Is the Constitution Ideological?

A front-page Washington Post article about the looming Virginia gubernatorial race between Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Friend of Bill Clinton Terry McAuliffe includes this point:
McAuliffe is known as “a dealmaker,” said Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes gubernatorial races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, and Cuccinelli “is far more ideological in a lot of ways.” “I think [Cuccinelli] walks around with a copy of the Constitution, and McAuliffe doesn’t,” she said.
Really? The fact that the attorney general of the Commonwealth of Virginia, home of James Madison, carries a copy of the Constitution makes him an ideologue? Cuccinelli may well be strongly ideological, for better or worse. But surely carrying a copy of the Constitution in your pocket -- get yours today from the Cato Institute -- is not intrinsically ideological. For more ideologues, such as the ones below, see this article.

Posted on November 29, 2012  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Voting in 2012, Libertarian and Otherwise

Somehow, election results continue to trickle in, and David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report continues to update his spreadsheet of the national popular vote. At this point, he shows President Obama reelected with 50.86 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney's 47.43 percent. For whatever reason, the late-arriving results all seem to widen Obama's lead. The total vote appears to be down by almost 4 million votes from 2008, and Obama has received about 4.7 million fewer votes than he did in his first campaign. Romney received slightly more votes than John McCain did. Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson received 1,265,000 votes, according to Wikipedia, whose mysterious editors show the votes for every candidate. That's the most any Libertarian presidential candidate has ever received. It amounts to 0.99 percent, just shy of Ed Clark's 1.06 percent in 1980. If Johnson had been on the ballot in Michigan and Oklahoma, he would surely have broken 1 percent, though he still probably wouldn't have exceeded Clark's percentage. (Michigan and Oklahoma haven't been very good states for Libertarian candidates.) Johnson's best states were New Mexico, where he served two terms as governor, followed by Montana and Alaska. The Libertarian Party reports that seven Libertarian statewide candidates in Texas and Georgia received more than a million votes. Don't forget to read the new ebook The Libertarian Vote: Swing Voters, Tea Parties, and the Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal Center, which discusses how the millions of libertarian-leaning voters in America tend to vote. (It does not have 2012 results.)

Posted on November 27, 2012  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Spending Has Been Cut to the Bone

I'm always hearing that spending has been cut to the bone; we need to raise taxes, because there's just no more fat in the budget, federal, state, or local. Here are a few stories I read last night that might just lead you to a different conclusion. In the Washington Post . . .
A federal program that pumped a record $3 billion into failing schools has shown mixed early results, with more than one-third of the targeted schools doing worse after receiving funding, according to initial government results released Monday.
In Washington City Paper . . .
There were just two shoppers at the Yes! Organic Market in Fairlawn last Friday afternoon.... Owner Gary Cha plans to close Yes!’s struggling Fairlawn location in early December, ending the two-plus-year run of his only store east of the Anacostia River, despite a $900,000 grant from the city.
And two pages later . . .
When confronted with evidence of what one city contracting official later described as “admittedly fraudulent” behavior between two private construction companies, the District government and private employees working on its behalf ignored the problem, then eventually quietly offered to broker a settlement between the feuding companies that would have cost taxpayers $250,000. That’s what more than 500 emails LL obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show. The records also indicate that the commission tasked with enforcing the city’s local business development program punted on a chance to investigate the alleged fraud involving a joint venture that managed more than $50 million worth of construction at the newly renovated Anacostia Senior High School.

Posted on November 21, 2012  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Could Che Guevara Inspire Peaceful Revolutionaries in Burma?

In a profile of Myat Thu, a Burmese dissident forced to flee the country after "the 1988 nationwide protests that were brutally crushed by the Burmese military," who now runs a cafe across the border in Thailand, NPR blandly notes that he has portraits on his walls of Aung San Suu Kyi -- and Che Guevara. Does Myat Thu know that Che was a brutal murderer who helped establish a Stalinist, military-backed dictatorship in Cuba that has lasted longer than the junta in Burma? Maybe he doesn't. But surely Jason Beaubien of NPR does.

Posted on November 19, 2012  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Is America a ‘Center-Libertarian Nation’?

Los Angeles Times columnist James Rainey writes:
Many debates have broken out about the meaning of last week’s election, including over whether conservatives should still push their claim that America is a “center-right nation.”... After 32 straight losses for same-sex wedding laws, four states approved marriage-equality proposals last week. Two other states legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.... But Americans appear to remain more receptive to conservative viewpoints on spending, debt and the size of government. A bare majority, 51%, of voters last Tuesday told exit pollsters that government should do less, with 43% saying it should do more.... A more precise verdict would be that the majority of the country remains slightly right of center when it comes to supporting lower spending, decreased debt and smaller government.  But America appears to have shifted left of center in allowing more liberal policies on drugs and the institution of marriage. So, left on social issues and right on economics. If you eliminated the desire to tax the rich, it would sound like we had a center-libertarian nation.
Good points! And of course reminiscent of arguments we've made here at Cato, including Brink Lindsey's "libertarian center" and of course the work David Kirby and I have done on "the libertarian vote," now available in a convenient ebook.

Posted on November 13, 2012  Posted to Cato@Liberty

The Republican Problem

Today POLITICO Arena asks:
 Does the GOP need to loosen ties with Fox? Limbaugh?
I offered a somewhat different response from Roger Pilon's: The first thing Republicans should do is stop reading only the conservative media. The conservative echo chamber apparently convinced them that Romney was winning the election. Romney himself is reported to have been "shell-shocked" by his loss. I wasn't, because I'd been reading the polls, including the swing-state polls. If the conservative media are going to tell Republicans what they want to hear, then smart Republicans had better start looking at a broader range of media. My colleague Roger Pilon can't think of much the Republican Party should change. I'll try to think more creatively. Let's see . . . the Republican Party might have avoided running up federal spending by a trillion dollars during the Bush administration, alienating libertarian and tea-party type voters in the past few elections. It might have avoided miring the country in two endless wars, undermining its advantage on national security issues. And it might come to grips with its decades-long alienation of black, female, Hispanic, and gay voters. During the civil rights era, conservatives - including party-switching Democrats such as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms - adamantly resisted the push for equal rights and equal dignity for African Americans. When women began to demand an equal place in society, politics, and the economy, conservatives said that a woman's place was in the home. After those positions were no longer tenable, conservatives and Republicans came to accept race and gender equality, and they don't understand why they still face a gender gap and overwhelming opposition from black voters. In our own time Republicans have sent hostile messages to Hispanics on the immigration issue and to gay voters on marriage and other issues. And they are in the process of permanently alienating those voters, too. As former Reason magazine editor Virginia Postrel says, "Policy aside, people rarely vote for pols they think despise them." Conor Friedersdorf blames Rush Limbaugh for Republicans' image problems among minority voters. Maybe so. But it's a problem that began before Limbaugh, and certainly can't be blamed entirely on him or other pundits. The idealized Republican/conservative message of individual liberty, limited government, and economic growth ought to appeal to most voters. But Republicans have to accept, as even Dick Cheney saw, that "freedom means freedom for everyone," and then they have to be consistent in delivering and applying that message. The hole they've dug with voters outside their straight white male base will take time to climb out of. They'd better get started.

Posted on November 12, 2012  Posted to Cato@Liberty

Taxes and Taxpayers

NPR reports on the Alternative Minimum Tax:
... here's the thing about patching the AMT: It's expensive, which is why Congress hasn't made the fix permanent.
I guess that depends on whether you identify with the tax collectors, or the tax payers.

Posted on November 6, 2012  Posted to Cato@Liberty

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