Friday, November 16, 2012

Secession Talk, Well That Should Help the Cause

This is once again an expanded idea from a comment I was trying to formulate on a secessionist Facebook posting.  The problem was that every time I turned around there was another, and another. All of the sudden there was infighting and screaming matches over how ‘true libertarians would never insult secession’ and on and on.  This road off the rails very quickly, and it is unfortunate that we couldn't just step back and take a breath here.

The problem as I have seen it is this: some of us are not at all concerned about the moral, legal, philosophical or historical discussion of the concept of secession.  We know them, understand them, and even agree with some of them, if not in the practical sense at least the esoteric.  But many of us are concerned that when we have such a great opportunity, and so many outlets, to talk with people about the notion of liberty and limited government principles being solutions to the actual, real world problems they are facing in their lives, and we could be one the cusp of convincing many of them to dump the dichotomy and silliness of our present political system, and what do we see? So many of our ranks jump up and defend the concept of these secessionist petitions. You could see where this story was going before it hit the big media, and this is where liberty movement people should have paused and reflected.

The day after an election you see these petitions jump up from places like Texas.  Texas, that never sweat one single overstep of W and the GOP while they put in place a myriad of ridiculous Big Government encroachments that pulled this country right to the edge of fiscal oblivion and Orwellian existence. Texas that came out big for W’s reelection and just as big for Romney this time around.  Never a thought of limited, constitutional government prior to this.  This is the state that is famous for limited government initiatives like the fight to keep being a homosexual in your personal, private life a crime - but now supposedly they have their jimmies rustled about liberty and a free society?  They are upset they lost an election in which they were able to freely participate.  They then want to violate the democratic bargain and take their ball and go home.  What are their long endured list of grievances?  Has the federal government encroached on personal liberty becoming a very dangerous entity?  Absolutely.  But given the absolute fact that there was barely a bit of difference between Romney and Obama on any substantive bit of policy or spending would all of these people have rushed to file this petition regardless of who won the election?  Would we have seen this big spontaneous movement for a return to constitutional principles with a Romney win?  OF COURSE NOT!  This was not a principled statement of the long and unbearable suffering of a people laboring under a despotic regime, this was a knee jerk reaction to losing ONE election they thought they should have won, which is exactly what the Confederacy was based on and why it lacked any real legitimacy.  As the latter part of the Declaration states, and no one is quoting: Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes…While you could easily make the case that those causes do exist, this was not one of those instances, this was theater plain and simple, a circle-jerk of disaffected mooks.

The liberty movement did not need to be involved in any of this, could have said: ‘silly neo-cons, go cry in your cheerios’ and it would have been fine. You don't get involved in a toddler's temper tantrum in the middle of a grocery store, even if you understand and sympathize with the toddler’s grievance, and this little fit is the same thing.  Yet here we are once again.  There are large swaths of people who could support the liberty movement and maybe self identify as somewhat libertarian if not for the fact they have been told that it a crazy ideology, not fit for a place at the table to discuss the big problems.  And what can those potentials, those fence-sitters see from the outside looking in?  Full throated defenses of secession and infighting over ideological purity. I don’t want to ever play the ‘no-true-Scotsman’ game, I want to be inclusive.  We can talk about the concept of secession, just like any free association concept, but the whole ‘FUCK YEAH!’ defense of these petitions hurts the team, I believe.  It is a similar situation to what many of us say about An-Cap. However sacrilegious it is to say to some, An-Cap shouldn't be the public face or the first thing people meet on their intro to libertarian thought. If they get there on their own as a matter of their personal philosophical development, or take some other road like Objectivism or more Classical Liberal, then so be it, it can all fit under a big tent of maximizing personal liberty while minimizing the state.  We must always remember that it has taken decades to get things this screwed up, and it will be incremental steps wrought through compromise that is going to move the ball forward.  Knocking on doors saying ‘can I talk to you about the liberty movement and our first and foremost advocacy of secession?’ is not going to get many converts. These are the reasons we can’t have nice things, and we should be a little more leery of when, where and why we jump into a philosophical argument.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Did It Feel to Throw Away Your Vote?

Of course by that title I mean how do all the liberty movement people feel about being conned into flushing their vote away on Romney?  This post is inspired by a comment I left on a Jeremy Kolassa piece over at United Liberty (if you are not reading him, by the way, you should be).  Jeremy was making the pre-election case that if the Libertarian Party, with a candidate as good as Gary Johnson, couldn't crack a million votes he was just plain done advocating or supporting them.  Well they did crack the threshold, giving their best showing ever in raw vote total, but there was so much more that could have happened here.  The real tragedy, and problem in my opinion, is that so many people who would have voted for Johnson, if for no other reason than to make a statement of their displeasure with the system, bought into the fiction that this was THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF YOUR LIFETIME AND IF YOU DO NOT SUPPORT ROMNEY THE REPUBLIC WILL FALL horseshit that was flowing hard and heavy from many quarters.  It was unfortunately flowing very heavy from many people in the liberty movement, supposed standard bearers for principles of limited government and freedom.  They said that we had to play nice-nice with the GOP, that if we split the vote and cost the election they would never let us in the tent.  They advocated fusionism and long ball, that whole ‘what happens to Rand in 2016?’ shtick, as if that is the only possible or desirable outcome for the liberty enthusiast.  They said an awful lot about this, and I would say (and said at the time) they were wrong, and that they actually did a disservice to the movement.  I would say they actually suppressed the Johnson vote, something that could have panned out to well over 5% of the electorate and maybe started to build momentum for the future.

As an example let’s start with my home state of New Hampshire.  Romney made a real push for the state, purple on any given day, with a lot of big money outreach (commercials, phone calls etc).  When you look at the actual outcome of the election, it wasn't even competitive, and the Johnson vote had absolutely no impact on the outcome.  What also had no impact were any ‘potential’ votes Johnson might have gotten that ended up being wasted on Romney.  When you look at the numbers:

Obama: 368,259 - 52.6%
Romney: 327, 870 - 46.4%
Johnson: 8,319 - 1.2%

Pretty pitiful, huh?  1.2% of the vote for Johnson, and Romney lost by more than 40,000 votes.  Yet what about ‘potential’ votes?  Take a look at our other races:

Governor                                        1st Congressional District                    2nd Congressional District

Hassan (D) 378,258 (54.6%)           Shea-Porter (D) 171,356 (49.7%)        Kuster (D) 168,954 (50.2%)

Lamontagne (R) 294,477 (42.5%)    Guinta (R) 158,482 (46%)                   Bass (R) 151,858 (45.1%)

Babiarz (L) 19,868 (2.9%)               Kelly (L) 14,968 (4.3%)                      Macia (L) 15,779 (4.7%)

So, if you are an arrogant and pretentious GOP blowhard who believes all Libertarian votes should go to the Republicans you could make the case that Guinta lost his job thanks to the LP.  More important than that piece of fiction though is the Governor’s race.  This race was not even close, thanks in no large part to terrible, terrible candidates, but look at the raw numbers:  11,000 more people filled an oval for Babiarz in the governor’s slot (less than a ½” right below Johnson who was the first name on the ballot) than actually voted for Johnson.  If you combine the two congressional races, again leaving aside whatever internal dynamics might be involved in NH, over 30,000 voted LP in those races, holding over 4% of the vote, while Johnson carries only 1.2%.  Why?  How many of those people found themselves believing the silly idea that there was a dime’s bit of difference between Romney and Obama, or that they were saving the nation from the evils of Progressive European style socialism?  How did people find themselves vested in the notion that their vote for Romney was one to save the country, yet decided that in all the races down ticket involving craptastic generic R and D candidates they would buck the system and cast a vote on principle?  What impact did all the media bloviating,  including that of our supposed leaders and intellectuals in the liberty movement, have on these people decision?  What might have been the outcome had all those advocating betraying principle to vote, once again, for the ‘lesser-of-two-evils’, had said instead ‘don’t fall for it again, make a real statement by supporting the person who’s beliefs you actually agree with’?  You could reasonably say Johnson would have passed at least 4% here, and maybe much, much more had the message been the latter.  But this is just New Hampshire, what about the rest of the country?

