Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Even if the politics ain't pristine, calling in the Gestapo is a seriously bad idea

I do not doubt that the Michigan recall petition drive against Speaker of the House Andy Dillon (D-17th District) is politically and maybe even externally motivated, as Phil Power of the Center for Michigan and others claim.

The two prime movers in the drive, former State Representative and current MaComb County Commissioner Leon Drolet and Wayne County Taxpayers Association Chair Rose Bogaert, both have ties to well-known anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.

And I can even accept--at least for the sake of argument--that the recall petitioners may be using less-than-ethical tactics in some of their attempts to gain the necessary 8-10,000 signatures (25% of the registered voters in the district).

But none of that excuses the following three items:

1) The idea, apparently prevalent in Michigan progressive Democrat circles that the very idea of citizen recall of elected officials is somehow anti-democratic (just like term limits). Here's the afore-mentioned Phil Power holding forth on those stupid voters whose idea that their legislators should be held accountable amounts to . . . blackmail:

Term limits are bad enough, but I’ve always thought that threatening to recall elected lawmakers because they cast a certain vote is awfully close to blackmail. Recalls, if they succeed, solve nothing; special elections cost thousands of dollars and newly elected legislators who come in as part of a recall have no idea what they’re up to before they face a regular election in November.

And it seems perverse that local voters, who made their preferences known last November, could be stampeded by a bunch of noisy activists into reversing course just 17 months later.

Recalls – perhaps especially the one now underway against Dillon – only fuel the kind of hyper-partisan warfare we all have come to hate . Elections fueled by shadowy, dogmatic interest groups with fat pocketbooks are hardly what Michigan needs.

Whether you agree with the way he votes or not, Speaker Dillon has been an able legislator. He fully deserves to remain in office at least until his term expires in January. And neither he, nor we, should have to put up with any of these silly and obvious recall games.

2) The blatant use by Dillon and the Democrats of every power in the state and county administrations to stop the movement is downright nauseating. This has included the courts (to get a ruling that no out-of-district petition solicitors can be used); the police union (which has been robo-calling everyone in the district); off-duty county employees (who are shadowing petition solicitors); and the firefighters' union (which clearly and blatantly says that they're supporting Dillon no matter how he votes because he's always gotten them good government Homeland Security pork).

3) But worst of all has been the open, cynical, and even jovial use of the local police to harass the citizens involved in the recall effort. Jim Fryar provides this video at Real World Libertarian (and what I want to know is how the hell Jim--in Australia--always finds this stuff before I do). It's both funny and scary at the same time:

You don't have to like the recall effort to find this use of Gestapo-style police-state tactics chilling.

All of which makes me wonder: Why should we care about who the Michigan Democrats supported in their primary, anyway?

I like Nancy Willing, but I'm not drinking the kool-aid on Obama's military expansion

Delaware Way is one of my daily reads. Even though I don't agree politically with Nancy on a lot of things, she (a) educates me from time to time, and (b) keeps me up to date on what Delaware's progressive brethren and cistern are up to.

That said, I got into the most interesting exchange with her over on Down With Absolutes (and the exchange had little or nothing to do with the overall thread, which is why I'm not continuing it there).

I raised this issue about Senator Obama's position on US military expansion:

Me: "I have read Obama's platform. There you will find his promise to INCREASE the size of the US military. Ask yourself why he would propose that when his first act is supposedly to pull out of Iraq."

Nancy: "We have to increase the military. Obviously. We have destroyed our standing army with constant redeployment, stop loss and demoralizing lack of care upon return (most recently please read about Fort Bragg conditions and last year's George Reed hospital). THIS IS NOT to SAY that pulling out of Iraq will not save us billions and billions of dollars now spent on war profiteers. You are smarter than this, dear. . .

Actually, Nancy, it's you who have fallen afoul of talking points rather than evidence. But before we go there, let's visit Senator Obama's web page and pick up two important items: his full policy on the military and then to You-Tube for his endorsement by a bunch of senior generals and admirals:

Building a 21st Century Military

The Problem: The excellence of our military is unmatched. But as a result of a misguided war in Iraq, our forces are under pressure as never before. Obama will make the investments we need so that the finest military in the world is best-prepared to meet 21st-century threats.

Rebuild Trust: Obama will rebuild trust with those who serve by ensuring that soldiers and Marines have sufficient training time before they are sent into battle.

Expand the Military: We have learned from Iraq that our military needs more men and women in uniform to reduce the strain on our active force. Obama will increase the size of ground forces, adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines.

New Capabilities: Obama will give our troops new equipment, armor, training, and skills like language training. He will also strengthen our civilian capacity, so that our civilian agencies have the critical skills and equipment they need to integrate their efforts with our military.

Strengthen Guard and Reserve: Obama will restore the readiness of the National Guard and Reserves. He will permit them adequate time to train and rest between deployments, and provide the National Guard with the equipment they need for foreign and domestic emergencies. He will also give the Guard a seat at the table by making the Chief of the National Guard a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

And. . . .

Now let's break it down for you:

Our standing army (much less our standing armed forces) have not been destroyed by the Iraq and Afghani wars. Stressed yes, because contrary to our military doctrine (adopted during the Clinton years) of "fight one regional war while deterring another," we are attempting to fight two regional wars while deterring two others (Korea and Taiwan). But the problem is not some pie-in-the-sky need for "adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines," which at another point he admits is the manpower necessary for several additional Stryker brigades and a new Marine landing group.

Our real problem in the US military is the severe imbalance created after Desert Storm by the post-Cold-War draw-down. In order to look tough, please various constituencies, and placate a number of senior admirals and generals (as well as defense contractors), we conducted that draw-down by transferring most logistical and support functions from the active-duty components into the Reserves and National Guard. Engineering units, transport units, civil affairs units, water treatment units, things like that. Those are the reservists that have been making two and three tours to Iraq because we don't have sufficient support troops on active duty to fight a prolonged war.

In reality, for what our military should be able to do if we were not pursuing a course of active interventionism around the world, we have at least three too many active divisions, 1 or 2 too many carrier groups (yes, Duffy, I know you disagree with me), and about 400 too many bases in foreign countries (I really think we could get by with, say, 250 foreign bases, don't you?).

There are only two reasons for Senator Obama to take the position he has taken on new troops, new weapons systems, and the National Guard Bureau Chief on the Joint Chiefs:

First and foremost President Obama has absolutely no intention of bringing me any change I can believe in in terms of US military/foreign policy. His prescriptions for increasing the military are prescriptions for better preparing the US military for (a) interventions in foreign countries ala Afghanistan and Iraq; (b) paying off the military/industrial complex for its support of his campaign; and (c) involving the US in additional peace-keeping duties around the world, at least some of which will be under NATO command.

InterventionismThe force balance we currently have (and would expand under his plan) is a force-projection tool. Currently, unless one of our statutory allies is invaded (which has happened exactly one time in the past four decades), the only use for massive force projection is to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, either through direct involvement or our paid mercenary surrogates (Blackwater, MPRI, Airscan, etc.). Obama has said repeatedly that he will not hesitate to go after Al Qaeda bases in foreign countries with our military, and with respect to Iran he has refused to rule out invasion, blockade, or even carpet bombing. This is also the reason we maintain a world-wide infrastructure of hundreds upon hundreds of military bases, and have even (within the past year) organized and opened a military command for future operations in Africa.

Plain and simple: when it comes to military operations and expenditures, would-be President Obama has no intention of changing the imperialistic and interventionist military policy that has existed since the early days of the Cold War. Nor is he looking to spend any less on our steroidal military budget, which already accounts for over half the military spending in the entire world. Read that last sentence again, and let it sink in.

Given his social agenda and his liberal outlook, one would have to ask (as I can find no one doing) why?

Because Senator Obama is paying off his debt to the military-industrial establishment that--like the NRA and to a much greater extent--funds the campaigns of pliant politicians.

Go back to that video of admirals and generals endorsing Barack Obama.

