Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Action Item: Stop the SPA

From the Downsizer-Dispatch. Please spread the word, including copying this text in your own blog.... Keep in mind, this is the world that Conservatives are trying to build: A world where the State has vast, unlimited powers, and the President is totally free of any constraints in the excercise of his power. Conservatives cheer on the Bush Regime every day, falling all over themselves gushing with pride that we have someone "bold" enough to weild power and deliver America unto the Promised Land....even if it means destroying the very things that made America great. It is time that all good people of conscience, who value their freedoms to stand up to the Conservative attack on basic and fundamental liberties. Read below.

Something bad is about to happen. Only you can stop it, and the clock is ticking.

We hate to sound apocalyptic. We loathe the politics of fear (even if it works!). So we're not looking to scare you. But you need to know that the end is near for "archaic" ideas like . . .

* the right to security in your home and papers
* the right to be free from unreasonable searches
* the safety net of judicial warrant requirements
* the right to a trial by a jury of your peers in a system of due process
* reasonable bail and recourse for false arrest
* protection from cruel and unusual punishment

Those were great ideals for "dead white men," but apparently your children won't need them anymore. Because, you know, the politicians need to protect you and your children from terrorism.

But the politicians need to get a grip, and a sense of proportion. You don't turn the country upside down for light and transient causes. You're more likely to die in your car, or be struck by lightening, than be harmed by terrorism. We don't fret about such risks, so why are destroying American freedom in the name of an even smaller risk?

A bill is about to pass the House. It permits unlimited spying on your internet usage and telecommunications, the Fourth Amendment be damned. For brevity, I'll call it the "Spying on Americans Act," or SPA for short.

The SPA is likely to pass the Senate too, but there we have a chance to stop it.

Under SPA . . .

* The President can spy on you without a warrant
* You'll never learn that his spys have done so, until they use the information against you (legally or not)
* Your phone and internet providers can't refuse to provide information about you
* Or tell you they've done so after the fact

The result will be more warrantless searches than in all of U.S. history. And if that history is any guide, it's only a matter of time before this power is used for reasons other than "national security."

The House may vote any minute. The Senate will likely vote Tuesday. THIS IS URGENT. I'll tell you what to do in a moment, but first, there's more bad news.

Congress also has a plan for non-citizen residents and ANYONE on foreign soil.

Senator Bill Frist wants to be your President, so he's pandering to the "my country right or wrong" crowd. He wants to leave the Senate with a bang. He thinks he can do this by combining the Tribunal/Torture bill with the Spying on Americans Act.

And the news on the Tribunal/Torture bill just got worse. There was a "lesser evil" version of this bill from Senators Warner and McCain, but Warner and McCain just rolled over. The new bill will . . .

* Allow the President to detain people indefinitely without charges,
* Deny detainees access to courts to challenge their detention or their treatment.
* Create special military tribunals with reduced standards of due process
* Deny detainees the protection of the Geneva Convention's Common Article 3
* Allow the President to define torture

But you may not hear it reported this way in the media, because the politicians are playing clever games with words. Take note: The protections of Common Article 3 aren't defined in the legislation, so Congress can claim they've left these protections in place. But it isn't true, because now only the President decides what those protections actually are, and no accused person can even claim the protection of Common Article 3 before the special tribunals this legislation creates.

Nice trick. The protections are still there, but the President decides what they are, and no one can use them.

Do you want this President to have this power? Do you want future presidents to have it? Do you want to risk that these powers won't be applied to citizens as well, as soon as the politicians have the slightest excuse for doing so?

So here's what the Senate will face Tuesday . . .

* A bill permitting spying on Americans without a warrant.
* Another bill creating special tribunals and permitting torture.
* A proposal to combine these bills.

None of these bills will be read, and none of us will have a chance to review them before the vote happens. But they are likely to pass, because the Republicans control both chambers and their President is in big trouble. He's broken existing laws in a number of ways, and now he needs new legislation to cover his butt after the fact.

