In Stephen KIng's 1980 novel, Firestarter, the book ended with the heroine going into the counter-culture offices of Rolling Stone magazine to tell her story of government gone mad to reporters who would presumably be brave and uncorrupt enough to publish the story. In the 1984 film version, the offices were those of The New York Times.
These days, Stephen King is a loud member of the privileged socialist caste we call Democrats, and would therefore undoubtedly not change the ending one whit if writing the book today. However, if I were writing such an ending, I'd take Edward Snowden's lead and Glenn Greenwald's Intercept would be the plot device of choice.
The article by reporter Craig Timberg – headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say” – cites a report by a new, anonymous website calling itself “PropOrNot,”which claims that millions of Americans have been deceived this year in a massive Russian “misinformation campaign.”
So according the Washington Post, Ron Paul and Justin Raimondo are Russian propagandists. As is David Stockman, the former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan.
Yes, it's that bizarre.
Truth be told, I find the whole political environment scenario to be quite beyond bizarre at the moment, and that's not even including the fact that we as a nation elected Donald freaking Trump as president. Here's what I mean: 10 years ago, the liberals mocked Romney's anti-Russia position with snarky comments like "The 80's called. They want their foreign policy back!" while Barack Obama promised he was going to hit the reset button on the US/Russia relationship. Heck, some say he won the election with talk like that.
But once elected, he apparently decided he preferred to stay within his community organizer comfort zone and essentially turned foreign policy over to Hillary Clinton's State Department. Fast forward to Syria, suddenly we're at loggerheads with Russia again, and the left-leaning Democrats are simultaneously accusing the far left Russian government of tampering with our elections and the right wing Republicans of being in bed with those filthy Communists.
Wait - what?
There is a propaganda technique called the Big Lie, which is usually stated along the lines of, "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth." Saul Alinsky is attributed with telling people to repeatedly accuse enemies of doing what they oppose, while doing that very thing. That seems to be what this is - a chess move in the game of psychological warfare. Conspiracies involving fake news and Russian propaganda is a way liberals who were blind-sided by the election results can explain away their stunning electoral losses. Calling Donald Trump and his supporters deplorable Nazis during the election cycle didn't stop him, so now they're faced with either believing that the majority of their countrymen are in fact Nazi supporters, or they need to explain the election win another way. Blaming Russia is a tool the leaders of their movement can use to drum up more hate and division without admitting that perhaps the core of their very philosophy is unpalatable to the masses.
In an editorial entitled Say no to 'lazy policymaking', the Omaha World-Herald portrays Senator Laura Ebke's efforts at maintaining the nature of policy formation as a duty pursued in the service of the public:
Ebke, known at the State Capitol for her energetic committee work and well-informed comments during floor debates, said she wants to approach policymaking responsibly rather than having her stance dictated to her upfront according to a party’s or the governor’s particular needs.
Describing the pressure applied by partisans to Republican senators to vote a certain way, she wrote: “There is no discussion about ideas, and little negotiation — if a bill is controversial, the teams are supposed to split up, and everyone is expected to ‘fly right.’ I believe that’s lazy policymaking.”
She added: “Those who want my vote on a controversial issue will have to make the case based on solid reasoning — not on manufactured partisan hyperbole.”
Well-considered decision-making, she wrote, isn’t compatible with being “held hostage to partisan considerations.”
Plus, she noted, maintaining the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches is a fundamental doctrine in American government.
The Daily Beastreported yesterday that the vice chair of the Washington, D.C. Republican Party, Gary Teal, has announced that he's voting for the Libertarian and therefore resigning his post within the GOP. He was joined by three other D.C. delegates to the RNC:
Justin Dillon, Kris Hammond, and Peter Lee—who were wearing #NeverTrump buttons—spoke to The Daily Beast in the hallway of Quicken Loans Arena, just minutes after Donald Trump finished his keynote speech on Thursday night. "The RNC has bungled this nomination process by having bad rules," Teal said, referring to a controversy over nominating rules that caused chaos on the convention floor Monday. "And now at this convention, they've sacrificed integrity in favor of unity."
Prior to the convention, Rhode Island Republican State Sen. Dawson Hodgson, who is described as "prominent" by The Providence Journal, resigned as a delegate and pledged his support to Johnson. Other elected officials supporting Johnson include:
Montana State Rep. Nicholas Schwaderer (at least as listed on the Johnson/Weld endorsements page and on Wikipedia; Schwaderer's June 28 Facebook post extolling the virtues of the L.P. ticket concludes with less decisive language: "I recommend that you hear what they have to say and genuinely take on board their perspective. In a cycle of vitriol I believe that this ticket deserves a slot on the Presidential debate circuit; if anything the[y] elevate the rhetoric on the stage and entice all three candidates to bring this debate back to policy." I have emailed Schwaderer for clarification.)
