Monday, February 21, 2011

RLC Videos: Justin Amash and Randy Barnett

Congressman Justin Amash
Chronologically speaking, I may have jumped the turnstile by posting videos of the dinner speakers at the February 12 national convention of the Republican Liberty Caucus in Arlington.  My choice was not random, however; I had already noticed that YouTube views of the speeches by financial analyst Peter Schiff and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson were greater in number than the other videos I had posted from the convention.

The RLC convention lunch also had two speakers:  freshman U.S. Representative Justin Amash (R-Michigan), who at 30 years old is (I believe) the second-youngest Member of Congress as well as a longtime RLC activist in his home state, and Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett.

Amash had also spoken at CPAC (the annual Conservative Political Action Conference) earlier in the week, where he was reportedly well-received.  Amash is perhaps the first Member of the House of Representatives to post all of his votes, and the rationale for most of them, on his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/repjustinamash), a practice he carried over from his time as a member of the Michigan state legislature.  He says he wants his votes to be subject to public scrutiny and that the new media -- in this case Facebook, but presumably also Twitter, Tumblr, and the rest -- are the easiest way to bring them to light.

Justin Amash represents the Grand Rapids area in Congress, the same part of Michigan once represented by Gerald R. Ford, who went on to become House Minority Leader, Vice President, and President of the United States. (One questioner suggests his hope for a similar career path for Congressman Amash.)  He is the youngest member of the congressional class of 2011, who were elected in the wave election of November 2010. He ran on a platform of "limited government, free markets, and individual liberty."

Congressman Amash's remarks are divided into two segments.  The first is his more formal address (though it is delivered without visible notes) and the second is a question-and-answer session with the audience.

RLC activist Laura Crockett introduces Congressman Justin Amash at the RLC convention lunch in part one:
Part two of Congressman Amash's presentation, a colloquy with RLC members:
After Congressman Amash finished his remarks and his answers to a number of questions, Professor Randy Barnett took the microphone and gave a speech entitled "Rediscovering the Libertarian Roots of the Republican Party."

Barnett, author of Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty, The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law, and other books, spoke largely about Chief Justice of the United States Salmon P. Chase, who as a lawyer in the 1840s in Ohio had argued several cases about slavery and the Fugitive Slave Laws. Chase was a founder of the Republican Party after serving in the U.S. Senate as a member of the Free Soil Party. (Chase was also the first GOP governor of Ohio, a Republican Senator for all of two days, and Secretary of the Treasury in Abraham Lincoln's cabinet.)

Barnett makes a strong case for the Republican party's libertarian origins. In the Q&A period, he also discusses the Repeal Amendment that he has proposed, along with the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, William Howell, which is gaining a lot of attention around the United States.

Listen closely to Professor Barnett's remarks for some astute analysis of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as some sharp commentary on the constitutionality of the "individual mandate" in the 2010 health care law (colloquially known as "Obamacare").

Professor Randy Barnett, Part One:
Professor Randy Barnett at the RLC convention, Part Two:
Professor Randy Barnett answers questions (part three):


Still more RLC videos will be posted here. Watch for them soon.

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RLC Videos: Peter Schiff and Gary Johnson

The Republican Liberty Caucus (www.rlc.org) held its biennial national convention in Arlington, Virginia, on February 12, coincident with the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which was being held across the Potomac in Washington, D.C., that same weekend.

The day was full of policy discussions and speeches, punctuated by a business session at which new officers were elected to lead the RLC for the next two years.  Dave Nalle of Texas was re-elected as chairman, Aaron Biterman of Virginia was re-elected as vice chairman, Jason Jeff Hellenberg of Florida was re-elected as secretary, and Matt Nye (also of Florida) was elected treasurer, defeating longtime RLC activist Bill Westmiller, who in turn was elected an at-large member of the board of directors.

The evening banquet featured two prominent speakers:  investment analyst and 2010 candidate for the GOP Senate nomination in Connecticut, Peter Schiff, and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who is a potential candidate for President in 2012.

Schiff is the co-author of How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes (with Andrew J. Schiff) and of Crash Proof 2.0: How to Profit From the Economic Collapse (with John Downes), as well as author of The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets: How to Keep Your Portfolio Up When the Market is Down. He is widely credited with predicting the dramatic economic downturn of 2008 when other economists were caught with their pants around their ankles.