This shouldn't be possible in our system, but a court decision on the President's illegal spying opened the door for Congress to do this. We have no checks. We have no balances. The courts have failed to do their duty and the Republican Congress is a rubber stamp for a lawless Republican President.

Are we exaggerating? Are we being partisan? We aren't telling you the half of it. This President has violated so many laws in so many ways it would take a book to catalog them. And we aren't being partisan because plenty of Republicans in Congress agree with us, they just need public encouragement to develop a little backbone.

This is your role.

These bills will pass in the House, but we need to have as many votes against them as we can muster. This will help us in the Senate. Senate rules make it possible for us to stop these bills in that chamber. YOU need to make a BIG NOISE. And know this . . .

You won't be alone. We're working with more than a dozen national organizations to make this BIG NOISE.

We need to pull out all the stops. Please, PLEASE, pay close attention to these instructions. DO ALL FOUR OF THE FOLLOWING THINGS AS SOON AS YOU CAN!!!

1) Go to the DownsizeDC.org campaign opposing warrantless spying: "No Warrant? No Search." Send a message to your Senators and your Representative. Tell them to resist in every way they can the combination of this bill with the Tribunals bill. Urge them to do everything in their power to block, stop, and/or filibusters this bill. And if it still comes up for a vote, tell them to vote NO, and that you'll be watching. The message to Congress for this campaign has been reconfigured to make this easy for you.

2) Go to the DownsizeDC.org campaign opposing the new tribunals: "No Torture! No “Star Chamber Courts!" Send a message to your Senators and your Representative. Tell them torture is un-American, useless, and counter-productive. Urge them to keep the warrantless spying bill separate. Implore them to do everything they can to block, stop, and/or filibuster this bill. And if it still comes up for a vote, tell them to vote NO, and that you'll be watching. The message to Congress for this campaign has been reconfigured to make this easy for you.

3) We have a targeted list of Senators. If your Senator is on the list, it's urgent that you call and leave a message ASAP. Remember, this vote is scheduled for Tuesday. Tell them you're a constituent. Keep it short, simple, and polite. Make notes before you call. Make the points already made in #1 and #2 above. Here's the list . . .

Idaho - Larry Craig 202-224-2752
Rhode Island - Lincoln Chaffee 202-224-2921
South Dakota - Tim Johnson 202-224-5842
Louisiana - Mary Landrieu 202-224-5824
Michigan - Carl Levin 202-224-6221
Arkansas - Blanche Lincoln 202-224-4843
New Jersey - Robert Menendez 202-224-4744
Alaska - Lisa Murkowski 202-224-6665
Florida - Bill Nelson 202-224-5274
Nebraska - Ben Nelson 202-224-6551
Nevada - Harry Reid 202-224-3542
Maine - Olympia Snowe 202-224-5344
New Hampshire - John Sununu 202-224-2841

Remember, this is urgent. We're about to lose precious rights. We need extraordinary effort. So I want to ask you to do one more thing . . .

4) Tell everyone you know to do the same thing. Pass this message to friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and customers. Maybe they'll think you're un-patriotic for opposing torture and for mistrusting politicians with such great powers. SO WHAT! And if you received this message from a friend, and it's not Wednesday, September 27, 2006 yet, there's still time. Act fast and then pass this message to everyone you know.

Keep in mind, you're not alone. And we can still win by blocking this in the Senate. The Senate is eager to get back home and campaign. Most observers believe they'll pack up and head home Saturday. Delay the vote and we may stop the danger.

DC Downsizers, rise up and take a stand for the 4th and 8th Amendments. Do your part. We're counting on YOU.

Jim BabkaPresidentDownsizeDC.org, Inc.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Cause and Effect

The philosophical debate continues. This time, another State Worshipper I know wants to argue that the violence employed by the State is completely separate from its demands to, say, pay your taxes. In this assertion, it is clear that Statists have a fundamental misunderstanding (or willful denial) of "cause" and "effect".

For example, lets say the State wants you to give it one-half of your paycheck. My assertion is that the reality of this demand is that you must deliver up half your income, or else you will be the target of a violent assault at the hands of the government’s goon squad (we'll call them "IRS agents"). Somewhere in the mix is the implicit fact that should you not give in to the State’s demands, baaaaad things will happen.

