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Joel Kurtinitis

Joel Kurtinitis has 37 articles published.

Joel Kurtinitis
Joel Kurtinitis is a columnist for the Des Moines Register, contributing editor for The Liberty Conservative, and a branded contributor to the Blaze. Joel was a Regional Director for Ron Paul 2012 and served on the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Iowa. He co-founded Liberty Iowa in the wake of the Paul campaign, and organized the Free DC Project during the government shutdown of 2013. When not busy setting the virtual world aflame with controversy, Joel is actually an okay guy who enjoys reading, cooking, chess, bluegrass music, and an occasional foray into fiction writing. Joel and his family live in Perry, IA.

If You’re Serious About Starting a Dialogue On Race, Talk To White People – Not At Them

in Politics by

I made it through the entire 2016 electoral cycle without writing a single article on race. I wrote nothing on Trayvon and Zimmerman, Ferguson, Baltimore, Black Lives Matter, or the KKK celebrating Trump’s election. I managed to avoid being targeted online by either BLM racists or alt-right “race realists” as I tried to navigate the turbulent waters of the most contentious election in recent memory. But the streak dies today, because after reading Rev. Derrick Keith Rollins Jr.’s article titled “What white people should do about systemic racism,” I realized we need to turn this decades-old race monologue into a dialogue. As a whiter-than-white, I-sunburn-at-night kind of caucasian, I feel utterly qualified to accept Rev. Rollins’ invitation to talk race. And I’d like to start by pointing out that a piece with a condescending and finger-wagging title like “What white people should do about systemic racism” isn’t a great way to start that discussion.

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Lawyer For Man Ticketed In Own Driveway: Cop “Has No Heart Or No Brain”

in Politics by

Nick Somberg, representing attorney for Taylor Trupiano – the Michigan man recently ticketed for warming up his car in his own driveway – isn’t mincing words when it comes to his feelings about the case. In a statement to The Liberty Conservative, Somberg said he feels it is his duty to take the case – pro bono – and ensure that the citation is dismissed. “I find the conduct of this police officer reprehensible,” said Somberg. “He either has no heart or no brain.” The Rochester Hills attorney also objected to Roseville police chief James Berlin’s suggestion that the ticket was issued due to public safety concerns about vehicle theft. “So to protect Mr. Trupiano from having his car stolen, they’re trying to steal his money instead,” blazed Somberg, who also noted that he had set up a GoFundMe page to buy Trupiano and his family a remote starter for their car. Taylor Trupiano, who was hit with a $128 ticket after starting his car and leaving it to…

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The Death Of Definition: How 2016 Reset America’s Political Spectrum

in Culture/Politics by

Among the many time-honored structures left in ruins by the 2016 presidential process, perhaps nothing has suffered more than our comfortable set of political labels. Terms like “conservative”, “progressive”, “liberal”, “libertarian”, and even “classic liberal” (courtesy, Speaker Paul Ryan) have been growing dull for years, but this year seems to have become so useless that warring activists under each label were forced to drop their weapons, crawl out of their respective trenches, scratch their heads, and try to figure out which side they really belonged on. Who can blame them? Every election has its share of word-bending, but 2016 dropkicked our traditional categories completely by nominating two remarkably similar New York moderates claiming to represent opposite sides of the political spectrum.

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The Enduring Importance Of Privilege

in Culture/Philosophy by

I am privileged. Despite growing up in a poor family in one of the most impoverished counties in rural North Florida, in a century-old farmhouse with no air conditioning and a woodburning stove that we all had to huddle around in the winter. Despite the fact that after high school I worked construction for $11 an hour with no insurance, sleeping in my car and running the heat ten minutes at a time when the cold of the Iowa winter got too unbearable. Despite the fact I couldn’t afford to finish college, and was too busy making ends meet to exploit some of my talents or pursue many of my interests. No, none of those things change the fact that I belong to a permanently privileged class of people – the most privileged class, according to some. See, I happen to be a white-skinned man who has no gender-uncertainty and maintains a consistent sexual preference for women, which, according to liberal America, places me somewhere between Scrooge McDuck and Sarah Palin on the villain scale. I’m…

