Archive for the ‘Constitutional Rights’ Category

Speech at the Maryland Tax Day Tea Party

Friday, April 16th, 2010

I recently spoke at the 2010 Maryland Tax Day Tea Party in Stevensville. Here are the links and the text of the speech:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Text of Speech:

You know, theres a Chinese proverb that says that there are three curses, each one worse than the previous. The first of these curses is: “May you live in interesting times.” Well, the times we live in are certainly interesting.

We stand here today at a transformative moment in American history at the front lines of what can only be called a revolution in thought. We are here today, like hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans in cities all across the country to exercise our basic right as citizens, as a free people in a democratic republic. We stand here today, peaceably assembled, petitioning our government for redress of our grievances. And we are here to tell our government one thing: STOP.

We stand here today with a crisis of creativity in our country. We look around and see problem after problem: Poverty. Millions unable to get health care. People out of work. Its easy for all of us, no matter what our political views may be, to agree on what the problems are.

But though we all see these problems, for too long, we have seen just one solution let the government do it. Its their job. Its their responsibility.

Well, the second Chinese curse is this: May you come to the attention of those in authority.

Well, let me tell you, weve definitely been getting attention from those in power.

We are citizens today living under a government that doesn’t represent us its people. And we have made the decision, together, that we can no longer refuse to take action. And for that, we are drawing much attention.

But when I say people, I should be clear, because I don’t just mean us here today, or our friends across the country. I mean all Americans, regardless of whether or not theyre a part of the tea party movement. For years, no matter the Administration, no matter which party controlled Congress, no matter who we elected, none of us has been represented by our government.

And why should anyone care? Why should anyone have bothered to pay attention to what we wanted? Why pay attention when we largely refused to take action when we continued to let elected officials get away with whatever they wanted? We have congressional approval ratings in the teens and twenties, and yet re-election rates are in the 90s, and thats unacceptable.

You know, thirty-two years ago, something remarkable happened in the state of California. In 1978, Californians stood up passed Proposition 13 overwhelmingly a law hated so strongly by the political class, because it of all things made it more difficult for politicians to raise taxes.

But thats not why Prop 13 was important. No, it was important for what it started for what it signified. 43 states followed by passing some form of a tax limitation. In the late 70s, Americans realized that theyd been taxed too much for too long, and that it was time to do something about it.

But today the problem we face the problem that is drawing us attention is not our dislike of taxes. It is our solemn and firm rejection of completely out-of-control spending by politicians.

You know, to go off on a tangent for a second, Rodney Dangerfield once had a great line in Back to School that said, Youve always got to look out for #1, because if you dont, youll end up stepping in #2.

Well, pardon the analogy, but for too long, our elected officials have not been looking out for us for the citizens who should be #1. And worst of all, they havent just mistakenly stepped in some #2 theyve thrown us into a $16 trillion dollar pile of it.

And that brings me to the third Chinese curse: May you find what you are looking for.

For too long, those who wanted big runaway government have gotten what they wanted.

We have a Democratically-controlled Congress this year that passed a new trillion dollar health care entitlement, all the while ignoring overwhelming public opposition.

But why should we be shocked when just 7 years ago, a Republican-controlled Congress passed a new half-trillion prescription drug plan that nobody wanted?

We have a Congress today that raises the federal debt ceiling whenever it bumps up against that ceiling.

But why should we be taken aback considering that Republicans raised that ceiling again and again when it was politically convenient to do so?

Its pretty sad when those in Congress dont even know what the word ceiling means, isnt it?

We have President Obama borrowing, printing and spending more than any president in history, in the supposed name of job creation.

But why should we be surprised when his Republican predecessor did the exact same thing?

We have a president now who wastes trillions of dollars overseas in multiple endless wars, sacrificing American lives, destroying our civil liberties at home, and shredding our Constitution into millions of tiny bits.

But why should we be surprised to see him merely continuing and expanding the policies initiated by George Bush?

And then, of course, we have the worst example of all an example of government so out of control an example so galling that it deserves special scorn, all its own.

And this time Im talking about the bailouts.

A tag-team effort, foisted upon us by our last two presidents, a scheme that took hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, ignored the public outcry of those taxpayers, and then handed that money to the well-connected friends of unelected treasury secretaries and government officials, so that Wall Street millionaire bankers could keep making campaign contributions to both parties.

The truth is, we only really have one party with two competing factions: the spend money over here party, and the spend money over there party.

