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AUSTIN Freedom to Marry, one of the most prominent same-sex marriage advocacy organizations in the nation, is launching a campaign in Texas to amplify its message ahead of an important appeals court hearing next year.

The organization will announce the “Texas for Marriage” campaign and unveil its accompanying website on Tuesday. It plans to spend roughly $200,000 on the effort, and will enlist Ward Curtin, three-time deputy campaign manager to Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and former George W. Bush adviser Mark McKinnon in its efforts.

“We want to make sure that the court hears that America is ready for the freedom to marry, and that includes Texas,” Freedom to Marry President and CEO Evan Wolfson, considered by many to be the father of the modern gay marriage movement, told the Chronicle on Monday. “Obviously I would love to be everywhere, but we have to look where we can have a real impact.”

The campaign will feature statewide TV ads, town hall meetings and efforts to bring together young conservatives ahead of the January hearing in the 5th Circuit Court challenging Texas’ gay marriage ban. In February, San Antonio-based U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled the ban unconstitutional because it violated gay couples’ 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, now the governor-elect, appealed the ruling to the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court. While the court initially indicated it would expedite a hearing, oral arguments were eventually set for the week of Jan. 5, 2015.

When asked how the enhanced effort would work in Texas, a strongly red state that just elected a full slate of new Republican leaders, Wolfson said candidates chose not to focus heavily on gay marriage this election cycle because opposition to the movement no longer sells like it used to.

“Whatever this election was about, it wasn’t about the freedom to marry and it wasn’t about gay people,” said Wolfson. McKinnon, already the Texas chair for Freedom to Marry, said the issue was “a blip” on the election scene “because Texans from all walks of life, from big cities to small towns, believe strongly in freedom and family. Supporting gay couples marrying is squarely in line with these Texas values.”

Freedom to Marry has launched similar efforts in about two dozen other states before similarly important court hearings there. Gay marriage is now legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia. While a recent circuit court decision upholding same-sex marriage bans in four states means the U.S. Supreme Court will likely review the issue, the Texas case will continue undeterred during that time.

Lauren McGaughy is a reporter in the Houston Chronicle’s Austin bureau. She can be reached at lauren.mcgaughy@chron.com or on Twitter @lmcgaughy.

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Freedom to Marry launches statewide gay marriage campaign in Texas



Ron Paul: What The Elections Really Mean For Peace and Liberty
What The Mid-Term Elections Really Mean For Peace and Liberty by Ron Paul Did the election last week really mean that much? I took to my Twitter account on T…

By: VisionLiberty

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Ron Paul: What The Elections Really Mean For Peace and Liberty – Video

From our community

Late Tuesday afternoon, Houston City Council candidate Trebor Gordon filed a First Amendment lawsuit challenging a discriminatory Houston ordinance that prevents city candidates from fundraising until February.

Gordon is a conservative candidate for Houston City Council at large. Houston is a great city because of the entrepreneurial culture of its citizens, among other things, Gordon said. But our current leadership has been chipping away at that spirit, overregulating and fleecing the taxpayers with a runaway budget. Im running to restore responsible leadership and let Houstonians run their own lives.

Im also compelled to address the deeply offensive posture Mayor Parker has taken towards people of faith in this city, harassing pastors with abusive subpoenas, Gordon continued. I have to address these issues now, because they are happening now. I cant wait until February to start my campaign.

Gordon will be on the ballot in the citys next general election in November 2015. Currently, section 18-35(a) of the Houston code of ordinances states that candidates may only solicit or receive contributions beginning in February of the election year and ending on March 4 of the year after the election. This provision prohibits fundraising for a full ten months of every two-year cycle, and candidates have only nine months to raise funds before Election Day.

Gordon is represented by political law attorney Jerad Najvar. There is no blackout period banning bad decisions by city officials for a part of every election cycle, Najvar said, and the government has no authority to tell Gordonor any other candidateto wait until February to start campaigning. City officials have access to free media all day long, and my client certainly has the right to fund his campaign and speak to the public. This waiting period serves only to insulate the city from organized opposition.

