One of liberty's brightest rising stars in the US House was kicked off the House Budget committee along with his friend and fellow conservative, Tim Huelskamp this week. This follows the ejection of two other conservative lawmakers (Walter Jones and David Schweikert) who were removed for "not voting with leadership on key votes."
The budget committee is really a mostly ceremonial committee assignment as it has no control of purse strings like Ways and Means nor does it really control policy like the Foreign Affairs or Banking committees. Budget is primarily used to formulate plans but has little influence. Amash and Huelskamp have gained far more from being kicked off the committee than they ever did trying to resist the Ryan budgets proposed that balanced the budget in 28 years.
They dared question spending and the sacred cows: Medicare, Social Security, and Defense. Hopefully, the media play and outrage from conservatives nationally will help Amash in his standing amongst Republicans on a national stage.
Who, you might ask is Ted Yoho? Ted, God bless him is not really important to know unless you're from north central Florida or a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. But Ted is an example of what is happening to the GOP all over the country whether the establishment likes it or not.
I will admit that until a few days ago, I had never heard of Ted Yoho or that there was even a primary held recently in Florida. Yoho is important to know because he defeated 12 term Republican Congressman Charles Stearns in a safe Republican district. Rep. Charles Stearns is a pretty decent 12 term conservative Republican according to the Heritage Foundation with a score of 80% (average for House GOP is 65%) and 7th out of 25 from the Florida delegation. By comparison, Allen West has a score of 69%.
Yet, on August 14th, Ted Yoho, a large animal veterinarian and political newcomer defeated this 12 term incumbent running by attacking the NDAA, Patriot Act, neoconservative strains in the GOP, and out-of-control spending. Yoho points to his reading of the Federalist Papers, taking courses at Hillsdale College, and studying the US Constitution as motivations for his run for Congress (and the fact that he thought Stearns was not schooled on these issues).
Yoho represents a much larger trend that is not just a Tea Party trend within the GOP. The Tea Party story is, in my eyes, partly a reflection of the reactivation of conservatives to get engaged in the GOP but also something much, much more. There is something so much bigger that is beginning to percolate that even those of us within the movement itself have probably failed to grasp and recognize as well.
The libertarian view of government is beginning to take over the GOP. It is decidedly not Tea Party in the sense of what those in the mainstream press and many who call themselves Tea Party activists call it. Rather this new insurgent philosophy of government, that used to be relegated to the sidelines of mainstream political thought, has hit critical mass. It is popular and it is about to explode.
The philosophy of limited government and general distrust that large human institutions are any more capable of ruling lives than the individuals living them is taking hold in America. This is certainly not a new philosophy as many will point out when discussing the origins of the Revolutionary War and the philosophical discourse at the nation's founding. But the modern libertarian view of politics is different in ways that reflect real world experience watching socialism, fascism, keynesianism, and an ever expanding police state all over the world. With the power of the internet used to spread the ideas of libertarianism and, perhaps more importantly, show abuses of government power, people are being introduced and buying into the philosophy in larger numbers than ever before.
The story of Ted Yoho is becoming more and more common. In fact, it is so common that I don't even notice it even though it is everywhere. If it is present in congressional and senate races then you can be certain that it is even more prevalent at the state, county, and municipal level. I know of scores of state representatives in my state of Michigan that would be described as libertarian or at least with a strong libertarian bend which was not the case even 5 years ago.
Everyone who visits this blog is very familiar with Rep. Ron Paul who has been a consistently lonely congressman for nearly his entire career. Suddenly, and almost inexplicably in 2007 after launcing a quixotic presidential campaign on a shoestring budget his support exploded to the point that he could raise millions of dollars in one day! Then, in 2010, his son Rand Paul wins a senate seat in Kentucky. State representative Justin Amash wins a congressional seat in west Michigan. Now in 2012 libertarians are coming out of the woodwork. Michigan will soon have its second libertarian GOP congressman when Kerry Bentivolio wins the 11 district seat. Thomas Massie is all but assured a win in Kentucky.
