Reduce Government, Reduce Corruption

In this video, produced by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Cato Institute flat tax guru Dan Mitchell argues that reducing the size of government will reduce corruption.

Similarly, Larry Kudlow argues that the Obama administration is on track to fundamentally change our free market system into one of statist corporatism: a system in which government controls who wins and who loses. This Washington Post article shows how some have already benefited from the initial forays into such a system.

For fun: Dan Mitchell, twice a graduate of my alma mater, is wearing a tie featuring the UGA mascot.

Planned Parenthood Wants to Educate Your Children

Readers: Below is a message from Planned Parenthood. Although written by me, it probably encompasses the general thought process and mission of the organization.

A verse comes to mind: “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are savage wolves.” – Matthew 7:15.

***Important Message from Planned Parenthhood***

Attention Parents:

It has come to our attention that many of you are not raising your children correctly. In fact, many of you are blindly sending your children out into the world without giving them a proper education. It’s sad to see such smart children excel academically, but have no knowledge of the outside world of sexual experiences. These same children are plagued with unwanted pregnancies, STDs and other problems that *you* the parent did not inform them of. You, parents, tried to shelter them from the frightful world of illicit sex, pornography, and prostitution. You wanted to protect them from themselves and their own natural beings. Instead, you should have educated them to indulge in their passions safely, not control them. We will fix that mistake.

Lest I receive hateful, judgmental correspondences from ill-informed right-wing radicals, let me tell you about who we are and then, what we will do. We are the nation’s largest and “most trusted” voluntary reproductive “health care organization.” Clearly. More than 5 million people pass through our doors. Nearly a quarter of them are your teenagers. (1)

We mean no harm; our interests are truly benevolent. We believe everyone has the “right to choose” when or whether to have a child, that “every child should be wanted and loved”, and that “women should be in charge of their destinies.” (2) We are woman’s choice; we are pro-choice. We chose when, where, how, or if you are to have a child. We are god. We bless the indigent with condoms and birth control pills.(3) We shower tweens with pamplets explaining sex. (4) We show them how to undermine you. (5) We will educate them. (6)

As you can see, we are quite active and growing. In fact, under Barack Obama, we have seen an influx of capital and educational “clinics”. (7) But let us make one thing clear: we will abort your children. We will teach your young ones. We will succeed in indoctrinating through the gaps of your sheltering. And you will let us do it. You will help us do it. Together, we will raise the next generation of America.

To the Future,

Planned Parenthood





5. “Before you psych yourself up to talk to one or both of your parents about getting tested for sexually transmitted infections, think about how they may react. If you think they might freak out, you may want to wait to have this discussion until you’re all ready for it, or you may want to pass on it.
In this case, you could turn to another trusted adult — maybe someone at your school, another relative, or someone from a local family planning center.”

6.”Below is a list of classroom activities. There are also additional classroom activities on our teen education site”

7. Statement released after the President rescinds “Mexico City Policy”

Framing the debate (and maybe criminalizing it)

Earlier this week I was struggling to decide what my first post here at Ex Deserto would be about. I toyed with notions of doing something comical or satirical, but I was pretty stumped for a couple days. Then, a bit of random web-surfing, and recent events here on campus at USC, proved, shall we say, inspirational. Ex Deserto is here to be an outlet for public policy debate, so what better way to introduce myself than with some comments on the framing of that debate.

This topic sprung to mind because for the third time in the last six months, our GOP Law Society board at USC was defaced. This time, our autographed picture of Governor Mark Sanford was torn down. Two other incidents occurred right before and after the election, and included someone tearing down a poster congratulating President Obama for his victory. The fact this occurred not just at an institution of higher learning, but at a law school, where the principle of reverence for the law is supposedly being ingrained, is especially disgusting.

Of course, conservative voices facing opposition on college campuses is all-too-familiar. From Ann Coulter dodging pies, to David Horowitz being shouted down, stories of right-thinking speakers and events confronting intimidation and violence are legion.

A similar scene played out on the campus of UNC Chapel-Hill last week, when a speech by former Congressman Tom Tancredo was cut short by shattered glass and mob tactics that forced police to taser at least one individual. As a cameraman filming the event walked outside, protesters could be heard chanting, “We shut you down! No racists in our town!” Regardless of your feelings about Tancredo’s position on illegal immigration, or anything else, such tactics are chilling.

Strangely, the scene is bereft of attacks by right-wing student groups on leftist speakers. I say “strangely,” because to listen to recent media coverage, the right-wing is a cauldron of hatred and ignorance, just waiting to erupt into violence. Attempts to make Timothy McVeigh the poster-child of conservative thought are getting a bit long in the tooth, so the christening of new boogey-men is in order.