The Statist argument? Well...they aren’t shooting you for income tax evasion, they are shooting you for resisting arrest. That, somehow, changes everything. Of course, the fact that the reason you are resisting arrest directly descends from the initial demand, "give me half your income", is completely ignored. They refuse to acknowledge the arrest is simply a method the State is using to enforce its demand - for half your income - and therefore, the violence employed in the arrest is all part of the attempt to obtain half your income.

In this sense, the violence behind the demand for tax payment is obscured. The immoral, evil nature of State action is thus masked, and the view that the State is nothing but a benevolent caregiver can be promulgated.

To help illustrate this principle, just ask yourself how this would work in the private sector. Who else gets what they want from you by threatening you? If a private company, say Wal Mart, sent you a letter saying it wanted you to fork over half of your money, and you ignored the request, nothing would happen to you. If Wal Mart decided to send its goon squad to apprehend you, and you fought them back, we call this self-defense, and we give our moral blessings to those who defend themselves against attackers.

However, Statists place people employed by the State in a separate moral universe. Putting on a badge is the equivalent of a baptism. The State makes its demands and if you don’t submit, sooner or later, the guns will be pulled out...and that is morally justifiable, per se....because the State is exempt from objective morality.

I’m sorry, my State Loving friends. Government is violence. The fact that we don’t go from A to Z in one step, doesn’t negate the fact that eventually, it will come around to the firing of bullets. Deny it all you wish, but objective reality is not on your side.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Conversation with A Statist

I seemed to have struck some interesting chords lately. Another Statist acquaintance of mine read my earlier post entitled, “There's A Gun In The Room” . A conversation started that went something like this…


Statist Acquaintance: I read your blog post.

Libertarian Jason: Oh? What did you think? Did I make a logical argument?

SA: It's only logical if one accepts the underlying premise.

LJ: The “underlying premise” meaning...?

SA: Meaning that government is inherently evil.

LJ: Well, I never actually said that. My point was that the State is inherently violent. Now...whether violence is evil is a subject for a whole different inquiry (and one in which I would agree is true). However, as I pointed out, government is violence. No?

SA: Government can be violent if laws are broken - but I've never experienced anything like that, because I don't rape, murder, extort, ad infinitum….

LJ: You are correct. But any "law" - whether a good and just law, or a bad and unjust one - is backed up by violence, or the threat thereof. That was the only point attempting to be made and illustrated by my example. Furthermore, as I stated, whether or not it actually comes to actual violence is determined only by one’s determination to resist. Everyone gives in the to State’s demands eventually because they inherently recognize that they will be brutalized, or possibly killed, if they take their disobedience too far.

Plus, you do experience the threat of violence everytime you pay your taxes. Just because you're not courageous enough to stand your ground and say no to the State's demands, doesn't mean that you are not the object of violence.

SA: So, what good is a law that cannot be enforced?

LJ: That question assumes that all laws are morally equivalent.

SA: Not really - just a very basic question that you dodged.

LJ: No, not dodged - just clarified. It does assume that all laws are morally equivalent. By asking, “what good is a law that cannot be enforced?”, you have already made the assumption that all laws should be enforced, and are “good”...regardless of their moral validity.

Instead... why not question and think about the moral justification for when such force is warranted and used? Given that government is violent force, then why not examine the proper and improper uses for that force... kind of like often thinks about when the proper time one may and may not use a hammer or a screwdriver?

SA: I did not assume anything - I asked a simple question - but I understand your unwillingness to stay on point - malcontented ideals flourish in the dust storm of endless questions/debates and hate the light of day or the simplicity of such a basic question.

LJ: All questions have premises. That's a simple rule of logic. I illustrated the premises you assumed as you asked your question.

So, tell me... should all laws be enforced, regardless of their moral content?

SA: Yes, they should, because in a democracy, if bad law exists, there are legal remedies for people to pursue. To give individuals the right to break laws they disagree with would invite chaos. How logical is that?

