Sunday, September 30, 2012

My cold, calculating Libertarian mind

Matt Ridley from WSJ on a study of how Libertarians differ cognitively and psychologically from Liberals and Conservatives:
The study collated the results of 16 personality surveys and experiments completed by nearly 12,000 self-identified libertarians who visited YourMorals.org. The researchers compared the libertarians to tens of thousands of self-identified liberals and conservatives. It was hardly surprising that the team found that libertarians strongly value liberty, especially the "negative liberty" of freedom from interference by others. Given the philosophy of their heroes, from John Locke and John Stuart Mill to Ayn Rand and Ron Paul, it also comes as no surprise that libertarians are also individualistic, stressing the right and the need for people to stand on their own two feet, rather than the duty of others, or government, to care for people. 
Perhaps more intriguingly, when libertarians reacted to moral dilemmas and in other tests, they displayed less emotion, less empathy and less disgust than either conservatives or liberals. They appeared to use "cold" calculation to reach utilitarian conclusions about whether (for instance) to save lives by sacrificing fewer lives. They reached correct, rather than intuitive, answers to math and logic problems, and they enjoyed "effortful and thoughtful cognitive tasks" more than others do. 
The researchers found that libertarians had the most "masculine" psychological profile, while liberals had the most feminine, and these results held up even when they examined each gender separately, which "may explain why libertarianism appeals to men more than women." 
All Americans value liberty, but libertarians seem to value it more. For social conservatives, liberty is often a means to the end of rolling back the welfare state, with its lax morals and redistributive taxation, so liberty can be infringed in the bedroom. For liberals, liberty is a way to extend rights to groups perceived to be oppressed, so liberty can be infringed in the boardroom. But for libertarians, liberty is an end in itself, trumping all other moral values.
I don't think I buy liberty as "trumping all other moral values," but I suspect I place it much, much higher than most of my friends of other persuasions (Dana Garrett might accuse me of having a "fetish" for liberty--he likes that term and it might be applicable here).

On the other hand, I spend a great deal of time harnessing those "cold" calculations to serve the ends of children with special needs being shortchanged by the public education system because their situations and their stories rip my heart out.

So go figure.

In praise (believe it or not) of Frank Knotts

Some days I think Frank is hidebound crazy, but today he is brilliant.

Two snippets.

Number one:

 I also realize that this nation was founded by Christians and so it is clear that their faith led them and guided them and sustained them in their struggles for Liberty. However, this nation was not founded, “FOR”, Christians. It was founded for all men, of all faiths, and for all freedom loving people to live free or die. 
  This is why as a Christian, and a conservative I am concerned with candidates and officials who seem to feel the need to tie the two together in a way that would exclude other faiths from being conservative, or at least to infer that though they may be conservatives, people of other faiths cannot possibly be as good a conservative as a Christian conservative.
Number two:
Let’s look at the statement of Mr. Bodenweiser, where he says he want to get the Bible back into our schools. What exactly does that mean and how exactly do we do that?
We must first accept the fact, that yes our Founding Fathers did intend for our government and our faith to be separate, anyone who says otherwise is a NARC (not a real conservative). Let us not forget that our public schools are paid for by people of all faiths, and yes even by some of no faith at all. So I would ask Mr. Bodenweiser just how he intends to interject the Christian Bible into our public school systems without establishing a state-run religion? (NARC)
 
Would he and those who feel as he does simply force Jewish and Muslim and atheist children to be subjected to teachings that their parents do not agree with, simply because they cannot afford to send their children to private schools? Or maybe we could create some special camps for them to be sent to?NARC 
It is indeed ironic when I find the two best posts on the Delaware blogosphere this weekend to have been written by Frank Knotts and Jason Scott. 


If elected, Romney will fake a review of interrogations in order to return to torture

Ironically, I had just read this line in jason330's perceptive post* about why there are many conservative Republicans who don't like Romney:
That’s why they don’t like Rommey. He doesn’t appear wild-eyed and unsteady enough. His craziness, like his empathy, comes off as insincere.
 . . . when I next read this post about how Romney is being advised to have a sham review of interrogation methods, if elected, so he will look like he agonized over the decision to start torturing people again:

Mitt Romney's national security advisers have quietly urged him to reverse President Barack Obama's 2009 executive order that outlawed the use of interrogation techniques that amounted to torture, according to a 2011 policy memo obtained by Charlie Savage of theNew York Times. 
The memo, which contains a number of factual errors and misleading statements, lays out two courses for a President Romney: Either immediately promise to rescind Obama's executive order upon taking office, or initiate a "comprehensive review" of interrogation policy that ends with Romney rescinding Obama's executive order. Though the outcome of the "review" is never in doubt, the memo states that the latter policy will make Romney appear "open-minded and empirically driven." The memo does not appear to have a single author, but Savage reports that it was the product of an 18-person policy committee packed with Bush administration lawyers.  
Strangely, the memo is somewhat agnostic in its belief about whether or not the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" actually work. "It is difficult to settle the question definitively," the memo states, adding later that "it is difficult to argue conclusively that enhanced interrogation techniques would have generated more information than the techniques in the Army Field Manual; we simply don't know what we don't know." Contrast that with the blanket assertions from conservatives that abandoning torture left the US vulnerable to terrorist attacks. (emphasis added)
So these are the choices in America's 2012 presidential election, and the only two people who you will be allowed to watch debate on television:

Barack Obama:  who pioneered the premise of the extrajudicial killing of American citizens, the lack of any role for Congressional oversight in military adventures abroad, and the destruction of all notions of personal privacy as a civil liberty. . .

OR

Mitt Romney:  who will probably do all the shit Obama did, and more, but we don't really know because even on items like torture he is more interested in looking "open-minded and empirically driven" while he does what he is told than he is in holding any belief beyond the next news conference.

As for me, like Patrick Henry, "I know not what course others may take," but I'm voting for Gary Johnson, and I won't throw any stones at anybody who votes for Jill Stein either.

