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Showing posts from May, 2008

Thinking about Libertarian strategy in the General Election

It started with the whimsical post in Third Party Watch by Steve Gordon of a three-party split in the electoral college [Libertarians in the sick yellow-green, ugh]: This led to an extremely interesting thread in Independent Political Report entitled Could Barr/Root win electoral votes? While the Gordon map was quickly (and accurately) dismissed as fantasy, the resulting conversation then evolved into what strategy should the LP presidential nominee pursue in this election ? Commenter G. E. Smith summarized the argument: Okay, so we have about four strategies identified here: 1. Swing State (try to be a “spoiler”) 2. Safe State (try to maximize votes by campaigning where it doesn’t matter) 3. “Winnable” Sate (focus resources in a few small or otherwise winnable states to get electoral votes) 4. Status Quo: Do what Libertarians have done thus far but, hopefully, better. The problem is that most Libertarians, in their concentration on message and philosophical principle, fo

The Government's action was illegitimate in the first place, but I'm still going to place restrictions on you as a result of it

This is how you advance the idea of a State that is above the laws. You find a group of people toward which the media and many Americans are unsympathetic, like, say, those polygamist families in Texas with the weird hair. Now that the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that the State acted inappropriately in seizing all their children, you'd think--rule of law and all--that what happens next is that those 400 children are returned to their families, right? No, not according to Texas District Judge Barbara Walther : A Texas judge refused on Friday to sign an agreement that would have paved the way for the first large batch of children taken from a polygamist sect's ranch to return to their parents, dashing hopes raised by a Supreme Court ruling in the case. Texas District Judge Barbara Walther wanted to add restrictions to the parents' movement and broaden the authority of Child Protective Services to monitor the more than 400 children in foster care before signing an agre

The problem with Libertarians is that they take themselves entirely too seriously. . . .

. . . . which is even more amazing in a movement that features people who adopt names like Starchild and Ann R. Key . So it's worth it to enjoy this bit of anti-Bob Barr humor no matter what you happen to think of radicals, reformers, anarchists, and minarchists: (h/t Libertarian Republican which, predictably, takes it too seriously)

My Dad cuts me no slack

His childhood occurred during the Great Depression. Summers he would spend at his grandmother's farm. He slept in the loft. At wake-up time, which was around 4:30 am, she would call him once, then a second time. Then he would hear her cane tap as she put her foot on the bottom step. One time when he was five years old she (and--most importantly--the cane!) got all the way up to the loft with him still not moving. Suffice it to say that he was careful, for the rest of his childhood and adolescence, never to let her get beyond that first step again. I don't recall him every hitting us as children. He never had to. We sometimes talk politics or economics when I call home now. I got to tell him about two weeks ago that he could stop lecturing me that a gallon of milk cost more than a gallon of gas when I whined about prices at the pump. After all, I pointed out, the two now stood pretty much at the same level. He gave me that one, but I could tell he was just biding his

More Power than George III & Oliver Cromwell....

Where is the Senate and Congress? This is a teaser: "No executive in the history of the Anglo-American world since the Civil War in England in the 17th century has laid claim to such broad power,” said David Adler, a prolific author of articles on the U.S. Constitution. “George Bush has exceeded the claims of Oliver Cromwell who anointed himself Lord Protector of England.” It only gets worse from there, you can read the rest of the story here .

In the Interest of Consistency (mine): Bob Barr and abortion

One of the stupider criticisms of Bob Barr as Libertarian presidential nominee has revolved around comments that his evolution into a Libertarian cannot be trusted because he's a hypocrite on abortion. Far be it from me to quail at criticizing Barr for intellectual or moral consistency, as regular readers know, but this one's really not fair game. The whole issue arose during the Clinton impeachment, when Hustler publisher Larry Flynt cast his net far and wide to document the sexual indiscretions of Republicans. Given that Barr was then a prime mover and shaker in the House team that tried Bubba in the Senate, Flynt was thrilled to find this dirt : Barr was one of 13 House Republicans chosen to act as prosecutors in Clinton's Senate trial. Barr, Flynt's investigators found, was guilty of king-size hypocrisy: An outspoken foe of abortion, the Georgia lawmaker had acquiesced to his then-wife having an abortion in 1983. And he had invoked a legal privilege during his

An Open Question for all Delaware gubernatorial candidates. . .

