Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Crony Commercial Interests Aiming at Amash in Michigan

Philip Rucker writes in the Washington Post
that crony capitalists are so unhappy with libertarian favorite Rep. Justin Amash (R - Mich. - Dist. 3) that they are desperately seeking one of their own to mount a primary challenge against him. After all, doesn't every business lobby need someone to look after commercial interests and help them out with some good old rent-seeking?

Brian Ellis, president of an area capital management company, announced his entry in to the primary Tuesday morning. Ellis, a veteran of agribusiness, investments and a school board trustee. At his announcement, Ellis made the ridiculous assertion that "Congressman Justin Amash has turned his back on our conservative principles by voting against the Paul Ryan Budget that would cut spending by $5 trillion, and against a 20 percent tax cut for small businesses." Lotsa luck in trying to fool primary voters with such baseless nonsense. The Paul Ryan budget was big-government Republicanism at its finest.
The fact is that the local power brokers don't care for the fact that Justin Amash is committed to serving the citizens in his district and not them. Insurance mogul Meg Goebel said of Amash: "“I don’t see him as a collaborator, and I think that’s a huge problem.” 

As noted in the comments on Reason's Hit and Run blog, the historical connotation of the word "collaborator" is likely lost on Frau Goebel. 

If there is a backlash against Amash, look for a counter-backlash against the crony capitalists. This is a prime opportunity to educate people how corporatism - the alliance of business interests and the state - is the opposite of free and fair markets. 

And it's time to let Justin know we've got his back.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Guns: Rights and Responsibilities

Here at Electronpaul.blogspot.com, the editorial board takes a strong position in favor of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Here's some food for thought.

The People are the Militia

We believe that the greater body of the people forms the militia, and that the Second Amendment, as properly understood, would provide for every able-bodied male to keep and bear a standard military or military-style rifle. Able-bodied, of course means qualified in body and mind.

A militia arm does not have to be (and probably should not be) a fully automatic weapon. We are fine with NFA laws as they are, with provisions for Class III owners and dealers. A standard militia rifle should be capable of basic drilling and marksmanship practice. It could be a bolt-action 1903 Springfield, an M1 Garand or M1 Carbine, an M1A or an AR15 - rifles that were issued to the US military at various times. It could be something comparable, such as a Ruger Mini-14 or it could even be a surplus SKS, FN or MAS rifle.

Prohibition is Extreme

"Assault Weapons" Ban Merely Cosmetic

We oppose any bans or prohibitions of any gun or accessory that is currently legal. The hysteria from pundits and politicians about evil "assault weapons:" is deafening - yet to those familiar with firearms, completely laughable. Don't fall for the intentional confusion over automatic versus semi-automatic - machine guns (fully automatic weapons) have been heavily restricted or banned since 1934. You need a special license to have one as well as permission from your local chief law enforcement officer. The last amnesty was in 1968, and new machine guns were completely outlawed in 1986 (unless you are a manufacturer who sells to government or law enforcement). Semi-autos, or self-loaders, are guns that fire one shot per pull of this trigger and kick out one empty shell after each shot. This technology has been available since the 1890s, and is used in rifles, pistols and shotguns. It is the latter that politicians such as Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer seek to prohibit.

Confiscating these guns from the law-abiding does nothing. Any gun can be used in an assault. Any gunman can slaughter a room full of unarmed people with just about any firearm. Limiting magazines means a perpetrator planning an attack will just use a couple more magazines or bring more guns (or purchase old magazines on the black market, or 3D-print a new one). Conventional hunting guns can do a hell of a lot of damage without reloading - take for instance a 10-bore goose gun. "Assault rifles" aren't even used in crimes very often - according the the FBI Uniform Crime Report, rifles of any kind, of which the "fancy" ones are a small subset, are used in less than 3% of homicides. More people are killed with baseball bats or fists and feet than rifles of any kind.