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Five Observations About The Cruz Endorsement And The Future Of #NeverTrump

in Culture/Politics by

When NPR hit me up earlier today asking about Cruz’s endorsement of Trump, I was asked to give an opinion before I even knew for certain it was happening. I was hoping that Ted would hold out, and give #NeverTrump the public face it needed to continue to effectively project between now and November. Needless to say, I was disappointed. As someone who supported Ted through a number of significant policy disagreements – though I did call him out on them – this disappointment is more personal. When people have bled with you the way we have with Ted, you don’t hang them out to dry six weeks before an election. Here are my immediate thoughts on Cruz’s endorsement and the future of #NeverTrump. 1) It’s not going to help Cruz. Ted isn’t going to gain a damn thing from endorsing Trump. Throwing his support to someone he admits is a big-government liberal is confusing at best, and at worst, just as politically-calculated as others have long presumed his…

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WATCH: Trump Vs. #NeverTrump

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Something sorely lacking in the Trump/#NeverTrump debate is, well, debate. Most people only sally out briefly on social media to make their case, before quickly retreating back to their support group – and that doesn’t help anyone sort out the truth of the matter. But as the specter of Hillary rises over the nearing November election and Trump continues to trail in the polls, the urgency of winning over #NeverTrump Republicans is becoming apparent. The problem for Team Trump is that some people really mean never. This debate addresses the questions of the Supreme Court, Trump’s “outsider” status, viable options for those unwilling to vote for either Trump or Hillary, and – bafflingly – Richard Nixon. Listen for yourself and let us know where you align – #Trump or #Nevertrump!

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Death With Dignity: The Principled Insanity Of Conservative Electoral Strategy

in Politics by

“We don’t win anymore.” If there’s one overwhelmingly applicable truth that conservatarians can glean from the deranged ramblings of Herr Trump, it’s the one his campaign has helped reinforce this cycle at the expense of the constitutional right: we don’t win anymore. Conservatives have become the Cleveland Browns of American politics. Sure, on a good year we can string together a few regular-season wins, but the most we can hope for by the postseason is a high draft pick and a new coach. Only we don’t ever get a new coach. We just keep trying the same failed plays over and over again, causing our veteran players to become resentful and despondent, and our young talent to go all Johnny Manziel. Trump’s army of quasi-populist tariff zombies have joined with Reince Priebus and Republican Party leadership to run roughshod over principled conservatives this year, and the losses are continuing to pile up. Yet the difficulty of this primary season is just a little beach spray compared to the November tsunami that’s…

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It’s Time Libertarians Started Caring About Religious Freedom

in Culture/Philosophy by

One of the most impeachable derelictions of the modern libertarian movement is its blatant disregard of – or support for – government attacks on religious liberty. The Gary Johnson complex, as I’ve come to call it, is not grounded in any libertarian ideology – a fact that fellow candidate Austin Petersen ripped the proverbial fig leaf from during the Libertarian Party’s presidential primary debates.  There’s nothing remotely libertarian about forcing a Christian pastor to wed a gay couple against his convictions, or in forcing business owners to provide products and services for a ceremony they fundamentally object to, regardless of how you feel about those objections. Supporting that kind of government overreach not only discredits libertarians on First Amendment issues, it also discredits us with regard to business and property rights, which heavily intersect with religious liberty in these situations.  How can you insist that affirmative action is an inappropriate economic intervention by government while approving of the persecution of Christian businesses based on their religious faith and practice?…

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Brexit Showcases The Obsolescence Of Big Government

in Politics/Tech/World by

By now Brexit has been analyzed from approximately every point of view, by everyone who wants to make a point with it; but amid the fear and festivity, one of the simplest points seems to have been overlooked. At its core, the choice of the British people was between union and autonomy, with experience informing both sides, and they chose the latter. Everyone is using the word historic to describe the Leave vote, because of its outsized impact on the world economy and the metaphorical cap it busted in the crown of the European Union (EU). It’s unclear how many have actually considered just what makes this move so historic. Beyond the stock tumble and the resignations, there’s an easily-identifiable trend for civil libertarians to be excited about, and that’s the trend toward decentralization of power. Though the latest manifestation of this trend may have been political in nature, the build-up to it has been decidedly un-political, to the point of being ignored by Western elites. It is a trend driven…