Schiff spoke briefly and was well-received by the RLC members, many of whom subscribe to the theories of the Austrian school of economics that are consonant with much of Schiff's analysis.

With apologies for the dim lighting (something customary in hotel banquet rooms at dinnertime), here is the video of Peter Schiff's remarks:

Schiff was followed by Governor Johnson, who the day before had spoken at CPAC and, we learned earlier on Saturday afternoon, had placed third in the CPAC presidential straw poll (with Ron Paul and Mitt Romney placing one and two and virtually tied with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who says he lacks the arrogance to run for President after only one year in office).

The Republican Liberty Caucus also sponsored a straw poll that day, and Johnson took first place in that instance, with more than double the votes received by Texas Congressman Ron Paul (who is still a favorite among libertarian Republicans) and six times the number of votes received by the third-place finisher, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Johnson has been traveling across the country -- including numerous visits to New Hampshire and Iowa -- delivering his message, which is largely autobiographical. He talks about his experience as governor of New Mexico, where the registered voters have a 2 to 1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans, and how he was able to reduce the size and scope of government while vetoing 750 bills, some of which were passed unanimously in the state legislature. Yet only two of his vetoes were overturned. During his eight years in office, he vetoed more bills than all of the other 49 governors put together.

In his remarks, Johnson also pointed out how he had come to believe, during his term as governor, that the criminalization of marijuana is wrong-headed, that it is a waste of money and other resources, and that we need to rethink the drug war. Johnson was one of the few incumbent politicians to come out in favor of legalizing marijuana and he has not backed down from his position despite criticism.

Here is part one of Governor Johnson's dinner speech, which begins after a short introduction by RLC national chairman Dave Nalle:
Here is part two of Gary Johnson's RLC speech:
Early in this segment, Johnson salutes Peter Schiff for his on-target analysis of our economic situation -- more than a polite gesture, the former New Mexico governor shows a great deal of passion about how the federal government needs to cut spending, including in entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as defense and so-called "discretionary" spending.

Johnson also talks about his opposition to the Iraq War from the outset, and how he thinks the United States should get out of Afghanistan "tomorrow."

More RLC videos will be posted here later.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kennedy Center Reveals Full Cast of 'Follies' Revival with Bernadette Peters

I received a news release from the Kennedy Center today, with a complete cast list for what promises to be the -- no, make that THE -- biggest musical theatre event of 2011:  a revival of James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim's Follies starring Bernadette Peters.

Here's the rest of the cast, as revealed by the Kennedy Center:

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced complete casting for the Kennedy Center revival production of Follies. Principal casting includes Bernadette Peters as Sally Durant Plummer, Jan Maxwell as Phyllis Rogers Stone, Danny Burstein as Buddy Plummer, Ron Raines as Benjamin Stone, and Elaine Paige as Carlotta Campion.

The production will also star Terrence Currier as Theodore Whitman, Christian Delcroix as Young Buddy, Rosalind Elias as Heidi Schiller, Colleen Fitzpatrick as Dee Dee West, Lora Lee Gayer as Young Sally, Michael Hayes as Roscoe, Florence Lacey as Sandra Crane, Linda Lavin as Hattie Walker, Régine as Solange LaFitte, David Sabin as Dimitri Weismann, Kirsten Scott as Young Phyllis, Frederick Strothers as Max Deems, Nick Verina as Young Ben, Susan Watson as Emily Whitman and Terri White as Stella Deems.

Rounding out the ensemble will be Lawrence Alexander, Brandon Bieber, John Carroll, Sara Edwards, Leslie Flesner, Jenifer Foote, Leah Horowitz, Suzanne Hylenski, Danielle Jordan, Joe Kolinski, Amanda Larsen, Brittany Marcin, Edrie Means, Erin Moore, Pamela Otterson, Clifton Samuels, Kiira Schmidt, Brian Shepard, Sam Strasfeld, Amos Wolff and Ashley Yeater.
If the run of the show -- which opens on May 7 in the Eisenhower Theatre and closes on June 19 -- is not already nearly sold out, I would be surprised.