Do you have as much integrity as New York Governor David Paterson? From the New York Times (via Waldo ): On May 14, Mr. Paterson’s legal counsel, David Nocenti, wrote a memo to all state agency heads that directed them to evaluate their policies and begin rewriting them so they comply with a state appeals court decision that said New York must recognize gay marriages performed in other jurisdictions like Canada and California. At a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Paterson repeated the directive and said that although he supports gay marriage and will continue to push for it in the future, this was not an “end run around the Legislature” but merely his interpretation of current laws on the books. “I’m following the law as it always has existed,” he said. Asked to respond to critics of the directive, he said, “I would suggest that if they went back and read the law, that they would come to a different interpretation themselves, even if they disagree with the concept of

The greatest danger from Mexico is not brown people cleaning houses and cutting grass. . . .

. . . but the fact that continuing to fight the drug war with more machine guns instead of a better policy could turn the area south of the Rio Grande into a genuine failed state . Visit Drug War Rant for the details (and be sure to click through to the source material). It's a scary picture. Ironically, however, the team of former CIA-type spooks who penned the assessment suggest that a classic Libertarian strategy may be Mexico's best chance to avoid disintegration: One way to deal with the problem would be ending the artificial price of drugs by legalizing them. This would rapidly lower the price of drugs and vastly reduce the money to be made in smuggling them. Nothing hurt the American cartels more than the repeal of Prohibition, and nothing helped them more than Prohibition itself. But that, of course, would make too much sense.

Being called soulless by the Huckster is like being called ugly by an Arkansas razorback

A given: from a GOP perspective, Bob Barr as the Libertarian candidate is a bad thing that could cost him a critical battleground state. A maxim: if you want to further marginalize a third-party candidate or political movement, don't talk about it, don't take notice of it, and by all means don't make it part of the public debate . That being said, I'm wondering tonight just why Mike Huckabee doesn't want John McCain to win the election, given his interview in the Huffington Post : Republicans need to be Republicans. The greatest threat to classic Republicanism is not liberalism; it's this new brand of libertarianism, which is social liberalism and economic conservatism , but it's a heartless, callous, soulless type of economic conservatism because it says "look, we want to cut taxes and eliminate government. If it means that elderly people don't get their Medicare drugs, so be it. If it means little kids go without education and healthcare,

Raising the Barr: Take a stand on Warner-Lieberman, please

Again, in the spirit of Thomas Knapp's suggestion that even Libertarians who are skeptical/hostile to the Barr/Root ticket should engage positively in a way that strengthens the overall party: Here's a first gauge of our candidates' ability to keep themselves relevant and in the public eye: Lieberman-Warner America's Climate Security Act comes up for debate next week. It is a comprehensive carbon cap-and-trade proposition which will--in its effect on refineries-- cause gasoline prices to spike by an estimated 48-cents-per-gallon almost immediately, followed by an additional 13-cent-rise over the following year. It is a knee-jerk, poorly considered piece of global warming legislation that--if it passes (Dubya has promised a veto)--will wreck more immediate havoc on the American economy that ethanol subsidies have. Moreover, it combines the worst sort of shoot-from-the-hip social engineering with a regressive tax that will be felt primarily by the working poor. Jo

This is the Libertarian Platform. . . . This is the Barr/Root position

Here's what the Libertarian Party Platform (as apparently adopted in Denver) says about same-sex marriage: Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no discriminatory impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration, or military service laws. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have legitimate authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Here's what Bob Barr says: The Defense of Marriage Act insofar has provided the federal government a club to club down rights of law-abiding American citizens, has been abused, misused, and should be repealed, and I will work to repeal it... Regardless of whether one supports or opposes same sex-marriage, the decision to recognize such unions or not ought to be a power each state exercises on its own , rather than imposition of a one-size-fi

Would this be your lucky day, or would you turn yourself in?

