CPAC Snub of John Birch Society Shadows ‘Liberty’ Conference
There were vendors hawking everything from books by long-time tax protester and anti-Semite Martin “Red” Beckman and others bashing the IRS to libertarian and anti-war websites, from non-government coinage to solar panels.
Inside the LPAC convention hall, conservative granddaddy Howard Phillips, who founded the far-right Constitution Party in the 1990s, led things off and let it be known he’s not in favor of a balanced budget amendment – something a lot of other conservatives, including many in the Tea Party, are pushing. Phillips said a balanced budget amendment, with certain loopholes, would give the president too much power.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who was at the LPAC convention, told the audience he thought the balanced budget amendment would be a good idea. There was strong applause for the freshman senator when he talked about efforts to “audit the Fed” – demanding more disclosure about the dealings of the Federal Reserve System.
He also talked about renewal of the Patriot Act – another hot-button issue that divides many conservatives. The federal anti-terrorism law was enacted under conservative President George W. Bush, but opposed by Sen. Paul and other conservatives, along with an assortment of liberals.
The other co-sponsor of LPAC was the “Campaign for Liberty,” whose vice president Matt Hawes told convention goers that the organization – built around the popularity of the Tea Party – now has 600,000 supporters nationwide.
“We’re not necessarily in lockstep,” Hawes said of the differences between “liberty-loving” conservatives. He said 500 to 600 attended, many apparently eager to hear Rand Paul, who both spoke to an enthusiastic audience.
The Liberty Political Action Conference billed itself as an event intended to attract “freedom activists from across the country, representing conservative, libertarian, constitutional and free-market organizations, activists and businesses.”
It also attracted Rev. Chuck Baldwin, a former Baptist minister from Florida, who moved to Flathead County Montana a year ago and started “Liberty Fellowship” – an organization the weaves together Constitutional conservatism and God.
In his various writings, Baldwin has condemned Islam as a “bloody, murderous religion” and referred to the late Martin Luther King Jr. as an apostate. He has said he believes the South was right in the Civil War — but always adds that he’s no racist. Baldwin also has said there is a “conspiracy by elitists within government and big business to steal America’s independence.”
He echoed that theme at LPAC, pounding the pulpit enthusiastically.
Baldwin blasted evangelical Christian ministers who, he said, stand behind “cowardly pulpits” and refuse to use their positions to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
“Our rights don’t come from Uncle Sam,” he said in a fiery voice. “Our rights come from our Creator, God.”