LJ: Well... For one, as I mentioned earlier...you then make no moral difference between various actions. All "crimes" are morally equivalent... So committing rape and not mowing your lawn frequently enough...conceptually speaking...are grounds to be on the receiving end of assault.... i.e. punishment by government authorities. There is no logical distinction.

Secondly, your statement is based on the premise that objective morality leads to chaos. I might argue that imposing immoral laws, which interfere with the natural order of things, is what breeds the chaos. If you were an economist, I might suggest you read some works by Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, F.A. Hayek and others, who point out that State interference in the free market creates distortions, misallocations of resources, and other unnatural and perverse dynamics that pervade society.

Thirdly, and most importantly... ask yourself... if all laws are to be enforced, regardless of moral content... then how would that principle play out in real everyday life? Hypothetically, if the State passed a law that said... “We need to round up all the Jews and throw them into ovens”... your position MUST be that a law like that MUST be obeyed and enforced. If the society democratically decides, "rape is legal", then your position MUST be that it MUST be obeyed and enforced. This is what I mean when I accuse you of surrendering you your morality to the State. For you, the requirements of the State supercede any independent and objective moral code. The State - per you - is the creator of morality, and it becomes the duty of the citizen is to blindly accept its dictates.

You are incorrect about "democracy"... By definition a "minority" has zero authority to change anything it becomes the victim of...because only a "majority" can affect change. Might makes right. If all questions become a question of "what is most popular?"...the people who benefit from any given law, program, or whatever...have zero incentive to change their mind, because a law which benefits them at the expense of others is always going to be “popular”.

The logic of restricting the use of force...ie. The logic of limiting government...is that if a given law is inherently illogical, then it contradicts the laws of nature and reality. A law that says, "you must wear a blue shirt and not a red one" are plainly illogical because there is no clear logical justification why such an arbitrary preference should be backed up by the threat of violence.

Murder, rape, theft.... laws against such acts are logically consistent, because the acts of murder, rape, and theft are themselves logically inconsistent. The law then merely becomes an expression of the natural resistance of nature to things which are in opposition to it. Any enforceable law must be based on logically consistent principles. As private property, for example, is logical and objectively consistent, then a law that protects private property is morally just, and therefore, enforcement can be condoned. Ditto murder, rape, fraud, and so on.

The conversation ended there. I wonder, was it something I said?

Chicken Ted and Chicken Ken

Afraid to debate Bill Peirce. Watch this video.

Ds and Rs KNOW they can't hold a candle to Libertarians in a fair fight. That's why they use every means possible - including arresting dissenters - to shut down opposition.

Is this America, or Russia?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

There's A Gun In the Room

(With due props to Stefan Molyneux for the analogy…. - LJ)

I received a comment today regarding something I said in my last post. When I stated, “the State’s only method of action is the initiation and propagation of violence”, I was accused of making sweeping generalizations and, presumably, guilty of profound intellectual naïvete. As I reflected on the ensuing conversation, it dawned on me just how strong the desire exists for people to rationalize the State and all its works into being something other than what it really is, namely, an institution which operates not through voluntary and cooperative means, but by coercion and force. To paraphrase Stefan Molyneux of Freedomain Radio, pointing out that there’s a gun in the room makes people very uncomfortable, and thus moves them to make rationalizations, advance strawmen arguments, change the topic of conversation, or simply engage in denial about what is ultimately and objectively true - ie. that the gun exists. Now, while I could simply encourage everyone to go download all of Molyneux’s marvelous and enlightening podcasts, or to read Murray Rothbard’s masterful essay, Anatomy of the State, I will rather attempt to shortly explain in a logical and concrete fashion what is so plainly obvious to libertarians, but so horrendously ignored by Statists.

As I attempted to explain to my critic, the State works by one means and one means alone: violence (or at least the threat thereof). Anytime the State levies a tax, passes a law, or issues a regulation, obedience is mandatory. It is completely irrelevant whether or not you agree that the law, tax or regulation is for a good cause. Failure to comply will result, eventually, in the arrival of men with guns (aka police, SWAT teams, FBI agents, IRS agents, ATF agents, the military forces, etc.) at your door to apprehend you, and forcibly relocate you to a jail cell to await more proper punishment. If you resist, these agents have the authority to use the weapons they armed with, and shoot you dead on the spot.