Now, we personally think the likes of 100-round drums and AK pistols (yes, there are AK-pattern guns in pistol form, with no stock and a short barrel) are extremely ridiculous, not to mention useless. This position is more from an aesthetic standpoint than a legal one. They shouldn't be prohibited, of course, but why is there demand for them? If you can't hit the side of a barn with 10, 20 or even 30 shots, you need to give up shooting. And what the hell can you hit with an AK pistol - firing intermediate-sized rifle cartridges - except targets at point blank range? Any fool that thinks there is a tactical advantage with such a thing - other than intimidation - is just that, a fool. This not a militia weapon.

Some Restrictions Necessary

It is prudent and necessary to keep arms of all kinds out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. Have you ever seen a copy of Bu$ted! magazine or seen your local county's parade of mugshots? Holy bejeezus! How do we prevent any of those people from getting guns? I will say this though, after years of frequenting gun shops and gun shows, those kinds of people are virtually completely absent from that scene. The few that do show up get turned away.

We already try to do keep guns out of the wrong hands with background checks at the retail point of sale. In Florida, we have both background checks and waiting periods for purchasing firearms. It's a good system, but there is more that can be done and done better. We do feel that since criminal justice issues are best legislated on the state level, it is the state that should take steps to ensure the wrong people do not acquire guns. It might even be a good idea to have private sales at shows go through background checks. Mental health databases should be made more reliable. Straw purchases can be prosecuted.

Florida CCW a Good System, but Needs Improvement

Florida's concealed carry permit system has been a positive force in education, safety and providing for personal self-defense. Although in my experience, the classes have declined in thoroughness and active participation of the students, more and more people (Florida has close to a million active permit holders) are being educated about lethal use of force under the law as well as some safety precautions when handling firearms. These aspects of the classes could be beefed up somewhat, and the live firing component is really not sufficient.

What to Do?

So what about the criminals and maniacs who do get their hands on weapons? Surely, the Founders would think it contrary to good judgement and social peace to let a known brigand, thief or footpad to keep arms, much less a moron, idiot, or other person of unsound mind. How do we go after straw purchasers, who knowingly transfer guns to felons etc.? How do we go about educating people on gun safety and safe storage - and how do we get the parents, guardians, or co-habitants of criminals and the mentally ill from having any access to any weapons?  These questions and others will occupy this debate going forward, not arguing over what cosmetic features a gun has.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Semi-Inside View into the Ron Paul Newsletter Issue

It's challenging to remain a voice of reason and even-handedness in a news cycle that has provoked fierce personal attacks on all sides. The myriad misrepresentations, misinformation, and false accusations surrounding the Ron Paul newsletter controversy are distractions from the real problems facing the country and the world.

I've long been acquainted with Ron Paul, his newsletters, the people who helped produced them, and the intellectual context in which the groundwork was laid for this controversy. For years, I've been good friends with former and current employees of the Congressman, and have a bit of insight into how it all came about.

It's fairly well known that Ron Paul worked closely with the "paleolibertarians," a group of writers and economists associated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, the preeminent think tank for the Austrian School of Economics. Two Mises Institute personalities, Lew Rockwell and heralded libertarian economist Murray Rothbard (1926-1995), are the most commonly mentioned names in connection with the Ron Paul newsletter controversy. Lew Rockwell was the director of the entity known as Ron Paul & Associates from 1984 to 2001. The Associates business managed his several newsletters and provided copy, content and direction, with Ron Paul as basically the figurehead. Rockwell and Rothbard are frequently being pointed to as the main source of the controversial content of the newsletters, and the reasons for that are fairly clear.

Now, I've long been a fan of Mises Institute scholarship and have attended Mises events, including one in Austria. While I can't say that I have directly had much interaction with Mr. Rockwell, I have met him a number of times, and welcomed him to speaking engagements over the years at the University of Florida, Houston and Atlanta. I always found him to be a complete gentleman and a stand-up, gracious fellow. I also had the great fortune of meeting Murray Rothbard a number of times, and the same goes for him.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Rockwell, along with Rothbard, endorsed a political strategy of appealing to the populist right and social conservatives. Recoiling from the libertinism and countercultural lifestyles of some libertarians (and after the defeat of their candidate for Chairman at a Libertarian Party convention), Rockwell and Rothbard decided to start a culture war of their own within the libertarian movement. This was effectively laid out in Rockwell's paleo manifesto in Liberty magazine (PDF) as well as in the Rockwell-Rothbard Report (also PDF), basically the house organ and gossip column of the paleo brain trust. The Paleo strategy included stark denunciations of other libertarians (especially the Libertarian Party, "libertines" and "beltway" libertarians) as well as embracing the likes of Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and Tom Fleming (associated with the John Randolph Club, the Rockford Institute and Chronicles magazine).