There are probably many, many more who I am failing to mention which leaves only one question - is this a temporary flash in the pan or the future? The answer to that question is purely demographic and, as I'm sure anyone who follows Ron Paul or Justin Amash will tell you, the people in this movement are almost all under 40 with those under 30 being even more prevalent. From my experience, young people entering the GOP are comprised of two types: those who are libertarian leaning and those who find politics fun and want to stick with winners. That is a demographic trend that suggests we are just seeing the leading edge of the movement.
Our future is bright and it is officialy time for the GOP establishment to worry. We are coming and we are growing.
"Hey GOP! You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."
On December 15, 2011 Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which contained a provision giving the President of the United States the authority to indefinitely detain Americans who were classified by the President as terrorists or provided material support for terrorists or terrorist organizations. This is the story of how one man (and his office staff) helped expose this dangerous provision and has nearly killed it.
The NDAA is an annual bill that works its way through the Armed Services Committee and includes all the mundane funding and provisions outlining military spending, personnel strengths, and procedures for the country's national defense. The act works its way through the Senate and House committees and then goes to the floor of each chamber for passage and is signed by the president. It is not unusual for there to be arguments about funding issues and discussions about how the military operations/wars are being conducted, but there is usually very rarely Constitutional 'controversial' material that ever comes to light. [It is worth noting that Don't Ask Don't Tell came through these committees but I don't find that a Constitutional question but I recognize that it was very controversial]
Last year, that all changed.
The NDAA had worked its way through the appropriate committees in the Senate and House with little resistance.It moved through the House committee chaired by Rep. Buck McKeon (R) on a 60-1 vote and became HR 1540. The bill then passed the House on May 25 on a vote of 322-96 (only 6 dissenting Republicans). It passed through committee on November 15th in the Senate chaired by Sen. Carl Levin (D) on a 26-0 vote and became SB 1867.
Freshman Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI3) has made it a habit of reading all the legislation that he votes on and posting all of his votes and reasoning on Facebook. He began this process when he served in the Michigan State House of Representatives and has continued it now in Congress. He and his office in reviewing the NDAA recognized that Sections 1021-1024 of the NDAA of 2012 contained new 'clarification' of what the President's new powers were to be. As a lawyer, Amash quickly recognized the vagueness of the wording within the new provision and saw that it could be construed as giving the President broad new detention privileges while denying the defendant any legal recourse.
Now before we go any further it is important to point out that Amash is a freshman legislator in Congress. This is in a chamber where seniority rules decisively and completely. Rarely are freshmen allowed to introduce legislation. They serve on the lowliest committees and are expected to follow along and not cause trouble. The new Congressmen also know virtually no one in the chamber except maybe fellow members from their home state so their ability to find the 'go-to' guy or gal is almost zero. Finally, since they have barely been serving (in Amash's case in this example May of 2011 he'd been in Washington only 4 months) they certainly don't know anyone in the Senate either.
In May this NDAA of 2012 which includes the provision in Sections 1021-1023 for indefinite dentention passes the House with minimal resistance - especially from Republicans. Rep. Amash recognizes the danger of the law and also opposed Section 1034 which gives the President sweeping ability to conduct extended military operations. With the military operations in Libya hot on the minds of Americans this was probably seen as a good way to get some public opposition to the NDAA.
Over the next few months Amash begins to meet more of his colleagues and develops a friendship with Senator Rand Paul (a clear ally politically both on governing principles and he is the son of Rep. Ron Paul who endorsed Amash in the August 2010 Republican primary). Amash describes the potential risk for the new provision and Paul convinces a few Repbulicans and Democrats in the Senate to oppose the law.
By this point, Amash is recognizing that the indefinite detention rule is a nonpartisan issue that people from all over the political spectrum should rightly oppose. He then goes on the offensive both on Facebook and (allegedly) during the House Republican strategy conference where he actively opposes House Armed Services Chair and long time member Buck McKeon.
Imagine the scene if you will. In December, before most of the Republican delegation of Congress (Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy, etc.) Amash rises and addresses the group to explain how the NDAA Section 1021-23 provides for the power of indefinite detention of American citizens. He cites the specific language and tries to convince people who probably have little knowledge of him that the nearly 20 year veteran and chair of the powerful Armed Services Committee is mistaken. McKeon counters that Amash is flat out wrong.
The battle then leaves the room and heads to the ethernet.
