Sunday, February 26, 2006

Re: Wayne/Wilmington/Stewart Streets

In a previous post, I mentioned that the city planners of Dayton we're scheming to waste taxpayer money on a totally unnecessary project, and jeopardize property rights in the process.

There was a public meeting Thursday night that was well attended by people in the community. I was unable to attend, but my better-half found time to go. Her report: most people were against the project the planners had in mind, instead, favoring other modest, cheaper, and more rational improvements to alleviate a perceived problem.

Gary over at This Old Crackhouse was in attendence and summed up the meeting well. See his report here.

It warms my heart to see a community rising to challenge government bureaucrats and their hairbrained schemes.

Peirce on Property Tax Reform

The Columbus Dispatch published an article today on Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Peirce entitled “Grounds for Change”. The article discusses Peirce’s support for reforming the property tax system.

Granted, I’ve only recently began studying the “Land Tax”, as originally theorized Henry George. But from what I’ve learned, there are some pretty encouraging implications in such a system, especially when it comes to urban “blight”.

Many proponents of eminent domain cite the need for cities to seize property from private owners in order to facilitate and stimulate “economic growth”. Often, one might find large areas of run-down, dilapidated buildings, unkempt slums, and other unsightly properties. As the argument goes, allowing government the power to take property in order to clean things up is the only way to combat such things.

But by reforming property taxes to exclude the value of buildings, taxing only the land value would alter the incentives that are built in to the system.

An end to tax policy that rewards owners of dilapidated and vacant properties with low tax bills and penalizes those who invest in their properties with higher tax bills.

Since buildings become less important to total value, property owners don’t pay higher taxes when they add a Florida room or build a 12-story office instead of a two-story.

Owners of vacant lots or dilapidated buildings see their taxes rise to the level of similar-size properties nearby. The tax increase motivates slumlords to invest enough to pay the higher bill or sell out.

The fundamental question of any taxation system revolves around what sorts of activity will be rewarded, and what will be punished. For example, the income tax punishes work and savings; sales taxes punish consumption; and the current property taxes discourage investment, and reward negligent property owners.

It seems to me, reforming property taxes to tax only the value of the land would result in greater incentives to invest in and upgrade one’s property. It may even help reduce urban sprawl. In the end, there would less need for a munipalities to assert eminent domain, as the free market would be taking care of itself.

In any event, this is an idea worth looking into.

The Carnival of Liberty #33

The Carnival of Liberty #33 was posted earlier this week.

I find these to be an excellent resource to find out what other liberty-minded bloggers are talking about these days. Check it out.

Limiting Taxation and Expenditures

A while back, it was announced that Jim Petro has come out with his own version of a “taxation and expenditure limitation” (TEL) amendment. Both Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidates have proposals to put the reins on the outrageous explosion of government largess, as has occurred under many, many years of an out-of-control Republican Party that has dominated our State government. Since 1994 alone, the state government has expanded 71 percent, and is on pace to double every 13 years.

(I’ll pause to let you Fry Guys who think the Republican Party is interested in your small government ideas to reflect on that.)

Blackwell’s amendment, Tax Expenditure Limitation (TEL), limits state spending to 3.5 percent or the rate of inflation, plus the increase in population.

But then, Jean Pierce, Blackwell’s campaign manager goes on to say:

“We’re not shutting government down, we’re just saying it shouldn’t grow faster than the ability to pay.”

Now…if that were really the case, then why does the Blackwell version have an escape clause to allow for the continuation of government growth, if "inflation+population" amounts to less than 3.5%? Why not leave the TEL at inflation plus population change? In real terms, that would do more to keep government at a constant size, relative to “the ability to pay” than anything else.

In fact, the Libertarian Party of Ohio endorsed just such a TEL about a year ago. The original plan , created by the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions , called for:

- Limiting state and local government spending to the inflation rate plus population growth;
- Requiring the state legislature to rebate any surplus revenue to taxpayers;
- Requiring voter approval for new tax increases extending an expiring tax or approving a tax policy change the increases net revenues for government;
- Requiring voter approval for spending above the limits set by the TEL

So why does Blackwell want an escape hatch to continue to grow government? The only answer I can come up with is that he is insincere in his desire to limit government. He still wants the ability to loot honest, hardworking Ohioans, for the benefit of he and is cronies.