This is what President Obama has done to American civil liberties

The ACLU provides these two graphs to show how it has been President Obama NOT former President Bush* who has turned the violation of American privacy with warrantless surveillance into a daily reality for all of us.

Please note in both graphs where the uptick starts:

*This is NOT an attempt to let Dubya off the hook.  He provided the initial "justifications" for shredding the Constitution.  But Obama has outdone him by multiple degrees of magnitude that should have warmed the artificial heart of Dick Cheney.

Connor Friersdorff at The Atlantic: don't vote for Obama, vote for Gary Johnson

This is the most compelling case that Barack Obama--regardless of whether or not you think Mitt Romney would be any better or any worse--does not deserve your vote.

I hesitate to provide even a snippet because I really, really, REALLY think you need to read the whole thing, but here:
If you're a Democrat who has affirmed that you'd never vote for an opponent of gay equality, or a torturer, or someone caught using racial slurs, how can you vote for the guy who orders drone strikes that kill hundreds of innocents and terrorizes thousands more -- and who constantly hides the ugliest realities of his policy (while bragging about the terrorists it kills) so that Americans won't even have all the information sufficient to debate the matter for themselves?

Don't write in Ron Paul--buy him! Ron Paul and Norfed coins to support Libertarian US House candidate Scott Gesty

From the Gesty for Congress campaign:
Hello All:
I am happy to announce my 3rd and possibly final Fund Raiser for the 2012 campaign. This one is called : Gesty for Congress, Return to Sound Money Fund Raiser. This one should appeal to all those liberty minded individuals who believe that:

•As written in the Constitution, only Gold and Silver will only be legal tender 
 
•Commodity backed money is a tool to constrain an ever proliferating federal government 
•The Federal Reserve's interest rate manipulation and debasement of our currency is immoral and hurts savers and people on fixed incomes 
I once again will tap into my personal collection to show my appreciation for your support of my campaign. This is how it will work: 
•Any donation of $25 will receive a Ron Paul Commemorative Copper Coin  
•Any donation of $50 will receive the Ron Paul Coin AND an Authentic Copper NORFED Liberty Dollar! 
You can learn more about NORFED Liberty Dollars here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Dollar
These coins are collectables only. They are not real money and can't even be used for barter.
 
And what is different about this fund raiser is, the more you contribute, the more coins you get! For every donation above $50, increased in $25 increments, will get another coin. So for example: 
•A donation of $75 will get two Ron Paul Coins and one Liberty Dollar
•A donation of $100 will get two Ron Paul Coins and two Liberty Dollars
•A donation of $200 will get four Ron Paul Coins and four Liberty Dollars
I'm capping this at a donation of $250 which would give you 5 of each coin, for a total of 10 Coins.
 
And here is the Grand Finale if you will,,, If you Contribute $500 or more to my campaign, you will receive a rare Ron Paul Silver NORFED Liberty Dollar! These were minted and released just before NORFED was shut down by the federal government. I only have two of these in my possession. When they are gone, they are gone.  
All these coins are encased in an air-tight plastic container and have not been touched by human hands (at least not mine anyway). The Ron Paul Copper and Silver coins are in brilliant uncirculated condition. The picture does not do them justice. 
The NORFED Copper coins aren't as pretty due to their original composition and were probably exposed to air by the previous owner. But still, there won't be any more of these made, so they are nice for someone who either collects coins or just wants to hold a small piece of history.  
The goal of this promotion is to raise enough money, along with what we have done in the past, to pay for campaign literature, campaign apparel for volunteers and a radio ad that will broadcast on a local radio station the week up to election day. So I encourage those who wish to support my campaign to take advantage of this fund raiser. This one will end Friday October 12th at 11:59pm. This will give me enough time to assess what funds we have and put it to work in time for it to have the biggest impact on November 6th. 
To donate, visit my website: www.gesty4congress.org to use Paypal or checks can be sent to me; Scott Gesty, 1609 Windybush Rd, Wilmington DE, 19810. If you have any questions, please send me a message. If I think your question will help the masses, I'll update this thread. 
For those who have already and continue to support me and my campaign, Thank You! I'll never be able to adequately express my appreciation for all you've done. For the new comers, here's your opportunity to help me show the two party douoploy that we are out there, we are legitimate, and we are NOT going away!  
In Liberty,
Scott

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Jay Leno's Break With (Sur)Reality



Leno:  "A new survey out today shows how much time we waste every day in our lives. For example, we waste seven minutes in line every time we go to get coffee, 28 minutes getting through airport security, four years waiting for Obama to do something about the economy. Every year, we waste a lot. We wasted a lot of time."

Whether or not you think Jay Leno’s scathing truth joke about Obama is funny, I think we can all agree that his comment reveals a dismal fact that no sane person reasonable person regular (MS)NBC viewer can possibly ignore for another moment:  Jay Leno is a racist.  End of story.

Make no mistake about it, though, late night jokester non-person Leno will soon know what a terrible, terrifying fate it is to be the latest addition to The Obama Guest List  Blame List  Kill List  Shit List.

Godspeed, funny man.

Phillips Electronics becomes third sponsor to pull out of presidential debates

Originally the Demopublican Commission on Presidential Debates had ten corporate sponsors.

As of this morning they are down to seven.

The following corporations, based in large measure on the grassroots efforts of Libertarians, Greens, and other Americans who value inclusive democracy, have decided not to affiliate themselves with this year's debates because Governor Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein were not invited:
Phillips Electronics 
BBH New York 
YWCA
Time to go after the others. 

Once again: the lynching of John Young

So Eric Anderson resigns from the Christina School Board to campaign for the General Assembly . . . and loses (Eric, you really should have called Red Clay's Kim Williams for some advice on the proper sequencing of events).

CSD posts the required statutory notice of a vacancy on the board until the next election.

Only applicant from the city of Wilmington:  former CSD Board member and president George Evans.

Let's stop here to note that in 2010 the residents of the city of Wilmington overwhelmingly rejected Mr. Evans in favor of Mr. Anderson by an 869-217 margin.  Allowing for the third candidate in the race, after nearly 20 years on the school board Mr. Evans had so impressed his constituents that he received a massive 18.2% of the vote.