Here are the main players:

General (ret.) Merrill McPeak. Here's his Forbes profile (note that even Forbes could not pry loose his multi-million dollar salary package for publication):

General Merrill A. McPeak has been a member of the Company's [Del Global Technologies] Board of Directors since April 27, 2005. General McPeak is the President of McPeak and Associates, a management-consulting firm he founded in 1995. General McPeak was Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force from November 1990 to October 1994, when he retired from active military service. General McPeak was for several years Chairman of ECC, International, a Florida-based simulation and training company. He has served as a director of several other public companies, including Tektronix and TWA. Currently, General McPeak is Chairman of the board of directors of Ethicspoint, Inc., a company providing confidential corporate governance compliance and whistleblower reporting services. He is a director of Sensis Corp., a privately held manufacturer of military radars and civilian air traffic control systems. He is an investor in and director of several public and private companies in the early development stage, including: Gigabeam (NASDAQ: GGBM), a supplier of high performance, high availability fiber-speed wireless communications; MathStar (NasdaqGM: MATH), a designer and marketer of specialized semiconductor integrated circuits; and Quintessence Photonics (OTC BB: QPCI.OB), a designer and manufacturer of high performance semiconductor laser diodes.

All of the companies I have highlighted in bold are either multi-million or multi-billion dollar defense contractors. If McPeak held all of these positions from a civilian background, Barack Obama wouldn't have him within a country mile, because he would be the poster child for the fat cat corporate leech that the Senator plans to go after.

But McPeak is a retired general and therefore useful to give Barack street cred from the military, even though he is generally despised within the Air Force by officers and enlisted alike, and has been repeatedly implicated in anti-Israel remarks that border on truly anti-Semitic.

Admiral (Ret.) John B. Nathman: He's now a bigshot at defense giant Curtiss-Wright, about whom the company gushes:

"John's long and distinguished U.S. Navy career will enable him to bring to the Curtiss-Wright Board a wealth of experience in the procurement and operations of one of our most important customers," said Martin R. Benante, Chairman and CEO of Curtiss-Wright Corporation. "We welcome his seasoned perspective and look forward to his contributions to our corporate strategy.

That "most important customer" is the US military, and "his contributions" will be to lobby and twist arms for ever larger weapons contracts. Obviously another disinterested military professional who just happens to support Barack Obama out of pure patriotism.

Major General (ret.) Hugh Robinson: He's now a Director at Carmax, and Forbes notes (again without being able to specify his multi-million-dollar compensation package):

Major General Hugh G. Robinson, (U.S.A., Ret.), Director since 2002. Chief Executive Officer of Global Building Systems, Inc., a firm that develops and constructs low- and moderate-income residential housing. From 2003 to 2005, he was the chairman and chief executive officer of Granville Construction & Development Co., Inc., a housing development and construction firm. From 1989 to 2003, he was chairman and chief executive officer of the Tetra Group, a construction management and building services firm. He also is a former chairman and board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He is a retired Major General from the United States Army. He is a director of Newmarket Technology, Inc.

This one's not so obvious: you have to look really hard to discover that what all these construction companies have in common is that they are all government contractors or sub-contractors for military base housing. Newmarket Technology is a $50 million rising defense contractor.

In other words: another defense industry lobbyist.

Brigadier General (ret.) Lawrence R. Gillespie: This one's really cool:

CIVILIAN OCCUPATION: Director, Washington marketing, Hughes Training, Inc., Hughes Aircraft Co., Washington, DC


Directs to overall Hughes Training, Inc. (HTI) marketing activity in the Washington, DC area. Requires a broad-base understanding of the complexities involved with government budgeting, planning and acquisition. Responsible for the development of markets within major Department of Defense and other government agencies for HTI products, programs, technology and services. Coordinates the Washington marketing activities of all market areas (Army, Navy/USMC, USAF/Space, Federal/Commercial/Industrial, International and others) within HTI. Responsible for the gathering of legal marketing intelligence such as planning requirements and funding information; business trends and technical progress; and, activity of competitors and other legal business planning information. Recommend marketing strategies based on marketing intelligence. Participates in the preparation of proposals and the negotiations of contracts. Monitors contract performance and endeavors to resolve difficulties and disputes to the mutual satisfaction of the customer and HTI. Determines and monitors budgets and fiscal policies for governmental marketing activities.

Yeah, he's disinterested in who becomes President and what their military procurement strategy might be.

And finally, my favorite:

Brigadier General (ret.) David McGinnis: McGinnis is a career politician-general out of the New York National Guard, who now functions as a paid lobbyist for (among other things) the National Guard Association, which is lobbying for the National Guard to (a) be enlarged and (b) for the Guard bureau chief to get a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff [note the Obama promise above].

McGinnis is also--pure and simple--a longtime Democrat shil. He organized (ineptly, because you never heard of it) Citizens for Honest Fighter Pilots as John Kerry's attempt to Swift Boat Dubya back. He worked Judie Woodruff on CNN as often as possible, because he was the architect of Kerry's military plan for Iraq. Then, in 2006, because he somehow believed the Iraq war was about to end (such a great military mind), McGinnis then pimped for the Bush administration plan to (illegally in the opinion of many Constitutional scholars) send the National Guard to the Mexican border to reinforce the Border Patrol.

McGinnis (and this have directly from dozens of officers who have worked with him) is pure and simply a megalomaniac egotist, who actually believes in his own military genius. Funny thing, nobody else ever did while he was on active duty. His job is to make sure that the National Guard political appointee bureau chief gets that seat on the Joint Chiefs. Virtually any officer worth his or her salt will tell you that this is a mistake. The Joint Chiefs is a place for service heads. The National Guard is a subordinate entity to the Army and Air Force. It neither needs nor deserves such a position.

I could do the other five men in the room that day, but the results would be the same. Obama has purchased the endorsement of these officers--every one of which is a lobbyist or defense contractor of some sort--by, well, we'll leave you to make that call.

I see two possible choices for interpretation here:

1) Barack Obama is such a military and foreign policy neophyte (and his ghastly performance in the Texas debate talking about captured enemy weapons in Afghanistan would suggest that) that he actually believes what our military/industrial complex lobby is telling him. So when they applaud his judgment while signing sweetheart contracts with the Pentagon, he's dumb enough to take it at face value.

2) Barack Obama is not some new kind of politician, but a very orthodox one, who has made his deal with the military in order to solidify his electoral chances. I have not looked, but would love to see the list of Obama donors from the defense industry.

Either way, as far as US military spending and American military interventionism, Obama's Change we can believe in is pure bullshit.

Nancy, I hate to tell you this, but you've been sold a BIG pitcher of kool-aid.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

And Argentina thinks it has it all together for decriminalizing drugs. . . .

Hopefully you read Tyler's post on that issue.

Now Chile (at least the town of La Prado) moves from Drug War to Drug Peace to . . . Drug Love-in.

Courtesy of Fausta's blog:

For the first time in Chile, a mayor plans to give out free Viagra to men 60 and older in his town to improve their "quality of life" four times a month, according to media reports.

"This has to do with quality of life and it's done responsibly. It's not just like handing out candy at the corner," Gonzalo Navarrete, a physician and mayor of the poor town of Lo Prado south of Santiago, told Las Ultimas Noticias daily.

He said any man 60 years and older who wants it can have up to four Viagra pills a month after undergoing a thorough medical exam to avoid potentially harmful side effects of the drug Sildenafil.

"We'll give out four, 50 milligram pills, in other words, for four sexual relationships per month," Navarrete said, adding that the program would have a starting cost of about 20,000 dollars.

The reason?

The mayor said the idea for his unprecedented move came from hearing older men in his town complain about not getting enough sex.

I'm willing to bet the younger men in his town have that complaint, too.

I personally cannot wait to see what this does for my Pfizer holdings.

With apologies to Pink Floyd. . . .

. . . because while I loved the album, I fell asleep during the movie of The Wall.

Who could forget, "HEY! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!"