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Ninth Circuit Court Guts The Second Amendment

in Politics by

Anyone who has argued with a teenager knows that facts can evaporate and definitions can become fluid with enough motivation. Such immaturity and posturing is to be expected from a child. We don’t expect the same sort of reasoning from adults, let alone federal judges. Maybe it’s time we start. In a 7-4 vote, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that you have no constitutional right to carry a concealed weapon in public – period. Per the recently-delivered majority opinion of Peruta v. City of San Diego, “The right of a member of the general public to carry a concealed firearm in public is not, and never has been, protected by the Second Amendment.” The court cited history – including feudal British history – to show precedence and demonstrate the validity of laws barring private citizens from bearing arms in public. I guess such reasoning is appropriate from a court that views the American people as serfs rather than citizens – I just hope the black-robed diviners…

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The Allied Liberation Of Europe Was Just And Right, And Saying So Doesn’t Make You a Warmonger

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On June 6th, 1944, thousands of Allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy and began what we know as the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe. One the eve of D-Day, as those soldiers, sailors, and airmen prepared to take part in the largest amphibious invasion in military history – an operation that would see thousands of them give the last full measure of devotion on the beaches of Normandy – they read the following words from the Supreme Allied Commander, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower: “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.” But was Operation Overlord indeed a great crusade for which liberty-loving…

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Conservatives Under Siege – Why The 10th Amendment Is The Last Hope For Traditional Marriage

in Culture/Politics by

Late in the autumn of 1943, German fighter general Adolf Galland headed to the opulent estate of Luftwaffe Reichsmarschall and Hitler’s second-in-command, Hermann Göring. Galland, a decorated combat ace, had seen extensive action on the western front, and by this point in the war, he could see that the odds were turning against the Third Reich, as British and American bombers made regular raids deep into fortress Europe, escorted by new, long-range allied fighters that had started to thin his distinguished ranks. Galland’s mission on this night was to convince Göring that Germany must re-tool their air force for a defensive struggle in light of the Allies’ ever-tightening stranglehold on the skies over Europe.  While Hitler and Göring insisted that the Luftwaffe continue to focus on offensive strategies and vengeance weapons like the infamous V1 and V2 rockets, Galland knew that if they did not soon cut back on bomber production and boost their fighter force, Allied bombers would soon roam the European skies unchallenged. Conversely, if they shifted…

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Dear Austin Petersen, Personhood Is The Ultimate Liberty Issue

in Culture/Politics by

Dear Austin, As a Libertarian Presidential Candidate, I know you’re busy with a lot of interviews and meetings with conservative media and voters looking for a way out of the coming Trump/Hillary nightmare, but I wanted to take the opportunity to reach out to you and try to iron out some of the wrinkles in your pro-life messaging. See, protecting life is an utterly non-negotiable issue for a slew of Libertarians as well as Republicans, and polls show that the nation as a whole is moving in an anti-abortion direction, with the highly-libertarian Millennial generation leading the way. Many of us flatly refuse to support anyone who won’t fight for the right to life, no matter how much we might agree on other things. I think you’re on the right track with the life issue, and that’s incredibly important for the sake of moving the historically pro-choice Libertarian Party (LP) that way. Your stance on this issue could impact the future of the LP well beyond 2016, and to…

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Conservatives Under Siege – Transgendered Bathrooms And The Brilliance Of The Left’s Decoy Strategy

in Culture/Politics by

This article is the first in a three-part series titled “Conservatives Under Siege”. Subscribe to Liberty Conservatives Magazine or follow Joel on Facebook or Twitter to be notified of subsequent articles. From the explosion of outrage and hyperbole that violated my social media newsfeeds in the last two days, I gather that gender-confused individuals are now trying to use bathrooms to which they are not assigned. That’s unfortunate. I expect it to complicate some social norms, and potentially produce awkward situations.  It may even force some businesses or public buildings to go back to the barbaric unisex individual bathrooms still used by most small businesses nationwide. Worse yet, government may declare public restrooms to be unisex and government workers and public schoolers will be forced to join the approximately 90% of the world that doesn’t give a crap where you, you know, give a crap. Fond as I am of our distinguished American bathroom system, I also realize that the extent of this controversy is still…bathrooms. As conservative blogger Matt Walsh…