In other words, more than four out of five voters in Wilmington wanted Mr. Evans OFF the CSD.

OK, back to main narrative.

CSD posts the notice of vacancy.  Mr. Evans, spectacularly unsuccessful in his re-election bid, applies to come back to the board.

Nobody else applies.

CSD School Board deadlocks 3-3 on re-appointing Mr. Evans to the board.  He is not re-appointed.

In the time-honored tradition of unsuccessful politicians everywhere, he runs whining to the ACLU that he had the right to be seated, and gins up his followers to scream racism.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Libertarian Andy Horning poised to be the spoiler in Indiana US Senate race

He's polling 7%, which more than covers the spread between the Demopublican candidates.

Which is just fine with me.

Being a spoiler is a prerequisite to winning elections, and since no matter who we elect--Dem or GOPer--we get more wars, more deficits, more drug arrests, and fewer civil liberties, I'm perfectly fine at this stage of the game being the random factor.

Go Andy!!!!!!!

Quick hits on President Obama's utter lack of a foreign policy

1.  Ralph Nader makes the case that drone assassinations constitute war crimes every bit as much as torture.

2.  Military officials admit that the Obama surge into Afghanistan was a failure.

3.  President Obama is now re-deploying combat troops back into Iraq.

4.  Muslim world leaders tell Obama at UN that free speech rights cannot be "absolute."

Nope.  This is not a disaster.  Nothing to see.  Write your pledge on the back of your hand and tell Michelle "you're in."

Forget the economy.  Four more years of this . . . .

Oh, never mind.  I just remembered that Mitt Romney's foreign policy stands are equally idiotic, and--as we all know--God and the US Constitution and the Commission on Presidential Debates will only allow voters two choices.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

#OCCUPYJIHAD@MSNBCNN


Well apparently one of the deranged loonjobs regularly part of the MSNBC(NN) parade of freaks, Mona Eltahawy, took a break from defaming reality on-air to shoot off her big pseudo-victimized mouth in a NYC subway station while busily going about destroying property and practically assaulting a woman who tried to stop her lunacy...

...until reality (the real one, not the insane leftist "reality-based" reality, e.g. delusion world) decided to pay her a little visit.



It's been a long time since I can remember cheering the arrival of the police anywhere, much less the NYPD, but this had me out of my seat rooting (and laughing) when I watched.  But it wasn't because Eltahawy was pink spray-painting some political poster in an insipidly staged, albeit revealingly-frenzied, stunt (with cameras rolling, of course).  No, what did it for me was her repeated lunging and aggressive paint-spraying of a person standing in the way of her criminal mischief.

The scolded-child, quivering-lip-stuck-out look on this idiot's face as she realizes she's under arrest is priceless. (Note to Mona: repeatedly reaching into your bag while you're being arrested is NOT a smart move).

I am as much a Ron Paul/Gary Johnson supporting anti-interventionist as you get, but the Islamic jihadist movement and its violent, maniacal, murderous devotees will, sooner or later, have to be dealt with before nuclear weapons become their tools. It's just fatal ignorance to think this isn't an inevitable real-world danger.

It sucks that the BushObama wars have gotten us to this place, repeatedly swatting the hornets' nest to kill off the relatively-few offending insects, but like it or not we're here now.

Putting up posters or spray-painting over them does nothing towards confronting and dealing this reality, but this little video episode sure does highlight the berzerk, twisted nature of media pundit wackjobs who endorse, and even act on, the notion that free speech means accommodating active, and here even VIOLENT, designs to suppress or altogether obliterate free speech exercised PEACEFULLY by others who reject such designs.

H/T: NewsBusters

Talk about game changing

Mitt Romney MUST have Ohio to win.

Gary Johnson is now polling at 10.6% in Ohio.

To be polling in double digits at the end of September in a battleground state where both Demopublicans have been throwing in tens of millions of dollars?

Hello, Presidential Debate Commission, this is a guy that people want to hear about.

A new meaning for "having the stones"

My absence, more or less, for the last couple days has not been occasioned by political upheaval or (as at least some probably hoped) lack of interest.

I have been busily "passing" (what an amazing euphemism for pissing out giant, jagged boulders) four kidney stones.

I am blissfully at the point where narcotic pain meds are no longer necessary.  I merely feel like someone has taken a baseball bat to my left kidney for the past 48 hours, and I can more or less kill that pain with prescription-strength doses of ibuprofen.

There are those who might argue that the writing would be more interesting if I typed away while on the drugs.  Look what it did for Ken Kesey.

Alas, you'll never know, because at a certain point in the moaning and groaning my wife pointed out to me that resting a laptop across my stomach above my kidneys might actually be contributing to more intense pain.  Good point, that.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The could make a lot of my liberal/progressive friends into libertarians

Government policies now threaten the future of America's bacon supply.

Gary Johnson versus the Zombies

Ralph Begleiter's cousin or Micheline Boudreau's ex

. . . must be running the Senatorial debates in Wisconsin.

US State Department: cyber attacks may constitute act of war . . .

. . . unless, of course, we execute them.

Lithopanspermia and evangelical religion

"Pan-spermia" is the idea that life on Earth did not originate here, but that the planet was seeded by either very simple micro-organisms or at least the basic building blocks of life from outer space.

The concept has obviously been a staple of science fiction for decades (see, for example, one of my favorite Star Trek Next Generation episodes, "The Chase").

Most current research, of course, focuses on unintentional pan-spermia--chunks of whatever blown out of one solar system and ending up in another, quite by (shall we say) evolutionary accident.

"Lithopanspermia" is exactly that:  Pan-spermia by chunks of rock.

It has always been a low order possibility in scientific circles, because the best calculations of the chances of random life-bearing (or life-precusor-bearing) rocks being flung from one system and ending up being captured in the gravity well of a planet in another system were (get ready for the pun) astronomically low:  1 in 1,000,000 or lower.

