Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What Happens When You Cross Sarah Brady with PETA?

Apparently, you and your dog get eaten by Alligators.

No joke. This one speaks for itself.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bloodthirsty Neocons Crave War At All Costs

Hat Tip to Police State U.S.A.

Bush Rejected Iranian Peace Proposal to Recognize Israel in 2003

A couple of things come to mind when I see stories like this. First of all, I never understood what the whole "we must protect Israel at all costs" perspective was all about. I do know that most people who feel very strongly about the protection of Israel will be chomping at the bit to label me, a skeptic of their policy position, as an anti-semite, which they tend to do to their opponents far too often, suggesting to me further that their position is patently irrational. But setting aside the pejorative, ad hominem tactics of this crowd, no one to date has yet been able to explain to me in clear terms why it’s in my interest to fork over my hard earned dollars to prop up reinforce the State of Israel anymore than it would be to do the same for, say, Luxemburg. The closest thing I ever got to a candid answer, and a surprising one at that, was from my fellow blogger Speedothebrief over at the Conservatorium when he explained that U.S. protection of Israel was the global equivalent of "40 acres and a mule" for the Jews – that taxpayers today should be forced to pay reparations to Jews for the tyrannical actions of some other government, in another country, that took place before most of us were even born.

But my own agnostic position aside, the fact remains that many people, mostly Conservatives, have an certain unstated hysteria regarding the protection of Israel. Indeed, most of the focus on continuing military intervention in the middle east centers on Isreal. Even enemies of the American government such as bin Laden point to U.S. policy toward Isreal as a primary motive for their hostilities. So the question needs to be asked. If there was a way to protect Israel, while at the same time reducing the likelihood of armed conflict, wouldn’t that be a win-win situation? So often you hear talking heads for the regime saying things like war is the last resort, and diplomacy needs to be given a chance, and blah blah blah. So when Iran – the same country that we are planning to bomb – offers a proposal that would help secure progress toward a goal, namely the continued preservation of the Israeli state, why shouldn’t it be taken?

One begins to wonder…are Conservatives really just bloodthirsty warmongers? Do they really want diplomacy and peaceful solutions, or are they committed to the continued flexing of American Imperial might to force the rest of the world to do our bidding?

When you read the proposal, the bargain with Iran didn’t seem to be that irrational. In exchange for recognizing Israel and pulling support for armed groups in the region, the U.S. would acknowledge Iran as a bona-fide regional power, and cease all the "axis of evil" rhetoric.

Hell…we coddle communist China, opting to trade with them, hoping to help reform their abysmal human rights record through our economic ties. If we don’t like the repressive, illiberal culture that exists in Iran, why couldn’t the same approach be used?

The only conclusion I can come to is that Conservatives are warmongers, consumed by Imperial bloodlust.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Make Mine Freedom

A friend forwarded me this link to a very funny little cartoon from 1948.

Watch it and ask yourself, how many people would sign that contract today? How many have already signed it?

(Need Quicktime to view.)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bill Peirce on Capitol Square

Tomorrow, Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Peirce will be on the Ohio News Network's Capitol Square

I am told that the program will be on 8am, 10am, 12pm & 2pm.

Friday, May 26, 2006

More on Natural Rights and Migration

From Free Association: Natural, Not National, Rights
Somewhere in my reading about immigration, someone made the deceptively simple point that it's not immigration we should be talking about but migration. That's another way of saying the focus has been on "us," when it should be on the people coming to the United States. The discussion has proceeded as if they have no rights in the matter but we do. We will let them come here if and only if we have a use for them. And "we" doesn't refer to a group of free individuals, but rather to a collective Borg-like entity with rights superior to any held by its constituents. The collectivist, and therefore statist, nature of the discussion indicates how far we've drifted from our individualist and voluntarist moorings.
A couple days ago, I posted an entry on this blog discussing how the anti-immigrant crowd has a profound lack of understanding for the concept of natural rights. I pointed out that their position implicitly denies the existence of rights, and all "human freedom" really boils down to State-granted priveleges.

Now, the inestimable Sheldon Richman has come along and blown the lid off the exact same issue. He hits the nail right on the head when he points out that the issue is about migration - ie. the very right to move from point A to point B. I was always convinced that the anti-immigrant crowd was thoroughly anti-individual in character, and Richman's article confirms my own perceptions.

The full article can be read here.

Another Example How the State's Policies Threatens Your Safety

A Nebraska judge says that a man convicted of sexually assaulting a child is too small for prison, and therefore has been sentenced to 10 years probation.

Meanwhile, we keep filling up our prisons with pot-smokers and other non-violent "criminals"

Here are some more facts.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Principles of the Anti-Immigrant Crowd, Reductio ad Absurdum

The Anti-Immigrant crowd seems to have a hard time grasping the concept of natural rights. Natural rights are inherent in our natures as free-standing, self-owning, sovereign individuals. They do not come from the State. We do not need to ask permission to exercise them.

Liberty of movement is a basic, fundamental natural right. Freedom of association is also a basic, fundamental natural right. We do not need to ask anyone’s permission to exercise these rights. Free individuals are able to associate (and not associate) with anyone of their own choosing, for any reason. Free individuals are able to move about freely, for any reason (barring, of course, trespassing onto another free individual’s privately owned property, which is the subject for another discussion altogether).

Yet, the Anti-Immigrant crowd persists in the belief that in order for a foreigner to come to the U.S. to find work, he or she must first ask permission from the Federal Government. Conversely, an American who wishes to hire someone from another country, must likewise ask for permission from the same Federal Government.

