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A sign of the times?

The sexy up-and-coming political movement, “the wave of the future”, is (almost by definition) the one where the young, hot women are. I don’t know where they are now, except Obama ain’t it. As just one illustration, here’s Carey Wedler, a former Obama groupie burning her 2008 campaign T-shirt.

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Her list of specific disappointments with Obama is pretty left-wing, but she has some pro-liberty ones in there too, and she comes to a libertarian-anarchist conclusion: “The institution of government is the problem.”

UPDATE: More signs?

Can America Ever Recover From Obama?

I’m not being facetious here. I am asking this as a serious question. The damage done to the United States by the President and his Party – not just in this term, but over the last 40 years – may be too great for the country to ever recover. I am increasingly doubtful that it is even possible to avoid national collapse.

Our economy has been devastated by 100 years of creeping socialism and is currently functioning at or near Great Depression levels, masked only by massive public borrowing and spending and a sycophantic state media that would embarrass Leni Riefenstahl. Our public debt is unsustainable, or economy is strangled in regulations, yet Obama and the Democrats keep piling on spending, regulation and entitlements.

Left-wing social and economic policy works no better at the national level than at the municipal level; Detroit is the inevitably outcome of prolonged liberal Government.

I can’t help but notice the resemblance between present-day USA and the USSR in the 1980′s:

  • A bloated, over-leveraged national government whose expenditures have long exceeded the ability of the underlying economy to finance them. In other words, the USSR had a bloated military that consumed more of its GDP than the Government could afford. The USA has a bloated welfare state that requires massive borrowing because our economy cannot support it.
  • An aged decrepit leadership (Reid, Pelosi, Hillary) stuck in old socialist paradigms and making fatefully bad decisions out of rigid ideology. (In the USSR, it was the decision to invade Afghanistan. In the USA, it was passing Obamacare).
  • Growing internal self-rule movements. The USSR eventually split into its constituent states. Self-rule movements in Maryland, Colorado, Texas, and Calidornia suggest that similar faultlines are showing up in our own politics.

That’s basically the trap we are in. The only remedy to our situation would be austerity, a severe pruning of the regulatory/welfare state, and restoration of limited Constitutional Government. There is no other path to avoid destruction; but these things, we are told, are politically impossible.

(more…)

Conservatives, gay politics, and lost opportunities

At the time of the Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage this summer, it seemed to me that by ruling as it did, the Supreme Court had involuntarily handed many conservatives a great opportunity to move beyond the issue of gay marriage in ways that they hadn’t in the past.  Instead of making it a social or cultural issue, many conservatives could have sidestepped the issue entirely by talking more about economic issues and questions of taxation and state-sponsored benefits instead.

After all, the plaintiff in the case which challenged the Defense of Marriage Act was moved to file suit largely because of the estate taxes she incurred when her partner passed away.  So instead of viewing  it as a social or cultural issue, they could have taken up the cause of greatly reducing estate taxes for all regardless of marital status.

While I’m obviously biased on the issue, it seems to me that running on an anti-gay agenda is not a winning issue for conservatives.  I recognize that social conservatives played a very big role in the Reagan revolution, and I acknowledge that social conservatives are still an important part of the base that the Republican Party needs to keep winning elections.  But I believe that there are ways to accommodate social conservatives without alienating other potential voters.  Talking about court appointments is one way of doing this, because one needn’t be a social conservative to believe that the court should focus more on applying and interpreting the actual intent of the Constitution rather than legislating from the bench.  Likewise, one can have an honest debate about tax policy and whether or not it is in the state’s interest to carve out special exceptions for marriage or whether the state should get out of the marriage business all together and just simplify the tax code instead.

There are some signs that more and more Republican are getting this message.  On September 11 of this year, Politico reported on a survey that showed that more and more Republicans are embracing libertarian views about government.  (Hat Tip: The Blaze.)

FreedomWorks commissioned a national survey of registered voters last month, shared first with POLITICO, that finds 78 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents self-identify as fiscally conservative and socially moderate.