Turns out, however, that all of these studies and simulations had in common working with rocks ejected at high speeds.

When you simulate rocks leaving their home systems very slowly, the odds of a successful transfer between stars in the same or neighboring clusters drops to between 5 to 12 out of 10,000--it becomes 1,000 times more likely, and possibly common, say several Princeton astronomers:
"Our work says the opposite of most previous work," [Edward] Belbruno said. "It says that lithopanspermia might have been very likely, and it may be the first paper to demonstrate that. If this mechanism is true, it has implications for life in the universe as a whole. This could have happened anywhere."
If this holds up, from a societal point of view this could be as disorienting to evangelical religion (both Christian and Muslim) as Charles Darwin's work on natural selection.

Here's why:

Both fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity and Islam depend on the Earth and human beings being the center of the universe--or at least the point of the universe.

That's why Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Galileo, Darwin, Einstein, Dirac, and Hawking are so dangerous.  Each succeeding discovery has taken humanity and Earth further and further from the center stage to being an unimportant accident in an insignificant part of a very large universe that can be explained with no reference to Her.

Lithopanspermia challenges one of the last hold-out positions for evangelical intellectuals (and, yes, there are some), the idea that in an otherwise apparently lifeless universe life on Earth is unique.

It was always a weak, statistically indefensible argument, but people will grasp at whatever reeds necessary to sustain their faith.  (Ironically, I don't personally believe that Christianity depends, or ever did depend, on this sort of argument, but that's a story for another day.)

So you can expect (if this theory ever gets really substantial legs--and a variety of our investigations on Mars and the asteroids could give it those legs), that the following will be the stages of response:

Denial.

Ridicule.

The further insulation of their children and their communities from science.

Attempted suppression of the research.

Violence (I'm not kidding).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

If you expect to have journalistic credibility on public education . . .

. . . how to you put this in an editorial on charter schools:
these non-traditional public schools, funded with state taxpayer’s dollars, have had an uneven record of success. Some have failed miserably and deserved the intervention of the state Department of Education to close them down.
. . . while writing this, two paragraphs later:
the public school establishment in general has much to fear about a growing trend of new charter schools, due to their record of greater studentachievement with less resources in terms of building capital and teacher pay. 
So which is it, News Journal?  Did you count the students in the schools that failed, or does their failure somehow take them off the books, leaving on the students at the schools that have so far succeeded?

Or, unbelievably, has the entire editorial board missed the prolonged and nuanced discussion on blogs around the state that have challenged this precise assertion, that charter schools inherently do better with less resources than public schools.

May in the Gannett era of outsourcing, Voices for Delaware Education was subcontracted to write this editorial.

Don't misunderstand me:  I am a charter school parent, and an advocate for educational choice.  But I also deal in data rather than platitudes, and on that level this superficiality on the part of the State's supposed newspaper of record--especially in counterpoint to some of the excellent reporting Nichole Dobo has done--is not just disappointing, it's depressing.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Re-reading "On the Beach": why I am a Libertarian

For whatever reason my literary interests run in spurts, and I have been re-reading a lot of classic (1950s-1970s) nuclear holocaust/cold war fiction, including Nevil Shute's classic On the Beach.

For those who don't know it, Shute postulates a massive thermonuclear war in the northern hemisphere that sterilizes the whole place.  Slowly, the wind exchange at the equator begins to bring the radioactive dust southward, extinguishing all human life as it goes.

The novel is set in Melbourne, that last major city in the world that will die, and covers roughly the last nine months of human life on planet Earth.

(To note:  the actual scenario was far more plausible at the time than it appears today.  Just forget about that part and think of it as a useful literary device for killing off humanity and watching how the last specimens of the race choose to die.)

Aside from the fact that I think Shute is quite gentle with the last victims as a whole, and that they manifest a great deal more grace and personal nobility than I'd expect in real life, the novel succeeds on multiple levels--as a work of literature, as an anti-nuclear war piece, and as a condemnation of the people who stood by and let the great powers decide the destiny of all humanity without a peep.

Shute went to a great deal of effort to create and relate a plausible nuclear war scenario than runs, step by step, from an initial (probably terrorist) strike in Albania to an attack on Washington DC (by the Egyptian Air Force flying long-range Soviet bombers!) into a gigantic exchange between the US-USSR-China that eventually devastates the planet.

I was struck by the fact that what Shute had done is use the "Iron Dice" formula from World War One to get his fictional world into the war.

But how many more deaths will be required to change John Carney's mind?

From Stars and Stripes:

Letter from doomed soldier helped change congressman's mind on Afghan withdrawal date

President Obama believes we can go on losing American lives for no particular reason for another two years.

John Carney says he has reservations about this, but is unwilling to break with his own President.

Moral leadership, Mr. Carney, means doing what's right even if there is some cost to you, or to your party.

Obviously you don't get that.

Somebody get Leon Panetta a flight suit, a carrier, and a banner

Despite rising American casualties from "green on blue" killings, and no objective markers of progress in the Afghan war, Sec Def Leon Panetta has now joined hands with the Greeks under Alexander the Great, the British Empire, and the  Soviet Union to announce that President Barack Obama's surge had met its objectives:
Speaking today on the removal of troops from the 2010 surge from Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta declared the surge had “accomplished its mission” and was an unquestionable success. Yesterday’s announcement brought the last of the 33,000 surge troops home, leaving 68,000 remaining. 
The mission, according to Panetta, was “increasing the size and capability of the Afghan national security forces.” They are certainly bigger, but the training mission has been indefinitely postponed because of the growing number of insider attacks.
Of course, since nobody supporting either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama actually gives a shit about our military commitments and soldier deaths around the world, this won't be news either.