Many within the libertarian movement were taken aback by the explicit calls for social intolerance. While many of us appreciated the appeal to local tradition and customary social behavior, how could anyone calling themselves a libertarian be actively intolerant - of non-Christians, immigrants, homosexuals, or of rock and roll? I was a young college student at the time. We all knew toleration of behavior we didn't like didn't mean embracing it. Furthermore, many of us identified with things the paleos were reacting against. We also liked Cato and reason; we simply didn't get the antagonism and rejected the intra-libertarian culture war. We saw no reason to be looking backward instead of forward, and a lot of the paleo posturing veered just a little too close to the more authoritarian aspects of communitarianism.

Suffice to say many of us young libertarians objected to the paleo strategy, and we also lamented the insertion of this strategy into the publications of our favorite former Congressman - who, while no libertine - would never himself endorse divisiveness or endlessly harp on hard-right social issues.

Everyone familiar with this now knows that Paul only wrote a small part of the content of his newsletters - mainly on economics and monetary policy. The divisive social issues, particularly the ones invoking the most contention, were written by others. But so goes the newsletter business. You sound the alarm about issues of concern, and build up your base of readers. And different writers supply much of the content - in the case of a publication with a notable name on it, the content is almost always supplied by ghostwriters and sometimes outside authors. I personally do not know if Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard, Jean McIver, Burt Blumert, Mark Thornton, Jeffrey Tucker or the ever-colorful Fred Reed authored the most controversial passages, but they, among others, did contribute to the content and production of the newsletters. It would likely be for the good of all if those responsible owned up to it. My only wish is that specific questions be clarified so we can simply move on (of course, it won't be good enough for some, but then again, certain critics will never be satisfied).

The few passages in question are in very poor taste and in some cases stooped regrettably to low levels. They have been discussed in detail elsewhere, but anyone exposed to the broad spectrum of political polemics knows they are hardly the writings of genuine racists or anti-Semites (the latter is the most ridiculous and uninformed accusation of them all). In fact, it's all really rather tame in comparison to other stuff being disseminated as violent crime peaked in the early '90s and also in the aftermath of the L.A. riots. Observing that young black males are "fleet of foot" is clearly stereotyping, but not too far off from stand-up comedian material (Robin Williams, anyone?). Suggesting Al Sharpton should hold a protest at a crack house or welfare office instead of the Statue of Liberty is actually rather funny if somewhat inappropriate. Although the remarks about gays were made during the excesses of ACT-UP and similar groups, off-color comments on gays here are also insensitive, in bad taste and just dumb. You can be reject political correctness, but you can also take it too far. Many of the charges about the newsletters currently floating around are trumped up and baseless, but I do think I'm being charitable when state that this posturing was taken too far and was not very forward-looking.

When I first started noticing the editorial trend in that direction in the pages of the Mises Institute's Free Market newsletter (up to that point, we young libertarians devoured every issue and gave out extra copies on campus) and elsewhere, my conclusion was that it was because those stodgy socially conservative types wrote bigger checks. Much of the more sober writing on this controversy suggests my initial instinct was on the money - that the hard-right posturing was an attempt at tapping into a larger subscriber base.

At the time, we all knew passages of this nature did not come directly from Ron - they issued from the same corners the Rockwell-Rothbard Report did. My own sense was that he had worked with Lew and Murray and their compatriots for a long time, trusted them, and simply allowed them to pursue a strategy they felt would be successful. In the meantime, Ron Paul has disavowed the controversial writings, and has expressed regret for them many times over. Paul even said as much in the New York Times about Messrs. Rockwell and Rothbard: "They enjoyed antagonizing people, to tell you the truth, and trying to split people." Perhaps the Paleos leaned on him to allow them freer reign with his newsletters. Nice folks tend to succumb to more dominant, aggressive people - such is human nature. And that can be forgiven.