Apparently not the Media Awareness Project, which has one of the best intellectual dissections of what's wrong with random drug testing of American students, including this gem:

None of this is to say random drug testing is totally indefensible. It's just that the following defenses don't pass muster:

* If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. This is the single most odious line of reasoning ever concocted because it misses the point. People, including students, are not required to prove they've done nothing wrong.

* For safety's sake. Though the safety message is appealing, at its heart, drug testing isn't about safety. It's about control. It is worth noting students are not police officers, airline pilots, doctors or even teachers. They shouldn't be forced to choose between privacy and an education.

h/t to Drug War Rant

This is Brian. . . . This is Brian on medication?

Unless you happened to notice it in one of the comment sections last week, you probably missed the fact that Brian had surgery this week. Despite his undying affection for Thai ladyboys and a western hemispheric union, Brian's really a fairly private person, so I had not mentioned this before.

He's doing well and will hopefully be back to posting soon.

In the interim, however, I made one discovery and had one disturbing thought.

The discovery is that the blogspot spell checker recognizes the word ladyboy. I'd never actually typed it before. There may be something ominous of a Spenglerian nature in that.

The disturbing thought is that they gave Brian a morphine pump for his first day out of surgery and some serious pain meds (he told me--no shit--that he asked for medical marijuana and was refused).

We all know what to expect from Brian in the course of a normal week: twisted explorations of our world from a perspective that is Libertarian crossed with fan-dancing Ewok. One of his earliest posts, Women with Tattoos, is among the five most highly rated posts every published on this blog; I like to think it's the picture.

But, anyway, here's the scary question: what will Brian post while he's using the dilaudid or the percocett?

Get well quickly, my friend.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I finally figured out for whom I'd like to vote for President: George Phillies

While there is a great deal of entertainment to be found in this year's electoral politics, there's very little comfort.

Between them the various wings of the Demopublican Party offer three Senators who all fully support the military-industrial complex, an interventionist foreign policy, and the continued creep of government into virtually every aspect of our personal lives. If there is a significant original idea between them, I can't find it. Clinton and Obama--when they actually talk policy--admit that the differences separating them are distinctions of nuance. McCain offers his own brand of perpetual pandering that is neither conservative nor moderate, but clearly aimed at purchasing votes anywhere he can find them.

I have spent a lot of time examining the available candidates in the Libertarian Party, and while I see a lot of divergent personalities (as well as the basic split between Radical and Reform Libertarians), I see only one candidate for whom I could vote for President and be comfortable if he actually reached the Oval Office.

That candidate is Dr George Phillies.

His is virtually the only well-considered foreign and military policy being advanced by any candidate in any party that is a rational and pragmatic departure from our current regime of empire-building and interventionism.

Look carefully at the answers he provided to my interview questions, and which he publishes on his campaign website.

Who else is saying this:

The cold war is over. The Soviet Empire has ceased to exist. When the Cold War ended, America should have contracted its military to match its defense needs. We maintain a huge fleet in the Atlantic, an ocean that borders only on friendly countries. That fleet makes no sense. Our military spending is half the world's total, and most of the rest is spent by our allies; that spending makes no sense. There should be massive cuts in defense spending.

Dr. Phillies is also a strong advocate not only of fiscal restraint, but of bringing our out-of-control government spending back into some semblance of balance:

The first step to a prosperous America is restoring fiscal sanity to Washington.

Uncle Sam is 9 trillion dollars in debt. In Fiscal 2006, the on-budget Federal Budget Deficit was $484 billion. General Accounting Office simulations show that by 2040 interest on the national debt will consume the bulk of Federal taxes. If we go on like this, we will become a third-world banana republic.

Our only hope is a President who points at Federal program after Federal program, corporate welfare scheme after corporate welfare scheme, and says the same four words "We can't afford that."

Those words got our grandparents though the Great Depression. Those are the words that will restore fiscal sanity to our Republic.

Phillies is a strong champion for civil liberties as well:

The Bush administration illegally listened to phone calls and read emails of millions of Americans, probably including you. Those warrantless searches were crimes. I'll do my best to ensure that everyone who committed these crimes goes to prison.

I will vigorously encourage Congress to repeal the Military Commissions Act, which violates the right of trial by jury, the so-called "Patriot" Act, the RealID act, and other laws that endanger your freedom.

I will order all Executive branch employees to comply enthusiastically with all Congressional requests for documents and testimony.

Torture is a felony. Under a Phillies Administration, torturers will be despised prison convicts, not honored Federal employees.

I want Uncle Sam out of your bedroom and out of your private life. Uncle Sam should care whether his soldiers shoot straight, not whether they are straight. Uncle Sam has no legitimate role in the abortion issue, and neither does your state government.

He's strong of GLBQT rights, having won the endorsement of Outright Libertarians:

From his interview in The Advocate magazine, to his one-liner response to a marriage equality question at a debate in socially conservative Fresno, California -- "We've already solved that problem in Massachusetts" -- we can tell that Dr. Phillies would never try to rationalize anti-LGBT bigotry as a way to "grow" the Libertarian Party. He recognizes that Liberty is impossible so long as the boot of big government remains on the neck of any disfavored minority group.

I shouldn't have to say this, but Dr Phillies is not the perfect candidate.

He has little or no experience in running a government (not that Clinton, McCain, or Obama do, either).

His campaign style and rhetoric can be a bit . . . pedantic.

I think he needs to take a good long look at his health care and education positions. The first is a grab bag of ideas, not a policy, and the second has little substance beyond, "First, we'll abolish No Child Left Behind."

But what George Phillies does have is a strong view about America's place in the world, and a commitment to government that both pays for itself and stays out of my private business. That's enough to make me look past some of the weaker areas.

There are two possible reactions I'm expecting to this endorsement.

1) I expect my Demopublican friends to suggest that I'm wasting my vote by giving it to someone who doesn't really have a chance to become President. So be it: it's mine to waste, and I'd rather vote my principles than vote for the lesser of two evils, which is--as someone always reminds us--still evil.

2) I don't necessarily expect Dr Phillies to come out of Denver with the LP nomination. Mike Gravel and Bob Barr are trying to suck all the air out of the convention center, even though neither of them is really a Libertarian. Mary Ruwart retains a strong, core following of Radicals, despite the child pornography misstep; and meanwhile--in the background raising money--there's also Wayne Allyn Root, who was the front-runner until a few bigtime (OK, medium-sized) names joined the fray. I'm not sure what Root is, but I don't think he's really a Libertarian.

Dr Phillies has picked up some strong showings in State events, notwithstanding all of his competition, and under the LP rules second and third choices will matter. He could walk away with the nomination.

I sincerely hope he does.

I'd like to have the opportunity to walk into a voting booth and pull the lever for George Phillis.

From Duffy: The most important post in the Delaware blogosphere you will read this month

People should always be more important than politics.

So . . . the Autism thing.

Forget this blog, forget Delawareliberal, Delaware Curmudgeon, Delaware Watch, Delaware Poltics.

Go read this one today.

And then, if you are so inclined, say a prayer.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yearning for the functional simplicity of Sharia law: The Parable of the Uncovered Meat

This is old news if you happen to live in Australia, but may be of significant use to those of us in America who are still trying to instill a common definition of rape into our culture.

The Sydney gang rapes, which occurred in 2000, involved (as Wikipedia relates):

. . . a series of gang rape attacks by a group of up to fourteen Lebanese Australian men led by Bilal Skaf, against white[1] Australian girls, some as young as 14, in Sydney, Australia. . . . [resulting in sentences of] more than 240 years in jail time handed out to nine men.

The problem, however, has been explained by Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, as one of uncovered meat.

Here's the scoop from our friend Jim Fryar at Real-World Libertarian:

Sydney-based Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali alluded to the infamous Sydney gang rapes, suggesting the attackers were not entirely to blame.

While not specifically referring to the rapes, brutal attacks on four women for which a group of young Lebanese men received long jail sentences, Sheik Hilali said there were women who "sway suggestively" and wore make-up and immodest dress ... "and then you get a judge without mercy and gives you 65 years".