If I am not fee to slander, satirize, and malign the Prophet Mohammed, then I do not have free speech

New Jersey Muslim cleric Mohammad Qatanani has apparently* made the argument that the First Amendment should stop short of permitting speech critical of the Prophet Mohammed or Islam in general.  His angle--national security: 

According to Mohammad Qatanani, Imam of one of the largest mosques in New Jersey, free speech that is critical of Islam poses a national security threat and "should be investigated by the Department of Homeland Security," The Blaze reported Thursday.
“We, as Americans, have to put limits and borders [on] freedom of speech,” he told The Blaze.
"He explained that while Americans may 'have the freedom' to speak their mind, ultimately, they 'have no right to [talk about Muslim] holy issues' as it will incite 'hatred or war among people,'” Tiffany Gabbay wrote.
This is really simple:  religion does not have any privileged exemption from free speech in a free society.  If we can have "Piss Christ" (and that was not only constitutionally guaranteed, but government funded), then we can have "Shit Mohammed."



*I use "apparently" here because anything first reported in (and to which all subsequent reports are derivative of) The Blaze are, quite frankly, suspect until confirmed.

The American Thinker misses the point of Libertarianism

Jeremy Egerer doesn't like Libertarian thought, that's clear.  But his dislike is not conditioned by the economic arguments of the philosophy:

I have no problem with the idea of man as a logical being (although I believe he's frequently blinded by desire), nor do I find wealth and free markets offensive. . . .
What Egerer finds offensive is that Libertarian philosophy--starkly painted, as by Ludwig von Mises--has no need for God.  It allows room for God--or at least the belief in God--but it has no need for the Deity:
Mises didn't revere our Founding Fathers; he intended to establish a new form of society, antithetical to our founding principles and Christianity.
(You see, within Libertarian philosophy, God is only necessary if belief in Her is necessary for your individual happiness.)

Egerer objects to Libertarian thought because he is effectively an old-line William Buckley conservative, harkening back to the days of the late 1950s and early 1960s when Libertarians were allowed in as the junior member of the three-legged stool that supported the Republican Party:  traditionalism, cold-warrior-ism, and libertarianism.

Conservatives liked Libertarianism only for what it said about fiscal conservatism and limited government, and they intended to use traditionalism (which was really a covert term for the Judeo-Christian tradition) to provide the moral bounds that government wouldn't, couldn't, or shouldn't.

Egerer is most self-revealing when he talks about the appeal to patriotism, which is, to him, the appeal to war:
One may of course say that men, living under a libertarian government, aren't necessarily bound to fight simply for the reasons the government says they fight; we say they can fight in the name of family, or friends, or even in the name of God.  But subjectivity is a poor banner under which to die, a foundation comprising anything but the meaningful.  
This misses the point that "under a libertarian government" men would not be asked to fight except in direct defense of their country or their homes.  The fact that this would make a truly Libertarian society more peaceful and less oppressive to its own citizenry and other nations is lost on him.

But it is chiefly Mises' atheism that appalls Egerer.  He is either unwilling or unable to accept the idea that a society not based on God-given morality is pointless:
Unalienable rights require a specific Deity.  And while I wouldn't for one second infer that the state must form its own religion, religious principles are the foundation for any meaningful system of law, a common discernment between what is right and what seems right, regardless of whether or not what's right is pleasurable.
So because Libertarianism as a political philosophy does not require God, it is empty and meaningless:
What am I to make of Mises and libertarianism, or that ideology's adherents?  In the end, though I find them destructive to Western civilization, I pity them.  They seek civilization in earthly pleasure, and meaning in meaninglessness.  I have a destiny, have a God, have glory, have unalienable rights and The Law, have incorruptible joy -- and should Pleasure ever stand between these and me, then with the Almighty's help, She will know where Her dominion ends.  Take your stand where you may; I cannot but with my whole heart reject libertarianism.
Unfortunately, aside from his confusion of Libertarianism with a rejection of religion by individual Libertarians, Egerer also mistakes the point of the philosophy's insistence on human happiness as a worthwhile goal of society--willfully conflating "happiness" with "pleasure," a common misreading that converts Libertarians into hedonists.

If religion and your belief in God provides you with happiness and personal fulfillment, Mises insists (and Egerer rejects), then that's OK.  But the person who finds happiness in completing fine woodwork, or drinking good liquor, or in collecting ladies' garters has no less a claim within society to the right to pursue that happiness.

This is the point that Thomas Jefferson makes in the Declaration of Independence:  "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"--and the point that Egerer so completely misses.

Friday, September 21, 2012

UPDATED--Taking the fight right to the enemy: Gary Johnson files anti-trust suit . . . .

. . . against the Democratic Party, Republican Party, and the Commission on Presidential Debates.

This is all we know so far:
The Gary Johnson 2012 Campaign filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Democratic Party, Republican Party and Commission on Presidential Debates for antitrust and anticompetitive acts earlier today.
Here's the official press release with a lot more information:
JOHNSON CAMPAIGN FILES ANTI-TRUST ACTION AGAINST
NATIONAL COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES



Announcing the campaign's legal action, senior Johnson advisor Ron Nielson said, "There is nothing remotely surprising in the fact that a private organization created by and run by the Republican and Democratic Parties has only invited the Republican and Democratic candidates to their debates. It is a bit more disturbing that the national news media has chosen to play the two-party game, when a full one-third of the American people do not necessarily identify with either of those two parties.

"American voters deserve a real debate between now and Election Day. By excluding Gov. Johnson, the Commission on Presidential Debates has guaranteed that there will be no one on the stage challenging continued wars, calling for a balanced budget now — as opposed to decades down the road, and who has never advocated govern ment-run health care.

"Someone has to stand up and call this what it is: A rigged system designed entirely to protect and perpetuate the two-party duopoly. That someone will be the Johnson campaign. We are today filing a lawsuit in Federal Court charging that the National Commission and the Republican and Democratic Parties, by colluding to exclude duly qualified candidates outside the Republican and Democratic Parties, are in violation of the nation's anti-trust laws.

"It is unfortunate that a successful two-term governor who is already assured of being on the ballot in 47 states and the District of Columbia is forced to turn to the courts to break up a rigged system, but it appears that fairness is not to be found otherwise."

