Robin Koerner's blog
The American Liberty movement is no longer nascent. Its mainstreaming is under way, as evidenced by this article in the New York Times - the paper that (almost) defines the American mainstream - about the impact of liberty-focused activists on the ("mainstream") Republican party, as reflected at CPAC last week.
Both culturally and politically, libertarianism is on the rise.
At its simplest, it is a philosophy that asserts the simple principle that we are all free to live our lives as we please inasmuch as we do not limit the freedom of others to do the same. It recognizes that we all have different backgrounds, desires and ambitions, and different metrics and systems for judging the behaviors and choices of ourselves and others.
Since it rests on the notion that one human being cannot know what is best for another - or at least cannot know it better than the other person, himself - it is an essentially humble philosophy in disposition and an essentially tolerant philosophy in prescription. Indeed, tolerance, manifest as lack of aggression, is just about its only hard-and-fast prescription.
This year marks the 1,000th anniversary of political liberty. When the United States began, the tradition in which it was founded was already 762 years old.
As I wrote recently in celebration of this magnificent anniversary, those who would protect freedom in our country badly scupper themselves by their ignorance of history, and there is perhaps no greater obstacle to our understanding of the history that matters than our founding myth.
America was born as a liberty-protecting Republic in opposition to a tyrannical monarchy, so the story goes. While more and more Americans are (thankfully) beginning to see the myriad travesties against our liberty that are being performed by our governing elite as threatening our very identity as a nation that exists to defend natural, unalienable and individual rights, we are all doing very much less well at seeing quite how deeply the founding purpose of our country has been subverted.
Because we "know" that not only are we not a monarchy Constitutionally, but also that our very existence is owed to its denial as a morally decadent institution, we cannot possibly admit the truth about what we have let our country become: America is now a monarchy.
Monarchy has a simple meaning - the "rule of one". As Alexander Hamilton correctly said, "'monarch' is an indefinite term. It marks not either the degree or duration of power". The fact that our king is elected for four years, then, does not change his status as a monarch.
In America today, the President can sign executive orders such as E.O. 13603, on "National Defense Resources Preparedness", in which he claims the right to revoke all contracts and nationalize all aspects of American life even outside a state of emergency. (Bill Clinton had signed a similar order, but with applicability limited to a state of emergency only, however that may be defined. Power only ever drives in one direction.) The Executive has also claimed the authority to strike militarily countries that do not threaten our own, without a supporting vote in the House, and even to kill American citizens without any independent legal process. It also works with its agents, again without the express approval of the people's representatives or, certainly, the knowledge of the people themselves, to receive by covert means the most private details of our lives.
Ernest Renan, a nineteenth-century French philosopher, noted, "Getting its history wrong is part of being a nation."
This truth has profound implications, chief among which is that the cultural and political trajectory of a nation is determined not only by its past, but also - and to a greater extent - by the stories it tells itself about its past.
The United States' founding myth rests on the idea that suppressed Americans fought for liberty against some tyrannical and foreign "other".
In summer 2011, Robin Koerner, a then completely unknown writer, had an article published on the Huffington Post that went viral. It inspired a movement, called “Blue Republican”, which endures to this day, and put him on the map as a political activist and a writer in the liberty tradition. Since then, some of Robin’s articles have seen even greater traffic.
On 18th Feb, five people will have the chance to speak with Robin in a kind of masterclass in Political Journalism.
There is really only one argument in support of mass surveillance by the State: increased security can be bought with reduced privacy.
That claim begs the question: “how much privacy buys how much security?”
It is almost impossible to imagine how two completely different abstractions – security and liberty – could be compared, when idiomatically, we can’t even compare apples and oranges, so we should be very uneasy that an entire political age has been built on just such a comparison.
Its argument stands, but I have just learned that that article included an error - an error made because of problems with the WA Health Exchange site through which I purchased my plan.
Sometime toward the end of this year, I shall become an American citizen.
A few of my European friends look confused when they realize that I go around the world expounding the importance of liberty -- and yet choose to live in the U.S.
They are thinking, of course, of all the obvious stuff, like the abuses against privacy by the NSA; the killing of innocents in ill-considered or even dishonest interventionist militarism; the foreign policy that produces terrorists in the name of destroying them. These Americanisms are made all the more ugly by the apparent hypocrisy: any abuses against liberty are bad, but those that are perpetrated by a state that consistently justifies them by the need to protect liberty, are a special kind of pathetic.