"But the problem, but the problem all began with who?" he asked.

In the religious address on adultery to about 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, Sheik Hilali said: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?

"The uncovered meat is the problem."

The sheik then said: "If she was in her room, in her home, in her
hijab, no problem would have occurred."

He said women were "weapons" used by "Satan" to control men.

"It is said in the state of
zina (adultery), the responsibility falls 90 per cent of the time on the woman. Why? Because she possesses the weapon of enticement."

This problem of uncovered meat thus thoroughly explains why, in February 2008, when a school fire occurred in Mecca the police had to beat the female students trying to escape the conflagration, resulting in at least fifteen deaths. You see, as Becky explains it, "If this bothers you, please consider how fortunate it is that the police were able to shield the boys from the sight of girl hair."

And since Sharia law may be coming to a western liberal democracy near you (England, sooner or later, says the Archbishop of Canterbury), all those murky feminist concepts like consent can simply be ignored in the face of a simple formulation: If it's meat, and it's uncovered, it's yours to do with as you will.

Speaking as a husband and father, I know this clarifies things for me--and simultaneously eliminates all that pesky Catholic guilt.

The Stupidity of Ethanol in a single sentence

Peg, at A Secondhand Conjecture, finds a sentence that cuts to the heart of the matter:

Every fill of the tank with ethanol uses the same amount of corn a child would eat in a year, and let’s not even talk about the amount of potable water used to grow the corn in the first place.

Sort of makes fossil fuels seem more rational, huh?

A Matter of Definitions: Cara and the Definition of Rape

Every so often you find a thought-provoking paragraph lodged in the middle of a post about something else. That's sort of the case here. At The Curvature, Cara has a post covering her problems with a new study about sexual miscommunication between men and women (she's also concerned with the coverage of the controversy). Hidden away in there is a paragraph in which she provides a definition of rape that I want to be sure my son understands as he grows up:

But rape (of a woman by a man; switch identifiers for other types) is not necessarily a situation where a man hears and understands “no” but ignores it. Rape is when the man has sex with a woman who has not consented. If she says “no” but he genuinely thinks that means “keep going” for some dumbass reason, it’s still rape. If she gives more subtle resistance like “it’s getting late” and he keeps going without her willful participation, it’s rape. I know that our laws don’t reflect this. I know that few people seem to get that consent means saying “yes” as opposed to not saying “no”. And I know that many people assume that rape can only happen due to pure malice on the part of the rapist, rather than apathy so consequential that it might as well be malice. But guess what. Still rape.

Here's where Cara's feminist view again coincides with libertarianism: rape is about aggression when a power imbalance exists, and one party possesses the strength to force its will on the other party. Libertarians don't believe in aggression (although they tend to see the greatest potential for aggression in the State and not in individuals), which they see as the primary societal ill.

A Libertarian would argue (at least this one would) that until we create a society in which State and Corporate power is not founded on aggressive coercion, we shouldn't be surprised that rape remains a problem.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Why lecturing the rest of the world does not work: India and Iran

A multi-polar world is re-emerging in the aftermath of the Cold War, and that foreign policy reality is far more significant than the war on terror.

India, as has been noted here on several occasions, is not only poised to become a major world player in automobile manufacture, but is also pursuing military and nuclear links with Sarkozy's France.

The Bush administration response: lecture India on how to deal with Iran.

Here's the story from The Australian News (h/t to Sukrit Sabhlok at Thoughts on Freedom)

USING uncharacteristically strong language, India last night told the US to butt out and mind its own business after Washington attempted to tell the country how to deal with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he visits New Delhi next week.

Ahead of the visit, the first to India by the Iranian leader, a State Department official offered gratuitous advice to India on how to handle him, suggesting that it should take a tough line in pressuring Tehran on the nuclear issue to "become a more responsible actor on the world stage".

"We'd also encourage them (Indian diplomats) to ask Iran to end its rather unhelpful activities with respect to Iraq, with respect to support for terrorism," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.

New Delhi officials made their displeasure clear in a statement issued last night.

"India and Iran are ancient civilisations whose relations span centuries," it said.

"Both nations are perfectly capable of managing all aspects of their relationship with the appropriate degree of care and attention.

"Neither country needs any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral relations."

The timing of Washington's "advice" could not be worse, in the view of most commentators in New Delhi yesterday.

The Indian Government is having delicate negotiations with its leftist and communist critics over its nuclear deal with the US. These critics are sensitive to anything that signals a willingness to bow to the US.

Meanwhile, India's Oil Minister, Murli Deora, is in Islamabad to finalise a deal - despite Washington's strenuous objections - for a proposed $7billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline that is vital for India's future.

New Delhi has, in the past, been critical of Iran's nuclear ambitions, though it supports the country's right to nuclear energy for civilian purposes.

Mr Ahmadinejad is due to spend only a day in New Delhi on his way back home from a trip to Sri Lanka where Iran is involved in big development projects.

But the New Delhi stopover is important given it is the Iranian leader's first visit.

It is also important for the protracted negotiations over the 2600km IPI pipeline that has been on the drawing board since 1994, but which now seems poised to go ahead.

Here's the new reality that neither Dubya, nor McCain, nor even the DemTwins seem to get: We are living in a world that is soon to become more and more dominated by regional mega-powers than a global superpower. In East Asia: China. In Southwest Asia and the Fertile Crescent region: India. In South America: Brazil. Russia. The European Union. The United States.

Each of those regions is going to have a supporting cast of characters--nations determined to make a place for themselves as aggressive, even militaristic regimes: Iran, Venezuela, North Korea. The age of the global superpower is waning, and as it does, India will increasingly go its own way in dealing with Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangla Desh, or other, smaller countries.

This is not a bad development for us, or for our children, as long as the next administration in Washington DC comes to the realization that a different world calls for a different foreign policy and military structure.

Why the TSA needs to be reformed.... prevent international incidents for one thing, and to prevent the abuse of old people for another. As I described before, different cultures have different perceptions of privacy of their persons....none more so than Western cultures and Latin American cultures....well it finally happened, TSA pissed off the wrong Latino.... just look at the "person of interest" to the left then read the story.....luckily they get away with it with old folks all the time.....

Costa Rica protests US airport security
By MARIANELA JIMENEZ, Associated Press Writer Sat Apr 26, 5:14 PM ET

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - Costa Rica has suspended legal cooperation with the United States and filed a diplomatic protest over what it called the "disrespectful" treatment of its attorney general at the Miami International Airport.

In a letter describing the incident, Attorney General Francisco Dall'Anese said a security officer at the airport allowed him into the United States on April 23, but accompanied him to an airline counter to make sure he arranged a return flight for the next day.

The official was traveling to meet his U.S. counterpart, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and to attend a court hearing involving a man implicated in a corruption scandal in Costa Rica.
He said that after the check, a U.S. agent accompanied him to airline offices "to make sure of our departure."
Dall'Anese said Friday he was suspending all cooperation with U.S. prosecutors on judicial cases, including extraditions, until those responsible are punished and his government is reimbursed for the cost of the trip.

Costa Rica's Foreign Relations Department said it filed an "energetic" diplomatic note and called the security stop "an offense against our attorney general, an offense to all Costa Ricans."
The U.S. government said Dall'Anese had been subjected to a "routine security check" that is common when a passenger's name matches or is similar to a person of interest. But officials apologized nonetheless.
"We are investigating the circumstances and we have expressed our apologies to the Costa Rican government," the U.S. Embassy in San Jose said in a statement. "We never intended any disrespect for Dall'Anese, the government of Costa Rica or its citizens. We value the close relationship we have and we will do everything in our power to make sure it continues."

The Embassy said if it had known of the trip, it would have ensured that "all entrance courtesies would have been extended to Mr. Dall'Anese."

But Dall'Anese responded that "the apology of the U.S. Embassy is not sufficient."

