End the war on dying cancer patients

BURNET, Texas (April 13) – Stopping all war is not just something we need to do in the Middle East. It is something we need just as badly here at home. When I say “stop all war,” I’m not just talking about the bombing and fighting overseas; I’m talking about the wars that the U.S. government wages against its very own citizens. I am talking about how bureaucrats kill Americans, not with guns and bombs, but with laws and regulations.

Perhaps the best example of this is the war against the terminally ill. Did you know that if you are dying and want to take a promising new drug that could save your life you can’t legally do it unless the Food and Drug Administration says you can? A coalition of cancer patients recently sued the FDA for permission to buy promising new drugs that had been tested for safety in people, but had not yet undergone the lengthy and rigorous effectiveness studies. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, so the lower court ruling of 2007 still stands. The ruling says that you have no constitutional right to buy a drug – even one that might save your life – without FDA approval.

This suit was spearheaded by the Abigail Alliance [http://www.abigail-alliance.org], founded by Frank Burroughs, Abigail’s father. Abigail and her family tried to get FDA permission to try the drug Erbitux, which was in human trials for her type of cancer and was eventually shown to be a breakthrough treatment for it. Time and time again federal bureaucrats refused to help her.

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Libertarians condemn FBI raids

The state Libertarian Party has issued a statement condemning the Sept. 24, 2010 raids by FBI agents on the homes of 14 anti-war activists in Minneapolis and other cities. They also called the issuance of grand jury subpoenas in the investigations a “fishing expedition” designed to justify prosecution of anti-war activism.

“It is now clear that these raids were simply intended to intimidate those who speak against the foreign wars that our country is currently pursuing, and constitute a ‘fishing expedition’ wherein the Department of Justice is using these grand jury subpoenas in an effort to discover or create actions or statements that will justify continued prosecution of these activists,” said the statement posted on the party’s website.

Matt Drew, chair of the Durham Libertarian Party, drafted the statement because he said he believes “these people are no more terrorists than I am.”

“I got involved when someone I knew of but hadn’t met before, Kosta Harlan, was interviewed by the FBI on the day of the raids. He didn’t say anything, but was later followed, as was a friend of his that he met for coffee that day,” Drew said.

“When I heard that he had been investigated, it really brought home how arbitrary this was — it could have been me, or anyone else,” Drew said. “ Anti-war activists are about to go to jail on contempt charges simply because they won’t answer the FBI’s questions – the FBI is using grand jury subpoenas to try to force them to testify.”

Drew was also irked by the fact that the FBI seized property that still has not been returned. “It’s been months now, and even the people who haven’t been charged with anything or subpoenaed have not

had their possessions returned,” he said.

The LPNC statement called on President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, the FBI and other federal agencies to “cease and desist” from using grand jury subpoenas to intimate people who are merely exercising their First Amendment rights. It also demands that the federal government “immediately return all of the confiscated items seized during these raids and pay for any required home repairs or damage done to confiscated items while in FBI custody.

The raids and subpoenas are part of an investigation into whether members of the peace movement provided “material support” for terrorism. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the broad application of federal law that criminalizes providing “material support” to any group designated a “foreign terrorist organization” by the federal government.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups opposed the ruling, which they contend thwarts the efforts of human rights organizations to persuade violent actors to renounce violence or cease their human rights abuses and jeopardizes the provision of aid and disaster relief in conflict zones controlled by designated groups.

Under the law, individuals face up to 15 years in prison for providing “material support” to designated terrorist groups, even if their work is intended to promote peaceful, lawful objectives. “Material support” is defined to include any “service,” “training,” “expert advice or assistance” or “personnel.”

Republican governor who just said 'no'

“Legislators will legislate anything and everything in the name of safety,” Gary Johnson told a meeting of the N.C. Republican Liberty Caucus yesterday. The New Mexico Republican has considerable experience dealing with this penchant. He vetoed more than 750 bills and issued thousand of line-item vetoes in his two terms. Few of his vetoes were overturned.

“I have paid for everything I have owned since I was 17,” Johnson said. He grew a handy-man business he started into the largest construction company in New Mexico based on a simple philosophy: show up on time, do what you say you are going to do, and even do a little more.

Johnson took that work ethic into the governor’s mansion and applied the principle of cost benefit analysis to every bill that came across his desk. “Everything for me was a cost benefit analysis: what are we spending and what are we getting,” he said. “It was always about getting the best product and the best service for the best price.”

“I said no to billions of dollars of new spending. I said no to growing government. I said no to all sorts of things,” he said. “I would like to think I brought about a principled discussion on a whole range of issues.”