There are a few other governor’s races, one’s that draw a statewide crowd, that show similar trends.  1% for Johnson while the other race garners 2 to 4%:

      North Carolina                                       Missouri                                     Indiana
McCrory (R) 2,447,988 (54.7%)          Nixon (D) 1,485,147 (54.7%)        Pence (R) 1,268,076 (49.6%)

Dalton (D) 1,931,750 (43.2%)            Spence (R) 1,157,475 (42.6%)      Gregg (D) 1,187,508 (46.4%)

Howe (L) 95,154 (2.1%)                    Higgins (L) 73,196 (2.7%)             Boneham (L) 101,326 (4.0%)

Johnson @ 44,798 (1%)                   Johnson 43,029 (1.6%)               Johnson 49,838 (1.9%)

Now, in all of these cases the LP vote did not affect the outcome of the governor’s race, and had all the people who voted LP down ticket voted Johnson it would also not have changed the outcome of that state’s presidential race.  Given the nature of the absolute creaming the GOP took nationwide the complete flipping of the LP vote behind Johnson wouldn't have changed the electoral map at all.  Romney and the republicans lost this race all on their own, and there was nothing they could have done about it, except maybe running a coherent campaign.  The impact of a 4 or 5% Johnson vote though would have paid much higher dividends.  The LP being designated as a ‘major party’ would have avoided future ballot and debate access issues that played out this year.  Imagine what would have happened with Johnson on the debate stage, challenging the stupid little narratives that Obama and Romney brought to the stage.  How well could the cause of limited government and liberty been advanced, say had, oh I don’t know, an actual advocate of those principles had been talking about them for the American people to hear?  Wouldn't that have been nice?  Instead we had people in our own tent openly and often scoff at the notion, demeaning the notion that we should be supporting and voting FOR something.  Asking us to be place holders for some big grand fight in 2016 instead of making a push for real separation did everyone a disservice.

Those who stood with the GOP are on the losing side, and those of us who stood with Johnson can only point to the fact we brought a million votes to the table.  The Ron Paul supporters, many million liberty minded votes we were told, where were they?  What portion of the losing tally were ‘liberty’ voters?  Do you see the problem?  This race was lost months ago, there was no hope of a Romney presidency, and everyone seems to be realizing that now.  Now, in the GOP civil war that everyone says is coming, what possible metrics does the liberty movement bring to the equation.  If the liberty voter, who probably liked Johnson much better than Romney, had voted for him what could we be saying now?  Four, five, six million votes?  If the Paulites had come on en mass, what would that have meant?  As it stands what can anyone say?  When the factional strife comes who will come out on top?  There is a great deal of talk about the direction that the party will take.  There are some saying the GOP has to go more libertarian, while others say they need to go even more conservative.  In an all out brawl who wins, Rand Paul or Rick Santorum?  Is this a turning point for the republicans?  Will they change their ways?  What should the liberty enthusiast be doing?

Personally  do not see it happening, and even if it did the real problem is, and some may disagree, is that the well is poisoned.  What does the GOP stand for?  How easy was it to take the extreme, yet entrenched, elements of the party and make it a winning talking point all over the country?  Take as an example the Scott Brown race in Massachusetts.  Near the end of the campaign you started to see in the commercials state something to the effect of “a vote for Scott Brown might give the radical republicans a majority in the senate”.  Brown was a middle of the road guy if there ever was one, and Elizabeth Warren is a barn burning ideologue, yet who won and why?  The national attention paid to the ramblings of idiots like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock allowed for that set-up, if you could even call it that.  Hold up the ‘rape-baby’ theocratic types, and ask the question - a vote for your local republican puts clowns like that in positions of power, do you really want that?

While people will say look at the inroads, look at the Republican Liberty Caucus in congress, think of the potential; my response is always what happens when the brand is tarnished?  Who gets thrown out with the bathwater.  The Skeptical Libertarian wrote a great piece educating people that it is the libertarians who have been leading the charge on gay marriage.  He is absolutely correct in everything he says, and he uses New Hampshire as an example.  In our state the just terrible Speaker of the House (who had super-majorities in both houses and has essentially run the show without the governor for two years) let the social conservatives off the leash and they tried to implement some of their planks.  The biggest fight was over trying to undo the marriage equality law.  It was stopped by the libertarian leaning republicans and other moderate legislators, most standing on principle and some who held greater than a 3rd grade education and realized this would cost seats to the majority.  These people did good work that day, and nearly to a man they were all swept out of office last week.  They were in the poisoned well.  I have friends who got bounced out of their seats even though they were the ones who stood athwart of the crazy train, receiving no credit from the voters for their action.  Most all of those social conservatives, including the now former speaker, get to keep their seat however.  Place that now on every race for the next four years.  If the democrats have half a brain (which is debatable) then in every race going forward there will be commercials, interviews and debate questions foisted on every GOP candidate demanding they answer questions about abortion, contraception, rape babies, science vs. God’s will and every other thing that can be thrown out there from the direct quotes of social conservative candidates in other races.  This limits any chance you have of talking about the issues of limited government and liberty, the general GOP baggage prevents you from doing it.

The GOP and the Democrats spent well over $2 Billion on securing the presidency.  Does anyone really think they did that because they truly and deeply care about you and I?  Is our message of being free of a state that has so much power over us and our economy that it justifies some groups spending $2 Billion on the top office ever going to resonate with either of those stated groups?  There are GOP thinkers who say to secure future victory they need to be less anti-gay, anti-Mexican, theocratic ‘family-values’ oriented and more libertarian.  Why not just be Libertarian then?  This is why I advocate for not bothering with the GOP, and I would hope that at this point some of our intellectuals and media titans would start doing the same.  If you came out as a Libertarian party candidate you automatically avoid having the social conservative baggage.  You could advocate for the things you believe in from a clean slate, and you could attempt to convince not only independents and registered republicans, but democrats as well.  We could reach out to the TEA Party and see if they truly have the limited government credentials they have claimed for so long.  For those of us who claim to be members and advocates of the liberty movement we need to start asking how important our principles really are.  If it is really about principles and not party or people, then why not advocate and support the people and the party that most closely reflects our principles, for as long as they meet that criteria?  Doesn't that seem more productive then joining in what is going to be, at least for the next few years, a naked and hollow attempt to pander for votes in order to maintain or retain power?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Johnson Understands Drones Can Also Make Enemies

Why am I a libertarian?  It is about freedom.  It is about liberty. I have neither the wisdom nor the right to dictate how you should run your life.  I resist the encroachment and increase of government power not because I am callous, insensitive, indifferent or naive, but because I fear the next step down the road towards totalitarianism when the wrong politician takes the helm with that power.  There are dozens of real issues that will affect this country's future that neither the Democrats or Republicans will never address.  As an exercise try examining the drone war as something that will perpetuate and create problems for our country and our children instead of achieving the stated goal of keeping us safer.

Everyday the United States launches missiles into sovereign countries killing supposed evil terrorists hoping to do us harm, all done without oversight or limits.  If the idea of an American president ordering the deaths of these people as if he was the Sun King reincarnated is not loathsome enough, ponder this: we sit back and blithely ignore this extra-constitutional assassination program that kills the bad guys while scores of innocent people are killed as collateral damage, including children.  Think on that for a moment. You came home from work one day to find your neighbor's house obliterated and your own along with it, taking the lives of your children.  Come to find out your neighbor was a really bad man, possibly planning to do very bad things in another country, so that country blew up his house to ensure it did not happen.  Your world is shattered and your children dead because you had a bad neighbor, no other reason, how do you feel at that moment?  You are filled with rage, you now want to see that country destroyed, that country has made a very real enemy, one that is justified and righteous in his hatred.  Our foreign policy makes enemies like this everyday, and has been doing so for years.  It is not unpatriotic or disloyal to question whether or not our actions are keeping us safe or are actually starting to have the opposite effect.  Place yourself in the shoes of that man who comes home to that tragedy for just one moment;  what is your reaction to that horror?  Now ask yourself if killing that one bad guy, who given unlimited time, resources and luck MAY someday inflict some damage on the United States, was that worth staining the honor of the concept of America as a force for good that our children will have to carry?  If a Jihadi from Mali blew up an American school killing a dozen children there are people in this country who would advocate invasion and occupation as a response, and would feel righteous in their cause.  If the U.S. destroys a Malian school during a drone strike against a dangerous Jihadi, what should the world think of us?  I am not a peacenik, but I am tired of war.  A foreign policy that creates as many (if not a factorial more) enemies as it dispatches is utterly insane, and it ensures this cycle will continue on for decades.

Obama and Romney will continue this war and no one can deny that, and this is just one of a hundred issues that the two party system will not and can not address.  I support Gary Johnson because this is one of the many issues he understands ends up dragging our country further down rather than making it better and safer.  The video below perfectly encapsulates that and many other issues, and if nothing else you should try and pass it around to your friends and see if it starts to chip away at the idea that we must reside in this two party system.  If you believe that your individual action can not change the status quo, then you have ensured that the status quo will never change.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Big Bird and the Serious Conversation

Twitter and a few other social media outlets have been all aflutter with people stepping up to defend poor little Big Bird from Mitt Romney’s horrific slash & burn budget cuts.  This of course perfectly illustrates the reason that I have decided to throw as much support as I can muster behind Gary Johnson’s run for president.  We are talking about Big Bird and the very dire issue of cutting PBS funding.  This is the serious conversation we are supposed to be having about the future of this nation?  Lets get this into some perspective.