Thankfully, the Paleo strategy of corralling the hard-right quietly fell by the wayside as the Mises people parted ways with the protectionists and nativists and war became a major issue. Lew Rockwell has expressed some reflections on his own evolution in attitude. Also see Rockwell's interesting piece here, "My Speech at the Antiwar Rally."

Although the actual schism is long over and done with, many of the questions still remain. But Ron Paul is no George Wallace or Lester Maddox, and it's ridiculous that he's being treated that way for words he did not write. To err in judgment is all too human, but the misjudgment of Ron Paul over this issue is malicious and unfair. His dedication to the cause of liberty will always instruct and inspire us, and his legacy will long outlive this hopefully short-lived brouhaha.

I know what it's like to have your name appear on words you didn't write. Coincidentally, my situation involved some of the same people. In an article I wrote covering a GOP convention for Liberty magazine, the late editor, Bill Bradford, changed specific passages to take personal swipes at Rockwell and Blumert. I'm not entirely sure what his motivation was. This stirred a few hornets and ultimately resulted in a bit of bad blood between the Mises people and the Republican Liberty Caucus. Not unlike Ron Paul's situation, I really had a difficult time getting the word out that I didn't come up with those cheap snipes at Rockwell or Blumert, since the damage had been done (I regret that I only indirectly expressed regret to Burt Blumert for the swipe against him before he passed away). And while I strongly disagreed with the Paleo approach at the time, I'd have never said unkind things about Lew Rockwell personally. I have my issues with some of the excesses and crankiness of a few of the Lew Rockwell Blog writers, but that's for another article.

With a $15 trillion national debt, troops stationed all over the globe, and our personal freedoms and privacy being chipped away at, it's difficult for me to imagine how some people justify their obsession with this issue. It came and went years ago. With Ron Paul leading in Iowa and polling a strong second in New Hampshire, it is not unlikely that the powers that be - those who benefit from the corporate state and looting the American people - have an interest in slinging as much mud at Ron Paul as they can. It's because he speaks against their power, not because they care about un-PC things that were published in an investment letter or political report 20 years ago.

An unintended consequence of those spreading the false impression that Ron Paul somehow holds racial views will undoubtedly create sympathy among those who don't care about the issue. It may even succeed in creating support from those who were the original target audience of those passages (i.e. the paleo "redneck outreach" as it was called). We're talking about Republican primary voters here - not the political junkies or bloggers or other nitpickers and meticulous evaluators of the news. Remember that Rand Paul won the GOP Senate primary in Kentucky and the general election - even after the Civil Rights Act flap stemming from the Rachel Maddow show led to Rand falsely being accused of being a racist, even after stating his support for the intent of the Civil Rights Act and most of its planks -- as well as stating he would not seek its repeal.

It should be noted that Governor Gary Johnson is officially out of the GOP running and intends to seek the LP nomination - I also think he's absolutely great and have met with him and attended several of his events. Best of luck to him.

At the end of the day, Ron Paul remains the best candidate in the GOP race. By far. No one else in the running speaks out against unconstitutional wars, the financial manipulations by the banks and the Fed, the drug war, out-of-control spending and the erosion of our civil liberties.


If anything I've written is factually incorrect, I welcome any civil comments with corrections.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Controversy = Relevance. Ron Paul Jars Establishment, Media, Pundits

In the latest GOP Presidential debate hosted by CNN and the Tea Party Express, Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul made news tickers buzz with his "controversial" statements about health care and foreign policy. Reactions from left and right attempt, rather ridiculously, to paint Paul as anything but what he is. From Mother Jones and the grossly uninformed Rosanne Barr on the left, to booing Tea Partiers and neocon blogs on the right, Ron Paul raises the ire of statists across the spectrum. And ever more so.

Ron Paul stands for sound money, limited government, a rational foreign policy and solid protection of civil liberties under the Bill of Rights.