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Freedom Caucus Leader Raul Labrador Endorses Ted Cruz

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Idaho Representative and Freedom Caucus leader Raul Labrador has endorsed Senator Ted Cruz for President, National Review reported yesterday. Labrador joins fellow Freedom Caucus members Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who previously indicated support for the Senator from Texas. Labrador, long viewed as an ally of the Liberty Movement, earned support from liberty icon Rep. Justin Amash for house speaker in 2013 and until recently served as Western State Chair for Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign. Cruz, the only candidate to contest Paul for the liberty vote over the course of the 2016 cycle, has drawn strong support from the movement in the wake of the latter’s departure from the race. The addition of Labrador could allow him to make an even stronger play for the libertarian bloc.  

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Iowa Just Destroyed The “Rand Or Nobody” Narrative

in Politics by

Iowa was the final act for a number of presidential candidates, including liberty candidate Sen. Rand Paul – but the reason Paul dropped might come as a shock to many. Though the Rand campaign made many overtures to his father’s base in the final months, Rand Paul did not carry the Iowa libertarian vote. Among the chief victims of the dramatic Ted Cruz win Monday night was the “libertarians won’t vote for Cruz” narrative pedaled for the last year by the Rand Paul campaign. The caucus results have been sliced and diced a hundred ways, and with Sen. Rand Paul’s subsequent exit from the presidential race, the question of where the liberty vote will go is finally being asked — a question Iowa already answered. Sen. Cruz’s win was hailed as a show of power for Iowa’s evangelicals, but the math simply doesn’t add up for that narrative. Even if Cruz benefited from the Trump-inspired turnout bump — for which there is little evidence — that doesn’t explain his leapfrogging Trump and finishing more than…

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Three Reasons Every Libertarian Should Celebrate a Ted Cruz Iowa Win

in Politics by

Much of the libertarian interest in next week’s Iowa Caucuses is focused on Rand Paul – and rightfully so.  Since his apparent decision to drop the middle-of-the-road rhetoric and go full libertarian early this year in the face of declining money and support, many of his father’s sidelined activists have taken renewed interest in his campaign. Rand’s numbers in Iowa have seen a slight uptick, and his campaign has released some impressive organizational numbers. Still, Rand is a longshot to pull off a win in a state where the competing candidacies of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have reshaped the entire political landscape. What began as a wide-open race for the nomination between members of a fractured conservative base and members of an even more fractured establishment base, has now become a story of evangelicals, libertarians, and conservative hardliners uniting to stop a fascist egomaniac from recreating the GOP in his own orange-haired image. So while I expect many liberty folks to stand with Rand next Monday, many of…

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The Debate Republicans Deserve

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As we approach tonight’s Republican debate, sure to be a spectacle similar to the last three awkward attempts to manage the political equivalent of a starting football lineup, it’s worth mentioning that debates don’t have to be this way. Late last week Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal challenged Senator Ted Cruz to debate Obamacare mano y mano in a response to the latter’s assertion that he would debate “anyone, anywhere”.  Though the move was a clear attempt by Jindal to lash his sinking dinghy to the surging Cruz ship, he served the ball directly into Cruz’s court in such a way that the Senator’s response has the opportunity to flip the Republican debate process on its head. But before I address that possibility, let’s step back and see how we got here. In the wake of the last debate hosted by CNBC (read that phrase however you like), anger among both the candidates and the conservative grassroots resulted in a coup in which the candidates effectively cut the Republican National…

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Wanted: Dead Or Alive – What The RLC Vote Really Says About The Liberty Movement