Mittens has bravely taken a stand to proclaim that he will not borrow money from China to fund PBS, giving the poor bird the pink slip, so the $445 MILLION that the CPB receives from the Federal budget is just a silly thing to borrow money from China for? OK then what about:

  • Borrowing $2.4 Billion (5 times as much) to fund the DEA and their incredibly wasteful and ultimately futile effort to wage a War on Drugs.  People die, people have their lives ruined, our court system is hopelessly clogged and our prisons overflowing all of which creates an extra, possibly incalculable, drag on the economy.  We can borrow money for that, no need to discuss altering that disastrous course, but Masterpiece Theatre can go screw.
  • Borrowing $9 Billion (20 times as much as PBS) to build Gerald R. Ford class nuclear aircraft carriers is reasonable.  The world is a very, very dangerous place, and as a reflection of that we spend more on defense than everyone else combined.  We spend an order of magnitude more than any single nation, friend or foe.  NOT including the wars we spend twice as much on defense today as we spent in 2003, and you remember how incredibly unsafe we were in 2003 don’t you?  Not only is the world incredibly dangerous and unsafe, Mitt believes America is not nearly safe enough, and needs to spend even more on Defense.  We have such existential threats as…as…China, right China, so it is not only logical, but necessary to borrow money from…well we really don’t need to finish that do we?
  • Take Defense, add Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid & the Social Safety net, Interest on the debt, and we have way more than 4000 PBS budgets.  Medicare freely admits it wastes $53 Billion per year, bare minimum, which means they openly piss away the PBS taxpayer tab every 74 hours.  They are more than a quarter of the way there since Mitt opened his mouth.  Ponder on that little nugget for a minute.

We could take up a thousand more pages with this, but it would get really depressing really fast.  This is the level of discourse we have though.  We have distilled it down to Big Bird.  I actually favor cutting PBS, I don’t believe it in on principle; and if the avalanche of Sesame Street merchandise my Mother has buried her grandchildren under is any indication then Elmo must live like a minor Greek god, let him find his own way in the world.  This has nothing to do with the arts, the cultural soul of our nation or anything else.  These two leviathans that make up our political system have crashed us into an iceberg.  $16 Trillion in debt, and neither of these duplicitous douche nozzles have any plan or even intention of keeping it from hitting $20 Trillion in the next four years.  How can we accept this as a people?  Can we say it out loud once and for all: The Republican Party screwed us all, running up a huge debt on pointless endeavors and giveaways to their interests groups?  Can we also say admit to ourselves that the Democrats were just as bad, just as shortsighted, and just as selfishly concerned with their pet projects and constituencies? Last night gave us more hollow slogans, empty rhetoric, naked pandering and just stupid, stupid little nuggets like the Big Bird thing.  So maybe you can never, ever see yourself stepping outside of the R and D dichotomy and pulling a lever for someone else, but you have to be asking yourself: is this all there is?  Wouldn't you at least like to see the two of them challenged, forced to move of script, address actual problems?  The debt and the deficit are supposedly the most important issue for people after jobs, did you honestly see a way out of that death spiral under the leadership of either of these mooks?  Despite all of the moderators efforts it should be clear that there is not a dimes worth of difference between these two - Big Government is their solution to all problems.  Having a real contrast on stage would at least shake the foundations a bit, force an actual serious conversation of serious issues for once.  Letting these two and their surrogates blather on unchallenged about Big Bird only reinforces the notion that these people are the crazy and naïve ones unfit to govern.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Delusional Appeals from Breitbart and the Conservatives:

Breitbart’s  Kurt Schlichter has spent the weekend lecturing libertarians (here & here), informing them that the only real choice they have to save the Republic is to suck it up and vote for Romney.  He acknowledges that Romney is a terrible candidate, and that libertarians and Ron Paul supporters have been mistreated by the GOP.  He wants libertarians to put on their big-boy pants, and as he says “paste on a fake smile, high five the winner, and go to work” because no matter what is thought about Romney he is so much better than collectivist, socialist Obama.  He continues to lecture Libertarians across both of these pieces that if we ever hope to have any actual influence on policy it must come from the GOP, and our strategy should not be “alienating your potential converts”.  Reading both of these pieces illustrates the issues perfectly, and the main issue is that Conservatives like this author are tone-deaf and delusional.

Mr. Schlichter tells libertarians that they have no home, no support and no future with Democrats.  This much I agree with, Democrats, as presently aligned, seem to turn to government as the first, best solution, and the very existence of libertarian ideology seems to annoy them.  He says that “When freedom becomes inconvenient, Democrats drop it like it’s hot” and I do not disagree with that statement.  Here is the rub though; in terms of a room under the supposed “Big Tent” of the GOP how big is the space for libertarians?  He speaks about converting people to the cause.  Who exactly are we converting?  Him?  He spends the entirety  of both articles demeaning libertarian ideas, specifically calling them naïve.  Are we converting Rick Santorum or Todd Akin?  The Social Conservative are just as hostile to libertarians as Democrats.  The Neo-Cons, are they on the convert list?  Is John McCain ready to stop bombing people into loving democracy yet?  What about the Establishment GOP, the corporatists and the lobbyist who exists off of government largesse? Are any of these groups ready to give up any of their power, their control over people, industries and billions of dollars so as to institute a limited constitutional government?  If libertarians are to suck it up and line up with the team here, at what point will the team give up something to show their willingness to compromise for the greater good?  The answer to that question is pretty much never.  There is no future in ‘converting’ So-Cons, Neo-Cons or Corporatists, that is because they need just as big and powerful government as the Democrats in order to accomplish their objectives.  What Schlichter really hopes is that libertarians come into the tent, sit in the corner, and eventually convert to their thinking.  Our object should be to show people, the independents and unaligned, that there is a third option out there, and that hopefully he and his ilk are on the slow train to extinction.

When you read these pieces you see statements like “The drug war is another difference of opinion, though one the libertarians would have a hearing on in the GOP as their influence grows”.  When exactly do we think that would be?  Will a president Romney advocate for that at any point if given eight years?  Schlichter goes on to make a snarky bong reference, which only illustrates how incredibly out of step he is.  Standing against the Drug War is not about wishing the MAN wouldn’t harsh your buzz, it is about limited, constitutional government, and that the mainstream GOP and conservatives do not realize or acknowledge that is the reason libertarians should not get under the tent with them.  Prohibition can not and will not work.  We waste a ridiculous amount of resources on the effort, and it distorts everything our government does.  Prisons, courts and probation departments are inundated with drug related crime.  This is a drain on Federal and State resources.  We hear about how States are cutting services to the bone, but how many teachers could be saved by removing a prison’s worth of drug offenders from the budget?  You never hear that angle from these ‘limited government’ conservatives, because drugs are bad and they insist that you don’t take them.  He also mentions foreign policy and the PATRIOT Act as examples of the naiveté of libertarians, that if those silly issues are why you won’t support Romney it is misguided yet understandable, once again being as condescending as possible.

We are told that there have been missteps, that libertarians, their candidates and ideals were not treated as well as they could have been.  He tells us that “The Romney-Ryan camp needs to do its part too; they need to reaffirm their commitment to Constitutional liberty. Freedom needs to be part of the conversation, not just Obama’s appalling record. While they can’t undo the gratuitous insults at the convention, they can make their case to the possibly decisive libertarians.”  So what is that discussion going to involve?  There seems to be a general agreement that there will be no discussion of changing the drug war, the PATRIOT Act, interventionist foreign policy, undeclared drone-war all over the globe…so what exactly will we be talking about?  If Republicans will continue to use the government to lock up people for their intoxication choices, spy on them and their neighbors to keep them safe, bomb and kill bad guys without congressional approval while invariably killing innocents in the process creating a whole new generation of hate-filled enemies where is the ‘commitment to Constitutional liberty’?  What is the form?  Please tell us, because we are all ears.

Obama is terrible, we have heard that over and over again, but what is Romney going to do?  There is no difference on most every issue.  Obama sucks on the constitution, it is undeniable, but Romney has stated time and again he will be just as terrible, just terrible in ways Conservatives might find more palatable.  Schlichter does not want a real discussion about the actual issues libertarians have with the GOP and conservatives, because they are for the most part irreconcilable.  Bong jokes are just super, but how about some real questions and answers.  How about $16 Trillion in debt, can we have a discussion about that?  Obama has no desire to change that course.  What then is the Romney/GOP plan there?  We know he will increase the Defense budget, because we need to be scared of everything and everybody.  We know he will pander to the elderly, telling them that no one will ever touch their entitlements.  What will he do to address the debt then?  If there is no discussion or movement on Constitutional liberty, and there is no plan to reduce the actual drivers of the deficit and debt (defense and entitlements) then libertarians need to be on board with team GOP for…?  Libertarians need to stop being conned into thinking the GOP is going to morph into a party that believes in limited government and fiscal responsibility.  Working from the inside in a ‘long ball’ strategy is only going to get us further mired in debt and regulation with less liberty and rights.  The TEA Party should see and understand that at this point.  They went to Washington to fix the spending problems.  Their own party turned against them, and became part of the national chorus painting the people who wanted to keep us from flying full speed off a spending cliff as the immature nut jobs.  And after only two years most of those people have fallen in line and signed on with the big-spending program.