But what we realize today is that low taxes are not enough. Low taxes mean nothing if we don’t reduce spending as well. And fortunately for our future generations, more and more Americans are realizing this as well.

Theyre realizing that the reckless spending of taxpayer money our money is just the beginning. Our government hasnt just been eroding away our pocketbooks, but also the basic liberties that have for so long characterized our free society.

But we cannot we must not — let lawmakers keep grabbing this power the power to solve problems that they themselves created.

This may come as a surprise to some in Washington, but you know, you cant run massive government programs like Medicare and Medicaid and the FDA and the medical boards, and many, many others and then say the free market doesn’t work in health care, so we’ll run it, instead.

You can’t put up roadblocks to interstate competition between insurance companies and then say we need a government option because insurers don’t have enough competition.

You can’t have the Fed and the Treasury and the SEC and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the FDIC and then say we need to regulate financial instruments because the free market is failing.

No. We live in a world where the easiest way for a federal agency to get more funding is to fail at what it does, and the easiest way for Congress and the President to grab more power is to create a problem. This has got to stop, and its got to stop now.

Because if it doesnt stop, then as the Chinese curse suggests, well find what were looking for.

So the next time theres a Democrat who wants to spend money on a new health insurance bureaucracy, or a Republican who wants to spend on a new prescription drug entitlement, or a Democrat who wants to spend money on a supposed peace-keeping mission in Somalia, or a Republican who wants to spend money on war in Iraq no matter what it is, and no matter how much you think it might be a good idea you, me, all of us need to ask the question: Where is this money coming from?

Do I want to be taxed more to pay for this? Do I want the national debt to explode from more borrowing to pay for this? Do I want the Treasury and Federal Reserve to print more money to pay for this?

Or do I want to live my life, with as small a government as possible a government that doesnt threaten to bankrupt our finances or crush our currency. A government that doesnt have the power to run roughshod over the freedoms that we value so much.

We cannot let these bad policies be ignored anymore. Every time we let the government reach into yet another part of our lives, there’s only less freedom left for us.

So do not let public debate be drowned out by those who shout obstructionist! every time someone opposes your ideas. Those of us opposed to bad laws arent obstructionists. We are citizens, with ideas we care passionately about.

And we demand to be free and responsible for ourselves. We don’t want handouts; we don’t want special advantages, whether those are farm subsidies or social safety nets.

We want a government that acts in accordance with the people, not in defiance of them. A government that does not trod about on our basic liberties, the economy, or our livelihood.

We must make runaway government spending a political curse on those who support it, before it becomes a curse on us financially. We must make our will known; we must ensure that our demand for a government of the people, by the people, for the people remains forever a reality and not just an idea.

Cuccinelli and Drunk Driving Laws

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Drunk driving laws don’t often come up as a campaign issue, but when they do my reaction isn’t always what the person who brings them up in a campaign usually intends. DUI law in our country is chock full of gross violations of Constitutional rights, so I find myself impulsively sympathetic to the candidate accused of being ”weak on drunk driving.”

This is because being “weak on drunk driving” inevitably refers to an apparent unwillingness to further demolish the rights of citizens who might be accused of drunk driving.

This is playing out in Virginia where Republican Attorney General candidate Ken Cuccinelli is being attacked by his Democratic opponent for “consistently voted against tougher penalties for drunk drivers.” I’m sure I disagree with Cuccinelli on some issues, but if he has consistently opposed new DUI laws then he’s to be applauded.

I could write an entire essay about how DUI laws violate the Constitution, but that essay has already been written by DUI lawyer Lawrence Taylor. In “The DUI Exception to the Constitution” Taylor explains how nearly every Constitutional protection designed to protect the rights of the accused, most notably the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, has been utterly destroyed by the way our criminal justice system pursues the legitimate goal of prosecuting dangerous drunk driving.

In other words, if for no other reason than having “consistently voted against tougher penalties for drunk drivers” consider me pro-Cuccinelli.

Sotomayor & The Police

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Given that Sotomayor was nominated by Barack Obama, I never had high hopes that she’d be good on federalism, guns, economic regulation, labor issues, property rights or the rest of the issues that I agree with the Court “conservatives” on. I did, however, hope that she’d be at least good on the things that “liberals” are supposed to be good on: civil liberties, torture, and police abuse.

This article doesn’t give me much hope that she’ll be at least good on those issues.  