In November, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa complained that he did not receive special diplomatic treatment at a Miami airport security checkpoint and said he would avoid traveling through the U.S.

Taser More Kids For Human Rights....

....It is stories like this that lead me to believe we have a human rights problem in the United States. OK guys, joke is over, bring back the 4th Amendment.

April 25, 2008- A Chicago man who was in critical condition for five days after police used a Taser to subdue him outside an Ohio bar died Thursday evening.

Kevin Piskura, 24, was pronounced dead at 4:17 p.m. Chicago time of injuries suffered when police in Oxford, Ohio, fired the stun gun at him early Saturday morning.

At the Cincinnati hospital where he was transferred, Piskura was surrounded by friends and family who had been keeping a vigil.

Police said Piskura was fighting with an officer and ignored warnings to stop. A 2006 graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Piskura grew up in Ohio. He moved to Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood after graduation.

In a statement released through the hospital, the Piskura family said they were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and thanked medical staff for their efforts. They asked for privacy and patience as the incident is investigated, "lest tragedy lead to more tragedy."

"No one feels this loss more deeply than we do; however, we still request that people refrain from rash judgment and wait until the independent investigation of this event is complete," the statement said.

Piskura's father, Charles, was a police officer in Bedford, Ohio, for nearly 30 years before retiring in 2000.

On Tuesday, police released a video in which someone can be heard yelling "Taser, Taser, Taser," before the gun's barbs hit Piskura in the chest. Piskura is seen rolling on the ground.

The officer who fired the Taser has been put on paid administrative leave.

Weekend Watching: I wish I could be Dancing this Weekend....

....but no such luck. Again this is where Hip Hop and Libertarianism meet....

Instead I am stuck at home. So at least you can enjoy some good dance music that is right in line with our pan-American articles this week....

(h/t to the Black Eyed Peas....)

Comment Follow Up- The Libertarian Students of Belgium Reject Yon Goicoechea

You may have seen my expose on Yon Goicoechea. If not scroll down and read it. It was my machismo moment of outrage at CATO for awarding this extraordinary right wing non-libertarian big state rightist the Milton Friedman award for liberty.

Not only has Yon been linked to student violence in Venezuela, but he calims in his interview with Playboy that he has been "promoting human rights" which I guess is a good thing even if he is only paying lip service to them, but still he has not really offering any solutions to the problems in his country like the Libertario.

In fact there were so many contradictions in his positions that the students of the European Congress in Belgium rejected him going there.

Look, this guy is no Bolivar, and is no libertarian.

Which again makes CATO's award all that much more inexplicable.

I am still looking for that video of the students in your movement throwing the gas at the national guard Yon and invite you to explain how violence is worthy of any libertarian awards?

Until you explain yourself Yon, I will never accept the kind of things I saw the students in your movement do.

But more importantly I wish you would explain it to the families of the victims of that violence.

I can be ashamed of CATO as an American, but I cannot bring back the young women who DIED or undo the injuries that families suffered and all I want to know is "how many people have to suffer for you to acheive your political goals...."

How is any of that Libertarian?

Real freedom and real popular constitutional change can be acheived in Venezuela without violence Yon..... try peaceful change, read William Penn.

You will see as much as you disagree with parts of your state, at least some very important people there like Raul Baudel are following Bolivar's vision as a relative conservative and Ismael Garcia's Podemos party as a democrat are trying to change the system. Even if you disagree with them at least they are usuing non-violent means to acheive political goals.

I can gaurentee you that the student marches in Venezuela would have been met with TOTAL repression if they occured in the United States, but you were allowed to do just as you wanted and not molested until your students started attacking people....

Yon you need to understand, even the name of liberty can become corrupt if its hands are stained with the blood of innocents.

I am glad that the European student congress rejected your message becuase it is a defamation to the name of liberty and is promoted with and through foreign intervention in the affairs of other nations. It is in this respect interesting to note that for the FIRST time the award you are getting is being funded by Exxon-Mobile, Walmart, Federal Express, Ford and Phillip Morris among others.

Yon, which one of these is not a neo-mercantilist?

Which one does not represent the interests of one class over another and which one has not asked for huge government and socialist subsidies for their own interests over the interests of the people in the United States?

These are no free market Adam Smith Libertarians, this is mercantilism awarding one of its disciples, and that is exactly how they will see it and use you with this award.

Libertarianism is a peaceful movement that seeks solutions for each of our contries through individual liberty in partnership and solidarity, it does not provoke or promote the rights of one group over another. That is not Libertarianism.

You cannot have equal rights for all if you spend your time promoting the rights of the oligarchy over the people Yon. Look the Greeks said it best, "if one is at the behest and indebted to the rich, how can one expect equality before either the rich or the law, for the judges will naturally side with those who have power over those who do not thereby corrupting the holy name justice and making what used to be democratic justice for the many into a oligarchic justice for the few over the rights of the many."

That is from the world's first libertarians- the point of all Libertarians platforms is to secure EQUALITY for everyone before the law and what you are offering does not do that when it offers equality and unlimited freedom to one class over another or at the expense of another group. EQUALITY before the law is a central tenet of all Libertarin philosophy. And your movement falls far short of that Yon.

From everything I have read on the right and on the left you are offering is more of the same old fashioned statist rightism that Pinochet used. And is it any wonder that Pincohet was the disciple of Milton Friedman's Chicago boys who increased poverty from 20% to 40% and dumped the rest of the poor in the Pacific Ocean from their helicopters?


On second thought, maybe it is appropriate for you to win the disaster-managed capitalism award. But it really is a neo-mercantilist award Yon becuase it has nothing to do with real freedom or liberty- at least not the kind any self respecting Greek, Founding Father or Adam Smith would have understood.

While you are here I suggest you pick up some copies of Ron Paul's books, and maybe a libertarian reading list and critique of Milton Friedman's work so if you are going to launch a libertarian movement you know what it means to be a libertarian, also, it would be helpful to read Adam Smith and Zimmerman's "The Greek Commonwealth."

Finally it would not hurt for you to read William Penn's collected works.

Do not pretend to be a hero of liberty while inciting student violence.

You may fool all the non-Spanish speakers out there but I for one, am not buying it.

Estudiantes belgas rechazan presencia de Jon Goicoechea y Fredy Guevara en el Parlamento Europeo

Bruselas. Diciembre 18, 2007 (Especial) – Estudiantes de las universidades mas prestigiosas de Bélgica, han rechazado este martes la presencia de los estudiantes derechistas de la oposición, Jon Goicoechea y Fredy Guevara, en el Parlamento Europeo. En un comunicado público, los “universitarios demócratas de Bélgica, de diferentes universidades” manifestaron que los “dos dirigentes estudiantiles de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello de Venezuela, universidad privada”, no representan el movimiento estudiantil universitario de Venezuela.

Para los estudiantes belgas, “es importante, reconocer que estos jóvenes provienen de universidades privadas, las cuales han sido un centro de agitación contra el gobierno y que representan a unos 50.000 estudiantes, todos de familias adineradas, mientras el contingente nacional de estudiantes asciende a 1 millón 700 mil estudiantes, de los cuales 700.000 están en la Misión Sucre, que es un sistema de estudios superior desarrollado desde 2003 por el Estado venezolano, con vista a democratizar la educación superior y universitaria.” “Estos 700 mil universitarios de origen modesto becados –como muchos otros- no se sienten representados en nada con los visitantes,” dice el comunicado. Asimismo, los estudiantes belgas reconocen los avances en materia de educación, que ha logrado el gobierno del Presidente Chávez.

“Las reformas del gobierno de Hugo Chávez en la educación -desde la lucha contra el analfabetismo hasta los estudios superiores y de post grado- han desatado una verdadera revolución en la mentalidad de las gentes. Para esa abrumante mayoría conformada por quienes no contaban con los medios de financiar sus estudios o no tenían asegurado las tres comidas al día, para esa vasta mayoría, el camino que ha abierto el gobierno democrático y progresista de Hugo Chávez representa una esperanza, una realidad de cambio.”