For example, let’s say the government passes a law that says, “All people over the age of 21 must dye their hair red.” What are the real effects of this? Do you have the free choice in this matter? Are you free to simply ignore this weird request? Are you free of any adverse consequences for non-compliance? Of course not. You must dye your hair red, or else. Now, maybe at first you’ll just get a ticket. A cop pulls you over and writes you up for not having those fiery locks. Now you face a court date. If you ignore the summons, then the men with guns will hunt you down. If you go to court, maybe you get a fine. Well, if you ignore the fine, again…armed men hunt you down. Anyway you slice it, the State will get compliance out of you or you will be punished in a variety of ways. And whether or not it actually turns to violence is measured only by the degree to which you obstinately refuse to acquiesce. Nowhere in the logical progression of this string of events, beginning with the initial demand to dye your hair red, are you simply free of escalating harassment for non-compliance.

Now, let’s say instead of the government, Procter and Gamble issues a press release saying the exact same thing: “All people must dye their hair red.” How is this different? What happens if you ignore Procter and Gamble’s demand? Why nothing, of course! Procter and Gamble has no such power to force anyone to do anything. All they can do is exhort, persuade, negotiate, plead, and beg for you to do something. Procter and Gamble cannot send men with guns to your house to apprehend you. If they do, is virtually indisputable that you would be completely justified defending yourself with whatever means necessary.

So what is the lesson here? Anytime we ask government to do something – anything at all – we are asking that violence, or the threat thereof, be employed in affecting some stated goal. It matters not whether the goal is frivolous, as in my offered example, or something noble, such as helping the poor or liberating Iraqis. The irrefutable fact of the matter is that government works only by violent, coercive means. It works no other way. The private sector, by contrast, is peaceful and civilized. The free market recognizes the moral integrity of every individual, recognizing that we each retain control over ourselves, and we interact with each other with dignity and respect. If I don’t like what you do or think or have, I can only seek to persuade you to change. Forcing you to change because I am stronger is how the State works, and which is why politics brings out the most barbaric elements of humanity.

So the counter to all of this is that old view of the State as a social engineer. We vote for people who set policy on all things ranging from war making, foreign policy, infrastructure, domestic issues, and the torturing of dark-skinned non-Christians in gulag-like prisons located in Third World countries. We achieve miraculous things through the State, because Democracy creates community, and political action is the highest expression of society’s values. The State marshals society’s resources to provide things that will improve humanity, and elevate us to Utopia.

Honestly, I have to say that it’s refreshing to hear someone actually admit that they view the State as that entity which is responsible for molding them into a better person. Granted, a bit shocked that someone actually believes that politicians are better capable of managing their lives, and those of their loved ones, then they are - but hey, Statism is a profoundly powerful faith. The argument seems to go, without government, many of the things government provides – like roads (why is it always "the roads" with Statists?) - would simply up and vanish. We’d all be riding horseback to work through 20 feet of snow that isn’t plowed by government employees. So, logically, we are to assume that because we need roads, then government must take $2.7 trillion away from the productive sector, wage war around the globe, ruin our education and health care systems, systematically destroy our currency, encourage the criminal underworld with its gun control laws and the War on Drugs, enslave the poor in a cycle of welfare state dependency, block economic expansion by squashing entrepreneurship and free enterprise, and a whole slew of other catastrophic effects manifested by State action. All of these things, you see, are for the betterment of mankind. Because one can point to one or two arguably nonobjectionable government services, we must keep the entire apparatus because its all the “price of civilization”.