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It turns out the death of the Liberty Movement has been greatly exaggerated. At the first sign of some sputtering from the presidential campaign of “libertarian-ish” Sen. Rand Paul, critics and pundits gleefully took to the web to declare the so-called “libertarian moment” over. But those seeking evidence of the continued relevance of America’s youngest and most vibrant political faction may just be looking in all the wrong places. Of course one shortfall in the arithmetic of those waiting to dance on the grave of libertarianism is that it attempts to judge the fate of a movement by the electoral success or failure of a single candidate.  That doesn’t make sense by anyone’s standards, but makes even less sense in relation to a group as ideologically diverse as the Liberty Movement. Contributing to the confusion were many liberty folks who placed all their eggs in the basket of the Randidacy from the get-go; attempting to force the movement into the shape of the younger Paul despite widespread hesitation within…

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Three Really Dumb Abortion Arguments You Should Stop Making

in Culture/Politics by

As the series of shocking videos released by the Center for Medical Progress continues to land body blows on Planned Parenthood, fewer and fewer abortion advocates can be found to defend them.  They are even slowly disappearing from the typically safe comments sections of traditionally left-leaning sources like Slate and my state’s resident MSM outlet, the Des Moines Register.  Articles from pro-choice folks condemning the abortion giant seem to have knocked the legs out from some of the most vulnerable arguments lately, like the thinly-veiled falsehood that abortions only comprise 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services, or the notion that being pro-choice isn’t the same as being pro-abortion. Still, a few liberal drones still venture out to the comments section each day to regurgitate equally meaningless drivel, along with a pinch of deflection and a hefty dose of ad hominem. Some of the arguments presented by the left are at least intellectually honest enough to deserve a thoughtful response, but a few are so absurd, ill-informed, and misapplied as to…

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No Wonder Ted Cruz Hates DC – He’s a Marvel Fan (VIDEO)

in Politics by

Last week I had the chance to interview Senator Ted Cruz backstage after his “Believe Again” event at Drake University in Des Moines. Considering Cruz’s reputation as an avid gamer, I decided to spice things up by challenging him to a chess match during the interview – doing my best to keep the former Princeton debate champ in check, while also hitting him with questions ranging from campaign strategy to comic book wars. It turns out that when he’s not haunting the nightmares of Capitol Hill Democrats, the conservative firebrand enjoys swimming, science fiction, and the irreverent political satire of “Team America: World Police”. Cruz directed harsh criticism at Russian President Vladmir Putin and blamed moderate Republican nominees for the last two presidential losses, pledging to win crossover votes by avoiding the “mushy middle” and reassembling the Reagan coalition. Cruz struck a lighter tone when asked how he planned to rope millennials into his campaign. While he cited his libertarian streak as a draw to younger voters, he also said…

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Why Do TPA Opponents Trust Obama?

in Economics/Politics/World by

Most of the recent discussion surrounding Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) has focused on the overwhelming distrust of the President from, well, pretty much everyone. Many fear that the President plans to use trade agreement back-doors to compromise US sovereignty and ram through environmental and immigration policies that would not have a chance of making it through the GOP-controlled congress. The most consistent critique of those who support TPA (other than the criticisms mistakenly applied to TPA, that were intended for the TPP… read this to clear up that confusion) is that we should not trust this President with more power given his track record of abusing authority and circumventing Congress. The funny thing is that we completely agree. And that’s why we support the TPA. Those who treat TPA as an unprecedented empowerment of the President do so without the support of history – and there is a lot of history to contend with. The narrative goes that according to Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution, the…

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4 Things You Didn’t Know About The TPP… Or Is It The TPA?

in Politics/World by

The Far Left and the Far Right finally have something to agree on: opposition to the package of legislative endeavors leading up to what has been dubbed “Obamatrade”. The issue has given rise to the most bizarre coalitions, with Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee joining Harry Reid and Elizabeth Warren in opposing the deal, and Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Rod Blum siding with President Obama and John Boehner to support it. Broad criticisms have been matched against vague praise, and nobody really seems to know what’s going on. Meanwhile, social media has gone become a political Chernobyl – a radioactive chaos of arguments on an issue where the typical battle lines have become irrelevant. At least half of the conservative internet has simply decided to give a confused shrug and side with their presidential candidate of choice, using the rare alliances to leverage guilt by association. The fact of the matter is that there is no conservative – or liberal – consensus on trade promotion authority or…

