The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Changing Politics As Usual

There's a local blog out here on the Eastern Shore, the Sentinel Whispers (source: a great quote from my favorite of Shakespeare's plays, "Henry V"). I won't comment on the substance of the blog, but it is very much reader-driven, and the "Gatekeeper" will post just about anything. That blog can be found here:

Recent discussion about speed cameras in Maryland. As you can imagine, I'm not a big fan (I've written about my lead foot before), and I think they're a bit of a cheat (incidentally, I'm developing this theory about anti-radar detector laws being a potential violation of the 4th Amendment, but more on that as I flesh it out).

Anyhow, my local state senator, EJ Pipkin, voted against the cameras (good for you, EJ!), and there were some comments about it. John Morony wrote in, there were some comments in opposition, and, well, here's my response...

Gatekeeper -

Two attempts have been made to deflect the defense of Sen. Pipkin by ignoring the substance of the post, and instead to diffuse it by calling into question the motivation of the author based on who he is married to.

That's "politics as usual" - to not engage in the actual issue, but instead to play this game of personal character assassination.

There's a logical fallacy in that (actually several, but let's focus on the primary one). It's called "argumentum ad hominem" (argument to or against the man) - a personal attack in an attempt to discredit that person's argument.

If the posters have issue with what John Morony (or Mr. Brandt from Centreville) have said, then they ought to focus on what they _SAID_, not who they _ARE_ or, even more ridiculous, who they are _RELATED TO_!

Andi and John Morony are my good friends and neighbors. And for the record, Andi Morony has never been on the Republican Central Committee (RCC). She is President of the Queen Anne's County Republican Club, and active in a variety of other Republican organizations both here on the shore and in the state generally.

And the operative phrase in that sentence is _ACTIVE_.

My friend and colleague Bob Foley hits it on the head: now is the time for those who talk the talk to walk the walk.

If you want to change "politics as usual" then you need to get involved. It isn't going to change simply because you wish it to be so. You have to make a commitment, get involved, and work hard to see those changes made.

We have a vibrant Republican presence in Queen Anne's County. We just had John McCain's Maryland Chair out for a presentation on the campaign, we're working on having Grover Norquist from Americans for Tax Reform out to talk about his new book, "Leave Us Alone", and we've got social events scheduled for the spring and summer.

And we're looking for people who want to do that hard work to join us.

- Andrew Langer,
Centreville, MD

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Small Business And Energy

As I mentioned the other day, I get asked to participate in a lot of debates in my job. Very frequently, the subject is energy and the environment. Unless my debate opponent and I know each other and have done a debate before, I'm invariably surprised by something my opponent says (no doubt they're surprised by something I might say, too).

A lot of times, these surprises come because the person really doesn't understand the difference between small and large businesses, or really doesn't understand the practical impact of what they're proposing in the real world.

I talk to small business owners. A lot of them. About a lot of different things. And these days, energy is on a lot of their minds. I got a phone call just the other day, for instance, from an AMISH small business owner, about the concerns he's having regarding energy costs. Let me tell you, if a member of the Amish brethren is so concerned about a subject that he or she actually goes to the trouble of making a phone call, then there's really something going on.

So I get a bit troubled when people discount the impact of policies that will drive up the cost of energy, or people who don't think that such policies will harm small business owners.

But my position can be summed up in this clip from Northeast Public Radio. I come in at 3:12.

I'm on for about a minute of the 4 minute piece.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Come And Watch Me!

As mentioned, I've got a couple of multi-media pieces online now. A few weeks ago I was invited to address the national Regulatory Fairness Hearing put on by the SBA's National Ombudsman for Small Business. I've done this several times before, and am always honored to be asked. The Regulatory Fairness Program is one of the most valuable tools in the small business arsenal, and I think too many people are unfamiliar with it (which is why I'm always talking it up).

The entire hearing can be found here:

But I edited my portion out, and that can be found here:

Hope you enjoy it!

Oh, and more preparations are being laid out in advance of my bid announcement next week... Stay Tuned!

- Andrew

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Question About Federalism...

Watch this space for upcoming news. Big announcement in just over a week. In the interim, I've got a couple of links to offer (a speech I gave a few weeks ago, for instance, as well as an interview on the EPA's new ozone regs). I'll give those over the next few days.

As many of you know, I do a lot of speaking. And one of the great joys in my job is when I speak to student groups. Since 1999, I've done several debates a year for a group that brings in Jewish high school students to DC, and I've started doing debates for the CloseUp foundation, which I'm enjoying. I had a great time at the Students for Liberty conference last month, and plan on getting more involved with that organization.