From Drug War Rant (by way of others): An unwitting passenger arriving at Japan's Narita airport has received 142g of cannabis after a customs test went awry, officials say. A customs officer hid a package of the banned substance in a side pocket of a randomly chosen suitcase in order to test airport security. Sniffer dogs failed to detect the cannabis and the officer could not remember which bag he had put it in. I mean, I've found pens and pieces of flash drives in my luggage, maybe even the occasional odd dollar bill, but things like this don't happen to me. Except when they happen in reverse. In 1980 I was cycling back to the US with approximately 4,500 other troops from the 4th Infantry Division at the completion of Operation REFORGER. Marijuana and Hash were the big drugs of choice. I went up the the customs table to face the MP with absolutely no sense of humor. "Empty your pockets," he told me. I stuck my hand into each side pocket of my field

Unabashed Statist coercion has become the norm for law enforcement in America

My liberal and progressive friends often show cyber-smirks when I talk about coercive taxation or government intimidation . It occasionally feels like we live in completely different worlds. So maybe this will help them probe what has heretofore been invisible. Consider two favorite issues for Statists: mandatory seatbelt laws and restrictions on the private transfer of firearms. I'm not going to discuss the laws themselves , because that's usually a waste of breath. Either you understand the issues of personal liberty or 2nd Amendment rights, or you don't. What I want to do instead is discuss the overt tactics of intimidation and fear being used to make people toe the line. Case One: Click It or Ticket The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is in the process of spending its $7,500,000-- that's $7.5 million --advertising budget on this campaign to get drivers to buckle up. The precis on the NHTSA website makes it clear that this is consciously

And my conscience checks in. . . .

. . . which is a good thing, because it's literate, impassioned, and carefully critical without being cynical. Waldo has functioned, on and off, as a part of my conscience for over thirty years. Sometimes when he did not even know he was doing so (I do remember Mitch P. and the injustice too few people--including myself--were willing to see.) So, as I contemplate what a Libertarian does when confronted with a Barr/Root candidacy, I have to take this argument into account: But if I were a card-carrying Libertarian, I'd be majorly pissed at the idea of my party being led by the likes of Bob Barr. For one thing, I'd be upset that a party would nominate a man who by his own admission was wrong about most of the great issues of his time in Congress. He was for the Patriot Act; now he's against it. Munger says, well, politics is about the art of the possible. You have to make compromises. Which is true. But the compromises that brought Barr around weren't substant

Michael Munger and one answer to my dilemma--UPDATED: The Kn@ppster chimes in

Michael Munger is the Libertarian candidate running for Governor in North Carolina . He's polling around 4% . He's also the Chair of the Department of Political Science at Duke University. His regular blog (which I've just added to the blogroll on the left) is Kids Prefer Cheese . Munger is a gentleman and a team player. It is fairly obvious if you read his positions on same-sex marriage , victimless crimes , and corporate welfare , that Michael and the new Richard Viguerie-Shane Corey-Bob Barr-Wayne Allyn Root party line is not necessarily his brand of Libertarianism. Yet when Michael shared the keynote speech honors with Viguerie at the convention--even though I noted he gave quite a different type of speech -- he went out of his way to say positive things about Viguerie after the fact . Likewise, in the aftermath of the Bob Barr nomination, Michael published For Those Upset About Bob Barr , which is brief enough to quote in its entirety: For those upset about th

PFC Desmond Doss: What Memorial Day means to me

Unfortunately, politics doesn't get suspended on Memorial Day, but that is what it is. Here's what Memorial Day means to me, as an American citizen and as a former Medic in the US Army: the story of PFC Desmond Doss at Okinawa. Doss pass away two years ago; this is taken from his extended obituary on the Adventist News Network : Desmond T. Doss, Sr., who braved ridicule to serve in World War II as a U.S. Army medic without carrying a gun, and who labored on a Sabbath, May 5, 1945, to rescue 75 wounded soldiers pinned down by enemy gunfire on the island of Okinawa, died March 23 at his residence in Piedmont, Alabama. Doss, the only conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II, was 87 years of age. Desmond T. Doss, Sr., who braved ridicule to serve in World War II as a U.S. Army medic without carrying a gun, and who labored on a Sabbath, May 5, 1945, to rescue 75 wounded soldiers pinned down by enemy gunfire on the island of Okinaw

Barr routs Ruwart; Root cuts himself in for a share of the spoils; am I left homeless?