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I’m a Ron Paul Guy, And I’m Supporting Ted Cruz

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The other night as my wife Kelsey and I were getting ready for bed, we were talking about the 2016 presidential race and discussing how things would shape up for the first-in-the-nation caucus state – our home state – of Iowa.  We had both heard that Ted Cruz was set to announce his candidacy at midnight, and were keeping a finger on the pulse of the reaction within our liberty-heavy political circles. My wife’s phone buzzed, and then I heard her groan. Another of our friends had asked her who we would be supporting for president in the state where politicos never sleep. Both of us knew that we were leaning toward supporting Sen. Ted Cruz, but both of us also knew that we didn’t want to have “the talk” with another of our Randian friends at 11 o’clock on a Sunday night. I had to chuckle as she tried to think of ways to defer the familiar question one more time.  Despite the fact that no candidates had…

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Rand Returns To His Roots

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Nobody thought that former US Representative Ron Paul would show up in Iowa this week to stump with his son, Kentucky Senator and likely 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul; but when Rand took the stage to deliver the keynote at an “Audit the Fed” rally hosted by Liberty Iowa, there was a whole lot of Ron in the room. Ron Paul shirts, Ron Paul hats, and Ron Paul stickers adorned many of the roughly 120 people that gathered in Des Moines to hear the younger Paul speak. Even the speech itself sounded a lot more like the fiery Texas Congressman of yore than the polished, diplomatic tenor that Rand has worked to fine-tune over the course of his fairly recent emergence on the national stage. While at times Sen. Paul has shied away from his libertarian heritage, he seemed to embrace it fully on Friday night – to the applause of an energetic crowd of Liberty activists from around Iowa. “Anybody here want to audit the fed?” Paul bellowed…

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Cruz To Liberty Movement: No Softballs

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Nearly two weeks ago, just prior to his appearance at Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz carved out some time to meet with leading liberty activists from around Iowa. The low-key meeting, held in Des Moines, was many activists’ first time to meet the libertarian-leaning Tea Party firebrand. It was also Cruz’s first time fielding questions from a crowd comprised almost exclusively of members of the thriving Iowa Liberty Movement. Cruz opened with high praise for former Rep. Ron Paul’s rapidly-maturing political army. “The power, the energy of the Liberty Movement is inspirational,” said Cruz. “I think it is starting to change the almost inevitable currents of Washington.” He went on to discuss his appreciation for libertarian thinkers like Hayek, Bastiat, and von Mises, keying on areas of agreement with his audience. Cruz, who recently challenged Republicans to “lighten up a little”, also threw in some of his characteristically disarming humor. Admitting himself to be a “geek” while discussing his high school pursuits, the 44-year-old Senator…

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Cruz Courts Liberty Movement In Iowa

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Tea Party champion and conservative firebrand Ted Cruz may be ready to embrace his libertarian side – and he may need to, if he hopes to find a path from Iowa to the White House. As it turns out, the death of the Liberty Movement in Iowa may have been greatly exaggerated. While an establishment resurgence in 2014 spearheaded by Governor Terry Branstad succeeded in purging the Ron Paul element from the leadership of the Republican Party of Iowa, members of the state’s robust and often-boisterous Liberty Movement are turning their attention to greater things – namely, the 2016 presidential cycle. Still reveling in the unexpected victory of libertarian-leaning Congressman Rod Blum in what had been a heavily Democratic eastern Iowa district, the Liberty contingent is starting to have conversations about how much effort and energy should be poured into a presidential race that – for the first time in a decade – will not feature Rep. Ron Paul. Paul, who retired from Congress in 2013 but continues to…

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America Isn’t Strong Enough For Torture