I've also had the privilege of hosting student groups at my office, to discuss lobbying, small business, and my limited-government views on public policy. Frequently, I've heard from a number of these students afterwards - several of whom I've become a mentor to. I'm happy to give advice, even to students whose political views diverge sharply from my own, and answer questions from them.

I was pleased when I got such a question today from a student who had been a part of one of these seminars a few weeks ago. She'd mentioned her own libertarian views, and asked some fundamental questions about her own discussions in school, and honestly I had so much fun putting together a response today that I wanted to share it with you all.

Here was her question:

Hello Andrew,

As far as your inquiry about the
problems I have experienced in school, most of my problems arise when
discussing the Constitution and big government. I am of the personal
belief that the U.S. Constitution grants the federal government only
certain powers and those powers are enumerated in the Constitution.
However, many people that I go to school with believe that the federal
government can do whatever they please as long as it is not explicity
forbidden in the document. I believe that this infringes on people's
rights and the government is overstepping its bounds. In my opinion,
the federal government has become too big and is constantly in
everyone's business - this kind of conversation leads to some pretty
heated debates at school! However, I do enjoy the debates and I learn a
lot from them, but it is always nice to be surrounded by someone who has
similar views to myself because I have constantly been in the minority
at school. I won't bore you with other debates that I have encountered
throughout my educational career, but that gives you a sense of what I
am dealing with. I'm curious if you ever had to deal with similar
situations while you were in school and how you handled them because any
advice I can get to alleviate some of my frustrations would be most
appreciated! :) - Rachel H.

My response:


It's funny - I was actually saying this at the Students for Liberty
conference (and I don't know if they have a website - they do have a
facebook group). I envy college students who are certain of their
libertarian/limited government beliefs and are so knowledgeable about
them. I didn't really understand my views of government until a few
years after college - I had vague understandings of freedom and the
protection of rights, and was always a bit hawkish, but I didn't really
have a name for those libertarian values until later.

And William and Mary was an odd place because, at the time, many of the
students were conservative/anti-statist/jeffersonian.

But in the end, in those debates that you're having in school, rest
assured that you're in the right. Though there has been an expansive
interpretation of the federal government's powers under the commerce
clause over the last 150 years, in the 90s the Supreme Court began to
sharply rein in those powers (take a look at the Lopez and Printz
decisions, as well as the high court's decision in SWANCC (Solid Waste
Agency of Northern Cook County)). And my favorite, of course, is New
York v. United States, a 1992 Supreme Court federalism case.

The Constitution lays out the specific powers of the federal government.
The founders thought it important to reiterate the limitations on
federal power by appending the Bill of Rights. And it is all summed up
in the 9th and 10th Amendments: all that is not surrendured by the
people is retained, simply because certain rights are not enumerated
doesn't mean that they don't exist, and anything not ceded to the
federal government is reserved to the states or to the people

The High Court says that the 9th and 10th Amendments are "tautologies" -
a reiteration of something that's already understood (again, from New
York V. United States).

One of the debates I've gotten into recently (and I've been doing
debates in front of high school students on the traditional "liberal
versus conservative" ideologies, though I tend to frame it as a "big
government versus small government" debate), is this issue of whether or
not "the government is us". The idea is that as conservatives or
libertarians attack government, they forget that government IS the
people, so in essence they're attacking themselves.

My response is two-fold:

a) when government gets too big for the people to effectively control,
it no longer is reflective of the true will of the people. It is an
entity unto itself, with too many individual players serving to build
their own fiefdoms of power, power that has a direct impact on some
segment of the real "people". The High Court is no longer the check on
unfettered government power that it once was (with a few key exceptions
- several mentioned above), and in fact has endorsed an expansive
interpretation of deference to federal agencies. So while the "people"
may have one interpretation of "navigable water of the United States" in
mind, the agency has deference to interpret that to mean that a patch of
dry land in Nevada can be considered a "navigable water of the United
States" (of course, what they can regulate _WAS_ ultimately curtailed by
the high court. On the other hand, the EPA has been looking for ways
around that decision).

A big, uncontrollable government is prone of mischief, no matter which
party is in power. Is the Patriot Act that much different from the

b) And even if the people demand that the government grow, the
Constitution lays out strict rules that are supposed to be followed.
The people could demand that private property be seized from landowners
and redistributed, but the Constitution says that power is limited.
Private property can be taken, provided that it is for a legitimate
public use, that due process is accorded to the property owner, and just
compensation is paid. The people could demand that a law be passed
outlawing the burning of the American flag, but the Constitution says

Just because the people want something doesn't mean that it has to be
done. "The Constitution protects us from our own best intentions." -
again, New York v. U.S. (yes, I love that case. It's all in there.).


Just wanted to share all that with you.

- Andrew Langer