En este sentido, los estudiantes demócratas belgas de instituciones reconocidas mundialmente como la Universidad Libre de Bruselas y la Universidad Católica de Lovaina, rechazan “la presencia de quienes, apoyados por los poderosos medios de comunicación, pretenden arrogarse la representación de la juventud y estudiantes de Venezuela.” Asimismo, el comunicado expresa un contundente apoyo al “proceso de cambios que se desarrolla en Venezuela,” y le piden a la Unión Europea que respete la soberanía de un país democrático e independiente. A continuación el texto del comunicado. A la opinión pública internacional Los universitarios demócratas de Bélgica, de diferentes universidades nos hemos enterado que se encuentran de visita en nuestro país, Jon Goicoechea y Freddy Guevara, dos dirigentes estudiantiles de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello de Venezuela, universidad privada.

Seguramente, esta gira estaba planificada desde antes del referéndum del 2 de diciembre de este año, y tenía como intensión denunciar el " fraude " del gobierno. Y de paso pedirle a la Unión Europea que denuncie la " dictadura de Chávez " y etc, etc. Sin embargo, el referéndum fue ganado por la oposición por el 1% de los votos y este resultado fue reconocido hidalgamente por el propio Chávez, quien saludó a la oposición. Dado que todas las instancias internacionales han saludado la limpieza y transparencia del escrutinio venezolano, y que este les es favorable, se deben haber preguntado cuando viajaban hacia Europa: ¿Qué vamos a denunciar?

No tienen motivo, pero como los aliados de la derecha venezolana ya habían previsto el viaje y los contactos, no les quedo otra cosa que llegar ante ustedes para urdir nuevas mentiras, con el objetivo de enlodar al gobierno venezolano y al proceso de reformas democráticas que se desarrollan en Venezuela, de manera completamente pacífica y en acorde a la Constitución del país, la cual antes del referéndum, desconocían… Es importante, reconocer que estos jóvenes provienen de universidades privadas, las cuales han sido un centro de agitación contra el gobierno y que representan a unos 50.000 estudiantes, todos de familias adineradas, mientras el contingente nacional de estudiantes asciende a 1 millón 700 mil estudiantes ! De los cuales 700.000 están en la " misión Sucre ", que es un sistema de estudios superior desarrollado desde 2003 por el Estado venezolano, con vista a democratizar la educación superior y universitaria.

Estos 700 mil universitarios de origen modesto becados –como muchos otros- no se sienten representados en nada con los visitantes. Las reformas del gobierno de Hugo Chávez en la educación -desde la lucha contra el analfabetismo hasta los estudios superiores y de post grado- han desatado una verdadera revolución en la mentalidad de las gentes. Para esa abrumante mayoría conformada por quienes no contaban con los medios de financiar sus estudios o no tenían asegurado las tres comidas al día, para esa vasta mayoría, el camino que ha abierto el gobierno democrático y progresista de Hugo Chávez representa una esperanza, una realidad de cambio.

Como es sabido también, los partidos políticos tradicionales de Venezuela, COPEI y AD perdieron el apoyo de los electores tras decenas de años de corrupción y políticas neoliberales. En su reemplazo, para llenar el vacío se encuentran los medios de comunicación, en mano de las mismas grandes fortunas; son estos medios parciales que practican el terrorismo intelectual, quienes han levantado a esta nueva generación de estudiantes que defienden los intereses de la oligarquía, la cual se desarrolló a la sombra de privatizaciones fraudulentas y desvíos de los beneficios del petróleo.

Por tanto, Rechazamos la presencia de quienes, apoyados por los poderosos medios de comunicación, pretenden arrogarse la representación de la juventud y estudiantes de Venezuela. Apoyamos el proceso de cambio que se desarrolla en Venezuela, porque este proceso representa también una esperanza para nosotros, que constatamos como desde junio de 1999, desde la Conferencia en la ciudad de Bolonia - para la reforma de la educación superior- la Unión Europea no ha cesado de destruir el componente democrático y progresista de la educación, buscando uniformarla y ponerla al servicio de los grandes monopolios. Todo lo cual, en los hechos no hace sino que acentuar la exclusión social y el mercantilismo en la educación.

Ojalá en Europa " otros Chávez " fueran capaces de ver el mundo con los ojos de las grandes mayorías y ponerse al servicio de ellas y no como sometidos a los dictados de los monopolios y círculos restringidos del poder. No olvidemos que es el pueblo venezolano quien a través de más de diez contiendas electorales, ha manifestado su apoyo al gobierno actual y aprueba los cambios en curso. Recordamos respetuosamente, a las autoridades de la Unión Europea que

Venezuela es un país democrático, independiente y soberano -a pesar- de que nos visiten, renegados que sueñan con intervencionismo e intromisiones en los asuntos internos de ese país. Nosotros como belgas y europeos, aspiramos al respeto del derecho a la autodeterminación del pueblo venezolano a escoger su propia vía para mejorar su suerte.

For Delaware Liberal- Forget the Army, Join the Navy

Now that the Army will not allow soliders in the PX to purchase Playboy Magazine, Donviti over at Delaware liberal had no words to describe the situation.

Well, I have a suggestion.... Join the Navy:

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Delaware Libertarian Exclusive: Interview with Libertarian Presidential hopeful George Phillies

This is what Dr. George Phillies says on his website:

America is in deep trouble. We are on the wrong track.

America needs answers.

Only the Libertarian Party has those answers: Answers true to our traditions. Answers that will bring us Peace, Liberty, and Prosperity.

To bring the Libertarian message to the American people, we need the right candidate: A candidate with a sound Libertarian message. A candidate with solid credentials. A candidate with an effective campaign. A candidate who is proud to campaign as a Real Libertarian.

Who is that Candidate?

Obviously, Phillies believes that he is that candidate. Trying to find out, Delaware Libertarian posed the same five tough questions we asked of another hopeful yesterday. Here are his answers:

1) Even when the United States has withdrawn from Iraq, the issue of our relationship with Iran (and the potential of an Iranian nuclear program) will still be high on the new president's foreign policy agenda. What are your initial thoughts on handling the issue?

Americans complain that a former Iranian government allowed students to storm our embassy. Iranians complain that a former American President overthrew their government. The leaders who were involved in those things, in the last century, are now answering to a higher judge. I would anticipate restoring diplomatic and trade relations with Iran, and with the other countries we have historically turned our backs upon, for example, Cuba.

Looking toward the future, our various schemes to prop up or replace foreign dictators have brought great misfortune upon us. We should stop manipulating foreign governments. Whatever may have been the case 50 years ago, there is now no great foreign menace credibly trying to take over the world, and we should stop behaving as though there were.

It is sad that the various nations of the Middle East do not all have friendly relations with each other, but the historical reasons for this are well-known and not within our ability to change. It appears that at least one nation in the Middle East already has atomic weapons, but I do not believe that we Americans should be over-worried about the situation. In the 1950s, nuclear weapons deterred war between Russia and America, and the same logic will continue to operate today.

2) The new president will inherit an economy potentially in deep crisis, with the dollar floundering, foreign investors owning a huge chunk of our debt, the "mortgage bomb" exploding, and energy costs skyrocketing. What principles will guide you as president in restoring the American economy?

The world is changing. Fortunately, we are America, the country that thrives on change. Other countries may cower in the shadows when change threatens. We Americans cheer loudly for our individual right to respond to change as we each see fit.

The enormous benefits of capitalism are rapidly raising the standard of living of much of the world, creating new demand for old products. India, China, Russia, and the Arab states now use as much oil as the USA. China now produces three times as much steel as America does. For many other raw materials and foodstuffs, a similar situation is seen. Energy prices are soaring because potential demand is increasing. Increasing prices of raw materials are part of the world we live in, and will be so for the foreseeable future.

