovereign territory puts us at war with the nation.  However, according our Constitution, if you read Article One, Section Eight, only Congress has the power to declare war.  Did Obama seek and was he granted such authorization? No.

On this topic, I present to you today’s (March 21, 2011) thoughts of Democrat Dennis Kucinich (OH-10).

Isn’t President Obama’s actions a clear violation of the Constitution?  Now some people erroneously believe that the War Powers Resolution supercedes the Constitution and transfers this authority to declare war away from the Congress and to the President.   Although I don’t believe the War Powers Resolution is constitutional, that issue is a matter for another day.  To be clear, assuming the War Powers Resolution is valid, it reads:

The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to
(1) a declaration of war,
(2) specific statutory authorization, or
(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
So was there a declaration of war?  No.  Was there a specific statutory authorization?  Not that I can find.  How about a national emergency?  With Gaddafi desperately struggling to control his own nation, I sincerely doubt anyone can make the claim that he currently possesses either the will or the military forces necessary to pose any sort of threat to our country.

Now I want you to compare Kucinich’s words to Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (VA-7) from Hardball on February 8, 2007.

Scary isn’t it?  I certainly hope that Representative Cantor has changed his opinion in the four years since this recording.  Unfortunately his website and blog are silent on these recent developments.  Granting one man the ability to declare war without any real oversight or approval marches the nation toward the spectre of endless conflict and a totalitarian state.

At the end of the day, whichever party happens to be in power, they all must obey the Constitution.  Clearly with this action in Libya, Obama has grossly overstepped his authority.  I would not support an executively created war whether it happens under a Republican or a Democrat.  You know what is destroying this country?  This event serves as a prime example. Outside the rule of law we have given one man far too much power.  And what we do not give him willingly, he takes in the name of our own best interest, in our supposed national security, or for international peacekeeping efforts.

We must not look at this matter through the lens of whether you support or oppose the use of military force in Libya.  After all, history may judge this intervention to be a great idea or a horrid mistake.  Nevertheless, it is clear that our President has blatantly disregarded our Constitution.

You may already realize that this matter is not a partisan issue but one where pitting those who defend our laws against those who ignore them.  As Republican Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) wrote on Sunday:

It’s not enough for the President simply to explain military actions in Libya to the American people, after the fact, as though we are serfs. When there is no imminent threat to our country, he cannot launch strikes without authorization from the American people, through our elected Representatives in Congress. No United Nations resolution or congressional act permits the President to circumvent the Constitution.

Perhaps you remember the words of Democrat Rep. Steve Israel (NY-2) in which he stated in the second video, “Congress has a constitutional responsibility to decide whether we are going to war or not.”

So what will be the end result of this affair?  Looking back, will this moment be the defining time in which Congress stands up for the Constitution and rule of law or will it surrender to the executive branch?  Do you want to know why our country is heading toward oblivion?  You need look no further than Obama’s response in Libya.

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