So, in other words, two otherwise free individuals, in possession of certain natural rights by virtue of their very humanity, are obstructed in the exercise of their rights by the State. The State creates an arbitrary line on a map, and then arrogantly presumes to tell people, "Your rights end here." The State acts like an invisible fence, and through these actions, demolishes the individual rights to free association and liberty of movement. At this point, these rights become priveleges, which are doled out as a direct function of how and where the state decides to erect its fences.

So, let’s follow this principle down to its logical conclusion. If the State is justified in erecting a barrier called a "border", thus preventing people on opposite sides from interacting, where does it end? Let’s say, instead of the U.S – Mexico border, we looked at the Ohio-Indiana border? Would the State be justified, if it so chose, to decree that the free movement across this political boundary may only happen by express permission of some State authority? Or, to come closer to home, what about a restriction on movement between Montgomery and Greene counties? Or what about the border between the cities of Dayton and Huber Heights? Or what about the border of the neighborhoods of Walnut Hills and Belmont? Or what about the border of the opposite sides of Wayne Avenue? Or your front lawn and your neighbors lawn? Or what about the border between your living room and kitchen? What about moving from one side of your bed to the other?

The Anti-Immigrant crowd is compelled to answer "yes" to all of these, because they have already conceded that the State does have the legitimate and prior authority to erect such barriers. The natural right to free movement is simply a privelege that is derived from whatever arbitrary location the State would like to enforce as a border. It doesn’t matter that the State does not currently enforce such absurd restrictions, but in principle, the Anti-Immigrant crowd firmly accepts the authority of the State to box in (and box out) individual rights according to whatever artificial designations that it chooses. In principle, the State's power to set these boundaries pre-exists the natural rights of individuals.

So, do you think that you are a free individual, able to pursue happiness in your own manner, to trade your time and talents to improve the quality of your life? Well, according to the Anti-Immigrant crowd, you most certainly are not. Everything you do is a mere privelege, which can be taken away from you at any time. In the view of the anti-immigrant crowd, the State is like a farmer, and individuals are pigs. As such, the current freedom of movement and range of association you now enjoy is simply a product of the State asking you, "how big of a pen would you like?"

So, when someone tells you that foreigners who want to come here should do it "legally", what they are saying is that individuals do not have a right to live and work where they choose. They are telling you that YOU do not have a right to live and work where you choose.

And if I were someone who took pride in my freedom, I’d be offended by that.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

One of my favorite literature series are the Sherlock Holmes stories. Today would be the 147th birthday of Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Here is a biography of the man.

Truer Words Were Never Spoken

"I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I."
- Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania

Exactly. That's the problem.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Bandow on the Empire

Doug Bandow is back with a vengence!

He's always been one of my favorite experts on foreign policy - combining solid, principled views with a keen understanding of global politics, to derive rational policy suggestions. He is a staunch opponent of Global Empire, recognizing that its pursuit will surely spell the end of America as we know it.

In his latest commentary, Foreign Policy of Fools, he notes:
For despite the nonsense emanating from President George W. Bush, his neocon acolytes, and what passes for Democratic foreign policy experts, terrorists seek to kill because they believe that America is at war with them. They didn't fell the World Trade Center because they disliked the Bill of Rights, attack the Pentagon because they detested Disneyland, or plot the destruction of the Capitol because they abhorred free elections in America. Rather, they sent the simple message: you want to be an empire? You'll pay the price for attempting to enforce your edicts on the rest of us.

Finally, and perhaps most ironically, attempting to be a democratic empire ensures that we will be less democratic – or certainly less free, to be more accurate – at home. The Bush administration's nomination as CIA head of
Gen. Michael V. Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and responsible for the Bush administration's illegal warrantless spying program, is emblematic.

Empire abroad can be sustained only by empire at home. The national security state must grow, individual liberties must diminish. We spy on you, search your bodies and cars, restrict what the media can tell you, and, of course, mislead you and lie to you. But it's in the cause of making the world democratic, so don't worry, be happy.

Good stuff, indeed.

"Oh, but things are going so well in Iraq...."

It's funny. The Head-in-the-Sand crowd likes to insist that Iraq is on the road to Utopian bliss, now that a courageous man like George W. Bush had the moral clarity to stare evil in the face. These people, who'd be just as likely to tell you that stories of the holocaust were an agenda of the liberal media, just refuse to entertain the idea that the State cannot create, it can only destroy.

So, I see these two articles this morning:

Bloody day heralds birth of Iraq's new unity government

Iraq's new unity government was approved by parliament in Baghdad yesterday in what may be the last chance to hold Iraq together as a unitary state.
Biden Explains the Need for Iraqi Decentralization

Senator Joe Biden (D-Del), the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed that Iraq should be divided into three separate ethno-religious regions, Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni—with a central government positioned in Baghdad.

In his essay, Biden justified this argument by writing that this proposition was designed to, "maintain a united Iraq by decentralizing it, giving each ethno-religious group…room to run its own affairs, while leaving the central government in charge of common interests."
A couple of things stand out... The first is that ideas Libertarians were proposing 4 years ago, are now being considered a likely possibility for Iraq's fate. Many writers discussed various plans for breaking up Iraq into three separate countries. Were these ideas taken seriously? Of course not. At the time, Americans were enthralled by Neocons Delusions of Grandeur, and the suggestion that we could not simply remove Government "A" (aka. Saddam) and replace it with Government "B" would strike a blow to their religious faith in the State. Also, an independent Kurdish state was bound piss off our allies in Turkey, who have a sizeable Kurdish population there that would love to secede from their Turkish oppressors, and we can't have that, can we?

The second thing is that a Democrat is proposing federalism as the solution to Iraq's problems. Great, Joe! And while we're at it, let's get some of that here in America! What do you say?

But I have to ask...why is a supposed "liberal Democrat" proposing a federalist system for Iraq? Where are all the "constitutionalist" Conservatives? For all the talk by Conservatives that they honor the original meaning of the Constitution, they are being out-flanked by those eeeevilll liberals on exactly that point.