Wouldn't it be better to have people committed to actual liberty and fiscal responsibility in office, a group not beholden to the machine.  Wouldn't be nice if the TEA Party had another option to caucus with in the Congress and a president interested in stopping the country from imploding under the weight of its own debt?  Is it a likely scenario this time around?  Unfortunately no, but wouldn’t it be better to show the country in a loud and proud fashion that there is another option, another path we could be taking?  If the GOP had a desire to incorporate libertarians it was easy to do, show the SLIGHTEST indication that you were willing to practice anything you preach.  Libertarians were never really welcome, and never will be for that matter.  Anyone who thinks Mitt Romney, John McCain, Jim DeMint, and Rick Santorum are the future of this country is delusional.  Thankfully it only took two years for many people to realize that Obama was not selling anything we had not tried before, and maybe after this election, regardless of the outcome, more people will sign on to the idea that government needs to do and spend less.  Instead of trying to incrementally change the GOP from the inside, lets show the independents who gave up on the craptastic two-party dichotomy that there is another option, and then maybe other Republicans and Democrats, people who sit on the sidelines hoping their party would do something constructive, will also see another direction is available as well.  This way instead of resigning ourselves to being part of a ‘Big-Tent’ we can commit ourselves to taking action to help our nation when necessary to save the Republic and our constitution when the need arises.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Johnson vs. ‘Republicans(?)’

Over on Breitbart’s Big Government site there is a small piece extolling republicans not to consider voting for Gary Johnson.  It starts off ridiculously and only gets worse.  In the lead paragraph we have the author cautioning that as a libertarian “Johnson tends to see things in terms of black and white, and nuances are lost on him”.  Was there some multi-faceted, deeply nuanced and inclusive points of view on display in the Republican National Convention that I missed?  From this asinine starting position the intrepid defender of republican virtue lists out some of Johnson’s positions in an effort to convince ’republicans’ that the LP candidate is far too crazy and naïve to garner their support.  Let’s try and deal with as many of these as possible before our heads explode from the inanity:

  1. Torture: Gary Johnson is against torturing terrorists suspects, so you true-to-principles republicans should not support him.  That seems like a winning slogan doesn't it?: ‘BRING BACK WATERBOARDING, NOW!’  This individual paints all republicans, the supposedly re-branded party of limited government and constitutional protections and rights, as desiring to bring back all of the worst excesses of the War on Terror, making blanket statements about how these techniques kept us safe.  Is this Romney’s position?  Those people who are saying the liberty movement needs to line up behind Romney, are they selling this plank?  I have never understood this total disconnect in conservative circles between advocating limiting government on the one hand, while with the other entrusting government with the ultimate exercise of power: decide without trial a person is guilty of an offense and then subject them to torture to garner information, capturing more individuals to subject to the same in a continuous loop.  The people who continue to turn a blind eye to what this program was, who to this day are willing to advocate letting government make a decision like this need to reexamine their priorities.  Instead of listening to sunshine, blowhard pantywaists like Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly  they need to watch someone with backbone subject themselves to waterboarding (here) and ask themselves this question: what if they (they being the somewhat incompetent CIA or Military) have an innocent person on that table?  That is the risk you run when you blithely trade away limits on power in order for you to feel safe.  If that is the unquestionable republican philosophy now, let us all hope people of integrity forego their party affiliation and vote with their conscience.
  2. Military: The next few bullets deal with military spending and the constant and perpetual war and build-up for war against all present and future enemies.  Johnson wants to cut military spending by 43%.  It is quite true, and it is also true that cutting it by that much would mean we still spend more than all comers.  Who are we preparing to fight with this military?  We are $16 Trillion in debt and rising every minute, and we can not begin to address that if we do not address military spending.  We certainly will never dig ourselves out of this hole if we increase defense spending as Romney’s plan advocates.  Then there are the wars and the enemies we face, and Johnson’s answers about our present conflicts are supposed to disqualify him from true republican voter consideration.  He opposed the war in Iraq.  Is there anyone at this point who thinks that the war in Iraq was just the greatest thing we could have done, the best use of men, material and capital to keep America safe?  Al Qaeda has lost their stronghold in Afghanistan, mission accomplished.  Did the remnants of that organization and the Taliban escape to Pakistan?  Yes, yes they did, and because we spent so much time and effort in Iraq they were able to reassert themselves in Afghanistan.  But just because Al Qaeda is in Pakistan does that mean we perpetually occupy Afghanistan?  Do we meticulously place 50 or so infantry divisions along every square inch of the border to insure no bad guys ever cross the border?  If it is our intent to continue to bomb Pakistan with drones we can do that from Idaho, we need no presence in Afghanistan.  The place is the armpit of the Eastern Hemisphere, and 11 years, billions of dollars and thousands of lives has not changed that.  If we spend another decade, another trillion and thousands more dead you know what we would have?  The armpit of the Eastern Hemisphere with a nicer airport and public buildings.  Changing that country will not come about through military occupation, and we need to start realizing that.  As to Iran, we are to avoid Johnson because he does not acknowledge the existential threat they pose to the American way of life.  He cherry picks a quote so that Johnson says he will make sure Israel does not attack Iran.  What he says is that so long as Iran is not an immediate military threat he would try and keep Israel from attacking them, you would assume in order to keep the region from further destabilizing.  There is a problem here?  If they are not a threat, do not attack, and there is no clear consensus on how much of a threat they or their nuclear program poses.  If they become a threat?  For me personally, after 40 years of hearing how absolutely amazing the Israeli military is, why not let them do it?  Lest anyone forget, Israel has nukes, and on top of that every other country in the region does not want to see Iran have nuclear weapons.  Why not let Israel talk it out with the Saudis, Jordan, Yemen and all the other countries that secretly wish they would bomb Iran, come out and publicly work together towards that goal.  And before anyone gets all worked up about the size and power of the Iranian military, please remember that it a theocratic dictatorship whose command ranks are not necessarily filled with competent leaders and strategists, but sycophants for the regime, hence why armies like that historically perform so poorly.  As to the existential threat that China poses; the truly naïve position is to not acknowledge how blithering idiotic it is to advocate borrowing more money from China to pay for a military to combat a supposed future land/sea war threat from China.
  3. The Gays!: We can skip over the issue of the Occupy movement and get tot the truly scary part - THE GAYS MIGHT GET TO CALL THEMSELVES MARRIED!!!!!!  Reject Johnson dear republicans, for the Gays might jump out of the closet and threaten your traditional marriage with their fondue, bright colors and general fabulousness.  It is true that this is such an important issue to republicans that it is in the platform.  It is also true that there are many republican strategists, people who examine the long haul and can read the writing on the wall, know they are on the eventual losing side of this issue.  Why?  Because it is a non-issue.  You don’t like gay marriage?  Don’t have one.  Your religion defines marriage a certain way?  Jews can’t eat bacon, they don’t try and outlaw it for everyone.  You find gay people icky and unnatural?  Well, unfortunately all I have to say is T.S. Elliot, you don’t get to wield the power of the state or enshrine within the constitution a legal distinction between how people are treated because you don’t find their lifestyle choices palatable.  If this is your most important issue, the thing that defines your political core, then no, Johnson is not for you.  If on the other hand you are a republican who is sick and tired of the ‘black and white’ way in which the social conservatives dictate the direction of the party without any ‘nuance’ then maybe it is time for you to step outside of your comfort zone.

The long and the short of the article is that Johnson is the 2012 Ross Perot who just does not live in the real world; a world where we can ignore and even increase a $16 Trillion debt with increased military spending, perpetually occupying and bombing large swaths of world based on target information gleaned from people screaming for mercy in some dank dungeon, all while psyching ourselves up for WWIII with the Chinese.  If that is the standard M1A1 republican worldview, then  Johnson really is not for you.  If you have a slightly less insane and delusional worldview, then maybe exercising some critical thinking and decision making skills can show you that this idea of voting for the lesser of two evils means you are still voting for an evil.  If you were to take a test (here) that showed you a different candidate supported more of your positions overall then your ‘party affiliation’ dictated why wouldn’t you vote for them?  The truly crazy and naïve thing to do is to turn yourself over completely and unquestionably to one party, even when they stop speaking to or for you, instead of voting with your conscience.  Wouldn’t you rather, just this once, vote for something, rather than just against something?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Akin, Fusionism and Wasting Your Vote

In the general and deserved explosion over Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment, I am starting to believe that people are giving him too much of a pass for simply having said a ‘stupid’ thing.  There seems to be a larger undercurrent to his politics within this statement.  If one delves into what Akin is saying here it  also leads to a need to once again question this larger ‘fusionism’ question in which libertarians and people in the liberty movement should compromise more in order to have a seat at the table with the Republicans.
So, to the first issue of ‘legitimate rape’:  If it embeds properly below you should watch the entire abortion segment from the 1:57 mark.