Johnson, who’s considered a potential candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, began his political career as a novice. First he won the Republican nomination in a primary against candidates backed by the party’s establishment. Then he unseated the incumbent Democratic governor in a state with a two-to-one Democratic advantage in voter registration.

He attributes his success and re-election to his adherence to this principle. “What Democrats saw was good stewardship of taxpayers dollars,” he said. “What everybody saw was this notion of government for everybody, not government for a selected few individuals and corporations who were connected politically.”

Johnson said he gained national notoriety for his views on school choice. “I believe that the only way to improve public education is to bring competition to public education,” he said. He proposed that every student in the state get a school voucher.

For six years, Johnson said he took the debate everywhere he went. The proposal never was enacted But he said that when he started 65 percent of New Mexicans opposed the idea and when he left office 54 percent supported it.

Johnson also gained a national reputation as a Republican who advocates the legalization of marijuana and opposes the war on drugs, a position he arrived at after approaching the issue using the cost benefit analysis philosophy.

“We’re spending $75 billions a year on law enforcement, the courts and prisons, and what are we getting for it,” he said. “We are arresting 1.8 million people a year.” He believes legalized marijuana should be regulated just like alcohol and that drug use and abuse should be treated as a health problem, not a criminal issue.

When he left office because of term-limits, which he supports, Johnson said he was perfectly happy to return to private life. He returned to public life last year because he said he’s outraged about what’s happening in the county.

“That outrage stems from the fact the we are bankrupt, that 43 cents out of every dollar we’re spending is borrowing, that spending is out of control,” he said. “I want to put a voice to that outrage.”

Johnson created the Our America Initiative to give shape and form to his ideas. “There is no ‘they’ out there who are going to come to our rescue,” he said. “There is you and there is me.”

He said that he was encouraged by growing awareness that America is not about entitlements and security but about liberty and freedom and the personal responsibility that goes along with that.

“We need to cut spending 43 percent just to get our revenues in line with expenditures,” he said.

To address the insolvency of entitlement programs, Johnson suggested consideration of some unpopular and controversial ideas, including means testing, raising the retirement age and privatizing social security. He also proposes moving from a defined benefits system to a defined contributions system.

“A big shoe to drop is the fact that 50 states are underwater when it comes to entitlements.” He called Federal and state entitlement programs Ponzi schemes, promises made that should have never been made which are unsustainable.

Johnson on …

Iraq and Afghanistan

“We are building roads, schools, bridges, highways and hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan and we’re borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar to do this. This is insane.”

The Department of Education

“The Federal Department of Education gives each state about 11 cents of the dollars they spend for education, but it comes with about 16 cents worth of strings attached, so it’s really a negative to take federal money. Just give education back to the states and see 50 states engage in an innovation race; you would see some truly ‘best practices’ emerge.”

National health care

“I don’t think there is any industry that could be further removed from the free market than health care. It is as controlled and regulated an industry as there is in this country. The government can do a lot to improve health care simply by removing impediments to health care entrepreneurs.”

Immigration

“You can address 75 percent of the border issue by simply making it easy for immigrants to get a work visa.”

“Immigration is about work not about welfare.”

“Amnesty has never been about citizenship, never, and shouldn’t be. But amnesty, or what I call a grace period, needs to be set up whereby illegal immigrants go get a work visa.”

Fair Tax

“Any tax reform is really about raising taxes. The focus should be on slashing spending.”

Building a Tea Party alliance

The Tea Party Movement has often been called fragmented and ineffective. That is natural for a grassroots movement, composed of a variety of organizations and groups across the nation.

To at least partially remedy this, the Constitutional Freedom Alliance is inviting North Carolina Tea Party movement members and groups to an organizational and planning meeting July 26 at the Radisson Hotel in the RTP.

The Constitutional Freedom Alliance is a group of “ordinary citizens driven to promote and restore individual freedom.” They believe individual freedom is a natural right, affirmed by the U.S. Constitution and cannot be rightfully abridged by any government.

“As our name states we are an alliance between individuals and groups who are fed up with legislation that goes against our Constitution,” said Casey Craig, CFA director. “We do not want to be the leaders of the tea party movement and we do not wish to be seen in that light. We are the common ground for politically active groups.”

Craig said that the goal of the meeting is to create an alliance between the Tea party groups and CFA.

The CFA believes that over generations, the federal government has expanded its power and reach far beyond the bounds of the U.S. Constitution and co-opted state and local accountability, using tax money as a weapon.