Petro’s amendment, Citizens’ Amendment for Prosperity (CAP), limits the amount of general fund revenues the state may collect to 5.5 percent of the total personal income earned in the state.

Petro’s amendment isn’t any better than Blackwell’s. Focusing on a budgetary constraint that has a set relationship to the amount of income Ohioans are earning, it does seem, intuitively at least, to constrain government growth to an ability to pay. However, the devil is in the details.

If revenue collections exceed the revenue limit by more than 2.5 percent, the CAP requires the state to return that money to taxpayers in the form of an income tax credit. For example, if revenue exceeds estimates by 4.5 percent, the first 2.5 percent would be placed in a rainy day fund and the remaining 2 percent be returned as a tax credit.

So, if the limit is 5.5% of personal income…then how come an amount above that can still be collected, and rediverted to a “rainy day fund”? Furthermore, do we REALLY trust policitians – Republican politicians, who have demonstrated ZERO lack of fiscal responsibility – to really set that money aside for a “rainy day”?

Besides… Government is NOT a bank. The State should not be taking money and hoarding it for future use on political pet projects and other largesse. Petro seems to think that that idle money sitting in a “rainy day fund” is being more productive than if left in the hands of private citizens and businesses to use in supporting themselves and their families.

If either candidate had any sense whatsoever, they’d be looking for REAL solutions to our economic problems, which can be summed up in two words: Government Spending. Last year, the Buckeye Institute published the 2005 Piglet Book , which identified $3.5 BILLION of unnecessary State spending. That’s $3.5 billion dollars that could be cut from the budget, and not affect any core functions of government, nor any of the “big ticket” areas of the State bureaucracy, like education, healthcare, and criminal justice.

Libertarian Candidate Bill Peirce , an economist by profession, has a much more comprehensive plan to untie Ohio’s economy. Instead of trying to pick between two lawyers, I’d rather vote for someone who has spent his life studying economic issues. Granted, Peirce’s proposals is far from the libertarian “ideal”, but his platform shows a remarkable maturity and pragmatic approach to moving the State government back towards responsibility and discipline than either of the Republican candidates. Libertarians have heard for years that many of their proposals were “too radical”, “unrealistic”, and that “you can’t turn the ship around without slowing it down first”. Well, what exactly is so “radical” about Peirce’s proposals? They seem to be very palatable to me, and for as “hardcore” as some have charged me, I can honestly say that Peirce is someone I can vote for.

There is nothing wrong with taking “baby steps”, as long as the steps are truly in the right direction. The direction I see the Republican proposals are still in the same (wrong) direction.

So…Set aside the whole “wasted vote” myth, and evaluate the proposals. Ask yourself, are Libertarians trying to earn your vote? Are they offering you more of what you want? Or will you continue to vote for the scaremongers in the R and D parties who want to carry on business as usual?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The "Wasted Vote" Argument - Answered

You can tell 'em over and over, and they don't listen. But saying it one more time can never hurt....

From The Center for Small Government
by Michael Cloud

He warned me.

"When this commercial break is over, I'm going to throw you the toughest question for Libertarian candidates," said WORC Talk Radio Host Tom LaRoche. "So buckle your seat belt."

I smiled. I love tough questions. Especially on the radio.

"I don't want to waste my vote," he said. "If I vote Libertarian, the worst of the other two candidates might get elected. I want to vote Libertarian, the Libertarian is the best candidate, but I just can't take the chance. Mr.Cloud, how do you answer this argument against voting Libertarian?"

"Do you want your vote to matter?" I asked. "Do you want your vote to count?"

"Of course I do," he said."Voting for the lesser of two evils, voting Republican or Democrat out offear that the other is so much worse. THAT vote is wasted," I said. "Because the candidate who gets your 'lesser of two evils' vote thinks that you are voting FOR him. He thinks you like what he's doing, that you want what he's giving you. Is that the message you want to send?"