Yes, yes, I know…. I’m blowing it out of proportion. (Well, not really. ) But in relation to the need for roads as justification for the entire State, is it ridiculous for me to make the claim that someone who worries about whether or not we’ll have roads, while a whole slew of monumentally bigger problems plague civilization is putting the cart before the horse just a bit? Even if the aforementioned “necessary” government services were to disappear without a State, wouldn't it be worth seeing if alternative methods of delivery of these services weren’t possible, while simultaneously abolishing all of the other evils of the State? Forget “the baby and the bath water”; what we are looking at is tossing out a penny at the bottom of a vat of toxic waste!

But back to the objection at hand. Does the State create “community”? And whose values are ultimately expressed in a majoritarian system? Well, the last time I checked, it seemed to be in the area of politics where people have the most vitriolic conflicts. For example, take the whole teaching evolution vs. creationism debate. No matter what your opinion of the particular topics, the fact is, because education has been politicized, ordinarily inane topics such as curriculum content elicit the most virulent disputes, spawning huge industries of talking heads whining and complaining about a culture war. People who want their kids to learn evolution and not creationism, are at odds with their neighbor who wants something different, and only one side can win the argument (and force their views on the loser). So tell me…what “community” exists when such conflicts arise from politics? When 51% get to make 100% of the decisions, and the other 49% might as well have stayed home. Whose voices are raised, and whose are squashed?

Sorry, Virginia… The State destroys community. It does not foster it. Majoritarian democracy censors and represses minorities, and breeds conflict. It does not mitigate conflict and elevate society.

Is it surprising? Philosophically considered, do we really experience fulfilling, nurturing, joyful relationships with those around us when we interject violence into our interpersonal dynamics? When it’s pointed out that there is a gun on the room, who should feel the most uncomfortable? The one who points out the gun, or the one who’s reaching for it?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Its the POWER, Stupid!

Last week, Colin Powell came out as a critic of the Bush Regime’s conduct in the War on Terror. This morning, I flipped open my browser to see the following headline:

WP: Powell explains terror law viewFormer secretary of state Colin L. Powell said Monday that he opposes the Bush administration's proposed rules for the treatment of terrorism suspects in part because the plan would add to growing doubts about whether the U.S. adheres to its own moral code. [!]

Now, the first thing that comes to my mind is the blatant contradiction in anything moral coming from political action. To expect the State to behave in any kind of moral fashion is a complete and utter delusion, as the State’s only method of action is the initiation and propagation of violence. The fact that the Bush Regime is now openly advocating various barbaric practices in the "interrogation" of people it views as "terrorists", is only surprising by the lack of humility.

I was discussing this article with a friend of mine this morning who is a big fan of Colin Powell. He insists that all of our current problems would be solved (or at least seriously mitigated) if Colin Powell were in charge as the President of the U.S. This is a manifestation of the whole "its not the system, but the person in charge" myth about the efficacy of politics. Apparently, Powell is some kind of Messianic figure who would right all the wrongs in American public policy. The suggestion that the very process of acquiring power requires certain demands, sacrifices, and compromises – virtually selling one’s soul to various political powerbrokers – falls on deaf, liberal ears. In true liberal fashion, government is humanity’s salvation, preventing man’s baser instincts from taking over and creating a free-for-all, survival of the fittest, jungle like existence.

Of course, this begs the question, that if humanity is so fundamentally corrupt, how does giving POWER to certain people alleviate that condition? Are politicians not mortal? Are voters not mortal? Do people somehow change their natures during the 5 minutes or so that they spend inside the ballot box, only to resume their sinful ways after punching the card? Does putting on badge or swearing an oath of office somehow mystically cleanse the soul of a person, enabling them to only do good works? To your average State Worshipper, the answer to these questions is a resounding YES.

And don’t get me wrong, Conservatives are just as guilty – perhaps even more so – of glorifying "the man in charge". I’ve commented countless times about the view that GW Bush is a kind of secular deity, wielding power with astute moral clarity, and battling back the forces of evil. The Conservative response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster was to point out that it was the fault of various Democrats who were in charge in New Orleans and Louisiana. Apparently, if only the "right" people had been in charge, Big Government would have worked properly, efficiently, and humanely. Conservatives, once rhetorical supporters of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty, are now convinced that Big Government can work miracles.