I know the answer. Because Conservatives only value that stuff when its fashionable. Conservatives have no principles. Conservatives worship power and "The Party" above principle, above liberty, and above what is good for America. Conservatives are megalomanics that watch politics like your average American watches ESPN. They are more concerned with who's up-and-coming in the ranks of the political cartels known as Democrats and Republican, then they are with thinking about the consequences of our policies. For them, public policy is merely a means to an end...the end being power for power's sake. They like to claim the moral high road, and tell you, "you should never, ever trust a Democrat", but when you look at what Conservatives do, and who Conservatives support and vote for, and what they spend all their waking moments trying to justify and defend, it becomes immediately apparent that they are no better than Liberals, and in fact may be worse because they lie about it.

While a federalist system may delay the inevitable break-up, secession seems to be the only real answer for Iraq. As a result, the grand experiment in nation-building will come to an end in a spectacular failure. Of course, any social policy that is defined by the apparatus of the State is bound to do so. Hopefully, they can wake up before too many more human beings are slaughtered.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Happy 200th Birthday, John Stuart Mill

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of philospher John Stuart Mill. The Wall Street Journal has a decent article about his contributions to modern thought.

Long before I became a libertarian, I had picked up and read his work, On Liberty, where he promoted the view that, barring any direct harm to others, society has no right to interfere in the lives of individuals. In many ways, this reflects the core libertarian viewpoint, and as I often felt that way about things, I was eager to read a solid, rational and intellectual defense for allowing individuals to control their own lives. Overall, it was an interesting read that presented only a few inconsistencies and problems, but for the most part wasn't a bad bit of philosophizing. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in such things.

Interesting Discovery About My Favorite Wine

Not that this has anything to do with politics, economics, or the like, but a recent conversation with a friend of mine prompted me to do some research on the topic.

My favorite variety of wine, Riesling, apparently is a very small, niche-market kind of wine. I was shocked to find out that it represents only about 1.4% of the United States market. My friend seemed to think that Riesling was so rare, it's hard to find except in certain areas. In my experience, Riesling is available almost everywhere I go, so I thought he couldn't possibly be right. But it represents a very small portion of the market. (Chardonnay is far and away the most popular, with about 21% of the market.)

If you enjoy wine, here are a couple of interesting reads:

Retail Sales Analysis

U.S. Department of Commerce, 2005 Wine Industry Outlook

Update on Alabama Petitioning; A Lesson on Government

Hammer of Truth posts the story at Libertarians Won, Government Zero

After standing their ground, demanding that the police show them what law they were breaking when they were collecting petition signatures on a public sidewalk, on an open campus, in downtown Birmingham, those brave Libertarian activists prevailed over police harassment.

All's well that end's well, I suppose.

But how many people would have stood up to a police officer, demanding respect for their rights? Not many, I fear. Most people are taught from an early age to fear the police...and rightfully so, since they carry guns and have no legal prohibition against using them. Most people would be cowed by an assertive cop telling them to get lost...rights or no.

This story resonates with me because I have done more than my fair share of petitioning in my day. I've petitioned to get the Libertarian Party ballot status (which Ken Blackwell promptly spit upon), and I've collected signatures to get various candidates on the ballot (which strangely enough, the requirement for non-Democrats and Republicans is MUCH higher than it is for candidate from the two established cartels). And, not surprisingly, I've also run into a similar situation.

In 2004, I was petitioning in downtown Dayton to get the LP's presidential candidate on the ballot. It was during one of the open air festivals that take place down by the river. I had been petitioning for about 25 minutes when a cop on a bike came up to me and asked to see my a permit allowing me to be there. I told him I didn't have one. When he told me I needed one and that I could get one at the park's office on Monday morning (after the event was over), I asked him when this rule was established. You see, we had been down there before, countless times, and never were bothered about it. I asked him if this was city ordinance, and if so, could he site the ordinance for me. I challenged this cop to show me the proof.

Needless to say, he couldn't.

He radioed back to his HQ, with my questions, and after 15 minutes or so, they realized that I wasn't just going to lie down and go away. I think they realized that there was no law against such activity. Eventually, the cop finally gave in and grunted a dissappointed, "I guess you're ok."

I simply smiled and asked him to sign my petition.

He didn't sign. Go figure.

I think there's a larger moral to the story here. Police, and all government agents in general, have an inflated view of themselves and the power they hold...and a supremely diminished respect for the rights of individuals. The gut reaction for most government agents is that any activity needs to be licensed, ie. given explicit permission by bureaucrats. Otherwise individual action, and the individual in general, is to be regarded with suspicion. No permission? It must be illegal, right?

And yet, so many people want to turn to government to protect them, as if agents of the State feel any sort of empathy with the rights of the common person. Newsflash: there are no such things as "rights" to State-Worshippers, only "priveleges". Ordinary people are sheep to be herded and controlled. Liberty is "chaotic" and "dangerous". If you are a good little boy or girl, you ask your mommy and daddy for permission before doing anything. That's why the NSA needs to keep track of all your calls...because every individual is a potential threat, and needs to be monitored. To these people, YOU are the biggest threat, not terrorists. They'll use the excuse of various boogeymen to convince you to accept their boot on your neck, but it's all make-believe. Government agents never even bother to try solving problems - such as poverty or terrorism - because if they actually succeeded in getting rid of poverty or terrorists, there would be no more need for them, and their power would vanish. And at the end of the day, government agents are more enamored with keeping and expanding their own power, then they are in protecting you.