Najvar continued: The blackout period is facially unconstitutional. But it gets even worse, because people who currently hold non-city office are raising money right now, and everybody knows it will be transferred to their city campaign in February. This whole system is an absurd charade encouraging candidates to act like theyre running for something theyre not. While these shadow campaigns are proceeding aggressively, nonincumbents like Gordon have to sit on their hands. The First Amendment does not permit such nonsense.

The case is Gordon v. City of Houston, No. 14-CV-3146, currently pending in federal court in the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. Gordon has asked for an immediate injunction, and is awaiting a hearing date from the court.

Continued here:
Houston City Council candidate Trebor Gordon files First Amendment challenge to campaign blackout period

In a column written just before the election, prominent Harvard Law School Professor and former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein channels the great libertarian economist F.A. Hayeks classic critique of conservatism in his advice to the new GOP majority in Congress:

Instead of conservatism, Hayek argued for a principled commitment to liberty an approach that would sharply constrain government and take an essentially radical position, directed against popular prejudices, entrenched positions and firmly established privileges. Its fair to say that in the current period, Hayeks radical position would entail a strong commitment to free trade, a rejection of protectionism, decreased regulation, deep skepticism about occupational licensing (and other barriers to entry), a firm commitment to religious liberty, and less frequent appeals to patriotism as a substitute for freedom-protecting reforms

In his short essay, Hayek did not deliver a knockout punch against conservatism. But he did land some powerful blows, not least in his objection that conservatives cannot easily work with people whose values differ from their own.

In the coming period, however, Republicans will be under increasing pressure to define themselves affirmatively rather than by opposition. One of their chief goals should be to identify freedom-promoting initiatives that might attract support from people who cannot, by temperament or otherwise, be counted as conservative. They would do well to begin with a close reading of Hayek.

Sunsteins advice that the GOP pursue a radical Hayekian libertarian agenda may be in some tension with his recent critique of paranoid libertarianism, (which I commented on here). Still, I agree with him that Hayeks critique of conservatism remains relevant today. And I would be very happy if the new Republican-controlled Congress were to advance Hayekian reforms of expanding liberty and cutting back government regulation, while also eschewing appeals to nationalism.

Obviously, however, the GOP does not consist solely or even primarily of libertarians who feel the same way as I do. It has many other elements, including a still-strong social conservative contingent that party leaders must cater to in order to hold their coalition together. I am also skeptical about how much support a radical libertarian agenda (or even a moderate one) would attract from Sunsteins fellow liberal Democrats.

That said, I think it is possible to envision the GOP evolving in a more libertarian direction over the next few years. With the very important exception of immigration, the party emphasized libertarian ideas far more than social conservative ones in the fall election. Significantly, they did not even make much of an issue out of the rapidly growing trend towards acceptance of same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization.

Some Republicans have even begun to rethink the War on Drugs and the mass imprisonment it generates. The Tea Party the most dynamic part of the GOP in recent years has largely focused on fiscal and economic issues, and has a substantial libertarian component (though it also has many social conservatives in its ranks).

Meanwhile, younger Republicans are far more socially liberal than their elders. For example, a recent survey finds that 61% of 18-29 year old Republicans support same-sex marriage, and many also support marijuana legalization. Generational succession will likely give such views greater weight in the party over time. By contrast, young Republicans are generally no less suspicious of government spending and economic regulation than older ones. The GOP is still very far from being a libertarian party, and it may never fully become one. But it could well become significantly more libertarian over the next few years than it has been at any time in the recent past.

It is also possible that libertarian-leaning Republicans can cooperate with liberal Democrats on some issues, including cutting back on the War on Drugs, and NSA surveillance, among others. At the same time, past attempts to build a liberaltarian alliance have had only extremely limited success, in part because the gap between libertarians and the left on many issues is very large.

Originally posted here:
Volokh Conspiracy: Cass Sunstein channels Hayek

Senator Udall visiting a wind power plant in Boulder in 2013.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) was one of just a few US Senators decryingwidespreadsurveillance even before the Snowden leaks. Udall hasbeen a sharp critic of intelligence agencies since then as well, asking for CIA Director John Brennan to resign after allegations emerged that the intelligence agency gained access to Senate files.

He won’t be in office much longer.Udall lost his election last night against Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner. By 1:00am Eastern time, Gardner was ahead by six percentage points, with 87 percent of precinctsreporting. At that point, several news agencies called the election for Gardner.The Senateseat was one of several that flipped from Democratic to Republican control last night, causing Republicans to take control of theupper house.