In a free country, what will a Libertarian President do about our economic crises? He can correct the problems that come from past bad government policies. One root of our problem is our national debt. It ties up nine trillion dollars in liquid capital. Interest on the national debt is over $400 billion a year. The national debt allows us to run a huge trade deficit on goods and services. When we send that near-trillion dollars a year abroad, to pay for imports not matched by exports, those foreign governments have to do something with their dollars. Their only real choice is to buy something American, and they buy Treasury Bills. If there was no national debt, if those T-Bills did not exist, there would be an enormous pressure on them to buy American goods or invest in America.

Paying off the national debt is therefore an important piece of a solution to our economic difficulties.

Uncle Sam should also move from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources, thus reducing competition for petroleum products. The sensible way to do this is for the Federal government to offer to buy electricity from new, renewable resources, using long-term fixed price contracts, until all government energy consumption is matched by these purchases. Uncle Sam shouldn't pay for research or build the power plants--that's for private enterprise. Uncle Sam should limit himself to buying the energy he needs in a way that reduces his dependence on petroleum products.

Finally, there should be massive reductions in the vast regulatory burden placed on the backs of small and large businessmen, farmers, and service workers. I will not argue about the motives of the people who wrote those rules. However, those regulations are making us poor, make the poor even poorer, and we just can't afford that.

3) The drumbeat of the so-called progressive candidates is that they will provide government-mandated health insurance for every American. How will you convince the millions of uninsured voters that the application of Libertarian principles to today's health care problems will benefit them?

In the end, you have to convince a working majority of voters that you have the right answer to their problems. You will never satisfy everyone, but that's no reason not to do the right thing. I have proposed a detailed multi-part program for dealing with medical insurance costs, including banning cost transfers, allowing interstate competition in the sale of health insurance, putting all medical costs on the same tax basis, allowing that European Union approval of a medical care product is adequate to let the product be sold in America, and rejecting proposals that the sale of vitamins should be regulated or banned. I am also proposing effective steps to get us a much richer economy, since medical insurance is not a problem for rich people. These steps will greatly improve the price and value of medical insurance, by taking actions that reduce government interference in a free market, this minimizing the number of people without insurance..

Note, incidentally, that millions of people reject modern medicine in favor of prayer or traditional methods from various parts of the globe. Mandating that those people buy medical insurance (or, as Senator Edwards did, requiring them to have a primary care physician) is simply irrational.

4) Libertarians have traditionally opposed a major role for the Federal government in public education, and there is now a general consensus that the deeply flawed "No Child Left Behind" act must be scrapped. Even so, given that a Libertarian president will end up working with a Congress composed primarily of Democrats and Republicans, what strategy will you use to achieve real reform in Education?

I anticipate forming positive alliances within Congress to repeal No Child Left Behind. I will reach out to America's educators, most of whom detest NCLB. And I will keep using a core campaign message: "We're broke. We can't afford that."

How will a Libertarian negotiate with Congress? A Libertarian just won the election. The opposition will be in shock. A realistic outcome is that one of those opposition parties is no longer in good working order, and the other party will be happy to help us keep it that way.

You try to be a little more tactful, but the Libertarian President's bargaining chip is: "Did you notice the results of the last election? Don't you think there might be a message here? Our election laws tend to ensure that we have a two party system. Which of you is volunteering to join the Libertarians as the two major parties, and which of you is volunteering to join the Federalists and the Whigs?"

5) Your Statist predecessors have used the aftermath of 9/11 to conduct the greatest assault on privacy and individual freedom in the US since the McCarthy years. How will you balance the need to protect the civil liberties of all American citizens against the need to protect the country from terrorist attacks?

The sworn duty of the President is to protect the Constitution. That is what I will do. The chief threat to the Republic here in 2008 is an ever-expanding Federal police state that treats with contempt our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The best defense against this threat is Law and Order. There are laws against warrantless wiretaps, detention without trial, kidnapping, and torture. The people who committed those crimes should be brought to justice. The facts of their cases should be presented to grand juries. Judge and juries will decide the fates of the indicted ones. If elected, I will appoint the needed corps of special prosecutors to see that justice is done in these cases. There is no better way to deter future civil servants and their private industry co-conspirators from breaking the law than to give them a lesson: If you break the law, you will win a long stay in Club Fed. Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.

It will also be desirable to repeal laws from the Bush administration, such as the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, NAIS, No Child Left Behind, RealID, the legal components of the Faith-Based Initiatives, and a wide range of executive orders of dubious or nonexistent legality.

Drug Peace Marches On : Argentina

As the fruitless, wasteful, destructive "war on drugs" (e.g. the arbitrary criminalization of self-regarding personal conduct) rolls on in the good ole US of A, filling our prisons and/or stigmatizing 1000's of otherwise peaceful law-abiding citizens, other countries continue waking up and acting on the reality of the total failure of drug prohibition.

In one fell swoop an Argentine federal court effectively decriminalized personal drug use, at least in the nation's capital Buenos Aires.

[Translated from Spanish - El Financiero En Linea]
Buenos Aires, April 23 .- A federal court in Buenos Aires decriminalized individual consumption of drugs in the capital, cancelling thousands of cases of persons accused of possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The ruling states that Federal Chamber of Appeals declared unconstitutional sections of the law enacted in 1989 punishing drug users.

The rule punishes consumers on the grounds they are the backbone of a chain that ends in drug trafficker. But the court ruled that such a presumption only generated "an avalanche of records for consumers without achieving the goal of moving up the chain of trafficking" in drugs.

Before any of the dwindling minority of rabid irrational drug prohibition defenders get their knickers in (more of) a twist, this is hardly isolated judicial "activism". Though knocking down an unconstitutional and unjust law should require no political validation, the Argentine court's wisdom apparently also reflects the position of the Argentine government.

"Although the issue should be settled in the Supreme Court, the court's ruling in Buenos Aires is in line with government policy of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in favor of reforming the laws to decriminalize drug use.

During a Special Session of the Economic and Social Council of the UN, held last month in Vienna, the Argentine Minister of Justice and Security, Anibal Fernandez, raised the "complete failure" of the policy of punishing drug users."

Would that the United States could snap out of this drug policy inertia that exists whereby everyone, even the drug warriors, knows the "drug war" is a dismal unaccountable failure by any conceivable measure, but few politicians have the stones to stand up and act. Most are living in the past, fearful of that tired old "soft on crime" label that worked in the 70's and 80's. There are definite glimmers of hope, though.

Would that we could end, in one fell swoop, the dark consequences of drug prohibiton such as :

  • Unconstitutional, illegal property seizures flagrantly violating basic due process of law.
  • The aggressive militarization of civilian law enforcement, creating Gestapo-esque law enforcement units busting down doors and often causing collateral deaths of innocents in the process.
  • The cat-and-mouse law enforcement games waged between drug black market entrepreneurs and enforcement agents, resulting in an ongoing erosion of general respect for the rule of any law, much less drug laws.
  • Needless diversion and endangerment of law enforcement personnel generally.
  • The constant urban crossfire and gang turf wars caused by the lawless wild west black market drug trade that will never ever cease because prohibition inflates prices such that the reward is worth taking almost any risk, especially by those who have nothing to lose.
  • The illegal firearms trade that goes hand-in-hand with drug black market violence.
  • The scourge of deaths caused by adulterated drugs or street-drug-related disease (which, by the way, remain far less than those caused every day by prescribed approved pharmaceutical drugs).
  • The constant plague of property crimes as desperate addicts rob, burgle, and steal to pay smarmy street dealers prices inflated beyond reason or ration by the prohibition-created black market.
  • The wasting of billions in public resources, thrown down a rat hole of attrition all to the end of clogging an already over-burdened criminal justice system with non-violent "malum prohibitum" offenders.
  • Easier access by minors to drugs than to alcohol in many cases, because the black market never discriminates amongst paying customers.

All this for a system of laws that do nothing to curb drug use much less drug trade but rather merely criminalizes more and more people with no other result than making more people into criminals. It is socialism gone crazy in America.

When do we finally say : "Time Out! This isn't working" ?

