Judge Gorsuch on the Hot Seat

Following Justice Scalia's death last year, Republicans took a gamble with their #NoHearingsNoVote strategy, refusing to confirm any Supreme Court nominee for the remainder of the election year. Ilya Shapiro, Editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review, defended this strategy on the show last May on the principle that the election should serve as a referendum on who would nominate the pivotal 9th member to the divided court. In something of a double surprise, Trump was elected, and almost immediately made good on the promise to select a judge from his list of 21 potential nominees. Since the start of Neil Gorsuch's Senate confirmation hearings, Shapiro has been on a media blitz, cutting through the "Kabuki theater" and interpreting the exchanges between the mild-mannered Colorado judge and his senatorial inquisitors (both friendly and unfriendly). He returns this Sunday to examine how the rest of the process is likely to unfold, in light of Senator Chuck Schumer's promise to filibuster. Bob and Ilya will also discuss what it means to be a judge "in the mold of Antonin Scalia," and how the founders' original intent still applies to the changed circumstances of modern times. Tune in to the show to of ideas, not attitude, and call in with your questions at (424) BOB-SHOW.

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>> Tune in to the Answer: SF Bay Area: 860AM // Sacramento: 1380AM // Seattle: 1590AM >> Stream Online >> Call in: (424) BOB-SHOW

Listen LIVE - 8-9 AM PACIFIC, on 860 AM - The Answer, or Streaming LIVE online

Lisa Snell on School Choice Experiments

Last month, Senate Democrats fell a single vote short of blocking the nomination of Betsy Devos to head the Department of Education. This revealed not only an unwise expenditure of political capital, but also the undue influence of teacher unions over the Party apparatus. While seemingly more controversial picks like Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson glided through their hearings, it was Devos who became “Public Enemy #1.” Some perceive her support of educational choice as heralding a demotion of public schools and the unions that uphold their sacred status. Others argue that Devos is unqualified for a top government office, to which libertarians have been quick to suggest a clever alternative: why not shut down the Department of Education altogether? Lisa Snell, director of education and child welfare for Reason Foundation, joins the show to give an update on state-based experiments in educational choice. Bob will also discuss the surprisingly bipartisan argument for ending the $70 billion a year behemoth. Do you or a loved one have children trapped in government schools, with nowhere else to turn?

Jonathan Bydlak on Spending Tracker

Taxation watchdogs like Grover Norquist have sought to hold politicians accountable to small-government philosophy using “starve the beast” logic, i.e., assuming that a lower level of taxation will force government to shrink its big-spending agenda. However, in an age of money printing and short-sighted thinking, merely arithmetic constraints like a balanced budget have been brushed aside. Jonathan Bydlak of the Institute to Reduce Spending and the Coalition to Reduce Spending takes a different approach to accountability, channelling Milton Friedman’s aphorism, “To spend is to tax.” Want to know who’s really responsible for your looming IRS bill? Bydlak urges citizens to look at how much spending their representatives are voting for. The next time a Republican politician tells you to read his lips, be sure to check his rhetoric against his voting record, using SpendingTracker.org – a new project of the Institute to Reduce Spending that uses big data to rank the worst culprits (the “spenders”) and allows for comparison with the relatively virtuous “savers.” Unsurprisingly, you’ll find “Rs” at the tops of both the "spender" and "saver" lists. Jonathan returns to the show to explain how this new tool can increase government accountability where it really matters.

Debunking Inequality Myths with Ed Conard

Mark Twain is often quoted as having said, “It’s not what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Ironically, there is no evidence Twain ever said or wrote this line, but we can still reflect on its implications for today’s most contentious economic debates. In the case of rising economic inequality, conventional wisdom (coupled with noble motives) has produced policies that hurt the very people they are intended to help: the poor and middle class. Ed Conard – founding partner at Bain Capital and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute – takes aim at what he sees as a wrong-headed redistributionist mindset in his latest best-selling book, The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine the Middle Class (Penguin). Conard goes beyond an apology for "the 1%" in explaining the real drivers of persistent poverty and relative stagnation of the American middle class. Though counter-intuitive, his insights are essential to improving policy, and the uncertain economic outlook. Conard joins to the show to help listeners understand the economic landscape like never before. 

Small Business vs. the 4th Branch of Government

In the waning days of Obama’s presidency, Sam Batkins of the American Action Forum brought to our attention the record number of so-called “midnight regulations” being implemented by administrative agencies like the EPA. This stealthy (and costly) form of executive lawmaking bypasses the traditional legislative process and erodes the checks and balances so vital to a free republic. This Sunday, Luke Wake (a Staff Attorney for the National Federation of Independent Business) will take us under the hood of the emerging “Fourth Branch” of government to inspect its inner workings. Wake’s message is simple and should be uncontroversial: giving the public a voice is a moral imperative of a liberal democratic system. Whereas the legislature consists of elected officials engaged in open debate, administrative agencies are made up of unelected bureaucrats who can quietly alter the interpretations of laws without the usual required period of public notice-and-comment. As usual, it’s small businesses who take the greatest hit in their struggles with Kafkaesque bureaucracy. The result: alienation, existential anxiety, and absurdity. Bob and Luke sort through it all, and take calls, on the show of ideas, not attitude.