If not, according to the news release, "[t]ickets starting at $45 are available at the Kennedy Center box office or by calling Instant Charge at (202) 467-4600. Patrons living outside the Washington metropolitan area may dial toll-free at (800) 444-1324 or visit us online at www.kennedy-center.org."

I can hardly wait.



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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Eugene Delgaudio Channels Stephen Glass

Eugene Delgaudio is probably Virginia's most embarrassing elected official.  The Loudoun County Supervisor is obsessed with male-male sex acts and probably should never be within 1,000 feet of a Gold's Gym.  How he won his seat on the Loudoun Board of Supervisors is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in plain brown paper.

Not since "Spring Breakdown," the notorious faked 1997 article in The New Republic by serial fabulist Stephen Glass, has a more lurid portrayal of the goings-on at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) come to light.

Until now.

Today I opened my inbox to find a fundraising email from Delgaudio's "organization," the so-called Public Advocate of the United States (a name that implies authority and perhaps even government sanction) with the sensationalistic subject line, "CPAC Enables Homosexual Predators."

It seems that Delgaudio is worried that the innocence of college students -- the same ones who played drinking games and engaged in rough sex with ugly women in the Glass article of more than a dozen years ago -- might be compromised by the presence of members of GOProud, an organization of gay conservatives that last year hosted a reception in New York featuring Ann Coulter and whose board of advisors includes such radical leftists as Andrew Breitbart and Grover Norquist. (Frank Gaffney may concede that the latter is not a leftist, though he may be, per Gaffney, a jihadist. [I think he's just a Norqu-ist.])

At the suggestion of an acquaintance of mine who saw Delgaudio's missive and said, "Fascinating reading -- please disseminate widely in the name of sunlight," I reprint the man from Loudoun County's fantasy here:

For years, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was the scene of exciting speakers throughout the day.

But at night there have always been dozens of alcohol parties.

These parties are viewed as festive opportunities to meet conservatives from all over the country in a more social atmosphere.

I try to avoid parties when attending conferences as it’s hard enough keeping a day schedule and parties can be distractions which take away from the serious fight to preserve the family.

Much more importantly, the alcohol abuse and other shenanigans that take place just aren’t my idea of a good time.

It would be better to have late evening vigils and after the dinner speeches at the nearby churches.

However, I was often outnumbered when I attended CPAC back in my days serving as a member of the national board for Young Americans for Freedom.

But knowing the problems at these CPAC parties, I took it upon myself to chaperone younger visitors from around the country who were attending their first political gathering.

And the stories I have to tell will shock you.

It was not unusual for me to have to escort adult predators, even some openly homosexual men out of these parties because they could not resist the urge to prey upon the younger teenage victims at their disposal in a vulnerable place a long distance from their home and without their parents’ presence.

On more than one occasion I had to clean out the lot of them in an upheaval or turmoil that was cast as a political purge.

These days the predator homosexuals use political cover to gain access to their intoxicated victims.

Sometimes it seems my efforts were all for naught...

As I’ve told you before, the Conservative Political Action Conference has been infiltrated by the Homosexual Lobby.

Radical Homosexual front groups like “GOProud” will be in attendance to push their perversion on young conservatives.

This sort of predator behavior was illegal and immoral back when I had to clean house and condemn them.

And it is still illegal and immoral to create an atmosphere in which those same misdeeds could occur again.

Parents should be warned and frankly the authorities at CPAC should be told that there are minor age students who need to be looked after and protected.

Have the Radical Homosexuals really infiltrated that deeply into what used to be a pro-family movement?

Has the leadership of CPAC gone so far as to actually not read anything or think it’s just “political opinion” propagated by old fashioned and outdated leaders that adult homosexual predators exist?

Well, they DO exist and they are taking advantage of the alcohol parties at CPAC to poison the minds and pollute the bodies of young conservatives who are still too naïve to know what is being done to them.

I stand with the dozens of pro-family leaders and the thousands of pro-family supporters who are boycotting this event because of what it has been turned into.

For the Family,

Eugene Delgaudio
President
Public Advocate of the U.S.
P.S. I ask you to prayerfully consider chipping in with a contribution of $10 or more to help fund the fight for traditional values.

Thank you very much for your support in advance.
If even 5 percent of what Delgaudio wrote is true, CPAC would attract several thousand more attendees each year.