Remember that the next time you talk to someone who claims they believe in liberty, yet in the next breath, express support for just about every government program in existence.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Alabama: Turning Back the Clock on Human Rights

Hat tip to the Hammer of Truth

Just in case you thought that ballot access laws were simply a way to keep the democratic processes "orderly", think again. Ballot access laws are a weapon the politically entrenched use to suppress, and oppress, competition. Its the way Democrats and Republicans keep new voices from being heard. Open and fair elections are dangerous things (to them, that is), which is why they need to use the law to hamstring their political opponents.

In Alabama, the same place where authorities unleashed high-powered waterhoses and police dogs on peaceful civil rights marchers, we now find police harassing petitioners who are simply trying to get the Libertarian Party candidate on the ballot.

Nice, huh?

And we just fought a war to bring democracy to Iraq? Yet, we stifle it here at home. Wonderful.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Want Smaller Government? There's Only One Choice Remaining

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Blackwell backs killing tax, spending ballot issue

Ken Blackwell, under pressure from his own party, has backed away from his support of a Taxation and Expenditure Limitation Amendment. The Republican Party, it would seems, prefers to have unlimited ability to raise taxes and spend, spend, spend till daddy takes the T-bird away….

As a release from the Libertarian Party of Ohio noted:

This may be the first time in history a politician has broken his central campaign promise to cut state and local taxing and spending BEFORE getting elected.

Are any of us really surprised by this? Did we really expect a Republican…even an ostensibly “conservative” one such as Blackwell…to have the will to pull government into check?

I didn’t. I don’t know how many of you did.

Anyone who didn't think that the Republican Party leadership would not allow anyone serious about cutting government to actually be put in a situation where it could be made possible, is just plain delirious. In case you forgot, this is the party that has turned Ohio into the 3rd highest taxed state , ranked 41st in friendliness to small business, and 43rd for economic freedom. Of course they want nothing of the sort! Go pedal your fiscal responsibility elsewhere!!

But I think the shot has been fired. The line in the sand has been drawn. It’s time for the rank-and-file, small government advocates who have clung to Republican Party as the last, best hope to restore liberty to make a decision. And it’s to them I say the following….

You voted for Ken Blackwell because you believed he could cut outrageous government spending, reign in tax rates, and improve Ohio's abysmal economic conditions. Yet, even after securing your nomination, the party’s leadership has turned its back on you, and has used every tool available to leverage its weight against your voice. You wanted small government, but the party you belong to is run by people who do not represent you. They’re ignoring you. And what's even worse, they are working against you.

There is only one candidate for governor who does support limiting taxation and government spending. There is only one candidate who recognizes that Ohio is in dire straights and is willing to put principle ahead of politics. There is only one candidate who means what he says when he promises to cut government.

That candidate is, of course, the Libertarian Party candidate: Bill Peirce.

So…will you fiscally-conservative advocates of individual liberty and personal responsibility step up and vote for the only candidate who will give you what you want? Will all you small-business owners out there vote for the only candidate who will put your needs ahead of his own ambitions for political power?

The time is coming up to make a choice. Are you serious about wanting smaller, cleaner government, individual liberty, and economic prosperity?

Or are you more interested in propping up The Party, while Ohio goes down the toilet?

In November, you’ll have a choice.

(And you just gotta feel some embarassment for people like Scott Pullins , head of the allegedly “pro-taxpayer” group Ohio Taxpayer’s Association, who came out in favor of Blackwell. Then again, after being victimized by a Blackwell witch-hunt, it would make sense that he would cower back into line, as if he’s suffering from battered-woman syndrome. Next thing you know, he’ll start pedaling excuses why this betrayal of taxpayer interests is actually a good thing. I guess that goes to show that even the best watch dogs can turn into lap dogs.)

Yes, A Fair Question, Indeed

WestEnder, over at Clark Street Blog asks A Fair Question :
What if SCOTUS justices began to make recommendations to Congress and the White House about specific legislation and policies? What if they had press conferences, went on Meet the Press, etc.-- to express their views about what the other branches of government should or should not do?

Would you have a problem with that?

Is there any reason to accept one branch of government exerting control over other branches? Isn't this specifically what the Founders sought to prevent?

So why is it that no one bats an eye when the White House tells the other branches what to do? Is it because it happens with such regularity that it "hides in the open"? Shouldn't the White House mind its own business and do its own job instead of sticking its nose into Congress and the Courts?

In my view, with the whole cult of "leadership", that views the President of the United States as the leader of "the country", this is merely a logical step. With the rise of the "Unitary Executive" Doctrine, and the subsequent erosion of the separation of powers, we can expect to see more and more of this.

But WestEnder raises a good point that hypocritical Conservatives overlook. For all the criticism they dole out about "activist judges", why don't they complain about an "activist executive"? If Conservatives want to pay tribute to the Constitution, and support "strict Constructionist" interpretations, but have no problem with Bush and Co. assuming vast, undelegated powers, then why can't the Supreme Court do the same?

Conservatives need to figure out which side of the fence they are on.

Question for Supporters of NSA Snooping

I've heard from many people that I shouldn't be alarmed that the NSA is establishing a massive database of every call made in the U.S. The reasons offered to pacify me come down to the argument that the NSA isn't actually listening to the content of the calls, but simply collecting the time stamp of every call. This suggests I shouldn't worry because the NSA isn't collecting anything of any real substance that might be able to accidentally railroad me in the future.

So, my question is...if the data being collecting is really that insignificant, then why bother collecting it at all?

On the other hand, if the information being collected is useful in nabbing criminals, then how can I see this as anything other than a threat to my own liberty?