Some Europeans also know something about America's almost unique taxation of its citizens on income earned outside the country -- a clear disincentive that superficially, at least, makes American citizenship one of the most unappealing in the world.
As a liberty-lover, why would I tie myself to all of that -- for life?
I am not interested in becoming American because America has less than anywhere else of what is bad: I'll do it because America has more of what is good -- the good of informed, passionate and principled resistance against all of those things that shouldn't be so.
Stuck on an L.A. freeway in 2005, I was listening to NPR, when an interview came on with Greg Palast, a celebrated American journalist and author who moved to the U.K. when he realized that his investigative work was not getting the air-time it deserved in the U.S.. During the interview, Palast was asked whether he wanted to bring up his newly born children in England -- the country where he had built a life and highly successful career -- or in the United States -- the country of his birth.
I have been trying to work out why I am so upset about Obamacare.
We already live in a social democratic state that forcibly takes my money through taxes for things that I don't think anyone's money should be taken for. I may feel there is a better way to build the roads than have the government pay for them through massively redistributive taxation, collected essentially by force, but I don't get angry about using them every day.
So isn't there a prima facie case to be made that if we are stuck with a huge state, taxing and spending to the tune of about a third of the economy, then at least the attempt to save lives and maintain health through this questionable system is better than the funding of secret agencies to spy on us and otherwise eliminate our basic civil rights, the deployment of massive military capability that makes more enemies rather than eliminating any immediate threat, or the transfer of the hard earned wealth of working Americans to already privileged financiers?
How can Obamacare possibly be as bad as that litany, and why do I find myself angry about it, even as I find deeply hypocritical the objections of many Republicans whose party was actually responsible for designing the ACA that they now decry?
Something recently happened in England that warrants revisiting Rachel Maddow's (in?)famous 2010 interview with Rand Paul concerning the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In April of this year, Rachel Maddow also revisited that interview, following Rand's visit to Howard University, during which he answers a question from a student with the sentence: "I do question some of the ramifactions and extensions, and I have never come out in opposition to the Civil Rights Act ... I have never questioned the Civil Rights Act".
The website of Blue Republican (bluerepublican.org) launched in 2011 by Independents/Liberals who joined the Republican party to support Ron Paul and growing today to promote the ideas of Liberty non-dogmatically to the American mainstream, announced the launching of its tenth city/state chapter today.
Blue Republican is now present in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, Michigan, New Jersey, Tennessee, and the city of Houston TX.
It even has an active international chapter in Poland.
At many times in the history of the Anglo people, the abuses of liberty by Power (capitalized to indicate the official power of the centralized State and those close to it) have produced such resistance by enough normal men and women who felt their lives directly changed by those abuses, that real political change of historic importance was the result.
This is the first part of nice interview with David Ortiz, covering the origin of Blue Republican, its usefulness in winning supporters for liberty and most importantly, the THIRD PARTY DEBATES of which Blue Republican will be a coalition member.
In the second part, we cover some recent successes of Blue Republican, and our future, including the establishment of State Chapters, and deploying the brand in state and city races.
Throughout these last few weeks, everyone involved in the negotiations on funding the government and the debt ceiling should have been repeating something over and over again - to the point that the American people should be sick of hearing it.
It is Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to our Constitution of our great nation. (I choose still to use the word "great" because I don't identify this nation with its government.)
"The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law ... shall not be questioned."
Compare and contrast with the President's comment of a week ago: "As reckless as a government shutdown is ... an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse" or the opening of his address to the nation a couple of days later, in which he talks of meeting "Republicans and Democrats from both Houses of Congress in an effort to ... remove the dangers of default from our economy."
Let's be clear.
If anyone who has sworn an oath of office to uphold the Constitution would threaten any default by the USA when the USA has a) the revenue to meet the interest obligations on its debt and b) (for shame) the ability of a sovereign issuer of its own currency to pay all its debts at any time c) seen this coming for ages, and therefore had plenty of time to prepare for it, then he is doing little other than threatening willfully to violate his oath.
The credit of the USA should never have been in question and never had to be. As all of this nonsense of the last couple of weeks has been going on, everyone involved should have been repeating that part of the 14th amendment out loud, reiterating that all debts would be paid first out of government revenue simply because that is the supreme Law of the land - and because, therefore, their integrity as takers of the oath to uphold the Constitution would not allow them to threaten impeachable behavior for political ends - or, for that matter, for any ends whatsoever. Their priority would then have been to put in place the practical mechanisms for ensuring that would be done.