It’s not that Republicans are suddenly self-identifying as “libertarians” and devouring Ayn Rand novels, but more that they seem to be embracing underlying libertarian priorities and views about the role of government.

The Politico piece goes on to quote the Republican pollster who ran the poll saying that more and more voters are disturbed by both the size and the intrusiveness of government in the Obama era:

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who ran the poll, said she’s seeing a spike in voters who feel the government is too expensive, invasive and expansive.

“The perfect storm is being created between the NSA, the IRS, the implementation of Obamacare and now Syria,” she said. “People are looking at the government more suspiciously. They’re looking with deeper scrutiny and reasonable suspicion.”

It all sounds great so far from my perspective.  I think this is a direction that Republicans need to embrace to be able to win significantly in the future.
And then, there’s the sad case of Virginia.  I first heard of Ken Cuccinelli when he was elected Attorney General of Virginia in 2009, in an election that many viewed as a sign of trouble ahead for the Democrats in 2010.  I knew he had played a large role in fighting Obamacare and in bringing the fight to the Supreme Court, and so it seemed to me that he would have a good chance of being elected Governor of Virginia this year, especially since he is running against corrupt Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe.  Over the summer, though, I kept hearing that Cuccinelli was not doing well against McAuliffe in the polls, and I wondered why that might be.

This guy pays his taxes right

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 8:35 am - September 10, 2013.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,Liberty,Tea Party

He pays in legal tender, the government’s own money. He makes clear what a significant (even ridiculous) amount they’re taking from his home and family. He accurately states that it is not voluntary; the government coerces his payment by threatening to seize his home. He identifies the moral issue: “Our money is our property, and we have a right to it.”

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Via The Blaze and of course, YouTube.

Is the U.S. building the new ‘Berlin Wall’?

At Sovereign Man, Simon Black writes about the rising number of Americans who want to renounce citizenship – and the increasing roadblocks they face.

A massive 1,131 individuals renounced their US citizenship last quarter…Compared to the same quarter last year in which 188 people renounced their US citizenship, this year’s number is over SIX TIMES higher. Not to mention, it’s 66.5% higher than last quarter’s 679 renunciations…

While still embryonic, it’s difficult to ignore this trend– more and more people are starting to renounce their US citizenship…

So what’s driving it? Taxes…and the search for liberty…Particularly for people who spend most of their time outside of the United States and are constantly hamstrung by [U.S.] worldwide taxation and information disclosure[ rules], the burden for many of them has just become too much to bear.

The US government figured this out some years ago and began charging an exit tax…This applies to anyone whose average US tax liability over the last five years was about $150,000 (the equivalent of roughly $500,000 in taxable income in 2012 dollars), and/or has a net worth of at least $2 million on the date of expatriation.

More on the exit tax, here. But it’s not just for rich people; the U.S. government also holds back the poor:

Renunciation of U.S. citizenship was free until July 2010, at which time a fee of $450 was established.

Get it? If you marry your foreign boyfriend and move abroad and join with his people, it is going to cost you – even if you are both minimum wage earners. So decrees President Obama.

Past generations viewed renunciation as a human right. From Simon Black again (and quoted also in a U.S. government document, here):

…in the “[Expatriation] Act of July 27, 1868″, the United States Congress declared that “the right of expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

In other words: Even if renunciation might be a mistake and/or unpatriotic, they thought U.S. citizenship should be your choice. But the current U.S. government does not; in addition to the roadblocks described above, we even get the occasional rumor of people’s applications for renunciation being denied outright.

I remember President Reagan in 1987 saying “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” that had been built to keep East German citizens *in* that country. I also remember left-liberals in the 2004 election cycle, promising they’d leave America if Bush won. (Few of them did, or none.) I wonder what they’d say now?

Chris Christie bans reparative therapy for minors

Via Bloomberg:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican…said that homosexuality is inborn and not a sin…as he signed a bill banning therapy that tries to change a minor’s sexual orientation. Christie said such efforts pose “critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.”

“Exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate,” Christie, 50, said today in the statement.

The question is whether this is an entirely good thing.

I love it (don’t we all!) that Christie told his constituents the truth about New Jersey’s budget mess, which he inherited from Wall Street rip-off artist and Democrat, Jon Corzine. But some of Christie’s other positions suggest a Big Government, authoritarian streak in him. Perhaps this is one.

Low as my opinion of reparative therapy is, some people (probably a small minority, when we’re talking about men) can change their orientation if they want to, and none of us have the moral right to stop them from getting assistance.

Minors do need a higher standard of protection, but that’s why they have parents. So, either way, I’m not sure this should be Chris Christie’s (or government’s) decision.

At the very least, the “age of consent” for gay sex and reparative therapy ought to be the same. A teenager who is viewed legally as old enough to make his own decisions about sex, should be old enough to make his own decisions about what therapy he may want.

UPDATE: Apologies to Kurt for ‘topping’ his excellent post; I wrote this one in a hurry, without checking the blog first as I should have. Having said that, the issue I’m raising here is the liberty of the one who (rightly or wrongly) may seek reparative therapy. The individual has a right to pursue the life she thinks is best, even when Chris Christie (or gay activists, or anyone else) thinks it’s a mistake.

On long discussions and gay-related policy news

Jeff’s brief post on Friday linking to a piece in The Onion has generated one of the longer discussion threads here in recent months at GayPatriot.  At the risk of mischaracterizing or oversimplifying it, much of the discussion has centered around the policy goals of gay activists of various stripes, as well as whether or not, criticizing or finding fault with some of those goals means one sympathizes with the aims of various anti-gay activists.

I think it is well-known to most regular readers that several of the contributors at GayPatriot, for instance, are either ambivalent or agnostic about the policy questions regarding same-sex marriage.  I, for one, feel that the courts are the wrong place for the argument over so-called “marriage equality” to proceed and that it is better taken up through the legislative process.  Likewise, I don’t feel that one needs to call it marriage if doing so antagonizes a significant portion of the populace who feel that marriage has a traditional meaning which they would rather not modify.  I’ve said before and I’ll say again that what we’re really talking about when we talk about same-sex marriage is a matter of  1). how the state recognizes a contractual relationship between two individuals, and 2). whether or not it has any business granting special privileges to those in a “traditional marriage” which it does not grant to others.  I’d argue that a debate that focused on the desirability of certain policy choices would be much more productive and much more worthwhile than one centered on emotional claims about “rights” and “equality.”  I’d also say that a more dispassionate debate about the implications of policy is more in keeping with both conservative and libertarian principles.

My aim today, though, is not to revisit that debate or to consider the implications of the recent Supreme Court decisions on those issues (though I’m still planning to do so in a future post), but to bring up some of the questions raised by the fact that today New Jersey became the second state (after California) to ban “conversion therapy” for gay youths.  My personal view on the issue is that “conversion therapy” doesn’t work in most cases and, to the extent that it is practiced, it should really only be viewed as an option for adults who choose to willingly commit to it.  In other words, New Jersey’s ban is in accord with my personal view on the matter, and yet, for philosophical reasons, I’m still bothered by some aspects of the legislation.

Neo-neocon expresses reservations similar to mine when she writes:

It is no use pretending that therapy—and the licensing of therapists by the state—is not at least partly a political endeavor subject to political fashion rather than a science. Nor should therapists be completely unrestricted. For example, therapists are already prohibited from sexual contact with patients—even willing patients, even adult patients—because it is considered inherently exploitative. But the most harmful practices that could be used by conversion therapists (for example, electric shock) could be banned without banning the entire enterprise. And as the articles point out, mainstream therapy organizations have already condemned conversion therapy and do not advocate it.

But apparently none of that would be enough for the advocates of this bill; the therapy itself must be defined by the government as inherently and unfailingly abusive (what’s next, taking children away from parents who don’t applaud and celebrate their gayness?) As the nanny state grows, so will these essentially political moves by the government. This bill opens the door for a host of governmental abuses in which the state dictates the enforcement of politically correct thought through the mechanism of so-called therapy, and therapists become the instruments by which the public is indoctrinated in what is currently politically acceptable and what is verboten.