His prescription for our troubling health care situation includes freedom, competition and charity - as opposed to the dirigism and corporatism of Hillarycare, Obamacare and Romneycare.

The reason why the cost of health care has skyrocketed in the U.S. is a direct result of the collusion of interest groups such as the AMA (the doctors' lobby), Big Insurance, et al, with state and Federal lawmakers. Competition is strangled and ensures the oligopoly position of health care providers. In most cases, the same costly regulations that apply to a 100-doctor hospital apply to a one-doctor private practice or small clinic. Insurance cannot be offered across state lines unless it complies with the often complex dictates of state insurance law. Medicare and Medicaid have historically have had little cost control, allowing what providers charge to balloon. We have nothing resembling real competition in the health care marketplace.

Ron Paul's foreign policy principles would make America safe, and pull the rug out from under terrorists who have sworn to harm this country. The jihadists' strategy of pulling the US and its allies into long, protracted occupations has worked - to the benefit of military contractors and those who loan money to the US government to pay for it. Who benefits from interventionist foreign policy? Not the US taxpayer.

The more the guardians of the military-industrial-bureaucratic complex attack him, the more relevant he is.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Support FAMM - Families Against Mandatory Minimums

Mandatory minimum sentencing for drugs was devised in the '70s (in New York) and '80s (Federally) by misguided proponents of the war on drugs, who thought they could eradicate drugs by getting "tough."

The drug war has ruined peoples' lives more than drugs ever could, by throwing them in jail for years and years - at your expense. FAMM has several stories about people whose lives have been ruined. Mandatory minimum sentences can send first-time, non-violent offenders to jail for years.

It's time to get rid of mandatory minimums (and for that matter, drug prohibition). I saw a presentation by the Florida office of FAMM (they only have two state offices - Fla. and Mass.) and I have never heard such heart-wrenching stories.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Rand Paul Headed for Victory in Kentucky GOP Primary

Rand Paul at Ky. GOP Senate primary debate, from Kansas City Star, photo by Ed ReinkeIt looks like a pretty safe bet that Bowling Green ophthamologist Rand Paul is coasting towards a sizable victory in Tuesday's Republican Senate primary in Kentucky. The May 18 primary pits Paul against establishment scion Trey Grayson, who has released a number of negative attack ads distorting Rand Paul's positions on foreign policy and conflating them with the perceptions of those of his father. In fact, Grayson has started aping some of Rand's positions on economic issues, even distancing himself from the corporate bailouts rubber-stamped by the national GOP.

Rand has been more skillful than his father at bringing mainstream conservatives on board his campaign, earning the endorsement of Steve Forbes, Sarah Palin, Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), retiring Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), and archconservative James Dobson of Focus on the Family.

Today, Salon published a detailed and sympathetic profile of Rand entitled How Rand Paul became the Tea Party's Obama. Last month, reason magazine published an excellent profile of Rand Paul and his campaign, and today our good friend Brian Doherty notes the GOP power shift represented by Rand's campaign, also in reason.

Also participating in the race are rambling but entertaining WWII veteran Gurley Martin (not only is he on the Interwebs, he can be found on the Youtubes and the Twitter) and also-rans John Stephenson and Jon Scribner. Red-meat Republican Bill Johnson dropped out in March after dropping thousands of dollars on his own campaign, after gaining no traction whatsoever, the endorsement of religious firebrand Alan Keyes notwithstanding.

The editors of this site disagree with Rand on a few things, notably abortion and a few of his more socially conservative positions -- things that earned him the endorsement of people like Dobson and social conservative groups in Kentucky. However, the most crucial issues facing this country are primarily economic, and Rand is the candidate with the best understanding of these issues and how to approach and solve the myriad problems our own Federal government has caused: obscene deficits, a crippling national debt, which is approaching an unfathomable $13 trillion dollars, out-of-control spending, and regulations that end up benefiting large corporations while hurting small business - such as recent health care and financial reform legislation.