Some NSA supporters will argue that its no different than if a credit card company bought the information in the course of doing market research. But that point ignores one fundamental difference between an ordinary, private sector firm, and the NSA: the NSA'a mission is to find reasons to throw people in jail. What the NSA is doing whenever it investigates anything is to initiate a process designed to take away a person's liberty. Collecting information on you and me is demonstrating the beginnings of a process designed to rob each and everyone of us of our liberty. Granted, in pursuit of bona fide criminals, this wouldn't be objectionable. However, you and I are not terrorists, so there is no legitimate reason for the NSA to be collecting such data on us. So, innocuous or not, such activities should be resisted on principle.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Anatomy of the State

When you think of classic essays - and I mean truly, classic, as the word tends to be thrown about much too carelessly - there can be no other peice better than Murray Rothbard's Anatomy of the State. Every now and then, I go back and re-read it, and find it as fresh and inspiring as it was the first time I came across it. has it as their lead article this morning.

I would attempt to provide an excerpt, to whet the appetite for reading the full essay, but picking an appropriate passage is a tough task. It really is that good. Go read it for yourself, here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Al Gore or the Unabomber?

This one is old, but I recently came back across it lately. Could you tell the difference between statements made by Al Gore in his book, Earth in the Balance, and the Unabomber in his manifesto? Take this quiz and find out.

Now...I admit, I had a tough time. In fact, I ran an experiment. There are twelve questions. The first time through, I flipped a coin. If heads, I picked Gore; if tails, the unabomber. After 12 tosses, I scored 7 out of 12 correct. Then, I went back a second time, read the quotes and actually tried to guess who said what.

My score? 7 out of 12.

Good luck.

How Big Should Government Be?

Many people ask me - or accuse me, as the case may be - if what I really want is no government. Because I express more than my fair share of disdain for the State, and all its programs, taxes, regulations, rules, wars, and other intrusions on individual liberty and basic human rights, I must in fact be an anarchist, who wants to abolish government altogether. So, is it true?

Well, I happen to agree with the late Harry Browne who once said something to the effect that asking, and answering, such questions at this point in time is meaningless because it's just not an option available to us. Government continues to grow (in increments), and as we persuade more and more people of the merits of liberty, it is very likely that government will shrink in increments, probably in proportion to the speed that the liberty movement grows.

But still...people insist that I answer the question: Am I really just an anarchist who wants no government at all?

To draw upon former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, for me, the "ideal" size of government is kind of like pornography: I'll know it when I see it.

So let's start shrinking government, and I'll tell you when to stop.

(Or...maybe I won't.)

Animal Rights Terrorists

Not that I'm a big fan of federalizing common crimes, but I do have a profound disdain for violence against animals (and children) knowing that these kinds of terrorists are being brought to justice warms my heart.

Animal Rights Activists Convicted in NJ Federal Court

The activists were found to have coordinated a campaign of intimidating late-night phone calls, harassing emails, rocks thrown through windows of homes, vandalism of personal automobiles, vandalism of homes, and veiled death threats. To illustrate the effect of the intimidation campaign, prosecutors on the opening day of the trial showed the image of a young boy who, in response to activists' stalking of his mother, would run and hide whenever his home doorbell rang.

"He was cowering behind the door because he thought 'the animal people' were coming to get him," executive assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna explained to jurors.

During the first two weeks of the trial, a woman testified she received an email threatening to cut open her 7-year-old son and poison him; a man testified activists overturned his wife's car and smashed all the windows in his home, showering him with glass; a woman testified masked protestors parked outside her house and videotaped her and her young children, while other protestors verbally abused her through megaphones; and several witnesses testified they felt compelled to change phone numbers, constantly check to see if they were being followed while walking or driving, move to new homes, keep their children from playing outside, and purchase guns for self-defense.

This one speaks for itself.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Natural Rights

For those that argue our Constitution was set up to empower the Feds to restrict and control who people may or may not do business with (including "illegal aliens"), I point to this little excerpt:
[Art.] 2. [Natural Rights.] All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights - among which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting, property; and, in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by this state on account of race, creed, color, sex or national origin. - NH State Constitution 1784
Granted, it is the New Hampshire state Constitution, but I think it paints a pretty good picture of the thought processes and values of the people at the time. Note the phrase "or national origin". It seems those patriots from yesteryear recognized that a person's natural-born rights were not dependent upon the geographic locality under which they were born, nor a function of some artificial construct called "citizenship". These patriots recognized that the purpose of a Constitution was to restrict the power of politicians to infringe upon individual rights and liberties.... rights and liberties possessed by ALL men, in ALL places, at ALL times.

So...when you ask the Feds to keep dark-skinned, non-English speakers from moving to America, seeking opportunities to improve their lot...and insist at the same time that you do not need Federal permission to change your least have the intellectual honesty to assert that the Founding Fathers were wrong. Have the courage of your convictions to admit that you oppose the principles this country was founded upon. Stand up and admit that you feel that there is no such thing as "rights", but only "priveleges"... government granted priveleges doled out to slaves.

Bush On TV Tonight to Placate Anti-Immigrant Forces

The President will be on TV tonight, alledgedly to let Americans know what bold new initiative he is planning to "solve" the immigration "crisis". I'm sure it'll be a speech filled with the same old platitudes. However, what every person listening to the speech should keep in mind is the following:

In a free society, the only "crimes" are those actions which cause direct harm to another individual and/or his or her property.

So, in the case of "illegal" immigration, what exactly is the crime? Who is the victim?

Answer: nothing, and no one.

On this issue, the term "illegal" is a strictly artificial construct. It presumes that the State will create various designations for individuals ("legal" and "illegal") and will place its stamp of approval on who may and who may not excercise their basic human rights to peacefully associate with other individuals of their choosing - to live and work wherever they are able to secure such things for themselves in an honest and peaceful fashion. It asserts that the "pursuit of happiness" is not a right, but rather, a State granted privelege. And it says that Americans who want to do business with "illegals" are committing an action similar in principle to rape, murder, or theft, and should be punished for their infraction.