Johnson's running mate and retired California Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, who is also a plaintiff, will argue the motion on the campaign's behalf.

The lawsuit, filed only hours after the Commission's announcement, char ges that the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee and an organization they set up, the Commission on Presidential Debates, have conspired together to restrain trade, both in ideas and in commerce. The lawsuit maintains that the Republican and Democratic Parties, through the CPD, indefensibly limits access of other candidates to the marketplace of ideas and the opportunity to be employed in these highest offices in the land, and in so doing are violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890.

The lawsuit seeks an order of the Court enjoining the debates from proceeding unless all candidates who will appear on the ballot in enough states to win in the Electoral College are allowed to participate.

Nielson said the Johnson campaign would likely file additional lawsuits in additional jurisdictions challenging the exclusion of Johnson and Gray from the debates on other grounds.

Prior to 1988, the League of Women Vote rs sponsored nationally-televised presidential debates. The League withdrew its debate sponsorship after the Republican and Democratic campaigns negotiated an agreement to determine which candidates could participate, who would be panelists, and other details of the debates. The League withdrew its support for the debates because "the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetuate a fraud on the American voter."

Scott McLarty at Firedog Lake: Progressives unite to get Jill Stein and Gary Johnson into presidential debates

I salute him especially for this principled paragraph:
We can start by demanding a place in the debates for Green presidential nominee Jill Stein. We can be true to our democratic principles by demanding inclusion of all qualified presidential candidates, like Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, in the debates.
THIS is how change will happen, when a new coalition agrees that democratic principles are more important than preserving a warped and failing two-party system.

What I want in the next Libertarian National Committee At-large position

Now that Wayne Root has abruptly discovered he's a Republican (and, boy, wasn't that a shock to the entire Libertarian Party), we are left with an at-large position on the LNC to fill.

Independent Political Report is carrying the statements of a lot (all?) self-nominees, and you can read them for yourself.

I'm not endorsing anybody here, I'm just going to make a statement from one county LP chairman out in the boondocks about what I want in the person who takes this position.

My requirements are short and sweet:

I need somebody at the LNC who is going to turn the national LP into an organization that funnels resources toward the state affiliates.  That doesn't have to mean money.  It could mean helping us find and negotiate places to do cheap campaign printing.  It could mean providing help with generating national press releases that cover local and state candidates.  It could mean running candidate boot camps ala Campaign for Liberty.  It could mean a lot of stuff that doesn't seem to be a priority to the LNC right now.

I need somebody at the LNC who is going to support and help build on the amazing campaign organization that is boot-strapping itself into existence in the Gary Johnson 2012 campaign.  This campaign has been an improvised (and often quite messy) mix of top-down and bottom-up, and we've both made mistakes and pulled off some amazing coups.  We've undoubtedly attracted more attention than any other LP presidential campaign in history.  That organization needs to become both the model and the basis for continuing endeavors at the national level.

I need somebody at the LNC that will actually tell people that nobody out here trying to elect state representatives actually gives a shit about an LP headquarters building, or the ridiculous bylaws requirement that prevents anybody who cannot fund thousands of dollars of independent travel each year from being part of the LNC.  There is no damn reason that many LNC meetings cannot be held online via video conferencing, and that the money thus saved cannot be turned back into support actual campaigning and issues advocacy.

I need somebody at the LNC who actually brings a strategy that will get Libertarians elected.  It is not f--king brain surgery.  We need to analyze our state LPs and find a district in Texas or Arkansas or Colorado or wherever where we have (a) a strong, committed candidate; (b) a weak incumbent; and (c) local activists, and then the LP needs to coordinate pouring in a shitload of  money and expertise to go all out to win an election to a state legislative position.  In many states this will only require a few thousand votes.  The amazing failure of vision of the LNC to pursue this sort of strategy appalls me.

I need somebody at the LNC who will organize issue advocacy and actually USE the damn internet and new media to do issue advocacy tied to the Libertarian brand 24/7/365 even in--especially in--the off election years.

It's that damn simple.  If I had a vote (which I never will), you'd need to impress me with four out of five or I'd vote for "None of the Above" and save somebody the plane fare.

There are a lot of reasons to "waste" your vote on Gary Johnson for President. Here's just one:

He is the ONLY candidate who will end this national nightmare:

State Department spends $70K to run "please don't attack us" ads in Pakistan

Incredible.

We're spending money on ads in Urdu to tell people that the US didn't make the Mohammed soft-core porn/spoof video, apparently so the people there won't get mad and attack us:
“Let me state very clearly, the United States has absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its contents,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says in the video, which also features spots of Obama saying that the US respects all faiths.
Not that the fact that we send in drones that indiscriminately kill civilian bystanders could have had anything to do with them being pissed off at us before, huh?

Vilest and most idiotic News Journal letter of the week

(With apologies to Hube for stealing his schtick.)

First off, this letter was published yesterday (September 19)--eight days AFTER the primary it was intended to influence.  That idiocy I assign to the News Journal.

However, the letter itself is vile for reasons I will explain below:

Congratulations to Nick Manolakos for his new career path as head master of the Odyssey Charter School. As a voter I applaud his new job choice. 
What I question is his commitment and ability to be a committed legislator or a committed head master. Last session Rep. Manolakos missed over 20 percent of the votes cast in Dover. Now in his new role what will he choose to be committed to? Thestudents and the school or being in Legislative Hall for session in Dover by 2 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from January to June. 
Either the students suffer or votes get missed. Seems to me that he would be receiving two state pay checks while being committed to only working two part-time state jobs. No chance I would cast my vote for that. 
Mike McBride 
Newark
First thought (for Representative Joe Miro):  next time you find somebody to place a letter in the paper slamming a candidate you should make sure that your letter writer actually lives in your district.  He doesn't. 

Then, before you start throwing low-class shit around, you should get the whole story.  Why has Nick Manolakos missed time at Leg Hall?  Because he's had a very sick daughter, you moron.

You can't name a significant vote he's missed that would have affected the outcome, because there haven't been any.