In fact, according to what I hear from CPAC (where I'll be tomorrow), the number of vendors in the exhibit area is bigger than last year, and it seems there are more people in attendance than last year, as well.

So much for the "boycott" by anti-gay organizations.  Even Sarah Palin agrees that GOProud members and other gay conservatives should participate in the annual conference.
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Friday, February 04, 2011

Ronald Reagan's Centenary

You'd probably have to live under a rock to be unaware that this coming Sunday marks the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan.

The former president was born on February 6, 1911, and the centenary celebration began on his birthday last year.

An outgrowth of the Reagan Legacy Project (which gave us, for instance, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington) and of the regular programs of the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, the 100th-year commemoration will continue for as long as people have good things to say about President Reagan.

So expect it to last for a long time.

Americans of all political stripes are offering their memories and gratitude for the life and career of President Reagan.  I'll offer two examples here.

Today Governor Bob McDonnell issued a proclamation that designates February 6, 2011, as "Ronald Reagan Day" in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Here's the text:
WHEREAS, President Ronald Wilson Reagan served with honor and distinction for two terms as the 40th President of the United States of America; winning reelection in 1984 with nearly 60% of the vote and carrying 49 states; and

WHEREAS, in 1981, when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated President, he faced a disillusioned nation shackled by rampant inflation and high unemployment; and

WHEREAS, during Mr. Reagan’s presidency he worked in a bipartisan manner to enact his bold agenda of restoring accountability and common sense to government which led to unprecedented economic expansion and new opportunities for millions of Americans; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Reagan’s commitment to an active social policy agenda for the nation’s children helped lower crime and drug use in our neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, President Reagan’s commitment to our armed forces contributed to the restoration of pride in America, her values and those cherished by the free world, and prepared America’s Armed Forces to meet 21st Century challenges; and

WHEREAS, President Reagan’s vision of “peace through strength” led to the end of the Cold War and the ultimate demise of the Soviet Union, guaranteeing basic human rights for hundreds of millions of people around the world; and

WHEREAS, Ronald Reagan’s inherent love of this country, faith in our people and confidence in freedom, renewed the confidence and vitality of our great nation; and

WHEREAS, February 6, 2011 will be the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth and the seventh since his passing;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize February 6th, 2011, as RONALD REAGAN DAY in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.
Log Cabin Republicans have also got into the act.

In a news release dated today, the primarily-but-not-exclusively-gay GOP group (a Kinsey 5?) said:
“Log Cabin Republicans join conservatives at home and abroad in remembering President Ronald Reagan’s powerful legacy as a champion of freedom,” said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director, R. Clarke Cooper. “As we embark on the 112th Congress and Republicans seek to continue the success of the 2010 election, it is our hope that the GOP will recall Reagan’s wisdom in calling for a big tent Republican Party. As he said, ‘my 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.’ President Reagan was able to craft a broad coalition of support around the fundamental principles of smaller government, a confident foreign policy, and an optimistic faith in American individualism. Today’s Republican leaders would be wise to follow in Ronald Reagan’s footsteps by ignoring calls for ideological purity tests that Reagan himself couldn’t pass and instead uniting around Reagan’s core principles, including that inclusion wins.”

Log Cabin Republicans traces its connection to Ronald Reagan to the 1978 Briggs Initiative, a California ballot initiative that would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in the state’s public schools. In order to combat this initiative, a group of gay Republicans reached out to then-former governor Ronald Reagan, asking him to oppose the ban. Reagan joined with Log Cabin Republicans, arguing that the ban was “not needed to protect our children” and that if it passed, “innocent lives could be ruined.” The Briggs Initiative ultimately failed.
(About this time last year, I posted video from CPAC in which Craig Shirley talked about the Briggs Initiative and how Reagan's action was motivated by his libertarian impulses as well as his fundamental sense of fairness and humanitarianism.)

For those who want to learn more, there are dozens of books about Reagan, his presidency, and his legacy.  For those with less time than they'd like, the Washington Times today published a 14-page special section that, perhaps presciently, includes a full-page ad for Senator Rand Paul's new book about the Tea Party movement.

I suggest that, if you do nothing else to celebrate Ronald Reagan this Sunday, at least raise a glass in a toast between the commercials during the Super Bowl -- unless you prefer to wait until the special zombie episode of Glee.
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