Say what you want about welfare benefits, or taxes, or language and cultural issues. The bottom line is that the anti-immigrant crowd views the State as the ultimate source of basic human rights. This is the working principle behind their position.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Rush Limbaugh, Minister of Propaganda

From Free Association: Rush to Fallacy

I was going to blog on what I happened to overhear on the Rush Limbaugh show on Friday, but Sheldon Richman, as usual, did a much better job than I can:

Rush "Jail All Drug Users But Me" Limbaugh did it again yesterday. His Blowhardedness, ever striving to be George II's No. 1 brownnoser, condemned the Democratic critics of the NSA's mass collection of our telephone records and showed he is either a demagogue or is actually unable to tell a sound argument from a fallacy. (I guess he could be both.) Here's his standard pitch: The Democrats oppose something George II's men are doing even though they have done or approved of the same thing in the past. Therefore their criticism is baseless.

Wrong. Hypocrisy doesn't invalidate a criticism; it just undermines the standing of the person making it. If Democrats condemn something the Bush administration does that they praised when Clinton did it, that's hypocrisy. But it doesn't mean the Bush administration is right to do it. It may mean Clinton was wrong to do it. What about princpled critics who condemn both administrations for their misconduct? Doesn't Limbaugh have to concede that criticism from a principled person is valid? That sounds like relativism to me: For Limbaugh, an argument is valid or invalid depending on who makes it.

As popular as they claim Rush Limbaugh is…he supposedly talks to 20 million people daily…I don’t know a single person that cites him when discussing politics. Most Conservatives I know, qualify their admiration for him. Every time I listen to him, I cannot help but shake my head at the sheer intellectual emptiness that comes out of my radio speakers. Is there anyone out there that looks to Rush Limbaugh as a source of intellectual enlightenment?

Or do most people recognize Limbaugh for what he is…an unprincipled, opportunistic, cheerleading propagandist?

Podcasting Rules!

I love high-speed internet access!

I recently moved into the 21st Century and got digital cable and Roadrunner….(and who says libertarians aren’t “progressive”?) So now I’ve found that I can download files SO much faster than I could before. I am truly spoiled. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.

My latest obsession: downloading podcasts from iTunes. In fact, there are a whole slew of free downloads of podcasts from variety of sources talking about different things. Of course, I go straight for the politics.

My two favorites are the feeds from the Mises Institute and Freedomain Radio, which features regular podcasts from Stephen Molyneux.

Molyneux’s podcasts focus on various philosophical issues on ethics and morality. As such, most of his podcasts center on politics, economics, and religion. (More politics and economics, but a fair number on religion.) He will occasionally get into social commentary, like movie and literature reviews. He has a very astute sense of logic, a cutting wit, and a charming sense of humor that make every podcast a captivating listen.

The Mises Institute’s podcasts are mostly speeches from various forums that it sponsors, but in my opinion, the best podcasts are the “audiobooks” that its been producing. Two that are in the works are readings of Lew Rockwell’s Speaking of Liberty (an absolutely amazing collection of speeches he’s given over the years - a MUST read/listen for everyone), and now, they are working on getting the Murray Rothbard classic, For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, both back into print and available as an audiobook. The text is already online.

Any of you freedom-loving iPod owners out there…(and even you freedom-hating ones as well)…need to look up these podcasts and make them a regular part of your day. I’ve always believed that the internet will empower ordinary people, making the established media and other sources more and more obsolete. As an extension of that, I believe podcasting, and other sorts of internet “broadcasting” will empower more voices to contribute to society’s internal discussions. Perhaps that’s another reason why I blog.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Two Good Quotes

I came across these two quotes recently. I think in many ways, they sum of the thought processes of Liberals and Conservatives alike.

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." [H. L. Mencken]

"In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, 'Make us your slaves, but feed us.'" [Dosteovsky's 'Grand Inquisitor']

(In the second quote, instead of "feed", you could substitute the word "protect", and you would peg the typical Conservative.)

But the larger point is that people who support the State and its it Social Security, government schooling, NSA wiretapping/data-mining, torturing of enemy captives, etc....have a tendency to justify these things because the see the State, not as a organized racket which provokes and stirs up trouble where none existed before, but as their personal savior, who will protect them from all sorts of bad things - impoverished senior citizens, ignorant people, or terrorists, for example.

When you point out that most of the problems we face in our lives can be traced back, somewhere, to unnecessary government action in the first place, the argument falls on deaf ears. For some reason, the idea that the State CAUSES problems, instead of solves them, is avoided almost to the degree of religious conviction.

Friday, May 12, 2006

200 Million Conspirators Served (no warrant)

Government Monitoring About 200 Million Americans' Calls

Man, that is a lot of terrorists! They’re everywhere!!! HELP!!!!!!!

But of course, Bush Says U.S. Spying Is Not Widespread

Well, if 200 million isn't "widespread", then I guess I shouldn’t be worried about such a small group of conspirators scheming to kill me.

I feel SO much better.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Anyone Know the ORIGINAL Pledge of Allegiance?

Yep. This is how children were originally taught to salute the flag when they recited the pledge of allegiance. They did this until the 1930s or 40s, when it became a little too conspicuous when compared to the tribute paid to Germany's Fuhrer.

So...the next time you hear people whining about how "the liberals" are trying to change the pledge, just remember its origins. Would these same people advocate returning to the original salute?

Interesting Developments in Indiana

My Other-Half’s mother lives over in Indiana, and recently came to visit. She is your typical run-of-the-mill Christian-Conservative John Bircher type. On these occasions, I typically avoid engaging in political discussions, as its never productive to argue with someone who has their head up their ass.