"No, of course not," he said. "You know how K-Mart got the message that you didn't like anti-gun activistRosie O'Donnell in their ads?" I asked. "When they saw Wal-Mart's profits going up. When they saw K-Mart's profits going down."

I was warming to the subject. "Do you know when the Republican politicians and the Democrat politicians got the message that the American people didn't want deficits? When Ross Perot got 19% of the vote for President in 1992, campaigning almost exclusively against THE DEFICIT!"

"Politics is a marketplace. A business knows you're happy with their service and products when you spend money with them. Lots of money. Suppose you don't like the service or the products, but you keep shoppingthere. Would they clean up their act? Would they get the message that you're unhappy with them? What if you go to their complaint department again and again, but you keep shopping with them? Would they get that message?" I asked.

"But when you spend money with their competitors, they get the message. When their competitors' market share increases, they get the message. When their market share decreases, they get the message," I said. "And then they either change their behavior or lose your business."

"When you vote Libertarian, when Democrat and Republican politicians see Libertarian candidates getting 10% or 15% or 20% of the vote, on a platform of shrinking government size, spending, and power, on a platform of making government small, that's a message they respond to," I said.

"You waste your money when you spend it with businesses you don't like. You waste your vote when you spend it on politicians you don't like. The only way to get rid of bad businesses and bad politicians is to do business with their competitor," I said. "The only way to make your vote count is to vote Libertarian. Does that make sense, Mr. LaRoche?"

"Yes it does. I agree," he said.

Does my answer change people's minds? Not everyone's. But it does persuade some.

Want one example?

A lifetime Republican from Arizona was in the studio during this interview. When the radio show ended, the Republican said that I had changed his mind. Then, at my request, he filled out a Libertarian Party membership form, paid his $25 dues, and joined us. (LP NEWS, August 2001)

*********In 2002, Michael Cloud was the Libertarian U.S. candidate against John Kerry. Mr. Cloud won 384,304 votes - 19% of the total - the highest Libertarian U.S. Senate vote total and percentage in Libertarian Party History.*********

And as I've always said...If you want to change McDonald's, you don't go work for them as their head fry open up a Burger King across the street and steal their customers with better products.

So...How many of you "fry guys" are wasting your time in the Democrat and Republican parties?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Another Senseless Murder by the Nanny State

Hat tip to Capital Freedom (See her post on this story here or here )

About a month ago, this story appeared.

I have a question for all you moral-busybodies, nanny-statists, and puritanical-Conservatives out there:

What exactly was the “crime” here?

What exactly did Dr. Culosi do here that would warrant having armed men approach him with the intent of physically apprehending him and tossing him in a cage?

Was killing him worth it?

Now, I know what some of you will say: “Oh, it was an accident. We can’t help that. Mistakes happen, and it’s a regretful tragedy.”

But to rationalize this as a simple mistake is completely disingenuous, and shows a profound lack of intellectual responsibility. The fact of the matter is, as long as we embrace the principle that the State should be charged with the authority to decide how people live their private lives, and punish people for actions which harm no other person, the rest is simply follow-through. The fact of the matter is, Dr. Culosi would be alive today, practicing his trade and benefitting society in process, if all you moral-Nazis didn’t insist that the government punish people for engaging in voluntary and consensual acts of which you don’t personally approve.

The blood of Dr. Culosi, it would seem, is on YOUR hands.

Are you proud?

Say what you want about the detrimental affects of gambling, how addiction of any sort “destroys” families, and whatnot. But the bottom line is that the solution you propose is to empower politicians to decide what’s best for everyone, and overruling an individual’s right to pursue happiness in his own manner. You, my Statemongering friends, are the vanguard of political correctness. You are the ones who, if you're honest enough to admit, wish to use violence against people who think and act differently than you. Because, let’s face it: say it wasn’t an “accident”, and that the good Dr. really did resist his kidnappers. They were charged with a duty to apprehend him, and have the authority to commit whatever level of violence necessary to subdue him.