You can't name a time when Nick has allowed family or work issues to keep him from following up on constituent concerns, because there haven't been any.

Nick Manolakos has served the 21st (now 22nd) District effectively, and with honor.

I changed my registration to Republican just before the blackout period specifically to be able to vote for him in the primary.  (And given how I feel about the DE GOP this is not something I admit lightly.  Hear that, jason?  Feel free to take the shot.)

He chose to run a clean re-election campaign in a district gerrymandered to benefit Mr. Miro's chances, despite the fact that he--like a lot of us--knew exactly where Mr. Miro's ethical vulnerabilities lie.

Mr. Miro chose instead, with over 60% of the new district coming from his old one, to run a campaign that included smear and innuendo.

I have been proud of the votes that Nick Manolakos cast as my State Representative over the years.  He stood as a Republican for civil unions, for decreased penalties for non-violent drug use, for keep the budget in check, and for reasonable education accountability.

Hey, Nick!  Except for that vote against fusion candidacies last year (we forgive you), you actually sound more like a Libertarian than a Republican.

As for you, Mr. Miro, you will be known for the tactics you used, and I have hopes that--despite the fact that the GOP registration in the district favors you this November--that your tenure in this new district will be all of . . . two years.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Romney pulling staffers out of Gary Johnson's home state!?

Looks like we're having an impact.

kilroy demonstrates grace and calss

Er, "class."

Bushco shredding the Constitution

It was even worse--far worse--than we thought.

Definition of senility

Senator John McCain apparently forgets he supports the endless war in Afghanistan:
“I think all options ought to be considered, including whether we have to just withdraw early, rather than have a continued bloodletting that won’t succeed,”McCain said in surprise comments today.

The News Journal publishes my editorial on third parties and debates

You can see it here.

After it was written, however, I was informed that they had reduced the length available to Community Advisory Board members from 750 words down to about 670 words.  I cut the piece down to 668 words and re-submitted it.  Apparently they had other space problems and cut it by about another fifty words before publishing it.  I defend their right to do so, but I wish they had asked me to do it, because I felt that, stylistically, the final published product was way too choppy and left out a couple of key references (I would never, for example, have introduced "Perot and Nader" into a column without characterizing them as "Ross Perot and Ralph Nader"--that's just poor form).

So for masochists and purists, here's the original 750-word version.  If you didn't like my argument, you still won't, but at least it reads a little better IMHO:

            Last week witnessed two important events in Delaware political life: frenzied primaries and the Jewish Federation’s debate for statewide candidates.  
           The primaries re-emphasized that we have become a one-party state.  Undoubtedly, about 4,000 primary voters elected the next mayor of Wilmington, and a slim plurality guaranteed re-election of an Insurance Commissioner disavowed by her own party.  Statewide Republican candidates now consider themselves successful if they achieve 40% of the vote, and the GOP has fielded too few candidates to have any realistic chance to recapture either house of the General Assembly. 
            That’s why the Jewish Federation debate represented a breath of fresh air against the stale, backroom cigar smoke of “the Delaware Way.”  Initially, JFD refused to allow anyone not running as a Democratic or Republican into the event.  (It is never explicitly stated that way in debate requirements, but is clearly understood nonetheless.)  Thankfully, responding to requests from both the Green and Libertarian parties, JFD reversed course, inviting all ballot-qualified candidates to participate. 
            Expanding the field is very much in the interests of democracy and good government in Delaware.  Our three “alternative” parties—the Independent Party of Delaware, Greens, and Libertarians—are each offering important candidates with messages. 
            IPOD US Senate nominee Alex Pires is a fiery entrepreneur and banker from Sussex County.  His impassioned rhetoric about corruption in Washington and the incumbent’s health sometimes overshadows his erudite and on-target analysis of government failures in the banking crisis. 
            Andrew Groff, the Green US Senate nominee, is an educator and small businessman, motivated to run by his experiences with Occupy Delaware.  He is the only candidate talking about environmental issues and advocating national single-payer healthcare. 
            Libertarian Scott Gesty, running for the US House, is a Certified Public Account for a major transnational bank.  His critique of our national budget crisis is devastating.  He is also the only candidate discussing the need to scale back the anti-teacher provisions in Race to the Top. 
            These voices need to be heard.  Left to their own devices, Democratic and Republican hopefuls continually rehash the same sterile, ideological positions that have deadlocked the American political system for years. 
            Absent millions of dollars in corporate donations available to professional politicians to annoy you with endless commercials, the only chance these candidates have to break through is at events like the JFD debate.  Unfortunately, they won’t be offered many more such opportunities. 
            The major statewide candidate debates of the season take place on October 16-17, sponsored by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication and Delaware First Media.  Implementing provisions created a decade ago by the Pew Foundation to keep third-party candidates like Ross Perot and Ralph Nader out of presidential debates, UD and DFM have made it politely clear that third-party candidates need not bother trying to be included. 
            Haven’t raised over $120,000 from over 800 people donating at least $50 to your campaign?  Haven’t spent thousands of dollars for a poll showing that you have the support of 10% of the voters?  Your party didn’t receive 40,000 votes in the last election?  According to debate coordinators Ralph Begleiter and Micheline Boudreau, this means you do not deserve a place on the stage. 
            Ironically, Mr. Begleiter cites “the national rules for inclusion” as his defense for eliminating third-party candidates, while ignoring important findings in the original Pew document.  Pew researchers discovered that 53% of voters wanted third-party candidates always included in debates, a sentiment shared by 59% of independents and 61% of voter under thirty.  In follow-up surveys in Virginia and New Jersey, voters confirmed they wanted to hear from all ballot-qualified candidates. 
            So why did the Pew Debate Project recommend inclusion barriers virtually eliminating third-party candidates? 
            The answer is simple:  the Debate Project was a reaction to influential independent candidacies like those of Perot and Nader, who Democrats and Republicans saw as “spoilers” siphoning off votes from their candidates.  The premise is that there are no legitimate candidates except Republicans and Democrats, and your vote belongs to one party or the other. 
            This is certainly the position held by Senator Tom Carper and Congressman John Carney, who both sit on the Advisory Committee of UD’s Center Political Communication that co-sponsors the debates at which they will be isolated from alternative candidates. 
            While Libertarians, Greens, and Independents have their own policy differences, all would agree on two principles.  First, your vote belongs to you, not any political party.  Second, democracy is best served by an inclusive process that allows all ballot-qualified candidates to be heard.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thoughts from the Judge Jim Gray event: why Libertarians are different from Demopublicans

Retired California Superior Court Judge Jim Gray had been a lifelong moderate/liberal Republican until the passage of the Patriot Act.