As the article explains, in Jocks v. Tavernier Sotomayor convinced two skeptical judges to join her in throwing out a verdict where a jury found that Jocks had been wrongfully arrested by an off duty cop. The crux of the issue is that Sotomayor convinced her fellow judges to overrule the jury and believe the story of the off-duty cop, after the jury had effectively rejected his story by ruling for the plaintiff.

It seems Sotomayor’s “empathy” doesn’t include the victim of police abuse, who managed to convince a jury of his peers that that he was wrongfully arrested.

How They Steal Your Rights

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Over at StogieGuys.com, I wrote the following column about how nanny-staters chip away at our rights.

It’s the perfect example getting the camels nose under the tent. In other words, they set the precedent for taking away our rights, then, before you know it, they expand a seeming narrow violation of our freedom and use it to take away an entire area of our liberties.

Here’s the entire article:

Make no mistake, the well-funded, well-connected professional activists who oppose tobacco are far from sensible people looking to place so-called “reasonable restrictions” on tobacco. The truth is, almost all are deceitful opportunists who won’t stop until tobacco is taxed or regulated out of existence (or at least pushed completely into an underground black market).

These anti-tobacco zealots are too smart to ever admit their ultimate goal in public, even though occasionally they let their secret slip. Instead, they twist science to deceptively present themselves as reflective, thoughtful advocates who just happen to continuously find “problems” in need of “solutions,” which always amount to more tobacco taxes, more regulations, and more expansive smoking bans.

Recently, these incremental steps towards tobacco prohibition have often been presented as closing loopholes, leveling the playing field, or combating problems seemingly unrelated to smoking. It seems the anti-tobacco crowd has taken to heart the lesson of the boiling frog, which goes something like this: If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he’ll jump out. But if you place the frog into a pot of lukewarm water and slowly turn up the heat, it will boil to death.

I suspect they realize that if they are forthright about their ultimate goal of prohibition, they know they would lose credibility and could even unleash a backlash, as those whose freedom of choice they seek to limit would rally to defend their right to enjoy tobacco. However, if the steps towards total prohibition are small enough, like the frog, we won’t act until it is too late.

Three examples show how the tobacco banners present more regulation, taxation, and smoking bans as merely fixes to “loopholes” or “problems” in existing laws:

Congress Takes on Mail-Order Tobacco Sales

This week, Congress is debating a ban on mail-order cigarette sales. It seems that many states are losing revenue as consumers seek to avoid punitive cigarette taxes. Instead of buying a pack of cigarettes for $10 in New York City, they are ordering them through the mail for less than half the price.

Never mind that it’s the excessively high taxes that are forcing people to look for less expensive ways to get tobacco. The anti-smokers say the solution isn’t to re-examine the taxes that created this pseudo-black market, but to create more restrictions and make the postal service, and companies like Fed-Ex, police the contents of every package shipped over state lines. At least so far, the regulation only affects cigarettes, but that’s just another “loophole” waiting to be closed.

Anti-Smokers Say Nebraska Smoking Ban ‘Unfair’

Meanwhile, in Nebraska, after a battle to ban smoking in all restaurants and bars, a deal was eventually struck that would ban smoking everywhere except cigar bars where cigars and pipes would be allowed, but not cigarettes. But the anti-tobacco zealots at the American Cancer Society thought even that most limited exemption was a problem, and they even found novel way to suggest that it was unconstitutional.

According to their tortured reasoning, the ban was an unfair benefit to cigar bars. It seems after banning smoking in all these restaurants and bars, they suddenly claimed to be concerned with the competitive disadvantage that the ban’s victims were put in. Naturally, the “solution” they were seeking—which fortunately wasrejected by the Nebraska Attorney General—was to extend the ban to include cigar bars.

San Francisco Pushes Butt Tax

As reported by the New York Times yesterday, San Francisco’s mayor is pushing a tax increase on cigarettes. (No word yet on any effect on cigars.) His reasoning? Smokers, who have been forced out of bars by city and state smoking bans, were creating litter by leaving their cigarettes in the street.

Citing the cost of cleaning up the cigarette butts, Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to increase the cigarette tax. Obviously, the idea of allowing smoking back into bars where staff can clean up butts and provide smokers with ashtrays isn’t being considered. Instead, the “solution” is to raise taxes further.

In all three situations, the “problems” were created when freedoms were limited by policies advocated by the anti-tobacco crowd. Yet somehow the solutions are always more anti-free choice policies.

It has become quite clear that we smokers are becoming the frog, standing idly by as our freedom to smoke is stolen from us one degree at a time. My fear is if we don’t start fighting back soon, it will be too late and our freedoms will have evaporated completely.