McKeon writes a rebuttal to all of the 'misinformation' about the provision and has it posted at Redstate.com. Amash counters with this post rebutting the rebuttal. Amash manages to sway a few more Republicans including Representatives Huizenga and Walberg who are also new members from Michigan.
Amash starts hitting the ether hard on Facebook calling all of his 'followers' to call their representatives knowing that many are not his constituents. Still, he only has 18,000 followers or so in a nation of 310 million people to put the heat on Congress.
In fact, on the vote in December to adopt the Senate version (which was basically the same as HR 1540) Amash succeeds in getting 43 Republican defections instead of the previous 6.The bill still easily passes the House and becomes law after President Obama signs it a few weeks later. If this were the end of the story, it could almost be viewed as a Don Quixote mission where we might give the Congressman an "atta boy, thanks for trying, keep your chin up."
But the story was only beginning.
Through those 18-20,000 followers there was intense outrage. They did call their Representatives. And told their friends. And those friends told their friends. And... well you get the picture.
Suddenly, at town halls Congressmen were getting questioned about their NDAA vote and pilloried if they voted for it or praised for voting against. The NDAA issue was showing up in the presidential campaign as Ron Paul would use it to point out the growing power in Washington and it even came up at a presidential debate where all the candidates except Huntsman and Paul said they would have signed it (as Obama did).
Stories about the NDAA and its detention provisions are no longer just contained on ACLU and InfoWars websites but it's also appearing in the Washington Post and International Business Times. There is a definite possibility that the Armed Forces Committees in both chambers will have to revise or potentially remove the provisions entirely from the NDAA 2013 bill!
The indefinite detention provision is close to dead. I believe we have reached critical mass and one man has maintained just a little bit of our liberty. It is very important to recognize that even one person can have a profound impact if they are tenacious and don't settle on 'just voting' or just speaking out once or twice. I am proud to say that Justin Amash is my personal Congressman but hope that you see he is defending the liberties of not just my district in West Michigan but those of all Americans.
Keep up the heat until the indefinite provision is killed. Call your Senators and Representatives today and tell them to axe this un-Constitutional provision from this year's NDAA and beyond. Here is the Congressional Switchboard #1-866-220-0044 and here is a little 'how-to' when calling Washington D.C.
Don't forget to wish Rep. Amash Happy Birthday on April 18th on Facebook. You might even want to send him your two cents (maximum donations up to $2500 I'm sure would be accepted as well.)
This is a question a lot of the fans of the Republican Congressman from Texas have been asking themselves for the last few weeks. The overall strategy of the Ron Paul for President campaign has been difficult to discern in many ways.
For instance, why does it seem like Ron Paul is attacking every other candidate in the race from Perry to Gingrich to Santorum to Huntsman but using kid gloves on the strongest candidate - Romney? Why does Paul not seem to be bothered at the prospects of a third place finish in Iowa or a likely second in New Hampshire?
I believe the Ron Paul campaign is moving in much the way that the campaign team originally planned when developing its strategy probably some time in early Spring. To understand the campaign strategy I believe it is important to understand how unconventional Dr. Paul's plan is compared to the traditional Republican presidential campaign. It is also important to recall the nature of the 2008 campaigns for the Democratic and to a lesser extent Republican parties.
Reason to Run for President Ron Paul is not your typical Republican candidate running for president. In fact, I'm not sure any candidate of any prominence recently has run not be president as much as a way to promote a message. Presidential campaigns are a way to bringing new ideas to the party's grassroots. This is probably a clumsy way of accomplishing this goal, but for someone as far out of the mainstream of his party and leadership as Paul is, it is really the only way to express his views on foreign and monetary policies.
This singular motive completely changes your strategy for waging a presidential campaign and, I think, explains the unusual nature of the Paul campaign. It fundamentally alters how you approach debates, advertisements, and campaigning within states. It is also completely different from the traditional Republican campaigns where one looks to score some early decisive wins, show an ability to raise money, and then finish off your rivals on Super Tuesday.