“The federal government now operates substantially outside its Constitutionally-defined duties,” said Craig. “This situation is as unsustainable as it is unacceptable.”

CFA believes “our freedoms are under sustained attack by the Federal Government.” Their objective is to fundamentally reverse the size, influence, and role of the federal government on states, communities, families, and individuals.

CFA seeks to hold incumbents accountable for their actions. And they are asking those seeking office to sign a Candidate Compact with American Citizens pledging to only support legislation that:

  • Restores the freedom of Americans by reversing the size, influence, and role of the Federal government on our States, our families and ourselves.
  • Provides for a strong national defense, both militarily and economically, including the securing of our borders and enforcement of the laws prohibiting illegal immigration.
  • Limits the rules of interstate commerce to those that are exclusively designed to promote free enterprise.
  • Reduces and balances the Federal budget.
  • Eliminates the Federal debt.
  • Lowers Federal taxation and ensures that all citizens contribute.
  • Defends the individual freedoms affirmed in the Constitution, including the right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms.
  • Believing that “individual freedom is not political currency,” the CFA is not aligned with any political party.

“We neither support nor endorse candidates,” Craig said. “We support North Carolina citizens’ rights and we hope that our elected officials will keep those rights at the top of their priority list instead of their re-election, which seems to be the case most of the time.”

While the CFA doesn’t plan to endorse candidates, Craig said that they do plan to post information about incumbent voting records and a list of candidates who sign their compact on their website.

What to know:

Constitutional Freedom Alliance Meeting
July 26
7 to 9:30 p.m.
Raddison Hotel
50 Park Dr. RTP
I-40 at Davis Dr. – Exit 280

Repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' a civil rights issue

President Obama has endorsed a compromise between Congress and the Defense Department to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, an agreement that may sidestep a key obstacle to repealing the military’s policy banning gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces.

Three Libertarian candidates for Congress endorse repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” and view it as a civil rights issue that should be handled by Congress and the Department of Defense.

Black and white soldiers at a base in Italy during World War II (U.S. Army Photo)

Some opponents of the policy compare the issue to the integration of the armed forces after World War II. In 1948 President Truman ordered the military departments to integrate, even though some generals, including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Omar Bradley, and most Southern Democrats opposed integration.

Each of the military services also had separate branches for women, like the Women Army Corps. These were phased out and women were fully integrated into the regular command structure in the 1970s.

“Gays and lesbians can serve with honor in many military specialties and should have that opportunity, in our all-volunteer armed services,” said Lon Cecil, who’s running in the 12th Congressional District.

“While the Defense Department may have a few legitimate situations where gays and lesbians could serve only with unacceptable accommodations, the Navy agreement to put women in submarines should be a strong indication that any motivated person should be able to serve with honor in our military,” he said.

Voters in the distinct have told him clearly that “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be repealed. “If I were in Congress, I would vote to eliminate DADT as a military policy,” he said.

The policy takes away all discretion from local commanders, leads to potential civil rights violations and forces dismissal of soldiers who performed in an exemplary manner, Cecil said.

“I think the military should take the lead in resolving this issue,” said Tom Rose, the Libertarian candidate in District 2.

Rep. Bob Etheridge, Rose’s Democratic opponent, recently voted against an amendment to a Defense appropriations bill that would have repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“There have been gays and lesbians in ever branch of the military since the earliest beginnings of this country and some have died for this country,” Rose said. “Those who are serving now are willing to fight and die for their country. They should be treated the same as all other military personnel in all matters.”

District 3 candidate Daryl Holloman agrees this is a civil rights issue and thinks Congress should take the lead to change the policy and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces.

Politicians using military slang is frightening

It is frightening enough when “conservative” politicians use military slang to describe government actions, as in the “War on Drugs.” It is positively terrifying when coming out of the mouths of “liberal” politicians.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said recently that the Federal government had its “boot on the throat” of BP to insure they would handle the Gulf Oil spill. Later, he said he would “push them aside” if they couldn’t “plug the damn leak” as directed by President Obama.

Today, President Obama did an Al Haig imitation when he told the press corps he was “in charge here” in the White House from day one of the crisis. Haig was excoriated by the press when he told them, “I’m in charge here, in the White House” the day President Reagan was shot.

Almost in the same breath that the president siad he was “in charge” he admitted the Federal government did not have the ability, knoweldge or resources to plug the hole.” When asked about the resignation (or firing) of one of the Federal persons supposedly working on the crisis, he said he did not know about it. He also introduced a new and tortured PC phrase, referring to “National Guardpersons” being deployed to the Mexican boarder.