CNN: Ron Paul on Texas Secession, Bailouts

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

A History Lesson From A 4 Yr. Old

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

This video comes to us from Citizens in Charge Foundation, a Virginia-based group that defends citizens’ right to petition their government.

Also check out this rousing speech given by Paul Jacob, long-time libertarian activist and Citizens in Charge Foundation president, when he recently accepted the Charlton Heston “Courage Under Fire” Award.

Wikipedia has information regarding Paul’s resistance of the draft and his friendship with Ron Paul. Ron Paul’s endorsement of Citizens in Charge Foundation can be found here.

Is the Bailout Bill Constitutional?

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Here’s a question you’re not supposed to ask:

Wall Street Strip

Is Paulson’s bailout bill unconstitutional?


Henry Paulson. Click image to expand.Does the Constitution have any role in the intense debate and blowback surrounding Secretary Henry Paulson’s $700 billion bailout proposal? There is nothing in our founding document that prohibits taxing Peter (us) to pay Paul (Wall Street). There are constitutional principles, however, that speak to values such as oversight and transparency. Our system of checks and balances abhors a blank check.

And yet Secretary Paulson’s proposal contains a sweeping provision that utterly strips the courts of any power to review his decisions. Section 8 of the Paulson proposal reads: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”

read the whole thing here.

I do have a quibble with this statement: “There is nothing in our founding document that prohibits taxing Peter (us) to pay Paul (Wall Street).”

I think a fair reading of the “General Welfare Clause” based on the intent of the Founders would prohibit taxing Peter to pay Paul. But I’ll conceded that unfortunately our Courts and politicians no longer hold the General Welfare Clause to be a limitation on government, but rather see it as the justification for unconstrained powers.

George Will: McCain is an Angry Old Man

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Today’s Washington Post contains a must read from George Will. here’s the key passage:

The political left always aims to expand the permeation of economic life by politics. Today, the efficient means to that end is government control of capital. So, is not McCain’s party now conducting the most leftist administration in American history? The New Deal never acted so precipitously on such a scale. Treasury Secretary Paulson, asked about conservative complaints that his rescue program amounts to socialism, said, essentially: This is not socialism, this is necessary. That non sequitur might be politically necessary, but remember that government control of capital is government control of capitalism. Does McCain have qualms about this, or only quarrels?

On “60 Minutes” Sunday evening, McCain, saying “this may sound a little unusual,” said that he would like to replace Cox with Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic attorney general of New York who is the son of former governor Mario Cuomo. McCain explained that Cuomo has “respect” and “prestige” and could “lend some bipartisanship.” Conservatives have been warned.

Will then goes on to note what I too have observed that the case for McCain often relies on him being better on judges:

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

But temperament aside, claims about superior judge picks are still suspect.

Here Brad Smith (a victim of McCain’s notorious temper himself) explains why the McCain-Finegold free speech law doesn’t project “conservative” justices:

McCain is likely to make support for McCain-Feingold - an issue he has said is “of transcendent importance” to him - a litmus test for judges. It is very hard, however, to find judicial candidates who think McCain-Feingold is constitutional yet who are also are anti-Roe v. Wade and generally respectful of the Constitution. For anyone with a coherent judicial philosophy of federalism and limited government, the two just don’t go together. When McCain says he wants to appoint justices like Thomas and Scalia, we must consider that Thomas and Scalia would overrule all of McCain-Feingold, indeed all pre-existing campaign finance law except perhaps some disclosure. It is almost impossible to believe that Senator McCain would appoint Thomas or Scalia to the bench, let alone the Supreme Court.

In fact every indication is that had Justices Alito and Roberts been on the court when McCain-Finegold was decided they too would have been against it, meaning they too would have failed a litmus test on McCain’s issue of “of transcendent importance.”

McCain supporters may reply that campaign finance regulation is a dead issue, but McCain’s own actions suggest that this is not the case. After all, as recently as this Spring McCain says he doesn’t regret refusing to shake Bradley Smith’s hand at a Congressional hearing in 2004.

Leaving us to believe that he still stands by his name calling of Smith, when the Senator said: “You’re a bully and a coward. You have no regard for the Constitution. ” (Apparently consistently opposing campaign finance regulations on free speech grounds means one has “no regard for the Constitution.”)

Such a comment makes the incident with Smith a perfect example of the convergence the two issues: (1) the poor prospects for solidly conservative judicial selections by McCain, and (2) his notorious temper.