It's about Ideas, not the Office If your goal is to change the way the party and the country look at issues then your focus is on more than the short term goals of a presidential campaign. Clearly, it would be best for your promotion to win the nomination but a realistic view of the electorate - especially the Republican electorate - would show that Paul's ideas are out of the mainstream. They are growing in prominence (just look at his showing at the Iowa Caucuses from 2008 to 2012 with over 100% growth) but they are at most a large minority within the party probably no more than 25%.
Assets in Place Despite what many inside the media perceived, Ron Paul had massive assets coming into the campaign. To outsiders, Paul was seen to have a few rabid fans and a large donor base who were small contributors. What they missed was the Campaign for Liberty.
Launched in 2008, the Campaign for Liberty was a way to keep Ron Paul supporters from 2008 engaged with the Congressman's activities and help promote his views within Congress. This was best exemplified with the push and eventual passage of the Federal Reserve Audit in both the House and Senate. But more importantly, the Campaign for Liberty provided the superstructure for converts to Paul's crusade to network with each other and plan... for 2012.
Although not affiliated with any official Ron Paul campaign, the Campaign for Liberty was the resting home for all of Paul's campaign apparatus which he would need in a 2012 bid for president. Not surprisingly, a strong emphasis was placed on building up the Iowa and New Hampshire Campaign for Liberty teams and successfully getting friendly people put in place within the local and state GOPs. For instance, unofficially, the Paul camp had achieved securing over half of the county GOP chairs or leaders and many on the state's central committee in Iowa.
Most important to realize is that the Campaign for Liberty is a truly national organization with its reach in every state. This means that Paul has de facto campaign bases in each and every state making him competitive on a national scale - not just early primary and caucus states.
An Unorthodox Approach Because of his unique assets and his even more unusual goals, Rep. Ron Paul, I believe, is engaged in a very unorthodox presidential campaign. He recognizes that although his message is very popular and growing within a section of the electorate - it is by no means a majority position. His plan then is to wage a long drawn out process that relies more on looking towards delegate acquisition than on outright victory - perhaps even winning a single state.
Clearly, winning all the delegates in a state is a goal and will very likely be accomplished in many of the caucus states where Paul's organization and zealous supporters will have the most impact. Winner-take-all primary states are the least desirable for a campaign like Paul's where they feel their message will be viewed in a hostile manner by a majority of the GOP base who receive much of their information from the establishment and its mouthpieces like Levin, Savage, Hannity, and Limbaugh.
The established portions of the party will resist Paul's forces and will probably succeed in many of the caucus states, especially as it becomes more obvious what Rep. Paul is up to. Overall, the primary focus is gaining delegates to gain prominence going into the convention.
The Not-Romney Candidate What is becoming increasingly clear, is that the Paul campaign is looking to become what has been termed the "Not-Romney" candidate. Tea Partiers, and the Republican base is definitely disappointed with Romney as their nominee. National polls have shown him to struggle breaking above 30%. Romney represents the liberal East Coast establishment candidate similar to John McCain (who although from Arizona was the epitome of a big government squishy Republican).
The Paul campaign recognized early on that the only candidate that would compete long term was Romney. Therefore, they looked to eliminate the 'chaff' in order to become the de facto 'Not-Romney' candidate. The sooner they can take down the other candidates, the better as it allows them to accumulate a larger share of the delegates.
The Other Not-Romney Candidates A quick look at the other candidates trying to make the race a two man race shows how Paul's strategy has been working perfectly. Cain is out. Bachmann is out. Huntsman looks increasingly like a one state wonder who will drop out soon. Perry is limping into NH polling at 1% and around 5% in SC. His future is dim. Gingrich can potentially last a few more weeks but with little funding his earned media will dwindle and he will possibly last a few more states through Florida but he is not on the ballot in his home state and has no funding to compete in a national super Tuesday contest.
That brings us to Santorum who has no funding or organization and will attempt to use his social conservative credentials to sell himself in the South. He will be target number one from the Paul campaign as he is the one who could potentially carve into their delegate count on Super Tuesday if he is still viable - especially if his funding picks up and he is able to run more television spots in Florida and beyond.
I believe the Paul campaign is looking to make the race a two man race as soon as possible. This is probably their schedule:
Since the other candidates by this point will have lost nearly every contest to Romney their funding and ambition will have dried up and they will be unable to push on to Super Tuesday. Only Paul will remain as the alternative. Obviously, they will endorse Romney to get a plum cabinet spot and Paul will be all that's left.