Authority given by YOU.

(And not to pick on Christians, but they are the ones who seem to be the most neurotic about the legalization of otherwise consensual, victimless “crimes” such as gambling. Given that…can we really claim Christianity – as represented by the political views of probably 99.9% of modern adherents - is anything but a religion of violence?)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

One Less Neocon Makes The World A Better Place

Hat tip to the Rational Review and

Fukuyama Sues for Divorce
by Jim Lobe

"The Washington foreign policy elite finds itself on pins and needles this week awaiting a response from the neoconservative heavyweights at the Weekly Standard magazine to a scorching denunciation by one of their most venerable fellow travelers, Francis Fukuyama, in Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Fukuyama, best known for his post-Cold War essay proclaiming the historic inevitability of liberal democracy, 'The End of History,' argued in the Times article that neoconservatives so badly miscalculated the myriad costs of the Iraq war that they may have empowered their two foreign policy nemeses -- realists, who disdain democracy-promotion; and isolationists, who oppose foreign entanglements of almost any kind. Even more provocatively, Fukuyama called the Standard's editor, William Kristol, his ideological sidekick, Robert Kagan, and their neoconservative comrades who led the drive to war in Iraq 'Leninist' in their conviction that liberal democracy can be achieved through 'coercive regime change' or imposed by military means." (02/23/06)

The irony here is that Fukuyama’s signature piece, "The End of History", itself shares certain commonalities with Marxist interpretations of history. Marx believed in the Hegelian construct that the whole purpose of history was an unstoppable evolution to a certain and final stage of human societal development, "historical inevitabilities", if you will. In Marx's case, it was socialism. Fukuyama argued the opposite, as apparently, the end of the Cold War proved the final “historical inevitability” of the triumph of western capitalism.

But hey...if he's coming to his senses about the Neoconservative movement, who am I to judge?

There is one portion of this author’s analysis that stood out to me:

In his view, the way in which the Cold War ended created among neoconservatives like Kristol and Kagan "an expectation that all totalitarian regimes were hollow at the core and would crumble with a small push from outside" – and that Hussein's Iraq would be no different.

"The war's supporters seemed to think that democracy was a kind of default condition to which societies reverted once the heavy lifting of coercive regime change occurred, rather than a long-term process of institution-building and reform," according to Fukuyama.

I’m reminded how often I hear - usually from Conservatives - that it was through the single-handed efforts of Ronald Reagan that Soviet Communism came crashing down. Absent Reagan, Communism would be thriving and threatening us for the next 2000 years.

This just goes to show how ignorant of economics in general, and specifically the works of Ludwig von Mises, Conservatives are. As the argument goes, Communism didn’t fail because it’s a completely incoherent and internally contradictory economic system…no, it failed because we defeated it. It took a courageous and vibrant executive with the moral clarity to confront Communism and send it scurrying to history’s trash heap. Nowadays, Neocons like Sean "Conservatives Believe In Welfare" Hannity verbally ejaculate in their praise of Dubya for much of the same reasons as he continues his Jihad for Democracy.

Freedom, according to Conservatives, is just another Government program. All hail the Politicians!

So it makes sense that the current War on Iraq follows in the same misguided impulses that plagues the instincts of most Conservatives. When you have no real understanding about how civilization flourishes, then the solutions offered to advance civilization are going to be flawed. If we put our uncritical faith in “The Leader” to do great things, we can remake the world into a bold, new Utopia...right?

And I thought Conservatives were suspicious of the nature of man…..

Anti-Bush = Loving America

The other day, Paul Craig Roberts posted an article on Lew discussing ways in which the Conservative movement is evolving into outright Fascism. He criticized the comments of a speaker at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), who indicated that Conservatives must embrace the concept of all-powerful leader who will protect us from various boogeymen.

Today, LRC posted an article that discusses and email that CPAC speaker wrote back to Roberts, and Roberts subsequent retort. I thought the final paragraph was priceless:
Destroying America does not mean blowing up buildings. It means destroying the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers. Al Qaeda is powerless to bring about such destruction. Only our own government, enabled by the public’s and Viet Dinh’s and Attorney General Gonzales’ endorsements of the Führer Principle can destroy America.