In this entire piece we see the general stream of consciousness from which the 30 seconds of ‘legitimate rape’ comment comes from.  Now, to my mind, what we see here is not an idiotic ‘wrong word’ error, this is a full narrative.  In this bit it is acknowledged that he is staunchly pro-life.  The interviewer asks after exceptions, some situation in which a woman would be allowed control over her uterus.  We start with ‘life of the mother’.  In his little explanation he seems to qualify the idea that a woman could have an abortion to save her own life, if there was no chance for the baby to survive.  This is certainly generous of Mr. Akin, IF your life is in danger AND the life of the baby is untenable, then the state may allow for you to save your own life.  The next part, which so many people have conflated to mean, that if you got pregnant it wasn’t really a rape, because somehow or other your body knows rape from sex and would not allow for conception (I would see the underlying context being that if you got pregnant you must have liked it ergo not rape).  What I see here is something slightly different, yet just as offensive.  There is an unspoken part of what he is saying, in which he seems to be answering the question in a larger, pre-constructed narrative.  To (fairly on unfairly) put words in his mouth, what I believe him to be saying is this:

  • As an article of faith (more on this below) I believe that life begins at conception and that all abortion should be outlawed by the state
  • Some people will ask ‘what about a life of the mother exception’ so to placate those somewhat reasonable questions we will allow for this scenario.
  • People will then ask after rape and incest as they always do.  Should a woman have to carry a baby to term that is a product of this most horrible of personal violations?
  • In his perfect world abortion would be completely illegal, but people would complain about ‘why no exception for terrible events like rape?’.  But if we had a ‘rape’ exception wouldn't a woman who wanted an abortion (some feminist probably) just claim to have been raped?  Ok, sure that might happen, but what about an actual LEGITIMATE rape?  What then?

This is where, I believe, his moronic diatribe about rape not resulting in pregnancy picks up from.  He and those like him want to outlaw abortion because they think it a sin. It seems cold and heartless, even from a religious perspective, to force a woman to carry a rape induced pregnancy to term.  Imagine further if you happen not to hold this religious conviction that the moment sperm touches egg that a soul is beamed into the zygote from heaven, it is going to be extremely difficult to get that person on board with this plan.  Overly harsh or critical on my part?  Today in Religion Dispatches there is a great article by Sarah Posner that discusses Akin’s brand of abortion activism (here).  The most telling part of that article I think is where the Presbyterian Church in America (Akin’s church) citing a position paper by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church stance on rape induced abortions:
But acknowledging that indeed such pregnancies do take place, the OPC asked, “should she seek an abortion? We must reply in the negative. We are here weighing the shame, pain, and inconvenience of the mother against the life of her child, and we have no choice but to decide in favor of the latter. The unborn child must not be put to death for the sin of a parent. A Christian must indeed sympathize with the plight of a woman in such a situation, and must be prepared to give counsel, prayer and other help. In spite of her suffering, she should be helped to see from God’s Word what a privilege it is to bring a child into the world, and how the child, even from such an origin, may be one of God’s elect—a blessing to God’s church and to the world.”
Nothing in that statement has anything to do with the secular governance of the United States or the individual state governments, yet you assume by everything that Akin has said and done, this would be his preferred position.  This should be a huge problem for anyone in the liberty movement, because regardless of your own personal religious convictions, people who claim to be aligned with liberty should believe in liberty of conscience.  If the starting point for a policy is a religious notion of how a Christian God watches over American government policy, and gets annoyed if we do not follow biblical principles in our laws and policies, then liberty people need to call them out as theocrats and stand athwart of whatever agenda they are proposing.

In the larger fusionism discussion I see people like Akin and similar elements within the Republican party as precluding the grand alliance between libertarians, the liberty movement and Republicans.  Some libertarians are pro-life, and in my own philosophical journey I have read what many pro-life libertarians have had to write on the subject.  In the end, even those that claim to use a non-religious ‘life at conception’ argument do not convince me.  I am also not an evictionist, purge the trespasser anytime you see fit either.  I am more in the “I am not a woman, but if I was I would want unquestioned dominion over my body when it comes to first trimester pregnancy, and we can have a reasoned, scientifically based discussion of issues after that” camp.  I see abortion as none of my damn business, and for those libertarians, even pro-life ones, who preach fusionism, what do you say about the Akin’s of the party?  The man starts from a theocratic position, that God watches over America and how it acts, and our laws should reflect his wishes.  How can liberty people sign on to get in the boat with this man, along with the Santorums and so many others?  Pro-life?  How about pro-liberty first?  People keep saying social issues should be on the back burner this election, but it is not wise to ignore things like this.  Even if the more libertarian Republicans are able to win this time around, what then?  Will they be allowed into the decision making?  The GOP will be voting on a plank involving abortion at the convention this week, and according to CNN the draft reads:
"Faithful to the 'self-evident' truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,…We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."
Does this mean you cannot be a pro-life Republican?  If you are a liberty-minded Republican, can you vote against this amendment when it comes up in congress and keep your committee slots?  What is going to be the litmus test for being in the Republican tent?  Given the language of that plank statement, the enshrining in the constitution the idea that a woman needs to cede her personal autonomy to the state, I don’t really understand how it is they expect women to vote for them, much less advocates of liberty.

In this fusionism, small ball, change from the inside discussion, I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel my compatriots are seeing.  What issues do we gain on?  ‘Gotta beat Obama’ only carries if the other option actually appeals to you.  Given the Romney/Ryan insistence on pandering to Medicare voters, lack of a plan to cut anything, and desire to increase defense spending, I would really like to know what the point is.  My choice between Romney and Obama is what exactly?  They are both terrible on war, drugs, privacy, security theater, spending, cronyism and a raft of other issues; not a dimes worth of difference.  Throw in the Republican positions on Gays, immigrants and this desire to insert the constitution into every woman’s uterus, and…where is the liberty corner of this tent exactly?  What I would really like to see is someone stick a microphone in Romney’s face and ask him where he stands on waterboarding terrorists, and then ask the libertarians who we should be supporting.

In the end it isn’t really about how many of our concerns can be addressed within the Republican party, but how many depredations we suffer, how many principles we compromise in order to have a minor cheerleading role in the ‘big tent’ - over there in that dark corner by the bathroom, come out when we need a vote - before we decide to go inhabit our own tent, as I have said many times before, throw sand in the gears and break the machine, before the machine breaks all of us.  What is truly unfortunate in the whole Akin thing is that the LP of Missouri has a candidate, a possible third choice as it were between statist big government McCaskill and theocrat Akin, that as of right now, that people can’t learn anything about.  Let's see if they step up and change that given the tremendous opportunity they have presented.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Future is Yours to Ignore

One of the reasons I have not been able to post recently is the birth of my third son.  As I was perusing the internet while bouncing him in his chair yesterday I saw a Twitter post from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee stating they had new bumper stickers.  The sticker reads: Save Medicare, Vote Democrat (to which I replied).  There you go, a naked pander.  No substance, no notion or framing of the problem, which is monumental, just a simple little “vote for us so you can keep getting yours”.

As I lay in bed last night I am trying to expand that line of reasoning, how do I explain this to my children down the road (they are all under six at the moment).  When they are old enough to understand the concept of the budget, on spending more than you bring in, and how so much of what is spent is on entitlements, on moving ever closer to insolvency I am supposed to say what exactly?  The Obama/Elizabeth Warren line seems to dictate I say something along the lines of:

Well boys, you see promises were made by people who died well before I was born. The people who made those promises underestimated the enormity of the task, the burden it would place, and the reality and scope of the issue, but that is unimportant. What is important is that you step up and meet that obligation, fulfill that promise. Don’t question it, don’t ask after the sustainability, the efficacy or utility. Don’t wonder if there is a better way to do things, don’t imagine that you are not bound by the past and that your generation can change the system. No, no, no, do none of those things, we have a Social Contract and this is the way things are done. 

Seem reasonable?  I love my parents, really and truly, but if push comes to shove in a choice between my kids and my parents, my parents are screwed.  And knowing my parents like I do, they wouldn’t even let it come to that.  They would step up and make the right choice.  My children have the right to change the system if need be, consent of the governed as it were.  We today, and they in the future, have the right to adjust course.  If we are about to crash head long into a wall we are allowed to turn the wheel.  To deny that opportunity is by definition tyranny.  Simply saying “Save Medicare” does nothing to solve any problems, it is a simplistic, selfish and moronic proposition.

