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?