Tell that to George "They Hate Us For Our Freedoms" Bush!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bill Peirce on

I'm glad to see is giving a lot of space to Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Peirce in their "Open Mike" section. A lot of his thoughtful ideas about what Ohio needs can be read here.

After reading alot of his ideas, I find it amazing that anyone truly interested in a more prosperous Ohio wouldn't seriously consider giving Peirce their vote. I find it even more incredible that more fiscal conservatives (who should know better) still will ignore all non-Republicans as a "wasted vote".

Then again...I may be a bit biased.

Check out "How to Make Our Economic Problems Worse" and "Choose A Future for Ohio". Both articles explain what's wrong with Ohio and present a positive vision for prosperity and growth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush Preaches Energy Socialism


Energy conservation groups and environmentalists say they’re pleased that the president, a former oil man in Texas, is stressing alternative sources of energy, but they contend his proposals don’t go far enough. They say the administration must consider greater fuel-efficiency standards for cars, and some economists believe it’s best to increase the gas tax to force consumers to change their driving habits.

Of course, the removal of one of the largest subsidies to our oil industry – namely, the expensive and intrusive interventionist foreign policy that is designed to “stablize” the Middle East in order to protect “our oil” – would probably accomplish the same thing. If we removed that subsidy (returning all the proceeds to the hard working Americans from whom it was confiscated from in the first place), and our energy industries had to internalize the costs of securing oil supplies, the price we pay at the pump would no longer be kept artificially low, thus making alternative energy sources relatively more attractive. We could know exactly what a gallon of gas costs us, and then make more rational and informed choices about our energy consumption.

But no good State-Worshipping Republican or Democrat would probably consider this idea. After all, the State is the source of all that is pure and good in this world, right? And if we need new (or old) energy resources, the State MUST be on the forefront of securing it for us. Anyone who claims that individual companies and other market participants are capable of accomplishing their goals in more rational and efficient ways is probably just some apologetic “crank” out to justify the shameless greed and avarice that marks capitalism….right?

“It creates a national security issue and we’re held hostage for energy by foreign nations that may not like us,” Bush said.
Correct me if I’m wrong….but didn’t Bush just warn us about “isolationism” in his recent State of the Union address? And correct me if I’m wrong again, but don’t economic ties tend to reduce conflict between otherwise hostile nations? The last time, I checked, most people tend to not want to kill their business associates, customers, and vendors. As Frederic Bastiat said, when goods don’t cross borders, armies will.

Of course, this statement is based on some pretty ridiculous assumptions. First, if these countries really don’t like “us”, then why are they selling “us” stuff? It would seem to me that if they really didn’t like “us”, they would simply stop producing oil for our needs. And to hear Bush speak of it, that would cripple “us”. So why are they holding back? The answer is: because they need us just as much as we need them. Without us buying their oil, they cannot afford to acquire the things they need to better their living standards. It’s like that in any economic transaction….both parties voluntarily give up something they value less in order to obtain something they value more. If it weren’t the case, then one (or both) party wouldn’t enter into the transaction.

I mean, really! Can you imagine some Arab leader talking to his people and saying something like: “Fellow citizens! We need to work to eliminate our dependence on foreign consumers who buy our oil. We are addicted to the money we get from selling our products to foreigners who may not like us very much. It creates a national security issue and we are held hostage to their buying decisions.”

So, I ask: who exactly is “held hostage” to whom, George? (If you want to make a case for a hostage situation, why not look at how Americans are held hostage by their own government, which works constantly to encroach on more freedoms every single day.)

Second, who exactly is this “us” that they don’t like? Is it the average American consumer they don’t like, or is it the meddlesome and arrogant imperialist foreign policy of the U.S. government? It seems to me that Bush is simply trying to erect a boogeyman to scare people into going along with the latest welfare scheme. Ooooh…dark skinned, non-Christian people who have weird beliefs and are a bit less enlightened then us might come over here and kill us, so we need to funnel millions of dollars to politically connected businessmen to “save us” from their nefarious plots. Sounds like a pretty good deal for the pork-eaters.