Udall’s positioning as a toughcritic of the NSA wasn’t a big issue on the campaign trail, although in the final days ofthe election he did release an ad saying he wont tolerate overbroad government surveillance. But much of Udall’s campaigning came across as out of touch, running an old playbook. Udall hammered his opponent on womens’ issues in socially liberal Colorado, noting that Gardner supported a “personhood amendment” tolimit abortion and suggesting he wanted to ban some types of birth control.

That led to criticism that Udall was running a “one-issue campaign,” with Colorado voters wanting to hear more about the economy and jobs.It was tough to paint the affableGardner as a radical, and when a Denver reporter jokingly dubbed Udall “Mark Uterus,”it stuck.

Gardner alsogota surprise endorsement from The Denver Post, which supported Udall six years earlier.

Supporters of Gardner point out that hevoted for a billin the House to block the bulk surveillance program, suggesting that there may not be much daylight between the candidates onthe surveillance. Still, given Udall’sposition as a longtime criticone on the Senate Intelligence Committee, no lesshis departure willbe a loss for those looking to rein in intelligence agencies.

“What Udall has is the institutional memory and the relationships in the civil liberties community, in the Democratic Party, and in the tech industry so that we dont have to start over again with someone new,” the head of ACLU’s Washington DC office told The Hill.

The otherlongtime NSA critic on the Senate Intelligence Committee is Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who was not up for reelection last night.

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NSA critic Udall is sent packing as Republicans grab Senate



Infowars.com LIVE 2014 Election Coverage Freedom VS Oppression
See HD versions at http://www.infowars.com/show or become a member of http://www.prisonplanet.tv Join us tonight Nov 3rd (7pm to 10pm) and tomorrow night Nov 4th (6pm to 12am) as Infowars.com.

By: TheAlexJonesChannel

Excerpt from:
Infowars.com LIVE 2014 Election Coverage Freedom VS Oppression – Video

With barely more than a month to go before Election Day, there has been one thing practically nonexistent this cycle: bitcoin.

The virtual currency, which made waves when the Office of Campaign and Political Finance said in January it was A-OK for campaigns to accept, is currently invisible.

That is, with one exception.

State Rep. Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury) has raised an itty-bitty $25 in bitcoin, because why not?

He said one of his constituents, who is all about the currency which is worth as much as people say it is, wanted to try it out.

I had to turn to my college intern to get the lowdown on bitcoin, Cutler said. I had heard of bitcoin but I didnt know anything about it.

The controversial currency almost had a brush with the gubernatorial race. In December, an attorney for the Charlie Baker campaign asked campaign finance officials if it would be kosher to hold a fundraiser and ask for bitcoins.

In a regulated industry it is important for campaigns to remain constantly informed of the impact of new technologies, Baker spokesman Tim Buckley said.

The fundraiser never happened.

Campaign representatives for Baker, Maura Healey, Evan Falchuk and Seth Moulton all said they have not received any contributions in bitcoin. Attorney General Martha Coakleys campaign did not respond.

Read more here:
Bitcoin makes an itty-bitty splash in MA politics



Defend Freedom in Kentucky, Defeat Alison Grimes
It's your choice and your right to own a firearm for self-defense, but Alison Lundergan Grimes won't defend your rights. This Election Day, vote for the candidate who has defended your…

By: NRA

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Defend Freedom in Kentucky, Defeat Alison Grimes – Video

Josh Blackman links to an interesting new speech by (retired) Justice Stevens about the Courts campaign finance jurisprudence. Among other things, Justice Stevens argues that there ought to be little protection (or no protection?) for campaign contributions made across state lines. He begins . . .:

In the first sentence of his controlling opinion [in McCutcheon v. FEC] the Chief Justice correctly states that there is no right more basic to our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders. 188 L. Ed.2d 468, 482. And in his concluding paragraph he correctly describes that right as the First Amendment right of citizens to choose who shall govern them. Id., at 507 (Emphases added).

