Justin Amash

Sorry, Washington Republicans, but it’s absolutely acceptable to criticize candidates who want grow the federal government

Voters are often told that conservatives should not challenge Washington-backed big government Republicans, because doing so could lead to Republican defeat. Yet it often seems that Washington Republicans don’t follow their own advice. It prompts the question, when does the Washington class really view it as appropriate to criticize Republican candidates?

Mississippi is one example. Washington Republicans asked Democratic voters to support their candidate, Sen. Thad Cochran, in his primary election. This was a violation of Mississippi law, so conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel is challenging the result.

This prompted Ann Coulter to write that Chris McDaniel was a “sore loser” whose supporters “don’t care that they’re gambling with a Republican majority in the Senate.”

This is not the first time Ann Coulter has complained about conservatives from the South or other locations around Middle America. Last October, she complained that conservatives in Minnesota had not done enough to help Sen. Norm Coleman win re-election against Sen. Al Franken, writing, “The inability to distinguish Coleman and McConnell… from Obamacare-ratifying Democrats is…insane.”

Big Business Republicans are going to outspend grassroots conservatives every time; but there’s a way we can defeat them.

Phone Banking

Soon-to-be-former Congressman Eric Cantor spent more campaign cash at steakhouses than Dave Brat spent during his entire primary challenge. And leading up to the May 21 pre-primary filing deadline, Cantor outraised Brat by a stunning 25-to-1 margin.

For those who bemoan big money in politics, this is an unexpected lesson in the power of the grassroots over campaign cash. The steakhouse statistic isn’t the reason why Cantor lost, but it is indicative of the culture of entrenched incumbency. Most Members of Congress — both Democrat and Republican — believe to some extent that they are entitled to their position.

Perhaps that’s the nature of power.

Unfortunately for grassroots conservatives, victories like Brat’s are not the norm. Open Secrets has tracked incumbent re-election rates since 1964, and 9 times out of 10, these guys get re-elected with very little opposition. There are very few instances where re-election rates dip below 90%, and most of them are on the Senate side.

And as Molly Ball reports in The Atlantic, “No sitting majority leader has lost a primary since the position was invented in 1899.” The fact that fewer and fewer House seats are competitive in a general election means that to defeat most of these incumbents, someone will have to take them out in the primary.

Big Business brings out the big guns against Justin Amash

Justin Amash

There’s no doubt the most-watched Republican primary in 2014 is in Michigan’s 3rd District, where incumbent libertarian Republican Justin Amash is facing off against Big Business-funded challenger Brian Ellis.

Eliis has self-funded his campaign to the tune of more than $400,000, and he’s relying heavily on donations and support from corporate interests and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Amash’s opposition to taxpayer-funded payouts to Big Business in the form of bailouts and tax breaks have made him the top target of Republicans who favor using tax dollars to prop up Big Business.

As reported last week in POLITICO:

[The MI-03 Republican primary] is just one example of the many battles playing out in Republican races all across the country, where an emboldened establishment wing has accused movement conservatives of straying too far from the party’s pro-business roots — and winning.

POLITICO also suggested the Michigan Chamber of Commerce would weigh in, possibly endorsing challenger Ellis over Amash, but that moderate group Main Street Partnership, headed by former Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette, would be unlikely to enter the race “because it is focusing on defending Republican incumbents against conservative challenges.”

Amash has been endorsed by Club for Growth, which has given him a 100% lifetime rating, FreedomWorks PAC, which has given him a 100% lifetime rating, and (as of today) by Citizens United Political Victory Fund.

Stop Obama from spying on innocent Americans


In a “surprising and sudden move,” the House Judiciary Committee will mark up an amended version of the USA FREEDOM Act on Wednesday.

As reported in National Journal:

The maneuver [by the House Judiciary Committee] may also be a counter to plans the House Intelligence Committee has to push forward a competing bill that privacy advocates say would not go far enough to curb the government’s sweeping surveillance programs.

Indeed, just hours after the Freedom Act earned a markup date, the Intelligence Committee announced it, too, would move forward with a markup of its own NSA bill—the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act—on Thursday.

The more aggressive Freedom Act is sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the one-time mastermind behind the post-9/11 Patriot Act, from which both the Obama and Bush administrations have derived much of the legal authority for their surveillance programs. Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, has vocally condemned NSA spying since Edward Snowden’s leaks surfaced last June. The bill has long been supported by privacy and civil-liberties groups who view it as the best legislative reform package in Congress.

The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman notes possible tension between attempts to pass two different (but related) bills:

Supreme Court Rejects NSA Phone Spying Case

After U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s preliminary injunction was issued back in December, which kept the NSA from gathering metadata pertaining to certain Verizon customers who took part in a lawsuit filed by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, the Supreme Court decided to refrain from reviewing the case.

According to Judge Leon’s ruling, the Justice Department didn’t produce enough evidence to make him believe that the massive surveillance program was justified, which led to his decision to call the NSA’s surveillance programs unconstitutional.

The decision was announced Monday.

Per the rules of the court, at least four of the nine justices must agree on taking up the cause for a full review before it’s accepted, but since the process failed to grant the case a go, the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program remains unchecked by the Supreme Court.

The debate over President Barack Obama’s proposal to change how data gathered by private companies will be stored has also sparked this administration’s harshest critics, especially when it comes to the unconstitutional surveillance programs carried out by the NSA.