This of course is not a reason to jump on the Romney train.  Pander is starting to become his middle name.  He is using the bloated, inefficient, wasteful and corrupt Medicare program as a campaign tool as well.  “Obama cut Medicare!” as if that was in and of itself an evil.  The old people vote though, so why not whip them up.  He of course extends his panders to whip up other bits of the base.  When the real issues that face this country involve spending trillions of dollars we do not have on top of trillions we have already thrown away, he advocates spending even more on defense, pegged to GDP, because you can never be to safe.  When economics and age baiting become to hard he can also be sure to bring up important issues like protecting us all from the gays and their desire to destroy marriage as we know it.  There is no maturity or seriousness coming out of either of these campaigns, and it is very disheartening.

When I see people in the liberty movement continue to push this fusionism issue with the Republicans, this lesser of two evils, don’t throw away your vote, we have to get Obama out mentality, I just shake my head.  Where is the real difference?  This whole “work from the inside’ is just so laughable.  Wait till 2016, Rand Paul might run, as if that were somehow the saving grace.  Is it about the men or the principles?  Can real change be incrementally secured?  If push come to shove between getting Santorums of the party in line versus the Paulites, how do you really think it is going to play out?  Can you change the system before it changes you is the big question here.  These two parties are going to spend a billion dollars to secure the halls of power, because the interest involved all gain something from the ‘system’ as presently constructed.  I don’t see rewarding either side a victory and begging for crumbs from the table as being the best way to advance a liberty agenda, for there is no gain for the 'system' in it.  I would rather throw sand in the gears, get people outside of there comfort zone, and say for once ‘vote your conscience’.  To say there is no hope in that is to say that the people can not change the system, even incrementally.  I often imagine Whig politicians making the same arguments we hear today back in 1852: "Its a two-party system".  When is the last time you voted Whig?  There will be nothing done this year prior to the election, because keeping up the “the other side is a bunch of intractable ideologues” fiction motivates the base.  When the election is over we can be sure that they will rally around the idea that cutting the budget through sequestration would be terrible, and everyone will keep their goodies.  Yet saying ‘to hell with this’ and casting a vote outside of the system is somehow crazy and naïve.  We have been hearing that for decades now, and we will continue to hear it, because it is what is needed to keep the status quo.  It will be up to us to stop listening, or our children can suffer the consequences.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rand, Rick, Romney and the Republicans, What is a Libertarian to Think?

So it seems I should expand on last weeks lambasting of Senator Rand Paul for his coming out to support Mitt Romney.  There was some very valid criticism of my work, and all over the internet over the issue.  This ranges from Rand is not his father, Rand has to be a team player to ramp up his 2016 shot, or Rand is playing the game on a whole different level, changing the GOP from the inside.  I went so far as to make a comment to my post (mirrored to the reddit comments) over what I was trying to express.  In that comment I repeated the idea that if you were not going to go off the reservation and support the candidate that encompasses well more than half of what you believe and stand for and is still running for president, than the principled thing to do was keep your mouth shut, not endorse anyone.  I went on to ask exactly what are the establishment Republicans in general, and Mitt Romney specifically willing to budge on to try and encompass and incorporate the liberty movement and the libertarian minded.  Rand says he had a nice little chat with Mitt, and he sees some common ground.  My point was that if that was the case, then the proper way to come out for Mitt would have been a joint press release or press conference where Mitt specifically said ANYTHING that would show he was going to try and move the Republican party towards some measure of supporting limited, constitutional government that exercised some fiscal responsibility.  What is the policy area, what is the crumb ready to fall off the table that liberty people could say: “because Rand has stepped in here I will now hold my nose and vote Mitt because I know that in the next four years we will see movement on……?”  Anyone who needs to be dissuaded from this pie-in-the-sky notion of bringing about change from inside only needed to watch the news this weekend.

Rick Santorum, whom I loathe on a cellular level (here, here and here) did his turn on the Sunday shows, telling us how he would be willing to take the VP call.  If that was not a scary enough thought, we hear about what he is going to be doing at the convention.  For months everyone has been talking about the Ron Paul campaign’s ‘long ball’ strategy, taking over state delegations, and bringing about some real change, or at least a significant brawl, at the convention.  Mr. I Hate Libertarians is saying that he is going to the convention and throwing his delegate weight around to make sure that the Paulites can not disrupt the wonderful conservative vision that is the 2012 Republican platform and plank.  Wonderful little nuggets about protecting marriage from the gays and buying hundreds of new super ships, none of that should be changed or modified according to this jack-hole theocrat.  Libertarians take a great deal of flack, they are considered crazy or naïve because they can’t compromise, ideological rigidity should keep them out of the seats of power.  I personally understand the concept of needing to compromise in order to govern, but where is the compromise in Santorum’s world.  He is going to the convention with the intent of denying Ron Paul supporters any voice in policy or plank construction.  Rand says that he spoke with Mitt and he sees some common ground with him.  Now, if this is not a simple naked pander by Rand to gain for himself (which is fine for him, but don’t try and sell me a line about him being a super principled warrior for liberty bringing down the system from the inside) then let us see how well the establishment Republicans understand the concept of compromise.  Rand says there is something there, let Mitt prove it to everyone.  How about a plank position, something along the line of:
The Republican Party is committed to the concept of limited government enshrined by our founders in the constitution.  To that end this party and its presidential nominee are committed to taking no offensive or preemptive military action against any nation without a rigorous, open debate in congress and a formal declaration of war. 
Compromise.  Paulites want no part of interventionist foreign policy, most are strict adherents to non-aggression in general.  A plank like this would annoy them to no end, but in an actual, open dialogue you could say this is a limiting principle that has been sorely lacking within our government and its overuse of executive power.  Rand said in the Hannity appearance that he and Romney talked about this very issue.  Rand could stand up and say “look here what we can accomplish by working together in the big tent!” and try and deliver his father’s most ardent supporters into the fold for 2012.  We keep hearing that four more years of Obama would be worse than Mitt, but prove it, show some movement towards accepting the liberty folks into the fold.  Can anyone actually imagine Mitt coming out to support the above statement?  A simple, conservative reading of the constitution and how it limit’s the ultimate power of state, dragging the populace into war.  Could Mitt say those words?  Hell, forget Mitt for a moment, can you imagine the apoplexy Santorum would be thrown into if this plank was even forwarded in a committee much less to the convention floor?  The Republican establishment would not sign on to this.  National Review and the American Spectator would have any Republican’s head on a pike for even mentioning such a silly idea that the President can’t bomb whomever he wants whenever he wants.  The ultimate sacrilege!  This would be worse than acknowledging gays are American citizens too.  And what I am talking about here is the most mundane of compromises, one side saying on occasion this country will kill people when the cause is openly debated, considered and voted upon, and the other says this country cannot kill people indiscriminately unless the cause is openly debated, considered and voted upon.  Really not that controversial and what the constitution demands.  And the Santorums of the party would make sure even this mild compromise would be a fight to the death, the Goldwater/Paulite/Libertarian factions forever purged from the rolls.

So, if we are having the discussion about changing hearts and minds, correcting the course this country is on, you have to start with the Santorum, Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann wing of the Republican Party, which is almost the whole party.  There are millions of Paul supporters who are energized about changing our country, and the afore mentioned folks are 100% committed to keeping them from doing just that.  Those of you who think Rand is making a play to tear it down and reform the Republicans from the inside need to start there.  Do we just wait for all of them to grow old and die?  Those who think this convention free-for-all will bring about a dynamic change need to explain how Santorum and his ilk are going to be outmaneuvered.  Those of you with the long ball strategy need to give a time frame.  By the time this convention comes around I will have three sons under age 5, will we see a Republican party that believes in limited constitutional government by the time they can vote?  Big tent nice play, slowly moving towards a goal is a reasonable strategy, but we would be truly naïve to believe that that Mitt Romney is the transitional form in that evolution.  In a competition between Rand Paul and Rick Santorum for VP pick (which will never happen) either amongst Romney’s handlers or on the convention floor, who wins?  You know the answer.  Romney would rather alienate the entire liberty movement, wherever it resides, over alienating the Bomb Iran crowd or the Fence of the Homos set and risk losing a Red State.  That is what annoyed me so much about the Rand endorsement.  The whole “laying the groundwork for 2016” thing only works if Romney gets his clock cleaned, and in such a way that the metrics say Rand draws in more diverse votes than he pushes away established demographics.  In terms of holding the liberty movement for that long you have to answer this whole “team player” horseshit.  By this logic it means that Rand would have openly and actively supported Santorum if he had won the nomination, and if you are a libertarian we know Ricky would sooner stab you in the eye with a shrimp fork than ask for your vote.