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Torture. Just hearing that word is enough to give one pause. It’s a bit of a superlative for pain – a word reserved for those times when “hurt”, “suffering,” and “agony” just don’t cover it. The word carries with it images of gory slasher films and whispered stories from Soviet gulags. It’s a vestige of darker times, undeserving of any place in the greatest nation in the history of the world. It’s something that is at least as universally-condemned as child molestation and cold-blooded murder. Or was, until a few weeks ago. With the release of classified CIA documents detailing “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by American operatives in the so-called War on Terror, a new debate has been sparked. As with every other issue that hits the headlines these days, most folks formed an opinion within milliseconds and took to social media to express it faster than you can say “Guantanamo”. As I read the reports and articles swirling around the netscape, I was tempted to do the same.…

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The Problem With Amnesty, Isn’t Amnesty

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A couple weeks ago, President Obama announced that he would disregard the Constitutional process and grant executive amnesty to over five million illegal immigrants living in the states, surprising exactly no one. Equally predictable was the conservative uproar, and the ensuing accusations of racism from the Left. Much of the conservative reaction rightly centered on President Obama’s executive end-around on Congress, but the back and forth of “you’re buying votes with American jobs!” and “you’re a racist!” are again saturating politics the way Kirk Cameron saturates Christian filmmaking. Unfortunately, the bottom line of the immigration problem is often lost behind soundbytes and hyperbole. While I can certainly sympathize with the frustration over the President’s refusal to secure the border and his blatant breach of the separation of powers, I have to say that we as conservatives may be focusing on the wrong piece of the puzzle when we talk about the dreadful woes of the unwashed hordes of immigrants bringing drugs, disease, and Democrat votes to our country. Worse…

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Dear Oatmeal, Net Neutrality Just Isn’t Fair

in Economics/Politics by

Dear Oatmeal, As I was scrolling through my social media news feed yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice a letter you wrote to Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Your letter, in response to Mr. Cruz referring to Net Neutrality as “Obamacare for the Internet”, portended to explain to the Senator just how Net Neutrality works. I am not Ted Cruz, but I do happen to write for a couple of reputable online publications and put a considerable amount of thought into current events and policy issues. As I read your letter, two concerns formed in my mind: 1) I’m not sure you’ve really thought through the ramifications of the Net Neutrality standards that you’re attempting to justify. 2) I’m also not sure you have even a cursory understanding of some really important concepts surrounding the whole debate – free association, free enterprise, and heck, even freedom itself. So in the spirit of cooperation and mutual understanding (and because I consider myself a good sport), I’d like to help you out with an explanation of these concepts. Imagine that you good folks at The…

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Rand Paul’s Plan “A”

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  Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack. – Sun Tzu   Last week, Kentucky Senator and likely presidential candidate Rand Paul got in a highly-publicized spat with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council over the Senator’s answer to a question on abortion and contraceptives. Paul – a medical doctor – was asked directly whether the Plan B pill should be legal, to which he responded, “Plan B is taking birth control… I am not against birth control, and I don’t know many Republicans who would be indicating that they are against birth control.” His comments sent a shockwave of indignation throughout the virtual world, as pro-life conservatives took to social media to chastise Rand for “selling out” on life  – very reminiscent, in fact, of the shockwave that followed Rand’s “thousands of exceptions” gaffe last year. As I watched the predictable and useless “I’m more pro-life than you” chest-beating erupt among conservatives, I realized that in Rand’s latest futile attempt to walk…

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A Time For War: How Foreign Policy Can Make Or Break The Liberty Movement

in World by

The Middle East is in flames again, and for once, Liberty people seem unsure what to think about it.  For years our only rallying cry was “no more nation-building – bring the troops home!” And for a while, that was enough.  Our foreign policy ideals were so diametrically opposed to those in play for the last few administrations, we didn’t need to nail down all the details of our ideology.  Mere assertion sufficed. But the situation in Iraq has brought the Liberty Movement to a crossroads. On one side, Ron Paul’s steady non-interventionism is what first drew many people to the Movement, and the case could even be made that these foreign-policy-first libertarians form the core of the Liberty Movement.  These folks steadfastly believe that the United States should bring all military forces home and leave the world to its own devices, relying on free trade and free association to govern international affairs.  But this group has fallen strangely silent in the wake of all the images coming out…