McCutcheons complaint, however, makes it clear that his objection to the federal statute was based entirely on its impairment of his ability to influence the election of political leaders for whom he had no right to vote. He is an Alabama citizen; in the 2012 election cycle he made equal contributions to different candidates, only two of whom were from Alabama. The other thirteen were campaigning in California, Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. Of primary significance is the fact that his only complaint about the federal statute was its prohibition against his making contributions in 2014 to candidates in twelve other non-Alabama elections Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

To the best of my knowledge in none of the Courts cases prior to McCutcheon has the Court even mentioned a citizens supposed right to participate in elections in which he or she has no right to vote. It surely has not characterized it as a basic right of unparalleled importance.

Among other things, Justice Stevens draws on Bluman v. FEC, an opinion by Judge Kavanaugh that held that non-resident aliens had no right to make contributions or expenditures about American elections, and that was summarily affirmed (unanimously!) by the Supreme Court.

This is an interesting point, although I am not at all convinced by Justice Stevenss analysis. For a different take, here is an excerpt from Jessica Bulman-Pozens recent article, Partisan Federalism:

Bluman v. FEC: Political Engagement Across State Lines

In recent years, political engagement across state lines has increased dramatically. This engagement is not limited to out-of-state spending for federal representatives, but also extends to state electoral contests and referenda. In the 2012 Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election, for instance, out-of-state contributions made up a majority of Governor Scott Walkers arsenal and nearly a third of challenger Tom Barretts funds. For South Dakotas 2006 referendum on abortion, a substantial majority of the funds for both sides came from other states. As one commentator puts it: Means of communication, fundraising and also campaigning are becoming nationaland its affecting state and even local races.

Cross-state engagement furnishes powerful evidence of partisan federalism. For one thing, party organizations are among the most active cross-state participants; the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into state races in the past decade.261 Party actors recognize the power of the states as platforms for national conflict. But so too do individuals, who get involved directly in out-of-state politics for many reasons. In some cases, a donor might contemplate moving to a different state to take advantage of a new policy or visiting to benefit from the policy during a briefer stay. In other cases, one states decisions may effectively set policy for the entire nation. But in perhaps the largest number of cases, Americans do not stand to benefit immediately or directly from out-of-state political involvement. Instead, they seek to create momentum for a particular policy or political party, to build a real-life example to inform national debate, or simply to take comfort in knowing that their preferences are actual policyand their partisan group is in control somewhere. By channeling money toward states other than their own and embracing the kind of surrogate representation I have explored in Part III, these individuals are enacting partisan federalism.

If we see cross-state political participation, however, it is not because existing federalism doctrine or theory supports the practice. Instead, it is because such activity has been protected as expression under the First Amendment. Today, only Alaska and Hawaii impose any limits on out-of-state contributions, and no state limits out-of-state expenditures. Although the Alaska Supreme Court upheld the states residency-based limits, citing deep suspicions of the motives and wisdom of those who, from outside its borders, wish to remold Alaska, federal courts have rejected, on First Amendment grounds, attempts by other states to impose similar restrictions. Courts have also largely invalidatedas inconsistent with the First Amendmentstate requirements that petition circulators be state residents. While these courts have focused on the expressive dimensions of cross-border contributions and expenditures and have not considered their validity from a federalism perspective, a recent case raises the question of whether such expressive activity undermines American federalism and may accordingly be proscribed. In Bluman v. FEC, a three-judge panel of the D.C. District Court took up a loose end left by the Supreme Courts holding in Citizens United v. FEC: whether the Government has a compelling interest in preventing foreign individuals or associations from influencing our Nations political process. In a decision summarily affirmed by the Supreme Court, the court upheld a provision of federal law that prohibits foreign nationals from making contributions or expenditures in connection with federal, state, or local elections. The court reasoned that the case did not turn on the First Amendment questions that have dominated campaign finance jurisprudence but rather a foundational question about the definition of the American political community. It is fundamental to the definition of our national political community, the court maintained, that foreign citizens do not have a constitutional right to participate in, and thus may be excluded from, activities of democratic self-government. Recognizing political contributions and expenditures as integral to electoral processes, the court proceeded to define them as both speech and participation in democratic self-government. Accordingly, it reasoned, limitations on foreign contributions and expenditures are all part of the sovereigns obligation to preserve the basic conception of a political community.

The rest is here:
Volokh Conspiracy: Is there a right to contribute to out-of-state elections?