Floating Island Project: French Polynesia

When we last heard from Joe Quirk – author and “Seavangelist” for The Seasteading Institute – his visions of humanity’s oceanic future may have seemed remote to the some listeners. That, however, was in 2015. After a dizzying election year, during which all grounds for predicting the future were cast into doubt, the seasteading concept of floating free cities sounds entirely reasonable, and at least as likely as California's nascent secession scheme. Joe joins the show this Sunday after a successful diplomatic trip to French Polynesia, which led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in San Francisco last month between the Institute and the French Polynesian government. Reason’s Brian Doherty calls it an “agreement to come to an agreement” regarding the creation of a seazone in Tahitian waters with a “unique governing framework”, where the first aquapreneurs can begin seasteading as early as 2018. Is this the dawning of a Blue Revolution? Bob finds out when it will be time to ready his liveaboard yacht, The Laissez Faire, for a voyage in the near future.

*Crossroads for Liberty* with William Watkins Jr.

Latter-day patriots often speak of the U.S. Constitution as if it's sacred scripture – the wisdom of ages, revealed to men of letters through the divine faculties of reason. Although this makes for a good story, Bob and past guests have poked holes in that narrative, and revealed how certain compromises required for ratification were a bridge too far for some of the wisest Founding Fathers. The skeptics, known as the anti-federalists, worried that the limited powers outlined in the Articles of Confederation were not circumscribed clearly enough in the new constitution. Seeing the end result of these compromises – a too-powerful federal government – we must give credit to the anti-Federalists. William J. Watkins Jr., a research fellow at the Independent Institute and author of a new book, Crossroads for Liberty: Recovering the Anti-Federalist Values of America's First Constitution, says we should go a step further and seek the reforms they sought, as previewed in the Articles of Confederation. Widely viewed as a failure for granting states too much power, the short-lived Articles may be ripe for a revival, as Americans tire of a president who acts like a King, a congress removed from the people, and a judiciary that legislates from the bench. Join Bob and William as they discuss the relevance of anti-federalist ideals to current events, from Trump's executive orders to California’s new secession movement.

The Return of Big Spending Republicans?

Under President Obama, Republicans grew accustomed to their role opposing the prevailing winds of Big Government. Apparently the fastest way to turn conservative hawks into libertarian doves is to elect a national security hawk and Democrat as president. Now, the Right’s small-government rhetoric will be put to several key tests. Chief among them is whether they will bring military and entitlement spending under control, or let the national debt grow to even more unsustainable levels. Ivan Eland (Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute) spent 15 years working for Congress on national security issues, and served as Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office; he knows a national security threat when he sees one. He joins Bob to point out the elephant in the room – one that's not going anywhere just because of the new “elephant” in the oval office. Eland identifies the United States’ precarious fiscal situation as the single greatest threat to our security, citing retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen as one authority who can read the writing on the wall. President Trump may talk a big game when it comes to cutting wasteful military spending, but will he keep his promises to scale back U.S. intervention in the Middle East and elsewhere?

Inauguration Special – Bob on KFAX

The page has officially turned on President Obama's two terms of ever-expanding executive power. However, while the Obama administration has served as a steady foil for Bob's small-government libertarianism since the start of this show, now is no time to start going soft on the executive branch. Bob went on Craig Roberts' Life!Line show to comment on President Trump's inauguration speech. The show aired on KFAX (1100AM in the SF Bay), and begins with the full length of Trump's speech starting at 5pm, followed by commentary by Bob and two other local guests. What should we make of Trump's proposed "buy American, hire American" rules? Are these compatible with his promise to give power back to the people? Regardless of what happens in the next chapter, we look forward to bringing you the freshest libertarian ideas, from the smartest guests in radio, and continuing to stand up for individual freedom for the next four years.

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Read more about Life!Line with Craig Roberts.

"For 22 years, Craig Roberts has hosted KFAX’s popular afternoon drive talk show, “Life!Line,” Northern California’s longest running and most widely listened to show of its kind. The program features a multitude of subjects and newsmakers, covering politics, current affairs, family issues and ministry opportunities around the San Francisco Bay Area, across the nation and around the world."

Dr. Tom Palmer on Self Control vs. State Control

With the inauguration of President-elect Trump coming later this week, citizens of the United States have developed radically divergent expectations for the next four years. Those who enthusiastically pulled the lever for Trump see a man who can “Make America Great Again” with policies prioritizing domestic interests, while many others fear that he will roll back the progressive, big-government victories of the last eight years. However, the two camps may share more in common than they realize. Both, after all, view government as a primary force to manipulate industries and individual actions to improve outcomes. Dr. Tom Palmer, executive vice president for international programs at the Atlas Network, has an alternative way of looking at things. His new book, “Self Control or State Control? You Decide,” goes beyond mere ideology to questions that every thinking person should be asking. His essays (among several others featured in the book) speak to the importance of personal responsibility to freedom, and offer both a historical and practical perspective to support the central conclusion: if you seek self-determination, then you must also strive for self-control.