Chilling, indeed.

At the risk of invoking the “slippery-slope” argument, I can’t see a way around the concerns that Neo-neocon expresses.  I’d have preferred to let the market regulate itself without getting the state involved in this way.  Once the state has weighed in on this question, though, where can we expect it to weigh in next, and will it ever stop trying to regulate the way parents raise their children?  I can’t see that it ever will.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many gay kids grow up in homes that are not especially loving, nurturing or supportive.   The state, though, is none of those things, either, no matter what the expressed intentions of lawmakers might be.  Increasing the reach of the state into individual lives should not be a comfort to any of us.

Living in the present in challenging times

Several of my Facebook friends like to post inspirational and thought-provoking quotes on a regular basis.  Two or three of them have recently posted a quote which has been attributed to Lao Tzu which reads:

If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.

As someone who has lately been bouncing back and forth between these states of mind, I can appreciate the essential wisdom of the quote.  Most of my feelings of depression lately have been spurred on by my regrets about things I wish I had done differently in my life, and so in that regard, they are an instance of dwelling in the past.  Most of my anxiety stems from my concerns about where our country is headed under its current leadership (or lack thereof), and my feelings of uncertainty or even paralysis as to what is or should be the best path for me to take from this point forward.  The more I think about it, the more overwhelming the many different options start to become.

Partly because of the circumstances which have fueled both my recent feelings of depression and of anxiety, I also have to wonder whether or not the “living in the present” endorsed by the quote is really so desirable after all.  When things are going well, yes, that sounds ideal, but isn’t there the risk of a sort of complacency which can result in self-indulgence, lack of ambition and disengagement?
I thought of these points and more yesterday when Glenn Reynolds linked to a post by Sarah Hoyt entitled “If You Don’t Work, You Die.”  In the post, Hoyt reflects on the importance of what she refers to as envy and striving for growth and life, which, to my mind suggests a certain resistance to complacency.  She reflects on an experiment in Denver in the 1970s with a guaranteed minimum income and the finding that a certain segment of the population was content to live on it and to stop striving to better their lives, and she speculates that it is partly an inherited trait which had value in the conservation of social energy.  The part of the post that fascinated me the most was when she described herself in the following terms:
Some of us are broken.  We were given both envy and high principles.  We can’t even contemplate bringing others down to level things, but instead we work madly to increase our status.  (No, it’s not how I think about it, but it’s probably what’s going on in the back of the monkey brain.)  Most of humanity however is functional.  Give them enough to eat, and a place to live, and no matter how unvaried the diet and how small/terrible the place, most people will stay put.
It seems to me that she has hit on something crucial there because although I’m often tempted to focus on being content with things the way are, every so often something happens to jar me from that state of mind, either by making me feel depressed or anxious or by throwing me off balance completely with some new dream or hope.
I’d like to write more about the disruptive power and potential value of such dreams, but for the time being, I’d like to pose a question for our readers.   When we live in difficult and challenging times, how can one try to remain “in the present” without falling into complacency or without becoming disengaged from the sorts of issues and problems that threaten to make existence even more trying and difficult?

Rationalizing restrictions on free speech

Can you imagine an article like this appearing when Bush was president?  No, back then it was considered “patriotic” for the press to disclose classified information,  even when the information was incorrect or false, so the idea of the press reflecting on the Bush administration’s “struggles” with issues of free expression was unthinkable.  But when Obama wants to stomp on press freedoms for any reason, the press decides to be “reflective” and “philosophical” about the issue.  Craven rationalizations for restricting press freedoms under Obama are to be expected.  I particularly like this reader’s comment which I saw when I originally read the article:  “You are surprised Obama is stepping on the 1st Amendment? He tried to stomp on the 2nd Amendment for over a year now! The only Amendment this Administration seems to think is important is the 5th Amendment so they can hide behind it.”