WE ARE, as it always seems, “at a pivotal moment in American history.” At least that’s what Sens. Tom Udall and Bernie Sanders maintained in a melodramatic Politico op-ed last week as they explained their efforts to repeal the First Amendment.

Let me retort in their language:

It’s true that building the United States has been long, arduous and rife with setbacks. But throughout the years, the American people have repelled efforts to weaken or dismantle the First Amendment. We have weathered the Sedition Act of 1918, a law that led to the imprisonment of innocent Americans who opposed the war or the draft. Since then, we have withstood numerous efforts to hamper, chill and undermine basic free expression in the name of “patriotism.” We have, however, allowed elected officials to treat citizens as if they were children by arbitrarily imposing strict limits on their free speech in the name of “fairness.”

But nowadays, after five members of the Supreme Court upheld the First Amendment and treated all political speech equally, liberal activists and Democrats in the Senate would have us return to a time when government dispensed speech to favored institutions–as if it were the government’s to give.

In 2010, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 opinion striking down major parts of a 2002 campaign-finance reform law in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This case and subsequent rulings, including McCutcheon v. FEC, have led to more political activism and more grass-roots engagement than ever before. In the 2012 presidential election, we quickly saw the results. More Americans voted than in any election; more minorities voted; more Americans engaged in more debate and had more information in their hands than ever before. More than 60 percent of all those super PAC funds came from just 159 donors, each of whom gave more than $1 million. And still, every vote held the same sway. You may be persuaded by someone, but no one can buy your vote. I wish the same could be said for your senators.

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The Constitution protects the rich, too

Sep 152014

As election season enters full swing, Senate Democrats are taking the opportunity to garner votes by attempting to rewrite the Bill of Rights, something that hasnt been done since those rights were enshrined. They want to ask the nation to change the First Amendment so that it protects political speech only up to a point.

The timing is right. Nationally eight Senate races have already received more than $10 million each in outside spending, according to the Federal Election Commission. In Michigan, huge amounts of outside money have flooded into the race between Rep. Gary Peters and former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.

The group of senators supporting such a drastic move know it will never pass the extensive process needed to amend the Constitution. But it gives them an opportunity to try to convince Americans once again that corporations and wealthy individuals who give money to political candidates or campaigns should be stripped of their fundamental right to free speech.

The move is blatantly hypocritical, since the supporting senators have all received huge donations themselves. But it is unfortunately the logical end of the flawed Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly known as McCain-Feingold) signed into law under former President George W. Bush.

The Supreme Court has upheld the principle that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech to individuals, organizations and even corporations, and that dedicating time and money to political candidates and causes is protected speech.

Though there are limits on what amount an individual can give to any one political candidate, most other extreme limitations on spending and speech have been struck down by the court.

As much as this debate has already focused on Republican donors chiefly the Koch brothers, who fund mega-PACs such as Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Action and others Democrats benefit from huge campaign donations as much, if not more.

Climate change activist Tom Steyer has given more than $20 million to support Democratic candidates in this election cycle. Hes followed by former New York Mayor and gun control activist Michael Bloomberg, who has given more than $9 million this year, almost entirely to liberal groups.

Both sides take money from rich people and corporations. And certainly it would be nice if there were less money in politics.

But the Constitution does not permit politicians to place arbitrary restrictions on speech. Protecting the First Amendment should not give way to those so determined to gain a partisan edge that they are willing to rewrite the fundamental rights of Americans.

See more here:
Free speech needs no amending

Sep 092014

Several Senate Republicans joined Democrats on Monday to advance a constitutional amendment that would give Congress and the states greater power to regulate campaign finance.

But the bipartisanship ends there.

Many of the Republicans only voted for the bill to foul up Democrats pre-election messaging schedule, freezing precious Senate floor time for a measure that ultimately has no chance of securing the two-thirds support necessary in both the House and Senate to amend the Constitution.

The legislation needed 60 votes to advance and Democrats took a cynical view of the 79-18 tally. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the GOPs tactic was simply to stall because it would eat up limited floor time that Democrats are eyeing for votes aimed at encouraging gender pay equity and raising the minimum wage.

(McConnell for POLITICO Magazine: The Democrats’ assault on free speech)

They know were getting out of here fairly shortly and they want to prevent discussion on other very important issues, said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). I would love to be proven wrong. But if the end of this week, we end up getting 67 votes, you can tell me I was too cynical.