Senator Laura Ebke's move to join the Libertarian Party after decades of dedicated political work as a member of the Republican party is eliciting media coverage, including this report at Reason.
As a subscriber to her regular newsletter, I have received the below statement, which I would like to share with the readers of RedStateEclectic:
June 1, 2016
Yesterday, Tuesday, May 31, I sent a letter, primarily to folks in the district, who had supported me financially in my campaign for the Legislature in 2014. The purpose of the letter was to give them the courtesy of a "heads up" before a more general announcement. I am now providing you with most of that letter, because I want you to hear this from me before it hits the presses. Based on phone calls I'm getting, it would appear that rumors are out there, and before I talk to the press, I want you to know what's going on.
Late last week, I initiated a change of political party registration online. I have switched from Republican affiliation, to Libertarian. PLEASE take the time to read my reasons below.
My reasons for making this switch are many, and it was not made without many months of consideration. Let me tell you a little bit about the thought process I’ve been through—and assure you that my basic view of the world has not changed.
First, I have always considered myself to be a conservative. I was born into a conservative Republican family in 1962, heard talk of politics from an early age (I’m not sure I believe the family lore that my first word was “Goldwater”). I idolized Nebraska’s late Senator Carl Curtis while I was still in elementary school in Fairbury. For most of my childhood, someone in my family—either my father, grandfather, or mother, was chair of the Republican Party in Jefferson County.
When I turned 13, I joined the then-active Teen Age Republicans (TARs). In 1976, at the age of 14, I watched the Republican Convention in Kansas City on TV with my dad, cried because Ronald Reagan lost the nomination to President Ford, and then went out to the family cars the next morning, and changed the bumper stickers from Reagan to Ford.
By the time I was 16, I was the Nebraska TAR Chair. I’d knocked on doors with Congressman Doug Bereuter in his first campaign. I was a political activist, a proud constitutional conservative, and a proud Republican. I have, as I write this, a collection of about 40 Frankoma elephant mugs, in my home office, which were sold beginning in 1968 until the early 2000’s, primarily as fundraisers for local Republican Women’s clubs. I’m only missing a few in the total collection.
I cast my first vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980, and my second one for him in 1984. I voted for George Bush, senior (although I probably would have preferred Jack Kemp as a more visionary alternative); I voted for Bob Dole, even though his approach was not really what I yearned for; George W. Bush got my vote in 2000 and 2004, even though I became increasingly disillusioned with the “conservatism” of the Party and its leaders.
My view of conservatism has always been a Goldwater-Reagan based view: smaller government, lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, respect for constitutional rights—and on the national scene, a strong military, but not an overly aggressive one. In other words, I believe in a constitutionalism which looks to the principles of our founders as a guide.
By 2008, I was feeling like “movement conservatism” that I’d grown up a part of, was becoming largely absent in the Republican Party. I saw a glimmer of hope in the presidential campaign of Congressman Ron Paul. He was, perhaps, a little too eccentric and even too ideologically pure, for the Republican Party, but after attending one of his rallies in Kansas City in the summer of 2007, I saw hope for a party that could attract young people who actually had a philosophy of government that I could match up with.
A group of Ron Paul supporters (mostly) and I chartered the Republican Liberty Caucus here in Nebraska. The RLC is a national organization, founded in the early 90s, for the purpose of promoting the cause of liberty within the Republican Party. Some welcomed the activism of the RLC in Nebraska—others didn’t. But we persisted, and for anyone who saw the significant crowds of people who walked with me in most of the parades in 2014, most of those folks—in addition to family—were my RLC friends.
Although the Legislature is a constitutionally NON-PARTISAN body, and many would never know—based on election filings or ballots—that I had changed parties, I think it’s important for you to understand why I’ve made the decision to do so at this time. Let me just give you the highlights:
As a partisan activist who was part of an insurgent group of volunteers (the RLC), it was easy to wear the occasional disdain of establishment partisans as a badge of honor; as a state legislator, the pressure to “vote the ‘party’ way”—even if that way is contrary to one’s firm beliefs—is immense. I am happy to discuss and take responsibility for the votes I cast with my constituents and those of you who are getting this letter. We will not always agree, but you deserve to know why I voted the way that I did. But the pressure—sometimes near bullying—by some of my colleagues, and outside forces—to vote a particular way because “that’s the Republican way” has disheartened me. There is no discussion about ideas, and little negotiation—if a bill is controversial, the teams are supposed to split up, and everyone is expected to “fly right.” I believe that’s lazy policymaking.