Perhaps John McCain and I, for once, share the same nightmare: Bob Barr at the head of the Libertarian ticket. It was fairly evident by the third of six ballots that the far more conservative branch of the party (split between Barr and Wayne Allyn Root) had the votes to prevail. After two ballots with the lead tied between Barr and Mary Ruwart, the fifth ballot gave Ruwart an ephemeral three-vote lead, while eliminating Root from contention. Root then strode to the microphone and threw his support to Barr in exchange for the vice-presidential nomination. That was pretty much all she wrote. Ruwart could not even make herself say she'd support Barr in her concession speech. Instead, she later nominated Steve Kubby for VP in order to balance the ticket. The strategy might have worked, except that at least a couple dozen delegates had left the floor in disgust, and their votes would have made the difference. So now the Libertarian Party, in its new incarnation as the plaything

Chile assumes leadership of UNASUR- Viva Chile!!!

These folks know something about peaceful commerce.....we could learn a valuable lesson here if we choose to do so. Aside from have the two prettiest presidents in the world, Argentina and Chile are doing some magnificent work in social and peaceful development in agricultural development and in foreign affairs. Chile's Bachelet assumes rotating presidency of UNASUR Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, instead of Colombia's Alvaro Uribe, accepted the rotating presidency of the Union of South-American nations (UNASUR) in Brasilia on Friday. Bachelet received this nomination from Bolivian President Evo Morales, who actually should pass the presidency to Uribe, but the latter declined, because of the conflict between his country, Ecuador and Venezuela, caused by the Colombian attack against a FARC camp in Ecuador. After having accepted her functions, Bachelet said before her South-American counterparts that she would seek the consensus and use all the possible energy to put onto

John McCain Throws Another Pastor Under the Bus

As eloquently reported by our left leaning friends, the ever sexually open John McCain has rejected the endorsement of or Torquemada after it was discovered that Torquemada could torture and sexually humiliate his enemies better than Mr. McCain could. Our republican friends, sinking to a new low, are offering us torture via the Hillary Nutcracker ... I once heard it said that " George Santayana had an irrational faith in reason" I have an irrational faith in the power of pastors and their monkish wizards to rule through and validate torture and violence, well that and right wing nutjob radio hosts.

Steve Kubby wins Libertarian Presidential debate!

You should know that I still support Dr George Phillies for the nomination, and that I think he did a credible job tonight, but hands down the biggest winner in this debate was Steve Kubby. I have to call them the way I see them. Why? I'll give you three reasons. 1) Style : Kubby looked and sounded passionate, came across as witty but on point, and appeared in command of virtually every question. 2) Substance : Kubby did not waffle; on gay marriage he asked who had empowered the government to look up people's dresses and pants to decide who got to get married. In two hours he shed the single dimensionality of a marijuana-only-single-issue campaigner and established himself as a man with credible answers to the questions people care about. 3) Class : At the end of the debate C-SPAN's cameras caught Kubby walking over to shake hands with Bob Barr a second time. He said (paraphrasing as closely as possible): Thank you for your answers tonight. I had some doubt

Notes from the LP Convention: Viguerie in wrong decade; Munger shines; Delaware's Paul Thompson checks in

Thanks to Waldo (whose browser is apparently waterproof and can function in the bath tub), I have a link to Richard Viguerie's keynote address to the Libertarian Convention, and I've also managed to find the first few minutes of North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Michael Munger's co-keynote address at his Kids Prefer Cheese . I have to agree with Waldo on Viguerie : "a speech straight out of the 1950s. All it lacked was Communists and the Negro Problem." Nothing in Viguerie's speech touched a single Libertarian value that is not subsumed in Conservatism. No mention of the folly of the war on drugs, government regulation of private relationships, no discussion about shrinking the government or getting it out of our lives. Senator Taft would have been very, very proud of you, Richard. In the other hand, Michael Munger's speech actually addressed Libertarian issues (at least in its first three minutes): This administration in Washington is a real