Then there was a video clip of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano taling about the National Guard deployment, mouthing phrases like “boots on the ground” and “force multiplier.” Does she even know what those terms mean? Does she know what posse comitatus means? Probably not, because an article on the Homeland Security website calls it a “myth.”

Chilling.

New banking regulations will make financial crisis worse

New banking regulations being considered by Congress will only make the national’s financial crisis worse, the Libertarian Party executive director said.

“Instead of removing harmful regulations that reduce competition, create winners and losers, and stifle the choices of consumers and financial firms, this legislation merely adds to that heap of regulations,” said Wes Benedict.

Dr. Michael Munger, an economist and chair of Duke University’s political science department, agreed.

“Given that government had a substantial role in causing the current financial crisis through misguided regulation, there is no reason to believe that new regulatory policies being proposed in Congress will help,” said the 2008 Libertarian candidate for governor.

Libertarians favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions.

Benedict said this is the familiar cycle of government regulation. Politicians add more regulation, watch the rules fail, the blame the “free market,” then repeat step one.

He said that he though is was “remarkable” that so many people blame the free market for these problesm, since our financial systems “doesn’t remotely resemble a free market, and that’s been true for many decades.”

“The American finance industry is probably the most regulated industry in human history,” Benedict said. “It doesn’t remotely resemble a free market, and that’s been true for many decades.”

Munger said that the genesis of the financial crisis was a trap set by federal government officials and regulators. The trap was “baited with four kinds of tasty cheese,” including down payment subsidies which encouraged to buy houses more expensive than they could actually afford and looser rules for packaging and reselling loans made under Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac.

Artificially low interest rates helped inflate “an asset bubble in housing and commercial real estate,” Munger said. This was coupled with “an implicit guarantee, made by all of the last four Treasury secretaries, that any decline in housing prices would be treated as a market failure, prompting government action to prop up prices.”

“While it is clearly true that private investors behaved both greedily and in some cases foolishly, these four factors ensured that the financial disaster would be larger, and last longer, much longer, than would have happened if government had just left housing markets alone.” Munger said.

Overly protective government regulation gives consumers a false sense of security and lure them into complacency. As a result, consumers don’t take personal responsibility for their investments or check out the businesses they deal with.

“Then, when the government regulators fail in their job (as the SEC has repeatedly, for example), consumers get hurt much worse than they would if they had never been told the government was taking care of them,” Benedict said.

“The problem isn’t too little regulation, but too much,” he said. “Banks, insurance companies, and other financial companies must be allowed to operate freely in a free market, and they must be allowed to fail.”

“Heaping more regulations on top of the already enormous financial regulation pile will only lead to new problems,” Benedict said.

Will flags fly at the Raleigh Tea Party?

One of the most prominent features of Tea Party movement events has been a field of red, white, blue and yellow, emblazoned on the American and Gadsden flags and other banners of the American Revolution. Organizers of the Raleigh Tax Day Tea Party are concerned the police will won’t let that field blossom at the Raleigh Tax Day Tea Party set for Thursday at 5 p.m. on the State Capitol Grounds.

A state official told organizers that under the permit rules “signs, banners, posters and other similar displays” can’t be supported by any metal, wood or plastic posts.

Steve Swanson, a member of Triangle Conservatives Unite, asked if that included flags. After several attempts to get a straight answer, he was told yes.

“If flags are affixed to, or supported by any metal, wood or plastic posts or other supportive devices constructed of metal, wood or plastic they would not be allowed,” wrote Jennifer Norton, an administrative officer in the N.C. Department of Administration Facility Management Division.

“It seems that this rule is also about our flag – outrageous,” said Laura Long, the Triangle Conservatives Unite organizer.

The rule against metal, wood or plastic flag poles also applies to color guards. Norton said that requests for events that include color guards would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The rule does not apply, however, to small hand-held flags.

The penalty for violating the rule is revocation of the permit, which means that the police could shut the rally down, said Swanson.

Apparently, the rule was not in effect for last year’s Tea Party on the same site. It was written by Tony Jordan, facility management division director, in consultation with the State Capitol Police “to protect participates and citizens,” according to Norton.

Swanson said he believes state officials are not sure how to handle Tea Party events because they are a new phenomena. “The problem is that there have never been protests from the right,” he said. While protests from the left have been common, conservative groups usually hold rallies and prayer vigils, he said.

“I am concerned that our citizens while demonstrating at the upcoming Tax Day Tea Party, will be arrested for waving American flags or other appropriate signs while expressing their First Amendment Rights,” said Claude E. Pope Jr., Wake Republican Party chair.