Without question, Rand's father Ron is more consistent in articulating the libertarian philosophy and is much more vocal about civil liberties issues commonly ignored by mainstream Republicans. In this regard, Rand has left a few observers wanting to hear more on these issues. Then again, Rand is his own person, and he is running for the Kentucky GOP Senate nod, not for the Libertarian Party Presidential nomination. On the other hand, Rand takes a firmer stance against Congressional earmarks and pork-barrel spending, maintaining that Federal funds should be distributed according to objective criteria, not the seniority of a district's Congressperson.

On foreign policy, we appreciate elements of both Pauls' positions - we favor a strong defense, while at the same time resisting the misguided imperative of acting as the world's policeman and the pursuit of costly and quixotic nation-building.

We applaud Rand Paul's impressive campaign and wish him a resounding victory on Tuesday and in November.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bastiat's Broken-Window Fallacy: Do Disasters and War Create Prosperity?

In this short video, scholar Tom Palmer discusses Bastiat's Broken-Window Fallacy, a very simple proposition that says destruction (in the form of disasters or war) does not create wealth or prosperity. Apparently "experts" like Paul Krugman claim that it does.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Obama's Corporatist Economic Advisors

Obama's Corporatist Economic Advisors
Hopefully, they'll leave us with some change

Barack Obama's economic advisors include some youngish Democratic centrists, genuinely bright economists like Austan Goolsbee and Jason Furman. Their pedigrees include Yale, MIT, Harvard and the University of Chicago, an historically free-market bastion. In many instances, these individuals display a surprising sensitivity to recognizing the spontaneous order brought about by millions of actors in the marketplace. However, the few relatively sane positions they hold will likely be drowned out by the converging cavalcade of interest groups that will accompany a potential Obama victory.

In spite of Obama's anti-trade campaign rhetoric, the members of his economic brain trust are friendly to trade and globalization - so much so that the far left has screamed bloody murder, accusing Furman and Goolsbee of having "Wall Street viewpoints" and being "crypto-Bushies." Furman authored a notable paper lauding the salutary effects of Wal-Mart's low prices. Speaking of the net benefits that Wal-Mart's cost savings gave the working poor -- an estimated $263 billion dollars -- Furman declared "there are very few public policies that I’ve advocated in my life that would make as big a difference as that." His estimates of wage suppression ran about $5 billion. "It's just an enormous differential." The Nation's Naomi Klein almost summons the lynch mob, and then concludes their saving grace might just be their paeans to Keynesianism and John Kenneth Galbraith.

Obama's Democratic "Chicago Boys" recognize the value of lower corporate tax rates in principle. Goolsbee determined in a study that taxing Internet transactions could reduce sales by up to a third and stunt e-commerce significantly. Furman has called for lowering tax rates generally and broadening the tax base by limiting special exemptions, calling incentives to invest in tax-favored activities (as opposed to economically productive activities) perverse. In a July 24 interview with NPR, Furman rattled off an astonishing litany of potential budget savings, including ending some subsidies and overpayments to Medicare, banks that make student loans (!), and wealthy farmers.

On the other hand, these things are now de rigueur in any intelligent discussion of political economics today. Only the truly unlettered deny that confiscatory tax rates, complicated tax codes and protectionism are detrimental to a country's economic well-being.

One would hope such bright young minds would find their own voice and not serve as servile executors of viagrafied interest groups, from longshoremen to Lehman Brothers. Will they just go along with the most noxious proposals the Obama team brings to the table? One particularly ominous piece of legislation is the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, a labor-backed step towards coerced unionization on a national level that portends to do away with secret ballots at the workplace.

The Pelsoi/Reid Congress are already clamoring for billions in new spending, as if current levels weren't bilious enough. With an Obama presidency, expect every imaginable Democrat constituency (and then some) to have their eager hands out; after all, Barack Obama has presented himself as all things to all people, people with not all that much in common.

Given their Keynesian roots, and looking at the rest of their policy proposals, it could be argued that these guys are not truly free marketeers, but pragmatic corporatists and utilitarians hired to keep Wall Street and tax-eaters happy (these days it seems those two are converging). Furman was groomed by high-powered Democratic pro-business luminaries such as Robert Rubin and Joe Stiglitz, who successfully steered Bill Clinton towards deficit reduction while only marginally increasing top tax rates.