As a Republican, the pressure to vote with the Republican governor is significant. The truth be told, on the vast majority of issues I agree with Governor Ricketts, and will continue to agree with him. But the notion that the Governor should be able to tell legislators how to vote because they are registered in the same party—or that “good Republicans” would work to keep something “off of the Governor’s desk”--does a disservice to the role of the legislature and to the intention of the founders when they created a republican form of government with separate branches--and guaranteed state governments would be the same. I have no objection to conversations between the branches of government—in fact, I suspect that better policy would be made if there was more conversation and fewer demands of partisan loyalty.
I consider myself a “movement constitutional conservative ”—and while not all libertarians are conservative constitutionalists, many are; and those who would be considered “movement conservatives” almost always have a strong stream of libertarianism running through their veins. As President Ronald Reagan said, “the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” As the Republican Party has seemed to ignore constitutional governance; as Republicans have failed to make good on their promise of smaller government, lower taxes, fiscal control…this decision to make a break from the party that I’ve been registered with for 36 years, and active in for most of the 18 years before that, began to weigh heavily on my mind.
My decision to change my registration has nothing to do with a changing philosophy on my part. It has little to do with any particular candidate or candidates. It has some to do with life in the State Capitol, but it has a lot to do with a growing sense that I’ve had that the Republican Party of 2016 is fundamentally different than the Republican Party that I grew up in.
To review more succinctly:
I am changing my voter registration, but not my view of the world. If you have mostly liked the way that I’ve voted in the past, you’ll probably continue to like it.
To the extent that I’m welcome, I will continue to work with ALL of the constitutional conservatives in the Legislature; and I’ll certainly work with the Governor if he wants to work with me. I will always be open to conversations and negotiations, but I won’t be held hostage to partisan considerations. Those who want my vote on a controversial issue will have to make the case based on solid reasoning—not on manufactured partisan hyperbole.
Finally, while I hope this doesn’t change your view negatively of me, I realize that it could. I have reconciled to the idea that I might not receive the support for future campaigns that I did in the past. I’ve also reconciled to the notion that it’s possible that the Republican Party will seek to “take me out” if I run for re-election in 2018. It’s also possible that I will be looked upon less kindly for potential leadership positions—even though we do not run as partisans, nor do we organize by party.
While serving the people of the 32nd Legislative District has been one of the great honors of my life, the people of the district have every right to vote me out of office if they feel that I’m not representing them adequately—and that includes if they feel that as a Libertarian instead of a Republican, I’m not adequately reflecting their views. Time will tell whether that label will matter to the citizens of the district, or whether they’ll judge me by my actions.
I hope that in the next two years, I can prove to my constituents and other supporters that the Party label doesn’t mean anything other than wearing the label which more accurately reflects my political views. I hope that they can see that by taking the “road less traveled”, I may be able to better serve ALL of our citizens, and not just the Republicans. I remain steadfastly in support of constitutionally limited government, and doing everything I can to reduce the negative impact of government in all of our lives—especially in the taking of our income through taxation.
I am, of course, always willing to exchange email, or talk with you in person about this, or anything else. And, as always, my office staff and I look forward to serving the people of the 32nd Legislative district the best that we can over the next 2 years.
A surprise prima facie that will not surprise anyone for long who knows Laura Ebke, the Nebraska State Senator who keeps attracting many supporters thanks to her conscientious reasoning and her honest and upright political conduct.
Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete left the Republican Party and registered as a Libertarian Party member two weeks after Gov. Pete Ricketts called out state senators who are Republicans by name for not supporting him or the GOP on some contentious legislative issues.
"I'd been thinking about changing for several months," she said Wednesday, "but I suppose that was sort of the final push."
Ebke, who always had identified herself as a Republican whose political philosophy was Libertarian, changed her registration online last week.
"I'm not willing to bend my principles to go along or cast a vote just for the sake of party unity," she said during a telephone interview.
Ebke was sitting in the back of the room at the Republican state convention in Omaha last month when Ricketts criticized more than a dozen state senators who are Republicans for votes they cast, arguing for the need to elect "platform Republicans" to the nonpartisan Legislature.
"The governor is entitled to call people out," she said, "but that was an interesting time to do that."
Ebke has cast votes to override several of the governor's vetoes, including his rejection of bills to repeal the death penalty, authorize Nebraska driver's licenses for young undocumented immigrants who have lawful presence in the United States and grant the right for those young people to acquire professional and occupational licenses to work in the state.
"I agree with the Republican Party on many things and I have many friends in the party," she said.
"Republicans talk about fiscal responsibility, but they tend to place not such a high emphasis on civil liberties."
Ebke said the approaching nomination of Donald Trump as the Republican Party's presidential choice affected her decision "maybe a little (because) I can't imagine myself voting for him."
"But it's less about Trump per se than what that reflects about the Republican Party," she said.
Now, she said, she has a presidential nominee she can support.
The Libertarian Party last weekend chose former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as its nominee and paired him with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld as the party's vice presidential nominee.