Principled people take a stand even when it is tough, politicians make excuses.  I hold out no hope for changing the Republican or Democratic parties.  They will be spending ONE BILLION DOLLARS between them just to capture the presidency, and not because they have some highly principled plan to pull this country out of its fiscal tailspin, but because seriously entrenched interests need servicing.  Anyone who has read my Gary Johnson piece will be familiar with my line “changing the color of the horses does not mean the merry-go-round is actually going to get anywhere” and I will stick with that philosophy.  The liberty movement and the Paulites should not be scrounging for crumbs, shoehorning themselves in the big tent, or obediently waiting for a reward for their loyal support, which will never amount to any more than a pat on the head by the Romney types.  For those who say it is crazy to step out of our two-party dynamic, ask them if they are voting Federalist, Democratic-Republican or Whig this time around.  Things can and should  change on occasion, and a little chaos to shake up the complacency of the Elephant/Donkey divide would not be that bad right about now.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Rand Paul, a Politician Plain and Simple

Rand Paul came out last night on the Sean Hannity program to endorse Mitt Romney for President.  Examine that sentence.  Start with appearing on the Sean Hannity program; the biggest asshat of a neo-con, statist double-speak douche ever to be on television.  The man who would bomb all the scary Islamo-fascists everywhere, any that are missed can be locked up and water boarded, while sharing cells with pot smokers and anyone who would deny America’s deeply Christian National heritage. The “true conservative values” man Hannity starts out by joking about how Ron Paul won’t appear on the show anymore, anyone want to venture a guess as to why that is?  What possible reason could there be for appearing on that show to do this?

In the appearance we get to see some of that steely resolve and dedication to constitutional principles that Rand has become famous for.  Somehow Mitt has convinced him that he is on board with an audit of the Fed?  Where is that exactly?  Romney has essentially toed the establishment line that the bailouts of Wall Street prevented a depression and blah, blah, blah…I’ve never seen anything Romney has ever said or done that indicates he would support this idea for a second.  Even if he did, why does Rand have to come out with it first?  Is there a quid pro quo on the horizon?  Will Romney make a statement about it, ever, or does that just sit out there?  Giving his campaign website a quick perusal shows no highlighted “audit in the Fed” tab anywhere.  Rand says that Romney is behind the REINS Act, which does seem to be the case.  Problem of course is that this act, while seeming to be some super-duper check on the Executive regulatory authority wouldn’t be needed if these clowns passed actual laws to begin with, instead of vague pieces of tripe to be filled in later.  Reading the thing it just seems like a way to stop environmental regulations while providing loopholes for “National Security”, of course, specifically exempts the Federal Reserve (see point one of your logic there Rand), and obviously is an unconstitutional legislative veto, because they strip the judiciary's ability to review.  We already know our nitwit legislators don’t read most of the drivel they pass to begin with, we now expect them to approach some complex regulatory issue with an open and informed opinion?  Seems like a way to protect the bacon, and given how many times Rand mentions Kentucky coal in this thing, that is obviously the intent.  Don’t like the overreach?  Make the case for eliminating the agency or passing a law that changes the power structure, not a mechanism for stopping the regulation of your pet campaign contributors.

Rand goes on to somehow justify this support by telling us that Mitt will respect the war-making dichotomy enshrined in the constitution.  Where exactly are we to see this in anything the Romney has ever said?  Is Rand saying that Mitt would never consider bombing Iran’s nuclear program sites without a formal declaration of war by the U.S. Congress?  That would be the way it is supposed to be.  Where is Mitt’s statement to that effect?  Mitt supports limiting the Executive’s war making ability?  Can I get a press release?  Public statement?  The only difference that Mitt has tried to portray between himself and Captain Drone Killer Obama is that he would bomb more people in more places with more troops all while spending a locked in amount of GDP on defense, forever!  $600 billion is not enough for Generalissimo Mitt; more planes, bigger more expensive ships, even more boots on the ground.  No notion anywhere of something reasonable and easy to justify, like not spending money on protecting the British, Germans or Japanese from non-existent threats (I don’t count starving North Korean conscripts or Godzilla as an existential threat requiring air bases).  Patrolling the commons, especially with what he is intimating will be thousands of ships, will keep the peace.  But he will make sure to ask Congress for permission before using those assets to blow something up?  Where is the limiting principle?  How about something simple, near and dear to every liberty minded individual, Senator Paul’s claim to fame, rolling back the national security state?  Where does Mitt stand on the PATRIOT Act?  NDAA?  Gitmo?  Someone, anywhere, have a sense of what Mitt thinks about these things?  Will the TSA be REINed in (please catch the pun if you will) with Mittens in the White House, or will everything still be terrorism under his watch?

There of course is huge speculation all over the place about what the real meaning of this endorsement means.  Rand or Ron as VP?  I’d bet three toes on my left foot and a testicle that is not in the offing.  Executive office for either or both?  Much more likely, but what short term position could justify this?  Where would they be placed, needing of course Senate approval, that they would be allowed to actually affect policy in a way that seems to be an anathema to the core principles (if there are any) of a Romney administration?  If this is not a naked pander in an effort to get Ron Paul's supporters to vote for Romney then what could it be?  Seems to be a team player supporting the team, getting something in return (unregulated coal mining) the way any regular old hack politician would do.  If the intent was to draw support for Romney from the Paulites (of which I am not one, I freely admit) then there needs to be a really big push on Romney to say anything that shows he believes something outside the basic M1A1 Republican plank of: stuff the gays back in the closet, deport all the local brown folk, and bomb the foreign brown folk all while loving stroking the bible.

Rand has shown a real rhetorical flourish on the floor of the Senate for standing up for liberty, talking a real good game.  The issue I have always had with his father was the “too-cute by half” practice of larding up bills with as much bacon as they could bear and then voting against the bill, you know, on principle.  Principles, if they are to mean anything, need to be adhered to when it is tough, and unexpected.  Otherwise they are props, platitudes used by politicians to gain advantage and quickly forgotten until needed again.  There is not a damn bit of difference, in terms of liberty, fiscal responsibility, and the concept of limited constitutional government between Romney and Obama.  This idea that Romney is the lesser of two evils is crap shoveled by people like Hannity, not a reality.  The Republican party is an amalgam of rent-seeking defense contractors and bible thumping Christian Nationalists that talk a poor game about “limited government” in an effort to keep the libertarian minded on the reservation, patting them on the head saying “don’t worry your naïve little head, just vote for us and we will do something, someday, to maybe, possibly down the road placate your delicate sensibilities”.  It’s crap, always has been and always will be.  Santorum, Gingrich Romney and the rest prove that.  If there is to be a real movement towards liberty then the Republican party needs to step up and say how they are going to change the way they have governed for over a decade, or the liberty minded need to abandon them once and for all.  Compromise is important for governing, but compromise entails both sides moving towards a mutually acceptable goal, and the establishment Republicans have no interest in actually limiting the size and scope of the giant ATM machine that is the Federal government.  I understand if Rand didn’t want to step off the reservation with an endorsement outside of the Republican party, and lose his key to the Republican washroom in the Senate, that makes sense.  Real principles though would have had him keep his mouth shut in this case.  As a Southerner he should be familiar with the old saying “don’t piss down my leg and tell me its raining”.  Politicians do that, and what he did last night was a perfect example of that adage played out for all to see.

UPDATE: Expanding the thought in the next piece here

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Well Said Mr Johnson

As political Ads go this one kind of knocks it out of the park.  What real choice is their come this November?  Vote Team Blue and go broke making sure that no one ever even considers entitlement reform, or vote Team Red and go broke by making sure we lock defense spending in at 4% of GDP.  I would rather have a real discussion about the future of this country and what we need to do to reclaim our economy and our principles.  And like the ad says, if we end up not liking it we can always go back to borrowing trillions in order to drop bombs, lock up drug users, bailout the politically well connected and pass out checks and services in order to garner votes.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Founding Fathers: Libertarian?

For the last few weeks I have been working on a different project that had me reading a great deal of period newspapers from the founding era of the U.S. What struck me about what I was reading, aside from the things dealing with the specific topic, was how much the people of the day cherished and defended their new freedom, regardless of where they fell on the political spectrum. In reading a newspaper from June of 1789, I was treated to the text of the very first proposals for amendments to the constitution. What was wonderful about this was that it shows so clearly and succinctly what the founders intended for this Republic, and it should show to anyone that they would be really disgusted with what our government, at all levels has become.

Disagree? Read through a couple of these and decided for yourself:
The people shall not be deprived or abridged of the right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments, and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.

The people shall not be restrained from peaceably assembling and consulting for the common good; nor from applying to the legislature by petitions, or remonstrances for redress of their grievances.

