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President Obama: You’re Ruining the American Brand

President Obama

President Obama, I know you have a hard job.

It’s a rough time to be president of course. The Muslim World is stuck in an ongoing identity crisis, shedding itself of its tin-pot dictators leftover from its misguided experiment with socialism in the 20th century. We were supposed to be helping them through this process, thinking they’d appreciate our help and begin the transition to democratic governments like the former Eastern Bloc states did. Isn’t that why we invaded Iraq to begin with?

But we found Muslims don’t seem to want what we think of as “democracy.” War and disorder erupted and we got dragged in. In the resulting vacuum, Wahhabism and other Islamic radicalism have spread like a cancer through the barrels of Russian Kalashnikov’s and American RPG’s. The extremists don’t really care where the weapons come from. But they know the guns will keep coming because they have us figured out.

They know that what motivates people motivates policy. So they taunt us with beheadings and threats and challenge us to fight them in the dirt, knowing it will invoke the kind of hatred from Americans that they thrive on. It will bring American soldiers back, lead to more violence from American guns, and unify disparate factions under their flag. They know we can’t say no because we have an image to maintain.

The man who ended Eric Cantor: Dave Brat’s unusual traits as professor make him a promising congressional candidate

Dave Brat

Robert Thomas is an alumnus of Randolph-Macon College, Class of 2011, where he completed his B.A. in Economics/Business and Philosophy. He currently resides and works in Arlington, VA and is pursuing an M.A. in Philosophy with a concentration in Ethics and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

Dave Brat’s name has been splashed across national media headlines ever since his upset primary victory over Eric Cantor. Most of the coverage has focused on speculation about the reasons for his electoral success, what it means for national political trends, and its impact on the House Republican leadership structure.

By contrast, little ink has been spilled and few keyboards have clattered with discussion about what to actually expect from him as a prospective congressman, and what he might achieve within the House. Maybe a firsthand perspective can help fill that gap.

Over the course of four years as a student at Randolph-Macon College, I had a chance to get to know Dave Brat well before his appearance on the national political stage. He was my professor in my studies in economics, my supervisor in my work as a student assistant with the Department of Economics and Business, and, alongside his colleague Ed Showalter, my coach as a member of Randolph-Macon’s team in the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges’ annual Ethics Bowl competition.

Across those four years and many experiences, I came to know him well and to respect him deeply.

As a professor with distinct conservative and libertarian leanings teaching courses on subjects like economics and ethics, it was a rare moment when he didn’t have a clear position on the topic of the day’s lecture, but he always pushed students to understand competing points of view and the arguments behind them.

Here’s why everything you’ve been told about urban planning and land-use policy is wrong

John Stossel

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, drug legalization, immigration, and land-use policy.

John Stossel is a libertarian television host on the Fox Business Channel. He uses his eponymous show and syndicated columns to cover consumer interest stories and explain sometimes-complex regulatory and economic issues to his audience from a libertarian perspective. Typical segments and columns cover the nanny state, the war on drugs, crony capitalism, and the like. I’m a fan of his work and, as a fellow libertarian, we agree on a broad range of issues. But his most recent post, “Let People Live Where They Choose,” doesn’t meet the same standards.

In it, Stossel says the Highway Trust Fund—paid for by gas taxes and fees for heavy vehicles—has been raided to pay for mass transit instead of maintaining freeways and roads. He thinks this is a bad idea, as “‘mass’ transit carries few passengers, while nearby roads are congested,” and the trust fund itself is nearly depleted.

Stossel thinks the poor state of the trust fund is just a small example of a greater effort on the part of urban planners and regulators to force freedom-loving suburbanites to live in cramped, urban areas—the very areas lefties love so much.

His version of the story sounds like an obvious case of overreach that libertarians should oppose. However, Stossel’s framing suggests that he might not know as much about land use regulation and transit as he claims.

#IAmUnitedLiberty: How college helped Jeff Scully light the torch for liberty

Jeff Scully

Note: This is one in a series of profiles of UL contributors and friends and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

In the fall of 2007 I stepped onto the campus of Rutgers-Camden for the first time. I didn’t have the slightest idea which career field I wanted to enter, which major I would choose – heck, I hardly knew where my classes were.

What I did know was what my major shouldn’t be; everybody told me to stay away from a Bachelor of Art’s degree because they “don’t mean anything.” I struggled for a long time deciding what career field I wanted to enter. Eventually, I went with my heart and made the best decision of my life which would eventually result in moving to and working in Washington, D.C.

I took courses from several different majors, trying to get a feel for what I wanted to do. During my first semester at Rutgers-Camden, I took an intro to political science class. I hardly had an interest in politics as I thought that those who were interested in politics either wanted a cushy job in government, or even worse, become a politician for a living.

#IAmUnitedLiberty: James Maier’s dedication to liberty has forged lifetime friendships

James Maier

Note: This is one in a series of profiles of UL contributors and friends and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

I was raised in the stereotypical conservative household with two parents who worked stable jobs and who were voracious talk radio listeners. My dad worked in television and my mom worked for the local school district as a payroll clerk. Ever since I can remember, my dad always had Rush Limbaugh on in the car or in the house and I distinctly remember my parents always complaining about the Clinton administration from a very young age.

In grade school, I was the odd one. While other students in elementary school were reading fiction books, I read history; generally, about the War Between the States and later, the Second World War. My interests in history that started out at the age of seven later developed into an interest in politics. I read Newsweek and The Week, eagerly awaiting the next issue to be delivered by the mailman.