What both my liberal friend and Conservatives share in common is a complete disregard for the realities of practical politics, the effects of State intervention, and the moral backdrop of using the mechanism of the State to remold the world unto a more noble image. They both willfully ignore the disasterous effects of government policies - often erroneously blaming them on the excessive liberties of average people - and even go to the point to say that without MORE government, we would surely suffer. As Harry Browne used to say, government breaks your leg and then hands you a crutch saying, "See! If it weren’t for us, you wouldn’t be able to walk!"

But, anyway…back to the article. I noted a certain kind of irony when it stated:

Powell has said he regrets that the Iraq invasion was launched on the basis of false intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs and Hussein's relationship with al-Qaeda, information that he vouched for in an address before a hostile United Nations.
I laugh out loud because Powell was the chief peddler of that "false intelligence" before the world. One wonders whether Powell is truly at odds with the Bush administration, and is seeking to atone for past misdeeds. I have a co-worker friend of mine – also a liberal – who has always thought highly of Powell. When Powell gave his speech before the U.N., that practically cemented his support for the Iraqi invasion. Apparently, if Powell says it, it must be true. So, needless to say, I only laugh at Powell, and people who place a lot of value in his words, because they are empty and meaningless.

So the Cult of the Leader goes on. Liberals will surely rally around Powell and other dissenters from the Regime, and continue their delusions that "their guy" would be so much better, if only he had POWER. Conservatives will rally around "their guy", insisting that Bush is doing a heroic job defending civilization itself, and should be given more POWER.

And neither side will recognize that the fundamental cause of our problems today stem from the corrupting POWER of the Imperial State.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Libertarian Party: 1; Ken Blackwell: 0

The Libertarian Party of Ohio won its lawsuit against Ken Blackwell, who abused his power as Secretary of State to prevent a REAL party for Smaller Government from getting on the ballot.

The 26 page court decision can be read here.

The court ruled that Ohio's ballot access laws (one of the most restrictive in the nation) violate the rights of free speech and free association of minor political parties, their candidates, and their voter/supporters. The court stated, on page 13, in its final judgement:

"There is an inherent constitutional tension between the rights of states to conduct and regulate elections, and the rights of political parties and voters to exercise their First Amendment rights."

Let's repeat that: Ken Blackwell, in his capacity as Secretary of State, worked to curb the rights of free speech and free association. As a leader of the State of Ohio's government, he actively worked to trample the rights of the citizens he was supposed to be serving.

He was almost successful.

C'mon all you Conservatives!! Tell me again how Conservatives believe in liberty and individual rights!! Tell me how Ken "Conservative" Blackwell is actually an ally of your freedoms!

You can't.

Ken Blackwell is an enemy of liberty.

Face it, Conservatives. Pull your head out of the sand.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Great quote

A hat tip to my friend Joe for turning me on to this quote...

When you let people do whatever they want, you get Woodstock. When you let governments do whatever they want, you get Auschwitz.
- Doug Newman

...or alternatively....

Let people get out of control and you get Motley Crue concerts. Let government get out of control and you get Auschwitz.
- Doug Newman

Motley Crue...Woodstock.... same difference!

The Left and Foreign Policy

The more I look at what passes for "debate" today between "liberals" and "conservatives", the more I come to realize that such differences are superficial, petty, and all-but-nonexistant. Furthermore, it is apparently obvious to me that only truly fresh and unique perspectives on the issues of the day come from libertarian writers.

Take for example the War On Iraq. Many on the left have strong feelings in opposition to Bush’s war. Yet, their opponents on the right often and easily skewer many of their untenable positions, exposing their hypocrisies when they point to the fact that, just a few years ago when Democrats held the reigns of power, many of the same arguments that the current batch of Warmongers peddle to defend their Utopian schemes were being advocated by Left leaning politicians and intellectuals. I mean, we’ve all seen that chain mail that goes around where there are quotes from Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and a bunch of others citing how Saddam was a bad man, with nuclear ambitions, and a threat to…well, everything under the sun, and must removed from power posthaste!