And don’t think for a moment that it’s just the Obama administration.  No, it’s pretty widespread throughout the Democrat party.  Consider Dick Durbin’s (D-IL) thoughts about whether or not free speech ought to apply to bloggers:

Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Senator Dick Durbin whether Barack Obama’s promise to have Eric Holder look into cases of abuse that he personally approved represents a conflict of interest, but Durbin dodges that question and talks instead about the shield law proposed repeatedly over the last few years as the appropriate Congressional response to the scandal.  However, Durbin asks what exactly “freedom of the press” means in 2013, and wonders aloud whether it would include bloggers, Twitter users, and the rest of the Internet media [Video at the link].
Of course this sort of thing has a long history on college campuses, where different species of activists–the core of the Democrats’ left wing constituency–always want to restrict free speech.  Not surprisingly, Facebook is also being pressured to restrict freedom of speech among its users.
Facebook on Tuesday acknowledged that its systems to identify and remove hate speech had not worked effectively, as it faced pressure from feminist groups that want the site to ban pages that glorify violence against women.
The activists, who sent more than 5,000 e-mails to Facebook’s advertisers and elicited more than 60,000 posts on Twitter, also prompted Nissan and more than a dozen smaller companies to say that they would withdraw advertising from the site.
In a blog post, Facebook said its “systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate.” The company said it would review how it dealt with such content, update training for its employees, increase accountability — including requiring that users use their real identities when creating content — and establish more direct lines of communication with women’s groups and other entities.
Never fear, though, misandry and hatred of conservatives will still remain in fashion.

TONIGHT AT 9PM EASTERN:
The GayPatriot Report with guest Adam Baldwin

gaypatriottitle

Tonight, my special guest on The GayPatriot Report will be television and film actor Adam Baldwin.  He comes from a different family tree than the “other Baldwins” — so no relation to Alec.

You may remember Adam’s roles in NBC’s “Chuck” and the “Firefly” series and movie.

Tonight, I’ll be talking guns and freedom with Adam as I know this is a big passion for him.

The GayPatriot Report airs LIVE at 9PM Eastern on The 405 Radio Network.   There will be a podcast available shortly after the show is finished.

We would be happy for callers!  The toll-free number is 877-297-8022.

-Bruce (@GayPatriot)

On the HHS Mandate

There’s so much to celebrate today: My beautiful home state turns 136 today, Michael Phelps has made history with his 19th medal on behalf of America, and Ted Cruz not only won, but schwacked establishment candidate Lt. Governor David Dewhurst by a margin of over 13 percentage points in yesterday’s Texas GOP runoff, sending a clear message that the Constitution is back in business (or will be, come January) in the US Senate.

However, I have to admit, today is a sad dark day for America.

While Youcef Nadarkhani spends his 1024th day in an Iranian prison for the crime of having become a Christian, our Nation took another chip out of the rock of religious liberties as well. Surely we cannot compare the offense to religious freedoms that President Obama’s and Kathleen Sebelius’ mandate that employers abdicate their First Amendment rights (which goes in effect today) to those of Pastor Nadarkhani. But while mayors across the country attempt to deny a business owner his Due Process and First Amendment rights, today calls attention to just how far we’ve come in our Nation.

I actually woke this morning to a fraternity brother’s post on his Facebook page that read:

Btw american women everywhere, congratulations!

Today your insurance plans MUST ‘cover specific preventive health services for women without cost-sharing, such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. These services include well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, domestic violence screening, STD screening and contraceptives.’

I caution those who would vote for romney (especially women who would vote for romney) to recognize the implications of a repeal. We would eliminate the gains that have been made today, and will continue to be made by the landmark legislation for the next 5 years.

As offensive as it is to someone like me who’s pro-life to see someone write in literally congratulatory tones about the growth and spread of abortion, this is also symbolic of just how far we’ve come. (more…)

If I Wanted America To Fail….

Sobering, yet important video to wake you up from your Monday morning stupor….

(background on video at this link)

-Bruce (GayPatriot)