Ebke said she has "great respect" for Republican Sen. Ben Sasse because of his determination to "stand his ground" in refusing to support Trump despite growing pressure from his party.
"The negative ramifications for me may not be as great as they are for him," she said.
Ebke was elected to the Legislature in 2014 and is midway through her first term.
My score card accords the winner of each segment 3 points, the runner up 2 points, the third-place-finisher 1 point - with cumulative points behind candidates' names:
I do not necessarily agree with the candidates' views, so my judgement is a mixture of assessing reasonableness (even in a person of different opinions), coherence, communicative effectiveness, and, where applicable, concurrence.
Introduction : McAfee (3), Petersen (2), Johnson (1)
When to go to war? : Johnson (5), Petersen (7), McAfee (6)
Dealing with Welfare State : Johnson (8), Petersen (9), McAfee (7)
Terrorism, ISIS : Johnson (11), Petersen (11), McAfee (8)
Foreign aid : Johnson (14), Petersen (13), McAfee (9)
Personal Questions : Johnson (17), Petersen (15), McAfee (10)
Appeal to Democrats : Johnson (20), Petersen (17), McAfee (11)
Abortion : McAfee (14), Johnson (22), Petersen (18)
Death Penalty : McAfee (17), Petersen (20), Johnson (23)
Gay Marriage : McAfee (20), Petersen (22), Johnson (24)
Gender Pay Gap : Petersen (25), Johnson (26), McAfee (21)
Vote For Other Pres. Candidate : Petersen (28), McAfee (23), Johnson (27)
If my counting is right, the winner by a small margin is Petersen, one point ahead of Johnson.
Nonetheless, if I had to decide who I would vote for, ultimately, Gary Johnson would have my support. McAfee strikes me as a bit of a black horse. He leaves me with the impression that some of his views are not too well thought through. Petersen is personable, a good communicator, with an aura of deep conviction, but his palpable faith comes with the downside of rather a mechanical approach to the issues. Johnson is the one who convinces me that his principles do not cut him off from reality and people with other beliefs.
The late Sir George Martin [producer and arranger of The Beatles] created substantial British exports. Had the import of his music to America been banned to save the jobs of US musicians, Britain would have missed out on some revenue but the American consumer would have been the biggest loser, missing out on the music. Trade benefits the importing country: that’s why it happens.
Frankly, we might as well be living in the 17th century, so antiquated are our current debates over trade, both here over Brexit and in America over the presidential nominations. Many current assumptions about trade were debunked more than two hundred years ago and then tested to destruction in the mid-19th century.
In the 17th and 18th centuries European governments were in thrall to “mercantilism”, the belief that the purpose of trade was (roughly) to push exports on to other countries in exchange for cash and so build up a surplus of treasure with which to pay armies to fight wars. So they sought to restrain imports with tariffs and bans, while encouraging exports with monopolies and gunboats. Britain’s Navigation Acts after 1651, and the chartering of companies such as the East India Company, were part of this policy.
Along came Adam Smith and made a different argument, that mercantilism punished consumers and the poor, while rewarding producers and the rich; that imports were a good thing because they raised people’s standard of living by giving them what they wanted at lower prices. With money to spare, consumers bought more things from producers, creating jobs and generating prosperity. If bread was cheaper, people could afford more textiles. Gradually, with the help of David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, Britain was persuaded of this and by the time Robert Peel, William Ewart Gladstone and Richard Cobden were in charge, Britain had declared unilateral free trade and dared the world to follow.
It is true that unilateral declarations of free trade, while benefiting everyone as consumers, can hurt those producers who have previously been protected from competition by tariffs and other barriers. Because the pain is more concentrated than the gain, their voice is louder, and Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been amplifying it. (America has never been as convinced by the free trade case as Britain: its infamous Smoot-Hawley tariffs of the 1930s worsened the depression and hastened war.)
Yet the effect of trade on jobs is no different from the effect of innovation. Just as imported Chinese goods have destroyed the jobs of British manufacturers, so threshing machines destroyed the jobs of farm labourers, washing machines destroyed jobs in laundries and Uber will destroy the jobs of taxi drivers, yet everybody was net better off.
Governments should certainly compensate people for locally destructive effects of changing trade or technology, but not by raising barriers against imports. That just punishes consumers and stifles economic growth.
Ridley denies that the
... European single market is a free trade area. It’s not: it’s a customs union — a fortress protected by an external tariff. And it’s shrinking as a share of world trade.
Ridley thinks, the UK would be better off after a Brexit:
Professor Patrick Minford of Cardiff Business School argues in a recent study that the single market distorts Britain’s economy, making us “produce more of what we are worst at and less of what we are best at, while our consumers have to pay excessive prices”. If Britain left the EU it would gain about 4 per cent of GDP as a result, he calculates.