On Tuesday, Bush plans to visit the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., to talk about speeding the development of biofuels.

The lab, with a looming $28 million budget shortfall, had announced it was cutting its staff by 32 people, including eight researchers. But in advance of Bush’s visit, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman over the weekend directed the transfer of $5 million to the private contractor that runs the lab, so the jobs can be saved.

Of course, if this company, and others, weren’t taxed and regulated so heavily to support the existing welfare state, perhaps they wouldn’t need to turn to the State to get their own little subsidy to line their pockets while producing an economically uncertain technology. (Gasp!) The State-As-A-Wealth-Transfer-Mechanism makes it harder for innovation and progress to take place?! Say it ain’t so!

The thing that gets me is that Republicans always want to claim that they are pro-market, and believe in merits of competitive commerce to produce better and lasting solutions to our problems. Yet, they turn around and continue to fuel the same old Socialist gravy train that they charge their supposed opponents with doing. Setting aside the fact that the Republican Party has always held corporatist / mercantilist ideologies close to their heart, its surprising that so many erstwhile “conservatives” fall for the rouse hook, line, and sinker. Furthermore, we’re always told that Libertarians can’t have any impact unless they win elections, yet, Democrats aren’t winning many elections these days and our glorious Republican leaders feel a need to demonstrate a sensitivity to, and even cater to, the demands leveled by their leftist critics. So why wouldn’t the same principle work when it comes to freedom lovers? As long as freedom lovers continue to buy into the myth that the Republican party is indeed somehow “better” than Democrats, we will continue to get more welfare, more warfare, more social decay, less personal responsibility, and most importantly…less liberty.

More on the new Galt's Gulch

The two main satellite radio companies are having a tough time financially… Here and here. This probably delights the National Association of Broadcasters to no end, having lobbied the Federal Government for years to squash its competition, and preserve its cartel.

(No, Virginia, government doesn’t serve “the people”….it’s an organized criminal racket designed to plunder productive society.)

I have XM. It’s pretty damn cool. I think everyone should go out and subscribe to satellite radio, if for no other reason than to stick it to the fascists over at the NAB.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cartoon Gate, Part Deux?

Neocon: Wow!! Have you seen the new cartoons making fun of Muslims? They're a riot!! (Ed Note: No pun intended).

Rational Person: Uh, dude...Those are the new Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos you are looking at.

Neocon: Man, they are hilarious!! Those Muslims need to get a sense of humor.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Let's Strangle This Eminent Domain Baby in the Crib

Hat tip to the Walnut Hills blog and This Old Crack House

Wilmington Ave/Wayne Ave Intersection Meeting
Thursday February 23rd
6:00 PM
10 Wilmington Place

There is $1.9 million in funds set aside for a project to align Wayne Ave. with Stewart Street. The goal is to make Stewart a two-way street and to widen the road to reduce traffic congestion at this intersection. To acquire the funds needed from the State of Ohio, a proposal was submitted that was devised in the early 1960s when NCR and DESCI were two major employers, and at a time that the population of the city was considerably higher.

The 1960s proposal is now considered obsolete but the funds have been allocated and changes are supposed to begin in 2009. The Walnut Hills Association and the Southeast Dayton Priority Board have expressed concerns about the proposal and the way the funding has been acquired. It is very important that residents, as many as possible, attend this meeting to provide their input because there are many who feel that this project is a waste of public money that could be better spent in another area of the city. It could also invoke eminent domain issues. Please plan to attend. If you drive through this junction at rush hour then your input is crucial. If you live on Stewart Street, your input is required. If you live on Wayne Ave. or if you live, workor have family residing at 10 Wilmington Place, your input is extremely important. The meeting should be informative and very interesting to say the least.