Framing Pittsburg murderer Richard Poplawski as a “right-winger” is only the most insidious and recent example. Stories about his bloody firefight with authorities, which left three police officers dead, consistently refer to Popwalski being animated by a fear of “the Obama gun ban that’s on the way.” The fact Popwalski’s swastika tattoo is clearly visible in many of the pictures accompanying these stories seems lost on commentators. Come to think of it, the fact Popwalski appears to have lived a goodly portion of his life in an anti-Semitic, conspiracy theory-induced haze is also lost on them.

It doesn’t register because it doesn’t fit the template, because the woolliest wilds of the anti-Semitic/conspiracy-theory fever swamp are located on the left. (Yes, that’s a link to the Dailykos FAQ, where Markos, owner of the largest left-wing site on the Internet, admits he had to institute a “purge” and put in place a ban on 9/11 conspiracy theory diaries just to stem the madness.)

The reaction to the Tea Party phenomenon, at once dismissed as so much FOX News “astro-turfing,” and yet also a frightening flexing of “fringe” muscle, is another example.

This naturally leads to two questions, “Why?” and “Where is all of this going?” The incidents at USC and UNC provide an answer to the first question. Once conservative voices are painted into the corner of hatred, ignorance and bigotry, attempts to silence those voices become far more palatable. This leads to increasingly bold actions by those on the left, taking the form of everything from mob tactics to petty vandalism.

Last week we also got an inkling about the answer to the second question, in the form of a thinly veiled smear of almost every facet of the conservative movement from the Department of Homeland Security. Tim already mentioned this disgrace to public service, but it deserves some special attention. Treat yourself to a gander at this bad boy, ten pages chocked full of, shall we say, “potential.” (For an interesting comparison, note the DHS’s report on Left-Wing Threats, which catalogues actual threats of radical left-wing groups like the Earth Liberation Front.)

It’s hard to see trash like this as anything but the dangerous, albeit clumsy, first salvo from the Obama administration in the fight to frame the debate. We’ve seen this tact before, in the debate over “hate crimes” legislation.

The point is not to debate, but rather to make the act of debating the left unacceptable, first socially, then legally.

Introduction: Jacob Davis

As noted a few weeks ago, Ex Deserto is in the midst of bringing on some new authors to add fresh perspective, innovative ideas, and challenging discussion. Our newest addition is Jacob Davis, a 2L at the University of South Carolina School of Law in Columbia, SC.

Ex Deserto is honored–and proud–to have Jacob on the team. We eagerly look forward to his participation. Jacob’s bio is below and will be permanently posted along with the other authors’ at the bottom of this page.

Welcome, Jacob!

Jacob Davis is a member of the Class of 2010 at the University of South Carolina School of Law. He is a member of the 2009/2010 Moot Court National Team, President of the GOP Law Society, Senior Vice President of the Federalist Society and Secretary of the Christian Legal Society. Mr. Davis graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Political Science. While in school he was a member of Sigma Iota Rho International Studies Honor Society, and worked as both a news columnist and viewpoints contributor for The Daily Gamecock, USC’’s student news publication. He has also been published in The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina. He and his fiancé, Stephanie, attend Ebenezer Lutheran Church when in Columbia, and Messiah Lutheran Church when they are in Charleston, South Carolina.

Lesson Two: Converse

Moot court is officially over. Yesterday the most eloquent – or at least the finalists – of the class delivered their appellate arguments in front of a rather judicious panel (pun, of course included).

To backtrack slightly, my second argument went decently. Again not at smooth as I would have preferred – and not enough to bring me to the semi-finals – but still, as in most activities, there is always room for improvement. Such is the nature of education, and moot court falls squarely within its scope. I did take home some great lessons, and have learned to apply them both practically (in appellate arguments), and theoretically (in persuasiveness to advance certain issues).

Remember, the point of moot court oral arguments is not necessarily to shovel incessant recitations of law down the judges’ throats, rather it is an opportunity for conversation. Certainly, there is an aspect of knowing the law (and an important one at that) but more than that, it’s a chance that another individual can probe the strengths and weaknesses of one’s case.

Here are two morsels I learned during round two of my moot court experience.

1) Engage the audience.
Engage, don’t script. Alan Sears, the president and CEO of Alliance Defense Fund, considered the sweeping losses on the religious and traditional background in the 1990s; it was not a failure on the merits, but a fundamental failure to engage the adversary. I felt talk radio was especially prone to his during the last presidential election. Many of the popular pundits had their talking points, but the result seemed to be a monotonous, preconceived list – reading rather than understanding the public interest. Who can forget the numerous nostalgic references to Reagan? I probably learned more about him last year than in any civics course. But summoning Reagan does not equate to engaging the liberal opposition. Likewise, in moot court, it is important to be flexible – talking points are good, but if it consists of merely reading a script, then there is failure to engage. And ultimately, in moot court, and certainly in the court of public opinion, this constitutes a loss.