House NSA reformer: “There’s more than enough votes to pass the FREEDOM Act”

A leading critic of the NSA bulk data collection program says the votes exist in the House of Representatives to pass the USA FREEDOM Act, a sweeping measure that would end bulk data collection and protect Americans’ privacy rights.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) told The Hill last week that he would offer an amendment to address the NSA bulk meta collection programs if the White House and House Intelligence Committee proposal fall short. Now that he’s had time to review them, the Michigan Republican believes the dueling measures don’t stop bulk data collection at all.

“The proposals from the White House and the Intelligence Committee don’t really make much of a difference. They don’t actually stop bulk collection,” Amash said in an interview on Wednesday. “They transfer where the data is held, but the government can still access it in basically the same way.”

Amash supports the USA FREEDOM Act, introduced in October by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). This measure would not only end the bulk data collection program, it would also close loopholes the NSA could use to access Americans’ personal records.

The USA FREEDOM Act has broad, bipartisan support — a rarity in Washington these days — but it’s currently stalled in the House Judiciary Committee, though Amash notes that it has “a lot of support” from its members.

Thomas Massie, Justin Amash to Participate in War On Youth Town Hall

YAL War on Youth Townhall

The current prevailing political trends have been failing the predictions of their original proponents.

Higher minimum wages and the implementation of health care mandates that force companies to spend more to maintain employees on the payroll are just a few of the many policies that have been linked to the many difficulties that teens and young adults have been facing in the past decade.

The current job market for teens is the toughest on record and the type of solutions that are now being supported by the Obama administration do nothing to solve the problem but aggravate it. Once higher minimum wages kick in, the current administration’s solution will prove to be yet another impediment to the entry of inexperienced or young individuals with little or no experience in the workforce.

Because these policies lead to constant harassment that young Americans are forced to struggle with daily, Congressmen Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) will be participating in a “War on Youth” town hall, which will take place in Arizona.

The Glendale Community College chapter of Young Americans for Liberty will host the event. If you can’t make it, YAL will be broadcasting the event live online on April 3, at 7 p.m. EDT or 4 p.m. PDT.

Viewers can send in their questions to both congressmen by using the hashtag #WarOnYouth.

Gohmert blasts National Journal for “libelous,” “sleazy” coverage of Liberty Karaoke

A large group of DC-area liberty activists gathered last Tuesday at O’Sullivan Irish Pub for what they call “Liberty Karaoke,” or #LibertyKaraoke, if you’re on Twitter. This weekly event was a little different on this particular night because the group was throwing a fundraiser for Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), one of the growing number of libertarian-leaning Republicans in Congress.

The event was a resounding success. The 80 to 90 liberty activists, most of whom are in their 20s, raised $9,000 for Massie’s campaign coffers, surpassing the $6,630 they raised for Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) in December.

“I think Massie’s reelection is important because we need leaders that are willing to stand up in the name of liberty,” Leah Courtney, a DC-area liberty activist, told United Liberty. ”Young people are drawn to liberty-minded Republicans because they are the ones with spines, and will speak up for their constituents. There’s no hidden agenda, just Congressmen doing their jobs.”

“We’re a generation that has grown up in a rocky economy. We’re the ones that have excessive student loan debt, and we have had to walk into a world where jobs are not necessarily the easiest to find,” she said. “We need a REAL change. Massie and Amash are what we’re looking for in candidates, and this is just the beginning.”

Liberty movement activists sing praises of anti-establishment Republicans

In a town known for power-hungry establishment politicians and lobbyists who are constantly trying to exert their influence, there is a burgeoning group of young liberty movement activists who are working behind-the-scenes to change the status quo in the nation’s capital.

Mostly in their 20’s and early 30’s, D.C.-area liberty-minded activists hold jobs in congressional offices on Capitol Hill or in some of the town’s most well-known grassroots organizations. These young people have made their presence felt in the Washington-area political scene, and they’re doing so in an unorthodox way.

Many from this crowd meet-up at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Arlington, Virginia for what they call “Liberty Karaoke,” a weekly tradition started a few years ago by a group of like-minded friends. It’s not unusual to find 50 or more activists hanging out and singing some of their favorite tunes on any given Tuesday night.

“D.C.-area liberty movement young people have been attending weekly karaoke for over three years,” Matthew Hurtt, a 26-year old grassroots activist, told United Liberty. “It was really organic. It’s been a weekly place to unwind and hang out.”

But the group has found another purpose for Liberty Karaoke by using it as a fundraising opportunity for certain candidates whom they support.

In early December, for example, the group hosted a fundraiser for Rep. Justin Amash, a 33-year-old Michigan Republican who has become one of the most vocal critics of the Obama Administration, domestic surveillance programs, and, at times, his own party’s leadership.

Republican challenges Amash, criticizes his voting record

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) was the target of much praise and criticism when his amendment to strip funding for the NSA program responsible for the collection of phone records of Americans was narrowly defeated in the House.

While some big government conservatives did not find Amash’s leadership and dedication to disassemble the surveillance programs anything close to productive, Americans of all walks of life cheered his outspoken attitude and his battle to restore 4th amendment rights. Now, a Republican businessman named Brian Ellis has decided to challenge Amash’s Michigan House seat.

According to Politico, Ellis says he will “advance conservative solutions by voting to balance the budget, reduce the tax burden, expand American energy sources, and defend the right to life and our Constitution.” During his announcement, Ellis criticized Amash for voting “present” instead of voting in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, probably unaware of the reasons why Amash chose to do so. According to news sources covering the story at the time, Rep. Amash voted “present” on the Keystone XL pipeline because he did not believe that a bill should single out just one company or one individual. While Amash was in favor of having the pipeline built, he believed singling out a company was simply unconstitutional.

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