Walnut Hills is the Dayton neighborhood where I live, and the area that this will affect is just right around the corner from me. This project is a waste of money and effort. The “problem” they are trying to “fix” isn’t anything more than a minor irritation. It’s not like it’s a major thoroughfare connecting areas of vast industrial and commercial activity. I drive through this area on a daily basis. So what if I occasionally have to wait an extra 30 seconds because a red light, or a couple of other drivers? I think I’d rather have my tax dollars used in other ways, while knowing that property rights still mean something.

In any event, a prior obligation prevents me from attending this meeting to tell the city planners to go find more urgent matters to attend to (like watching TV or bathing their dogs). But any readers in the Dayton area should get to this meeting and find out what’s up.

See also Gary’s post on the matter.

Cartoons, Muslims, Christians, and Civility

The blogosphere, or at least the Conservative side of the blogosphere, has been on fire (no pun intended) as of late over Cartoon-gate…the reaction of various segments of the world Muslim community to some satire published by a Danish newspaper. To hear it from these sources, one would think that the riots provide the smoking gun to prove the assertion that Islam is a religion of violence, hate, and intolerance, and should be wiped from the face of the planet by whatever means necessary.

I’ve not commented on it thus far because, well…I find it a non-issue. Paper offends group A, group A expresses outrage…end of story. Yeah, yeah…Violence and riots and the destruction of private property and such is completely and morally unjustified….but stuff like this happens on a daily basis. So why bother talking about it?

Then I read this article by Charley Reese offering a voice of reason to the perceptions of these riots.

The first thing to remember is that electronic communication is a two-edged sword. Ninety-nine and more percent of the world's Muslims are neither rioting nor demonstrating over those cartoons. We can now take pictures of a crowd in Beirut, one in Damascus and one in Kabul, and with the magic of generalization create the impression that the whole Muslim population is in the streets.

Trust me, if all 1.1 billion Muslims ever do take to the streets, we'll know about it.

Which brings up a bigger point. Sure… 20 years ago, when Christian groups headed by the likes of Jerry Falwell campaigned to have the film The Last Temptation of Christ censored by government, did we hear an explosion of “Christianity is a religion of intolerance” rhetoric? With the exception of a handful of anti-religion fringe groups, no.

How about the reaction to film Dogma, a comedic satire of Catholicism? There were protests, but by and large, most people recognized that the protestors were a small minority of believers who simply were humor-impaired. There was no mass movement to label all Catholics as members of “a religion of hate and intolerance”.

Ok, ok.. One might say…well these were just peaceful protests, designed to apply economic pressure against the perpetrators of these malicious, anti-Christian antic. Fine…point made. But what about abortion clinic bombers? What about people who murder gay people for no other reason than the victims are gay? Like it or not, these people are committing their heinous deeds in the name of Christian values , or at least finding support from Christian groups. Do they represent the whole of the Christian community? Of course not… Probably not even 1 percent of 1 percent. Yet, Christianity-sympathetic Conservatives would take the view that because some fringe element of the Muslim community acts out in a completely uncivilized way, we should all be tempted to view the whole of Islam in the same light.

And don’t give me that line, “well, more Muslim groups should be speaking out against this if they don’t want to be labeled that way”…. The fact is…practically NO Christian I have ever met has ever said one bad word about nutcases like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps …even when these Christian “leaders” would call on God to strike down “enemies” of the Bible. So, should all Christians be judged in light of the actions of a few nutcases in their ranks?

The bottom line: I agree with Reese. What’s wrong with a little civility regarding one of our most sacred freedoms…the freedom of conscience? (Or, at least if we are uncivil, we should expect to bear the consequences of our incivility). Sure, we can disagree with each other on theological and spiritual matters, but what’s wrong with according a little respect to others who are different? After all, that’s why we have a separation of church and state in America…(even if most Christian fundamentalists disagree)….

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Republican Ideology of the Total State

Anthony Gregory, one of my favorite libertarian writers, had another masterpeice posted today on .

If I had 1% of this guy's talent at writing about politics, economics, history, and just about anything else...I could conquer the world.