As far as politics was concerned, I took after my parents’ views on the world, adopting the conservative Republican mindset and in middle school, reading books by Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage — commentators whose radio shows I also listened to religiously when I could. I also had teachers who encouraged me to stay strong to those beliefs, even when the majority of the other students who even cared about politics in middle school tended to be liberals.

FBI Whistleblower Sees “Great Start” to Ending Domestic Surveillance

Nick Hankoff is a grassroots coordinator at the Tenth Amendment Center and currently serves as chair at the Los Angeles County Republican Liberty Caucus. A former development associate for Antiwar.com, Nick has been covering the nullification movement that has been sweeping the country after Edward Snowden’s revelations regarding the NSA spying programs surfaced. In this guest post, Nick Hankoff outlines what many have assumed to be the best and most effective way to fight the federal government on issues such as the government mass surveillance tactics: nullification.

As the one-year anniversary of Edward Snowden’s liberation of NSA documents fast approaches, no one may refute the success of his stated goal of spurring public debate. “I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself,” Snowden said.

The headlines went out, Sunday morning interviews aired and re-played, yet the story isn’t going away as Glenn Greenwald still claims the overwhelming majority of leaks are yet to be published. The debate is ongoing, but to what end does it serve the public if real reform doesn’t result?

How Georgia is fighting Obamacare and federal overreach

HB 707 -- Georgia Health Care Freedom and ACA Noncompliance Act

Scot Turner is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, representing the 21st District. He was first elected in February 2013 in a special election, taking 60% of the vote over an establishment-backed candidate. Rep. Turner is part of a group of legislators who introduced the Georgia Health Care Freedom and ACA Noncompliance Act, a measure that cleared the legislature in the final days of its recent session. In this guest post, Rep. Turner tells the story behind the legislation, the difficulties they faced, and how Georgia is fighting Obamacare at the state level.

In the summer of 2013, I was part of a team of state representatives that worked together to tackle the problem that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was presenting to Georgia. The federal government had just coopted a prominent Georgia institution, the University of Georgia, to help implement the ACA Navigator program without any debate in the Georgia General Assembly.

As a result, we all felt a certain urgency that something had to be done to draw the line in the sand and stand against the largest federal overreach in modern history.

There was some debate within our group as to whether we should approach it from a stance of full on nullification; the theory that a state has the ability to void federal law. Knowing that even of it did pass the Georgia legislature the likelihood that it would withstand judicial scrutiny was virtual non-existent, we pressed on.

Martin Luther King, Radical

Jason M. Farrell is a writer and activist based in Washington D.C. A former research fellow with the Center For Competitive Politics, he has been published in The Daily Caller, Policy Mic, LewRockwell.com and The Federalist, among other blogs and news sites.

Click around the internet today, and you’ll find no shortage of libertarians debating Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideology, as many try to claim King as their own. Absent from much of today’s discussion over beliefs will be a discussion of strategy or purpose. That burning question—how can we make change happen?—is usually answered with exhortations to call your congressman and sign petitions.

King realized over fifty years ago that begging the government for action contrary to its own interests was a futile endeavor—only radical action can inspire radical change. Libertarians should consider this may be a far more important takeaway from his legacy than the “libertarianness” of his dream.

King did not want to wait for politicians to care about change, or courts to come around and see the virtues of abandoning long-standing legal precedents. Gradual or incremental change, in point of fact, is usually no change at all. “I think the word ‘gradualism’… is so often an excuse for escapism and do-nothingism which ends up in stand-stillism,” King said in a 1957 television interview. “I think we must move on toward this great goal… we must re-examine this whole emphasis that the approach to desegregation must be gradual rather than forthwith or immediate”. No generation wants to be the one to endure a painful shake-up in the status quo, a fact Dr. King and his generation knew too well.

Libertarianism is like the new communism, dude

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, drug legalization, immigration, and land-use policy.

Libertarianism is the new communism, at least if you ask Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu:

Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images. Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways.

This colorful lede suggested they might offer a new critique of libertarianism, but my hopes were quickly dashed. The authors end up retreading old arguments—seemingly unaware that others had done so many times before. Their failure to offer a substantive appraisal of libertarian ideas may stem from low familiarity with libertarianism itself.

Hanauer and Liu start with a decent definition of libertarianism, namely that it is “the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values.” This is fairly accurate characterization of the moral beliefs held by many libertarians. Unfortunately, the authors struggle to trace these moral foundations to basic philosophical  or policy positions held by actual libertarians.

The Domestic Cold War

Joel Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. Previously he worked in Washington, D.C. in public policy for organizations such as the Leadership Institute, the Cato Institute, and the White House Office of Public Liaison. He studied Statesmanship at the undergraduate level and Global Affairs at the postgraduate level.

The battle lines are drawn. The great war between America’s government and her people fast approaches.

No, this isn’t some dystopian near-future science fiction scenario. This is present-day America we’re talking about. There’s a growing hostility between the U.S. government and certain incorrigible freedom-loving citizens, with the live-and-let-lives caught on the side of their more rowdy fellows, despite best efforts to bury their heads in the sand.

But where are all the battles? Where are the troops filling the streets? Where are the tanks rolling across the countryside, steamrolling all dissidents in their path? In waiting, that’s where. This isn’t a traditional armed conflict I’m predicting; at least, not yet. It’s a cold war. Each side is building up its record of hostile actions against the other, all stopping short of the point of no return.

First there’s the war over control of information. The degree to which the U.S government has pursued whistleblowers, leakers, and all those who would enforce transparency is worrisome, almost to the point of making the American people out to be some sort of sworn enemy. Almost. As the Bradley Manning trial showed, they will prudently stop short of making that overt declaration of war.

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