In any event, she was just itching to tell me about the latest "news" in Indiana, in which the leader of the Senate, President Pro Tem Robert Garton, was upset by an upstart challenger, Greg Walker. This rang as good news to her because, in keeping with her conspiracy-theory-filled views, this indicates that those in power are susceptible, and therefore vulnerable. The conspiracy will falter.

I agreed with her that it was a startling development, and that I had already heard about it because Libertarian Kenn Gividen will be throwing his hat in the ring. I said that this bodes very well for our Libertarian candidate because Walker, an extremist Republican who has openly endorsed public floggings of criminals, is clearly not going to appeal to moderates enough to win the election.

"Well, they only say that he’s extreme because Walker is a ‘Christian’, and he refuses to go where they want him to be."

Well, that may be so…but the fact of the matter is, Gividen is a Baptist minister. So what exactly is her point?

Gividen is a much more rational, civilized, and reasonable candidate who can appeal to traditionalists, fiscal conservatives, and moderates alike. Likewise, recognizing the proper limits of government, he has things to offer liberals as well. Walker will probably only appeal to nut-case John Birch Society types and head-in-the-sand Republican types who won’t stop a minute and consider their alternatives.

Oh yeah, and I’m sure he’ll corner the B/D/S/M Enthusiast voting block.

(Maybe he’ll give out nipple clamps with "Vote for Walker" printed on the side as a campaign goodie.)

I think it’ll be interesting to watch what happens in that race. Of course, I’m not expecting any miracles, but it’ll be interesting to watch the course of the campaign.

You may visit Gividen’s campaign website here.

A Question for Christian Conservatives

Doesn't it bother you in the least bit that George W. Bush put his hand on a Bible, swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and then promptly ignored that oath?

He put his hand on a Bible.

His hand. On a Bible.

Yet...he's signed campaign finance reform legislation (which he even admitted was unconstitutional), prescription drug socialism, "No Child Gets Ahead" federalization of the schools, launched a war in Iraq without securing a Congressional declaration of war, engaged in warrentless wiretaps, and condones torture - all in violation of the limits imposed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

He swore an oath...with his hand on a Bible.

This doesn't bother you?

Do you think your God will understand that you had to vote for someone who disrepects His Word in such a way? Is your God a moral relativist, who says "Thou shalt not...", but really means, "Thou shalt not...unless you have a really good reason"? Should the Ten Commandments really be called the Ten Recommendations? Why do you expect non-Christians to take your faith seriously, when apparently you don't either?

He swore an oath with his hand on a Bible.

And it bothers precious few of you.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rally on the Anniversary of Kelo!

From my inbox. Rumor has it that there will be some people attempting to organize local rallies, including one down in Cincinnati near the area where the Norwood theft took place. Stay tuned!


Friday, June 23, 2006, marks the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London. While it served a devastating blow to the rights of property owners nationwide, this universally-reviled decision has served more as a beginning than an end. Since June 23, 2005, every state that has been in session has introduced legislation to curb the unconstitutional and immoral takings the Kelo decision permits. 18 states have enacted legislation to provide some increased form of defense against eminent domain abuse to property owners, and four other bills are awaiting governors' signatures - even in the face of vigorous opposition from the beneficiaries of this abuse of power. Activists across the country are standing-up for their homes, small businesses and churches - demanding protection of a most fundamental right. And Susette Kelo still lives in her little pink house alongside her neighbors, waiting resolutely for a decision to be made on what will become of her dream home and fighting day-by-day to stay.

The Castle Coalition is organizing rallies, vigils and other events nationwide around the time of the anniversary of the Kelo decision - Friday, June 23 - to show that the battle between tax-hungry governments and land-hungry developers and property owners is more intense than ever. If you are interested in organizing a rally or vigil in your community, please contact me as soon as possible. We can provide you with materials and organizational advice and alert our members to your event. We will also include your rally or vigil on a nationwide press release we will send out alerting the media to the events occurring nationwide. Closer to the anniversary, we will send you talking points, a sample letter to the editor and a draft press release to aid you in your efforts.

This is a wonderful opportunity to highlight your local battle and emphasize its connection to the movement to stop eminent domain abuse that is sweeping the nation. And don't worry if you don't think you can attract a large crowd; the most important thing is to hold some sort of event to show that citizens nationwide stand together against eminent domain abuse.

We will help you every step of the way. Please don't pass up this opportunity to take a historic and momentous stand against eminent domain abuse! Let me know if you have any questions and if you're interested in organizing an event, please let me know by no later than Tuesday, May 23, so we can get the planning process started.

Christina Walsh
Assistant Castle Coalition Coordinator
Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203 (703) 682-9320

Reflections on the Libertarian Party of Ohio Annual State Convention

The Libertarian Party of Ohio held their annual State Convention this past weekend. I would have blogged about it sooner but for a couple of intervening factors: one, the hotel had absolutely atrocious internet connectivity so getting online was a logistical nightmare, and two, a quick trip to Fort Meyers, Florida for a friend's wedding on Sunday-Monday sapped a lot of my energy (and not to mention sleeping hours).

The event went off beautifully. It was held at Mohican State Park, and felt more like a "retreat" than a convention. The landscape was beautiful, and the lodge where the Convention was held over looked a lake. There were plenty of side activities going on – hiking, a tour of nearby Malabar Farms, and so on – so that the spouse/significant others of the delegates could have an enjoyable weekend while we political wonks were busy conducting our business.

The highlights?

At the business meeting, the party elected a new State Chair, John Stewart from Columbus. Stewart is a small businessman – he owns a trucking company – a fact that ties into the party’s recent emphasis on reaching out to small business people, who are often overlooked by Democrats and Republicans alike. Having an independent businessman in the party’s top leadership position will help the party’s credibility as it attempts to develop support from an already overburdened constituency.