This Republican doctrine of presidential supremacy begs some questions. First of all, if the executive is indeed endowed with such broad authority, whether by the Constitution, historical precedent, or the resolution passed shortly after 9/11, why do its top officials even bother with statutes such as the PATRIOT Act, which was passed after the authorization of force after 9/11? Why are they putting up such a fuss about renewing it? In his State of the Union, Bush repeated the claim that they need the PATRIOT Act to have the same tools in the war on terror that they have in more pedestrian law enforcement efforts, such as the drug war. But if the president does have, as he and his posse insist, the "inherent authority" to spy on us and throw us into cages without a hearing, why do they need the PATRIOT Act at all?

Read the whole article here .

Monday, February 06, 2006

Limbaugh on Carter

At lunch today, I caught a little bit of the Rush Limbaugh program. He started going off on his usual topics... Rah Rah Republicans, Boo Hiss Democrats.... You know, standard faire...yawn.

Then he got into one little thought string about Jimmy Carter. In his words, so many of the issues we face today can be traced back to the disastrous Presidency of that Democrat...(as if History began in 1976...) Granted, Carter can be criticized for a number of reasons, but there were a couple of specific points Limbaugh touched on that I think show just how far "conservatives" have gone in their love of State power.

First off, in speaking about FISA, which was signed by Carter, Limbaugh makes reference to a statement by some talking head, that if the powers granted to the President by the Constitution, and the FISA statute are in conflict, the Constitution takes precedence. On it's face, there should be no argument there. However, the source of Limbaugh's consternation isn't that FISA creates extra-Constitutional powers, but in fact just the opposite. Limbaugh points out that Carter "gave up power" by signing FISA into law, and argues that the existence of such a law doesn't mean the Constitution has been overruled, thus justifying Bush to ignore the law and follow his own perogative regarding what he can and can't do on, of all things, Constitutional grounds.

Now...I can't lay my finger on the exact sentence in the Constitution where it says the President can monitor the phone calls of anyone, with or without a warrant, can you? So where exactly is FISA in conflict with the Constitution? Ok, I'm sure many Libertarians will find numerous reasons to tell me why FISA is unconstitutional and should be thrown out altogether, but what I am asking is why, if FISA is unconstitutional, does it result in the President having more power?

Furthermore, if Carter is to be criticized for "giving up power" is that a bad thing? In this day and age, where we have an out of control government spending and killing with reckless abandon, while our liberties and rights being trampled without a second thought, wouldn't a restraint of power be a refreshing change of pace? And what's even more, why is a conservative railing against this? Why is a conservative using the Constitution as a tool to justify unaccountable power vested in the hands of one man? Does Limbaugh really believe that Carter, while ultra-Liberal in almost all other aspects, would sign a bill which reduces the power of the Federal government? And if so, why is that worthy of criticism? Conservatives are supposed to be against the centralization of power and for the strict limitation of power at whatever level it exists. At least that's what I've always been told....

Even still, it occurs to me, based on what I know of the Founding Fathers and their intent with the Constitution, was that even though certain powers were delegated to the FedGov, how those powers were carried out were to be proscribed by the Rule of Law. Since the Executive power does not make law, per se, the Executive branch must still look to Congress for the hows and how-nots to go about executing its powers. Maybe I'm wrong there. Any Constitutional scholars out there want to correct me on that?

The other two issues was when he pointed out out situation with Iran had its root in the actions of the Carter administration, and that the late 1970s was a time of economic "malaise". Well, Rush, history did not begin in 1976. And the events with Iran might not have taken place had we not intervened in Iran in 1953 ...(President Eisenhower, Republican)...and the ecomony might not have been so bad had Nixon (another Republican) not completely severed the tie between the dollar and its gold backing, unleashing the forces of inflation and employment, helping to expose the apparent contradiction in Keynesian Economic theory (the dominant paradigm of economic "wisdom" even today) with the onset of "stagflation" .

So, here we have another Republican cheerleader providing cover for the regime, while the march into totalitarianism proceeds apace, "conservatives" applauding.

Good job, guys!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Rothbard Speaks

Hat tip to Lew

The legendary libertarian thinker, Murray Rothbard speaking in 1989 about the end of the Cold War era, and what it means for the future of liberty

Watch the video here .