When the 2004 election came around, I was a bit surprised to find that the most hostility to libertarian candidates, and indeed, 3rd parties in general, came from self-identified Kerry supporters. The argument, as it seemed to be, was that people were so pissed off about the War On Iraq, that we needed to get Bush out of there. Kerry, supposedly, was the candidate put forward by "anti-war" voters. Unfortunately, when Kerry said in his campaign that, had he had the chance to do it all over again, he would not have done anything different than Bush had done, that position was conveniently ignored by anti-Bush, anti-War voters. And when the Democrats staged an over-the-top, militaristic national convention that in any other setting rivaled a rally at Nuremburg, few but the most principled anti-war advocates even batted an eyelash.

So, I’m stating the obvious, right? The Left is hypocritical, and intellectually bankrupt. There are no discernable principles beyond pure partisan interests which differentiate the "Left" from the "Right" these days. In which case, any self-identified "Liberal" is hard-pressed to explain the nature of his opposition to the slaughter of Iraqis in a way that anyone can take seriously. When I remarked to an anti-Bush War friend of mine, "well, you see what happens when you advocate big government?", the response was, "I’m not anti-big government, I’m anti-irresponsible government." (As if the two are really that different.) I guess this is what it comes to when political questions become a matter of "whose in charge", rather than a reflection on core principles. Ironically, such a view is inherently irresponsible, although I’m sure my Leftist friend would dismiss such a notion.

So I was pleased to see a cutting critique of leading Leftist intellectuals on matters of foreign policy in a recent article by Doug Bandow. While Left in practice strives to differentiate itself from the Bloodthirsty Warmonger crowd on the Right, Bandow exposes the Left’s contradictions, leaving any thoughtful reader to conclude that the Left really has nothing to offer. If you are anti-war, or at the very least, very concerned with our Nation’s role in global politics, then the ONLY alternative that exists is in libertarian proposals. (Libertarian with a small ‘l’, not necessarily the LP, which is becoming frighteningly more pro-war each day.)

After critiquing some specific writers and their proposals, Bandow notes:

Building a foreign policy for a free and virtuous people is challenging. Even if everyone everywhere were free and virtuous, there would sometimes be sharp differences between peoples, nations, and cultures. With many unfree states, and many evil people, the difficulties grow.

But the starting point should be that the U.S. government's primary responsibility is to the American people. That isn't because the lives of Americans are more important than those of others. It is because the government represents Americans, is funded and defended by them, and is entrusted with the protection of their lives. Moreover, it is they who are directly responsible for their government's actions.
The idea that the U.S. government should NOT intervene in every and any conflict it can find – real or imagined – is bound to be dismissed as "isolationism", or "unrealistic", or "naïve". Yet, how naïve is it to put your faith in Government to remake the world into a grand new Democratic Utopia?

Many Warmongers like to parrot the mantra that our soldiers are "fighting for our freedoms". Yet, the plain evidence of the matter is that as the Global March to Empire continues, our liberties are being systematically diminished at home. (Of course, Objective Reality means nothing to the War Crowd - what matters is mindlessly spouting the party line.) We are less free today than we were yesterday, last month, and last year. But as Lew Rockwell has pointed out, big government abroad is inconsistant with small government at home.

Which just goes to re-emphasize the point that there are no real differences between the Left and the Right. Both sides advocate violence as the means to creating a better world. While some Left-leaning people like to say they are anti-war, the left needs to realize that fundamentally, there is no real difference between their cause and Bush’s cause. As much as it pains me to admit, Conservatives are right when they dismiss those on the Left of simplistically being Knee-Jerk Bush-Haters, thus silencing any serious consideration of their anti-war voice. It’s a shame, too, because what we need today is a REAL alternative to hedonistic, terrorism-inspiring warmongering.

Bandow’s article is a must read. It’s not some pie-in-the-sky, Utopian daydreaming. There are numerous, practical solutions, derived from simple, core principles, that can guide our thinking on matters of foreign policy. And if the Left can wrap its brain around those principles, then I think the Left can put itself on better ground to offer a real alternative to the Right.