"It took me about 9 1/2 seconds," he said last night at DSU, "to decide to resign from the Republican Party and register Libertarian.  Any party--and that includes both the Republicans and the Democrats--that can shred the US Constitution and our civil liberties so quickly is not deserving of our support."

One hallmark of a Libertarian:  civil liberties matter.  If they don't matter to you, or if you belong to the school of thought that believes we should sacrifice ours to keep ourselves safe from drugs, or from Al Qaeda, then you aren't a Libertarian.

Judge Gray said unequivocally last night that  Libertarians in the White House would repeal the Patriot Act, would repeal the NDAA authorizing indefinite detention of American citizens, and would close Gitmo--"that cancerous sore on our conscience that is exposed for all the world to see."

Beyond that:  taxes.  I found it very, very instructive to listen to the honesty with which Judge Gray approached taxes and spending.  First, he said we had to balance the budget NOW, not in 28 years as the "radical" Paul Ryan plan proclaims.  He argued for massive Pentagon budget cuts, elimination of the US Department of Education, elimination of the US Department of Energy, trimming back the US Department of Agriculture. . . .

But what he said was that these eliminations would only if there was a secure revenue, at least equal to that collected now via the IRS.  So the replacement consumption tax would not only have to spread the tax burden more equally, it would also have to be revenue neutral--raise as much as the income tax, corporate tax, and capital gains taxes combined.

Here's where his honesty won me over.  When Scott Gesty had suggested a consumption tax rate of about 8.95% as turning the trick, Judge Gray said, "No, to be honest I believe it would have to fall somewhere in the 12-15% range to remain productive enough.  When an audience member asked if this would be piled on top of existing state sales taxes, the Judge didn't bat an eye:

"Unfortunately, yes," the Judge said.  "But at least the process would be transparent, and there would be no way for wealthier people to avoid paying their share of the taxes, unless they decided to simply quit buying things."  He laughed then, as if to say, "And exactly how likely is that?"

I could do more along this line, but my point's pretty simple:  he didn't deflect the question, didn't attempt to push it toward a soundbite.  He answered it, even when the answer wasn't necessarily what you'd want to hear.

That was the same experience I had with Gary Johnson when he skyped into the Libertarian Party of Delaware convention last spring:  he answered the damn questions.

Judge Gray also told us that in the telephone call wherein Governor Johnson invited him to be his running mate, Gary said, "And if you have disagreements with me over some policy point, I want you to feel free to discuss those issues on the campaign trail."  "Imagine that," Judge Gray told us, "my boss told me I didn't have to follow the party line, just tell the truth the way I saw it."

Here's the scoop for Delaware:  Mitt Romney and the Republicans have absolutely no shot at winning in Delaware.  None, zip, zero, nada.  Much stronger GOP presidential candidates have failed to come within 6 or 7 points of the weakest Democrat.  President Obama is not a particularly weak Democrat, at least within our state.

So a vote for Mitt Romney is a wasted vote.  Get over it:  it's a wasted vote.

A vote for Barack Obama is piling on and voting for politics as usual.  No matter what, at least 54-55% of Delawareans are going to vote for him.  Get used to it.

But a vote for Gary Johnson could change the face of American politics forever.

5% nationwide guarantees the Libertarian Party will qualify for Federal matching funds in 2016, and eliminates more than half of the onerous ballot access requirements we've been fighting through the courts this year at the expense of time and treasure we don't have.

We've literally spent millions just to get on the ballot.

5-10% in Delaware for Gary Johnson, or Scott Gesty running for US House, would break open barriers to debates, to news coverage, and create an atmosphere for honest discussion of the issues.

5%. . . .

That's about 20,000 people having the guts to take the plunge and say, "I'm voting for a different political system.  I'm voting for a change in the two-party system."

We could do it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mitt Romney gives everyone not voting for Barack Obama the perfect excuse to vote for Gary Johnson

I read Betsy's page like I read a lot of other aggregator pages:  whether  you accept their political ideology or not, they often give you quick gateways into posts of interest that you would never otherwise have seen.

Betsy is a Republican, obviously, and interested in pro-Romney, anti-Obama sites, and that's why it is so telling to find this comment on the Romney 47% gaffe:
I have to say that my first reaction to reading and hearing this video was the same as Josh Barro, Romney just lost the election. He's already behind and fighting the image that he's too rich to relate to average people. Saying that these people regard themselves as victims and so won't support him just comes off as contemptuous.
First reactions are often exactly right on target.  Although I also subscribe to the point she makes later that these gaffes are rarely as decisive as opponents would like (remember Obama and the "bitter clingers" comment), I think this one is pretty devastating, especially in the battleground states.

Which brings me to my chief point:  if it settles out that this gives Obama a pretty solid 4-5% lead, then that situation pretty much guts the argument that you shouldn't vote for Gary Johnson because you could throw the election to President Obama.

Romney will have already done that for us.

What remains is the opportunity to make a statement of principle that Libertarians and libertarian-minded Americans are rejecting a two-party system that locks us into only two choices and gives us a four-month gotcha orgy that has nothing to do with discussing the issues.

All you moderate Republicans out there, all you independents who are socially tolerant and fiscally prudent, guess what?  If the election has well and truly been thrown to President Obama, then it's time to sent that principled message by voting for Gary Johnson.

Because that will now be the only way you are NOT throwing your vote away.