Robin Koerner's blog
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.
Some nice TV spots here
and an article here...
Remember when we were just "fringe", "radicals", "ultra-conservatives", and "extremists"??
The times they are a-changing.
We are getting closer to a big First for Blue Republican.
BR Colorado will be hosting Ron Paul, who'll be speaking on "Liberty Defined: the Future of Freedom"... and best of all, the event is free and open to the public.
Come join us if you are anywhere near Grand Junction on Sept. 24th! Get your FREE tickets here.
I approach the politics of life-and-death questions, such as intervention in Syria, with a thought experiment: I imagine looking in the eyes of the mother of a person who would die if my preferred course of action be carried through, but who would live if an opposing course of action were carried through. I imagine trying to justify to that mother why her son should die for the greater good that I believe my view is rooted in.
To a first approximation, American political history before the 18th century is British political history. As most American schoolchildren know, in the 17th century, John Locke crystallized the idea that human law should reflect Natural Law, but the idea that Law must serve the well-being of the people on whom it is imposed goes back at least to the Anglo-Saxons.
These days, Rand Paul can often be heard saying that the Republican party needs to become competitive in "the West and New England," and that the more libertarian brand of Republican politics that he represents will help make that possible.
In 2008, Democrats and Independents voted for Obama, believing that, in voting against Bush's Republicans, they were voting against crony corporatism (remember Halliburton, corporate bailouts?), wars of choice (Iraq) and the take down of our civil rights (Patriot Act). Two years ago, a huge number of them realized that not only did their vote fail to stop any of these, but Obama was a kind of Bush-plus, extending and even deepening illiberal policy in all of these areas. As recent revelations about America's massive surveillance state have revealed, they were right.
Many of these disillusioned Obama voters came to understand that the real problem was bigger than one party or the other, one president or another, but that, "the presuppositions of the system," as Noam Chomsky calls them, ensure that the state, under control of either party, consistently and increasingly acts at the expense of our basic individual liberties, Bill of Rights be damned. Thousands of these voters chose to stay true to their liberal principles by becoming (often for the first time in their lives) signed-up Republicans to support Ron Paul in his run for the presidency. In an article that I wrote at the time, I called them "Blue Republicans." The article went viral and the term caught on, leading to the setting up of a Facebook group, the design and distribution of Blue Republican marketing materials aimed at liberals, and even all kinds of guerrilla marketing, such as the surreptitious hanging of banners over Californian freeways, and so on.
"Liberty is not the beginning and the end. Before I believed in liberty, I believed in Love and Truth."
This is the speech I gave at the Republican Liberty Caucus of Washington State Annual Convention. It may be the most important I have given to date.
In Love and Liberty, Robin (Blue Republican)
You don't have to be a economist to understand why American healthcare has been such a disaster for so long -- and why Obamacare has spectacularly failed to do the one thing that would have solved most of its problems.
Because of a near-evil system in which employers are subsidized to pay health insurance premiums that the consumers of healthcare never pay, the health consumer has no incentive to shop for value. Price competition -- which is the most important mechanism by which the free market makes goods and services affordable -- is therefore eliminated. Care becomes hugely expensive as hospitals charge made-up prices that they know will be paid for by insurance companies. Not only does this system support the practicing of hugely wasteful defensive medicine, but also hospitals take every opportunity to recover from the insurance companies the cost of non-emergency care that government forces them to give for free to others who neither pay for what they use nor have their own insurance.
For the better part of a year, a pro-free-market, pro-liberty, grand-bargain solution to American healthcare has been kicking around my head, but I never wrote it down because it does not reject all government involvement in healthcare, and I rather expected that many of my libertarian readership would be disgusted by what many of them would deem a compromise of principle.
But for a reason that shall become clear, it's now time to share it. It goes something like this.
When welfarism fails most spectacularly, it is usually because it attempts to treat a perceived social or economic problem without understanding -- let alone undoing -- its cause. Often, this treatment of symptom only serves to mask the cause, establishing it more firmly in society, typically distorting incentives and having unintended consequences that often do more harm than good.
The British government (a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) seems determined to prove this point in one of the most disturbing ways seen in recent times.
Many British families face the difficulty of extremely expensive childcare, which, for many, has become a necessity rather than a choice, as parents find themselves unable to bring up their children on only one income. This was not true for our grandparents' generation.
The greatest ideological achievement of Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative Prime Minster of Britain from 1979 to 1990, was arguably not the redefinition of the Right of British politics, but the redefinition of its Left, and therewith, its middle. She has a legacy not because she destroyed her opponents or their political philosophies, but because her practical success as a politician forced them to incorporate much of hers.
I am typing this in Miami, where I have had the privilege of sharing ideas of liberty with some new Americans who know more of its antithesis than almost anyone on this Continent -- Cuban exiles of Castro's regime. One of them, Normando, has spent seven years in prison for the crime of criticizing the quality of government-manufactured Cuban bread.
A conversation with Normando over breakfast on the day of my second lecture caused me to throw out the lecture I was going to give and replace it with one entitled, "Why Changing Minds (and Hearts) Is Difficult," which is full of empirical psychology, epistemology and neurology. It attempts to explain why it is hard not only to interpret reality accurately but even to see reality when it conflicts with what we already "know" -- regardless of whether our knowledge is right or wrong. (Its opening quote is from Goethe: "We see only what we know".) I am referring not so much to the changing of others' minds as to the changing of our own.
At the end of my lecture, I asked my audience who among them had read 1984. Some of them had -- although more of them had lived it than had read it.
I suggested that the book is, from its opening page, set in a near-complete tyranny. In the political sense, the world of 1984 is as hopeless as any dystopia that has been imagined in literature. You read it without much sense of hope for anything. Isn't it strange, then, that there would be any palpable sinking of the heart when you get to the end, when Winston, taken to Room 101 is finally broken by the destruction of his ability to believe for himself; to think for himself, even to perceive for himself? Why does your heart sink? Because at that point, all hope truly is lost. The ability to see his world as it is has gone, and with it, the possibility that he could ever experience his true self.