Goolsbee cheer-led subprime lending in his March 2007 NYT column "‘Irresponsible’ Mortgages Have Opened Doors to Many of the Excluded", pooh-poohing predictions of economic bust. This seems to make clear under what kind of paradigm the Obama economic team operates; we know how well Wall Street lenders love the easy credit gravy train. As Justin Raimondo documented, Obama's campaign has received huge support from Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and other top execs of the nation's financial giants, all beneficiaries of the shameful bailout scheme.

Jason Furman himself comes from an entrenched Democratic Party establishment background. Furman's mother, Gail, a Manhattan child psychologist, is the matriarch of the Furman Foundation, a fund that deals cash to Soros-backed groups like the Tides Center, People for the American Way, left-leaning NGOs, and Media Matters, David Brock's left-wing journalist team. Conspiracy nuts will love the fact that the Furmans have bestowed thousands to the Council on Foreign Relations on an annual basis. Furman grants mirror those of Soros and Herb and Marion Sandler, the controversial pair implicated as major players in the subprime lending debacle and Wachovia collapse. Furman herself is an effusive donor to the DNC and Democratic candidates across the country. There is little doubt she'll grab Jason by the ear and have him march her in to the Oval Office so she can have her say with Barack. If momma ain't happy, ain't no one happy.

Those of us who tend to favor markets and choice over state domination hope these centrist advisors will keep Obama from embarking on too many asinine shenanigans if he is elected. They would serve him well to mute the traditional Democrat constituencies, whose scoreboard lights up with every new tax, regulation and Federal bureaucracy. In the 1990s, a reinvigorated GOP Congress helped contain the Clinton Administration's more ambitious targets, and as a result it left a relatively fiscally conservative record. Obama's market-friendly centrists may try to bring a level of reasonableness to a potential Obama administration, but with Democratic trifecta in place, we can only doubt this.

Tom Walls is a travel consultant and translator in Lake Worth, Fla. He has a long history of activism in libertarian organizations, from the National Libertarian Party to the RLC. He supported Ron Paul in the GOP primaries and is voting for Bob Barr in the general election.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What is to be done? A message from Phil Blumel

From: Phil Blumel, Palm Beach Ron Paul meetup coordinator


We are running in a GOP primary and have to reach GOP voters. It is helpful, and easy, to have sign-waving events on busy street corners -- and they are worth doing! -- but they are not enough, as a minority of the people who pass in cars are NOT going to be voting in the primary.

The most influential primary voters attend local GOP meetings and/or belong to their county Republican Executive Committee and, of course, 100% of the people at such meetings are both interested in the election and will be voting in the primary. We need to be a recognized and respectable part of the Republican Party if we are to win a Republican primary. If we act like a marginal third party, we will get the vote total of a marginal third party.

Here are my specific recommendations in this regard:

1) Register Republican right now if you are not already.

2) Bring change of registration forms to every planning Meetup. We always get new GOP voters in the South Florida Meetups when we do this.

3) Encourage the more presentable Meetup folks (you know what I mean) to join their local GOP clubs and attend meetings and socials wearing a Ron Paul lapel pin and armed with some Ron literature. Go to the meeting, participate, get to know people.

You don't need to be pushy or dogmatic, as this will be resented. Have you ever been active in a charity and some realtor or other salesperson joins trying to network to generate business and it is clear they don't really care about the charity? They do not succeed in generating business that way; this kind of networking only works when the realtor is *genuinely* interested in the goals of the charity. Watch how the Rudy and Mitt folks are working the crowd and learn from them. Because of the pin, discussions about Ron will spring up. But even when they don't, these important primary voters will recognize intraparty support and we will earn respect. The key to networking is to make genuine connections with people, not to harangue or give speeches. It requires attending meetings regularly and establishing real relationships.

4) Join the Republican Liberty Caucus network (www.rlc.org). Ron was chair of the RLC in the 1990s and this is the existing libertarian network in the GOP. This will help you locate fellow travelers in the GOP. You are not alone!