From there, Paul and his forces will be an enormous thorn in the side of Romney unless he cuts Paul a deal. Whether that is a prime speaking spot at the convention, a VP slot for Rand, a cabinet position, or some other combination. Romney is a man who deals and will want to save his resources and shift his campaign's focus against Obama as soon as possible. This strategy, although not a 'winning one' is one that will have a lasting legacy and impact within the Republican party.
In about half the articles I read on the Iowa Caucuses, and about 80% of the comments that are directed against Ron Paul and his supporters, the notion that Iowans are crazy or weird seems to be a theme. The notion that the voters in Iowa are not representative of Republicans or their racial diversity is not reflective of America or they just aren't like the rest of us because they live on farms and still live in River City.
I was born in Iowa, I have extended relatives in Iowa, I lived in Iowa durign medical school and during my residency training. So I think I can say with some authority that Iowans are not crazy (except about the Hawkeyes). They are predominantly white (whitest state in the country), socially conservative (outside of Iowa City and Ames), and the state is overall purple (evenly Democrat and Republican).
The implication that because Ron Paul is doing well in Iowa is not a reflection on the state of Iowa - it is a reflection on the state of the Republican Party. From as much as I can ascertain from the reports of Ron Paul's speeches, his message of small government, challenging the central bank, and non-intervention overseas is unchanged from what he said in 2008 and in the debates this year. So his surge of success in the polls is more an indication that he is appealing to lots of Iowans with his message.
I agree that a fair percentage of his support comes from those who have not caucused before. Some of that is the young and some are crossovers from the Democrats and independents. But looking at the supporters completely misses the point and fails to recognize why he is gaining popularity. Liberty.
He is the only one talking about massively reducing the size and scope of the federal government both here and abroad. He is the only talking about reducing our military presence around the world. He is the only one taking on the PATRIOT Act, SOPA, and NDAA. He is the only one questioning the role of the Federal Reserve and its $16 trillion of bailouts in 2008.
This campaign comes on the heels of the 'conservatives' holding all the branches of government and exploding the debt and deficit. They expanded the department of education with NCLB, created a new cabinet (Homeland Security), devised the largest expansion to Medicare since its inception, and ballooned up the war on terror with spending abroad and restricting many of our liberties at home. Once Republicans returned to power in the House they delivered on almost none of their promises. They didn't force vetoes. They didn't overturn Obamacare. After a lot of hand wringing they agreed to continue to massively grow the federal government with nothing to show for it except they delayed (didn't even kill) the incandescent light bulb ban.
So if you're a conservative who wants the following: 1) a federal government that is the same size or smaller after one term in the White House, 2) personal freedoms that are the same or improved, or 3) actual long term reform of entitlements in Washington, who would you support? Even if you found Ron Paul's views on foreign policy dangerous or "out-of-step" with most Americans would you care? If you saw our country hurtling forward towards the economic brink what would you do?
Ron Paul is not the perfect messager. Of that, there is no doubt. But he is absolutely the best right now because of his organization and name recognition. Hopefully he will force Republicans to finally act their rhetoric. Whether he wins Iowa, New Hampshire, the nomination or nothing, his impact has been overall positive.
So are Iowans crazy or are they just paying more attention than those in the rest of the country?
The Ron Paul Newsletters are once again at the forefront of a Ron Paul campaign. I hate to write about them because they are just so stupid. Dumb, mean things written in a style that is very much unlike Ron Paul. I don't profess to be a confidant to Rep. Paul but I have spent a few hours with him and his brothers at a family reunion and never once detected any sort of racism or mean bone in any of their bodies.
I am almost certain that those newsletters were not written by Ron Paul. He is culpable (to quite an extent) with the fact that he invested in something that had his name on it without much oversight. This post, however, it to the mysterious writer we will call Drew Wellrock, who was responsible for the content in those newsletters. The writing is similar to your style of writing even today on your website. It is time to fall on the sword of your own making if you care anything at all for your friend and former boss, Ron Paul. You have profited mightily thanks to his name and association and it is time to pay him back with the respect that he has and continues to give you now.