2) Answer the questions
Questions show where the judges place emphasis on a particular issues. Now, there are two general guidelines to answering questions: 1) answer the question 2) redirect the question when appropriate. A speaker following these two guidelines is able to control the situation. I won’t touch on the first one. The second – redirecting questions – allows a speaker, after answering the question, to funnel it into part of the larger argument without falling prey to the slippery line of questioning. If there were ever a rabbit hole for conservatives it certainly would have been the environment issue. I’ve touched on this before, but focusing on a tangential issue to the neglect of a primary one constitutes a loss. Addressing issues of global warming is great, but the redirect should point in a more important direction, e.g. personal responsibility. Answering a judge’s question is a must, but a skillful advocate will channel the response into a stronger part of the argument.

The finalists yesterday encapsulated those two points quite well. Granted, they weren’t perfect, but they were at least model arguments. That being said, all this requires practice. Finesse does not appear overnight; hopefully, it at takes less than four years to achieve.

Happy Tax Day!

Each year, Americans slug through the spectacle of filing their taxes, determining if they gave a substantial interest-free loan to Congress’ insatiable spending habits or determining if they owe even more of their hard-earned dollars to the government.

Part of what makes Tax Day so frustrating—other than the realization that more than 3 months’ worth of your income entirely goes to Uncle Sam—is that paycheck withholding makes it seemingly more bearable. That lack of sticker shock is part of what driven up government spending to unsustainable levels.

So what’s the solution? As Jonah Goldberg said in an article a few weeks ago, eliminate the periodic withholding. Or as he said in his characteristic fashion, “No more purchasing the Leviathan State on layaway.”

Goldberg further agitates for moving Election Day to Tax Day, say declaring, “Let’s get what we’re paying for. Sign the check — for the full amount — and write in your preferred candidates on the back of the same check…Abracadabra . . . smaller government, here we come.”

While Goldberg’s suggestion is part satire and mostly unrealistic, citizens across the country today are agitating against our government’s unsustainable spending, realizing that higher taxes are definitely in the clear future. The so-called “Tea Parties” are being held around the country, with the potential to attract hundreds of thousands of taxpayers, all frustrated with the current state of fiscal affairs. No partisan exercise, few establishment politicians have been invited. Here in South Carolina, Governor Mark Sanford and Senator Jim DeMint, two die-hard protectors of the taxpayer, are on the program because they are among the few politicians in state capitols and in Washington that haven’t succumbed to the spend, baby, spend mentality. Here’s hoping the organizers of these events have success today.

Here are few resources to dampen your spirits on Tax Day:

What’s also disturbing, beyond the sheer amount of your income that is seized each year, is the breakdown in federalism and the co-opting of private business and non-profit activities that the government spending creates. Here, Cato’s Chris Edwards notes the enormous number of federal subsidies that represent a confiscation of income from one person or group and a redistribution to another, mostly politically-connected, group. What’s worse is the increase in these subsidies, which already number over 1,000 in the last few months.

Edwards’ Cato colleague Dan Mitchell notes how the tax code corrupts natural market incentives and produces a tax regime that is neither fair nor efficient. Our tax code need serious reform, but the Obama Administration is giving all indication that it intends to push the code in the wrong direction: towards more stagnation, less economic growth, and more government takeover of the economy.

It’s fairly basic economics to understand that high tax rates result in lower economic growth and that complex tax systems move actors from productive sectors of the economy to the non-productive tax field. Here are two reports, one detailing tax competiveness at the international level and one detailing tax competitiveness at the state level, that provide hard evidence in support of that proposition.

While reading much of these materials is depressing, there is hope because there are fantastic proposals out there to change our tax system for the better. What is required is a pro-liberty political party that won’t squander the opportunity when given an electoral majority.

Danger: Be on the Lookout for One-Issue Voters!

Today the Department of Homeland Security decided to throw its hat into the ring of unpopularity and released a report declaring that one-issue voters are a threat to national security.

The report specifically warns against “rightwing extremist activity,” which, it explains, may include “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

Napolitano, head of the DHS, had planned for the report to include other dangerous “rightwing” activity, such as shooting a gun and going to church, but she didn’t have the time to include everything as she was already late for an Arab American Heritage Month cocktail reception.

Let’s face it. A whole lot of people from the right and the left thought the federal government had turned into a Big Brother during the Bush years. The wiretapping, the unlawful combatant detentions, etc.

But already, just months into the Obama presidency, there’s a report from the Department whose job it is to protect every American explicitly stating that a large majority of those who voted against Obama in the last election–that includes yours truly–are a genuine threat to national security.

The Bush administration targeted suspected terrorists, for better or worse. The Obama administration, on the other hand, is targeting political opponents.

I’ve always enjoyed my status as a member of the vast rightwing conspiracy. Now I love it.