The right of the people to keep & bear arms shall not be infringed,; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person of religious scruples of bearing arms, shall be obliged to render military service in person.

The rights of the people to be secured in their persons, their houses, their papers, and their property from all unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated by warrants issued without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation or not particularly describing the places to be searched, or the persons or things to be seized.

The exceptions here or elsewhere in the Constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people; or as to enlarge the powers delegated by the Constitution; but either as actual limitations of such powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution.

...that no state shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases.
Think about how things would be right now if these original amendments had gone through as proposed. Certainly would have cleared up a lot of confusion and the parsing of words and definitions. We can easily see how things got screwed up, because the text we are familiar with is all right there, just in different orders, and with a lot more description and declarative statements.

Really fascinating,  how about that complete constitutional incorporation on the States for freedom of religion, speech and trial by jury? And this was proposed and defended by Madison himself. Not really taught today.

Check out the far more robust and declarative statement of what would eventually become part of the Fourth Amendment. This would be a world that would never allow drones to fly over your backyard. Courts would pretty clearly side with you as opposed to the government over things like your cell phone being searched.

Imagine a world where the clauses did not get jumbled, and the government very clearly and succinctly said that you the individual, not a collective construct of the state government, had a right to keep and bear arms, and the militia part comes second.

This is a world that would never tolerate, even for a moment, an itinerant fascist like Mayor Bloomberg searching every person of color on his shitty islands to make sure they were being good.

There certainly would not be “free speech zones” at political conventions or a need for reporter shield laws in this world. NDAA, indefinite detention, waterboarding, none of it would have happened.

This is a world that would understand the idea of a “limited government” and the need to keep the government limited in its scope, size and power. In a word, it would be a far more libertarian Republic today.

Damn shame how things actually turned out.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gary Johnson, A Short Review:

I have written about Gary Johnson on this blog before (here and here) and I have always liked his message, and could never really understand why he did not gain more traction in the Republican nominating process, or with the electorate in general. Yesterday I took the opportunity to go and see (and briefly speak with) the governor, and I have to say, it makes even less sense to me now.

Speaking to a TEA Party audience in Worcester he very succinctly laid out the real problem facing the United States at this moment: we are borrowing 43 cents of every dollar we are spending. This situation is a drag on our economy and the future of our country, and it really is not that big of a mystery. We spend entirely too much money on a very large and intrusive government. Now, if you think that is just hunky dory, then you will probably be voting for Obama or Romney. Neither one of them is even slightly serious about doing anything about the actual problem.  The president has a gimmick he is running on: tax super-rich people, make them pay a fair share! There won’t be any cutting, there won’t be any reforming, and if the last three years are an indication there probably won’t be a budget passed, just more spending set to autopilot. Mitt Romney thinks we are not spending nearly enough on our military, even at $700 Billion per year. He will increase it while further cutting taxes and maybe cutting some program some where, but let's not get into any specifics. Mr. Johnson on the other hand talks about submitting a balanced budget in his first year encompassing massive cuts in the government and rolling back much of the state. He spoke of the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the Department of Education, HUD, the PATRIOT Act and a host of other things that would be cut or disbanded, enough to make enemies of nearly every constituency dependent on Big Government.  And of course that is the real hurdle to overcome; getting everyone to understand that the system itself is broken and needs real reform. This reform is going to have to change everyone’s perception of what this government can and should be doing and how far and deep its reach is going to be into our economy and our lives.

We have been raised to fear the notion of questioning the two-party dynamic. Of course part of the reason for this is that every time there has been a real challenge to that dynamic it has resulted in either the serious reform or death of one of the parties (Whigs, Republicans, Bull Moose, Ross Perot) and who would want to see that? If you believe that protecting and/or expanding the social safety net, increasing the regulatory reach of the federal government into more and more areas, and making sure the rich have a predetermined “fair” level of money confiscated from them, then you are going to vote Democrat. If the most important thing in your universe is making sure the Department of Defense keeps spending 5% or more of our GDP or that a wall is built on our Southern border or “traditional” marriage is protected by the Federal government, then you will be voting Republican. The larger plurality of the electorate that is now identifying itself as independent are the ones that need to do the soul searching about who they are going to support and why. In talking to TEA party people yesterday one of the things I heard after Johnson’s speech was the phrase “I agree with most (or a lot) of what he had to say”. My response to that was “of any of the other candidates is there one with which you have 100% agreement on everything they say?” If not then why wouldn't you  throw your support behind Johnson?  You have the ability to read what the man’s plan is, you can check out this “Fair Tax” idea that he supports (which I am researching myself right now) and then reasonably ask yourself “is this superior or inferior to anything that Clown A or Clown B is planning for us?”

Look at your computer, who makes it? How about your TV? The clothes you are wearing, the appliances in your kitchen, the cars you or your neighbors may drive - are you limited to only choice A or choice B? You find satisfaction in your personal life by selecting things that enrich your life from a variety of sources. Why is this fear of Italian style electoral chaos keeping us hemmed in with only an R or a D for all perpetuity?  We were born into this system, we did not choose it, why can't we break the mold?  If you look at it rationally you can see that the Republican and the Democratic candidates usually speak first and foremost about protecting and enriching their constituencies (labor or defense contractors), and the country, as a general concept, second. They are concerned most with maintaining the status quo.  Johnson on the other hand does not, he speaks of the country and the need to reform a very broken system, with everything on the table. If you are truly independent then a candidate’s label or “electability” should not be determining your decision, it should be based on the person's character and what they have to say.  I have said this before, and it bears repeating here: changing the color of the horses does not mean the merry-go-round is actually going to get anywhere. If change is what you are hoping for, you need to expand your horizons, and maybe jump off the ride come November. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Don’t Fear the Straw Man!

I woke up today to a really special treat in my local paper. Today’s syndicated editorial was this piece of absolute drivel from Kevin Horrigan. I am starting to wonder what it takes to get a job like his, because the more I read of these things the more I wonder why anyone cuts a paycheck for them. This is by far the worst example of these that I have seen in a long time. It is supposed to read as this ever so clever and intelligent satirical take on the complaints of people that want government out of their way, and we are supposed to realize how ever so important government actually is to all our lives. Questioning the state seems to be the silly, silly thing to do in this case.

It is actually a kitschy little piece of shit that has been written literally a thousand times before, and much, much better than this. It is in the end straw man after straw man, with absolutely no thought involved. Fireman, oh dear! The garbage collection? Well we need that I guess. EPA, TSA, USDA, FDA oh my! Drivel, plain and simple. The impetus for this bit of genius is of course the evil Republican budget, which will destroy us all (by spending trillions and trillions of dollars). We saw this same article a dozen times with last years proposed budget. Just keep bringing up the firemen and the FDA every time someone talks about the size, scope and cost of government, that will win the debate! If we were to consider cutting anything we will of course be delivered upon the corporations so they may poison and mistreat us into an early grave while collecting their evil, evil profits. The only thing left of the once mighty United States will be the military which the Republicans will never cut. We will all be poor, poisoned, malnourished wage slaves that die early thanks to a lack of single payer health care.

Someone actually paid this man for this thing, and some asshat at my local paper thought it to be profound enough to reprint, which is just mind boggling. This adds nothing at all to the conversation, nothing at all. Just because we were born into a system in which the government provides certain services are we never, ever allowed to question the cost, utility, need or delivery method of said service? If a community can save its taxpayers money and deliver a better service if it is contracted out (say garbage collection) we should never consider it? If there is an example of say, semi-private air traffic control systems that possibly function better than our own, is it possible that we are allowed to talk about reforming our horribly broken and wasteful system? Do I need Mr. Horrigan’s permission to bring it up? Can I, or any other independent or libertarian minded individual, bring up the fact that we can not go on like this in perpetuity? One trillion over drawn this year, and mind you that is without a budget. The government is on autopilot, spending money we do not have while arguing over which paltry table scrap is going to get cut or taxed. Being Americans, you know those people who are supposed to have the right of self government, can we ask a few questions of this behemoth? Is that ok with him you think? Our government freely admits that it wastes many, many millions of times more money than he was paid to sleepwalk his way through this piece of tripe, is it possible that we could ask them to, I don’t know, stop? Maybe? Please? We have a right to input, just like him. If he believes that all people should simply go along with the plan, not question the system or how well it is doing things, then that is his prerogative. Some of us would like to maintain a little shred of liberty and freedom, and maybe take an opportunity every now and again to question the plan, to occasionally ask for an accounting of how, where and why OUR money is being spent on OUR behalf telling US what we may and may not do with our time, fortunes and lives. Seem fair to anyone else?

Do not fear the straw man for he does not advance the conversation or save the republic from eventual collapse, and he lacks a brain after all.