This is how I imagine the letter should go:
I have known Representative Ron Paul for decades. I worked for him, have travelled with him, and spent countless hours over the years with him. I can attest with absolute certainty that Ron Paul is not a racist. He is the penultimate gentleman and as wholesome an individual as one could hope to meet and know. He served his patients and constituents with respect and compassion without any consideration of social status, race, or ethnicity.
After Ron Paul retired from Congress and returned to medicine, I approached him with a business venture where I and some associates would write articles regarding conservative topics. The newsletters would go out to his mailing list of supporters and he would earn a little bit of money and keep some contact with those supporters if he ever chose to run for Congress again.
Mostly the letters were typical boiler plate railings against the establishment, people who looked to strip away gun rights, and the political correctness crowd and their insistence on turning a blind eye to all racial conflict. I never included a byline because I felt this would diminish the appeal of the newsletter and effectively hurt my bottom line.
I sent Ron Paul the first few newsletters to review. They were more tame then the ones I authored after a few years. Ron really never expressed much of an interest in the newsletters feeling that he was affording his name to help out my career and business. He trusted me completely with the writing and publishing. And I failed him.
I failed him in writing things that were so out of character with Ron without asking his permission. I saw that the more incendiary the prose, the more newsletters we sold. I was writing almost entirely to push sales and without regard to much of what I was writing. I stopped consulting with Ron outside of sending the small royalties which he generously refused and insisted that I use towards an educational foundation promoting freedom and austrian economics (now the von Mises Institute).
My biggest failure was to not admit my role in the newsletters when Ron ran for Congress again in 1996. Had I admitted my shortcomings then, the issue would not have resurfaced in 2001 and 2008. Fortunately, the issue never gained the prominence it has during this election. I am very proud of my friend Ron. He had many opportunities to tell all the world that the writer was most likely me. He chose friendship and loyalty over convenience which makes him the rarest kind of friend. And my role a colossal failure.
I took advantage of Ron and his name, profited off of it, and launched a career thanks in part to his kindness and loyalty. Of that, I am the most ashamed. I apologize to Ron for what I wrote and my pride that has prevented me from admitting my guilt. I hope that he will forgive me but can rest easier now knowing that he will now be able to spread his message of liberty, and freedom to millions of Americans during this campaign.
This past week, the US Senate and House passed the National Defense Authorization Act which, in its 1800 pages, confirms the executive branch's assertion that American citizens who are associated or provided material support to terrorists may be held indefinitely without trial or rights. We now afford more rights to serial killers and child molesters in this country than the person who supports some humanitarian group that may surreptitiously provide support for terrorist states. Congressman Justin Amash (MI-3) has led the charge in the House to amend the grievous sections that codify these new powers. Unfortunately his efforts failed and the bill passed with just 43 GOP and 93 Democrat nays. I sort of feel like if more understood what the implications were and the media covered it at all the outcome might have been more close.
Amash published his rebuttal explaining why the provisions are so dangerous at redstate.
Section 1021 thus claims that it merely “affirms” the President’s authority under the 9/11 AUMF, including the alleged authority to detain persons the President determines are “associated forces.” While the section is framed as an affirmation, it can be viewed as that only if Congress adopted the President’s expansive interpretation of the 9/11 AUMF—an action Congress never had taken before Thursday. To be clear: When the Senate passed the NDAA conference report on Thursday, for the first time in history, Congress approved the indefinite detention of persons who “substantially supported . . . associated forces.”
Who could this cover? An American citizen living in Michigan makes a one-time donation to a non-violent humanitarian group. Years later, the group commits hostile acts against an ally of the U.S. Under the NDAA that just passed Congress, if the President determines the group was “associated” with terrorists, the President is authorized to detain the donor indefinitely, and without charge or trial.
Comments vary from the typical, well if it passed with a majority of Republicans then it must have been conservative to my favorite reply from someone responding to that argument:
They hate it so much they're going to pass it
znjs Saturday, December 17th at 11:45AM EST (link)
And if “Conservative” now means hating the bill of rights, then I guess I’m not conservative anymore.
Be sure to read all of Amash's very detailed explanation here.