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I’m a Conservative, And I Care About Income Inequality

in Economics by

“The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.”   As a young man growing up in a conservative home in the ‘90s, I must have heard this cliché thrown around by liberals a thousand times.  I really never gave it much thought. Even though my family often toed the poverty line, we worked hard to be self-sufficient and never accept government aid.  To me, income inequality was just a talking point used to attack hard-working business people, and a way to prime voters for the goodies the Democrats planned to buy votes with next election cycle: free health care, free education, food stamps, welfare, etc.  Trickle-down economics made sense to me, and I could see how government policies that benefited business would also help the working-class folks who relied on those businesses for jobs, products, and services. But now, four administrations later, I’m starting to see wage and income gaps in a very different way.  A new report is showing that income inequality is accelerating in the US, and that the…

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A Movement To Maturity

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  Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions; but those who kindly reprove thy faults. – Socrates Last week I wrote an open letter to social conservatives, in the interest of broadening communication between two groups that both have a vital interest in stopping the socialist slide engineered by people who benefit from government expansion.  As a homeschooled Christian conservative who chose to plant my flag firmly within the Liberty Movement, I think I can offer some perspective to those on both sides who don’t see an avenue of cooperation. But as I pointed out in last week’s article, reproof is a two-way street.  Each leg of the conservative coalition exhibits different strengths and weaknesses, and there is opportunity for greater understanding and cooperation between all if we are willing to do some self-examination and establish goals both personal and political.  To that end, fairness demands that liberty people examine our own weaknesses, and work to improve our activism.  There are some ways in which the…

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An Open Letter To Social Conservatives

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“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” – St. Augustine Dear Social Conservatives, I hesitate to address you by that name in a political sense, because being socially conservative isn’t really a theory of government, it’s a theory of culture.  One could be socially conservative in a totally stateless environment.  That’s why there’s been a high degree of overlap between your endeavors of late and those of the Liberty Movement, and that’s why many of us can comfortably identify ourselves as socially conservative libertarians. Now of course the Liberty Movement is incredibly diverse, and has shown an uncanny ability to unite a wide range of political and social groups in a quest to reduce the size and scope of government.  Some of us are socially liberal, some are socially conservative.  Some walk the Randian line between liberty and anarchy, and others just want a return to the government of the Founders.  Some want to legalize drugs to use drugs.  Others want to legalize drugs because we…

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Things You Can’t Do In The Land Of The Free

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Independence Day has always been one of my favorite holidays.  In fact, if Thanksgiving didn’t land squarely on the intersection of food, football, hunting, colorful leaves, hoodies, and cool weather, the 4th of July would be the undisputed champion of my holiday list. Independence Day is one of only a couple holidays that hasn’t yet been completely adulterated by irrelevant mythical beings or stained by a liberal re-telling of history. Better yet, the copious commercialism surrounding this holiday is actually cool. Ask any red-blooded American to choose between easter eggs, plastic Santas, and roman candles, and see which one brings out the wallet first. Sure, some folks are more sentimental about other holidays, and not everyone enjoys fireworks, but there’s something uniquely American about the fact that we delight in that short-lived flash and boom enough to gather all over the country, and sit outside and tolerate heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and that one crazy neighbor with the mullet and the battery-powered boombox playing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” for the…

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The Enemy Of My Enemy

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Since the Branstad-led moderate takeover of the Iowa GOP in April of this year, social conservatives have found themselves pushed into the same corner of the room as the Liberty Movement – unwanted by the very party whose base they form.  Several social conservative and tea party groups worked together with my organization, Liberty Iowa, to try to stem the tide of the establishment pushback, but to no avail. It was too little, too late, to hold our ground in 2014. But there’s no faster way to build alliances than being thrown into the same foxhole together when the bullets are flying.  As conservatives around the state began to realize that the animosity supposedly directed only towards the libertarian-leaning state party leadership would soon be turned toward them, discussion and coordination began to take place between different conservative groups and leaders who saw that they, too, would be swept aside by a calculated and well-organized group of power brokers looking to silence dissent.  The realization brought with it a…

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