But campaign finance is not a debate that Senate Republicans are shying away from and their argument is being led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who penned an op-ed for POLITICO on Monday that portrayed Democrats as fixated on repealing the free speech protections the First Amendment guarantees to all Americans.

Not surprisingly, a proposal as bad as the one Senate Democrats are pushing wont even come close to garnering the votes it would need to pass. But to many Democrats, thats just the point. They want this proposal to fail because they think that somehow would help them on Election Day, McConnell wrote.

Democrats see electoral benefits in their proposal, pointing to Democratic-commissioned polls in battleground states that show bipartisan majorities in support of limiting big donors influence in politics and in opposition to Super PACs. Party leaders and aides believe their campaign finance proposal is popular and places the GOP on the wrong side of public opinion so some Democratic aides said they were happy for the debate to consume the Senate this week and still plan to hold votes on raising the minimum wage and pay equity before breaking for campaign season.

Theyre volunteering to defend the Koch brothers and a campaign finance system voters hate, said one Senate aide.

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Constitutional amendment advances

A St. Paul judges ruling will level the playing field for political donations in Minnesota, halting a law that plaintiffs argued dishes out First Amendment rights on a first-come, first-served basis.

Only weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned federal limits on campaign donations in McCutcheon v. FEC, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank on Monday applied that precedent to a Minnesota campaign finance law that allowed some Minnesotans to donate more than others to the same candidate in state elections.

The federal court directed Minnesota officials to halt enforcement of the states special sources limit law. Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm, initiated the case.

The government should not be using campaign finance laws to play favorites, said Anthony Sanders, lead attorney for IJ in the constitutional challenge. This ruling means that all Minnesotans who want to support political candidates will enjoy the same rights, no matter when in the election they make their contribution.

Under the law, 12 contributors could donate up to $1,000 to a candidate for the state House. The 13th contributor, however, would be restricted to a donation of $500, due to a $12,500 special sources limit for large contributions. Similar limits with larger dollar amounts applied to candidates for state Senate and constitutional offices.

Click for more from Watchdog.org

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Federal court puts MN campaign finance limits on hold

It has long been customary to divide the Republican Party into three camps: big business or Wall Street Republicans, the religious right and neoconservatives or national security Republicans. The third group, it must be admitted, somewhat unsteadily combines neoconservatives proper (such as William Kristol) with old-fashioned defense hawks (such as Donald Rumsfeld), but perhaps this is the Republican big tent we keep hearing about.

In any case, this neat three-part logic was roiled by two events in 2008: the Great Recession and the election of Barack Obama as president. The latters decision to respond to the crisis with a fairly traditional mix of demand-side remedies some tax cuts, some increased spending ignited a fire storm on the right. CNBCs Rick Santelli is often fingered as the principal arsonist. On Feb. 19, 2009, outraged by Obamas plan to assist homeowners caught up in the collapse of the housing market,Santelliwent on air to unburden himself of the following ideas:

The spark had been struck; the Tea Party roared to life. Five years later it has remade American politics, largely through its impact on the GOP. Profoundly alienated from the modern American state, which it regards as a bureaucratic embodiment of foreign social-democratic ideals, intensely ideological, intransigent and scornful of compromise, the Tea Party has used its electoral success in the South and Midwest and its power in primaries and caucuses to impose sharp limits on the policy options available to GOP politicians. Rick Santellis wildfire consumed immigration reform and an extension of unemployment benefits; it flared into a government shutdown and crept perilously close to two debt defaults.

One consequence of the Tea Party ascendancy has been a new prominence for the term libertarian. In many ways this is unfortunate. There is reason to believe that any connections between libertarianism and the Tea Party are tenuous at best. A recentstudyfound that 60 percent of libertarians do not identify with the Tea Party, while only 26 percent of Tea Party supporters think of themselves as libertarians. (Fully twice as many affiliate with the religious right.) Still, animpressionpersists that the Republican Party is increasingly animated by the spirit of John Galt. I think there are mainly four reasons for this.

The first is that some conservative activists, quick to sense the electoral (and financial) potential of the Tea Party, moved quickly to associate its concerns with their own, often quite different, agendas. (The absurdist theater that swirled around DickArmeysdeparture from FreedomWorks is apposite here.)