The Raleigh event will feature speeches from several Congressional candidates and organizations, including NC Listen, Americans for Prosperity, the John Locke Foundation and North Carolinians for Free and Proper Elections.

The event begins at 5 p.m. In conjunction with the event on the Capitol grounds, there will be a Rolling Tea Party from 4 to 9 p.m. This consists of people riding in a set downtown route that circles the General Assembly, the Governor’s mansion, and the Capitol.

New health care law is wrong legally, financially and morally

While Republicans are calling for Congress to “repeal and replace” the new Federal health care law, North Carolina’s Libertarians want to make more fundamental changes.

Most are skeptical of Republican opposition, particularly Sen. Richard Burr’s pledge to “repeal and replace” that has become the GOP battle cry.

“Burr’s statement ‘repeal and replace,’ tells you one thing: we want our law, not theirs,”said Richard Evey, Libertarian candidate for N.C. Senate District 44.

“Repeal and replace with nothing is what we would like to see,” said Susan Hogarth, Wake Libertarian Party chair.

“The only reform that is needed is for the Federal Government to get completely out of health care programs,” said Thomas Rose, Libertarian candidate for Congress in District 2.

Libertarians believe a completely free market, unhampered by taxation and government regulation, is the best way to insure all people have access to the best health care at the lowest prices. They oppose the new law on legal, moral and financial grounds.

The Constitutional argument, rarely raised by Republicans during Congressional debate, is simply that health care regulation is not among the specific and enumerated powers granted to the Federal government.

Proponents claim that Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, the commerce clause, which grants the Federal government power to regulate interstate commerce gives the Federal government the right to regulate health care. But that interpretation is wrong, according to Herb Sobel, Libertarian candidate for N.C. House District 3.

“The commerce clause of the Constitution which is used so often to justify government regulation of the rights of citizens applies to positive commercial activity,” he said. “If a citizen declines to purchase health insurance,  a negative commercial activity, the commerce clause can not apply.”

Even if the U.S. Supreme Court finds the law constitutional, “that will not make it right and Libertarians will still oppose it,” said Hogarth. “Our opposition is not based solely on Constitutional grounds.”

The law forces people to purchase a service they may not want or need, and it forces people to further subsidize that service for others, libertarians say. It also enforces a moral judgment.

“Providing health services for ourselves or for those who cannot afford it is an individual decision based on an internal moral judgment,” said Stephanie Watson, Libertarian candidate for N.C. Senate District 16. “Like all moral decisions, this should be up to the individual, not forced by government mandate.”

Watson said the bill will increase demand for insurance, thus driving up prices from existing insurance companies.

“A compulsory system with higher health insurance rates means healthcare overall will be an even greater cost to the people of North Carolina,” she said. As a state senator, she said she’d work to keep North Carolina free from any costs and obligations imposed by the Federal government which go beyond its Constitutional power.

Evey and Sobel would support her efforts.

“This law will force tremendous unfunded mandates on the state that would lead us down the same economic path as California and dramatically increase the number of government dependents,” said Darryl Holloman, Libertarian candidate for Congressional in District 3.

Holloman said if elected he would work to repeal the bill using every means possible, including defunding administration and enforcement.

Whatever action the Federal government takes regarding health care “should be based on simple, grade school level problem solving skills and limited to the powers given to our Congress by the Constitution,” Holloman said.

He said that the root of the problem is that health care and insurance have been considered entitlements, driving up demand, while government price controls and regulation have driven up the costs associated with medical practice, restricting supply.

Holloman proposes several ways to let the free market to reform the health care system, including ending state insurance monopolies, reduce medical license requirements and ending government intervention in education and making allowing private companies to do drug testing.

My census form

I responded to the 2020 census form. Inspired by this article by Robert Greensdale, I didn’t fill out the form, but sent this letter:

Dear Sirs,

There are two people residing at 206 Clancy Circle, Cary NC 27511.

Pursuant to Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution of the United States of America, that is the only information you are empowered to request.

My name, sex, age, date of birth, race, ethnicity, relationship and housing tenure have absolutely nothing to with apportioning direct taxes or determining the number of representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Therefore, neither the U.S. Congress nor the Census Bureau has the constitutional authority to make that information request a component of the enumeration outlined in Article I, Section 2, Clause 3.

In addition, I cannot be subject to a fine for basing my conduct on the Constitution because that document trumps laws passed by Congress.

Sincerely,

Brian Irving

P.S. I resisted the idea of signing the letter In Liberty.