Public policy about drug use should be limited to offering humane assistance and responsible regulation to prevent the three D's : disease, death, and dependency.

This need not come at the expense of the responsible self-regarding personal choices and civil liberties of millions who avoid these detriments because....well, they are smart enough to know better without need of brutal nannies with battle fatigues, face masks, tasers and submachine guns.

Nearly nine decades of escalating arrests, prosecutions, penalizations, and incarcerations have done nothing to achieve any real or measurable harm reduction in drug use. Zip. Zilch.

As long as drug abuse is not defined as actual ABuse but rather as any use of any prohibited drug, the arbitrariness of the drug dragnet will continue to indiscriminately grind up the unlucky 3-5% of users it happens to catch, rather than helping 100% of those who actually need it.

Even after the last 37 odd years (pretty much my lifetime) of this harsh expanded industrialized national drug prohibition regime there is absolutely no factual or statistical proof that there has been an iota of progress, even just in stanching the flow of drugs much less in any real harm reduction.

Arguably the "drug war" has inflicted far greater and far more numerous harms than any drugs have ever caused.

Let's wake up America. It is time to face reality and reform these ridiculous puritanical Victorian pseudo-morality laws and end their horrific unintended consequences.

The days of philosophical arguments are long over, the results are in. It is pointless to argue any more about the morality or propriety of personal drug use in the context of the drug war. This never-ending "war" has proven nothing but an unmitigated yet escalating failure down to its most basic stated goal of eradicating drugs or drug usage.

Even if you think drugs are the source of universal evil, the drug war ain't stopping them. Its price in blood, treasure, and social chaos can no longer be tolerated.

Weekend Watching: Sometimes I get sick of politics.....

....and when I do, it makes me wish I still lived in Asia where I could watch human bowling on TV. My last post, which can only be described as a "Machismo" moment, expresses how frustrated I am getting with CATO and it was a result of too much tension and watching CATO consistently awarding the wrong groups awards for the right kind of reasons. It is like my cousin asked, "Why not award Ron Paul, guys?"

To relax the Asian way I want you to enjoy the collection of videos from this Japanese serial series and know that there is more to life than political bickering.... like human bowling.... please send me your comments or more funny videos.

I have a feeling I am going to need as much humor as I can get this weekend....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Coming tomorrow: A Delaware Libertarian Exclusive Interview with George Phillies

In one sense I go way back with Dr. Phillies, even though we never actually met. In the late 1960s-early 1970s he was already legendary as one of the premiere wargamers of his generation, and the virtually undisputed master of Avalon Hill's Stalingrad.

Now he's mounted a drive for the Libertarian Presidential nomination, running his campaign as if he might actually become President--a tactic that has both mystified and repelled some Libertarians, while intriguing others. If I were handicapping things right now, I'd put him in the high second tier of candidates, chiefly because Bob Barr and Mike Gravel have serious name recognition advantages, Wayne Allyn Root manages to get national audiences, and (until the recent age-of-consent controversy) Mary Ruwart has been the darling of the hard-liners (but see below on that subject).

At this point, I don't think there's a front runner; I think there's happy, Libertarian chaos.

Tomorrow, Dr. Phillies will answer the same five questions I put to Christine Smith. To prepare yourself, visit his website and take a gander at him on the stump in 2007:

Mary Ruwart, Child Porn, and the Libertarian Presidential nomination

When Dr. Mary Ruwart announced her candidacy for the Libertarian Presidential nomination I was pleased. Granted, Mary's personal views have always been in the radical/anarchist segment of the LP (while mine are decidedly in the pragmatic branch), I thought she would make a good candidate because--

She is articulate enough to explain Libertarian ideas clearly.

She had no discernible negatives like Bob Barr's authorship of the Patriot Act and support of the Defense of Marriage Act or Mike Gravel's plans for universal health care.

The fact that she had no experience in governing or leading a large organization is not really of that much consequence, since this year a win for the LP candidate will be 1-2% in the National election and influencing the Demopublican outcome in key states: she was never going to be President.

So regular readers will know that I have consistently listed her--along with George Phillies and Christine Smith--as two of the more interesting Libertarian candidates.

I'm reluctantly going to have to drop her from my consideration.

The reason? In Dr. Ruwart's Short Answers to Tough Questions this appears:

"Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if it's distasteful to us personally. Some children will make poor choices just as some adults do in smoking and drinking to excess. When we outlaw child pornography, the prices paid for child performers rise, increasing the incentives for parents to use children against their will."

I don't believe that this statement was intended as an endorsement of very young children having sex with adults, and other writings by Dr. Ruwart would support that interpretation. I think, as a philosopher and scholar, that she's rejecting one-size-fits-all age-of-consent laws, and thinking about a wide variety of paradoxes in our current society (i.e., two thirteen year olds having sex or a sixteen year old having sex with a five year old--in both cases both participants would be considered children--as opposed to a 17 year old having sex with an 18 year old who might only be a few months or days older). Just as I think there are 14 year olds out there I would trust to vote (and 25 year olds I'd like to have spayed or neutered), Dr. Ruwart takes a stand against that dysfunctional ambiguity in our laws which assign the right to have sex to all eighteen year olds, even though they don't have the right to take a drink for three more years.

And none of that matters, because this is the type of position that, while it may have academic or philosophic merit, reveals that the individual holding it as completely lacking the intellectual and political judgment necessary to hold executive elected office as a five year old lacks the intellectual and moral capacity to consent to sexual intercourse.

I have posted here--in one of my most controversial efforts (that even saw Brian disagreeing with me)--that the possession of child pornography should be decriminalized, because I do not believe that such criminalization either (a) materially protects or reduces the exposure of children at risk of being sexually exploited, and (b) that people's fantasy lives should not be the gist for prosecution, only their actual acts that harm other people. But there's are important distinctions between me making that argument and Dr Ruwart's opinion: (1) I believe in the concept of age of consent (however poorly I think it is being done in our society today); (2) I believe there do exist legitimate, limited societal interests expressed through government, and that among those are reasonable protections of children below the age of consent; (3) I'm not running for President, an office which requires you to take an oath to execute the existing laws of the land even when you're trying to change them.

The fact that Dr Ruwart--should she achieve the nomination--would be thrust (along with any LP chance at actually scoring increases to personal and economic freedom) into a position where Reverend Jeremiah Wright would be able to point over his shoulder and say, "There's somebody even I am to the right of," doesn't actually concern me that much.

What does concern me is the idea that the Libertarian Party, instead of making profound statements on a far less bloody, less costly, non-interventionist foreign policy, or for the right of all consenting adult citizens in America to get married regardless of their gender, will become the poster child for NAMBLA and the aluminum hat brigade.

This is getting tough.

I wrote off John McCain for good on his refusal to renounce preemptive war.

I've rejected Barack Obama as a candidate (even though I still admire many of his stands on issues like gay rights and science education) because (a) Iraq aside, he's just as much of a military interventionist/imperialist as the rest of them, and (b) funding all his attractive plans will require tax increases so massive that they will sink our economy.

Hillary is, well . . . she's Hillary--and I just can't take another Clinton White House.

I've turned my back on Bob Barr and Mike Gravel (Mike's latest oh-so-humble comment about his candidacy: "I don’t know if the Libertarian Party has had, since its foundation—and I say this most modestly—a bigger fish.")

I've also said no to Wayne Allyn Root, who seems more interested in using the Libertarian nomination to promote his reality shows than actually running and espousing thoughtful ideas.

Now Mary Ruwart's gone.

So far (ruling out Alan Keyes and Cynthia McKinney on general good taste), that leaves Ralph Nader (way too much a Statist for me), Christine Smith, and George Phillies.

You've read Christine's interview here today; you'll get a chance to see what George has to say tomorrow.

Maybe there's something there for me to hang my hat on.

Or maybe I'm going to end up sitting this one out.

PS If you want to see Libertarians self-destruct on this issue in an orgy of philosophical tail-chasing and the ability to rationalize virtually anything, go here and here. Or don't, if you've already eaten.