A second more important source of confusion is that libertarian, as a rubric, offers Republicans certain rhetorical advantages. It suggests theyreforsomething and not just against the Democrats, and that this something is related to liberty. (And it performs this latter function while avoiding the hated epithet liberal.) It also serves an irenic purpose insofar as it gestures at common ground for Tea Partyers, the religious right generally, and Wall Streeters. If these factions can agree on anything, its that they want less government meaning lessliberalgovernment and this is easily elided into the claim that they want more liberty. As long as no one inspects the logic too closely, this Were all libertarians now line can seem helpfully plausible. Which brings us to the fourth reason, a national media always ready to exploit the helpfully plausible in its constant search for the appealingly (or is it appallingly?) simple.

So one increasingly hears certain prominent Republicans referred to as libertarians or as members of the partys libertarian wing.Ted CruzandPaul Ryanhave been identified as such at one time or another, as have (with slightly more reason) bothPauls, Ron and Rand. This, again, is a mistake. As Ive arguedelsewhere,no important Republican politician is a libertarian. Still, perceptions are important in politics, and there is certainly no doubt that real libertarians belong noisily, busily belong to the Republican coalition.

Given this, all of us have an interest in understanding the nature of libertarian thought, and in knowing whether it forms the basis of a workable politics. Michael Lind has written brilliantly about these issues (here,for example) in the context of practical politics. I want to take them up in a more theoretical light. I will focus on the central concept of libertarian thought the idea of personal freedom and argue that it cannot be coherently explained on libertarian grounds. I will also argue that a libertarian society, if fully realized, would be actively hostile to the development of free selves. Libertarianism, in other words, cannot give a persuasive account of its own core concept. Its as close to self-refuting as a political theory can be.

* * *

Some criticisms of libertarian thought are unwarranted. For example, it issometimesalleged that libertarians lack concern for others, or are motivated only by greed, or embrace a crass, materialistic ethic. Libertarians think such charges are based on a simple confusion. Their intent is to advocate for liberty, they say; what free people choose to do with their liberty is an entirely separate matter. I think this reply is conclusive if it is meant to rebut the claim that libertarians, because they value freedom, must also value the content of every free choice. (In other contexts, as I will argue below, it is much less conclusive.) That claim really is a confusion. I do not have to approve of pornography simply because I endorse the First Amendment. Similarly, I do not have to approve of choices to be selfish or shallow because I favor economic and political liberty. Liberals, who are often on the receiving end of this kind of attack from conservative critics, should think twice before directing it at libertarians.

Link:
Libertarians reality problem: How an estrangement from history yields abject failure

By Matt Ward

Three new council members were elected and the first amendment to the city charter was passed by 25 votes Saturday in the City of Fredericksburg election held at Fredericksburg Middle School.

Of the citys 7,512 registered voters, only 16 percent (or 1,212 voters) actually cast their ballot in this years election.

I think that this election was more about the incumbents than it was about the amendment, charter amendment organizer Isabel Wertz said. I hope that the city will be more thoughtful in the future of how the revenue of the city is being spent.

Former mayor Linda Langerhans defeated current mayor Jeryl Hoover 687-494, while Jerry Luckenbach and Bobby Watson were elected to replace current council members Tim Dooley and Kathy Sanford.

Luckenbach led the council candidates with 683 votes, with Watson in second with 657 votes and incumbent Dooley in third with 513 votes. Sanford chose not to run for re-election.

Its going to be incumbent on the three new council members to get updated as soon as possible because theyre going to be dealing with these issues in the next several months, City Manager Kent Myers said Monday. There are a lot of things going on and so Im going to have to spend a lot of time with the three new council members bringing them up to date.

Agendas for the next two council meetings slated for May 19 and June 2 will likely be lighter than usual as the new council gets acclimated. The first council retreat with the newly elected officials is tentatively set for June 13.

I think the councils positions on certain issues will change with three new council members. The message Ive sent to staff is that Youll have to be adaptable to that change and understanding of that, Myers said. Whenever you have a majority of the council that turns over, there could be a new direction on some of these issues, whether its lighting standards or property tax collection. We want to try and get a feel for that as soon as possible so we dont go down the path even further if the majority of the council doesnt agree with that direction.