There was a luncheon with gubernatorial candidate Bill Peirce. In fact, throughout the weekend, much was heard from Dr. Peirce, as he spoke to the attendees. His most stirring moment when he sought to inspire and motivate his fellow party members by saying, "I’m willing to take this fight to the streets, but I need you to show me which streets." Dr. Peirce implored all those in attendence to help him find speaking engagements, candidate forums, and the like – ways to get out and talk to as many people in Ohio as possible. He’s already been traveling back and forth across Ohio, and everywhere he’s gone, he’s found that most people are sick and tired of the status quo. If this campaign can get an effective outreach program going, it will be amazing to see how much support it will garner.

There were a number of breakout sessions in the afternoon portion, which allowed the delegates to select from a range of choices. There were some non-political seminars, like one on investing in stocks, bonds, and precious metals, as well as one on the mechanics of homeschooling. The most useful session, I found, was one on "branding" – or how organizations create their focus and their image. The libertarian party (and libertarianism in general) has long suffered from being misviewed by the public, as well as their own members, if they are viewed at all. The speaker was an expert in marketing and pointed out a couple of ways the LPO could attempt to take a more aggressive approach to marketing itself. Afterwards, a number of attendees brainstormed on goals for the LPO, and how to accomplish them. One other breakout session that I did not get to attend was a presentation on the land value tax. I’ve become increasingly interested in this proposal lately, mostly because Bill Peirce speaks highly of it as a key to property tax reform.

The banquet that night featured some great speakers. Former candidate for LP Presidential nomination, Gary Nolan, MC’ed the evening. He spoke about an initiative to fight a statewide smoking ban (more will be blogged on that at a later date), as well as a very touching eulogy on the passing of Harry Browne. Many Libertarians were inspired by Harry Browne, and suffered a loss when he passed. Nolan’s words were echoed by the featured speaker of the evening, Libertarian Party founder David Nolan (no relation to Gary). Nolan (David, that is) gave his opinion on the party’s growth from inception, through the 2000 election, and its subsequent decline in membership and fundraising since then, and what the party needs to do to get back on track.

Overall, it was a very invigorating event. There is always something I found refreshing when I am in the company of fellow libertarians. Its one of the few times I can walk into a room, and hold a conversation of something relevant, without having to explain certain things – like why gun control is bad, or prohibition is counter-productive, for instance. Any libertarian readers out there will know what I mean. (As I’m sure Conservatives and Liberals get the same enjoyment from being in the company of their fellow travelers.)

Can’t wait for next year!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

National Anthem in Spanish?

There's been quite a ruckus over the translation of the national anthem into Spanish. Personally, I don't see what the big deal is. After all, isn't it a song about a hispanic guy?

...Jose, can you see?....


More on the Bankruptcy of Conservatism

I admit, I'm pretty hard on Conservatives. At least with Liberals, you find honesty in the principles that guide their actions. They love government, they think government can do wonderful things, and they want to expand government as much as possible, so as to create a better society.

Not so with Conservatives, who claim to want small government, personal liberty, and individual responsibilty - yet, work at every turn to justify government encroachment of basic liberties, while consolidating and expanding Big Government programs. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll find them advocating new programs, while claiming they'll make government smaller.

This morning, Lew Rockwell wrote a great article called The Conservative Hoax.
The problem with American conservatism is that it hates the left more than the state, loves the past more than liberty, feels a greater attachment to nationalism than to the idea of self-determination, believes brute force is the answer to all social problems, and thinks it is better to impose truth rather than risk losing one soul to heresy. It has never understood the idea of freedom as a self-ordering principle of society. It has never seen the state as the enemy of what conservatives purport to favor. It has always looked to presidential power as the saving grace of what is right and true about America.

When I die, I want to be reincarnated as Lew Rockwell.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Newsflash: Political Competition in Ohio Not Completely Dead...Yet

Lost in all the hoopla of the publicly-financed proceedings to decide which candidates will represent Socialist Parties "A" and "B" in November, comes this bit of news from Monday:

From Ballot Access News :

Libertarians, Greens, Turn in Ohio Signatures
May 1st, 2006

On May 1, the Ohio deadline this year for the independent candidate procedure, the Libertarian and Green Party candidates for Governor each submitted more than twice the required 5,000 signatures. Libertarian Bill Peirce turned in 13,400, and Green Bob Fitrakis turned in 10,900. The Green running for Secretary of State turned in 9,000. Under Ohio election laws, neither is permitted to have his party label on the ballot. Instead, Ohio will only print “other-party nominee” on the November ballot. The Libertarian lawsuit against Ohio’s procedures for new parties, argued in the 6th circuit in early September 2005, is still awaiting a decision.

Another independent candidate for Ohio Governor, Jim Lundeen, did not succeed in collecting the required 5,000 signatures.

As much as the Democrats and Republicans would love to make it illegal for you to vote for anyone but one of them, it is a testament to the determination of supporters of fair and open elections to not be stiffled by the massive hurdles erected to keep out competition in the political marketplace. There will be four options for governor in November.

(Oh, and by the way... Libertarians feel that matters that are internal to the political parties should be financed by the parties themselves...and not foisted upon unsuspecting taxpayers who may not care one way or the other who wins the primaries. That's why the LP settles their politics at Conventions.)

Oh...and here is a thought to all Conservative supporters of Ken Blackwell to consider. We sent our troops over to Iraq in order to get rid of a tyrant, and establish democracy...yet, Blackwell, in his capacity as Secretary of State, actively worked to suppress and restrict Democracy here in Ohio when he rejected a petition signed by 57,000 Ohioans who asked that the Libertarian Party be given equal access to the ballot. Will your continued support of Blackwell be just another demonstration of typical Conservative hypocrisy?