As a writer and speaker who loves my country and therefore the Constitution (or should that be the other way around?), I spend plenty of hours spreading the dangers of the monarchy that the American Presidency has become, as it deploys and expands power through Executive Orders. But there is just about one kind of executive order that I believe my patriotism would compel me to accept: that being an order that simply restates a part of the Constitution verbatim and the President's intention to defend it. Had President Obama told us he would be prepared to issue an executive order that reiterates the 14th Amendment to ensure that the Constitution would be followed throughout this "crisis", then the last two weeks would have been very different.
Not that the President has displayed any less leadership than anyone else on or around Capitol Hill.
Section 5 of the 14th Amendment states simply,
"The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article".
And that is what it should do. In particular, only Congress has the power to undo the two laws without which there would be no debt-ceiling crisis. They are the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 that establishes the debt ceiling, and the Federal Reserve Act that (broadly speaking) prohibits the Fed from lending directly to the Treasury.
If Members of Congress find themselves negotiating in a crisis that arises from legislation that cannot be violated without violating the Constitution, then their first order of business, should they take their oath seriously, must be to revoke, repeal or suspend the offending laws, or to pass further law that makes the "offending laws" benign. To put (or leave) the President in a position where he would have to violate law to follow the Constitution is to be no better than the President who would shrug off the same Constitution.
Rather than do the right thing by making any serious attempt to deal with the legislation that is the sine qua non of the debt-ceiling crisis - a predictable and repeating crisis that is becoming increasingly like a kabuki theater version of Ground Hog Day - House Republicans not only made no effort to attack the offending legislation but happily exploited it in an apparent attempt to extract ever-decreasing party-line concessions that concerned initially almost everything in their party platform, later just a few bits of the Affordable Care Act, and finally next to nothing at all.
Any credibility that this strategy didn't remove from the GOP was pretty much lost when it chose cynical parliamentary maneuvering in the form of covert rule-changes to help them get as much political mileage out of the whole mess as possible. The ultimate result was nothing worth speaking of - except the concentration (yet again) of even more power in the hands of fewer people in the House. Nice job, guys.
Lest anyone think that my beef is just with the Republicans, it isn't. The problem that precedes all of the foregoing is actual spending , without which there can be no debt, without which there can be no "debt-ceiling crisis". The Democrats have been in recent times even more culpable than the Republicans in legislating spending above the standing debt limit. In March, the Democratically controlled Senate rejected the $3.5T Republican budget, which at least made some (albeit too little) attempt to rein in deficits, to pass $3.7T of spending, knowing full well that it was spending money that on current law (with the debt-ceiling where it was), America could not cover by borrowing, even though it was not covered by revenue. To say that spendthrift legislators were counting on the rise of the debt ceiling is, rather, to make my point for me, for if the debt limit means anything at all, it is as a constraint on the spending of money in the first place. If a Member of the House or Senator votes for spending while knowing that it will eventually trigger a(nother) debt-ceiling crisis a few months down the line, he rather loses any moral basis for accusing anyone who voted against that spending for triggering the crisis when it finally happens.
The legislature knows the cause of these repeated debt-ceiling debacles - because it created it. The predictable, repeating crisis, which does nothing to help the American people, can only be sustained if our leaders see it as serving them in an important way - which, of course, it does. The notion that there is such a thing as a debt-ceiling provides a fig leaf for a fiat monetary system that allows government to spend without constraint and without taxpayers' feeling the immediate economic costs of that public spending, which instead, are felt over time through inflation. (In summary: politicians benefit now; people suffer later.) In such a system, the donkeys gain the political benefit of appearing to help their Constituents by social and economic engineering without economic constraint, while permitting the elephants to gain the political benefit of doing exactly the same thing when it suits them, or (as now) appearing to be upset when the donkeys overdo it.
Truly, it is a pox on both their houses.
History shows that the so-called "debt ceiling" does not constrain our government at all. Only the Constitution and the integrity of those who swear to uphold it can do that. If our government spent in pursuit of only what it is authorized to do, then the debt-ceiling would take care of itself, because American government spending would be nowhere near it. (And, as a bonus, we would still have due process, privacy, and the respect of other nations who would not see us as aggressors - because violations of all of those things are expensive.)
Put simply, public spending or the size of government is the long-term issue from which the debt-crisis is - ironically and conveniently for career politicians of both parties - the short-term distraction.
Clearly, the most serious debt in Washington has rather less to do with Treasury bills and social security checks than with the accumulated deficit of commitment of our leaders to their oath. No need to panic, though: we are not close to a ceiling on that. Washington D.C. defaulted on it years ago.