For more on this story, read this weeks print and online editions of the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. If you are a print subscriber, your full online subscription is free. All you need to do is call 830-997-2155 to get a password. If you are not a subscriber, call 997-2155 or click on the Subscribe button on the left side of the home page and sign up today!

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City Charter amendment passes 581-556



Federal Election Commission Votes to Allow Bitcoin Political Donations
Article: http://bit.ly/1mKxFMe Donate: http://bit.ly/1sgOBsF Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1kI6cnm Appalachia is the cultural region in the Eastern United States that stretches from the Southern…

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Federal Election Commission Votes to Allow Bitcoin Political Donations – Video

Apr 30, 2014 1:43pm

In his first appearance in front of Capitol Hill lawmakers in nearly 30 years, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens made a pitch today for a new amendment to the Constitution.

Neither the First Amendment nor any other provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns, Stevens said in front of a Senate Rules Committee.

The amendment is a proposal he had included in his book Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, published earlier this month.

But the former justice, who retired from the court in 2010, argued his amendment is even more necessary in the wake of the recent McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court struck down aggregate donation caps on campaign contributions on the basis that the limits violated the First Amendment protection of free speech.

Stevens agreed with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in arguing that classifying any amendment as absolute would do away with limits on acts like screaming fire in a crowded movie theater.

It is fundamentally wrong to assume that preventing corruption is the only justification for laws limiting the First Amendment rights of candidates and their supporters, Stevens said.

(AP Photo)

Shortly before Stevens took the stand, Schumer announced a plan by Senate Democrats to vote this year on a new constitutional amendment by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., that would allow Congress to make laws restricting campaign finance contributions.

Excerpt from:
Former Supreme Court Justice Wants to Amend the Constitution

The former prime minister argued today in a posting on his popular blog that the public must accept limits to their freedom, amid a series of challenges in recent years to the policies of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s policies and conduct.

If democracy is to survive and to serve the purpose for which it is devised, there must be some acceptance of the limits to the freedom that we consider democratic.

The world needs to make up its mind. Do we elect government by voting or do we install government through street demonstrations? Dr Mahathir said.

Race and religious tension has been on the rise in recent years with challenges to government policy which has been seen as marginalising non-Malays and non-Muslims.

There have also been widespread concerns about electoral fraud and unfair polls practises resulting in massive street demonstrations by electoral reform group Bersih.

The ruling BN lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority in Election 2008 and that was repeated in last year’s elections. In Election 2013 the BN coalition also lost the popular vote.

Dr Mahathir, who was known for his authoritarian administration, has been arguing in recent times for strong government.

In his latest blog post today, he said free speech, free press, demonstrations and strikes must be circumscribed to some degree so that they will not destroy democracies in the name of democracy.

In a non-democratic totalitarian state such massive demonstrations may be justified as there is no other way to change governments. But now even when elections can determine changes in governments, the losers in democratic elections have resorted to these disruptive acts.

Dr Mahathir claimed the series of Bersih demonstrations were obviously meant to excite public support to discredit the government and eventually to bring it down.

Excerpt from:
Dr M: Restrict freedom of speech and a free press to safeguard democracy



Supreme Court Preview/Review #2
Professor Ofer Raban talks about: McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission: Aggregate Limit on Campaign Donations under the First Amendment.

By: UOregon

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Supreme Court Preview/Review #2 – Video

Politics Campaign Finance

A federal judge in New York struck down the states limits on donations to independent political action committees, or super PACs, citing prior Supreme Court decisions with which he himself disagreed.

District Judge Paul Crotty ruled that New Yorks restrictions could not overcome First Amendment scrutiny given recent Supreme Court decisions, Reuters reports, including a ruling on campaign finance earlier this month and the 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

We know what the Supreme Court has held, whether we like it or not, and Im bound to follow it, he said during a hearing in Manhattan federal court, according to Reuters.

The state had limited how much individuals could give super PACS, which are supposed to operate independently from a candidates campaign. A federal appeals court blocked the state from enforcing the limits in October, pending a final decision, and Crottys ruling will now allow independent super PACs in the state to raise unlimited funds.

[Reuters]

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Federal Judge Strikes Down New Yorks Super PAC Limits



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